Without Richarlison and Seamus Coleman, an inform Everton side who previously looked unstoppable suddenly became very beatable as an energetic Southampton side soared to victory relatively untroubled.
Despite a good start to the season as a whole, the result will worry Carlo Ancelotti who, for the first time this season, was forced to fall back on an Everton squad which lacks the depth necessary to challenge at the top.
Everton’s Lack of Squad Depth Exposed in Southampton Loss
No Plan B
With Richarlison suspended and Coleman out injured, Everton were forced to welcome Alex Iwobi and Ben Godfrey to the starting lineup. Both players struggled to make an impact and highlight Everton’s lack of squad depth. All of a sudden, with two enforced changes, the drop off in quality cost the Toffees all three points.
Iwobi, lasting only 45 minutes before Ancelotti had seen enough, was often at fault for a break down in Everton’s attacking play and was to blame for the lack of fluidity going forward for the Toffees. Had Richarlison been available, we could be talking about a different result. And that’s the problem for Everton.
At full strength, a top-four place may be up for grabs. But, they won’t always be at full strength, and, when they’re not, using the Southampton game as evidence, they’ll struggle to pick up the points necessary to hit new heights.
If they want to extend their fine start to the season, Everton will need to find a plan B when plan A is either unavailable or simply not having the desired effect. Whether that plan B comes through a tactical change or, indeed from the bench, is yet to be seen. Either way, Carlo Ancelotti must find it.
Oriol Romeu the Unsung Hero for Southampton
A lot of criticism will be aimed towards Everton for the poor performance, but Southampton deserve a lot of credit for punishing that performance and making it happen. They suffocated the Everton midfield into submission, pocketing the likes of James Rodriguez in the process.
Every second ball was met by those in Southampton red and, if it wasn’t, then rest assured the third, fourth, sometimes fifth was then secured. Oriol Romeu was particularly impressive in midfield, mopping up any danger before it could even be classed as threatening.
The Saints midfielder crucially won key battles against Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield, distributing the ball almost perfectly to bypass any Everton pressure and give Southampton the all-important foothold on the game in the process.
The result highlights significant Southampton improvement a year on from their 9-0 loss to Leicester City. Now, a year later, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have just defeated the previously unbeaten Everton to move up to fifth in the league, just three points off top spot.
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