Everton Must Sort Out Defence Before Liverpool Tear Them Apart
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Six goals against Crystal Palace and Swansea? Really Roberto, what is going on? The 3-0 against Swansea, albeit with a weakened team, makes it 17 goals conceded in 7 games so far, by what was one of the best defences in the league last season. While almost every single goal seems to be coming from individual errors as well, whether they are misplaced passes, an inability to clear the ball, or dodgy attempts to play quick strikers offside, it still seems like an almost complete breakdown defensively, and a dream come true for all those that said that Martinez would eventually turn the team in to Wigan.
With this everything seems to have flipped on its head. Just a couple of months ago there were concerns over whether John Stones was going to get enough game time with all the competition at Everton. Cut to now, and it seems that Martinez is hard pressed to find someone to partner the youngster who won’t make a game changing mistake every forty five minutes. With Alcaraz looking off the pace since he signed, and Distin and Jagielka now accidents waiting to happen, who knows who might get a chance? Brendan Galloway, the youngster signed for the future in the summer? Or maybe Tyias Browning, the former Under 21’s captain? If a change is made, they will be going in very raw, and if anything will probably be just as likely to make a mistake as the sorry lot in there now, but they may learn from it at least.
All this has made the Derby on Saturday even more crucial. Let’s not forget, it’s important for the other side as well, they have had similar defensive concerns, if not as drastic, and will also have doubts over Daniel Sturridge, without whom they look a lot less dangerous up front. They’re also coming off an energy sapping extra time and pens against the almighty Middlesborough. The Everton attack is good enough to hurt them, it’s just a question of who’s going to score more, Lukaku, Mirallas and Naismith, or Sterling, Balotelli, and Sturridge/Coutinho? On paper the second lot have a lot bigger reputations, but Everton have scored four more goals in the league so far. Actually, only Chelsea have more than the Toffees in the league, what could have been if there was any semblance of a defence, eh?
The main thing Everton need on Saturday is concentration. The amount of individual errors defensively is ridiculous, so many that even McCarthy running around like a madman isn’t enough to make up for them. If they keep a clean sheet they will win. It’s as simple as that. Everton will definitely score at least once, maybe twice with how clueless the £40-million-plus Lovren and Sakho are looking at the moment (at least Everton didn’t overpay for their dodgy defenders). Also with Gerrard as the defensive mid, the far more mobile Naismith should be able to cause havoc just behind the slightly less mobile Lukaku.
The main question for Everton will remain be the back four.
It will probably have Stones and Jagielka as the central pair, with neither having played mid-week, and hopefully with Coleman back, Stones won’t have to be shoved out at right back again. The fact that a back two of Distin and Jagielka would be suicide against the pace of Sterling and potentially Sturridge also helps. Altogether this could be a very entertaining game, two great attacks, two terrible defences, and two managers who will chuck everything forward if they need to, the neutrals will love it.