Four wins in a row came to a disappointing end on Saturday against Everton.
In the last two seasons we have taken nine points from a possible 12 off the Toffees, so it would have been nice to get at least a point with almost everyone below us losing over the course of the weekend.
Everton played a 4-2-3-1 formation whereas we started with a 4-4-1-1. We had enough possession throughout the game but rarely turned it into chances or shots.
The majority of our possession was in a square from the edge of the 18 yard box to the halfway line and we made lots of small passes in that area. I think Everton were happy to let us pass it in front of their midfield and back four, and with Dwight playing on the left his was a hard task getting in the box to make up numbers, then retreating back to form our shape of four across the middle when out of possession.
Conceding a goal within two minutes of the kick off was a blow and it was the one clear-cut chance Everton created in the whole game. They slowed down the play, took their time on goal kicks and did just about anything else Joel Robles could get away with, and in the end the referee had enough. Small things that annoy the players and fans but it is what’s expected when points are precious.
When Marouane Chamakh had to go off after 25 minutes with a broken nose, the manager put on new signing Jordon Mutch, I’m sure in hindsight, Wilfried coming on to play on the right, and Punch moving to the center to play the number 10 role might have been a better option. Wilf was involved in all our three goals last week against Southampton, and I feel he’s getting better as the season progresses. Hopefully Jordon will get more game time and get to know the players better as we enter the most important part of the season.
With the match at a stalemate I felt we didn’t run with the ball well enough in wide areas. We did it better in the second half with Martin Kelly and Joel Ward getting forward, and Dwight is a false winger but can deliver a good cross from wide areas. However if he’s crossing he can’t be in the box, that’s why it's important to get our full backs forward at every opportunity, especially at home.
Everton looked to lack confidence and having picked up just one win in 13 games they were not about to throw away three precious points. They were disciplined with Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic holding, and I wouldn’t say they worked any harder than our wide lads but they were stubborn. However they looked nothing like the fluid team they were last season.
We have improved our shots statistics on goal since Pards has taken over but unfortunately this wasn't the case against Everton, but as always in football, we move forward and have to take the positives from the defeat. At the end of December we all would have taken four wins from the next six games, and we are still on course for a four points a month total.