Signs of positivity despite loss
As Everton settled into the match they showed a willingness to attack that had been absent for a number of weeks. Deploying wing backs instead of a traditional defense, Cuco Martina was able to find acres of space and whip in a few dangerous crosses.
Defensively there were some positives as well. Even though the team gave up goals in the early and later stages of the match, the middle of the game was full of decent defending and kept the score lower than it should’ve been.
Unfortunately Everton were not able to hold off United’s high power attack forever and Romelu Lukaku and company punished Everton late and put the game entirely out of reach.
Sloppy giveaways kill momentum
While Everton had found success playing the ball down the right side, the same could not be said for play up the middle. Too often Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin were not on the same page as their teammates and gave up possession in the opposing half.
Rooney, for all the good he did today, had his fair share of bad giveaways. Isolated up top early on, Rooney was frequently without an outlet pass and was dispossessed multiple times in the opposing third. When not being dispossessed, Rooney struggled to find his teammates and gave the ball over without question to the defense.
Too often Everton had a nice run of play killed by a bad turnover. While Everton’s possession numbers increased in the middle stages of the match, their play was too sloppy to conjure up consistent scoring opportunities.
Koeman’s subs come too little too late
Everton had started showing their teeth in the middle stages of this match. However, their lack of pace was once again obvious and I was surprised to see Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Kevin Mirallas come on so late in the match. Everton had been able to play a few of their players behind the opposing defense, but their lack of pace meant the attack usually died out.
It’s a good thing that DCL and Mirallas did eventually come on, but I think they would’ve been much more useful earlier in the match. With two lumbering holding midfielders and a left back playing far up the pitch, United were giving Everton weaknesses to exploit. Unfortunately they did not have the personnel early on to take advantage.
At least one of the pacey players on the team needs to be starting more often than not. While Rooney, Klaassen and Sigurdsson provide real quality, their skills are wasted if they cannot find another blue shirt in a dangerous area.