The team I want to start off with is Everton. The Toffees and manager Roberto Martínez have been singled out for much praise in the last week after beating Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday and then pulling out a 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Sunday. These were obviously good results, and just as obviously Martínez deserves praise for the quality of Everton's play over the full season. But I think there's been a bit of an overreaction to the last couple matches.
Watching Everton play Arsenal, I saw a pretty one-sided match. Sure, Everton had a lot of possession and pressed well in the first half, but their transitions broke down quickly and they didn't seem to have any attacking ideas beyond hoping that this Bryan Oviedo cross would connect with Romelu Lukaku instead of one of the several Arsenal defenders in the box marking him. Arsenal by contrast struck quickly and passed incisively, creating pretty much all the good chances in the match.
While you can't begrudge Everton the individual quality of Gerard Deulofeu's goal, and the same is true of Oviedo's difficult finish at a wide angle against United, overall team attacking play leading to chance creation was lacking in both matches. They just happened to get one good and one astounding game out of Tim Howard as well as some good fortune as both United and Arsenal couldn't finish with their usual efficiency.
For an explanation of the terms below, see my Shot Matrix articles. Here are the stats for ARS-EVE and MUN-EVE:
|Match||DZ S||DZ SoT||Wide S||W SiBoT||SoB||SiBoT|
|ARS v EVE||6||4||3||1||2||1|
|EVE v ARS||1||0||6||2||5||2|
|MUN v EVE||8||3||4||2||6||3|
|EVE v MUN||1||0||6||3||8||2|
Four points from two matches in which you manage no shots on target from the danger zone and your opponents notch seven, I feel comfortable saying that's not likely a repeatable performance.
Now, I don't mean to suggest that Everton are undeserving of their place in the table. Up until this week, my numbers had treated Everton as somewhat unlucky to have only drawn away to Norwich City in week one or more recently in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison. Their fortunes seem to have evened out and the Toffees are in reasonably good position to make a run at the top four. But I don't think they really played tremendously well to get there last week.
Projections and Power Rankings
Do remember that because of rounding, not all the numbers necessarily add up quite right.
|West Bromwich Albion||10||13||14||43||-8||88||0%||0||6%||+1||0%||0||0%|
|West Ham United||9||11||18||38||-15||79||0%||0||24%||+9||0%||0||0%|
- Finally a good win for Spurs. Given Spurs' 10 shots from the danger zone to Sunderland's 4, I have the expected goals for the match almost exactly 1-2, in line with the score. Spurs pick up a little bit of expected quality, plus almost everyone in the league dropped points. That went well.
- In my preseason projected table, I initially had Manchester United 5th in the projections. When I added in the subjective component, United jumped into third place. I guess maybe I should have trusted the numbers, but man, it's still hard to believe that United are as poor as they've played this season. But they produced very little against Newcastle, and while perhaps a draw would also have been a fair result, you expect a lot more from United at home.
- Fulham's rebound from their awful start has been incredible. They bossed Aston Villa on Saturday after being hard done by in a midweek defeat to Spurs. Under Rene Meulensteen, Fulham's underlying numbers have turned from among the worst I've ever seen to downright good. They've averaged 13 SiB under Meulensteen after averagine 3.5 under Jol, while defensively they've dropped from 11 SiB allowed to 7 per match. This can't keep up at these rates, but it looks very possible that Fulham have stopped the bleeding.
- Another good win for Crystal Palace in the same weekend that Fulham dominate a match start to finish against a solid opponent. Palace are not out of the drop zone by any means, but the competition to survive the season is definitely tightening. Four clubs over 40% chance, with West Ham, Norwich City and Hull City all too close for comfort, especially if Palace and Fulham start picking up points.
- This leaves me rather at a loss for a final pithy dismissal of a club. But the table is sortable now. The end.