Arsenal v Everton – February 23, 2020
This is part of an article by David Hughes published by the Liverpool Echo.
There’s been a lot to like about Everton since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in late December. Since the Italian joined the club, the Blues have picked up the second-highest number of Premier League points and have closed the gap on the top five to just four points. This is significant given Manchester City’s two-year ban from all UEFA competitions for breaching FFP regulations, as this season’s fifth-placed team will likely secure a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Whilst there have been only slight adjustments at this stage by Ancelotti, they have still had a significant impact on various areas of Everton’s game – most notably perhaps their improvement in attack. There has been a stark increase in attacking threat in the seven weeks since Ancelotti’s arrival when compared to the same period before he joined the club. Under the Italian, the Toffees are scoring notably more goals on average per game. They are also attempting a higher number of shots per match too. These attempts are clearly of a much higher quality than before, which is highlighted by the boost in both.
These things are not always easy to quantify in numbers and can quite often be down to a multitude of factors such as tactical changes, improving confidence and form of players.
However, one facet does stand out when considering comments made by Ancelotti early on into his tenure as the Everton boss.
“At this moment we are not playing vertical, we are playing a lot of balls back, instead of playing forward – that is how we can improve. We can play more vertically” said the Italian after Everton’s 1-1 draw with West Ham in early January.
“We want to build up but when you have the possibility to play forward you must play forward quickly. If you are slow at the back you have less possibility to find space in the opponent’s half and that is something we have to improve.”
In light of the above, it’s worth noting Everton have increased their vertical passing from an average of 88.11 passes per game to a much higher 144.13 passes per game. This indicates we are seeing Everton move the ball from back to front much quicker, therein exploiting more spaces in the opposition set up and creating more high-quality goal-scoring chances. The beneficiaries of this improvement have been Everton’s two key forwards, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin who have scored nine goals between them across Ancelotti’s eight league games in charge.
Now, thanks to these subtle adjustments made by Ancelotti, Everton look to be firing on all cylinders and are lining up a grandstand finish in the race for Champions League football next season.
Frankly that sounds just like the problem Arsenal had under Unai Emery.
Arsenal has owned Everton in our Premier League home games, they have only beaten us once in twenty-seven games and that was back on January 20th, 1996. We have won the last five consecutive games and have outscored them fourteen to three.
This will be an interesting game from the managers point of view as both were hired just prior to the way game against Everton on December 19th, 2019 which ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Ancelotti has a record of W5, D3, L2, and Arteta’s record is W4, D6, L1 – so both managers appear to have stabilized their respective ships.
|Arsenal v Everton – EPL Home Results|
|Arsenal v Everton – All Home Results|
Overall we have dominated Everton in our home games and have outscored them by almost one hundred goals.
TA’s Predicted Line-Up: