Everton playing like season already over
With 7th place and a Europa League spot locked up, Everton looked as if they had nothing to play for against Swansea. The Swans however, had everything to play for, and acted accordingly, as their Premier League status remained in the balance.
Here’s the thing though, Everton do have something to play for, and I’d argue it’s incredibly important to success in Europe next season. If Everton’s current position remains, they will be entering the Europa League in the third qualifying round. Entering the competition at this stage will prove to be difficult on a number of fronts.
First, these matches and the subsequent play-off round take place during the summer, before the Premier League season starts. This means less rest for the team over the summer and less time to acclimate new players. Second, this stage of the competition could see Everton travel to some hostile venues. Teams from Greece, Croatia and Turkey await them in the qualifying rounds. Everton struggled mightily in their away match against Dynamo Kyiv a few years ago and many of the venues that await them are just as difficult.
Phil Jagielka regressing again
After Ramiro Funes Mori went down with a season ending injury, Phil Jagielka was once again called upon to partner with Ashley Williams in defense. The former captain had been benched for most of the season after a number of poor performances, but injury forced him back into the starting line up. During this stretch, Jagielka appeared to be reinvigorated and put in a few quality offensive and defensive performances.
However, over the last few weeks it appears that Jagielka has regressed again and has been a liability for Everton. In this match alone, Jagielka was constantly bullied by a much stronger Fernando Llorente. His set piece coverage was also poor, losing his man on a number of occasions.
This needs to be an area of focus for Steve Walsh and company over the summer. Everton’s defense is only getting older and the bench players still appear to be a few years away from being consistently reliable.
Koeman’s tactical magic has run out
This isn’t so much a knock on Ronald Koeman, but more so on the players he has at his disposal. In the latter half of this season, it appeared that Koeman could do no wrong when it came to second half substitutions and tactical changes. If Everton were not up to snuff, the manager would tweak the gameplan, make a sub and suddenly Everton were back in the match.
An unfortunate confluence of circumstances has led to these changes no longer having a huge effect. First, Everton’s youngsters have reverted back to the mean. Tom Davies, who has been excellent this season is struggling to affect the game like he was earlier this year. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has gone weeks without a stand-out performance and Ademola Lookman has been relegated to the bench. These were players that Koeman could rely on when the usual starters weren’t performing. Now these players are struggling in their own right.
Everton’s veteran’s have failed to pick up the slack too. Romelu Lukaku appears like a player who has already mentally left the club. Ross Barkley’s form has dipped at a horrible time and most of the other offensive players can’t seem to score a goal. It’s a shame that such an excellent run of form had to dip at a horrendous time in the season. Everton peaked at the wrong time and will ultimately end up short of Champion’s League football.