Scouting Report: Everton
Roberto Martinez’s Everton are set to welcome Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to Goodison park. Roberto Martinez’s philosophy led Wigan to an FA Cup win against Manchester City, but he was still looking for fresher pastures. With David Moyes’s move to Manchester United, Martinez took the hot seat.
To get down to the basics, Everton are a team that dominate possession. They had 67.5% possession against Norwich, and 62% against West Bromwich Albion. This is how their lineup has looked –
Since their philosophy is based on possession, triangles are obvious and you might have guessed it right. Without forming those triangles they fail to keep possession. They have however done a much better job than Chelsea at this strategy. They keep the play moving and smoothly move from one shape to another.
A back 4 of Baines, Distin, Jagielka and Coleman are solid at the back, while remaining a threat upfront. Distin and Jagielka play static roles, while Coleman and Baines bombard forward, though it is quite obvious. In the pivot we have Osman and Fellaini. Osman’s the typical holding midfielder, that drops deep to prevent counter-attacks and break up play. In front we have a rotating system of Mirallas, Barkley and Pienaar. They can easily take up each other’s roles. Upfront we have Jelavic, who can be replaced by Kone. Jelavic has the ability to drift wide, fall deep and burst forward with intelligence. One of the few EPL players, who rely on smartness rather than ability to score goals.
Now lets look at transitions –
The team defends deep and as a unit. They press high, but in a unique fashion. They have phases of pressing. When the ball approaches the middle third, the front three (encircled in light red), compact the pitch and press together, while roaming out of position. If the ball manages to get past it, then the second phase begins with the middle three (encircled in black), pressing. However they have a more disciplined way of pressing which involves not moving out your positions. If they do move, then they leave holes to be exploited.
The full-backs are catalyst’s for counter-attacks. The moment the ball is won they bombard forward, without looking at what’s happening. If the ball is lost, they come back in time again. Pace is a key attribute.
The midfield needs to play smart. If Chelsea are to cut down their movement, and put in some key interceptions, they can get Everton at their throats. Press on Osman and Barkley, and you can dominate possession
While attacking, Everton remind you of Bayern Munich. The full-backs push high up the pitch, with Osman falling back to form a 3 man defense, akin to that Martinez had at Wigan. Fellaini is crucial due to his ability to read a play well and fall back when necessary. When he does, they are able to form a 4 man defense again. Pienaar and Jelavic have an interesting combination of switching roles. However the winger can also cut inside and act as a second striker, supporting Jelavic and dragging defenders.
Belgium’s Mirallas, is the one with the higher work-rate. He can cut in and get back to defend.
The #10 area, has seen many users. Fellaini drops in fast into the hole, Mirallas and Pienaar cut inside there when the full-backs are high up the pitch, and Jelavic drops deep to bring the wingers into play.
Another interesting philosophy that Everton seem to apply is cornering the full-backs. It’s something that I’ve heard about rather than observed. Basically it is when the Everton full-backs push forward with the ball against an oncoming opposition full-back while Mirallas and Pienaar come across to receive a pass with Fellaini acting as the third connector. This pressurizes the full-backs and corners them. To reveal them of this pressure, another opposition player joins in, opening up a hole that can be exploited. Quick passes, with smooth movement, and Everton look dangerous.
The problem they have faced is converting their possession into goals, something Jose is suffering with as well. Everton are a strong side, and with the game being played at Goodison Park, expect them to be a strong force.
EDIT: This article was written prior to Fellaini’s departure to united. He is likely to be replaced by Gareth Barry.