Everton v Wolves Cheat Sheet
Everton v Wolves
After six weeks off for the World Cup break, Premier League football finally returns on Boxing Day and Monday afternoon sees Wolves travel to Goodison Park to face Everton. Both sides come into this one in a dangerous position with Everton sat in 17th and Wolves at the foot of the table at Christmas. The Toffees will have been relieved for the break as it came at a time where they had won just one of their last eight in all competitions, and concluded the first part of the season with 4-1 and 3-0 losses at Bournemouth in the EFL Cup and league respectively. Wolves are winless in five in the league and have only scored eight goals all season but can take comfort in the fact that they only sit nine points off ninth and so are not cut adrift yet.
Everton started the season in fine form and were a tough side to beat, only losing two of their first nine in all competitions and their fans would have been hoping that they would avoid last year’s struggles of a relegation battle but this has not been the case. Despite only conceding seven goals in their first eight games, they have since conceded ten in seven and conceded seven to Bournemouth in the space of a week before the break, leaving fans concerned as they sit one point above Nottingham Forest in the drop zone. Frank Lampard will be hoping to turn things around and he will be hoping to keep up Everton’s fantastic Boxing Day record – winning their last three on the day after Christmas. However, they could welcome back Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Andros Townsend who are doubts. James Garner is ruled out for this one, as is Conor Coady who is ineligible to face his parent club.
Bruno Lage had started fairly well at Wolves last season but after spending £100m in the summer, the Wolves hierarchy would have been hoping for a fast start before the break. However, after a 2-0 loss at West Ham, he was relieved of his duties as a result of just one win in 15 in the Premier League. Steve Davis was given the role on a short term basis until the break, but he managed just one league win in his seven Premier League games in charge and whilst the World Cup was on in Qatar, they appointed former Sevilla manager Julian Lopetegui. An unwelcome record for him here is that a new Wolves manager hasn’t won their first game in the top-flight since 1978 but was given a boost in midweek as he took charge of a 2-0 win over Gillingham in the EFL Cup, giving him an opportunity to assess his players in a match for the first time. This also provided much needed match fitness for them as they bossed with 80% possession and 25 shots on goal, even if it was against lower league opposition. They should be able to welcome back Jonny and Boubacar Traore who missed out in midweek but Sasa Kalajdzic, Chiquinho and Pedro Neto are all ruled out.
As mentioned before, one thing that Frank Lampard will have been keen to improve on during the break will have been the defence as he tried to get it back to where it was at the start of the season In their first eight games this season, this selection landed seven times, only failing to do so at Aston Villa where it was 1-0 with five minutes to go. At home, they have only seen 12 goals in seven games and this line would have landed in five of those matches. They will be without Conor Coady who has managed to steady their defence but should still be solid with Mykolenko, Tarkowski and Patterson all available. Whilst Calvert-Lewin might be available here, he won’t necessarily be match fit and this would see Neal Maupay start up front who has scored just one goal in ten appearances so far this campaign. Comparisons can be drawn between this break and the opening day of the season and sometimes teams can start slowly. In their first game this season, only one goal was scored as Everton lost to hosts Chelsea.
It is difficult to know how Wolves will play given the fact that this is their first game under their new manager, but Lopetegui, who has managed some of the biggest teams in Europe, has been criticised for his style of play in the past, being too cautious and conservative at times. He is taking over a Wolves team that have had the same criticism thrown at them over recent times with Bruno Lage at the helm, and it is difficult to see them coming out and playing expansive football on Monday afternoon. They have only scored eight goals in 15 games, and just three of these came on the road. Lopetegui will be trying to keep them tight at the back and building from there as they search for their first win on their travels this season. This selection has landed in four of seven away games and in nine of fifteen across all their games this season.
Anthony Gordon was linked with a very surprising move to Chelsea over the summer for a massive £60 million but ultimately the deal fell through and he stayed at Everton where he has become a regular. The local lad tops his side’s Cheat Sheet shooting stats, averaging 1.37 on target per 90 mins this season in the league. However, the forward has become an important part of the team and has three goals so far this season. In his 15 games, he has started 12 and has amassed 25 shots, 15 of which have been on target. He has had eight shots on target in their seven home games and scored in his last home start when they beat Crystal Palace 3-0. He will likely play on the right hand side here but has also played on the left at times this season.
In their last five games, Wolves have faced ten wingers. Nine of these wingers have managed at least one shot (Saka the exception), and in total Wolves have conceded eight shots on target to these players in their last five. Given that Gordon is a key part of the Everton attack and Wolves tend to concede chances to wingers, the forward should manage to hit the target at least once here.
Daniel Podence has averaged 2.12 shots per game so far this season as stated in the Cheat Sheet, the second most of any player behind Raul Jimenez. In 18 games, he has started 13 times and had 26 shots in this time. In his last four starts, he has had nine shots with nine of those being on target. He has only scored two goals but considering as a team Wolves have only managed eight, his return has been decent as a key member to their attack. In midweek, he managed two shots against Gillingham and was taken off after 68 minutes as a rest for this game. The left winger should get chances against Nathan Patterson here.
In their last five games, Everton have faced four left wingers, conceding 12 shots to these players in that time. In particular, in their last two games they conceded nine shots, seven of which were on target to Harvey Barnes and Willian against Leicester and at Fulham respectively.
Everton’s corner numbers have been high this season, averaging 5.43 corners per game at home, where this selection has landed in 86% of their games. They have had at least three in all seven home games, using plenty of the wide areas with Gray and Gordon on the wings, and see an average of 12.86 corners per game at Goodison Park. Wolves have conceded plenty of opportunities. They concede an average of 5.13 corners per game so far this season and have given away four or more in 67% (10/15) of their matches. Everton will see this as a must win game to relieve some pressure and will therefore be looking to attack using their wingers at any given opportunity. Given Wolves are likely to invite that pressure with Lopetegui’s style of play, the home side should manage four here.
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