Marco Silva and Everton are suffering from an identity crisis, one that has the whole club spiraling back into mid table irrelevancy and away from the ambition of European football, and a goal of breaching the coveted ‘big 6.’ Everton brought in manager Marco Silva, and have now payed 4 million pounds for an 11th place position 7 points behind the team they pried him away from. Cardiff sit in less than ideal circumstances as well, 1 point off relegation ahead of fellow bottom feeders Huddersfield, Southampton and Fulham. Neil Warnock has done more with less and the tragic death of Fc Nantes striker Emiliano Sala during the January transfer window made the process of bringing in players all the more tough for a side already strapped for cash. The last ditch loan signing of Everton’s own Oumar Niasse was more a punt in the dark then a move for an established striker, as Niasse’s career has been up and down since coming into the league. Cardiff will be without the Senegalese striker against Everton however, sighting the parent club rule. Cardiff and Everton will both be desperate for 3 points, as Cardiff looks to avoid the drop and Marco Silva looks to cement his spot as manager on Merseyside.
The matchup between these 2 teams becomes a lot more interesting to break apart after getting past the respective places in the table, especially considering Everton didn’t to much to instill confidence in a 1-0 victory earlier on in the season. Cardiff have not been especially perennial in attack this season, but neither have Everton, and the bluebirds have been especially good scoring goals from set-pieces. Cardiff have scored 9 goals from these areas, putting them top 3 in the league in that area, in large part due to Sol Bamba’s prominence in the air. Everton have struggled massively from set pieces, dropping points and losing games time and time again due to an insistence on Marco Silva’s zonal marking technique, which has often seen Everton players lose their spaces. See Millwall. Sol Bamba’s 4 goals lead Cardiff, meanwhile Everton have 2 players that have combined for 19 goals in the campaign, Richarlison with 10 and Sigurdsson with 9. The issue however has been getting the goal scorers into position to put away opportunities, due to an attack that has been stagnant and stale, slowing to a crawl worse than almost any team in the league. To pile onto the problems, Everton’s defense has been shaky at times and has shown lapses in concentration in key moments. Communication between Pickford and all 3 of Mina, Keane, and Zouma must improve before Everton can sustain any sort of success in attack.
Going away to Cardiff will be, mentally, Everton’s toughest task of the season in a hunt to find 3 points. The Toffees need to show faith in Marco Silva and the team, which has shown an abundance of individual talent and a lack of team cohesion. Looking ahead to Liverpool will be the biggest threat to the team facing a tough midweek trip out of the country, and the faith in Silva with everyone involved in the club hangs in the balance. 3 points puts Everton potentially back into the race for 7th and gives a huge boost to a team lacking confidence going into the redemption game against the reds. Cardiff City need 3 points, and will come at Everton hard, this game very well could be decided in the first 15 minutes. Everton will look to hit Cardiff hard on the counter, and hopefully find some dominance in the midfield, where the individual talent of Everton alone could overwhelm Cardiff. Everything about this game however, screams trap. And I for one have been made to look stupid week in and week out putting blind faith in the side, and I am going to do it again. The team will either band together right now, or dissolve into a middle heap of mediocrity. Silva’s boys have to put something together here, ahead of Liverpool, everything is on the line.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 Cardiff