- We’ve previously analyzed Wolves’ transfer window, labeled as the best of any Premier League side this summer. Yet Everton, led by Marco Silva, had their own productive, Barcelona influenced window in signing World Cup breakout defender Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne permanently, and adding perennial black sheep midfielder Andre Gomes on a loan.
- The 6-5 Mina especially should transition easily into the physicality of England, with Silva highlighting his set piece ability in both attack and defense.
- But Silva’s most expensive signing was also his most controversial. Richarlison was reunited with Silva for $45 million. After showing his dynamism early in the season, he failed to score a goal in his last 25 matches in the league. The criticisms were swift, with many asking if the 21-year-old Brazilian was the most overpriced player in Premier League history, and other using his transfer fee as an example of the reckless nature of English clubs.
- In the face of outsized expectations and tipped as 8th favorites to win the Premier League title, Nuno harped on the spirit and unity of his team. Also significantly, in switching between a 5-4-1 for defensive stability and a 3-4-3 in attack, he emphasized the versatility of what he described as a small roster.
- Regardless of what one may think of Jorge Mendes’ involvement in Wolves, their newfound excitement and attention may push the club to replace their 129-year home with a state of the art 50,000 seat stadium.
- Wolves have set up in their traditional 3-4-3 formation. Everton are in their usual 4-2-3-1.
- Early on, Wolves are moving the ball from side to side through Ruben Neves’ long range passing. Their shape is easily defined with a back three and two deep lying midfielders in possession.
- More impressively is Wolves’ high press causing trouble for Everton in possession and forcing Jordan Pickford to go long time after time.
- Of course, Richarlison scores in the 17th minute off a free kick he won himself. The emphasis on set pieces also continues an essential theme from the World Cup.
- In facing their first piece of adversity at the top level, Wolves are too predictable in their switches of play.
- Constant pressing from Wolves paid off with Phil Jagielka receiving a red card after a wayward touch and lunging tackle on Diogo Jota in front of their penalty area just before halftime. Neves’ free kick was brilliant. The tone of the match changed completely in one sequence, such is the small margins of the Premier League.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson is unfortunately sacrificed for defensive reinforcement, with the pace of Richarlison, Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun expected to find space on counters in the second half.
- Leighton Baines, Tosun and Richarlison created Everton’s second goal from nothing. And while Richarlison’s movement was clever, his goal opened up Wolves’ defense far too easily.
- Wolves made a point to not have possession for possession’s sake, instead focusing on direct, incisive sequences. Yet with Everton bunkering with 10 players, their passing is too slow and predictable as they switch play from wing to wing. Likewise, Everton have yet to look stretched down a man.
- Neves’ passing has been streaky, but his service in the final third is pinpoint. Raul Jimenez, who tied the match at two, has been quality in linking with Jota on the left throughout the match.
- The 2-2 final result brought relief from both sides. Wolves found their equalizer and narrowly escaped a demoralizing loss up a player the entire second half. And this feels like some victory for Everton, not only in the point but in Richarlison answering critics with two goals. Perhaps he just needed Silva, whom he considers a father figure, to unlock his dribbling and creativity on the left wing.
- In fact, the Brazilian went from a symbol of financial waste to a bargain with one match.
- Neves’ performance contains multitudes. On the one hand, he was responsible for both Wolves’ goals. Yet he was also wasteful in possession, completing just 78 out of 93 attempted passes.
- Nuno stated the obvious in his observation that there are “a lot of things” that Wolves need to improve upon. There are the basics like better defending or quicker passing sequences. But there are also the intangibles such as maintaining the same intensity when up a player. Tactics are one thing, but learning how to navigate and play through an entire Premier League match is a lesson that can only be learned through disappointment like today.
Premier League Match Abstract: Wolves 2, Everton 2