Clinical Deficiencies – Everton v Blackpool

Louis Saha gave a masterclass in clinical finishing either side of Blackpool clinically punishing two mistakes made by Everton players. However, it was a double defensive substitution by Ian Holloway that failed to snuff out Everton’s attacks that swung the game back in David Moyes’ favour.

Setting Up

The opening play saw Holloway pitting his 4-3-3 against the 4-1-4-1 of David Moyes, who had Marouane Fellaini in the holding role in a system that had stifled Blackpool earlier in the season at Bloomfield Road. James Beattie started in the front three, alongside Jason Puncheon and DJ Campbell who dropped deep from the centre to receive the ball.

Moyes has watched Blackpool a lot this season and knows he needs to block the space with a holding midfielder and lined up 4-1-4-1 against Holloway's 4-3-3.

In effect there appeared to be three key dynamics that lead to Everton’s win which are discussed below.

Right back to where we started

Prior to this game starting Blackpool had conceded 16 goals in their last 5 games since beating Liverpool. 13 of them have germinated in the right back area as teams appear to have spotted and exploited a real weakness in the Blackpool defence.

This season Everton have been exceptional down their left hand side, so this match had the potent combination of Blackpool’s weakness matching up with Everton’s strength and this was key in this game with all 5 of Everton’s goals coming via this channel.

Taking Everton’s first goal step by step you can see how their defence is drawn out of shape by some simple Everton passing and movement.

Neil Eardley shows Bilyaletdinov plenty of space to turn and run.

David Vaughan has to track the Everton runner who has exploited the space that Eardley leaves behind him.

Eardley does recover his ground, but commits to the challenge and is beaten easily by Bilyaletdinov and the Blackpool defence has conceded 20 yards of space for him to attack.

Blackpool's centre backs are unable to doing anything to stop the cut back cross ball.

Everton focused their passing down their left hand side and completed 60% of their passes in open play down the left hand side.

This blog recently discussed the importance of Blackpool’s full backs in their open sense of adventure, however, it appears that teams understand this to be as much of a weakness too. As the full backs attack they leave space behind and recently it appears the space isn’t being covered effectively. Should Blackpool stay in the Premier League then Holloway will have worked hard with his full backs to sustain their attacking potency whilst ensuring defensive stability.

Keeping it tight till switching it off

Without doubt Everton controlled the space on the pitch very effectively for the most part, however, after going 2-1 up the appeared to push for a third to kill the game off. In doing so they started to lose a little of their shape and Blackpool exploited this very well in transition and capitalised on mistakes.

As a result of Marouane Fellaini sitting in a 4-1-4-1 Blackpool were strangled and even on the rare occasion when Elliot Grandin was able to get goal side of Fellaini, he ended up not being able to find a team-mate.

Here you can see that Grandin has escaped Fellaini in a very rare first half occurrence, but fails to make it pay.

Fellaini closed out Charlie Adam effectively in the first half, even when he was in the deep. Look at the shot below as Fellaini makes up several yards to close Adam down which forces Adam in to an error and leads to Everton’s build up for their first goal.

Fellaini is aware of Adam dropping deep, sensing danger he steps out of position to close Adam down in the space marked by the red dot.

Fellaini has closed out Adam and he hits a wayward pass handing possession to Everton who go on to score.

In fact Charlie Adam was stifled in the first half and had a pass completion of only 48%. As he was gradually afforded more space in the second half it increased to 67%. As further demonstration of how Everton disrupted Blackpool’s passing their completion was 64% in the first half and in the second it was 68%. It is interesting to note that for Blackpool’s period of goal scoring (between 61 and 65) it increased to 78%.

The Chalkboard below shows how Fellaini contested 11 duels and won 10 in the whole match, however, 8 of those were in the first half and he and won 7 of those as he dominated the midfield. As Fellaini stopped being dominant in his duels Blackpool enjoyed their success. Was this just a coincidence?

Fellaini had a great game in the tackle, however, in the second half as the game swung towards Blackpool he failed to win duels. As he started to win them again on the 73 minute mark Everton started to control again.

Concession of the advantage!

At 3-2 Blackpool appeared to have Everton exposed to the counter and it was at this point Holloway tried to change the dynamic, seemingly to shut the game out. In his post match interview he likened his move to the one made against Liverpool to shut out the result. However, the two moves were completely different, against Liverpool his switch came with 5 minutes remaining, whilst he had a full 20 minutes to control here. Also, he went to a 4-1-4-1 against Liverpool whilst against Everton he went to a very unfamiliar looking 5-4-1. In doing so, he conceded his small advantage in favour of asking Everton to try to break them down. Everton did, through a combination of defensive mistakes, dis-organisation and naivety. The shots below show how Blackpool struggled to organise themselves in to a coherent 5 man defence. Firstly, the centre backs are drawn narrow and inside the Everton attackers and secondly in the run up to the Everton fourth goal, as the third centre back (Rob Edwards) is out of position with Neil Eardley behind him.

Blackpool struggle to space their 3 centre backs allowing themselves to be drawn inside the Everton attackers leaving plenty of space either side of the three.

From another angle Blackpool's defence is totally out of shape as Beckford puts Everton ahead.

As further evidence of how the defensive move didn’t pay off, see the chalkboard below and notice how Blackpool fail to win any duels as Everton pick off three unanswered goals. 

Above, even when Blackpool went defensive, it never paid off, losing 1 tackles in a 10 minute period. Prior and before that they worked hard in the tackle even though they lost 24 of their 53 challenges.

Ding Dong

This was a battle launched firmly on a robust Everton side shutting out Blackpool’s attacking space, before stinging them down their flawed right hand area. However, after handing Blackpool space on the counter Ian Holloway will move on to the next game knowing that his team are still potent, and will hope to find a better way of controlling the game against Aston Villa should he find his team holding the advantage.

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About tangerinedreaming

I support Blackpool FC and I want to share my thoughts on the way our team plays. This blog is wholly inspired by Zonal Marking which has opened my eyes to football like never before. So if you read this, thanks for taking some time out to see what I think and if you feel bound to comment then please do so, but be kind and constructive with any criticism.
This entry was posted in Blackpool, Blackpool FC, Charlie Adam, David Moyes, Everton, Formation, Full Backs, Ian Holloway, Match Analysis, Players, Tactics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Clinical Deficiencies – Everton v Blackpool

  1. CMSed says:

    I found my way here from Twitter (I’m a Toffee supporter from the US) and I just wanted to commend you for a great site – think I’ll stick around a bit to read your takes on some of Blackpool’s other matches. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks very much for taking time out to read the blog, feel free to dig around some of the older pieces available via the menus at the top.

      • matty40s(roadchef) says:

        I have been looking at these for as long as you have been posting the link on avftt and have to say there is no arguments as to your points or the teams development needs.
        I have no doubt someone at the club must read these too, lets hope we see some constructive critisism taken on board and tactics improved on.
        The tactical changes were the first time since the Chelsea game that I thought Holloway got it very wrong. and did something alien to the formation

      • Thanks very much for the comments and for taking the time to have a read.

  2. Jonny says:

    Good, insightful report John. Impressive analysis on the key factors that lead to the final result, especially Blackpool’s right hand side weakness.

  3. sapper says:

    What an excellent article. I only wish Ollie and Tommo read this, analyse it and take on board the failings which are costing us points.

  4. The Conical says:

    Hi TD

    Do you think that holloway has to change his formation to offer more support to Eardley, or is a new right back the option?

    It would be harsh to pin too much blame on Eardley when he often has no direct cover in front of him. But the centre backs and grandin could support?

    An interesting dilemma for Blackpool.

    • Not change and I agree that isn’t down to one person. Holloway said at the weekend that defence starts with the forwards, so the team has to defend better as a unit.

      What I find interesting from the stats from recent games is how our pass completion has started to erode, as well as the amount of passes we have per game. This appears to be the foundations we build our game on and if we have the ball then the opposition can’t score. In the games since the Liverpool match our pass count stands at 441, for the five games prior we totalled 481. The completion has dropped from an average of 74% to 70%.

      Stats never tell the whole story, but I think this may well show that if we can keep working hard to improve our passing, then our defence may well be under less pressure. What it might also indicate is that we have made teams work much harder then they ever expected in order to get the ball from us. That’s is a tremendous credit to the work of the whole team.

      There’s a post coming soon about the defence, hoping to have it ready by the weekend.

  5. Pingback: Blackpool 3 – 1 Spurs | Tangerine Dreaming

  6. Pingback: Dissecting the defence | Tangerine Dreaming

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