It’s been a tough start to the season for Everton, but Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa brought a smile to every Everton fans’ face. Goals from Phil Jagielka, Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman won them the game. It was a difficult first half for the hosts, Aston Villa did have some threat but in the second half it was all Everton. What was it that won them game? Lets break the game down.
Everton played in the classic 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ross Barkley – returning to the squad – playing in the central attacking midfield role, with Steven Naismith on the right and Leon Osman on the left. Romelu Lukaku was upfront, whilst James McCarthy and Gareth Barry were in the two holding midfield positions. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman – also returning to the squad – played in the full-back positions. Antolin Alcaraz and Phil Jagielka were in defence and Tim Howard was in goal.
Aston Villa played in a 4-3-3 formation, Gabriel Agbonlahor started upfront, Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia on the wings. Benteke was starting his first match since March. The 3 central midfielders were Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood and Kieran Richardson. Alan Hutton in the right-back position, Aly Cissokho left-back and Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker (subbed off in the first half) in defence. Brad Guzan was in goal.
Style of Play
Both teams played the type of football you’d expect. Everton love to keep the ball, play from the back and pass the ball around in the mid or final third in little triangles. They did exactly that against Aston Villa. If you can watch the full game back, watch 30-45 minutes and watch the hosts dominate with the ball. In fact, Everton did this the whole game, attempting 637 passes and completing 563 (88% passing success rate).
Aston Villa, meanwhile, attempted to play counter-attacking football, which went completely wrong. They sat back and tried to counter, but Everton defended it with ease. Throughout the match, Everton made 12 interceptions from Aston Villa passes, 4 from James McCarthy; 3 from Gareth Barry; 2 from Steven Naismith; 1 from Phil Jagielka; 1 from Leon Osman and 1 from Seamus Coleman. Everton also attempted 17 tackles in their defensive third, 10 of them being successful. The hosts made 24 tackles in the whole 90 minutes, 13 successful, 6 failed and 6 where fouls (52% of tackles where successful).
Great to have Seamus Coleman back as Everton full-backs dominate
Once again, Everton full-backs dominated the game as Seamus Coleman returned to the squad. The full-backs where booming down the wings all game, creating chances and he even scored. Leighton Baines contributed with 2 assists and one of the assists was for Seamus Coleman’s goal, tapping in from inside the six-yard box. Leighton Baines had 44.43% of his touches on the ball inside the Aston Villa half, whilst Seamus Coleman had 38.75% of his touches inside Aston Villa’s half.
Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines’ heat map
Both full-backs also played a part in defending is well, making 8 clearances (5 from Leighton Baines, 3 from Seamus Coleman), both attempting 4 tackles (2 successful from Seamus Coleman, 1 successful and 1 foul from Leighton Baines) and both attempting 3 aerial duels (2 from Seamus Coleman and 1 from Leighton Baines).
However, they were both recognised for their fantastic work in the final third, overlapping the two wingers. Leighton Baines created 6 chances during the match, 2 of them being assists. Leighton Baines attempted 3 crosses during match and Seamus Coleman having 2 shots at goal.
Christian Benteke isn’t a winger
Christian Benteke’s heat map
You may be thinking, “what on earth am I talking about?”. Of course Christian Benteke isn’t a winger, and I agree with you, however Paul Lambert gave him a different role on Saturday, sticking Agbonlahor upfront and him on the left wing but Seamus Coleman put him straight in his back-pocket. Christian Benteke made no crosses, no tackles, attempted no take ons and created no chances to anybody before he got subbed off. The Belgian had 2 shots throughout the match, both where blocked. He also had a 79% passing success rate during the game, not one was to Agbonlahor.
There was a lot of optimism for Aston Villa fans when he came back into the squad, simply because he is a deadly striker, but Paul Lambert’s plan to put him on the wing was a poor decision, which didn’t have any impact on the game what-so-ever.
Ross Barkley has been a big miss for Everton
One of the best players on the pitch on Saturday afternoon was Ross Barkley, and he played like he hadn’t been out for 2 months with a knee injury. Roberto Martinez told the press after the game that: “Ross Barkley was born to play football”. He had a massive impact in the match: 82% pass success rate and created 3 chances during the match; one of them was assisting Romelu Lukaku with a fantastic through ball.
Ross Barkley’s Passing Map
Barkley made Everton attack more, created more chances and is also ‘developing’ a good relationship with himself and Romelu Lukaku which would be handy this season for Everton.
Everton were more dominant in midfield
Aston Villa’s midfield wasn’t too bad, as many people may suggest, but Everton were dominant with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy in the Everton midfield. The two defensive midfielders covered more, tackled more and were more effective than the three Villa midfielders, who where Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood and Kieran Richardson.
Heat Maps between Everton’s (Barry and McCarthy) and Aston Villa’s midfielders (Cleverley, Richardson and Westwood)
Pass Maps between Everton’s (Barry and McCarthy) and Aston Villa’s midfielders (Cleverley, Richardson and Westwood)
Everton pair Gareth Barry and James McCarthy passed the Aston Villa midfielders off the park, just seven passes from the defensive third failed to find another Everton player and the two Everton midfielders ended the game with an 94% passing success rate, whilst the Aston Villa midfielder made less passes and ended the game with an 85% passing success rate.
James McCarthy and Gareth Barry also made more successful tackles (Everton 43%, Aston Villa 33%), won 100% of their aerial duels whilst Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood and Kieran Richardson didn’t even attempt one. They made more interceptions (Everton 7, Aston Villa 6), made more clearances (Everton 9, Aston Villa 2) and made more blocks (Everton 7, Aston Villa 3). The two midfielders were dominant.
Man of the Match: Steven Naismith
One person who I haven’t mentioned is Steven Naismith, and he was my ‘Man of the Match’. The Scotsman played right-midfield, a position he hasn’t played in a while for the Toffees but was perfect on Saturday afternoon. Steven Naismith also covered well for Coleman, getting back and making 2 interceptions, attempting 5 tackles, won 4 out of 5 of his aerial duels, made 4 clearances and made 4 blocks. Despite not being involved in most of Everton’s attacks, he was superb for Everton and deserved the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
A tough game for Everton (well the first-half at least) but it was a comfortable game overall for the hosts. It has been a very poor start for Everton, but a clean sheet and more goals was vital for the team’s confidence and Everton look fresh since the international break finished. As for Aston Villa, a positive start has been ruled out by a poor performance at Goodison Park, despite playing well in the games before. However, they’ve played a few tough teams over the last few weeks: Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton games are out of the way, so the good news is that it is Queens Park Rangers next for them.