With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!
It really is saying something when there are three standout contenders for the Premier League’s best player the previous weekend, and all three of them are defenders! With an impressive amount of 2-0 and 2-1 results last weekend, the goalscoring defender was clearly always going to reign as king – and on this occasion that person would be none other than Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt. The other two in the mix – Leicester star Wes Morgan and Everton’s Kurt Zouma (on loan from Chelsea) missed out on the most trivial of margins – they each played 94 minutes, while van Aanholt played 95! He helped the Eagles to a 2-0 win over Huddersfield – a result which saw the Terriers ultimately relegated.
At this late-ish stage of the season, Premier League clubs do of course start gaining games in hand over some of their rivals. At the time of writing, for example, league leaders Liverpool have played 32 games, while second-placed Man City have featured in 31 and Arsenal (in fifth) are on 30. Of course, Monday evening games play a part, but so too does the progress of different teams in different competitions. Liverpool now have a two point lead at the top of the table, though City have of course played that one game less. It is now time to look at which players performed the best for their clubs in this past weekend’s round of games, adopting a 4-4-2 formation here. For simplicity, we are calling this week 32 but that may not apply to all teams of course.
There’s no greater problem for a manager than having too many good players to choose from. For Marco Silva at Everton, that issue is about to raise its head at centre back.
So far this season, consistency has proven key for the Portuguese boss. The strong summer transfer window overseen by Marcel Brands left him with plenty of options, particularly in the heart of his defence.
The arrival of Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma meant Silva had those pair plus Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Phil Jagielka to choose from. Fortune, however, forced his hand.
An injury ruled out Mina while a red card left Jagielka on the sidelines. After Zouma got fit and Keane returned from an injury they established themselves as the first choice pairing. Continue reading
As Everton exited the Carabao Cup on Tuesday the sense of disappointment inside Goodison Park was palpable. The Blues have never won the League Cup and it will be another year before they’re given a shot at changing that record.
Most Evertonians cannot understand why. If there was any year that they should have been focusing on England’s ‘lesser’ cup competition this was it. Instead, they are questioning why Marco Silva has passed up a massive opportunity for himself and his team this season.
This competition was a real shot at silverware for Everton this season. Liverpool and Manchester United are already out. Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have more pressing issues. Continue reading
Sometimes it takes one performance for a new manager to get going at a club. For Marco Silva and Everton, it may prove to be the win over Fulham.
Describing Silva’s first few weeks in charge at Goodison Park as frustrating would be accurate. His desire to attack regardless of opponents is a welcome change for fans who were bored into submission by Sam Allardyce’s football. His attitude towards the club is another point in the plus column.
Whereas Allardyce had little regard for the fourth most successful club in England, Silva has made it clear he knows this is a big job. He has also made it clear that existing is not enough. Everton have to compete. Continue reading
While Brazilian pair Richarlison and Bernard added much-needed firepower and creativity to a front line that was lacking in both last season, and Lucas Digne answers a question over who will replace Leighton Baines, it was Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina who were most needed.
Last season proved that the Blues defence was in need of drastic change, particularly in central defence. Michael Keane arrived in a big money move after impressing under Sean Dyche at Burnley. Continue reading
Sometime last week, the transfer window was looking like being something of a disaster for Everton Football Club.
The majority of their work had been reducing the wage bill and moving on those deemed not good enough.
Wayne Rooney was the biggest departure, shipped off to MLS for the final part of his career after a less than glorious one-year return to his boyhood club.
Rooney provided some of the best moments of last season but the boy who up Goodison Park all those years ago was now a man struggling to live up to the standards he had set over his career.
Chelsea’s success in the Roman Abramovich era has been mostly built on a solid defence, and it was no different for Antonio Conte’s side last season. Continue reading