What a frustrating eight days.
First the derby.
Then with a chance to rebound from the weekend disappointment, the Toffees submitted a wholly underwhelming performance against Newcastle.
Finally, after a week of hand-wringing and hair-pulling the Toffees had a background story-filled match up with Marco Silva’s (and Richarlison’s) former employers.
Of course, there were a few bright spots, like Lucas Digne’s point-stealing free kick goal, his first for his new side.
(Which he handled with his normal class).
In fact, even in the midst of a string of underwhelming performances, Lucas Digne has shown game in and game out why he is the left back in the Premier League.
The season so far for Lucas Digne since joining #Everton from #Barca, summed up by @WhoScored:— Lars Hendel (@larshendel) December 6, 2018
Stats based rating means a place in the "Best @premierleague XI of the season" + most key passes of all left backs in the #PL, hitting astonishing 2,3 per game.@LucasDigne @Everton pic.twitter.com/DIKUydaNoQ
Of course, the bright spots are less the talk of Toffee-twitterverse.
From tactics to team selection, there is plenty to dissect.
Another point being debated?
For as poorly as the Toffees played in the second half against Watford, if Gylfi Siggurdsson hadn’t missed his penalty kick to tie it up midway through the second half the Toffees Digne’s free kick would have earned the Toffees 3 points instead of just one.
So who should take them? Adam Braun studied the numbers and came up with.....
(Spoiler alert: not Richarlison)
How not to take a penalty like Neymar, by Richarlison. pic.twitter.com/zFCqXH6JDf— . (@zonalmr) October 2, 2018
Penalty kicks aside, whatever the underlying problems are, the Toffees face perhaps their toughest test of the season when they travel to Manchester City this weekend, who will be more than motivated to get their Premier League campaign back on track after taking their first loss to Chelsea and falling into 2nd place in the table.
Hopefully Marco SIlva can get a Derby-level performance out of the side this weekend, except this time they can get some type of a result.
Everton fans are still firmly behind the team, but after that string of incredibly frustrating results the Toffees could use a complete performance to get momentum back on their side.
They just have to do it against City.
To your questions!
Wait...before we get into the weeds of why we are struggling...let’s smile (and maybe shed a tear).
When I solicited questions for this week’s mailbag a great discussion about tactics and personell choices broke out.
Here it is with added commentary.
4-3-3 play narrow when defending force them to cross it— El Pivote (@elpivoteftbl) December 12, 2018
I think this idea is easily defensible, and what Silva is perhaps TRYING to get to.
With any combination of Mina/ Keane/ Zouma patrolling the back line, the Toffees have a DISTINCT height advantage. Forcing teams to cross it into the box to score forces teams to play into our strengths.
One problem is that when space is ceded wide, you need your fullbacks to block crosses, or at a minimum make them tougher to get into the box.
While Lucas Digne has done an a more than adequate job on his side, Seamus Coleman has been exposed a few times. This draws out the right sided centerback and defeats the purpose of forcing crosses as now one of the giant ball-winners has now vacated the box.
I would give some thought to a 3 -5 -1 -1 formation and try and stop them playing through us.— Steven Roche (@StevenRoche2) December 12, 2018
Not hard to believe that fans wouldn’t mind seeing the likes of Yerry Mina, Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane on the pitch at the same time. (See notes about winning crosses.)
The biggest issue for me would be how to play behind the 1 and 1 up top, (presumably Richarlison and Gylfi? Or Tosun and Richie?)
With wing backs able to sit higher than the outside backs in the usual four back system, the midfield will be tasked with finding wide options quickly.
Would Gana’s erratic passing get him a seat on the bench? Perhaps Bernard plays a central role under the striker? Does Gylfi need to sit deeper to help address the lack of world-class passing outside of Andre Gomes?
3 CB, and let our wing backs attack! Seems tho they are the o lying ones putting in crosses etc!— Sean Rood (@Seanrood7) December 12, 2018
Pickford— TommyP (@TomPulford92) December 12, 2018
Coleman Zouma Keane Digne
Walcott Gueye Gomes Richarlison
2nd half bring on Bernard for Tosun and put Richarlison up top, on lookman for Walcott
Hit them on the counter
Let Tosun put his weight about
This argument has also been a popular, and understandable one. With Richarlison having been camped out up top, the Blues have lacked a true physical presence to occupy opposing center backs.
Richarlison has still been able to find the back of the net, but there is little debate that he is a better winger than a forward, if not internationally then most certainly in the ever physical Premier League.
However, the debate about who should be the player to take up the striker role when Richie shifts out wide is open to debate, with many supporters having already made their mind up about the Turkish striker, and wanting to see the younger more dynamic Dominic Calvert-Lewin have a chance to earn the spot long-term.
Tosun is shite. He will be on his way soon. DCL is the best striker at our club at this minute, that’s why we need two class strikers come January— Mark Murphy (@Mark56692811) December 12, 2018
We struggled massively getting up the pitch against Watford, absolute zero chance against the best pressing team. Have to put DCL in for Walcott or Bernard, as he had a fantastic game at the Etihad last year— MB (@StinkOfFun) December 12, 2018
While some cite a striker change has purely being based on rumors, the rumors have gotten loud enough to be noticed by the media.
Of course, it’s tough to see Everton trying to completely solve the conundrum at the #9 spot this January, but there are obviously plenty hoping they at least try.
However, if the Toffees do try, there is confidence they will bring in a player who can contribute, whoever that may be.
To be honest Brian don’t really know. I’ll put my trust in silva and brands cos they ain’t done a bad job so far with recruitments— Mark Murphy (@Mark56692811) December 12, 2018
Until then....this may be the reality:
I can't see Silva making any changes, tbh.— Irish-Alex EFC (@NotReallyIrish) December 12, 2018
The team looked lacking 2nd half, but he clearly thinks that's our best 11.
These replies are fantastic!!! Keep them coming!!— Brian Foley (@foleysthoughts) December 12, 2018
However, to be clear I am not only soliciting suggestions but also questions!!!
I think we got carried away a wee bit— Darrin johnston coyb (@daz4441) December 12, 2018
Grab a Kleenex, you will cry.
Pain and promise. Loss and legacy. Claudio and Danielle Reyna open up on the death of their son Jack, his younger brother Giovanni's future and the memory that endures throughout one of American soccer's royal families (by @GrantWahl) https://t.co/CFcBDv2y49 pic.twitter.com/GkLZxK4foc— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) December 12, 2018
'Bat Out Of Hell' singer Meat Loaf, pictured in a London cafe,1999. pic.twitter.com/igVeVMzdtJ— Classic Pics (@Classic_picx) December 3, 2018
Touch maps are overlooked when it comes to football analysis, limited in terms of what they’re doing with the ball but can tell you how good a system is or whose most effective going forward.— Toffee Analysis (@ToffeeAnalysis) December 4, 2018
Andre Gomes has been a decent upgrade in midfield. https://t.co/9AnXRNUYYg
It's clear at this point that Silva doesn't view Jonjoe Kenny as competition for Coleman. Is getting more talent in at RB the top need come January?— Norman R Groves (@NormanGroves) December 12, 2018
After all of the debate about what to do at striker, it could be argued that finding competition for Seamus Coleman is a much more pressing issue.
While the Irishman’s tenacity and work rate haven’t waned since his injury, his defending and attacking has struggled to reach the levels usually associated with the Toffees legend.
As noted above, the Toffees do have a young right back option in Jon Joe Kenny, but Marco Silva doesn’t appear to have much affection for the youngster, and to be honest I can’t see JJK’s ceiling being much higher than what we’ve seen.
With the rest of the defense having been changed over in the last year and a half (Pickford, Keane, Zouma, Mina, Digne) it’s only logical that the Toffees would turn their attention to Coleman.
However, I’m not sure that this January is going to be the window that sees Everton upgrade at the position, unless there is a steal to be had on the market.
However, I do anticipate that by the time the 2019-2020 campaign kicks of the Toffees will have brought in another option at RB.
Have a pizza party maybe some fun jumps.— Eaux (@Otis_271) December 12, 2018
How do you come up with each week’s toffee tunes?— Aidan Perhacs (@aperhacs76) December 13, 2018
Well, for starters I am a huge fan of music.
I’d always been an avid consumer, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to try my hand at making music.
At the age of 30 I picked up my first instrument and I haven’t looked back since.
This foray into music creation has led me into a much deeper and nuanced appreciation for the smorgasbord of of music now readily available to the masses.
As I began to explore more genres, I found my music tastes were more diverse than I first thought, a fact that perpetuated itself as Spotify (my music provider of choice) continually introduced me to more and more artists I love.
After spending the first year or so sharing my all-time favorite albums, I have tried to suggest newer music that I have come across.
For example, this week’s tunes is actually only a single, but the moment Broken Bells (a compilation between members of Danger Mouse and the Shins) release anything I want the world to hear it.
Thanks for asking, it’s nice to know someone is able to make it to the end of the mailbag!