Two steps forward, one step back

By Lyndon Lloyd 10/12/2018 41comments  |  Jump to last
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Everton 2 - 2 Watford

Take nothing away from Lucas Digne’s first goal in English football, an exquisite free kick that bent its way beautifully inside Ben Foster’s right-hand post six minutes into stoppage time, but has a last-gasp goal at Goodison Park ever felt quite as anti-climactic?

Put it down to the realisation that Everton had salvaged an undeserved point but there was none of the elation in this Blue heart that should greet a goal of such precision, both in terms of placement and its timing. Digne should savour it — and, hopefully, it’s the first of many from a player who is, last Wednesday’s dip notwithstanding, proving to be a quite brilliant signing — but there is no question that it papered over some glaring cracks in the Toffees’ performance, their organisation and their focus, not to mention the tactical response of their manager.

After the shock to the system that was that 96th-minute Divock Origi goal at Anfield eight days ago, Everton needed a response in the two home games that followed. Take maximum points from Newcastle and Watford at home and the pain of yet another derby defeat would be diminished; it could be compartmentalised and consigned to the history books as staying above Manchester United and at least keeping the top five within sight became the priority.

Instead, the Blues have largely regressed and a grinding but ultimately guile-less display against the Barcodes that yielded just one point was followed this evening by a more galling outing against the Hornets in which Silva’s men ceded the initiative and momentum to the visitors for all but the first and last 20 minutes and escaped with an undeserved point. It prevented Watford from picking up their first ever win at Goodison Park and their mocking, rubber snake-wielding travelling fans from getting one over their former manager but it all felt massively disappointing.

As predicted, after resting a couple of players in midweek and handing opportunities to Cenk Tosun and Ademola Lookman, Silva reverted to what has been his trusted formation and line-up by recalling Bernard, Theo Walcott and Michael Keane and there were signs in the early going that they were the right decisions. The two wingers were looking lively and, after an untidy start, Everton started to probe Watford’s defence with a couple of interchanges hinting at what was to come with a quarter of an hour gone.

That was when Idrissa Gueye began a flowing move from inside his own half by sliding a pass forward to Walcott and after some neat footwork, the winger slipped the ball through two opposition players to meet Coleman’s run on the overlap. The Irishman eventually worked his way inside, found André Gomes who danced around the nearest defender with one touch, collected the ball off Walcott’s foot (offside as it turned out) and centred for Richarlison to bury it past Ben Foster.

That should have been the platform from which Everton turned the screw but they allowed Watford to take control of the game and for a large stretch of the remainder of the contest, they were out-fought and out-played by a side that hadn’t won in five Premier League matches. To Javi Gracia’sa credit, his charges were first to the ball, inventive and incisive while the hosts toiled and generally struggled to live with the Hornets as the likes of Roberto Pereyra, Isaac Success and Abdoulaye Doucoure began to shine.

Pereyra glanced a free header wide later in the half that should have brought Watford level earlier than he eventually did, albeit via the unwitting Seamus Coleman, but another delightful Everton move just before the break almost made it 2-0.

A flick by Bernard released Sigurdsson into space and when he played a one-two with Digne, it took a superb, last-ditch tackle by Craig Cathcart to deny the Icelandic international.

At the other end. Watford reminded the Blues of their threat when Troy Deeney almost poked a deep ball past Pickford but it bounced wide while Yerry Mina, already on a booking for an intentional handball as he tried to convert Sigurdsson’s cross earlier in the half, was probably lucky to avoid giving away a free kick and collecting a second yellow for a tackle on Success in which he didn’t appear to make contact with the ball.

Yet, a goal to the good at half-time and with an excellent record this season of winning games at home when scoring first, the table was set for Everton to raise their game again after the interval and press home their superiority. As was the case against Newcastle, however, there was little evidence of any inspirational half-time team talk from Silva – what followed was the worst second-half performance of the season so far – and no response from the manager to the fact that his side was looking mis-matched in midfield.

It took Watford’s equaliser to rouse the first change from him but he wouldn’t get the chance to make it before the visitors grabbed a second goal and took a surprise lead. Pereyra had already lashed a free-kick into the side-netting 10 minutes after the restart, Mina had had to make an excellent block to deflect a Doucouré shot behind, and Jordan Pickford had pushed away a low drive by Christian Kabasele by the time Watford levelled in the 62nd minute.

Digne lost his footing trying to close down substitute Gerard Deulofeu and the Spaniard exploited the space, threading Ferminia in on the overlap behind Bernard and though Pereyra could only turn the resulting cross onto the post, the ball hit Coleman on the knees and bounced into the empty net.

It was 2-1 just two minutes later. Gomes was harshly adjudged to have fouled Success near the touchline by referee Kevin Friend but Everton switched off as Watford took a quick free kick, Pereyra got to the byline to swing in a deflected cross that looped into the six-yard box where it was always going to be advantage Doucouré as he powered in untracked to leap above Coleman and head home.

Silva responded by hooking Bernard and Walcott in favour of Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin but it was Mina who was involved in a potentially pivotal incident in the Hornets’ box when he was clumsily flattened by Kabasele and Friend pointed to the penalty spot.

Sigurdsson, stepped up confidently enough but drove his spot-kick in the same place as Luka Milivojevic did for Crystal Palace earlier this season and Foster made the save with his foot.

What followed was a lot of increasingly desperate huff and puff from Everton and a couple of “nearly” moments for Richarlison, the best of which coming from Coleman’s cut-back but the ball got stuck under his foot and he was closed down before he could dig it out.

It looked as though the Toffees were going to be handed a chastening defeat until a last hopeful ball was lofted to the edge of the Watford area, Kabasele handled it as he challenged Michael Keane and Digne did the rest with a sweet finish to rescue a point while registering a personal milestone with his first goal in Everton colours.

With all the mounting optimism among Evertonians at the visible progress made at Goodison under Marco Silva, the past three games have served as something of a reality check and this evening, in particular, highlighted that the new manager has a way to go before some lingering traits can be worked out of the Everton system.

Everton were, perhaps, complacent after scoring the opening goal, lacked focus at crucial moments and found themselves unable to compete with a robust and quick-witted opposition midfield. Having delighted the home faithful with some sublime examples of his poise and distribution at times, Gomes had arguably his most testing game since joining; his pass for the first goal notwithstanding, Gueye’s erratic distribution was occasionally exposed and the partnership of Keane and Mina at the back looked less sure than at any time thus far, the former’s midweek break seeming to disrupt his flow.

Out wide, none of Walcott, Bernard or Lookman look capable of performing consistently or reliably for anything close to 90 minutes. All three had some nice moments but much more is required if they are to play week in, week out. Up front, meanwhile, Richarlison weighed in with his obligatory goal but his tendency to drift from the centre or to drop deep leaves the team without a focal point in attack.

Overall, it was one of those nights where you had to retain some perspective and to keep the bigger picture in view. While Everton are better in a raft of respects than they were last season, Silva and Marcel Brands have plenty of work left to do and it won’t all be solved overnight. There will be more games like this while the manager works through the issues he inherited, continues to bed in his new players and highlights areas that still need to be strengthened.


Reader Comments (41)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 11/12/2018 at 03:49:25
Love your last paragraph, Lyndon. Perspective is definitely needed. Despite the results this fall, this is still not a good club. Improving, but inconsistent.

The problem on the wings will be resolved when we get a striker and move Richarlison back to his preferred position, but at the moment he is still our most likely striker to score.

But his biggest problem, as I see it, isn't his movement off the ball. It's his tendency to go down in a heap under physical defense and then get up wailing at the referee. It's building him an unhelpful reputation that is costing him calls on actual fouls.

Bob Parrington
2 Posted 11/12/2018 at 06:19:40
Rather disappointing to scrape 2 points only from an available 9. However, it is the two score-draw team performances that worry me most. Gone is that truly high press and team togetherness with coordinated rhythm that we witnessed in some of the previous games.

Using the same starting eleven, regardless, has not paid off and perhaps we should question one or two changes in midfield or attack in particular.

Maybe a change in midfield will be forced if Gana doesn't recover in time for the next game. Up front, perhaps drop either Bernard or Walcott and introduce Lookman.

Jimmy Hogan
3 Posted 11/12/2018 at 08:59:04
I think Lyndon is right when he says that Watford were first to every loose ball. We need to work on the physical side of our game as well as the technical side, otherwise teams like Watford will bully us, as they did last night and Newcastle did last week.
Derek McMonagle
4 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:24:32
Silva - ‘lost the focus in the second half’ - as if the first half performance was anything to write home about? They were poor from start to finish. Watford were unlucky not to come away without the three points.
Colin Glassar
5 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:30:28
Watford bullied us. Walcott, Bernard, Gueye we're brushed aside like annoying gnats. They went long and they went high and we couldn't cope with it.

Poor team selection, poor tactics, poor play. Sort it out, Marco! Teams are adapting to us but we aren't adapting to them.

Pat Waine
6 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:35:52
A wake-up call indeed. The Mess that Koeman left behind will take time (years) to clear up.

To ask a manager to come in change the pattern of play get rid of dross and add real quality is a difficult ask. To ask that it be done in a short space of time is near impossible.

We have a reasonable squad with developing players. we lack a real centre Forward and I am afraid we need to replace our right back too. Bernard has a nice touch and gives us some quality but is he strong enough for the most physical league on the planet? Gomes looks to have everything except pace. We should try tie him up ASAP or someone else will.

Out go Tosun, Davies, Jagielka, Coleman, and Baines in the next years and add a goal scorer and a right back. It will take a few years though.

Robert Leigh
7 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:44:32
It was clear last night that Gana's passing isn't up to scratch compared to the rest of the side. He is a great player for us; hopefully Marco's coaching can improve this aspect of his game.

But we need to freshen up that area of the pitch. Man City on Saturday lunchtime, I'd be inclined to give a few other players a run out before a busy period where we face Spurs, Brighton, Burnley and Leicester before the FA Cup. Something like the following against City:

Pickford
Keane - Mina - Zouma
Kenny - McCarthy - Gana - Baines
Lookman - Calvert-Lewin - Walcott

We're unlikely to get much from Man City, this side has pace and could cause a few problems; this also gives key members of the team a rest before a potentially winnable home game against Spurs.

Dave Lynch
8 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:46:42
The Hornets were second best in the first half. They adapted their system second half and caused us a multitude of problems.

My concern is this... The substitutions made us more ineffective, Bernard, although light weight is a handful and a bloody nuisance, he should not have been pulled. The subs where just passengers from the minute they came on.

If Silva has anything about him we will lose 5-6 players come the next window. Either he will learn from his mistakes or he will go the way of our last 3 charlatans.


Dave Lynch
9 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:50:53
Rob.

Man City will cause us more than a few problems in fear.

They are more than capable of giving us the thrashing of a lifetime; if they click in front of goal, I fear a landslide.

James Lauwervine
10 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:52:09
Whilst it was a disappointing game, I think there's been a lot of overreaction – notably on the live forum last night where the levels of abuse and idiocy were, as usual, way over the top.

Watford are a decent side and will finish top half. They were obviously massively up for this game given it was against Silva and Richarlison. Yet, despite our below-par performance we scored two goals, missed a penalty and created a number of other chances. They scored from an own goal and a header from a deflected cross – other than that, I can't think of many real chances they created.

When I think back to last season, I still see huge improvement, but we are clearly a work in progress. I also think the negative atmosphere at Goodison Park is very damaging to the players and gives the opposition an advantage.

John Keating
11 Posted 11/12/2018 at 09:58:35
I left the ground after the Newcastle game thinking we were crap but were better than them and deserved to win. Last night I thought we were crap and were not better than them and deserved to lose.

Silva may well be preparing the teams but is he actually motivating them? We just seemed to have come to a grinding halt. Slow, ponderous, devoid of any sort of Plan B. Our passing and crossing is in the main embarrassing for professional footballers.

We have to change things quickly as we are being easily sussed out by the opposition.

With Man City's pace we have to play Zouma at the back. Gana needs taking out the firing line and practise passing the ball. Richarlison needs to be back on the wing with Calvert-Lewin up top until we get someone better.

Now is the time for Silva to show us that he deserves the hype some people have been giving him.

Stan Schofield
12 Posted 11/12/2018 at 10:52:24
The team we had last night is very very good, one of the best in some time. But we lack strength in depth, top quality off the bench, two fine teams as opposed to just one. Without it, we cannot compete with the top, certainly not consistently. Liverpool have found this out, and have invested big resources consistently to sort out their defence.

So what happened after the derby is no surprise at all. Without quality in depth, it was almost inevitable.

The Premier League is so physical, on top of the high pressing being done, that a club having a single fine team is not enough. That's the bottom line.

We're definitely on the up in terms of quality of football, which has been absent for a while, and that has been achieved by bringing in very good players and organising the team well. But this process of putting in the resources to attract the right players needs to continue, which is the case for every top club to compete.

Andy Bonner
13 Posted 11/12/2018 at 11:10:53
A couple of things:

Why is there inconsistency with referees regarding taking free-kicks before they blow their whistle? Last night, referee Friend never blew his whistle for Watford to take the disputed free-kick prior to their second goal.

Further, why was Kabasele not sent off for his handball with his hand above his head for the free kick that led to our equalizer. Mina was booked for a similar handball.

Gerard McKean
14 Posted 11/12/2018 at 11:58:05
Lyndon, the title of your article says it all; where we looked for a vigorous response to the disappointment of the derby, we found only retrogression.

I remain supportive of Silva; I accept we have relegated Allardyce and his style of play to the dustbin of history, and I know we need to be patient with a work in progress. However, even taking all this into account last night, as you write, all felt massively disappointing.

It does not take an awful lot to get Goodison under floodlights rocking, but the lack or urgency and indeed complacency on the pitch failed to ignite any spark. My own disappointments centred around the manager's selection and set-up.

Picking Walcott not only leaves us with a "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got" situation, it negates the impact that a confident Lookman trusted with a run of games might bring. Okay, he might not give us that impact but the point is we don't know but we do know that there is no, never has been, an end product to the talented but frustrating Theo.

Gana Gueye has played some decent games this season but last night wasn't one of them. Stats about pass completion are often irrelevant when mostly it is central defenders who come out on top by passing the ball sideways to each other. Gueye is fine playing the easy ball backwards but last night he even surrendered possession with some innocuous sideways passes and, apart from one excellent crossfield ball to Walcott, was totally ineffective in making any penetrative passes.

Richarlison had a poor game. He clearly does not relish a ball shielding position and his amateur dramatics need to stop now. This is all up to Silva a) to find a role that brings the best out of him, and b) to explain why diving around is best left for the likes of Sturridge. The same goes for my otherwise Man of the Match, Mina. the manager needs to ask him why he thinks inviting a yellow card for a totally ridiculous handball is a good idea?

As things got more desperate, courtesy of the team's own inability to stay switched on, so did the manager's tactics. Was there room at 1-2 for Tom Davies, perhaps for the outstanding but last night under par (injured?) Andre Gomes? How would Bernard have done moved to the Sigurdsson role, would Lookman have been better cutting in from the left? Tosun and Calvert-Lewin together?

You get it spot on again, Lyndon, that a beautiful last-gasp free-kick goal from the excellent Digne actually felt anti-climactic. Things to ponder.

I'm far happier than I was 12 months ago but, if we have to be patient in waiting for Silva and Brands to produce 11 players on the pitch who are all without doubt worthy of the shirt, then we should not need to be so forgiving in waiting to see 90 minutes of hard graft and concentration from whichever 11 are on the pitch in the meantime.

John G Davies
15 Posted 11/12/2018 at 11:59:26
Good report as usual, Lyndon.

We have the signs of something good starting but still have a fair way to go.

In my opinion, we will need at least two windows to get near to where we want to be.

Gerard McKean
16 Posted 11/12/2018 at 12:12:17
Andy #13, I'm with you.

Even by the woeful standard of "professional" officiating in this country, last night scraped the bottom of the barrel. Friend allowed Watford to take so much time out of the game and his only response to the chicanery was to waste more time having a chat with Deeney.

You are correct that the referee's inconsistency in his decision-making was obvious but at least the linesman, sorry referee's assistant, on the Bullens Road side in the first half did manage a high degree of consistency: he missed every off-side, did not spot one of several fouls within a few metres of him, and always managed to look like a rabbit caught in headlights.

Tony Everan
17 Posted 11/12/2018 at 12:40:47
agree that some of our players were no match physically and given the annoying mosquito treatment, but our players didn't excel either on the technical front. Players at the top level have to excel at both.

Look at David Silva, he has the tenacity of Gana and the skill of Messi. I'm not saying we need David Silva, but our ''lightweights'' need more of his attributes.

Also, I feel teams are targeting Seamus more as a perceived weak link and I still think he is 5-10% below his best.

James Marshall
18 Posted 11/12/2018 at 12:47:21
I'm of the opinion that there's nothing wrong with these players, or the team, or the tactics. Our problem in the last couple of games appears to me, to be tiredness and fatigue.

We looked knackered after half an hour last night and really ran out of steam against a vibrant Watford who were obviously well up for the game given the motivation of the Silva thing.

You can say what you like about fitness, how much they earn etc, but the evidence is there to suggest the fatigue of playing a number of games in a short space of time is getting to them.

We also play a very high pressing game, as the stats prove, which is very hard to sustain over a season – just look at the RS last season, falling down around December – a team who play a very obvious high pressing game. There are similarities.

Brian Harrison
19 Posted 11/12/2018 at 12:55:28
Well, there is no doubt we were lucky to get a draw last night, which is surprising considering we started so well. Some of the one-touch football in the first half was a joy to watch. But for some reason only known to the players, 15 minutes after we scored we seemed quite content to knock the ball about in our own half, with very little attacking intent.

Watford came out second half and pretty much ran the game and it was obvious to all that were there that it was only a matter of time before Watford scored. Yes, they had a bit of good fortune with the ball rebounding off Seamus but, even after that goal they still came at us and, a few minutes late,r they deservedly took the lead. They are a big physical side and they bullied Everton all night.

I would also say to Richarlison you are a talent, but stop going to ground and moaning to the referee all the time. You don't want to be known like your pal Neymar of always diving and moaning to refs; otherwise, if you don't man up, you will get more and more defenders trying to bully you out of games.

I seem to post after every game saying the same thing: we are not clinical enough in the final third. Although way short of our best last night, we still created enough chances in front of goal besides the penalty miss. But we only have one player playing up front who looks like he will score and that's Richarlison.

Walcott, as he did in his Arsenal days, flatters to deceive, he hasn't scored since August and Bernard is yet to open his account. It is very difficult to win games when only1 of the front 3 is capable of scoring. I am also sorry to say that the back up front players are not good enough.

Maybe the last minute disaster against the other lot has taken the wind out of our sails, seems we always suffer for a few games when they beat us. Also for no apparent reason over the last number of years December always seems to be a poor month for picking up points.

But we are all down over the last 3 results, but Silva has improved this team and he has only had 1 transfer window, I am not sure if the quality we are after is ever available in the January window. Michael Keane is back to his very best and Gomes is a class act, we could really do with signing him in January as the more games he plays the more he will attract the interest of Champions league teams.

So, while a little down over the last couple of results and with two very difficult games to come next, I have faith that Silva and Brands will make us a team to be reckoned with next season.

John Keating
20 Posted 11/12/2018 at 13:05:11
James,

We had five days to recover from the Newcastle game. I cannot believe this is not sufficient time for professional footballers, at a top club with loads of support staff, to recover.

Even if we could give 30 minutes of high tempo football but we start and finish, added with the bit in between, at a slow pedestrian pace.bTiredness after 16 games with no European football is no excuse, in my opinion.

We have become extremely predictable and are being found out. Silva needs to change things around, that is, if he's the superstar we are led to believe he is.

If the team that started last night starts against Man City, then I dread to think of the outcome.

Frank McGregor
21 Posted 11/12/2018 at 13:40:26
I don't often comment on games; however, Everton were very lucky to get a draw. The introduction of Mina in defence has upset the back four. Zouma should be reinstalled as Keane's partner. I don't believe Mina will adapt to Premier League football.

The midfield is a major concern; the current midfield are incapable of controlling a game.

John Raftery
22 Posted 11/12/2018 at 13:55:36
Collectively, that was a very poor team performance, lacking belief and confidence. Four of our five home victories have been against teams we would have expected to beat in the second half of last season when we had a much inferior squad and to many, an unspeakable manager. We have just drawn two fixtures at home against teams we beat last season, albeit in very fortunate circumstances in the case of Watford.

I agree, the manager had a poor night. He allowed the game to drift on when it was clear we were being outgunned all over the field, especially in midfield where the Gomes and Gueye duo had their least effective outing since the partnership was formed. The eventual changes resulted in a route one approach which would have been condemned as primitive under previous managers. So much for our change of style.

With Mina augmenting the attack, at least we posed a few problems for Watford. Ultimately it was those rudimentary tactics and Digne's wonderful free-kick which yielded a point when it looked likely we would finish empty-handed. It was, as far as I can recall, our first goal from a direct free kick since Lukaku scored against Palace in September 2016.

Jerome Shields
23 Posted 11/12/2018 at 15:12:53
Everton, as set up by Silva, are dependent on the high press to provide the space for the attacking midfield.

With Tosun, Everton were never able to maintain the high press. Although he did work hard, Tosun was never a threat, since he was unable to beat his marker and had to depend on running into prepared channels, which most Premier League sides can nullify.

Calvert-Lewin wasn't much good either regarding the high press, but concerned himself more with positioning.

Richarlison is more of a threat but he doesn't really understand the high press, tending to come deep too often.

The high press is further weakened by the peripheral play of Bernard and Walcott, who are not a threat. Bernard needs to come inside and is not really a winger. His shots on target are poor, as is his finishing.

Walcott is more aware of the importance of the high press and does contribute via his positioning. He struggles with the dual role assigned, having consistently the lowest number of touches of the Everton outfield players. His threat value is reduced and he has fluffed his lines when good scoring opportunities arise.

The result is that, when the opposition are able, and increasingly confident, to move their defensive line up to midfield. The result is Sigurdsson goes missing and Gana resorts to more long passes, which increases there inaccuracy. In the Newcastle game, even Digne had problems when the defence pushed their defensive line up. The more pressure is put on the defence, the inadequacies by Coleman, become evident.

The other contributing factor is poor play in the final third. The amount of completed passes is very low, meaning that Everton are unable to play their way past a higher opposition defensive line. There is a high dependency on Digne's crosses, which he is good at, but even he struggles when the high press isn't working.

Lastly, the standard of finishing is abysmal. Neither Bernard or Walcott can finish, Calvert Lewin is a bit better than Tosun and he is useless. That leaves Richarlison and Sigurdsson to score. The late arrival in the box of Gomes, Mina, or Keane hasn't quite clicked yet.

So Newcastle showed the way – push the defensive line up, pack midfield; other teams will play the same as Watford did. Silva's tactics are nullified and the neglect of the final third play, where there has been no improvement in pass completion or finishing, means that Silva has no alternatives.

Andy Meighan
24 Posted 11/12/2018 at 16:01:26
James 18. There are no similarities between us this season and the Liverpool of last season. In fact, we haven't got close to them for years. Be fair — they are light years ahead of us. Okay, we more than matched them at Anfield until you know what... but, let's face it, we were due a performance there, yet we still lost.

The reason we have dropped points has nothing to do with how we play; it's because of the personnel – there's more dead wood at our club than Terrys Timber.

Koeman and his staff set our club back 3 seasons so it's going to take Silva 4 or 5 windows to rectify that. Will he get that time? I'm not so sure... Moshiri seems trigger happy but we need stability – we can't keep chopping and changing managers because in 4 or 5 seasons we 'll be in the same boat.

Mike Gwyer
25 Posted 11/12/2018 at 16:05:19

Lot of talk about Richarlison going to ground. For me several of our players need to either seriously look at their boots or get some extra leg muscle that will keep them on their feet. So many times we lost the ball when our players went to ground, not just from player contact but their inability to stay on their feet with the ball in play.


Jon Withey
26 Posted 11/12/2018 at 16:21:09
Left a funny taste in the mouth that game.

Great goals from Richarlison and Digne – both remain good signings along with Gomes.

It was the first time I'd seen Mina play and I like him a lot for his character and power – but I was waiting for him to be sent off, to be honest – I guess he needs to get settled into the league.

A lot of huff and puff in their third with some really poor final balls or runs down blind alleys and we seemed to give a lot of the initiative to Watford who looked the more athletic side at times.

I'd pick on Coleman but he always shows for the ball and tries something.

Tosun and Calvert-Lewin aren't the most inspiring subs, although Lookman does add something.

So, I've started looking down the table after looking up for a while. That's a shame as I thought we might start pushing some of the outliers like Man Utd.

You can't help feeling we are in the correct position in the table and we'll have to work hard to keep it on the last 2 displays.

I was starting to hope for a bit more.

Soren Moyer
27 Posted 11/12/2018 at 16:27:50
I believe we urgently need a proper No 9, a powerful midfielder to replace Gana, and a right back too.
Jack Convery
28 Posted 11/12/2018 at 17:00:58
Has to be 4-5-1 v Man City.

Pickford
Kenny
Keane
Zouma
Digne
Coleman
Gueye
Gomes
Davies
Richarlison
Calvert-Lewin

And may god be with us!!!

Brian Murray
29 Posted 11/12/2018 at 17:19:00
Virginia Kenny Baines Coleman Pennington Holgate Schneiderlin Baningime Niasse Calvert-Lewin Walcott vs Man City. Boost their goals for stats and wipe that daft grin off the pitch-invading kraut!!!
Nicholas Ryan
30 Posted 11/12/2018 at 18:41:26
When one of the best dead-ball specialists in the League, can't convert from 12 yards, you're going to struggle!
John Keating
31 Posted 11/12/2018 at 18:42:27
Jack, quite an attacking team there.

I'd go a bit more defensive against Man City

Pickford
Kenny, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Zouma, Digne, Baines
Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies

If we can keep City to single figures, then it's obviously a plus.

Rick Tarleton
32 Posted 11/12/2018 at 20:32:26
Last season, we complained about the lack of pace in the front; now we have three or four really fast front players. The problem is our midfield is not an effective unit at quickly pressing and winning the ball, then moving it rapidly in order to utilise the pace of our front men.

Gomes is an excellent fulcrum for any midfield, though I do worry about his ability to last a full game, he seems to be a much better first half player. Sigurdsson has many talents, but moving quickly with or without the ball is not one of them, Gueye is what he is and breaks down the opposition very well, but creativity is a step beyond him.

We need our full-backs to be effective and fast. Coleman has struggled since his injury, Digne takes a wonderful free kick, but is not as good as Baines was three or four years ago.

It may be that the hangover from Anfield has been more severe than we expected, but Man City on Saturday is not a place to go with the residue of a hangover and a heavy defeat will add to the lack of confidence we have shown in the Newcastle and Watford games.

Bill Watson
33 Posted 11/12/2018 at 21:01:56
We were so poor that despite Digne's brilliant, last gasp, equaliser I left the ground feeling quite deflated. Walcott continues to disappoint and Bernard is, perhaps, best suited to a role as an impact sub.

We desperately need a focal point up front who can also score. Hopefully, this will be resolved in next month's transfer window.

Seamus continues to struggle and, perhaps, it's time to give Kenny a run out.

The poor quality of our corner kicks continues to irritate; how difficult is it to beat the first man? Does anyone know when we last scored from a corner, either the game or the number of corners ago?

Tony Everan
34 Posted 11/12/2018 at 21:21:44
If Kenny doesn't get a chance soon he never will, it would be a tricky re-introduction on Saturday though. Bernard is struggling to make an impact and he offers less than Lookman who will become better with a run in the team. The time has come for Lookman to replace Bernard as the starter.

I have not got a problem with the Keane - Mina centre-back pairing, I think they have done little wrong. The two goals conceded were not of their errors the full-backs could have done better, the first goal was even a communication error as the player behind Digne – Bernard? – was in a better position to easily clear the ball.

The second goal was from a cross that should never have been allowed to come in, and Seamus was all over the shop in defending it. Maybe he lost it in the floodlights?

Jerome Shields
35 Posted 12/12/2018 at 10:41:14
Rick #32.

The problem is that Everton's midfield is pressed and outnumbered as the opposition can push the defensive line up confident that the inadequacies of the Everton forwards' ability in finishing and play is a threat worth taking a risk on.

Steve Carse
36 Posted 12/12/2018 at 23:47:43
The midfield is a problem area. But not because of the quality of those filling the places currently. Rather it's because there's too few of them playing in there.

The fundamental problem is that Sigurdsson is playing too far forward, leaving us with just Gueye and Gomes in the engine room. For much of the time at both Anfield and the two recent home games, Sigurdsson was playing virtually alongside Richarlison. Not only does this leave us outnumbered in the midfield when trying to win the ball, it also leaves us one link short when in possession with a view to getting the ball forward constructively. Basically, we end up playing a 4-2-4.

Mal van Schaick
37 Posted 13/12/2018 at 14:01:39
The game against Man City will be tough tactically; if we are not organised and disciplined, we may pay for it.

I'm hoping Everton will surprise us by get something from the game. I would like to see Richarlison play a bit deeper, and run into space upfront. May be the game for Calvert-Lewin to hold the ball up, bringing midfielders into play.

Kevin Prytherch
38 Posted 13/12/2018 at 15:01:32
Against Man City I would rest Sigurdsson who is showing signs of fatigue, and bring in Davies. Ultimately playing with 3 CM's, letting Davies and Gana tackle everything that moves while Gomes does the creative stuff.

I would also play a front 3 of Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Walcott. I fear we'll have to hit City on the break and these 3 are the fastest players to do just that.

Set up as a fairly flat 4-3-3. The other added bonus of this, is that Richarlison and Walcott should keep the City fullbacks occupied enough not to join in their attacks as much.

Alex Kociuba
39 Posted 13/12/2018 at 17:04:19
Against City a lone striker is futile and starting the game with too many attack-minded players is a risk. I think playing a flat back 4 (with no wing-back play), and a midfield of 6, using the wingers as our attack-minded players.

The probability is that whatever formation we play we'll get about 4 shots in total and perhaps 1 on target in the entire game — I think our best option is to be ultra-defensive, outnumber them in midfield, absorb pressure, and make the most of a handful of breaks.

David Pearl
40 Posted 13/12/2018 at 19:27:35
Hmm.... I would very surprised if there's any changes, so long as they are rested. This is the ideal team to play, on the break for a change instead of needing to attack due to being at home. Not that I'd mind 3-4-3. Tactics similar to Chelsea game.

Need some luck, of course, but we might get a draw, if we score first. Silva knows we have some players chomping at the bit but I'm pretty sure he doesn't yet know how to use them.

Mark Andersson
41 Posted 14/12/2018 at 05:04:31
Well, I hope Marco Silva reads TW coz you guys seem to know all the answers to all of his problems... maybe he should share his wages with you experts?

Interesting times ahead or is it just another Groundhog Day?

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