Deconstructing Everton: What’s gone wrong and stopping the rot

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This time last year Everton was undefeated with three wins to their name, quite a stunning difference to this season’s single victory that’s left them 14th in the table and one point from the drop.

Such a slide in form is typically attributed to the sale of key players or the acquisition of a new manager but for the Toffees, it’s quite the opposite. This summer business at Goodison Park was booming as the club tied up key players to long term deals (Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Ross Barkley), extended the contract of manager Robero Martinez and even convinced Romelu Lukaku to ditch uppity West London for the row-houses of Walton.

To say hopes were high for Bluenoses heading into the 2014-15 Premier League season would be an understatement: A strong, healthy core of players with an optimal mix of youth and experience. A young, likeable manager with creative, attacking ideas. A club with a distant, albeit foreseeable opportunity to achieve Champions League play through either a Top 4 finish or Europa League title.

Yet somehow, things have crumbled quickly for the Toffees. Below we explore four reasons for the early season woes and look at some potential solutions to stop the rot.

Howard’s Freshness

Tim Howard’s horror show against Crystal Palace last Sunday came at stark contrast to his performance just three days prior when he stood on his head making 12 saves in the 4-1 win over Wolfsburg. Bad matches will come and go but some believe Howard has lost his edge, as evidenced by the concession of a league-high 13 goals in five matches.

In fairness, however, the lion’s share of those goals have been the fault of slack defending among the back four rather than misjudgments by Howard. “I think the goals we conceded are quite soft and we got some basic errors and we lack a bit of intensity defensively,” Roberto Martinez said following the 3-2 loss to Palace. “On others we have been quite unfortunate – own goals, deflections – and you get periods like that.”

Nevertheless, one issue that’s cause for concern is Howard’s desire to play every match, even those like Tuesday night’s League Cup match to Swansea City where Martinez put out a b-squad and the Toffees were beaten 3-0. No question Howard is Everton’s surefire starter. But at 35-years-old additional recovery time can be a blessing meaning rotation with backup Joel Robles, certainly for non-league matches, feels like an obvious decision Martinez needs to make.

Back Four Shake-Up

Nine goals. That’s the difference in goals conceded between this time last year (4) and this season (13). And while all three goals from last week’s loss to Palace fall directly on the shoulders of Howard, the remaining 10 goals are almost entirely the fault of a disjointed back four.

The leader, Phil Jagielka, has been anything but that. In a matter of months he’s gone from a drill sergeant to vocally meek. With Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman eager to fly up the pitch the control factor rests with Jagielka, who needs to ensure the defense remains balanced. If that means keeping Baines or Coleman back, or hassling Gareth Barry or James McCarthy into a cover role, so be it.

Physically, Jagielka looks off-the-mark as well. Known as one of the best center-backs in the league at last-ditch tackles, the 32-year-old seems to have lost a good deal of his lateral sprite. The team has kept quiet on any injury but whatever is plaguing him needs to be addressed, and quickly.

As for his center-back partner, Sylvain Distin, age seems to finally be catching up with the 36-year-old. Despite having notable pace Distin has been caught flat-footed on a number of occasions while his nervy touch continues to let him down. Non-league matches and the occasional Premier League match will do Sylvain well but the time has come for John Stones to be handed the reigns alongside Jagielka. At 20-years-old Stones’ youth is a cause of concern but his positioning, intelligence and slick touch on the ball prove him wise beyond his years. At 6’2″ Stones has good height and seems to have grown a decent amount since last season. Continued work in the weight room could soon see him morph into a monster but even as is, Stones should be the starting partner alongside Jagielka.

At full-back an off season last year has seen Baines return stronger and more determined while Coleman continues to impress. As noted before, all-out attacks from both sides must be chosen wisely but it’s hard to knock this pair.

European Dedication

Roberto Martinez has made clear his aspirations for European glory:

“Last year we had to work so hard for 38 games to achieve that, it would be nonsense to say we don’t want to be giving it everything we’ve got. As long as people understand that making changes to the line-up doesn’t mean you don’t care about a competition. We really want to go all the way in the Europa League.”

With a Champions League spot on the line, it’s hard to argue with that kind of logic. Surely, Everton should try their best to win the Europa League. But that kind of dedication comes at a cost, as seen this past week when they thumped Wolfsburg 4-1 before succumbing to Crystal Palace 3-2.

Those kind of lopsided performances have to be overcome and Martinez could have benefitted from some fresher legs against Palace if substitutions against Wolfsburg had been made earlier. Notably, after going up 3-0 to Wolfsburg after 47 minutes, Martienz waited until the final eight minutes of the match to make two of his three substitutions. Lineup rotation can be difficult in such a small club but smarter substitutions will be key to preserving fresh legs moving forward.

Loss of the Boss

When Ross Barkley went down in August with MCL ligament damage, so too did the hearts of Evertonians. Barkley was a revelation last year with his bombing runs, stunning strikes and playmaking ability, he was the attacking midfield cog that set Lukaku free.

Without Barkley, there is no true playmaker in the Everton midfield. McCarthy can create from the deep-lying role and Kevin Mirallas can break opposition off the dribble but both lack the consistency and transitional devastation that Barkley provides. In the 20-year-old’s place Aiden McGeady and Steven Naismith have deputized well but the former is more dangerous on the wing (and has yet to come into his own) while the latter has had a fantastic season but lacks the back-tracking and well-rounded ability of Barkley.

Along with Lukaku and Mirallas, Barkley is absolutely crucial to the success of the Everton attack. His return, currently slated for mid-October, will be a massive lift for the Toffees.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf),, Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock), Reiss Nelson (thigh)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Matty Cash (hamstring), Cameron Archer (adductor)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles), Keane Lewis-Potter (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Enock Mwepu (illness) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Lallana (calf)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee), Marc Cucurella (illness), Carney Chukwuemeka  (illness)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT:  Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot), James McArthur (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: James Tomkins (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Forshaw (ankle)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Matt Ritchie (calf), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Chris Wood (ribs)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Dejan Kulusevski (undisclosed), Ben Davies (knee), Lucas Moura (achilles)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee)

Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved from South to North London?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved across London?

Based in Woolwich in south east London, the club was originally founded in 1886 as a group of workers from the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to set up a club.

They were originally called Dial Square because of a sun dial atop the entrance to the factory. Seriously.

As for the factory itself, it served the British Army with ammunition and explosives research and 80,000 people worked there during the First World War.


Red jerseys and stadium struggles

Dial Square then became Royal Arsenal and players from Nottingham Forest joined the club, hence the now famous Garibaldi red jerseys which Forest, established 20 years before Arsenal, gave them.

After moving around several stadiums in Plumstead, which was based on the outskirts of London at the time, Arsenal then became Woolwich Arsenal and it stayed that way until 1913.

Struggling financially due to Plumstead being in an isolated area and not easy for people to travel to compared to other London clubs, Woolwich Arsenal were looking for other locations to move to from their Manor Ground home.

Arsenal vs Liverpool at the Manor Ground in Plumstead


Bombing accelerates move

During the suffragettes battle for equality for women in the UK, targeted bombings were carried out at high profile venues.

One such bombing occurred at Arsenal’s home stadium, destroying the grandstand at the Manor Ground in 1913 which would reportedly cost over $1,220 to repair.

With a significant bill to pay to repair the stadium and the club once again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the largest shareholder of the consortium who bought the club in 1910, Sir Henry Norris, decided to move the club to Highbury in north London in 1913 after a failed attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal, the two clubs he was chairman of.

Arsenal moved to Highbury Stadium


Controversial 12-mile move from South to North London approved in 1913

Amid uproar from fans in Woolwich and north London, it still happened and famed stadium architect Archibald Leitch built their home ground at Highbury.

That is when the Arsenal we know today was truly born.

They soon became known as ‘The Arsenal’ in 1914 and then dropped ‘the’ to become known simply as Arsenal in 1919 as football resumed in England following the First World War.


Feud with Tottenham begins

In-between then a feud had already bubbled up with Tottenham. Of course it had.

Arsenal were promoted to the first division at the expense of Tottenham amid huge controversy and after a league vote, Arsenal took Spurs’ place in the first division.

Hence a bitter rivalry was born and Tottenham’s fans like to remind Arsenal to, shall we say, ‘head back to Woolwich, please, because north London is ours.’ The real version is obviously less polite.


The Gunners have never looked back

Financial success, being close to a London Underground station and improved facilities were the main reasons Arsenal moved 12 miles across London to north London in 1913 and it is where they have remained ever since.

London’s most successful team (in terms of the number of major titles and top-flight titles), the decision to move Arsenal across England’s capital city is still bearing fruit over 100 years later.

They’ve come a long way from a team set up in a factory which made explosives for the British Military.

Fantasy Premier League Week 9: Who to captain, top transfer targets

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The return of the Premier League from international break brings, as usual, injuries, intrigue, and a load of, “Who’s good at dealing with travel?” to our Fantasy Premier League discussion.

Rather than delve deep into stats that analyze the last part of that, let’s take a look at the first several weeks of the Premier League season and ask: Who’s piling up the points?

[ MORE: Premier League odds, predictions ]

And let’s also look deeper than the obvious answers; Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus have been the genuine article for Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively, but who else is consistently dropping decent numbers?

We’ll also ignore some penalty takers, as surely Alexis Mac Allister won’t spend his season heading to the spot with the same regularity he has for Brighton early in it.

Here’s the “All-Fantasy Premier League XI” heading into Week 9, but before that, how about a couple of captain and transfer options?

This week is highlighted by some Bees, who seem to have people forgetting both how unlucky they’ve been and how fortunate their hosts have been in recent weeks…

Add and/or captain Week 9: Ivan Toney, Brentford at Bournemouth, 7.3M

Add, Week 9: David Raya, Brentford at Bournemouth, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton vs Everton, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Lucas Paqueta, West Ham vs Wolves, 6.0M

Captain, Week 9: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool vs Brighton, 12.9M

Captain, Week 9: James Maddison, Leicester vs Nottingham Forest, 7.9M

Goalkeeper

Nick Pope, Newcastle (5.2 million, 38 points): After not facing a single shot in Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Opening Day, the Burnley transfer has made 30 saves over six more matches. He’s twice claimed bonus points

Defenders

William Saliba, Arsenal (4.9 million, 44 points): Almost as many goals (2) as clean sheets (3) for the CB.

Joao Cancelo, Manchester City (7.2 million, 42 points): A goal, an assist, and three times earning bonus points for his managers.

Kieran Trippier, Newcastle United (5.4 million, 35 points): Same as Cancelo, but with Newcastle.

Midfielders

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City (12.3 million, 45 points): Two matches with multiple goal contributions, the same number as the mere two times he’s been held without one (and one of those was a 21-minute appearance).

Pascal Gross, Brighton (6.0 million, 42 points): Can he keep it up? Seems unlikely, but the midfielder was essentially playing forward for Graham Potter. Will it stay the same under Roberto De Zerbi?

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United (6.6 million, 40 points): Still trading under 7.0 million and listed as a midfielder. Please and thank you.

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal (6.6 million, 39 points): The quiet gem of Arsenal, he’s showing us why Mikel Arteta kept trotting him out last season.

Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton (5.6 million, 39 points): Pens won’t last forever.

Bernardo Silva, Manchester City (7.0 million, 39 points): And to think he could’ve left for Barcelona…

Forwards

Erling Haaland, Manchester City (12.0 million, 73 points): An actual monster.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur (11.4 million, 50 points): Derby day looms.

Ivan Toney, Brentford (7.3 million, 47 points): How long can Brentford hold onto him? A complete center forward.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.9 million, 41 points): Can he keep this up in the Premier League as the focal point for Fulham with a stint as Serbia’s focal point in the middle.

Gabriel Jesus (8.0 million, 39 points): His heroics have been well-covered.