Why is Gylfi Sigurdsson still struggling at Everton?

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 36comments  |  Jump to last

Gylfi Sigurdsson had a limited impact in his first season at Everton and remains on the periphery of the action this term. Matt Cheetham at Sky Sports takes a deeper look at the stats and reasons behind his struggles...

His current average of 15 successful passes per 90 minutes ranks 79th of the 83 midfielders to play significant minutes this season - hardly the return of a player flourishing under new management. Using Opta's starting XIs, and comparing him with those playing similar central roles so far, his lack of involvement is highlighted further.

There's little doubt Sigurdsson's input is key, yet remains alarmingly peripheral - and he's been signed to be his club's creative focal point. Until a way is found to feature him more, or that prominent presence is identified elsewhere, Everton will find it hard controlling games and breaking down defences.

» Read the full article at Sky Sports

Reader Comments (36)

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Bobby Mallon
1 Posted 12/09/2018 at 08:32:36
Gylfi needs to be played as an attacking midfielder next to Gana. Then we will see the best of him. With Little Bernard playing just in front as the Number 10 behind Tosun. We really don't need two defensive type central midfielders.
Jim Bennings
2 Posted 12/09/2018 at 08:35:43
Hang on a minute, is he really struggling?

I thought he was poor against Huddersfield but his quick creative thinking at Bournemouth got the second goal (should have been the winner). Against Southampton, he was one of better players and his work rate pressing the opponent was commendable.

Listen, Sigurdsson was never ever a £45 million pound player, we know that, he knows that, but he didn't set the transfer fee. What he offers is a good technical ability; he can't carry the ball – that's not his game – but we knew that before signing him.

He also can't help the fact that Everton don't really possess other midfielders that don't run forward but you can see he will progress with Richarlison and Walcott in the team.

As for people blaming Gylfi and bemoaning Tosun not getting service, well I'd suggest he starts getting into positions to actually score because numerous decent balls into the box have been delivered (some by under scrutiny Sigurdsson, yes!) and our striker has been nowhere to be seen.

Last season, Sigurdsson proved with some genuine top class strikes that he has ability, the goals against Split, Swansea and Southampton and Liverpool in the Cup were majestic finishes and he at the time was the only Everton player capable of those types of goals.

Sigurdsson wasn't helped last season by what was in front of him and I'd have loved to have seen him in the same team as Lukaku.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
3 Posted 12/09/2018 at 08:53:12
Jim, I think there are a lot of us who would love to see him in the same team as Lukaku.

0161 868 8000

Kevin Prytherch
4 Posted 12/09/2018 at 08:58:22
Sigurdssons days are numbered.

He's a good player, he works hard, he's lethal from set pieces when he has a target to aim for.

Unfortunately he's not good enough for the role he is supposed to play, especially from open play.

Would he flourish more with a more creative player ahead of him, ie, playing the box-to-box role instead of the Number 10 role?

I don't think we'll ever break into the top 6 with Sigurdsson as a Number 10. He's not good enough against the top teams, he's not creative enough to break down teams who park the bus.

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 12/09/2018 at 09:04:07

You say his days are numbered but who is going to replace him right at this moment in time with the transfer window shut?

People are pinning everything on Bernard but he's barely kicked a ball. He could be amazing but there's also a chance he could be another Rodrigo (one of Moyes's first ever signings in 2002) and just disappear into the abyss.

The Premier League is a ruthless place to instantly say “he must replace this fella or that fella” without seeing him play first.

Sigurdsson should be played behind the striker.

If Tom Davies, Morgan Schneiderlin and Gana get regular games in the centre of midfield, it's a travesty for me that Sigurdsson doesn't get time there.

Victor Yu
6 Posted 12/09/2018 at 09:05:25
Sigurdsson is 5 times better than Davies, even when he is 'struggling'.
Kevin Prytherch
7 Posted 12/09/2018 at 09:53:35
I've not said that Bernard will be good or replace him. I do believe that Sigurdsson will not be a regular by this time next season though. His days are numbered and the last game showed his limitations in trying to break down a stubborn defence. I just don't think he offers enough from open play, even when he was Swansea's creative inspiration; Calvert-Lewin creates more chances from open play.

Very few teams play with 2 forwards anymore, the advent of the “Number 10” has replaced this. There's two main types of Number 10, either a withdrawn forward (Steve Ferns zonal marking piece highlighted Cantona as this) or an attacking midfielder. Either way, the “Number 10” is effectively replacing a striker so has to contribute for the loss of goals he is replacing. This either happens by goals or assists (the withdrawn forward would generally still score 10-15 a season, the attacking midfielder would chip in with 10-15 assists, the goals would come from elsewhere such as wingers). I just don't see Sigurdsson contributing any of these from open play.

He is still a very good player, he works hard, he is comfortable on the ball, he looks like he's got a good understanding of the game. He just doesn't contribute enough in the “Number 10” role for a team looking to break into the top 6.

Could he alter his game slightly to be a box to box midfielder? He certainly has the work rate, the ability to shoot from distance, the knowledge of the game etc.

Jerome Shields
8 Posted 12/09/2018 at 09:55:10
Kevin (#4)

I am beginning to agree with you. The main threat Everton has is from the wings. I think Sigurdsson is poor and his stats show why.

I also think that Tosun also flatters to deceive. His stats are not much better and Niasse has been very disappointing this season. These players do not seem to have put the effort in during the Summer or bought into Silva's tactics. They all rarely beat defenders or hit the target.

I know that a lot of people like Tosun's link play but 95 % of the time he has his back to goal. His play has all the hallmarks of a player who is not confident he can beat his marker. Calvert-Lewin has put the effort in during the Summer and it shows in his play.

The problem Sigurdsson has is his stats weren't much better before joining Everton. His transfer fee was way above his value. Therefore, he may continue to struggle.

Clive Rogers
9 Posted 12/09/2018 at 10:07:38
Sigurdsson was very poor against Huddersfield with only 10 passes completed. Being subbed with the score 1 - 1 from attacking midfield tells me the Silva was not happy with his performance and I wouldn't be surprised if he was on the bench on Sunday. He is under pressure from Bernard and Gomes also when fit.
Eddie Dunn
10 Posted 12/09/2018 at 10:39:16
Makes me wonder if he is truly over that injury, or has he returned to action too soon?
Sam Hoare
11 Posted 12/09/2018 at 10:51:50
He was, is, and always has been overrated in open play. He's an excellent set-piece taker and that has usually been the origin of many of his assists and goals, especially at Swansea who had the likes of Llorente to profit.

In open play, he has always been very mediocre by Premier League standards which is why I really didn't want us to spend £45m on him. He has his qualities; he's smarter than many, technically sound and works very hard. He would add something to most mid-table teams. But he's a long way behind the likes of Silva, De Bruyne, Eriksen, Hazard, Firmino, Ozil, or Mahrez. He's a bit slow and can't beat a man which doesn't help and his passing and vision, whilst better than most in our team, is not on a par with the top playmakers.

Basically he's fine for us now as a 7th- to 10th-ish team but, if we want to go further than that, we need a better or more than one playmaker. Gylfi is the best we've got for now until Bernard (or Lookman or Dowell?) shows better. Perhaps we should have challenged Fulham more heavily for Seri as he seems to have hit the ground running.

Brian Williams
12 Posted 12/09/2018 at 11:40:22
He's undoubtedly a skillful player and an excellent striker of the ball but he often looks too one-paced and he seems to sometimes turn like a double-decker bus. Whether that's down to carrying a knock or age-related who knows.

I have seen him regularly get the ball knicked away from him by players who could only dream of having his skills but who have two of the main requirements for the Premier League (generally speaking) and that's strength and pace.

IMHO, he's like several other players we have who do some very good things, seldomly, and average things most of the time. The better teams have players for which the reverse is true, and that's what we need.

Will Mabon
13 Posted 12/09/2018 at 13:09:17
Anyone following that Sky link might take a peek at their article on Davies, too.
Eddie Dunn
14 Posted 12/09/2018 at 15:20:47
Returning to my question on whether he has fully recovered from the injury, it could be the reason he was substituted in his last outing.
Steve Ferns
15 Posted 12/09/2018 at 15:26:56
Kevin, what you say would be right if we played a 4-4-1-1. That is simply dropping a striker between the lines. This would have Gylfi ahead of all of the midfielders. But he isn't. We play a 4-2-3-1. The front 4 are in a diamond shape. Gylfi is at the base, Richarlison left and Walcott right. It's not a very wide formation, although Walcott gets far wider than Richarlison who starts left of centre, but drives into the middle into space.

What the stats show is that Gylfi is not dominating games, but he is effecting them. He has key moments, just not enough of them. I think it's very harsh to say he is still struggling. Everything these days is black or white, great or shite. Sigurdsson is doing alright. He has his moments and they lead to goals, but there's not enough of them and if he could increase those moments, well, we'd be flying.

Why do people go on about Bernard? Simply because unlike Sigurdsson, he has done it at the highest level (Champions League). Just watch that Man City game. He has magic in his boots. His shooting, his passing, his control, his dribbling, it's stuff to drool over.

The issue is his size and weight. And whether the opposition can bully him out of games. I hope that his ability will shine through and he will find a way. Just like David Silva did.

Unless Sigurdsson starts to dominate games, and we don't turn these draws into victories, then I think Bernard could displace Sigurdsson.

As for dropping Sigurdsson back into midfield, it's interesting, but there's a 6'-2" Portuguese who says it won't happen. It's going to be interesting enough to see how Silva changes the midfield dynamic to get Gomes into the side – never mind playing Sigurdsson deeper in a position he isn't comfortable in.

Clive Rogers
16 Posted 12/09/2018 at 15:43:39
Looking at his stats, Gylfi only provided 4 assists last season and 1 so far this season. His free kicks also have been disappointing. I don’t think he has scored from one for us.
Steve Ferns
17 Posted 12/09/2018 at 15:53:54
Clive: "Gylfi only provided 4 assists last season". Yes, it seems a low number. But have you looked at the actual assist chart. Other than Man City players, no-one else got more than 10. Our best assister was Calvert-Lewin with 6, and he made the top 20 or so. So 6 was actually a very good figure. Extremely good for Dom who was hardly playing week-in & week-out.

We bought Gylfi on the back of a great season at Swansea where he had 13 assists. 10th best in the Premier League that season — and the top Englishman was our own Ross Barkley with 8.

I think we need to realise that 8 is a very good number; this is what Sigurdsson needs to deliver, and if he can get into double figures, then he's having a good season.

Clive Rogers
18 Posted 12/09/2018 at 16:07:50
Thanks Steve, didn’t realise the figures were so low. Shouldn’t the total number of assists add up to the total goals scored or does it not work like that? Does each goal register an assist? Gylfi’s goals and assists from free kicks has probably dropped for us.
Mike Allison
19 Posted 12/09/2018 at 16:13:44
Clive, not every goal has an assist credited. Therefore the total number of assists is lower than the total number of goals.
Steve Ferns
20 Posted 12/09/2018 at 16:18:05
Imagine Tosun shoots, the keeper saves it, Richarlison tucks in the rebound. Tosun does not get an assist.

Gylfi floats in a freekick, the defender gets a nick on it, but Calvert-Lewin still heads it home. Gylfi may not get an assist if the defender got enough of a nick on it to change the flight of the ball.

Kev Campbell scored in a scramble. No assist there.

And so on.

Man City get lots of assists. What does this tell you? Good play and joined up football. Last season we hardly had any. This tells us we were a scrappy side tucking away loose balls, or Niasse robbing defenders and scoring goals he made for himself. In other words a low number of assists will often show a poor midfield. So, that could prove your original point.

Clive Rogers
21 Posted 12/09/2018 at 16:33:31
Thanks, guys.
Jerome Shields
22 Posted 12/09/2018 at 16:43:48
Thanks, Sigurdsson did have a good last season with Swansea. I didn't know his assists were so high. I suppose it takes players running into positions and space to be available as well.
John Cartwright
23 Posted 12/09/2018 at 18:50:17
Victor (#6), What has Tom Davies got to do with this article? Why is he brought up yet again? Davies still has potential to be a good Everton player, Sigurdsson has been disappointing at best. I'll pin my hopes on Davies becoming a better Everton player then Siggy ever has been or will be.
Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 12/09/2018 at 19:22:12
Great discussion, guys.

I'm more in the "not really struggling" camp – I think Gylfi's playing pretty well. One key aspect of his open-play passing game that hasn't been mentioned here is the timing of his passes – at his best, he's an absolute artist at delivering the ball – not only where a teammate needs it, but when. You almost never see him give the ball to a teammate offside, in a poor position, or under pressure.

The problem as I see it is that such timing is a function of the system you're playing in, because you have to be able to anticipate where your target is going to be. Gylfi is definitely a rhythm guy, not an instinctive creator like a Coutinho, but in one year with the club he has played under four different managers coaching at least three different attacking systems (I'm not sure Rhino had an actual system). And the club's #1 attacking threat right now is the newcomer Richarlison.

Probably more than any other player we have, Sigurdsson's performance level is dependent on his ability to bed into the rhythm of a system and anticipate where the passes will be, because he's not going to do it with individual magic. I think by midseason, when he's fully familiar with Silva's preferences and comfortable with Richarlison, you're going to see him orchestrating the attack as he does for Iceland (and did at Swansea).

Bernard's electric talents offer appetizing alternatives – nobody here was more excited by his signing than I was – but he can't match Gylfi's consistency. He'll be an exciting side dish, but Sigurdsson remains the main course in midfield. And Gomes, like Bernard, is more comfortable using his silky skills where he has time on the ball, rather than in the mixmaster of the #10.

Paul Birmingham
25 Posted 12/09/2018 at 19:55:12
For me, it's too early in this season to make a fair assessment; after 10 games and at Chrimbo may be reasonable review slots for this team but, bearing the team has had to improvise and play well being down a man, in two matches away, then the squad has done quite well.

Versus Huddersfield though, on the day their midfield won the day, and ours struggled.

Gonna be interesting once the squad gets fit, but for now, let's be positive and focus on what we have.

Sunday will be tough and whoever starts must do the business like those who come on as subs.

Let's hope the "first Premier League win of the season" curse doesn't happen.

Kevin Prytherch
26 Posted 12/09/2018 at 21:58:15

A 4-4-1-1 would suggest a withdrawn striker. A 4-2-3-1 would suggest an attacking midfielder, which is what Sigurdsson is meant to be, and the focal point of midfield should provide more creativity than what he does.

You quote 13 assists for Swansea; however, only 5 were from open play – 1 less than Barkley got from open play. He created 25 chances from open play, the same as Gueye and Barry, and 31 less than Barkley.

He's not a bad midfielder, he's just not good enough for a top 6 challenge.

Steve Ferns
27 Posted 12/09/2018 at 22:11:30
I wouldn't argue he is top six quality. I said as much before we signed him. I thought it was a hell of a lot of money for what he is and didn't see him as a significant upgrade on Barkley. I believe Ross would have stayed had we offered him Sigurdsson's contract and showed him a bit more love, instead of the tough love dished out by Koeman.

Ross has left now and there's no point looking back. Sigurdsson is here to play, he's paid far too much to be a sub, so we have to embrace what he is, and make the most of it. With players like Richarlison and Walcott, and himself, he can get a lot of free-kicks in and around the penalty area. I think his set-piece proficiency cannot be understated and we could get a lot of points from this.

That doesn't mean that there's not a world where Bernard forces his way in as #10. I really hope the Brazilian can show his best because what I saw in highlights for Shaktar was sensational. He could be a real superstar. I'd rather see him central than shoved wide on the left.

Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 12/09/2018 at 22:27:05
Steve, Shakhtar had Bernard ranging touchline to touchline, switching with the other attacking midfielders in a 4-2-3-1. Whether right, left or center, he loves to get the ball in space and run at people.

But you'll never see his best in the #10 slot, where he's going to be surrounded by defenders and keeping the ball is at a premium. He's not strong enough physically and too freewheeling by instinct.

Steve Ferns
29 Posted 12/09/2018 at 22:41:39
Yeah, he played from the left rather than being tied to it. He’s certainly not a touchline type winger.

I believe he can play the #10 role by giving complete freedom to roam, going into space on the left that Richarlison naturally vacates when he comes inside.

There’s serious questions about him because of his size and the Bournemouth cameo only raised them. Five minutes is not enough though. Hopefully we can see him on the left on Sunday, in Richarlison’s place, with Lookman in for Walcott.

Sam Hoare
30 Posted 12/09/2018 at 22:48:58
Kevin @26, thanks for those stats. As I said earlier, Sigurdsson has never been a great creator from open play. Which is what we need and I hope Bernard may become.

A shame about Barkley; I do think he would have done well in this team and with this coach. For all his inconsistencies, I miss having someone in the middle who could turn and run at a retreating team.

Mike Gaynes
31 Posted 12/09/2018 at 22:54:28
Steve, I like that lineup!
Jim Bennings
32 Posted 13/09/2018 at 08:03:30
Agree on Barkley. Sometimes you don't appreciate what you had until it's gone, and admittedly I was never totally sold on him before he left.

He was not the most intelligent of footballers in the Pirlo or Iniesta mould but what he could do is carry that ball forward and I believe in two of his four seasons here, he actually had a pretty strong scoring record and had a decent shot on him.

Tom Bowers
33 Posted 13/09/2018 at 08:16:33
He isn't struggling. Last season, he seemed to be but then the whole team was under Koeman and Allardyce.

There is a marked improvement so far this season but, like the team, it is a work in progress that needs more time under Silva.

When they finally have Mina, Bernard and Gomes playing, we can start to make fair assessments about the team's progress and that of Silva.

Pat Waine
34 Posted 15/09/2018 at 16:23:20
The thing is he is NOT!!!!!!!!
Sean Herbert
35 Posted 16/09/2018 at 16:29:53
I would love to see him in the same team as Lukaku as well, which is Man Utd!!! A massive let-down for me, I agree with Kevin's comments.
Neil Carter
36 Posted 23/09/2018 at 19:34:53
Barkley wasn't good enough.

Neither is Siggurdsson.

Let's hope Gomes is better.

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