Everton’s Europa League campaign in the Group Stages has been a success, after the Toffees eased past Lille 3-0 at Goodison Park. The game began at a fast pace with Everton on the attack instantly and fully deserved to go ahead with Leon Osman firing in from close-range. Everton soon went two-ahead, a great corner from Aiden McGeady was headed home from Phil Jagielka. The Blues ended the game in the second-half, Steven Naismith scoring from close-range to make it three goals to nothing. Everton are now on top of the group on eight points. It was a great night for all the players but one stood-out from the rest, James McCarthy. The Irish central-midfielder was all over the place as Lille’s attack couldn’t get past. Here is the analysis from his ‘Man of the Match’ performance.
The first-half was dominated by Everton. The Blues were attacking fast and the play in the final third was superb. Although not having a shot at goal, James McCarthy was completely involved in the game, not just in attack but in defence is well. The Irish midfielder made 3 successful tackles (two in the Everton defensive half) in the first 45. Two tackles were made on Divock Origi (who was completely cancelled out in the match) and the other was on Idrissa Gueye. McCarthy also blocked 2 passes, and made one clearance after 19 minutes. His work at the back helped Everton push forward and try and get a goal (which they did eventually). James McCarthy’s passing was sensational in the first-half, 90% of his passes finding another player misplacing just two. Just one was misplaced in the final third in the first-half.
Once again, Everton controlled the next 45 minutes, and James McCarthy was very much part of the play. In the second-half, Everton relaxed much more and the play was mostly dominated in midfield and at the back, Everton having just 2 shots in the second-half, compared to the 7 they had in the first. James McCarthy dropped a lot deeper and, defensively, had to do a lot more especially when Gareth Barry went off with a knock. The Irishman attempted 5 tackles, completing 4 of them, had three aerial duels, completing one, made one interception, one blocked cross and also made two important clearances. McCarthy went off on the 85th minute, replaced by Muhamed Besic.
James McCarthy proved his dominance in midfield
Here is James McCarthy’s heat map throughout the whole game. Incredible! The midfielder covered everywhere, mainly in the defensive third. The Lille attack found it hard to get past James McCarthy, who made tackle after tackle after tackle. He was all over the place, even dominating Barry’s side of the midfield and didn’t stop all evening. McCarthy won aerial duels, made clearances, made a interception. He was just everywhere, nobody could go past him.
Here is James McCarthy’s touches on the ball throughout the time he played. Once again, it shows how dominating he was in the defensive third. It also shows how central he stayed and didn’t drift out of position, as 68% of his touches in the match where all in the middle flank of the pitch. McCarthy made just one touch on the ball inside the Everton penalty area, so it shows how much work he put in from outside the area to cancel out Lille attacks.
James McCarthy’s passing helped launch Everton attacks
Before the game, James McCarthy had a 98% passing accuracy in this season’s Europa League, the highest with a player who has made 30+ passes. Although he didn’t hit the 90+, McCarthy was still important to the Everton attack with his passes. McCarthy ended the game with a 86% pass accuracy, which isn’t as good compared to some other games, but passes in the final third were crucial towards an Everton chance.
James McCarthy was a very important player in the game. I am not saying that if we didn’t have him we wouldn’t have won the game, that’s not the case, but he was so crucial to that Everton victory. He covers, makes tackles and is very good in the defensive midfield role. I can see why he is such an important player in this Everton squad, he was terrific all evening. He is such a important player in the Everton team, which I hope everyone else has recognised. A terrific player on a terrific night.