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Talking Tactics

Pickford providing the platform for Everton's push to stay up

Adrian Clarke 12 May 2022
Jordan Pickford, Everton, Talking Tactics graphic

Adrian Clarke singles out the Everton 'keeper who has played a major part in the club's battle against relegation

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 37.

Jordan Pickford (EVE) 

The inspired form of Jordan Pickford has provided the catalyst for Everton's late-season bid to avoid relegation.

Raising high standards when his side needed him most, the 28-year-old goalkeeper conjured heroic displays in crucial victories over Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City.

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Frank Lampard's switch to a 5-4-1 shape with Alex Iwobi and Vitalii Mykolenko at wing-back has provided additional security and balance in recent outings.

The returns of key men Yerry Mina, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Fabian Delph have also helped solidify the Toffees.

However, conceding just four goals in his last six Premier League appearances – a run that includes three clean sheets – the England No 1 has been their star player.

Pickford's standout moment was a remarkable save to deny Cesar Azpilicueta at Goodison Park, scampering across his goal-line to somehow paw away a close-range effort that looked destined for the back of the net.

Pickford save against Chelsea

From an expected-goals (xG) perspective, the Everton 'keeper has beaten the odds in an incredible purple patch, conceding fewer than Opta's xG metric had predicted in each of his last six matches.

Whilst over the course of the entire campaign, Pickford's goals-prevented tally stands at just +0.2, since the start of 2022 that figure now stands at an impressive +2.03.

Only four top-flight goalkeepers have prevented as many expected goals during the same period, where he has outperformed all the 'keepers from the leading seven clubs.

xG conceded v actual goals conceded
2022 xG conceded  Goals conceded* Goals prevented
Sa 28.38 24 4.38
Schmeichel  27.23 23 4.23
Pope 23.75 21 2.75
Butland 4.09 2 2.09
Pickford 26.03 24 2.03

*Excl. own goals

To claim three points that could all-but secure their safety if results go their way this weekend, Everton must defend especially well from set-pieces.

Thomas Frank's Brentford have scored 14 times from set-plays this term (ranked joint third) and they boast the highest expected-goals figure from dead balls, with 17.

Christian Eriksen's deliveries have been excellent and the likes of Pontus Jansson, Ivan Toney and Kristoffer Ajer pose a serious threat in the air.

Most punches from set-pieces
Goalkeeper Punches
Pickford 22
Sa 20
Alisson 19
Meslier 18
Krul 17

When those corners and wide free-kicks are sent into the danger zone, Pickford's willingness to come off his line to clear danger could be a useful deterrent.

The Toffees' No 1 is bold when coming out through bodies to get a connection on the ball.

In fact no Premier League 'keeper has made more punches than the Everton man this term.

If Lampard's side are to earn the points they need from this fixture to secure their place in the division, they will more than likely need another stellar performance from their in-form 'keeper.

Pickford is finishing a challenging campaign in the strongest possible fashion.

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Part 1: Cornet threat on the counter can trouble Spurs

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