Tough Time for the Toffies

I didn’t watch the entire game against West Bromwich Albion today but I did get to see the critical part – the build up to Mirallas missing the Penalty Kick.

I’m not sure what a good definition of a teammate is but I’m pretty sure what he showed, in that game, is what a good teammate isn’t!  And it’s on the pitch behavior like that – that never, ever, finds itself in any of the individual statistics folks normally track.

Now I’m not going to go on record that the PWP Family of Indices will directly account for an event like that – but when looking at the tenor of Everton, throughout the course of this year, something just isn’t working… and maybe that behavior is an indicator of some sorts?

However viewed here’s how the CPWP Strategic Index looks through Week 22:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 22Everton sit sixth in the CPWP Index – one of the few oddities and most likely a strong contributor to the Index having a .91 R2 as opposed to .95 or .96…

So what isn’t working for Everton that is for some other teams in the top half of the table?

First off – Attacking:

APWP Strategic Index Week 22

They are a possession-based team – averaging 57.47% Possession per game, with a Passing Accuracy pedigree of 86.65%.

That is 3rd highest in the Barcley’s Premier League in Possession and best overall in Passing Accuracy.

So if they are tops in those two categories it seems reasonable that they’d be up somewhere near the top of the League Table instead of wallowing in 12th place; leading me to this question…

What is Everton not doing that Chelsea, Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Southampton are doing?

When comparing just those five teams Everton is middle of the pack in overall Penetration (26%) compared to 30% for Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal and 23/24% for Southampton and Man United…

They are creating Shots per Penetration at the rate of 12%, compared to 12% for Man City, Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal while Southampton sits at 14%

For Shots on Goal per Shots Taken they sit at 34%, Man City has 33%, while Southampton, Arsenal have 35%, Man United his 36% and Chelsea has 39%.

When it comes to Goals Scored per Shots on Goal Everton are lowest again at 33% while Arsenal are 36%, Southampton is 38%, Man United is 39%, Man City is 40%, and Chelsea is 44%.

Pretty tight – as the Index shows – their percentages are on par with the top teams…  So that’s a look at Quality – what about Quantity?

Total Passes:   Only Southampton has fewer passes, on average, at 467 – Everton averages 514 while the rest fall in higher with Man City the highest at 589 per game.

Total Passes Final Third: Man United and Southampton fall below Everton while Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea all average more.

Shots Taken:  Everton, Man United, and Southampton all average ~13 per game while Arsenal and Chelsea average ~16 and Man City 17 per game.

Shots on Goal: Everton are lowest at 4.32 with Man United next at 4.36, followed by Southampton at 4.4.5, Man City 5.50, Arsenal 5.55, and Chelsea at 6.00 per game.

Goals Scored: Everton are lowest at 1.36, followed by Man United 1.64, Southampton 1.68, Arsenal 1.77, Man City 2.05, and Chelsea 2.32…

From an attacking viewpoint I’d offer ‘what’s not working’ is down to a few things – those who follow Everton more closely could probably narrow it down to 3-4 players…

Lack of creativity in generating more open time and space in order to have roughly the same volume of shots generate more shots on goal – and therefore more goals scored…. or,

Lack of finishing by their strikers – meaning the time and space is available – it’s just not being used effectively.

After today’s game it would appear the selection of who took the Penalty Kick is more down to using the players on the team effectively…

But Attacking is just one half of the game – what about Defending?

DPWP Strategic Index Week 22

I’ll stick with the same six teams….

Opponent Possession:  If they are in the top four of Possession then their Opponent’s are in the bottom four.

Opponent Passing Accuracy:  Middle of the pack – opponent’s for Chelsea average 80% while most everyone else sees their opponent’s average about 77/78% Passing Accuracy.

Opponent Penetration:  Everton allow the greatest percentage of penetration at 28%; while the rest fall in at ~24% or lower.

Opponent Shots Taken per Penetration: Everton fall in the middle of the pack at 15% with Arsenal and Man City, while Southampton is lower (11%) and Man United, along with Chelsea are higher at 16% and 17% respectively.

Shots on Goal per Shots Taken: Everton opponents are lowest at 25.67% while everyone falls in at 26%-38%.

Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:  Everton sit worst at 43% while the rest all come in at 31% or lower.

In looking at volume:

Opponent Passes Attempted:  Everton are second lowest at 376 per game; Man United are lowest at 368 while Southampton are highest at 435 per game.

Opponent Passes Attempted Final Third: Everton are 2nd highest at 126 per game with Southampton being the highest at 129 per game, all the rest fall in between 123 and 103 per game.

Opponent Shots Taken: Everton are highest at 13 per game while the rest all have opponent’s averaging 11 per game or lower.

Opponent Shots on Goal: Everton are mid-table at 3.41 while Man United and Arsenal are slightly higher and the others lower, with Southampton lowest at 2.64 per game.

Opponent Goals Scored: Everton are highest at 1.55 per game while Arsenal is 2nd worst at 1.14, followed by Man City at 1.00, Man United .95, Chelsea .86 and Southampton .73

In considering the opponent’s successes versus Everton team defending:

Everton cede the greatest amount of Penetration while facing just the second lowest volume of Opponent Passes.

Everton opponent’s have the worst overall accuracy putting Shots Taken on Goal but the highest volume of Shots Taken and the highest volume of Goals Against.

So even with a high amount of possession – it’s more like Possession without Purpose as opposed to Possession with Purpose; especially when viewing them against like teams in overall Possession and Passing Accuracy.

Those who follow Everton more closely can probably tag two or three players that have a larger influence in this poor defending team performance.

For me I’d tag the lack of support in midfielders getting back to support the defenders, fullbacks being to far up the pitch when possession is lost, lack of superb central defending and perhaps a keeper past his prime?  (Many Americans might not like that – but their Goals Against IS an issue).

Of course, teams are getting pretty good at bunkering in, at least teams like West Brom are – and with more games played, plus Tony Pullis leading the charge it’s no wonder West Brom shut down Everton.

In watching the later stages of that game today it was almost comical on how well West Brom simply stymied the Everton attack…

I call it the umbrella defense – everyone get beneath the raining terror of multiple passes outside the box and simply clog the lanes everywhere.

If there are minimal players on the team who can create space, through superb vision or subtle touches, a team will find it very difficult to score against that type of defending; it’s ugly but effective at times…

In Closing:

For now I would offer that there are weaknesses in the tactical defensive approach and the personnel trying to work the attacking scheme Martinez wants.  And I don’t think signing a new striker solves their issues.

Martinez has pedigree and perhaps there are some upcoming tactical changes to try to reduce Goals Against and increase Goals Scored.

I’ve seen it work (statistically) where teams drop deeper in defending, thus driving up the opponent’s possession numbers both inside and outside the attacking final third.  That increase in opponent possession and penetration then opens up some time and space for a team on the counter-attack.

The critical piece to that approach is having players with great passing skills – and given Everton has the most accurate team in passing they should be able to handle that defensive change.

Maybe that is something to look for with Everton over the next few weeks???

Best, Chris

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