I woke up this morning (Monday) with the intention of writing my weekly tactical analysis as soon as I got out of bed and got my wits about me. I took a week off from my day job this week, so I figured “Sure, I’ll be nice and well-rested with nothing to distract me from writing about Everton.”
But I’ve been sitting here, recalling Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Burnley, combing through my usual statistical and tactical resources, and I’ve realized something — I am out of things to say.
If you had to synthesize the last season and a half of Everton matches against mid-table or lower opposition into 90 minutes of football, you’d just show Saturday’s loss. It checked every box!
- Concession of an entirely preventable set piece goal? Check.
- Utter inability to create anything of attacking value through the center of the pitch? Check — take a look at where Everton’s key passes came from Saturday.
- Absurd over-reliance on wide play and crossing, against a team that is very happy to sit deep and win headers into the box? You bet — here’s Everton’s open-play crosses from this match.
- An experienced player who should know better, making a series of rash and reckless decisions that made it even harder for his team to actually succeed in what should be a winnable match? Seamus Coleman, come on down!
- A near-comical inability for Everton’s center-backs to put headers on goal on well-taken corner kicks — perhaps the only reliable chance creator Everton has? Michael Keane had 0.56 xG on corners per Understat and didn’t even manage a shot on goal.
After Everton’s loss to Sheffield United two weeks ago, I wrote that there was really only one potential excuse that Marco Silva could muster for his team’s complete and utter inability to win matches like these (since December 1, Everton is now 2-3-11 against non-top six teams when they do not score in the opening 20 minutes) — Gylfi Sigurdsson was not the No. 10 his team needed, and his shortcomings were the cause of the team’s struggles in central chance creation.
Putting aside the fact that Sigurdsson set up Everton’s best open-play chance of this match (an Alex Iwobi shot that was blocked — 0.4 xG per Understat), Silva has continued to roll the Icelander out in that position, despite having another legitimate option there in Iwobi.
But the longer he refuses to use Iwobi from that position from the start, the less traction that argument has. At a certain point, with the talent in this squad, results in matches like these have to start coming — but I don’t see Everton any closer to a breakthrough than they were at the start of the season.
The next three matches will be similar tests for Everton — home against West Ham United, at Brighton and Hove Albion, and home against Watford in the Carabao Cup. If Silva can’t figure out how to engineer an attacking breakthrough during those three matches, I have a hard time seeing him still in charge when Tottenham Hotspur come to Goodison Park to start November.