In search of a balanced Barry and Gueye…

A ‘ball recovery’ is when a player picks up a loose ball or makes a tackle/interception and his team retain the ball.

All interceptions and tackles aren’t ball recoveries but just looking at ball recoveries might still be useful. Where a team recovers possession of the football probably matters at some tactical level, right?

If a player is designated into a certain position, it probably matters where they’re recovering the ball too?

Central midfielders with a mainly defensive remit will find themselves screening and plugging holes around the pitch. The thing with both Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gueye, is that they spend way more time recovering the ball in areas wide of the penalty box than ANY other pairing in the league.

Everton’s defensive numbers are pretty damn good this season. Only four teams are better at preventing good shots on target – Man City, Southampton, Middlesboro and Chelsea. Of those, only Boro and Chelsea play a straight two in the middle regularly like Everton do.

Boro and Chelsea’s pairings (de Roon/Clayton and Matic/Kante) are way more compact than Everton’s pairing in terms of where they recover the ball:

final-ball-recoveries-gifI looked at Everton centre backs too. New boy Ashley Williams gets dragged wide of the box for 14% of his recoveries (no centre back gets dragged less). On the other side Phil Jagielka does the opposite. 43% of his recoveries are in areas wide of the box (only two get dragged more):

williams-and-jagielka-premier-league-ball-recoveries-2016-17What does this say about the shape of the team?

Let’s have a look at the tape. First, a quick 30 second vid of what a ‘ball recovery’ looks like courtesy of Messrs Barry and Gueye:

So the next video contains some cherry picked examples of where Everton’s defending is pretty haphazard. Every week Koeman talks about upping the pressing game. He’s not wrong.

You’ll see in these clips, the lack of co-ordinated press and lack of communication between the players when it comes to handing off responsibility for zones or players. There’s lots of basics missing:

Early on in the season it felt really refreshing for Everton players to be actually just trying to put pressure on the opposition. Now that the novelty’s worn off a bit, my eyes are seeing these issues for the first time. They’re not in the xG numbers. They’re in the ball recovery ones.

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  1. Pingback: 10 benefits of Everton switching to a 3-4-2-1 formation now Bolasie is injured - therussianlinesman.com

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