For the first 20 minutes and last 20 minutes, the Blues were dynamic, creative and full of life. For the period in between, they were slow, predictable and uber-conservative.
Only Michael Keane keeps his place
Unsurprisingly, Carlo Ancelotti changed almost his entire team for this game, with only Michael Keane keeping his place, with Everton a bit short at centre-half following an injury to Mason Holgate.
Everton currently have over 30 senior players in their squad. While this is great for depth, there’s no doubt that Marcel Brands will be looking to lighten the burden on the wage bill before the window closes on 5th October.
Blues see 69% of the ball
You’d expect a Premier League side to dominate the ball against a League Two side and this was indeed the case against Salford City.
However, keeping the ball and using the ball are very different things – something that Everton were very guilty of last season and were for the middle period of this game.
When Everton play quickly and with intensity, they look a real threat.
Nkounkou + Gordon
10 shots and 4 key passes between the 19-year-olds
Everton’s left-hand side was by far their most dangerous outlet. Whenever either Anthony Gordon or Niels Nkounkou got on the ball, they looked to make things happen.
Both players are still both a little raw – in particular Nkounkou – but if they can continue to play with this level of intensity and flair, both 19-year-olds could become big players for Everton in the future.
Anthony Gordon was especially unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, with the inside of the post preventing a wondergoal and another chance cannoned off the underside of the bar, while he also won the penalty.
Indeed, there was a stark difference between the left and right side of Everton’s team. The young duo on the left were Everton’s most dangerous outlet, with both constantly pushing forward, looking to beat a man and create a chance. The same, however, couldn’t be said of the vastly more experienced combination of Jonjoe Kenny and Theo Walcott on the right – neither of whom made a significant mark on the game, with Walcott largely anonymous.
Left v Right Stats
Touches in opposition box: 20 v 10
Shots: 10 v 7
Successful dribbles: 5 v 2
Blues hit woodwork 5 times in second half
Although the middle section of the game was lethargic, Everton really started to turn the screw in the second half as their visitors tired and created a host of chances in the final 20 minutes.
Earlier on, Moise Kean struck the bar with a header, before Anthony Gordon hit the woodwork twice, while Kean rattled the post once more and Sigurdsson was unlucky after hitting the post too.
The way Everton ended the game is what you should expect from them.
Start and Finish
25 shots in the first and last 20 minutes, 7 in between
Everton registered a whopping 32 shots here. The Blues also started strongly, opening the scoring and registering 8 shots within 20 minutes. However, from then on until the 70th minute, the Blues were slow and lethargic in possession and created barely a chance of note, registering just 7 shots in a 50-minute period. In the last 20 minutes, though, they woke back up and bagged two goals, hit the woodwork a bunch of times and took a great 17 shots.
The Blues need to be careful not to slip into the bad habits of last season and get lazy on the ball.