While we are still recovering from the glorious win over Spurs, a new game is almost upon us, bringing with it the possibility of another famous away win, albeit in difficult circumstances concerning a relative crisis in the number of injured defenders.
In my dreams, I felt that a 3-4-3 formation might just work out. Well, I was fairly close, and was delighted to see Slaven weave some of his magical strategy by allowing Kouyate to play at right center-back, allowing the talented Antonio to occupy the right wing-back position, adding his speed and acceleration to the midfield and attack.
Cresswell, playing at left wing-back came as no real surprise, since when playing at his usual left-back position, is often pushed well up-field, allowing him to act as an overlapping full-back.
The somewhat staggered midfield five, provided pace and acceleration as well as a stable and solid formation, which was aimed at stopping Kane and friends in the middle of the park. The presence of Payet took a ‘small army of players’ to stop his beautiful dribbling, allowing free spaces being created all around him, as well as allowing Lanzini the luxury of taking up the left attacking midfield position and with the freedom of embarking on runs across the Spurs penalty box.
For the Everton game, we have problems with our centre backs, given that Collins will be unable to occupy his normal place for the next 3-4 weeks. So while Angelo Ogbonna seems fit enough to play, there has been considerable media speculation suggesting that young Reece Oxford should start the game.
While I expect him to have an important role as an impact/fresh-legs substitute (in a more familiar defensive midfield position), I think it is asking a bit much to expect him to keep the powerful Romelu Lukaku quiet all day.
Lukaku is very strong and difficult to stop running, and bearing in mind that Oxford does not yet have the physical maturity expected to match it with Lukaku, it may make more sense to place Cheikh Kouyate there instead.
For some reason unknown to mankind, Lukaku has a penchant for scoring goals against West Ham. Instead of playing a ‘flat back three’, I think starting Alex Song as a centre-back, but pushed well up towards the mid-field, as a defensive playmaker would be a good move.
Song definitely plays with more creativity and vision when he is thrust further up-field. Thus, the back three would take on a triangular configuration. An M-shaped five man mid-field would be similar to that seen in the Spurs game. If Alex Song should tire, this would be the best time to bring on Reece Oxford as a fast, ‘fresh pair of legs’ to help run Everton off their socks.
In selecting the attacking duo, Payet picks himself on the left edge of the box, with Emenike a little further right. I have suggested starting the game with Emenike, since in terms of fitness, I think he may be one game closer to full-fitness than Diafra Sakho. This would allow further opportunity for Emenike to play for 45-60 mins, with Sakho to play the rest of the game.
Everton have had a very good season scoring goals, but are also capable of leakage in defence. So in this match the objectives should be fairly clear, given the type of playing flair that Slaven favours.
In the last two games, it has been us who have been able to score the all-important first goal. In the first 5-10 minutes, it is imperative that we control the tempo and dominance of the game, with fast accurate passing, associated with player movement, both on the ball and off.
This will allow us to run with solidity and quality on the ball. Ideally, with a sense of strength and control of player numbers, this should provide us with the best opportunity of striking first, which in turn boosts team confidence.
Ideally we should be aiming to establish a two goal lead before half-time. If we adopt this approach to all of the remaining games in this season, I am confident that we can win a large majority of games, even if we concede the odd goal or two.
Look at the history of Ajax andBarcelona for example, and look at the goals scored, goals conceded stats. Boring they maybe, but stats don’t lie!