Sunday’s late kick-off saw two of the Premier League’s more slick passing sides go head to head in an open and entertaining encounter. Rather ironically however, it was not in the games passing in which the game was decided, it was the hard running on and off the ball which led to most of its brightest moments. In fact neither team kept possession neatly within the final third and failed to create their usually pass orientated incisive chances; Final third passing accuracy (Swansea 73%-61% Everton) instead, two sublime strikes from Everton pair Coleman and Barkley took centre stage and were enough for Everton to come away with the three points.
Everton’s risk taking paying off
Martinez’s men took a lot of risk playing their customary flexible attacking system against a team which excels in moving the ball effectively between the lines. Time and time again the two wing backs Oviedo and Coleman surged forward and Barry filled the position of 3rd center to provide the defensive stability if Everton were to lose possession. In the centre of midfield , the onus then fell on McCarthy and Barkley to be tenacious in the tackle yet efficient in their work on the ball as Everton used crisp passing to bypass the 3 central midfielders players of Swansea City. They did so and consequently Barkley attempted and won the more ground duels (11/19) than any other player and McCarthy lost possession of the ball less times than any other midfielder or attacker who started the game.
Moreover, whilst Barry took his place in the defence like in the image above, Coleman and Oviedo’s extremely wide positioning in the final third left Pienaar and Mirallas the freedom to alternate their runs between inside channels and wide areas without constant pressure from either Ben Davies or Tiendalli whilst Oviedo and Coleman posed a strong attacking threat of their own with their crossing and shooting ability.
(Oviedo [highlighted with yellow] playing the entire length of the left flank, as Pienaar and Mirallas [highlighted with red] take up effective shooting positions on in the inside channels)
As a result, Kevin Mirallas’ high level of freedom led him to create the joint most chances in the game (3); also attempt and connect with more crosses (4/8) than any other player. In addition, Seamus Coleman’s’ great strike in the 65th minute arrived from one of his now trademark surges up the right flank, the space giving him the confidence to take the ball in his stride with confidence.
The second half = The Barkley half
The young Everton star took the game by the ‘scruff of the neck’ in the second half to use an old cliché in what was a very impressive performance. Barkley is another player who is given the freedom by his manager to play his natural game and this allows his natural talents to excel. Off the ball, his running was purposeful, arriving in the box at key areas of the Everton attacks but it’s on the ball in which he looked at his best and the Swansea midfield struggled to cope with him. Ross attempted 6 dribbles; joint most in the match, and brought Everton forward quickly early on within their attacking transitions . Moreover, 81% of Barkley’s passes were played in the opposition half as he glided around the pitch with ease picking out great passes for his teammates. Barkley seems to be going from strength to strength and his powerful, shoulder-dropping, Dembele-esque dribbling style makes him the key to making Everton one of the more devastating teams on the counter attack.
Everton lay 5th in the table, level on points with 4th placed Chelsea and extend their unbeaten run to 10 games, an impressive feat. Martinez will be pleased that his side were able to beat a decent Swansea City side away whilst not at their sparkling best and missing some important players. As far as Laudrup is concerned, their current 11th place position is not quite where they should be after a promising debut campaign for the Dane.