New players can give Everton missing edge

Posted by Alistair Tweedale,

Belgian Romelu Lukaku should ease Everton's scoring problems.GettyImagesBelgian Romelu Lukaku should ease Everton's scoring problems.

A frantic last day of the transfer window saw a flurry of late activity at Everton, where Roberto Martinez continues to mould the side he inherited into his own. Prior to Monday, the changes in personnel at Goodison Park were far from vast, but the departures of Marouane Fellaini and Victor Anichebe sparked a flurry of movement into the Merseyside club.

Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry all joined in the closing hours of the window, and Everton's summer suddenly looks to have been a relatively successful one. None of Martinez's previous signings at his new club have yet started a match, and three consecutive draws down the line, it was clear that further investment was needed.

Typically for a team led by the former Wigan boss, Everton have dominated possession in their opening fixtures this season in a way that they rarely did under Moyes. Martinez's Wigan were known for keeping the ball well, but just didn't have enough quality in defence to keep other teams from breaking them down. At Everton, the problem has been quite different. They have kept the ball effectively and created chances, but have a solid defence capable of keeping out almost any opponent. They have kept clean sheets in two of their three Premier League games this season, while the last home goal they shipped was against Reading, way back at the beginning of March.

For the Toffees, scoring goals has been the issue and thus, at first glance, the decision to allow Fellaini and Anichebe to leave seemed an odd one. The Belgian was their top scorer last season with 11 Premier League goals, whilst Anichebe was only behind him and Nikica Jelavic (7), with six. That's 31% of their goals from last season moved on elsewhere, and they simply had to be replaced.

Lukaku, the sixth highest goalscorer in the top flight last season, with 17 goals, should be able to replace a fair chunk of those, but Jelavic too needs to shoulder some of the burden. The Croatian has gone nearly eight-and-a-half hours without a Premier League goal and has only netted once in nearly 23 hours on the pitch.

The Toffees' only goals this season have come from Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman in the 2-2 draw at Norwich, despite having had the most shots (55) of all teams in the Premier League. Since the trip to Carrow Road they haven't managed to score in their two games against West Brom and Cardiff. Their resultant conversion rate of 3.6% is better only than the goalless Baggies (0%) - who incidentally, went head-to-head with Everton for the loan services of Lukaku - and Newcastle (2.2%), who have rather publicly failed in their pursuit of another attacker.

Everton season on season stats
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Martinez's hope with the purchases of Barry and McCarthy is that his side can retain possession, probing for an opening to get the likes of Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas in down the wings, or Leighton Baines and Coleman on the overlap from full-back. With pass success rates of 86.3% and 87.9% respectively, Barry and McCarthy should fit in to the newly-styled Everton team, who have had more possession (64.1%) than any other team in the Premier League this season (compared to the ninth most last term (52.9%)). However, neither provides much attacking threat, and with just four goals between them in 69 appearances last term, they are unlikely to fill the goalscoring void left by Fellaini.

However, it isn't as if either will be viewed as a straight replacement for the Belgian, but instead they should improve the overall quality of the squad. Whichever one plays alongside Leon Osman is likely to sit deeper and allow him to venture forwards. When he did get the chance to attack last season, Osman was a threat, scoring five goals, including a couple of fantastic strikes from distance. The Toffees might well lack a little bite in the middle as a result of Fellaini's sale, but given a little more freedom to roam, Osman may well prosper.

Everton's aforementioned full-backs are key to Martinez's plans for his new team. Baines has had more touches of the ball (304) than any other player in the Premier League, whilst also creating at least four more chances (10) than any team-mate. Coleman is arguably utilised less often due to an inferior delivery to Baines, but he will continue to bomb forwards and provide an attacking outlet at any opportunity.

Barry is oft maligned for his propensity to do little more than pass the ball sideways - he played a rather unsurprisingly high 61.1% of his passes across the pitch last season - but that is a role that is important for a team under Martinez, where the full-backs need to be brought into play whenever possible. Having made the same number of appearances as Fellaini last season (31), he completed 283 more passes than the Belgian (1573 to 1290), and might therefore be more suited to this Everton side.

It was clear from the start of the summer that the Toffees wanted to hang on to their Belgian brute, but they have done well in the circumstances of his eventual departure to Manchester United. With it, the lack of goals could have become a real problem for the club, but a few astute signings late in the day and Roberto Martinez's Everton could begin to score goals as freely as a team with their talent should.

All statistics courtesy of, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.


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