This was Everton 2020/21 at home to a tee.
The formula has-been-tried and tested, and Sheffield United executed it perfectly.
Indeed, there’s a four-point checklist to frustrating Everton at Goodison Park:
Don’t Let Everton Take a First-Half Lead ✅
Everton’s 5 home wins have seen the Blues already ahead at HT
Five home wins from 18. Urgh.
And all of those came when Everton headed into the break with a lead.
Take a First-Half Lead ✅
Everton haven’t turned around a half-time deficit since September 2015
If Everton are losing at the break, they aren’t going to win.
Not since beating West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns have Everton won a game they were losing at half-time.
For context, Manchester United have won five games they were losing at half-time this season alone. That’s been worth 15 points to them. If Everton had picked up 15 more points, they’d also be second.
Let Everton Have the Ball ✅
Everton have averaged 51.2% possession in defeat this season…
… but just 44.9% when they’ve won.
Against the Blades, Everton “dominated” possession with 63% of the ball.
The truth is though, if you want to curtail Everton’ threat, you let them build out from the back and let the Blues slowly play themselves into trouble.
Sit Deep and Keep Players Behind the Ball ✅
Of course, letting Everton play out from the back is just phase one of the plan.
To really perplex Everton, you just need to sit a bit deep with players behind the ball and keep your shape.
The Blues will have no idea what to do and will continue to keep the ball before floating an aimless long ball forward in frustration.
Just take a look at the pass map from Everton’s three central defenders for an idea of how predictable and uninspired Everton are when playing from the back:
By contrast, here’s Sheffield United’s less congested centre-halves:
And if you follow that plan…
Winning at Goodison
Blades are the ninth team to walk away with 3 points this season
Everton’s worst ever home record came in 1957/58, when the Blues averaged 1.14 points per game at home. They narrowly avoided relegation that season.
If Everton don’t beat Wolves on Wednesday, this season will officially be the worst home record in the club’s 143-year history. As it stands, Everton have averaged just 1.06 at Goodison this season.
By a bizarre contrast, if Everton get a point at Manchester City, they will secure the club’s best ever away record in the club’s 143-year-history.