WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Leighton Bains of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 1, 2012 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
hat sure was a fun ride while it lasted for two games right? Evertonians have now crashed back to the proper levels of despair and hatred following a putrid loss to West Brom. Unfortunately in the excitement of victories over Manchester United and Aston Villa, the holes that have always existed in this squad were merely papered over.
Even David Moyes transfer dealings did not completely address the biggest hole in this squad. Yes, Moyes dealings improved the squad tremendously, but the single biggest problem the squad has is still here. We have no creative midfielder.
Our loan strategy seems to be bring the ball down the left, and hope some combination of Baines and Pienaar can generate a chance in the box for Jelavic. This plays right into some teams hands such as West Brom who has no problem letting you cross the ball all day. Even our shots from around the box seem to start with Pienaar cutting inside, there is little to no development from the middle of the pitch and even less from the right side.
Since Arteta’s really abysmal form of the 2010-2011 season, Everton has not had a central midfielder who can control the game in the attacking third. Now we certainly don’t lack in creative players, especially on the wings, but we need a midfield maestro to break teams down and control the pace of the game.
Looking at our current squad, Fellaini is your typical box-to-box destructor. He has a phenomenal work rate, is pure quality in the air, and has no fears of getting dirty. Asking him to act like Xabi is a little much though.
Darron Gibson is a sound distributor of the ball, but he is more like a Paul Scholes type player. Gibson is never going to thread the needle with a brilliant through ball to spring Jelavic inside the box. Instead he is more likely to bomb the ball into Row Z, or switch the point of attack from the left to right.
Everton’s biggest creative force is Pienaar, but most of his effective play comes from linking up on the left side with Baines. Yes, Pienaar does cut inside a lot, but trying to play him in the center is a recipe for disaster.
Mirallas could do a decent job as a withdrawn striker in creating opportunities, but his development is going to take some time, and there is no guarantee he will succeed if asked to create chances for the Toffees. As for Naismith and Jelavic, both are there to score goals. A partnership will help create more chances, but someone in the midfield still needs to get the ball up top.
If Everton really wants to have an even better than usual season, a multi-dimensional attack needs to be developed. I’ve gone on record saying that Barkley should get more time in the squad, and this would be a perfect fit for him. David Moyes has said Barkley needs to work on his defensive prowess, but as a withdrawn striker his responsibilities would be a lot easier on the defensive side of the ball.
Last year Barkley had several fantastic matches, and even in the loss to QPR he was sliding balls to an inept Louis Saha. Imagine what he could do with the attacking talent that is now in the squad.
Even if Barkley isn’t the answer in Moyes mind, Everton will be a woefully easy squad to figure out if their only attack continues to come from the left side.