Analyzing Everton’s Pressing Game Under Sean Dyche

Sean Dyche has admirably saved Everton from Premier League relegation despite the troubling point deductions and dreary uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership. 

Dyche has recently received his flowers for building a capable Everton side that has performed better than their league position suggests by developing proficient set-piece strategies and a robust defensive unit that is difficult to puncture.

However, one aspect of their game missing from the Everton discourse is their effective off-ball system. Although they may not be the eye-catching, high-octane, and intensive pressing team that fans enjoy, Dyche has constructed an efficacious pressing structure that is one of the best in the division.

Mid-Block Masters

The less fancy but trendy pressing system nowadays is the compact 4-4-2 mid-block that sits off opponents while protecting the centre of the pitch and patiently waits for the right moments to pounce. Arsenal and Manchester City, the title contenders, are examples of teams that deploy similar tactical systems, along with Dyche’s Everton.

As seen below, their 4-4-2 usually consists of a striker and midfielder forming the first line of pressure, with the rest of the team completing the structure. The wingers and fullbacks position in the half-spaces initially to prevent opponents from finding pockets of space in their defensive unit.

Once the opposition executes one of the many pressing triggers, the entire Everton team commits to winning the ball and retreats if deemed that the window of opportunity has closed.

When looking at the total and shot-ending high turnovers in the 2023/24 Premier League season, Everton ranks in the top five, along with Arsenal, City, Liverpool, and Tottenham. However, their chance conversion from such scenarios has been abysmal. But this has remained a general issue this season for Everton.

Furthermore, their lack of intention to press high and aggressively is illustrated by the Passes Per Defensive Action (PPDA) metric, which measures the number of opposition passes before a team commits a defensive action. In short, the lower the PPDA value, the more intense the press.

Everton ranks 14th in PPDA with a value of 14. Therefore, despite a relatively passive pressing approach, Everton produces an impressive high turnover output due to how well-drilled the side is in understanding triggers and executing their press.

Once Everton turns over possession, they do not hesitate to attack and, therefore, is quick in taking advantage of the space through direct attacks. It explains why they rank among the fastest attacking teams in the league, measured by their direct speed.

Optimism in the Everton Camp

Dyche has historically been classified as a ‘long-ball style’ manager, and although that is true to some extent, there is so much to appreciate about the Englishman’s tactical acumen.

Moreover, Everton required a tough and capable manager to bring on-field stability during a time when the club was dealing with turbulent off-field qualms. Although Dyche’s achievements may not have been attractive and apparent enough to be nominated for manager of the season, he has undoubtedly been one of the most successful coaches in the Premier League campaign when considering the various tangles he had to untie.

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