West Brom V Everton – Tactical Match Preview

    This weekend, Everton aren’t playing. We are however playing on Monday night and the Blues travel down to the midlands to face West Brom under their new manager, Pepe Mel.

    The Teams


    Last time out Everton eased past Norwich relatively comfortably. It is vital that dispatching lower positioned clubs continues for the rest of the season if Martinez’s men are to keep up in this Champions League race.

    Jagielka was the shock surprise to return against Norwich and will continue to be available for selection against the Baggies. Sylvain Distin was seen to be fit during the Blues’ week of training in Tenerife and it was confirmed by Martinez that he is most likely to be back in defence. Barkley joins Kone, Gibson and Deulofeu in not being available but new signing Aiden McGeady will be in the squad and could play some part in the game, although most likely from the bench.

    Expected line up:

    West Brom

    This will be new manager Pepe Mel’s first game. A night game, on TV. It seems like Everton always come under these conditions, seen twice last season against Sunderland with new manager Paolo Di Canio and Southampton with new manager Mauricio Pochettino. In caretaker boss Keith Downing’s last game in charge, West Brom were edged out to Southampton, his first loss in the league. They still missed a sitter to get a result so should be unbeaten in 5 however now they sit 14th in the table, 3 points from 18th.

    With an unusual press conference, there is no official confirmation of injuries that the Baggies have. It appears that Sessengon, Popov and former Blue Victor Anichebe could return from injuries. Billy Jones is expected to remain sidelined with an eye injury. Mel relied on youth at his last club Betis, he gave 16 debuts to players over his time there. We could see an unexpected starter.

    Expected line up (complete guess, who knows who Pepe Mel has been impressed by):

    Tactical Analysis

    Unknown Quantity

    Martinez dismissed the matter of Mel’s unknown quantity by stating that the players are well known and it would be difficult to change their style in such a short time. The point remains however that the line up will be hard to predict and the style could be a complete surprise come kick-off. Training for the Blues was already less match focused after travelling to Tenerife but the unknown quantity factor could be the biggest undoing of a Toffees result.

    Strong midfield

    Many of the Baggies’ midfielders have great stats compared to other league players. The two central midfielders, Yacob and Mulumbu, are very dominant in the middle. Yacob makes the most tackles in the league per game (4.1). Mulumbu isn’t the most successful tackler, he is one of the league’s most consistent foulers (1.8 pg) even, but he more than makes up for this in interceptions, where he makes the third highest of 3.1 per game.
    Looking more attacking wise, Chris Brunt has 5 assists, which is a good haul at just over half way stage of the season. French loanee Amalfitano makes 1.9 key passes per game, just .1 under our very own Mirallas and this ranks in the top 15 in the league. Sessengon is another player to feature in the top 15, but this time for dribbling where he successfully makes 2 per game. Consequently he is fouled very often, 1.9 times per game to be precise.

    The weaknesses can be found by dribbling past Yacob (1.7) and dispossessing Mulumbu (2.4 pg) or Sessengon (2.3 pg).

    Previous tactics

    Following on from West Brom’s strong midfield and Mel’s unlikelihood to change the style too much within a week, tactically they are one of the teams that play through the middle most often, with 30% of their play coming from here. This results in them again being one of the highest in teams to have shots or attempts coming from the middle and these attempts are usually in the 18 yard box (54%). Defensively, McAuley and Olsson aren’t the most gifted or talented but they use the offside trap quite often, with both players in the top 20, with 1.1 and 0.8 offsides won respectively per games. This isn’t that successful, Olsson still makes 10.3 clearances per game and McAuley 8.


    We have a good record against the Baggies, we have won four and lost just one of the last six meetings with West Brom in all competitions. However this season they have a new recruit, Nicolas Anelka, who has scored 8 Premier League goals against us, only netting more against Blackburn in the history of the competition. The Blues will have all the results of their competitors laid out before them, and it could be a case of added pressure to keep up with them or the chance to overtake and catch up those in the highest places…


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