A common problem for Everton, especially during the tenure of Sam Allardyce when playing against better teams, has been the ‘bunkering down’ mentality that has seen the Blues sit back with ten men behind the ball for the majority of the game, with one isolated striker up front.
Of course, when playing against a team like Manchester City that recycles the ball well and often, that is a recipe for disaster as any long balls hoofed upfront to that single forward will result in a quick loss of possession and an attack going the other way.
It appears Allardyce is well aware of this, and spoke to evertontv about how he plans to get around that.
“We have been defending much better over a number of weeks now – so Cenk Tosun is the key man for winning the football match. The defensive unit have done their job and he pops up with the goal – and his conversion rate for chances and shots at goal is way past 50 per cent.
“That shows you how clinical he is and we now know that, if we are in the final third and start providing more and more opportunities, he will be capable of scoring the goals we are looking for to try to help us win more games and increase our points tally.
“It has been a very good period for him. He is back now [from international duty] and the challenge for him against one of the big boys is, what can he do for us?
“His conversion rate will be very important for us and it is very, very good. Any chance we create against Manchester City needs to be tucked away because they will be difficult to come by, as City are such a good team.
“There is a big pressure on anybody to convert any chance that falls their way if we want to get anything against this team that is riding high at the top of the Premier League.”
Tosun’s goals have all come from balls originating in wide positions, and once again Theo Walcott and Yannick Bolasie will have a key role to play.
“It has [been the instruction to the forwards] and the addition of Theo as well has brought us that little bit more quality down the right-hand side.
“Yannick Bolasie is still to get to his top form – he still has a bit of a way to go – but he is getting better. And the rest of the team providing service is key.
“From a Manchester City point of view, when they have possession will we be good enough to stop them scoring? That is the basis of our success. If we can achieve that then we can try to create some problems for them and try to convert and be able to score a goal which will bring us some points.
“When you walk into a club that obviously has its difficulties – which is why you are brought in – you try to turn it around as quickly as you can. So I am proud and pleased with all the staff who have worked so hard behind the scenes to deliver the players on the pitch to give better and more consistent performances.
“It has been a hugely challenging season for Everton and there have been many different things we have had to overcome. And where we are at the moment is a pretty good level considering all the difficulties we have faced.”
Argentinian defender Ramiro Funes Mori will be added to the squad tomorrow with Mason Holgate going under the knife for an ankle ailment and Ashley Williams still serving a suspension for a previous red card.
“We have Michael Keane, then Phil Jagielka is doing a really good job – and Funes will be added to that squad.
“If everybody looks at the situation, he is bound to at least be on the bench. It has been a long way back for him and many players have had to be patient this season, which has been a big problem. And you can see the difference with Leighton and Seamus back – and Phil who has been out with his knee injury. We see a better and more stable back four.
“I think that has helped Michael as well. There have been that many changes to the back four, even since I have been here, and it is not what you want.
“You want a settled back four and when you have that you get a better defensive record – and that better defensive record gives you better results.”