Everton have done better than I expected them to do this season. Roberto Martínez have built on the solid foundation that David Moyes left him with. Roberto Martínez famously promised Everton chairman Bill Kenwright that the Toffees will be in the Champions League next season. Even though it might have seemed like a bold promise to make, Everton are in fourth place after the win away to Swansea City.

The formations

 Swansea have started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Ángel Rangel was suspended, Dwight Tiendalli started in right-back. Michel Vorm and Nathan Dyer were both injured. Gerhard Tremmel started in goal, while Pablo Hernández started as the right winger. However the biggest absentee of the home team was Michu.

  Everton also started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gerard Deulofeu was injured, but the biggest absentee was arguably Leighton Baines. Bryan Oviedo started in the left-back position. 

 Probably everybody knows at this point that Roberto Martínez was the manager of Swansea City between the February of 2007 and the June of 2009. Swansea have continued to play in broadly the same fashion ever since. As a result, Everton and Swansea play in similar styles.
 This game showed how differently two teams can interpret the same style of football.

The differences in pressing

 Swansea City have defended differently than Everton did, with the differences being visible right from the start. The home side have not pressured Everton that much, but waited for them to attack, whereas the away team had a very detailed plan of pressing.  

 Everton let the two centre-backs have the ball, waiting in a 4-2-4 formation (see the image below) for the right time to press. Pressure was applied if the Swansea defenders played a slow or inaccurate pass, or the ball wasn't controlled well.
Applying pressure was all about closing down the forward passing options of the centre-backs, forcing them to play the ball to the wing, where Everton could use the lack of space to pressure the ball. If Tiendalli had the ball on the wing, Pienaar put pressure on him, while if Hernández came deeper on to help out the full-back, Pienaar helped Oviedo with doubling up on the Swansea winger.

football formations

 Everton were applying pressure in two banks of three. Either Lukaku or Mirallas closed down the centre-back in possession, while the other cut out the passing channel to the other centre-back. This forced the centre-back - Chico on the image below - to play a short pass to the full-back, who was under pressure by Pienaar. The second line of pressing was putting pressure on the holding midfielders, with one player - McCarthy on this image - defending against long balls, diagonals, and providing an extra cover against sudden changes in the position of the ball.  

football formations

 Everton's pressing forced Wilfried Bony to come deeper, and offer an option to hold up the long balls played out of the defence. Sylvian Distin dropped with him, challenging him in the air for these long balls, while Barkley often dropped with these long balls, collecting the balls that have bounced off Bony. 

 This highlights another difference in the interpretation of Swansea and Everton. The Everton forwards often put pressure on the Swansea holders when they got the ball, putting pressure on them from behind. Bony and Shelvey or Routledge - the forwards in the 4-4-2  that Swansea have played out of possession - didn't pressure backwards. 

 Everton's aim was to form passing triangles in midfield, playing around the Swansea players. Barry often dropped to the left, with MacCarthy dropping between the centre-backs, creating the necessary triangles for Everton to bring out the ball. Oviedo pushed very high, forming a triangle with Pienaar and Mirallas. Lukaku and Barkley could join and complement the duo of Mirallas and Pienaar from the centre.

football formations

  Barkley played in a  relatively free interpretation of the central attacking midfielder position when Swansea were in possession. When Barry had the ball in deep positions - while building the attack and dropping between the two centre-backs - Barkley dropped deeper, to link the midfield with the attack. 
 At the same time he was always searching for space while Everton were counter-attacking. 

 Pienaar was constantly coming inwards from the wing in attack. He positioned himself in the hole between the Swansea City defence and midfield. He was very successful in this role, completing 81% of his attempted passes. This is no surprise as Steven Pienaar was considered one of the most skillful players at Ajax.

 Mirallas started out playing on the right wing, but he often drifted into central areas, like Pienaar did. Mirallas also played around the defensive line of Swansea City, often 'dancing' between Tiendalli and Chico, thus forming a triangle with Oviedo and Pienaar on the left wing.

 The most dominant feature of Swansea City's game was the central movement of Wayne Routledge. He was making runs into the box to either complement the runs of Bony, or make the active run while Bony was making the shadow run and pulling Distin with him by dropping deeper. Swansea have tried to pick out Routledge with crosses into the box. They have attempted seven crosses in the first half, but only one of those was successful.

Everton's changes for the second half

 Seamus Coleman started the second half in a very attacking spirit. He pushed up, forcing Wayne Routledge to track back. Defending is a weakness of the Swansea winger, thus the offensive play of Coleman created a situation where he had the upper hand on Routledge. The Everton full-back gave his team the lead in the 66th minute. Routledge was caught infield, allowing Coleman to receive the ball and fire a long range effort past Tremmel.

 De Guzmán had a poor game, as a result of having to deal with not only Lukaku coming deep, but Pienaar as well. Pienaar continued to come to the centre. De Guzmán had too many players to mark around him, which resulted in him picking up one of them.

 Everton were a lot quicker in transition from defence to attack than Swansea were in getting back to a defensive shape. Everton have played the ball out quicker, allowing them to counter-attack.

 Swansea equalised with a slightly fortunate goal in the 70th minute, but the goal highlighted that Swansea were trying to get back into the game by playing crosses into the box.

 Swansea were searching for the winning goal as time went on. They were pushing high to maximise the number of players in the box as they were attempting to score from crosses. This left plenty of space behind them, which combined with their slow transitions became their undoing.

 Roberto Martínez brought on Naismith for Pienaar and Osman for Mirallas with twelve minutes to go. Even though Barkley moved to the left wing, the aim of the changes was to introduce fresh and direct attacking players who have a better chance of catching Swansea on the break. This was exactly what happened, when Ross Barkley scored from a free-kick to give Everton the three points after McCarthy was fouled by Davies on the counter-attack.


 Everton and Swansea City have played in broadly similar styles. However, Everton were more aggressive in this match. They have pressed Swansea City, denying them the chance to play their passing game. Everton have formed triangles in attack, passing around the Swansea City defenders.
 Swansea City have pushed high in search of a winning goal at the end. Everton used the space behind Swansea to counter-attack, winning the game in the end.


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