September 29, 2012 Leave a comment
No Tim Howard. No Leighton Baines. And after a terrible start, Stephen Pienaar and Phil Neville were called in off the bench to try and save the day in Everton’s 2-1 Capital Cup loss to Leeds on Wednesday. Moyes rested his players for this weekend’s game against newly-promoted Southampton, but it was clear that he wanted to also establish some depth for this constantly-improving Everton team.
Moyes has Everton off to its best start since 2006/2007. Everton is currently leading the EPL with 20.4 shots per game, and also leading with 71% of those shots coming from inside the box. History shows that this attacking rate will decrease as the year goes on, even though the two biggest transfers, Steven Pienaar (5.06 million) and Kevin Mirallas (6.73 million), are not even fully acquainted with their new team. In particular, if Mirallas finds his form he could have a major impact on the Everton offense after scoring 20 goals in 25 games for Olympiakos last year. But Moyes is smart enough to know that depth in the attacking positions is required to be a consistent Champions League threat, and after the Capital One Cup loss on Tuesday he knows the depth is just not there yet.
This week, Everton is favored at home against newly-promoted Southampton. The toffees have enough talent to win outright, but they should also have an advantage over a Southampton team that does not look like it can keep up with Everton’s long ball style. Everton spent 44% of its possession on the left side this season, which has a lot to do with the talent of Leighton Baines. Look for that to continue this week, because Southampton averages 9.75 aerials won per game against teams that cross the ball more than 20 times per game. Everton also has big aerial targets in Fellaini and Jelavic, and defender Sylvain Distin will be dangerous on set pieces (5.5 aerials won per game).