It’s fair to say Everton’s new season honeymoon is well and truly over.
So, what did the numbers tell us?
20 Long Balls
Ahead of his return to the team, Carlo Ancelotti wisely suggested that Jordan Pickford should trust and follow his instincts more.
And, especially early on in the game, Pickford’s instincts seemed to be telling him to go long at nearly every opportunity.
Indeed, against United, over 50% of Pickford passes were long balls (20), a reasonable eight of which were successful and one of which helped set up Bernard’s opener. This stat is in stark comparison to his last outing, which saw him play just five long balls against Southampton.
This is no criticism, either. Pickford’s range of passing is one of his biggest skills, so to see him go route one a bit more frequently is no problem.
Of course, although he wasn’t at fault for any of the United goals, Pickford did once again have one of his all-too-regular “moments of madness”, dropping a deep cross at the feet of Harry Maguire before immediately clattering into the big centre-back (almost van Dijk-style) simultaneously with Michael Keane. Luckily a penalty wasn’t awarded, but it certainly could have been.
38% of passes were backwards
The rest of Everton’s line up could have actually learned a thing or two from Pickford’s punts.
Once again (as has been the case for the past two games and most recent seasons), the Blues are too slow and too conservative on the ball, often looking to play a safe sideways or backwards pass rather than playing it through the opposition lines.
In total 38% of Everton’s passes were backwards, while you can see Everton’s classic lack of penetration very clearly in the below heatmap (Everton top, United bottom).
Everton have conceded the same number of goals as bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United (14)
A change of defensive partnership brought no change in terms of conceding goals.
When the goals are flying in at the right end, we can brush over some goals conceded. But when our goals dry up, it leaves us in a pickle.
Everton have conceded 2 goals in each of their last 5 Premier League games. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) November 7, 2020
Everton have never won a game Richarlison has missed since he joined
After his late sending off in the derby, Everton have lost all three games he’s missed through suspension, scoring just twice in the process.
Although Bernard looked very bright in the first half, he faded badly in the second and was never able to really support Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the Everton penalty area. Indeed, DCL has looked incredibly isolated in the last three games without Richarlison joining him from the left-wing.
Everton's Premier League record without Richarlison since he joined:— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) November 7, 2020
Prospect doesn’t make the bench again
Anyone speaks to me with any kind of frequency about Everton is probably sick to the back teeth of me going on about Anthony Gordon.
But once again, he didn’t even make the matchday squad.
After opting to play five central midfielders and no wingers last week, Carlo this time opted for two centre-backs and two central midfielders on the bench ahead of Gordon this time out.
And with Everton chasing the game and lacking any kind of creativity or directness, Carlo could only turn to Alex Iwobi and Cenk Tosun for answers, having hamstrung himself with a lack of attacking options on the bench.
It seems bizarre that Gordon – who performed excellently in the EFL Cup when called upon – has been limited to just one 32-minute cameo (against Saints) this season, especially when the Blues have been missing Richarlison for the last three games.
He’s at a crucial stage of his development and he needs game time. If that won’t be at Everton this season, I hope the club has a loan move ready so that he can start tearing up the Championship on January 1st.