Everton suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Saturday afternoon, but it could have been much worse. Although the Toffees fashioned a few decent chances of their own, they were clearly second-best to the League Cup Winners all across the pitch. The goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial were nothing less than the Reds deserved and proved enough to secure a comfortable victory for Erik Ten Hag’s side. Here are 5 Telling Stats from Everton’s loss at Old Trafford.
1. Atypically Ajar
Defensive solidity has long been Sean Dyche’s calling card as a manager, but it was nowhere to be seen on Saturday. The Toffees looked as porous as ever and offered Manchester United opportunities to score at a beyond-charitable frequency. Dyche will certainly focus on addressing the defensive issues that I will further illustrate later in this article before next weekend’s crucial clash with a depleted Fulham side.
The 3.4 xG that Everton conceded in Saturday's defeat to Manchester United was the most they've allowed in a Premier League match all season. Uncharacteristically open. #EFC pic.twitter.com/UJFoFQ655l— Garrett Post (@ParrettGost) April 10, 2023
2. Old Trafford Onslaught
Erik Ten Hag’s side took 29 shots on Saturday; the most they’ve managed in a Premier League match this season. Most of those came in the first 45 minutes, amounting to 2.69 xG by halftime at a very high rate of 0.13 xG per shot (rounded up from 0.128). That figure, if replicated across the whole season, would be the joint-highest of any team in the Premier League along with Brentford. Simply put, Everton conceded a very large amount of high-quality chances. That was never going to lead to success in this fixture.
Manchester United attempted 21 shots in the first-half vs Everton.— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) April 8, 2023
It is the most they have taken in the first 45 minutes of a Premier League game since Opta started collecting such data in 2003/04. pic.twitter.com/bBknQCQEL4
3. Susceptible Shape
Although the quality of Manchester United’s players certainly contributed to why the Red Devils were able to fashion so many high-value opportunities, the Toffees made it easy for them with the way they set up. As shown by the average position map below, Everton’s set-up was very narrow and utilized an unusually high line for a road fixture against Big Six opposition. As a result, Manchester United’s greatest threat was on the counter-attack despite keeping 64% possession throughout the match. Ten Hag’s side did not seek to pin Everton but rather deliberately allowed them to move up the pitch, as shown by the fact that the ball was actually in United’s defensive third more than it was in Everton’s (27.9 % v 26.5% respectively).
Ten Hag clearly instructed his team to keep the ball in the back until Everton pushed up, upon which players such as Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, and Bruno Fernandes would look to play long diagonal balls into the space out wide that the Everton back-line had just vacated. That space in behind was exploited by the pace of United’s wingers and strikers, leading to many one-on-one opportunities, and eventually a few goals. Sean Dyche’s men played perfectly into Erik Ten Hag’s game plan, and they paid the price.
4. Pickford Peppered
Due to the success of the aforementioned tactic which Erik Ten Hag’s side executed so diligently, United manufactured numerous opportunities to score throughout the game. However, the Red Devils only scored twice from all those chances mainly due to another phenomenal shot-stopping display from England’s Number One, Jordan Pickford. The 29-year-old made 9 saves, which is the joint-most of his time at Everton. The fact that 8 of those came from shots inside the box makes that feat that much more impressive. Pickford has yet again been a crucial part of Everton’s survival bid, having kept out nearly 4 more goals than expected throughout the season, and the Toffees will continue to rely on him as we enter the home stretch of the tightest relegation battle in recent memory.
Jordan Pickford's stats against Manchester United:— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) April 8, 2023
Touches - 53
Goals conceded - 2
Saves - 9
Shots from inside the box saved - 8
Big chances saved - 4
Punches - 1
Claims - 1
Clearances - 1
Successful long balls - 13
Long ball accuracy - 46%#EFC #MUNEVE
5. Status Quo Sustained
The game on Saturday was Everton’s last of a brutal three-match stretch which saw them face Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United in successive fixtures. Having stolen a late point in each of the first two matches, the Toffees didn’t have much to lose in this game. Gaining any points from the match would have been monumental, but the loss doesn’t change the club’s current situation all too much. Overall, I view only losing one of those three fixtures as a success. Saturday’s matchup was certainly the most difficult of the three, as shown by the fact that United have not lost a Premier League game at Old Trafford since the very first game of the season against Brighton, and have only failed to win three of the twenty-four games since. I’m just glad that Everton’s goal difference did not suffer as much as it could have.