The post-mortems have begun. But there is still a matter of 11 games (33 points) that include home games against Arsenal, Man United and Cities of Swansea, Cardiff and Manchester. Win them all and we end up with 81 points (good enough for 2nd place last year). We compete for these points without being distracted by other tournaments, and with our injured players coming back to fitness and form.

By way of comparison, we accumulated 63 points last year for a 6th place finish. At this point last year, we were 6th with 45 points, having played 28 games. This year, we have won 48 points after 27 games. We did, however, score 44 goals last year and this year we have only scored 38. Yet, our goal difference this year of +11 is superior to +9 of last year. The goal difference comes despite the tragic thumping at the hands of you-know-who.

So, have we improved? The answer is yes – we absolutely have. We have won more points at a better goal difference this season so far; the numbers point to this fact. The numbers also paint a story of a mean, tight defensive team, scoring less and conceding less this year, a Moyes special. Of course we all know that has been hardly the case. The words typically used to describe us this season have been adventurous, gung-ho, expansive, easy on the eye, stylish, nave, idealistic; anything but dour.

We have stopped other teams from scoring fewer goals this season by doing two simple things:

  1. By owning the ball (Martinez passing possession philosophy)
  2. By winning it back quickly (our two defensive midfielders)

So far we have had 56.7% possession with a pass-completion rate of 83.4% (for the curious, the best possession and pass completion rates are 59.9% and 86.2%, both by Swansea). But I found a most curious statistic among all. We are the most fouled against team in the Premier League. Thats right teams commit 12.9 fouls per game against us. This is the HIGHEST in the Premier League this season. However when it comes to committing fouls, we sit 16th with a 9.5 fouls per game (Stoke City commit most surprise surprise). Teams are setting up to stifle us, to control us perhaps also think that we are soft and honest? That we dont have the Suarezs who will roll around at the slightest touch? Manchester city surprisingly gets least fouls committed against it at just 8.8.

Finally, Id like to dispel the myth that we have become a tiki-taka machine and have forgotten to play direct. If you look at our long balls per game statistic, you will see that we are fourth in the premiership with 67 long balls per game. Yes, we hit more long balls than West Ham, Cardiff, Norwich and Hull. The fewest long balls are hit, unsurprisingly, by Arsenal and Man City. The one type of pass that we dont do very often is the old fashioned through-ball Liverpool and Arsenal try at least 4 through balls per game. We try only 1. Is it because we dont have any creativity in the mid-field ? Or is it because we dont have a striker who is able to get on the end of, and finish, a quality through ball?

Did you also know that we are no. 1 in the Premier League when it comes to playing football in the oppositions territory? We play 31% of our football in the opposition half this is as high as Man City and higher than everyone else. Yet we try just one through ball per game??

All this analysis leads me to one unsurprising conclusion. We need finishers and creators. We, as a team have learnt how to hold the ball, dominate and to defend. We have forced opposition teams to set up to foul and stifle us. Yet we are hitting long balls where other similar teams are playing short passes and through balls. It is because we lack the creativity and the finishing ability. We dont have the Silva, the Ozil, the Van Persie or the Surez. But if we ever get one, watch out world !!

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Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 09/03/2014 at 18:40:56
All very enlightening if you like facts and figures but football is a game where the team who finds the net more times than their opponents wins the game. I'm sure Man City would have racked up plenty of non important stats today and if it had been a boxing match they would have been going to Wembley on points. If we could only learn to make our final pass go between the posts of that big white object at the far end of the pitch more often we might have a chance of winning more often. Still there is still hope that we can add that very important ingredient to our game.
Michael Evans
2 Posted 09/03/2014 at 19:30:42

Since seeing my first Everton game nearly 40 years ago I have spent 72% of that time being completely pissed off.

Of the remaining 28% of the time period I have been:

Despairing - 10%

Incredulous - 6%

Highly anxious - 4% (those relegation threatened years)

8% Very happy - mid eighties.

Dan Brierley
3 Posted 09/03/2014 at 19:46:39
It has been proven by scientists that million-to-one chances actually succeed 42.3% of the time.

Scientists have also concluded that by playing two holding midfielders you are reducing your likelihood to create chances by 67.3%.

Victor Johnson
4 Posted 09/03/2014 at 21:33:19
I have a 0% chance of getting my end away tonight.
Clive Gaulton
5 Posted 09/03/2014 at 22:25:04
Stats don’t make points and trophies!

Yes, we have improved since Moyes for sure; the quality of play is much better but the same problem lingers "goal scorers" if we had a credible one, we could well be in the very position Arsenal are now in bar the Champions League. The draws should have been wins and the loses could have been draws and we would be top 4 and on route to Wembley or even Carling Cup winners!

We have some good players but having watched quite a few games this season the same thing keeps cropping up "shot shy" simple as that. Let’s see the season out and concentrate on getting a decent bloody striker, Please!

Peter Murray
6 Posted 10/03/2014 at 08:49:56
The most meaningful statistic is that, after the hammering of Spurs by Chelsea, we are now 5 points off 5th place with 2 games in hand.

Everything to play for.

Ray Roche
7 Posted 10/03/2014 at 09:06:16
I have devoted 77% of my life to mathematics. The remaining 31% has been spent looking out of the window.
Steve Pugh
8 Posted 10/03/2014 at 12:11:09
100% of people only care about statistics if they support their argument.
Eugene Ruane
9 Posted 10/03/2014 at 12:16:16
Victor - "I have a 0% chance of getting my end away tonight"


I am 100% certain of getting my end away tonight*

*if the maiden flight of my time-machine is a success and gets me back to 1979...on a Saturday night...just before Three Times A Lady is played at the Grafton.

Geoff Evans
10 Posted 10/03/2014 at 13:05:09
Eugene: Room for a passenger mate?
Peter O'Connor
11 Posted 10/03/2014 at 13:16:02
I love stats but they don't explain why we have given away so many penalties and been awarded so few.
Perhaps we just don't get into the box enough and our rash/naive challenges are nearly always in our own box.

I like the stat about two holding midfielders (thanks Dan #959). Barry and McCarthy are a luxury we can't afford because one player should be good enough to do that job.

Michael #954, my stats aren't much better after 48 years watching the blues, but as an optimist I am sure they will improve before I die - so we are in for one hell of a ride.

Craig Walker
12 Posted 10/03/2014 at 13:22:36
I think this is interesting Nigel. Everton have definitely improved. Moyes took us to a level and for one reason or another was unable to take us any further. Martinez has ever so slightly improved us results-wise and certainly improved our playing style. The problem we have as a club is that there are 6 teams who have also improved at vast expense. I don't foresee a day when we can continually challenge again for honours without some financial fair play rule hitting other clubs hard or a massive cash injection into our own club.

There is one thing that is consistent though with supporting Everton. The big players don't turn up when it really matters. Martinez said in the build up that we had to be perfect in order to beat Arsenal. We were far from it. Mirallas, Pienaar, McCarthy just didn't play well. Ross tried to break the back of the net when he could have side footed it in. Lukaku and Mirallas both blew promising positions. Games turn on small incidents and great teams capitalise on chances. Pienaar is the player that frustrates me more than any other. The boy can certainly play but too often he slows play up in promising positions and he is always reluctant to shoot.

McGeady seems to me to me the next James McFadden. I like the exuberance of Deulofeu but he can either a) go on a magical run and beat four players or b) fall over the ball or pass it into touch.

We need to cross Martinez' playing style with Joe Royle's Dogs of War mentality. Wigan showed yesterday that you can beat the big boys. We need to lose the inferiority complex. I thought that would change under Martinez but again we bottled it.

Harold Matthews
13 Posted 10/03/2014 at 16:06:53
Eugene. Jammy sod.
Eugene Ruane
14 Posted 10/03/2014 at 23:29:17
Geoff Evans (105) - "Eugene: Room for a passenger mate?"

Unfortunately, with the size of what I used to pull in the gravvy, I'm guessing space will be at a premium.

(and I'll be having the time-machine's suspension checked before the off)

Brian Denton
15 Posted 10/03/2014 at 23:44:06

Did you ever go The She Club? Might be worth a trip for the old time machine

Liam Appleby
16 Posted 11/03/2014 at 12:40:52
All very interesting stats there.

Have we improved? It's a No from me.

We keep the ball better, that is a given. But can you honestly tell me that watching us pass from side to side without any clue of what to do when it comes to the final third is an improvement??

Our football can be mind-numbingly boring to watch. It baffles me how the media portray us a a good footballing side and pleasing on the eye? We are exactly what Liverpool were last season. Plenty of possession, but so toothless with it. You have to give Rodgers credit, he has gone to that club and tried giving the passing philosophy a go, realised that it didn't work, and has now built a side based on pace... going against his initial ideology and built something better and far more pleasing on the eye.

I'm going to go as far as saying that the football we played last season was some of the best we have played for years. The goals scored at the same part of the season is testament to that. We play much better apparently, but don't score as many does that work??

Against Arsenal in the cup, we looked better when we broke quickly and not surprisingly, that is where the goal came from. One of the lads on twitter who supports another club summed us up perfectly when he said.

"Whenever I watch Everton, they look good in brief spells, but very ordinary for most of the games."

I'm not silly enough to get on Martinez's back after barely one season, so i'm willing to give him time... but my early impressions are that he has only done okay and that's about it. I hope in time he takes the club where he wants to take us.

Nigel Gregson
17 Posted 11/03/2014 at 17:50:29

Here's an article which uses some of the stats I use in my post above and interprets them as showing that we not improved at all. The fact that this is our second highest haul after 27 games in the last 11 years (best being 50 points in 2008), despite totally changing our style of play and selling over our best player doesn't really factor into this assessment.

For the curious here's how we stood after 27 games since 2003 (apologies in advance for any screwed up formatting) :

Season Rank P W D L F A Pts Final Rank
2014 7th 27 13 9 5 38 27 48 ???
2013 6th 27 10 12 5 41 34 42 6th
2012 9th 27 10 7 10 28 28 37 7th
2011 11th 27 7 12 8 35 36 33 7th
2010 10th 27 10 8 9 39 39 38 8th
2009 6th 27 12 8 7 36 28 44 5th
2008 4th 27 15 5 7 43 23 50 5th
2007 8th 27 10 9 8 33 25 39 6th
2006 12th 27 11 3 13 19 34 36 11th
2005 4th 27 14 6 7 31 28 48 4th
2004 14th 27 7 8 12 33 38 29 17th
2003 5th 27 13 6 8 35 32 45 7th

Nigel Gregson
18 Posted 11/03/2014 at 18:35:35
@ Patrick Murphy yes that might be true over a game. But over a season that is not true at all. You can score 38 goals in the entire season and get scored against more than 38 times and still win the league.

@ Peter Murray Exactly !! 33 points to still play for without any distractions. Can't believe people here are reacting like the season is over.

@ Craig Walker Thanks for a most thoughtful post. I'm sick of us choking when it counts too. Martinez, will need to buy a leader at some point. None of our current crop impress me as being true leaders.

@ Liam Appleby Some interesting points. Perhaps having Fellaini and Cahill deployed as strikers makes for better viewing for you? Maybe letting the opposition having the ball while we defend for our dear lives is less boring to see?

Patrick Murphy
19 Posted 11/03/2014 at 19:36:55
What! score 38 goals and finish as Champions well I suppose anything is possible but that surely is statistically improbable. As for your jibe about more thoughtful posts perhaps you should get in touch with Sam Allardyce as he loves stats and bases most of his tactics around them.

Good players in all positions on the pitch with players who are good enough to replace them on the bench will have a better chance of winning by scoring more goals than their opponents oh have I mentioned that already?

Football used to be the working man's ballet and opera now its a game for accountants and statisticians who apparently we now need in order to make sense of what we can see with our own eyes.

Nigel Gregson
20 Posted 11/03/2014 at 21:23:55
@ Patrick Murphy: I apologise I realise I sounded rather disrespectful that was intended as a tongue in cheek comment. I don't think this analysis in any way disagrees with your views. That our failing are in the creativity and the goalscoring areas are there to be seen both with statistics and with common-sense / open eyes.
Patrick Murphy
21 Posted 11/03/2014 at 21:27:43
Fair enough, Nigel, no harm done. Let's hope somebody at the club finds a solution to the goalscoring problem. COYB
Iain Johnston
22 Posted 11/03/2014 at 22:50:32
Stats are like lampposts...They are great to lean on and shed a little light.
Nigel Gregson
23 Posted 12/03/2014 at 00:34:53
@ Iain Johnston stats are like mini-skirts: what they reveal is interesting, but what they hide is truly mind blowing.
Tony J Williams
24 Posted 12/03/2014 at 01:32:11
32.7% of stats are made up on the spot
Phil Roberts
25 Posted 12/03/2014 at 17:21:58
Patrick Murphy - concede 38 = 5 defeats by 5-0 and 1 by 7-0 = 6 games no points and 32 goals conceeded. 30 wins by 1-0 and 1 by 2-0 = 93 points and 32 goals scored. And the 6-6 draw to give us 94 points and a 38 to 38 goals diff.

I'm looking forward to the 6-6 match, it will probably be at OT

Andy Boyer
26 Posted 13/03/2014 at 13:43:48
Patrick Murphy

As the great Sherlock Holmes once said "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"......

Sam Higgins
27 Posted 01/04/2014 at 15:51:38

Dont you mean Thursday night? That afterall was Grab a Granny night.

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