Written by: Harry
Last Saturday’s performance against Everton was awful. The score-line was almost generous considering the difference in quality between the two teams. The players haven’t been at their best for a while, shown by the run of one win in six games.
Dropping Yarmolenko seemed a strange decision by Pellegrini. Despite playing for Ukraine over the international break, he was still our brightest spark when he came on at half time – showing that he wasn’t fatigued. Pablo Fornals had a torrid time as his replacement and clearly has shown he needs more time to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. Just this Monday, Unai Emery spoke about how players take time to adapt and how Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe is yet to adjust. Fornals was given no help by the front three, with Felipe Anderson and Lanzini having especially poor games.
The lack of quality from the creative trio most likely de-railed any tactics from Pellegrini as there was no sustained pressure. Our only real opportunities came early on from a free kick Lanzini sent wide, and a golden chance spurned by Ogbonna from a scramble in the box. This meant our defence was constantly threatened and caused the likes of Anderson, Lanzini and Fornals to naturally drop back deeper, meaning they would have to travel more than half the pitch to get in a threatening position. This surely wouldn’t have been Pellegrini’s plan and completely negated any ideas he had.
Everton came into the fixture on a similar run of form as we did last year. They had lost four on the bounce and Marco Silva’s job was under scrutiny. This was a game he simply had to win. Pellegrini must have thought back to last year’s fixture and how he would have dealt with the situation Silva found himself in then. This was complete role reversal and clearly Pellegrini failed to learn as much as his Portuguese counterpart.
Six of the thirteen goals Everton have conceded this season have been from set-piece situations – surely something the scouting network had passed onto Pellegrini. The team managed just two corners throughout the game, with one in the 80th minute leading to the Ogbonna chance. This must have been infuriating for the Chilean as the lads failed to capitalise on such a clear weakness in the opposition.
The game Saturday came on the back of an international break that none of Felipe Anderson, Lanzini or Fornals got called up for. The only player outside the back four to be called up was Declan Rice. The front four had two weeks to prepare for the game and study weaknesses in an Everton back four that hadn’t kept a clean sheet in two months. This was more than enough time to come up with a tactic to break open their defence. If there are repeat performances like that, it wont be long before fingers will be pointed at the manager rather than a horror show from the players.