Everton lie 12th in the Premier League having picked up ten points from their first nine games. The Toffees are level with their Merseyside counterparts Liverpool due to a strong resurgence after a poor start to the season. Their seven-game unbeaten run was only ended by Manchester United on Sunday night.
The most obvious indicator of Everton’s improvement compared to last season has been the changes to Frank Lampard’s defence. Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have shored up the Toffees’ backline, with the Blues having the joint-best defensive record in the league this season. This stat is somewhat skewed by the heroics of Jordan Pickford, who has a post-shot expected goal delta of +3.8 according to StatsBomb by FBref (which means that he has saved 3.8 goals more than what the average Premier League goalkeeper would be expected to), and the fact that their expected goals against statistic is around 4 goals higher than their 9 goals conceded in the league. Despite this, there has been a development in Everton’s defence. A lack of fear, if you will; a feeling that despite the fact they may concede first, the side will not capitulate, as shown in their victory at Southampton at the start of the month.
This sort of observation is tricky to put into metrics but what can be shown through stats is the intensity in Lampard’s press this season, largely due to the recruitment by the manager and his new Director of Football Kevin Thelwell. Indeed, it was a new signing in Amadou Onana who dispossessed Casemiro for Everton’s opener against United on Sunday. Onana, Neal Maupay, and the aforementioned Coady and Tarkowski have instilled Lampard’s doctrine on the pitch and endeared themselves to the Goodison faithful. Maupay in particular has replaced Richarlison’s tenacity in closing down opposition defenders fervently very effectively. He allows the wide players to cut inside and affect the game due to his unselfish movement and intelligent pressing. Onana, along with the returning Idrissa Gueye and the reformed Alex Iwobi, forms a solid, compact and dynamic midfield three with balance and work rate to rattle even the best teams in the league, as they have done to Chelsea and United despite falling to defeats in both games. This is all without the talismanic Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ben Godfrey, who are yet to fully return from injuries picked up early in the season.
Everton are without a doubt on the rise after their struggles last season but it remains to be seen if their start can be sustained throughout the campaign. Frank Lampard’s men have galvanised this term, but it may take more than the Gwladys Street End to secure them a positive finish this season.
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