Everton will return from Portugal empty-handed after a draw and a loss in the Algarve Cup this weekend.
The Blues drew 0-0 with LOSC Lille yesterday before losing narrowly 1-0 to FC Porto today at the Estadio Algarve in Faro, new manager Marco Silva’s first competition as manager of the Toffees.
Here’s what we learned from the weekend.
1 - Did the fringe players do enough to win a spot in the squad this season?
One of the biggest question marks around the team has been hovering heavily over three players: Davy Klaassen, Kevin Mirallas and Sandro Ramirez.
The Dutchman did decently enough yesterday with the ‘B’ side against Lille, making some chances and even scoring once with it unfortunately chalked off as offside. However, he still doesn’t show that he is any more ready to play at the Premier League level than either at the beginning or end of last season.
Mirallas has been with the Blues for a long time and looks exactly like he always has: moments of magic interspersed with long periods of disappearing and some undue aggression sprinkled in. In other words, nothing new.
Finally, Sandro today had his most complete game as a Toffee. he was busy, mobile and mostly unfortunate as it just appeared that nothing was going to come off for him. The Spaniard badly needs some luck sprinkled into his performances.
Again, should a reasonable bid come in for any of the trio, Everton should not think twice about letting them go. With Sandro being the youngest, he might be one to hold on to if Silva wants a project.
2 - Where are the goals going to come from this season?
Did the Blues exhaust their goals in the ATV Irdning rout? We thought that was supposed to get the floodgates open?
Turns out Everton still need that same spark of creativity as we did last season. In the offseason, with Mirallas and Sandro taking centrestage as the main sources of inspiration, the results show one goal scored in three games.
While things will get better once Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott return, the Toffees still look very limited up front and this will need to be addressed for anything to come out of the season. Richarlison’s direct running will help this, and the Blues need to keep hold of Ademola Lookman too.
Apart from that though, the midfield also looks like it needs an addition of some ‘oomph’. You know, like we were hoping Wayne Rooney would provide, consistently. Idrissa Gueye will enjoy what his role will look like under Silva, but expecting creative output from him would be a bit too far. Will Sandro be the player to provide that spark?
This could become an even bigger concern so close to the transfer window closing.
3 - The zonal marking system in defence will take time getting used to.
To be quite blunt, we look terrible defending set pieces right now.
Marco Silva has been a fan of the zonal marking defensive system for setpieces, and it did partly lead to his ruin at Watford and the Blues are going to be hard-pressed to not repeat the same mistakes here.
The system is known as zonal marking because the 18-yd box is divided into segments, with individual defenders assigned to each of these segments (zones).
The main issues here are in area ‘1’ where forwards can get through in the gaps between defenders with momentum while in area ‘2’ where the two foremost defenders are tied up man-marking the biggest opponents, leaving spaces for a secondary shot from a primary clearance or pass.
The focus appears to be on the front post where we are overloading defenders, but expect some changes in how this is done in the upcoming friendlies because against both Lille and Porto there were plenty of opportunities given up and the defence will need tightening up.