Everton duo compared with Barca pair, but what do the stats say?

A former Everton star has been speaking about the progress of two current players under the tutelage of their Spanish boss.

Former Everton great Pat Nevin has compared the Toffees fullback combination of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines with Barcelona duo Dani Alves and Jordi Alba.

It is quite a comparison, given that the latter pair are regarded among the best full-backs in world football, with Alba Spain’s first-choice left-back and Alves helping Brazil to the quarter-finals of the World Cup on the opposite flank.

But Nevin implied not that the players were equal to the Barca pair individually, but that they were used in a similar way.

Speaking to Everton’s official website, Nevin said, “There were a number of things that impressed me last season and the most obvious thing was the way the full-backs were utilised. David Moyes utilised them really well beforehand – Coleman would go up one side then Baines would go up the other. But under Roberto (Martinez) they both go at the same time.

“Barcelona is a good way of looking at it, and there are also a number of other teams, too. But you will notice the only teams doing it are the very top ones.”

So has Martinez got the Toffees’ full-backs operating as effectively as their Spanish-based counterparts?

  GoalsGoal AssistKey Passes / appsTotal Scoring Attempt / appsPass AccuracyAppsMins
Seamus Coleman 6 2 1.3 0.83 88.5% 36 3,229
Leighton Baines 5 4 1.5 0.66 85.8% 32 2,839

Purely taking into consideration league performances for all four players, Coleman netted six times last season while Baines scored five. The two Everton men also set up a further six goals between them.

In comparison, the Barcelona pair scored just twice (both courtesy of Alves) although they outdid the Toffees duo by one in terms of assists, setting up seven goals in total.

There was not much to pick between the four when it came to key passes, with Baines (1.5 key passes per game) just getting the edge over Alves (1.4).  

The Brazilian did however have a considerably higher shots-per-game average than any of the other three, while pass accuracy was as close between the four as one would expect from stars at two clubs who pride themselves on possession football.

  GoalsGoal AssistKey Passes / appsTotal Scoring Attempt / appsPass AccuracyAppsMins
Dani Alves 2 5 1.4 1.2 87.3% 27 2,385
Jordi Alba 0 2 1.2 0.3 89.4% 15 1,195

Alba sat out much of last season with injury, which goes a long way to explaining why he failed to score or assist more goals.  But when comparing performance-per-appearance, it seems Nevin may not have been wrong to compare the way Martinez utilises his full-backs to the way Barca do.

Having done that, Martinez's next job is to start to build a similar legacy on Merseyside.

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