Everton secured a 1-0 win over Stoke despite being without two of their most influential players, what changes did David Moyes make, and will he keep them for the match against Tottenham Hotspur?
There were not many negatives when Everton ran out 2-0 winners over Manchester City on the 16th March, but the fact that they would face their next two fixtures without Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar was undoubtedly a worry for David Moyes.
The second of those matches was the trip to White Hart Lane to play Tottenham Hotspur in what could be a crucial match in the race for a Champions League place, with Stoke visiting Goodison Park the weekend before.
Moyes is not generally renowned as a manager who makes drastic changes to his team, but in the absence of Pienaar and Fellaini, he shifted Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman into wing back roles, with Heitinga, Jagielka and Distin making up a back three behind them.
He also handed Kevin Mirallas a free role drifting around behind a front two of Jelavic and Anichebe, with the Belgian securing the 1-0 win with a superb individual goal.
Mirallas has had some awful luck with injuries in his first season at Everton, but has been impressive in the limited appearances he has made. With Pienaar and Fellaini out, he and Leighton Baines became the key men in Everton’s attacking play, and Moyes changed his formation wisely to get the best out of these two.
Baines clearly has all the attributes to be an excellent wing back, and Coleman is also well suited to the role on the opposite flank. Between the pair of them, Everton’s wing backs created five chances for their team on Saturday, with Baines particularly important in the final third.
Spurs will clearly provide a very different challenge to Stoke this Sunday, and the fact that they will likely play with only one striker could make a three at the back system unworkable. However if they can assign one of their centre backs with a role tracking Gareth Bale, they could keep Baines and Coleman in the wing back roles they impressed in at the weekend, and allow Mirallas to roam around the attack once again rather than tying him down to a flank.
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