With ten games left to play in what has been something of a stressful slog of a season, the Everton are enjoying a much-needed rest during the current international break in preparation for a final run that will determine the club’s Premier League status.
Sean Dyche has taken charge of eight matches to date, so how have the players been performing under him? Here I take a look at the winners and losers and what changes there have been in terms of performance levels.
Unsurprisingly, the England numero uno has started every outing. He’s conceded 12 goals from a PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) of 14.3; during Frank Lampard’s time at the club, Pickford shipped 28 goals from a PSxG of 28.6, so from the data he’s slightly improved under the new boss. With 67.8% of his passes being long (i.e. 40 yards or more), up from 50.7%, it’s clear that he’s going more direct since Dyche arrived.
Also ever-present, the central defender has seen his number of touches drop from 65.2 to 46.5 per 90 minutes and his passing accuracy from 84.3% to 72.3% over the last eight matches, indicative of the boss not wanting to play out from the back. He’s also blocked 21 shots in those 8 games, almost a third of his total for the season which puts him in the 99th percentile for shots blocked in the league.
Recalled into the starting lineup for the past four games in place of Conor Coady, the former Burnley man has been just what you’d expect from a Dyche centre half, attempting 7.8 aerial duels per 90 and winning 61.3% of them. He’s been as passive as the on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers defender in terms of tackles, but is making 6.8 clearances per game. He’s averaging 40.5 touches per 90 but, interestingly has seen more of the ball in each consecutive match.
The Irishman appears to be doing well under a new, more limited role since Dyche came in, playing as a conventional full back with a midfielder directly in front offering closer support. The veteran is defending more conservatively, which has seen clearances made go up from 3.1 to 3.7, combined tackles and interceptions made from 2.9 to 3.3, aerial challenges from 1.5 to 2.0 and dribblers tackled from 1.0 to 2.4 per 90. The 34-year-old’s number of touches is down to 49.7 from 55.7 per 90, but he’s making more progressive passes (3.2, from 2.7) and a more direct style has seen his number of final third passes double to 2.4 per 90.
Ben Godfrey / Vitalii Mykolenko
In this section, I shall examine the two players Dyche has deployed at left back, focusing exclusively on the data over the last eight matches. Godfrey has apparently displaced the Ukrainian, starting each of the last three games and is competing in 4.8 aerial duels per 90 (43.8% success rate), compared to 2.0 for Mykolenko (50% efficiency), 3.6 ball recoveries, as opposed to 3.5, 3.3 combined tackles and interceptions, compared to 3.7 per 90. The nominal centre half is making 6.6 clearances per 90, Mykolenko 3.7 and from a defensive standpoint is a slight improvement, at least from analysing the data.
In terms of ball-carrying, the ex-Norwich City man is making 1.2 progressive runs per 90 and attempting 0.3 dribbles (0% success); Mykolenko 1.0 and 1.6 (50%) respectively. Godfrey attempts 0.9 crosses per 90, compared to 2.4 for the Ukrainian, and generates 0.3 Shot-Creating Actions per 90, 1.6 for Mykolenko. Godfrey is completing 48.4% of his passes, 73.7% for the ex-Dynamo Kyiv man. Offensively, Mykolenko has offered far more than Godfrey since Dyche took the reins at Goodison Park.
Idrissa Gana Gueye
Often left exposed by Lampard’s setup, the Senegalese has enjoyed a more stable role under Dyche, typically the most deep-lying in a three-man midfield. From this position he’s been able to increase his tackles won from 2.1 to 4.0 and ball recoveries from 7.8 to 9.0 per 90, although interceptions are down slightly (2.07 to 1.88).
The 21-year old was used as a defensive midfielder and, subsequently in a more advanced role under Lampard, which saw a dip in form. This has continued since Dyche came in, albeit with the Belgian being used almost exclusively in a left-central midfield position, alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure and slightly ahead of Gueye. Despite this stability, he’s not as yet managed to kick on from the early promise he’d demonstrated, probably due to the new boss looking to bypass midfield. The number of aerial duels Onana is competing in has increased from 3.5 to 4.8 per 90, whereas his touches are down from 43.8 to 35.1 and progressive carries from 1.2 to 0.3. His attempted dribbles have dropped from 2.0 to 1.1 per 90; more puzzlingly, his success rate has collapsed, from 38.9% to 10%, likely reflecting his lowered confidence.
Another big winner under Dyche, the Malian had been ostracised by Lampard, playing only 71 league minutes since September, but has already racked up 708 in the new regime. He’s providing something that had been missing, which is a box-to-box midfielder able to drive forward in support of attacks. He’s attempting 2.5 dribbles (with a 55% success rate), making 3.1 progressive passes and generating 2.8 Shot-Creating Actions per 90.
Averaging 49.5 minutes per appearance under Lampard, McNeil has seen that soar to 88.4 with his old Turf Moor boss. He’s looking like his old Burnley self operating in a familiar system and role he knows well as can be seen from the stats. The left winger is putting in 7.9 crosses per 90 over the past eight matches, compared to 5.9 in Frank’s setup. He’s also being more proactive on the ball, attempting 4.3 dribbles per 90, up from 3.5 and taking 3.2 progressive carries instead of 2.2. With Everton being short up front, McNeil is showing more of a goal threat, attempting 1.8 shots per 90, compared to 1.2 with Lampard.
Used almost in every position imaginable in Lampard's side, the Nigerian international enjoyed his best form when played in a advanced central position. Since Dyche arrived, with his variations on the 4-5-1 formation, Iwobi has been played almost exclusively as a right midfielder. Accordingly, he’s now attempting 4.2 crosses, a sizeable increase from 1.9 per 90 under Frank. His passing has taken a major hit, plummeting from an 80% success rate down to just 65.7%, although he’s putting 2.0 passes per 90 into the opposition area, up from 1.1. Iwobi is committing defenders more, attempting 4.5 dribbles per 90, as opposed to just 1.9 in Lampard’s possession-based system, but is seeing less of the ball, with his number of touches down from 53.2 to 45.1.
The former Leicester City man was used primarily as a wide attacker by Lampard, but Dyche prefers to deploy more traditional wide midfielders and that role requires more defensive acumen than Gray has shown during his career. Consequently, it wasn’t too surprising to see him ditched from the starting eleven, though with Everton’s struggles up front he’s recently been recalled as an improvised striker. Under the new manager, Gray has seen his attempted dribbles go from 3.1 to 4.2 per 90, with a sizeable uptick in success rate (62.5%, from 28.1%). He’s slightly more isolated, which has seen his number of touches decline from 45.7 to 36.9 and he’s losing the ball at a much enhanced rate: 8.1 from a previous total of 4.9 per 90. The forward is more active defensively, as might be expected and is putting in 1.6 tackles and 1.3 blocks per 90, up from 0.9 and 0.6 respectively.
Stats provided courtesy of fbref.com