Have Everton adapted their game after last season's struggles?

Everton Goodison

The Blues are playing fewer passes and taking fewer touches, but playing more long balls and crosses and reaping the rewards.

After Everton’s 3-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday, the feel good factor was very much back at Goodison Park.

The Blues had put on an exciting attacking display, coupled with a solid defensive showing, to see off the reigning Premier League champions courtesy of a hattrick from striker Steven Naismith.

The performance was reminiscent of some of the best from Martinez’s first season in charge, where the exciting attacking play quickly had many dreaming of future success under the Catalan.

Last season though, expectations were tempered as his side became slow and boring to watch, with opponents having figured them out and been able to nullify them effectively.

If the stats are to be believed from the first five games though, it seems Martinez may have learned his lessons and switched back to a more direct style of play.

  SeasonTotal PassPossession PercentageTotal Final Third PassesTouchesTotal Long BallsTotal CrossPen Area EntriesGoals OpenplayAppearances
Everton 2014-2015 2911 59.6% 875 3923 314 78 89 7 5
Everton 2015-2016 2153 48.8% 680 3170 362 104 138 8 5

One big complaint last year was that the side passed too much, registering 2911 passes in their first five games last season. So far, that tally has fallen to 2153, a drop of 26%. That has seen their possession falling from 58% per game to 48% as a result.

That dip continues in the final third, where it seems Martinez’s side are making fewer passes, 875 after five games last season but just 680 this season, a drop of 22%.

Their number of touches has also fallen, with them registering 3923 last season after five games, and that tally sitting at 3170 this season, a drop of 19%.

Conversely, after five games last season they had played 314 long balls, this season that tally is 362, an increase of 15%. Their number of crosses has also risen, going from 78 to 104, an increase of 33%.

It has had a positive effect as well, with their number of entries into the penalty area increasing from 89 to 138, a rise of 55%, with one more goal from open play to boot.

While that may seem scant reward, there is no denying that the quality of football has been markedly improved so far this season for the Toffees.

If they can keep it up, and continue to pick up points as they have done so far, there will be hope that they can challenge at the top end of the table once again this season.

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