The Everton Diary – Game Week 2 Post Match Notes

A good start to this season’s analytical takes having talked about Watford getting caught high up field, with space in behind the fullbacks for Everton to exploit.

I really wanted Marco Silva to stick with the same players on the flanks to give two different types of threat, the directness of Richarlison on the right and the combination play of Lucas Digne and Bernard on the left.

And he did.

And this happened in the first 10 minutes:

And the move also brings me to this week’s talking point. The language used around this being a great/amazing/incredible ‘assist’.

My take: Look how much Bernard still has to do to score the goal. This is not an amazing ‘assist’. I asked my model to show me similar key passes (passes that directly lead to a shot on goal) from this season. There have been two already that rate similarly.

First up. Paul Pogba from last week:

Second up. Dominic Solanke from this weekend:

I’m quite pleased that the model groups these three ‘key passes’ together?


Because they all leave the shooter a lot to do. They all involve the shooter going full pelt for the ball to get there. They all end with the shooter carrying the ball. They all end with the shooter having to cut inside to get the shot off.

My model says these key passes all carry a similar value. And that value is about an 8% chance of a goal. Credit Bernard with actually turning it into a goal.

So is it a great/amazing/incredible ‘pass’? Again I queried my model’s database.

It’s the first of it’s kind in the Premier League this season. No one else has even attempted one to and from those areas of the pitch. I was quite surprised by this. Surprised enough to delve further back. My passing model contains millions of passes from the top leagues.

It’s still fairly unique. Unique enough for me to mirror the pass on the opposite side of the pitch for some semblance of a decent sample size. On both sides, it gets completed 27% of the time.

A good pass, but not great/amazing/incredible. Does the end result of the move (a goal) make us overrate everything about it?

I think so, but I would. What do you think?

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The Everton Diary – Game Week 2 Pre-Match Notes

Watford today.

Key men? Abdoulaye Doucoure? Etienne Capoue? Troy Deeney?


Today if you’re watching the game and looking out for opposition players, look at Watford’s fullbacks: Jose Holebas on the left and Kiko Femenia on the right.

Watford are often a team of extremes. Build up goes two ways in the main. Long down the middle to Deeney, or sending it to Femenia on the right hand side.

When they go long, Holebas gets more involved. It’s long throw-ins ahoy when the ball gets knocked out and away.

When the ball goes to the right hand side, the busy Will Hughes links up with Femenia and the ball advances quickly down that flank. With Andre Gray buzzing about too up front on that side, it’s a dynamic set up. Femenia is often Watford’s most directly creative player and see’s a lot of the ball.

You’ll see from the graphic that Watford were keen to press high across the front against Brighton last week (the redder the area the more the opposition pass backwards or give the ball away):

As soon as Watford lose the ball in attack they intially press opposition defenders hard to get it back. This can expose the area in behind full backs who are still up high.

In theory Everton have options here. Long diagonals to Richarlison (if he starts on the right again) when Holebas gets caught short.

It also allows Dominic Calvert Lewin to pull about the two centre halves Craig Cathchart and Craig Dawson if Everton launch it quickly in transition.

Then there’s more conventional build up between Lucas Digne and Bernard when Watford drop deep once the initial press has failed.

There’ll be lots of clamour to change it about up front seeing as Everton failed to score last week. Me? I’d stick with DCL through the middle and Bernard left to give us that bit of variety.

I’m the first to criticise the way Marco Silva chooses to use Glyfi Sigurdsson. But I expect this game to turn into a bit of a ping pong match with the ball popping about everywhere, so it’d be entirely in keeping with tradition that my Icelandic chum barely touches the ball but manages to find the space amongst the chaos to smash in a worldy and solidify his place for the next dozen games.

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