Rafa Benitez’s Everton took all three points at the weekend, continuing their unbeaten start to the season and heading into the international break in 6th position in the table, just two points off the top. The Toffees defeated Brighton & Hove Albion by two goals to nil, with many players impressing individually, as well as the team looking very assured and never really looked like losing at a stadium where the Blues have often struggled in recent years.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the team performance. 57% of Brighton’s shots were taken centrally, as well as 64% of them taking place outside the box. This shows how much we pressed the wide players when they got the ball, forcing them inside. Once the ball was played into a central position we stayed compact and forced them to shoot from long range.
Going forward, 43% of our shots came from the left hand side as well as the bulk of attacking play. Once again, for the third league game in a row we used the threat of Demarai Gray and Lucas Digne who are already creating a fantastic partnership on the left.
The average positions of the Everton players really emphasises the fact the majority of our attacks come down the left hand side. Digne and Gray were both two of our furthest forward players all game. Lucas would stay high and wide whilst Gray could come inside and get on the ball, this meant we could get the ball out wide to Digne in space, where he produced 6 crosses all game despite averaging 1.5 crosses per game last season.
As you can see, Seamus Coleman and Andros Townsend, although not as attacking as the opposite flank, often got forward together. Coleman completed 3 dribbles in the game, more than any other player and won the penalty that secured the game. He had the license to get forward on Saturday, due to the efforts of Townsend tracking back. The former Palace player produced 4 tackles all game which for a winger shows how great his work rate was. This was only bettered by Allan, who I will talk about in more detail now.
A lot of fans’ man of the match at the weekend, Allan Marques Loureiro. He produced 5 tackles in the game yesterday and due to him playing higher up the pitch, it would sometimes even lead to a chance created. Looking at the average positions of the game again, I believe last season we’d often see him a lot closer to the centre backs where he’s a lot less effective.
He completed 93.9% of his passes against Brighton, added a brilliant assist and an eye of the needle pass to Coleman who won a penalty. He also made 3 key passes, the joint most on the pitch. Allan’s received some criticism from Everton fans over the last two seasons but I think we’re finally seeing the best of the Brazilian. The new system under Rafa is giving him and Abdoulaye Doucoure a lot more tactical freedom.
Two players who have received heavy criticism so far this season are Mason Holgate and Michael Keane. Many fans saw the lineup at 2pm and were already filled with negativity due to the centre half pairing with many Blues considering both players not good enough to start for Everton. I thought it was only fair to talk about the two Englishmen after a fantastic clean sheet and defensive performance.
Between them they completed 9 interceptions, 5 tackles, 7 clearances and most importantly, a clean sheet. Both players were a lot more solid, compact and clearly had a point to prove this weekend. Holgate seemed to benefit from the confidence given to him by Rafa appointing him captain for the midweek cup win over Huddersfield Town. Although I still don’t see either player in my starting XI of our strongest squad, it was very positive to see them play well together, especially given Yerry Mina’s injury history.
Brighton 0-2 Everton- Tactical Analysis Thread:— Tactically Everton (@TacticallyEv) August 29, 2021
A lot of neutrals may look at our possession percentage over the last two league games and consider us lucky to not lose both. However, in both clashes we never really looked like losing, more so in the Brighton game. They had plenty of shots, but like I pointed out earlier, a lot were restricted to long range due to our shape. Once again we got plenty of shots off ourselves, taking 14 which is a vast improvement on the 9.6 per game we averaged away from home last season.
Overall a fantastic result for the blues. We head into the international break in a great position and hopefully before tomorrow’s transfer deadline, a few new additions to the squad.