Everton Preview: Two Become One And Lead To Three

Everton arrive at the Emirates for the afternoon’s late kick-off with Unai Emery hunting an elusive clean sheet and three points in the same match. There is a sense that this may become a media pre-occupation until the first clean sheet happens. It is certainly the benchmark against which a ragged defence is judged.

The solution comes only from the training ground. Transfer windows are nailed firmly shut and in any case, the ragged defence reflects a team disposition. As I’ve talked about previously, the whole team must chip in. Thursday night saw Vorskla capitalise on an individual mistake for their first goal and our inability to close out the game with no further damage.

They were goals, however, which were entirely different from the one conceded at Newcastle. That came from a more expected source, with the cross and ensuing header exposing our vulnerabilities at the moment. There doesn’t appear to be a magic solution to solving our problems. Dropping Bellerin for Lichtsteiner only brings a different type of individualism to the XI and the same with Koscielny.

There is as much for those in front of the defence to resolve as the back four and Cech themselves.

A solution presents itself in the form of Lucas Torreira. Having dipped our toes in the water of his appearances, we find we like the temperature. Unai Emery doesn’t feel the same despite the evidence of last weekend and Thursday confirming we’re a more balanced side with him on the pitch. Is it to appease others that the pairing of Guendouzi and Xhaka continues? Is Guendouzi the right player to have in the side with Torreira and Xhaka? Ramsey is more of a direct attacking threat than the youngster. There’s no easy solution; someone’s feathers will be ruffled.

Sam Without Dave, Eric Without Ernie

It could be that he feels one fudged solution in the side is enough. Fitting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette into the same XI requires one to feature out of their comfort zone. Naturally, we opt to use one of Europe’s most consistent goalscorers as a wide striker as opposed to a two-man attack.

That’s not the vogue in the modern game. Gone are strike partnerships, in are the lone wolves. No Di Stefano and Puskas, Keegan and Toshack, Bergkamp and Henry, Hales and Flanagan, Warboys and Bannister; no big man / little man pair to strike fear into opposing defences nor a duo whose names wouldn’t be amiss on the billing of the London Palladium or any other music hall in the country. Not now; the lone striker is in.

Which is fine when you’ve got a player suited to that role. Not so good when you’ve got two world-class strikers suited to that role. Something has to give. On and off the pitch because the unbalanced nature of the squad raises questions about the recruitment policy. I’ll ask them another day.

PEA is getting on with his role in the team which is more than he is doing with his country. Earlier this week, he apparently criticised the Gabon FA for appointing his father as national team coach. Sunday roasts will be interesting…

Not as interesting as the point made this morning in The Times. Emery has form in getting central strikers to move wide. David Villa at Valencia is the example chosen, with the striker observing:

“I was the club’s finisher but he [Emery] wanted me to combine more with the wingers, switch positions with them and go wide to ask questions of defences. It helped my game.”

David Villa on Unai Emery, The Times, 23rd September 2018

And The XI Is…

There are few complaints so far about how the pairing works beyond the lack of natural width in the side. That manifests in Bellerin’s role on the right and the problem of a lack of cover which I keep banging on about.

Which brings us to the line-up. I know the change I’d like to see but won’t and there’s a question of whether Mkhitaryan deserves his chance ahead of Ramsey but I don’t think that will happen either. That’s not Ramsey bashing even if it seems I’m using every avenue open to get him out of the XI. It’s about the balance of the team in this instance.

Anyway, the line-up I’d expect to see is:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.

The obligatory introduction of Torreira at half-time will come at Guendouzi’s expense. Unless Granit has a stinker.

Whatever the XI, enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. And hopefully, we’ll reconvene in the morning with three more points in the bag.

’til Tomorrow.

48 thoughts on “Everton Preview: Two Become One And Lead To Three

  1. Ras says:

    Boooom.. Morning YW..scandalous that Mikhi possibly wont start,criminal in fact.

    Off to the beach Family BBQ.Back just in time for kick off – The Mediterranean Sea awaits

  2. Jonnygunner says:


    I’m very jealous Ras…..we normally come down to Cahors each summer(not down on the coast)…..we went with family this year……pain in the arse….never again!!
    We’re off to Normandy for 2 weeks on Saturday-can’t wait.

  3. Woolwich Freddie says:

    [Essay warning]
    I’m not particularly concerned how the attackers are arranged. I think we have the quality in those areas that they will forge relationships and the capability to switch with each other during games. Lacazette is the default central player because he can hold up the ball (far better than Giroud did, incidentally).

    If they are to reach their potential, our attachers need the platform provided by having consistent ball-winners behind them. The midfield is even more important to this than the defence, which I think will improve with better shielding and a confidence-boosting reduction in desperate scenarios – look, United’s central defenders are also not great but just aren’t put in the situation as often. Torreira is a nice start but I still think we need a tough, athletic ball-winner in there, at least for certain games. Not something that is going to be fixed without transfers but, in the meantime, I would take playing fewer flair players at once and more of the journeymen (Welbeck, Elneny, etc.), if they could be persuaded to put their heads down and do the donkey-work for the team.

    Having said all this, I am impressed with what Emery has done in the time and I do like what the more mobile deeper-lying midfielders (Torreira and Guendouzi) bring us going forwards – they find space and give options, as well as provide cover.

  4. nicky says:


    Don’t forget a tincture or two of Calvados should the evenings get chilly, jonnygunner. 😉

  5. C says:

    Top stuff Yogi and I too would drop Ramsey for one of Iwobi or Mhkitaryan.

    I know I keep banging on but I don’t think we can truly judge our defense until both Leno and Torriera start. Leno not just for his distribution bur for his ability to play in that sweeper keeper role which will really help both the back 4 and midfield because they will he able to press and condense the pitch knowing that they have Leno back there who is really good at rhe sweeper keeper role and is really really quick off his line.

  6. C says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    I said in the summer I think a Torriera/Elneny partnership would be hard working and would allow Elneny to sit and recycle and close down whilr letting Torriera do what Torriera does.

  7. C says:


    We do have a very good striker problem don’t we….two of the most lethal and CONSISTENT striker over the past 4-5 seasons. I am less concerned though because both started out as wingers and only became strikers out of necessaity for their clubs at the time. The other thing is that, whil Aubameyang does ‘play centrally’ even when there he tends to drift to one flank or the other. Its why I think Emery has allowed them along with Ozil to swap freely in those front 3 positions. The goals will come.

  8. C says:

    Torriera starts:


  9. Noon Gunner says:


    So…we’re getting there. A Torreira-Xhaka axis in midfield. With the comfort of Iwobi, Welbeck and Guendouzi to hustle as subs. I’ve given up hoping for Leno in the PL until either Cech slips up catastrophically or Christmas comes.

  10. Adam Singh says:


    Surprised that Ramsey want dropped for Miki or Iwobi.

  11. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Slpw but surely but I fancy we will see Leno sooner rather than later because not even Emery can continue with Cech if his distribution and lack of ability to play sweeper keeper continues….I think, hope, pray….

  12. C says:

    Drop Cech, if Xhaka was confident in Cech he would habe played it back but he isn’t.

    Cech and Xhaka may need to be dropped.

  13. PETER WILLIS says:


    We look as though we’re playing Away. Unbelievable level of nerves in defence.

  14. lari03 says:


    We look as though we’re playing Away. Unbelievable level of nerves in defence.

    Good tactic from Everton, if we absorb the pressure we can win the game if their energy levels drops.

  15. C says:

    Who says Ozil doesn’t have pace..

  16. Joel says:

    Ramsey offers absolutely nothing to this team. Simply seems to be selected because of his reputation rather than anything that he offers on the pitch. I’m not the greatest fan of Iwobi but he certainly seams to have more to offer in an attacking sense… as does Mikitarian.

  17. thrillbo says:

    You know, folks have been talking about how Unai is planning for each match but to me at high (uneducated level) our main shape & gameplan has looked similar in each match so far. Need to focus up a bit here and put a chance in the net.

  18. thrillbo says:

    ooh – Laca could have sold that tug on the sleeve. We know a sleezebag like Suarez goes down if you flick his ear and gets penalties called all the time.

  19. C says:

    What does Ramsey offer the team in the way that Emery wants to play?

  20. Thrillbo says:


    Worth a shot , Iwobi is in form now relatively and plays more like a ‘winger’ out left. Let ozil do his thing at #10, who knows. Unai must have his reasons. To be honest Torreira looks a bit off the pace and has been more effective as a sub in the second half. Interesting to see if our young Afro man comes on in 2nd half.

  21. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I think it’s bizarre we criticize players for not going down (although, yes I wanted him to). Why not criticize refs for not giving an obvious foul just because the player kept their feet?

  22. Woolwich Freddie says:


    I’m down for dropping Ramsey and Xhaka but I think Cech’s been excellent this season, at least as a goalkeeper. I appreciate his distribution leaves a lot to be desired (last season it was truly appalling) and that maybe isn’t the best thing for the system. However, I think mobile players giving options (Torreira, Guendouzi) will make a bigger difference to that than the choice of keeper. Difficult to drop a keeper when he’s keeping you in the game.

  23. C says:

    Lacazette!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely brilliant!

  24. G4E says:

    I’m not comfortable with that “Ref with the biggest Ass phaysically and in Attitude”

    Ok, maybe now a little comfortable.

  25. C says:

    Ramsey tripped or he qould have had the tap in.

  26. C says:

    3 points and a clean sheet! 12 out of 18 and both Lacazette and Aubameyang scoring goals.

  27. C says:

    Has anybody heard from Moe or Henry?

  28. SV says:

    Well, I’ll take it. And some more, please. After a midweek game, a professional win.

  29. Michael says:

    It arrived, a clean sheet. Not keen on these slow starts and too many back passes, but we won yaay.

    Also C what you done to Bill? although he may be into that Colorado tobacco 🙂

  30. C says:


    He likes to disappear when I’m right about things so surely Ozil’s 2 goals made him disappear along with Nacho struggling a bit on the left and our Bellerin actually playing better.

  31. C says:


    Or the fact he worries about Lacazette and I told him he scores goals 😁

  32. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    finally got round to watching game, few defensive frailties again, but i actually thought we handled them much better in second half. Emery seems to like to start games in control and then have his players build up momentum, when he’s got a full team of his players, i’d like to see it in full effect.

    Cech was outstanding. What we signed him for.

    Starting to feel we need to adopt this formation until we sign some actual wingers:

    Bellerin Mustafi Sok Monreal
    Mkhiytarian/Iwobi Xhaka/Ramsey
    Lacazette Aubamayang

    Auba can drift out left, if needed, but they play much better closer together. If Xhaka goes forward, Mkhi drops back beside Torreira and vice versa.

    We don’t have the players to play wingers right now, when he brings in actual wingers, we’ll see about the 4 3 3, but it causes more problems than it solves, as who drops out? Auba or Laca. Both goal scorers. I almost feel like it’s a fifa conundrum where a kids bought two or more world class CF and you can’t start them both unless ones out of position therefore not as good

  33. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Ah, removed my spaces in that formation….It’s a 442 diamond

  34. C says:


    I would rather it be Iwobo or Ramsey and Xhaka or Guendouzi in you formation. I think Iwobi can be that winger and has shown he can be but again, it would be at the expense of Ramsey.

  35. LSG says:

    442 diamond—been saying that we should play that. We can’t defend anyway.

    Cech was immense. We lose that game if he wasn’t so superb today. More than the saves even—dominating the area aerially and coming off his line.

  36. Papa Bear says:

    A much needed win (I care less if it was an ugly one) and Emery has taken this team to the right direction although still lots to improve especially the backline.

    Emery’s approach of putting Lenos pressure to Cech’s and not rushing Torreira’s full game had turned out to be successful.

    Now I can enjoy watching Arsenal again.

  37. nicky says:

    Games are starting to come thick and fast.
    Europa, EPL, Carabao and EPL again in just over a week.
    The need for rotational selection must be obvious. 😉

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