Feeling the effects of the break
Marco Silva’s Everton side did not look rested or ready to go after this most recent international break. Instead we were treated to a team that looked incredibly out of sorts. A win is a win, but that does not change the fact that this was one of the sloppier performances by this Everton side this season.
The most glaring issue in this match had to be passing. Some players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes looked good, but the majority of the team looked like they forgot how to pass during the break. The few offensive chances that presented themselves in the first half were snuffed out before they could begin due to an errant pass. And with counter-attacking opportunities few and far between, Everton had to rely on their normal build up play. This has not been a strength of theirs this season, but it was especially ineffective given how rusty the team seemed to be.
This all may seem a but nit-picky given that Everton won, but with the Merseyside Derby next week, this team needs to be firing on all cylinders if they want to finally get a positive result against Liverpool.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: Season MVP so far
It continues to amaze how consistent Gylfi Sigurdsson is for this team. It wasn’t long ago that many were wondering if he was worth the price Everton paid for him. Now he is arguably the best player on the pitch week in and week out.
With most the the team around him struggling to string together passes, Sigurdsson and Gomes were the only two players who seemed to be on the same page against Cardiff City. Two weeks after what looked to be a potentially serious injury, Sigurdsson was in fine form and scored the lone goal for Everton in this match.
The limitations of Richarlison at striker
Aside from Everton’s overall sloppy play, this match highlighted the limitations of Richarlison as a lone striker. The experiment has largely been a success, but the Brazilian really struggled to make anything happen against a very organized Cardiff defense.
Richarlison has shown the ability to feast on less athletic center back pairings. His unique blend of size and speed is a nightmare against lumbering central defenders. But Cardiff’s Sol Bamba seemed to be up the challenge and kept Richarlison in check throughout the contest. If anything, this match has confirmed what many already knew, Richarlison is not the permanent solution at the striker position. He can be effective against some teams, but he cannot be relied on week in and week out to hold down the position.
The biggest issues however is the lack of other options up top. Cenk Tosun has yet to seriously lay claim to the position, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse are not great options either. It will be interesting to see what Marco Silva will do next week against Liverpool.