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Talking Tactics

Kean up top can shake up Everton attack

Adrian Clarke 18 Oct 2019
Moise Kean, Everton

Adrian Clarke says pairing Italian with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in a changed formation may help Toffees find their scoring touch again

Adrian Clarke is looking at key tactical talking points ahead of Matchweek 9. 

Four successive defeats mean Everton head into Saturday's early kick-off at home to West Ham United in the relegation zone.

Operating under a head coach recruited to play attacking football, the Toffees will feel especially disappointed to have scored only six Premier League goals in their first eight matches.

Snatching at chances in front of goal and short on penetration in the final third, Marco Silva's side are averaging 604 passes per goal this season, the second-most in the competition.

Turning possession into goals is a matter of urgency for the Merseysiders.

Least efficient attacks this season
Club Goals Passes/goal
Watford 4 897
Everton 6 604
Newcastle 5 509
Brighton 8 508
Man Utd 9 452
Time for two up top?

Silva has kept faith in a 4-2-3-1 formation across the opening eight matches but a Plan B must now be under consideration.

In forward areas his side have lacked ideas, with current first-choice striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin spending too much time on the periphery of matches.

The 22-year-old works hard and is a big presence at the top of the pitch but his involvement inside the opposition penalty box has been minimal.

If they are to persist with Calvert-Lewin, who has a very respectable 28.6 per cent chance conversion rate, Everton must find a way to create more quality opportunities for him.

Summer signing Moise Kean has looked sharp and has offered a greater goal threat in his appearances, only two of which have been starts.

But the 19-year-old Italian has snatched at chances and has yet to score.

Everton players this season
Player Goals Touches in opp. box/90
Kean 0 6.7
Bernard 1 6.0
Richarlison 2 5.5
Iwobi 1 4.4
Sigurdsson 0 3.6
Calvert-Lewin 2 2.8

The boldest change would be for the Blues to start with these two young strikers together up front.

Stylistically they can complement one another and pairing them would also ease the individual burden on them to deliver regular Premier League goals.

Silva also has Richarlison and Cenk Tosun as alternatives to lead the line.

Bringing back the transitions

When a side are struggling in the final third, they become more reliant on transitions.

Last term the Toffees were strong in this department, with midfield enforcers Idrissa Gueye and Andre Gomes able to break up play as a matter of course.

Everton were among the division's best when it came to ball-winning and from the subsequent turnovers they were a menace to the opposition.

How Everton have dropped their defences
PL rank 2018/19 2019/20
Tackles won 2 7
Possession won 3 9
Possession won final third 3 8

During the early weeks of 2019/20 Silva's men have laboured in this part of their play.

Gueye is now at Paris Saint-Germain, Gomes has missed three matches through injury and new defensive-midfield specialist Jean-Philippe Gbamin is also not fit.

The team in general are less robust, meaning Everton are not winning the ball back with nearly enough frequency.

This limits their ability to catch opponents off guard from fast breaks.

So, in the short term, especially with the current shape not clicking, it may be wise for Silva to reinforce his side's central midfield with a third player.

Do not be surprised if Silva experiments with a 4-3-1-2, 4-4-2 diamond or 3-5-2 in the coming weeks.

Those shapes could help the Toffees make much-needed improvements, with and without the ball.

Also in this series

Part 2: Imposing Maguire can frustrate Liverpool
Part 3: Palace unsung heroes pivotal to promising start
Part 4: Blades' bold approach can pay off against Arsenal

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