It was undoubtedly (and unsurprisingly) a gritty performance and one that lived up to Everton’s old ‘Dogs of War’ reputation, but what did the numbers reveal to us?
Set Pieces… Sorted?
Two clean sheets on the bounce
For the second game in a row, Everton faced a team with real prowess from set pieces… and kept a clean sheet. The big issue with the zonal set up that Marco Silva has been implementing has been players taking a lack of responsibility for attacking the ball. Fortunately, that certainly wasn’t the case at Goodison with every player seemingly happy to put their body on the line.
Low Quality on Ball
Blues completed just 62% of passes
This was a game of very low quality on the ball, with loose passes exasperated by a welcome return of the Goodison cauldron. Everton completed just 62% of their passes (season average 76.9%), while Liverpool fared little better with a 75% success rate (season average 84.5%).
While it was understandable to go with a more defensive choice in Morgan Schneiderlin to start, the Blues could probably have done with Andre Gomes on the pitch with more time to go to see if you could seize control of the game and create more openings.
Not Enough From Walcott
Touched the ball just 20 times
Despite early signs of promise with a couple of headers won and even a yellow card received, Theo Walcott once again drifted into anonymity at Goodison. Walcott touched the ball just 20 times in his hour long cameo, with even his replacement, Richarlison, touching the ball considerably more time (27) despite only coming on for the last half an hour.
Walcott lacks aggression, a good first touch and any kind of final ball. There’s no way he should be starting ahead of Ademola Lookman, Bernard or Richarlison in any of the wide positions.
Keeper completed just 26.1% of passes
Pickford’s distribution was uncharacteristically poor against Liverpool, with seemingly every long ball from him finding the head of Virgil van Dijk - especially in the first half.
It was no surprise that the Dutchman was dominant in the air, but one would hope that Pickford would have enough nous to mix up his play and aim for the wider positions from time to time. Such a tactic was well used in the Martinez era, with Romelu Lukaku going out wide when Tim Howard received the ball, with Steven Naismith instead moving inside and feeding off any second balls. It’s a move that Everton should look to replicate.
Was Everton’s best passer
While Idrissa Gueye has long been a force at winning the ball back for Everton, the Senegalese midfielder looks more confident than ever on the ball following January interest from PSG.
Indeed, he completed more passes (80.4%) than any other player in Blue and looked incredibly comfortable moving forward with the ball and looking to thread passes into the attacking players – something he also thrived at against Cardiff in midweek.
More performances like this and we can expect to see plenty of suitors for him in the summer.