Are Everton in a false position?

Everton go into the International break with 14 points on the board, 20 goals in the bag and 18 against. The Blues may have dominated plenty of games and ‘won the possession’ but have they deserved anymore than they’ve got so far? The model’s answer is an emphatic ‘no’ – in fact it gives Everton 13 points suggesting that the luck has actually been slightly with us.

Using the model I am able to simulate the chances both Everton and their opponents had in each of the games so far. Play the same game over 1000s of times and the ‘luck’ of one off matches gradually gets stripped away. Each chance the team has in a game is given a probability of being turned into a goal depending on how similar chances have faired back in time. The model churned out the most likely result in each of our games so far:

EvertonSimmed resultsThe model gives us a record of W3 D4 L4 and our actual record is W3 D5 L3. It really didn’t like our start to the season suggesting we should have lost the first four. It also suggests that our performance up front scoring 20 goals is a big overperformance. The model reckons there’s only a 13% chance Everton score 20 or more.

If you think that’s nonsense, think about the difficulty level of a lot of the strikes when Everton have scored: McGeady and Naismith v Leicester, the Eto’o header v Chelsea, Lukaku v Wba, Jagielka’s rocket v Liverpool, Naismith’s header v Man United, Eto’s brace v Burnley.

The quality of these goals is extremely high. Do Everton have a sustainable mix here? If the shots were taken again, is it likely they would fly in again? The model says no. What do you think? I won’t even mention Foster and Guzan fumbling shots over the line for us either. If Everton want to sustain their current goalscoring rate, they’re likely going to have to fashion more chances and easier ones at that. Personally, I think that’s a possibility. It still doesn’t feel like the front four have clicked fully as a unit, despite the individual bits of brilliance we see in the video.

What’s the score defensively? On the morning of the Derby I posted this about how Everton’s defensive record would improve no matter who played in defence. Well since then we’ve seen Stones, Alcaraz and Distin partner Jagielka and it has got better despite the disruption in personnel. The good news is that defensive improvements should sustain – it’s even more unlikely that we’ve conceded 18 than it is we’ve scored 20.

If we look at the model’s predictions for individual games again up above, Everton have that terrible start before going on a run of 7 games unbeaten. The team is looking solid again, if unspectacular. Expect more of the same as Everton consolidate a position in the top half and gradually climb the table over the next couple of months. Make no mistake though, Everton currently deserve to be where they are in the table right now.

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