Everyone is aware of the Baines-Pienaar axis and how delightful it can be to watch. Leicester first game of the season is a good example. However, I’ve also been critical of it (here in the opening para) in the past. Over-play between the two sometimes leads to defences getting set in numbers. Play has to be nigh on perfect to result in a goal.
In Pienaar’s absence, Mirallas has briefly been stationed out there. This means less link up with Baines and more cutting inside for a direct goal threat.
But with both Pienaar and Mirallas unable to start this weekend, Everton had to come up with a new solution on the left hand side. Turns out there were many solutions, but all focussed on attacking a defence less able to set its stall out and there was a lot of variety on show. The 7 clips are in the video at the bottom.
1. Baines takes a throw in. The ball is worked back to him out wide in the final third. At this point everyone runs away from the ball. Baines delivers into a box with 4 attackers in it and 2 more arriving.
2. Baines looks early for a ball over the top not even bothering to look what else is ahead of him. Lukaku is only a whisker away from splitting the centre back pairing (Guzan gets drawn into no-mans land). Osman isn’t far behind ready to pick up any loose ball.
3. Again Baines is alone in acres in the wide final third. He plays a flat box to the edge of the box. Again there are 4 Everton players in the vicinity. With so many defenders occupied and then attracted to the ball by Barkley, the youngster works it out to Coleman taking out all of them. The Irishman gets a good effort in but may have been better off laying it square as the defenders have been turned round the wrong way.
4. Again (it’s getting boring now) Baines is on his own out wide. Another flat ball into the box. Nothing comes of it but essentially it’s 3 v 4 in the box. At this point in the game, I was critical of it on Twitter wanting someone to get closer to Baines to help out (it was only later on when I’d thought about it and watched again that this article came to me).
5. McCarthy’s excellent pressing allows for a quick counter. Barkley who has been stationed out left, is able to peel away. Villa have been turned round again, and off Lukaku goes to score his goal as Barkley slips him in.
6. It’s Osman out there this time. He does his Mirallas impression, cutting inside and getting in a shot from distance.
7. With Pienaar now on the field, it’s as you were. Lots of men over the left hand side playing it intricately. A free kick is won by Pienaar. Osman has the presence of mind to slip Baines in quickly and Coleman taps in.
Follow me on twitter @footballfactman