Everton's Strengths Have Also Been Their Downfall

Tom Gott
Nov 8, 2020, 5:45 PM GMT
Everton's system has created problems for everybody
Everton's system has created problems for everybody | Robin Jones/Getty Images

With four consecutive wins and a 2-2 draw against defending champions Liverpool to start the season, Everton were on top of the world. Talk of a title challenge was not (totally) unjustified.

Since that Merseyside derby, Everton have lost three games on the bounce, conceding no fewer than seven goals and looking nothing like the side that dominated the Premier League for the first few weeks.

Carlo Ancelotti's Toffees have found positivity hard to come by over the last three games, and the strange thing is that a lot of their problems have actually come because of the exact thing that made Everton so good early on; the system.

The Toffees have lost their mojo
The Toffees have lost their mojo | Pool/Getty Images

The 4-3-3 which had picked teams apart appears to have been figured out. Particularly, a vulnerability down the right has been identified, with James Rodriguez's lack of defensive know-how leaving whoever plays behind him dangerously exposed.

Manchester United were particularly brutal in their approach in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Toffees. They spent most of the game charging down Everton's right side, and all three of their goals originated from those very moves.

To say this is all Rodriguez's fault would be too harsh. His weaknesses have exposed flaws in both Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan, who have found it impossible to simultaneously double up on the right and shield the centre-backs.

A lack of flexibility and fluidity has caused problems for Everton, and it's now up to Ancelotti to find a way to get the best out of Rodriguez without bringing the worst out of his team.

Rodriguez's weaknesses have been clear
Rodriguez's weaknesses have been clear | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Having said all that, a lot of Everton's shortcomings have been down to the weakness of the squad as a whole, and Richarlison's foolish red card against Liverpool have brought all of the Toffees' issues to the fore.

Undoubtedly one of the stars of this team, Richarlison was suspended for all three of Everton's defeats, and it has been painfully clear just how important he actually is to the team.

Bernard showed signs of being able to replace his fellow countryman, but behind him, Ancelotti has had no choice but to turn to strugglers Alex Iwobi and Cenk Tosun, while teenagers Anthony Gordon and Ellis Simms have also joined the festivities.

That's a pretty steep drop-off in quality and explosiveness, and it has hurt Everton, whose attempts to play through teams and overwhelm opponents have been futile without Richarlison as a focal point down the left.

What we've seen is Everton being exposed defensively and then not being strong enough going forward to atone for their errors. Their mojo is completely gone, and there are a few problems that need sorting before it returns.

Richarlison's return will undoubtedly spark somewhat of a resurgence, but Ancelotti also needs to re-think his system. Fortunately, with a trip to Craven Cottage to face struggling Fulham, Everton will have a perfect chance to bounce back and rebuild their confidence.

Expect Ancelotti to search for ways to fix his side's one-dimensional struggles once the January transfer window opens. Everton need more reliable options on the bench, which may well mean more money needs to be invested.

Until that point, the focus will be on Ancelotti and his system. There are flaws that even the deepest squad wouldn't be able to cover up, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to see a drastic change of tactic once the Toffees return from the international break.

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