Andre Gomes aside, it was a far from pretty affair at Goodison Park as Everton snuck past a well-organised Cardiff City side.
Everyone knows what to expect from Cardiff, but that “key early goal” didn’t arrive for Everton, meaning many fingernails left Goodison considerably shorter than when they arrived.
But can the statistics shed any light on Everton’s performance?
Lookman Deserves Start
Walcott has fewest touches for 7th game in a row
I’ve rattled on about the anonymity of Theo Walcott for the past two months now, and it was much of the same from the former Arsenal man against Cardiff. He may have claimed an assist by virtue of a weak finish that was palmed into Sigurdsson’s feet, but Walcott doesn’t provide the threat, aggression or defensive work of that of the rest of Everton’s attacking players.
For the seventh consecutive game, Walcott had the fewest touches of any outfield Everton player (37) when he was substituted on 72 minutes. He was also the only Everton player not to make a single tackle, interception, block or clearance.
Lookman, meanwhile, produced another eye-catching cameo appearance. Despite playing for just 20 minutes, he had 25 touches, completed two dribbles and almost scored after dancing through Cardiff’s packed-out defence.
Walcott can be a useful player for Everton, but a drop to the bench will hopefully reignite his desire to make the big impact in games he did when he arrived in January.
2nd lowest pass success rate at home this season
Everton were very sloppy in possession at times, with over-complicated passes in the final third often leading to us losing the ball.
While still a different world away from Cardiff’s measly 52% completion rate, Everton’s 80% completion was the second lowest achieved at Goodison this season, with only the defeat to West Ham United ranking lower.
Midfielder completes most dribbles on pitch
There can’t be many Evertonians that aren’t completely and utterly in love with the Portuguese midfield maestro right now.
Andre Gomes is such a classy player and brings so much to Everton’s midfield. But it’s not just his passing. Gomes completed four dribbles in the first half – more than the rest of the players on the pitch put together.
He appears to be growing in confidence after a difficult spell at Barcelona and Marco Silva will surely be chomping at the bit to sign Gomes on a permanent deal ASAP.
Another Clean Sheet
Mina yet to concede
While it was harsh that Kurt Zouma lost his place after not being able to face Chelsea last week, Yerry Mina continued to make a positive early impression on the Blue faithful.
But it’s not just Mina who’s impressing. Everton whole backline looks very solid – a stark contrast to the pre-season and the early games this campaign.
Everton have conceded just three goals in their last seven games – an especially impressive statistic considering that includes tricky away games at Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester City.
With a trip to Anfield next, Everton’s defence needs to stay at the very top of its game.
Richarlison More Effective Out Wide
Brazilian has better strike rate out wide than as a striker
With Richarlison forced to do more of the “donkey work”, we continue to miss out on the Brazilian’s biggest strengths.
While playing as a centre-forward this season, Richarlison averages a goal every 180 minutes – still better than Cenk Tosun’s 259 minutes – but considerably lower than a goal every 123 minutes he’s managed in wide positions.
Richarlison is our best attacking player – and I’d like to see him in his best position – even if that means one – or both – of Bernard and Walcott making way, with Tosun returning to the central position.
It seems unlikely, though - given Marco Silva’s contentment with sticking to a winning team - that we’ll see any changes for the trip to Anfield next week.