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Everton 2 Southampton 1: Toffees hang on to win home opener

Three thoughts from Everton win yesterday

Everton v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Dangerous on set pieces

In comparison to last season, Everton’s set piece delivery already looks to be miles ahead of where it was. Even with two fantastic kick takers in Gylfi Sigurdsson and Leighton Baines, Everton really struggled to threaten the opposition from free kicks last season.

The most obvious indicator of this improvement was Theo Walcott’s opening goal. A cheeky combination between Baines and Morgan Schneiderlin saw Walcott run unimpeded into the box to open up the scoring. This play had a level of creativity and skill that has been sorely missing from this team in recent seasons.

Even after the opening goal Everton looked threatening with a majority of their set pieces. Sigurdsson and Baines seemed to have found that extra bit of finesse that had previously been missing and put their teammates in much better positions to get the ball on goal.

Defence still a bit shaky

With 11 men for the full 90 minutes, this match was the first real opportunity to see how Everton’s defence looked. The results ended up being a bit mixed. In the run of play the defensive unit as a whole looked pretty solid. There were some mistakes and close calls but no glaring issues.

The likely problem area this season is going to be set-piece defence. Marco Silva’s zonal marking strategy is largely to blame for Southampton's lone goal. Danny Ings was left entirely unmarked on a corner and got Southampton back into this match.

It’s not entirely surprising that Everton’s defense may struggle to pick up a new defensive tactic this early in the season but I can see this issue rearing its head against better teams too. Perhaps once the back line is more settled they can improve in this area.

Everton struggling to capitalize

For a second consecutive week Everton have failed to put the game away when it was there for the taking. The main culprit this week was Theo Walcott who sent wide a beautiful scoring opportunity that ended up leaving Everton nervously clinging to their lead in the end.

In just two games Everton have showed a massive improvement offensively. The passes look more crisp and the movement between Sigurdsson and the front three has been sublime at times. It is still early goings but these missed opportunities can cost Everton points as we saw last week at Wolverhampton.

Perhaps this can be chalked up to a new squad still learning to play together, but this team could be outright dangerous if they are able to put a little more polish on their attacking moves.