Looking at the season so far, Everton are doing to their best to shake their slow starters tag. Aside from 2005, this is Everton’s best start to a season under David Moyes with Everton currently sitting pretty in fifth place. However, after three successive draws, the weekend trip to Fulham is crucial as the Toffees look to get back to winning ways.
Showing improvements in a number of attacking areas, it is clear that Everton are becoming more expansive this season. As a result, the defence is struggling to find a level of consistence whilst Everton strive for the best partnership. Despite the problems in defence, Everton’s attacking play is pleasing on the eye of late. When fully fit, the Everton midfield boasts a technically sound group of players with most favouring attack over defence. Possessing arguably the most creative and dynamic side of his tenure, David Moyes is loosening the defensive shackles.
The table above shows the statistics from the first nine games of last season and this season. The table makes for positive reading with the Toffees having improved in every one of the attacking categories.
Everton’s passing statistics suffered during the home win over Manchester United, as Everton tired badly near the end, and the loss to West Brom. After playing the last 30 minutes with 10 men at QPR, the passing statistics also took a hit in that match. Despite those setbacks, Everton have attempted 311 passes more passes than this time last season.
The most impressive statistics are the increased accuracy and the higher number of successful passes. Attempting more passes is the easy part, making sure they find another blue shirt is the hard part. Accurate passes are up by 342 with passing accuracy rising from 78% to 81%. These two improvements help highlight this team’s greater emphasis on passing and ball retention, as David Moyes makes the most of the creative players at his disposal.
On the surface, the difference is crossing is minimal with attempted crosses increasing by 2 and accurate crosses up by just 11. However, while those statistics seem trivial, the 5% increase in accuracy is a better reflection of the improvements in this area.
Leighton Baines remains Everton’s most frequent and accurate crosser, largely due to his marauding runs down the left wing. This season, Everton boast the league high for football played in opposition territory with this improvement allowing for greater accuracy in numerous areas. Now, Baines is able to cross with greater accuracy from better attacking positions. This is emphasised by the fact that Leighton Baines is the Premier League’s most accurate crosser with 36 accurate crosses; 17 more than Swansea’s Jonathan De Guzman in second place.
As a result of Everton’s more expansive style, the team are creating more chances and that is leading to more shots and more goals. At this stage of last season, Everton had created 94 chances whilst the crop of 2012/2013 have created 136 chances up to this point. In terms of chances created, Leighton Baines leads the way with 39 chances created. Baines’ total of 39 is the best of any player across Europe’s top 5 leagues this season.
With more chances being made, Everton are having more attempts on goal with the number of shots increased by 48 from this point last season. Currently boasting 173 attempts on goal this season, Everton have had more shots than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues. As a direct result, goals are up with Everton scoring 16 in comparison to last season’s ten.
As David Moyes allows his players to express themselves on the pitch, Everton are suffering defensively but fans are watching an entertaining side. Entertainment has been in short supply for many years at Goodison, so fans may be able to accept this expansive style with greater ease. For years, Everton struggled in terms of scoring goals. That problem has been solved with astute signings in the last two transfer windows but the defensive side is now suffering.
Having conceded first in each of the last four league games, Everton need to return to the defensive solidity that has been a hallmark of David Moyes’ time at the club. Should Everton overcome their defensive frailties, whilst remaining sharp in attack, then this could be the season that returns European football to Goodison Park.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com - Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.
Write about Everton for ESPN and EPL Index. Evertonian with a keen interest in the tactical and statistical. Twitter: @lukeofarrell
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