Everton supporters have been drowning their sorrows in recent times after seeing their side lose for the first time under new manager Marco Silva at the weekend.
The Toffees went into their meeting with West Ham at Goodison Park having won one and drawn the other three of their previous four Premier League matches, thus giving Portuguese Silva a solid if unspectacular start to his reign on Merseyside. Yet his team were comfortably second-best on Sunday as a brace from Andriy Yarmolenko alongside a Marko Arnautovic strike inspired the Hammers to a 3-1 success at Goodison Park, with a Gylfi Sigurdsson response just before half time not enough to prompt an Everton comeback.
Consequently, there have been many disappointed Toffees fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are pondering what Silva should look to do to ensure that a repeat of that performance and result doesn’t take place next weekend when they travel to Arsenal.
And while the former Hull City and Watford boss has so far stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation this term, the 40-year-old should seriously consider making a big decision regarding the system as a result of his team’s shambolic defensive display against the Hammers.
Ultimately, the Toffees were hopeless at the back on Sunday to suggest that much work is needed to be done on the training ground this week, with full backs Lucas Digne and Jonjoe Kenny carrying a threat when going forward, but very poor when called upon defensively – add in shaky efforts from centre backs Mason Holgate and Kurt Zouma, and things need to change.
And one change Silva could make is by going to a back three, as doing so would allow messrs Digne and Kenny (or perhaps Seamus Coleman should he recover from injury) greater licence to get forward in a wing back role without being completely tied to defensive work.
Clearly, when the duo got forward at Goodison Park on Sunday, they caused problems given their deliveries were more often than not on the money – Cenk Tosun should have scored from a Digne cross in the first half, while Kenny continued to ask questions of the Hammers backline with his crosses from the right.
Yet both men, Digne in particular, struggled defensively such were the attacking positions they took up down their respective flanks – the first goal saw Digne well out of position to allow Yarmolenko all the time in the world to fire past Jordan Pickford.
Yes, bringing in another centre back in a position in which they are struggling could be seen to be a bold move, but doing so offers extra protection to the backline, given they would have another body in there, at the same time allowing the wing backs to take more risks going forward.
Both Holgate and Zouma struggled on Sunday but both have proven to be accomplished top-flight defenders in the past – add in the return of Yerry Mina from injury, who would thus become the main man in that backline, and the aforementioned duo could well flourish in a back three, what with both having shown adeptness at playing full back during their careers.
Yes, the backline cannot be completely blamed for the defensive frailties on Sunday given they were afforded little protection from the midfielders in front of them, but it’s clear that something needs to change at the back if Silva is to take the club forward this season.
And by switching to a back three, there would be an extra body in the heart of the backline, which would surely help from a defensive point of view, while it would also give the full backs greater licence to get forward, which is where both were effective against the Hammers.
As such, Silva should seriously consider making a big tactical decision following his side’s woeful display against West Ham on Sunday.
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