Let’s see what the numbers tell us.
Warning signs not dealt with at half-time
After putting in an impressive performance against Arsenal last week and even grabbing the winning goal, it was understandable that Marco Silva rewarded the veteran with another start despite Michael Keane being fit again.
However, the warning signs were there throughout the first half that Jags was struggling to deal with the physical presence of the very impressive Aleksandar Mitrovic. Mitrovic won six aerial duels to Jagielka’s four in the opening 45 minutes and I was surprised to see Jags emerge for the second half.
My fears were confirmed a minute after the restart as he was dragged out of position for the opening goal. The same thing then also happened for the second on what was a miserable day for the Blues skipper, while the same thing almost occurred once again late on, but Fulham failed to capitalise.
Phil Jagielka has been a wonderful custodian for Everton for over a decade, but with his contract up in the summer, this may be his last foray in Royal Blue.
Clean Sheet Run Ends
After three in a row, Fulham grab two
This game was by no means a smash and grab from Fulham’s perspective. They dominated throughout and will no doubt be left wondering how many more points they could have picked up this season if they’d put in more performances like this.
For Everton, though, this was just the second game in the last seven that they’ve conceded. Bringing on Michael Keane at half-time may have helped, but there’s no doubt that this defeat can’t be pinned solely on Jagielka, this was a woeful performance in which the entire back line (including even Idrissa Gueye) struggled in large periods.
First Goal Key
Everton not won in last 22 games in which they’ve conceded first
While the Blues have looked more confident in the past few weeks, aided by some good results, there’s no doubt that confidence is still frail across the squad, with loose passes and a lack of cohesion on show especially after the second goal.
It’s very worrying that Everton haven’t won any of the last 22 games in which they’ve conceded first, with the Blues having earned just four draws from these games.
This is a long-standing problem, though, and certainly shouldn’t be pinned on Marco Silva, as the last time Everton came from behind to win came back in December 2017 with a 3-1 home win over Swansea.
Bernard an Unlikely Defensive Star
Tops defensive numbers amongst the attack
While diminutive Brazilian has an unbelievable touch, wonderful flicks (that actually work) and an electric turn of pace, the area in which he has shocked many this season has been the quality of his defensive work.
He was one of few positives against Fulham and he tops the stats amongst all of Everton attacking players (Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Theo Walcott, Ademola Lookman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun) in numerous defensive aspects throughout the course of the season. Based on an average 90 minutes, he completes the most tackles (1.5 - joint with Sigurdsson) and the most interceptions (0.8), while also giving away just 0.6 fouls (less than Calvert-Lewin, Sig and Richarlison) and even managing to complete the most dribbles (1.1).
He’s endeared himself to the Everton faithful and continues to grow (unfortunately only metaphorically) game-by-game. Many had doubts whether he’d be be able to deal with the physicality of English football - with many surprised he didn’t opt for a move to Spain or Italy instead last summer - but his tenacious style has shown that his diminutive frame isn’t a problem.
It will be exciting to see what he can bring to the side after a full pre-season under his belt.
Silva slow to respond
One legitimate criticism levelled at Marco Silva this season has been the timing of his substitutions.
It is so rare to see him bring on a player before the 70-minute mark and it was no different at Craven Cottage, despite playing poorly against a side that’s already been relegated. Of course, this is easy to write about in hindsight, but it’s certainly an area to improve on for Silva.
The decision not to replace Jagielka at half-time was a costly one, but even more bizarrely he didn’t opt to use his final two substitutes until the 84th minute, with the Blues having been 2-0 down since the 69th minute.
This is fair enough when your team is playing well and is perhaps unlucky to be behind, but surely when your side is offering such a poor performance, it’s time to make wholesale changes, even to just change the dynamic of the game.