It was the great restart. Now we just want the end to start.
Another tough day for the Blues who, despite a first half onslaught, managed to battle to a 1-1 draw.
But what did the numbers tell us about the performance?
Saints Dominant in First Half
Had 4 big chances, but 1-1 at the break
The Saints were much quicker to move the ball, while their incessant pressure prevented Everton from being able to settle on the ball.
Indeed, it was something of a miracle that the Blues came in level at the break.
Saints had an early goal disallowed narrowly for offside, went close with a free-kick, saw Pickford claw out a header onto the crossbar and missed a penalty (outrageous VAR call) before the fast feet of Danny Ings finally put Southampton ahead.
The key weakness in Southampton’s high-pressing game was that they were playing an extremely high line, which Lucas Digne was able to take advantage of with a fantastic pass to Richarlison, who finished superbly to take the Blues in, somehow, level at the break.
Another mid-game switch
With the Blues on the end of a first half barrage, Carlo Ancelotti looked to switch things up in the second half and get more bodies in the middle of the park, shifting Seamus Coleman the right of three centre-backs, as Djibril Sidibe came on at right wing-back in place of Alex Iwobi and three more central players in midfield.
It certainly stemmed Southampton’s flow, although it’s hard to say if this was purely because of the formation change or because the Saints began to run out of gas.
Either way, these mid-game system changes under Ancelotti are certainly becoming a feature and seem to be working to some degree.
Just two changes for Everton despite playing on Monday
When I was looking at how Everton might line up for this one, I wondered whether we would see a series of changes, given that Everton played on Monday and will again be in action on Sunday.
However, Carlo Ancelotti resisted the urge, instead just bringing in Anthony Gordon for Gylfi Sigurdsson, while Yerry Mina replaced the injured Mason Holgate. Alex Iwobi even made a surprise start despite having previously been ruled out by injury.
While the pace with which Southampton played at in the first half was impressive, there was no doubt that most Everton players didn’t look anywhere near sharp – especially the recently maligned Andre Gomes in the middle of the park.
Obviously Everton don’t have a lot of options to bring in at the moment, but it’s a bit worrisome that Carlo didn’t see fit to start with senior players like Baines, Sidibe, Bernard or Kean giving the intense schedule.
Only 14 players have started for Everton since the restart. Injuries have obviously played a big part, but Carlo certainly seems to be running the risk of some serious burnout before the season is over.
Young Anthony Gordon looked Everton’s only fresh legs in the first half and it’s clear that he is going to be a massive player for the club.
Digne & Gordon
50% of Everton’s first half attacks came down the left
Undoubtedly Everton’s biggest threat since the restart has come down the left-hand side, thanks in large to the outstanding breakthrough performances. It was the same again here, with 50% of all of Everton’s attacking play coming down the left in the first half.
Indeed, with a right-footed winger that looks intent to cut inside, while a flying full-back with a wonderful passing and crossing ability overlaps him, can’t help but remind me of the terrific relationship that Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar enjoy a few years ago.
After struggling to replicate somewhat to replicate last season’s form earlier in the year, Digne once again looked back to his best here, playing plenty of positive forward passes – with his outstanding assist for Ricarlison’s equaliser the pick of the bunch.
Lucas Digne's stats against Southampton:— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) July 9, 2020
Touches - 75
Assists - 1
Successful passes - 26
Successful forward passes - 13
Chances created - 3
Pass accuracy - 68%
Recoveries - 7
Aerial duels won - 6
Successful dribbles - 3
Clearances - 3
Successful tackles - 1#EFC #EVESOU
The Ings Curse
Former Liverpool striker has 7 goals in 9 appearances against Blues
As sure as night and day, Danny Ings will score against Everton.
Great feet, like.