TWELVE months ago the brand of football served up at Goodison was the gourmet equivalent of a tin of Hafnia cooked meat.
With an ageing forward line and non-existent incision from midfield, a defensive overload approach ensued.
Goodison tea bar profits soared as fans ducked below deck at the earliest opportunity to double up on their half time provision of Chang to get them through the second half.
At one stage Everton matches produced the lowest goals output per game in all four divisions.
Fast forward to the present and the horizon couldn’t be more different as a free-flowing attack has led to the loosening up of a previously Scrooge-like back-line.
As coach, Moyes will cook with the ingredients put in front of him.
Give him Stracquilarsi and McFadden and he’ll rustle up Mince and Onions, give him Jelavic and Pienaar and he’ll do you a vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb compote.
The interesting stat surfaced last week that the Blues had recorded more shots per game than any side in the ‘Big Five’ European Leagues.
The Toffees play one of the highest defensive lines in the top flight leading to the highest percentage of touches in the opposition half in the division.
Against Wigan we had 71% of final third possession with 219 final third touches to Wigan’s 109. The cutting edge is serviced by a left-sided duo ranked first and fourth in the top flight’s creativity standings and their link-up play was again the stand-out feature at Wigan.
Since the duo’s reunion they’ve either scored or created 20 goals in just 16 games together with their combined outputs responsible for 57% of our goals this season.
While this high line is good for condensing play in the opponent’s half, it leaves you open to the long ball over the top and is why we’ve shipped as many league goals at home in our last two games as we did in the first eight months of 2012.
Wigan’s three-man defence outnumbered our two forwards meaning Caldwell was free to pump long balls over our defensive line for Kone to chase.
We clearly retreated 10 yards when Distin came on and the danger was quelled.
Moyes’ selection of Heitinga was dubious.
Granted, it’s easy to be wise after the event but against the power/pace of Kone, Distin was the obvious selection.
With three top centre halves at the club, a ‘horses for courses’ approach is required.
The high line will ensure this trend of goals at both ends will continue, however Bluenoses should recall last year’s winter of discontent and shudder before getting too concerned with the lack of clean sheets.