EVERTON are going through a bit of a rough patch under boss Rafa Benitez.
And with the Merseyside derby coming up on Wednesday, the Toffees will be desperate to avoid a crushing and embarrassing defeat.
Fans didn’t take a liking to the appointment of Benitez, and the poor form is mounting more pressureCredit: GETTY IMAGES
The transfer of Townsend was widely criticised in the summer, but he has turned out to be one of Everton’s most important players this seasonCredit: ALAMY
They find themselves 14th and are heading into the game off the back of a loss to league newcomers Brentford.
The Toffees are also enduring a horrid seven-game run without a win.
And if Liverpool do run riot at Goodison Park, the loud boos heard after the full-time whistle at the Brentford Community Stadium will be oh so louder.
A trashing at the hands of Liverpool could, in fact, push Rafa beyond the point of return with the Everton fans, considering the frosty welcoming he received in the summer.
There is, however, a model Everton COULD emulate to give themselves a chance of defeating Jurgen Klopp’s title-chasing Reds.
But it’ll mean taking notes from an old friend… David Moyes.
That’s right. Everton will have to take notes from old boss Moyes‘ set-up he used to see off Liverpool at the London Stadium.
It was a tactical masterclass.
The Hammers’ set-pieces played a key part in two of their three goals.
Striker Michail Antonio helped pin Alisson to his goal-line, allowing the likes of Angelo Ogbonna, Kurt Zouma, Tomas Soucek or Craig Dawson to attack the ball.
But what ultimately won West Ham the game was their unmatched work rate.
And luckily for Everton, there’s a lot of similarities between the two clubs, from the players all the way up to the managers.
Moyes took West Ham from relegation candidates to chasing a top-four finishCredit: ALAMY
West Ham’s big boys gave Liverpool’s defence a torrid time, and Everton should look to do the sameCredit: ALAMY
The likes of Antonio can take two opposition players out of the game from set-pieces, including the goalkeeper, allowing the likes of Zouma to attack the ballCredit: ALAMY
Benitez is no stranger to using a 4-2-3-1, he often deployed it during his time at Liverpool, and clubs he managed across Europe.
Another key to West Ham’s success was their physical presence.
Declan Rice, Zouma, Ogbonna, Dawson Diop and Antonio all count as ‘big boys’.
It’s really useful having players like this out of possession as well as when you have the ball in play and from set-pieces.
The Hammers when out of possession are compact. The midfield two sit and shield the back four.
Players like Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals help in the wide areas, doubling up with their full-back.
Why do West Ham like forcing players wide? They’re the most dominant team in the league in the air.
Rice carries the ball effectively for West Ham, and Everton’s Doucoure could play a similar roleCredit: EPA
As soon as a cross is swung into West Ham’s box, you’d put your money on one of their ‘big boys’ to head the danger clear.
You then have the likes of Rice who can drive the counter attack forward and distribute it to West Ham’s more expressive front four.
The compact set up draws teams out and leaves space in behind the opposition backline, allowing Benrahma, Fornals, Bowen or Antonio to run into the channels.
A lot of their goals are scored in transition, and West Ham’s second against Liverpool pays testament to that.
Bowen picked the ball up on the counter, and in typical inside forward fashion drove in-field, taking four Liverpool players out of the game, and set up Fornals who swept the ball home.
Another element of West Ham’s game is deep crosses.
Both Aaron Cresswell and Vladimir Coufal have excellent delivery, and Antonio will either get on the end of it himself or cause enough of a distraction to allow the goal-scoring midfielder Soucek to power the header home.
Fornals’ work rate is a key cog in West Ham’s attacking machineCredit: ALAMY
What can Everton learn from West Ham?
Everton’s full-backs and centre-back’s aren’t dissimilar to West Ham’s.
Both Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne have excellent deliver, similar to Cresswell and Coufal.
Michael Keane combined with either Ben Godfrey or the imposing Yerry Mina offers solid defensive dominance in the air.
Everton need to force the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as wide as possible inside their defensive third.
Everton’s midfield two should be Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Allan could recreate the role Rice plays defensively, breaking up play and relentlessly pressing the ball when out of possession.
Wheras Doucoure has similarities with both Rice and Soucek.
The Frenchman is capable both defensively, and has excellent ball-carrying ability.
He also has an eye for goal which helps.
The two will also have to be quick to shut down Thiago in particular, who is now starting to show his quality on a consistent basis.
Everton will need a solid defensive base to shut out Liverpool
Benitez will also need four willing runners to operate in front of the solid defensive base.
Andros Townsend would be a nailed on starter in this set-up., and could play a similar role to Benrahma or Fornals, rotating across the three behind the striker.
Summer signing Demarai Gray could play the inside forward role, showing this season he’s not shy to have a shot on goal.
The 25-year-old has three goals to his name in the league this term.
Academy graduate Anthony Gordon could start. His good ball control and speed will be key when in transition.
Richarlison will play up front in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s absence, and his pace will be key to running the channels.
Alternatively, Benitez could use a 4-3-3 and look to flood the midfield area.
He has Fabian Delph at his disposal, who possesses good quality on the ball, is strong in a tackle and works hard.
Delph could form a strong, hard-working midfield three alongside Allan and Doucoure.
Alternatively, Everton could look to overload the midfield
Salomon Rondon could start up front as the big hold-up man.
Richarlison could then be played out wide to add more pace on the left flank.
Townsend seems to be popular with Benitez, so he would man the right-hand side.
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