It’s been a solid, if not scintillating start to the season for Everton. Just one goal in two matches, but two clean sheets and some real promise.
Should Blues be getting excited? Let’s see what the numbers tell us.
Gbamin allays fears
Combative display with eight defensive actions
While it was much publicised that Jean-Philippe Gbamin wasn’t “ready” for the game against Crystal Palace last week, his debut was nevertheless a concerning one as he looked off the pace and clumsy at times.
However, his Goodison debut went much better and allayed any fears that he might be a Sandro Ramirez-esque dud. His physicality in the middle of the park was welcomed and he made three tackles, one interception and four clearances to keep the Hornets at bay.
The 23-year-old is far from the finished article. However, he seems to be showing a willingness to learn. He committed two soft fouls in the first half but gave away nothing in the second half.
Indeed, this is a feature of his game. Two seasons ago, at Mainz 05, he received three red cards over the course of the season. Last term, he picked up just three yellows. He clearly learns and gets better.
One area for improvement looks to be the quality of his passing, with just a 65.8% success rate against Watford FC – which is very low for a central midfielder. But this performance showed we can expect him to get better and better in the weeks – and hopefully seasons – to come.
Scored the winner and defends from the front
Back in March, Marco Silva said that he wanted Bernard to add more goals to his game. Well, he got off the mark for the season just 10 minutes into the first home game – meaning he has now equalled the amount of goals he scored in the entirety of last season.
The Brazilian had two shots against Watford – which is something of a rarity for him as he averaged just 0.64 shots per game in 2018/19.
And while it’s unlikely that Bernard will ever reach double figures in a season, what can’t be underestimated are his outstanding defensive attributes. Bernard made four tackles against Watford (more than anyone else on the pitch), as well as one interception and two clearances – numbers which are absolutely remarkable for a 5’5 winger.
Richarlison Off the Pace
Completed just 33.3% of his passes and missed two big chances
Unlike his compatriot, Richarlison has not had the same blistering start to the season that he enjoyed in the previous two Premier League seasons and one has to wonder whether he needs more of a break after spending the majority of his summer at Copa America.
He missed two great – almost identical – headed chances from free-kicks and completed just 33.3% of his passes.
It might be an idea to give the young Brazilian a break in the coming weeks to let him reenergise – especially when we have Alex Iwobi waiting in the wings, while Theo Walcott – to give credit where it’s due – actually looked lively when he came on against Watford.
Six consecutive home clean sheets
It was another solid Goodison display against Watford – and yet another clean sheet. The Blues now haven’t conceded at home since champions Manchester City visited in February, meaning we’ve kept six clean sheets on the bounce – which is all the more impressive when you consider that run included facing Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
What’s also impressive (especially if you still have Roberto Martinez flashbacks occasionally) is that Everton haven’t thrown away a single second half lead at Goodison Park under Marco Silva – which is a solid nod to his game management.
After the disappointment of failing to land Kurt Zouma on a permanent basis in the summer, props should also go to Yerry Mina and Michael Keane – who have not conceded a goal in which they’ve been paired together at the back in 2019 (although that does admittedly only cover five matches: Chelsea in March, Wigan Athletic and Werder Bremen in pre-season, Palace and Watford). The grok-like centre-halves are looking solid, although the real challenge may come against the league’s faster strikers.
Kean a Class Act
100% pass success rate for Everton
When Moise Kean arrived in the summer, my relentless watching of his YouTube footage had me hoping that he would be something along the lines of a “more technical, harder working, Romelu Lukaku”.
And from the 43 minutes of action he’s had so far, that still looks to be the case.
The 19-year-old has bags full of technical ability, strength and decent composure for someone so young.
Indeed, the chance he dragged justwide late on was the best example of the Lukaku 2.0 comparison I’ve seen. When the ball didn’t come to him first time, he didn’t throw his arms up and complain (AKA classic Lukaku), he instead recognised the danger wasn’t over and quickly got himself back onside and was rewarded with a massive chance which he was unlucky not to take
Remarkably, for a striker, he’s completed 100% of his passes in a Blue shirt so far – showing that he definitely has the composure and maturity to lead the line for Everton this season. The most exciting Everton signing in a long, long time.