Despite conceding 69-percent possession to West Ham United, Everton didn’t allow one shot on target. Stat sheet aside, Jordan Pickford wasn’t troubled in net. When a team dominates the ball, at least one shot usually finds its way into the goalkeeper’s arms. West Ham, though, were not so fortunate. Credit to Everton’s defense, which was composed and disciplined for over 90 minutes. The Blues are the prime example of possession not always translating to positive results.
As my colleague Pete Reynolds astutely pointed out in his Five Telling Stats, the Toffees hold the ball less when they win. In 16 victories, they’ve had 44.9% possession, a metric that drops 0.9 points in draws (7). In 11 losses, the Merseyside outfit averages 50.5% of the ball.
Empty Goodison hasn’t worked for Everton
The Toffees’ struggles at home have been well-documented this season. Whatever the reason — be it the absence of fans, mental fragility or lack of energy — Goodison has not been kind to the Toffees. When the team leaves the confines of Merseyside, however, its form miraculously improves. Only Manchester City — with 13 — have more away wins than the Blues, who have 11. The most away victories in a top-flight season in Everton history is 12, back in 1984/85. And while the 2021/21 rendition of the squad will not be taking the title — as the team of the 80s did — promising results away from Merseyside are one of the positive sticking points from a topsy-turvy year.
It won’t be lost on the fans that the Blues have as many wins in the capital London as they do at Goodison.
If you were to poll 100 Evertonians on the Toffees’ best lineup, you’d almost certainly get 100 different answers. A natural shuffling of the starting XI is needed in a season that consists of domestic fixtures, two cup competitions and a myriad of injuries. Still, there generally is a standard “Best XI” for each team. The question for Everton: What is theirs? For me — and this, of course, is up for debate, seeing that in this scenario there are 99 other (more intelligent) people than myself — it would look like this: Jordan Pickford; Lucas Digne, Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane, Seamus Coleman; Abdoulaye Doucouré, Allan, Gylfi Sigurdsson; James, Richarlison, DCL.
Sometimes Carlo Ancelotti’s formation alterations work, sometimes they don’t. After another summer where Everton are expected to be buyers, that could all change again next season.