Tactics Breakdown | Everton 1-0 Brentford

We are getting somewhere.

A very good three points against a side who had previously gone 12 unbeaten. The implications of the early goal shouldn’t be understated and undoubtedly had a massive impact on the result. The immediate lead suited Dyche’s set-up perfectly allowing Everton to remain compact and be a threat on the counter.

An unchanged side in name and style from the previous outing against Nottingham Forest with a 451/4411 that transitions to a 442 block out of possession.

The faith in Gray, Godfrey and Keane was apparent and they managed to keep their places in the starting 11 after a strong performance in the previous game.

The return of Mykolenko to the match day squad suggests that Godfrey will be Dyche’s go-to at left-back for the near future; the same can be said for Gray and the 9 position, whilst Calvert-Lewin recovers, Maupay and Simms will deputise.

Brentford are transitioning away from their previously used 352 (used on 11 occasions in the Premier League) into their new 433 (used on 14 occasions in the Premier League). Dyche and Everton would have been fully aware of Thomas Frank’s sides strengths and their style of play and how to combat this.

Consistent wide play and the use of offensive fullbacks led to the demand for Iwobi and McNeil to continue their defensive duties and stay disciplined. Michael Keane and James Tarkowski dealt with Ivan Toney incredibly well and the forward only managed to amass 0.39 xg.

  • Everton’s Average Positions.

When looking at the average positions of both sides, the tactical battle becomes apparent, Brentford’s creative quality from the left-hand side allowed for the majority of progression to be down that flank via a combination of Rico Henry, Mathias Jensen and Mikkel Damsgaard leading to Iwobi and Coleman to be disciplined within their defensive duties and a slight biased towards the right-hand side from the midfield three.

A match-up that interested me, in particular, was Godfrey vs Mbeumo. A dangerous wide forward, who has 8 goal contributions in the league so far this season, the Cameroonian international plays off the right-hand side but is far from a traditional winger, his relationship with Toney is excellent and Brentford’s shape often appears to contain a front two with Mbeumo playing off the Englishman and then Damsgaard dropping deep into midfield to create numerical overloads. Godfrey deserves credit, often isolated in 1v1 situations against Mbuemo and managed to force the forward into a quiet game; he only produced a combined 0.08 xGA.

  • Brentford’s Average Positions

Another comparison I found interesting was between the two goalkeepers. Specifically how they chose to play the ball.

Throughout the game, I was impressed with both keepers and yet for very incredibly different reasons. Everton were set up to play on the counter moving the ball through the thirds of the pitch at speed to create a chance and thus Pickford’s long ball-playing game is ideal.

Whereas Raya and Brentford were set up to maintain possession and thus his role in possession was very different to Pickfords.

Below shows all of their passes within their own third.

  • All of Jordan Pickford’s passes inside his own third

  • All of David Raya’s passes inside his own third

This style of play was epitomised by our first goal, in four quick successive passes the ball was progressed from our defensive third into a goal-scoring opportunity for McNeil.

After going ahead so early on we were always going to attempt to focus on limiting Brentford’s attack rather than trying to push on and go further ahead ourselves, the difference in certain statstics when comparing the first and second half explain this well.

For example, our attacks per minute in the first half was significantly higher than the second, 0.53 to 0.26. As Brentford searched for an equaliser their dominance on the ball resulted in the ability to switch from a 433 to a 343 in the 74th minute which limited Everton’s ability to break on the counter as many times as in the first half due to the danger of being open defensively.

This also links to how Everton’s average formation line (meters) progressively got lower as the game went on.

This stat is used to explain how high/deep of a line the side plays and is useful to determine what areas of the pitch the majority of the ball was played in and how dangerous a side’s possession is.

Ultimately, we weren’t peppered and we certainly didn’t have our backs against the wall even if we lost control of the ball towards the end and combining a strong game plan with some individual brilliance we’ve come away with really important win.

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