It is that time again, international break. There seems to be an international break every three to four weeks but maybe now is the time for a tiny break away from league football…mentally.
A handful of Everton players were called up to represent their nations, so let us see how they fared over the past two weeks. (Onana withdrew from camp due to injury)
Jordan Pickford- Pickford would start in both fixtures this break. England vs. Malta took place on the 17th, England would go on to dominate the match and comfortably win 2-0 over Malta. Pickford did not have much to do per say, but was quite active in his distribution of the ball. He went on to complete all 41 of his passes, an impressive 100% completion, including 9/9 on long balls. He did have one punch and a few recoveries (3) throughout the match, he honestly could have propped up in a chair up that match.
On the 20th of November, Pickford again got the nod against North Macedonia. A 1-1 draw, a match where Pickford would be called upon a few times. A very questionable penalty call late on in the first half would be given in favor of North Macedonia.
Bardhi for North Macedonia would step up to take the PK and initially Pickford goes the correct way and makes a great stop but he could not parry the ball far enough out of the way, Bardhi finished the follow up and put North Macedonia up 1-0 in the first half.
Pickford would go on to make two saves that match and play a bit higher as a sweeper to prevent the long ball being played by North Macedonia. Pickford again would see an amazing passing completion percentage of 94%, only missing one long ball. He would only touch the ball 22 times during the entirety of the match. He played very calmly and collected between the sticks, He truly is England’s number one.
Nathan Patterson– Patterson would see the line share of minutes in both of his matches. Both of Scotland’s matches would end in draws. In Scotland’s 2-2 draw against Georgia, Patterson would go unnoticed for large periods of the match. He was solid for stints of the game but his inexperience still shows from time to time. He did complete 46/51 passes and create two opportunities, but defensively he was nothing special. Patterson only won 4/11 ground duels, was dribbled past once and collected one yellow card, a defensive performance to forget.
In the 3-3 draw vs. Norway, Patterson proved he can defend and defend well he did. Again he completed 91% of his passes and created one shot and was quite effective on the long ball, going 5/7. Defensively Patterson put on a clinic…
- Tackles won-1/1 (100%)
- Cleared off the line-1
- Defensive actions-5
- Duels won-7
- Duels lost-3
- Ground duels won-5/7 (71%)
- Aerial duels won-2/3 (67%)
- Was fouled-4
- Fouls committed-0
What a performance by young Patterson. I would hope to see this kind of performance translate onto the pitch for Everton.
Idrissa Gana-Gueye– Senegal took part in two World Cup qualifiers against South Sudan and Togo. Gueye would play in both matches and play well. Senegal would win very comfortably over South Sudan, a 4-0 thrashing. Gueye sat deep and recycled the ball often, his distribution was tight and precise.
Gueye would be quite busy in the Togo match. Togo would squeeze out a 0-0 draw against Senegal but not from lack of trying. Gueye picked up a yellow card, a somewhat unnecessary foul. He sat deep once again to cut off the Togo counter attack, Gueye was key in preventing a quick counter from Togo. A man in form!
Vitalii Mykolenko– Everton’s most in form player would only see one match during this international break, a stout Italian team. Mykolenko would be pivotal in preserving the 0-0 draw against Italy, by Ukraine earning a draw, their Euro qualification goes to a playoff match in March.
Mykolenko would be active during the entire 90 he played. He tallied 13 defensive actions and five recoveries. Myko passed the eye test as well, he never once looked overwhelmed or was he dribbled by. He won 4/5 ground duels and had 6 clearances. He was ineffective offensively but that was due to the game plan. During the match Myko was sitting back most of the match but playing aggressively when Ukraine had numbers and in fact played two balls into the final third.
Myko is evolving into a very good defender, a fantastic 1v1 defender for his national team and a great all around player for his club team. He’s an exciting player that I have been praising for quite some time and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Jarrad Branthwaite– Would take part in both matches for England U21, but would take captaincy in their win over Northern Ireland. England would see out a 3-0 over Serbia on the 18th of November. Branthwaite and the entire U21 Lions were never troubled throughout the 90. He played very composed when on the ball and never looked to get out of first gear.
During his 90 minutes against Northern Ireland, they were once again not troubled all that much. A well composed team and having the structure and backline that England U21 have, it’s very hard to break them down and churn out a result. Branthwaite looks to be a top level athlete already this early in his career. Besides earning a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland, it was a momentous evening for Branthwaite as he led his team as the captain for his first time. Big things to come from JB.
Youssef Chermiti– Portugal U21 would take on Greece U21 and unfortunately fall in a 2-1 defeat.