Everton yesterday all but ended Manchester City’s hopes of retaining the Barclays Premier League title with a 2-0 victory of the champions at Goodison Park. The game had it’s fair share of controversy, however Everton looked good for their victory.
With the game at 1-0 David Moyes took the decision of removing Anichebe, in the 89th minute, from the field in replace of Nikica Jelavic, 27. This decision was based on nothing more than eating up time and getting a new pair of legs up top to try and hold onto the ball. Deep into injury time however, Fellaini broke free with the ball after a Naismith tackle and played a pass into Jelavic. He checked inside and placed his shot, albeit deflected, into the top left hand corner past Joe Hart.
The Croatian’s First goal in 12 Appearances for the toffees, the Everton fans will be hoping, could mark a return to form for the striker. When Jelavic joined Everton from Rangers in January last season he struck 10 in 11 appearances to mark himself on the Premier League. However I feel, unfortunately, that this goal against Manchester City wont mark a return to the same goal scoring form that he experienced last season.
Why then is Jelavic struggling for goals?
The problem with Jelavic’s lack of goals isn't entirely down to the Croatian himself. The tactics that Moyes is employing with Fellaini this season can be attributed to Jelavic’s drought. When Jelavic was brought to the club he was played upfront, majoritively on his own, and was the main focus of Everton’s attack. Meanwhile Fellaini was more often than not playing in a midfield role, along side Gibson.
Jelavic revelled in this, and enjoyed having the ball readily finding him inside the opponents box. Now however Fellaini is being forced higher up the pitch playing off Jelavic’s shoulder. This is a problem for Jelavic, as a huge number of Everton’s attacks aim to get the big Belgian involved as the forerunner of the play, mainly due to his ability to hold up the ball and keep possession.
Also Everton’s slower approach play has forced the majority of goals scored by their outfit to be in around the D of the box, not Jelavic’s main goal scoring area. Last season Everton played a tighter midfield, and relinquished control of the ball more often. This opened up the wider areas for counter attacks and allowed the wingers to move down the flanks and play Fast balls along the ground in and around the 6 yard area, Jelavic’s main goal scoring area.
Moyes therefore has a decision to make. Leave Fellaini in a forward role, or drop him into a deeper central midfield role and allow Jelavic to pick up the goals his Belgian will miss out on if he is dropped deep. Unfortunately for Jelavic, due to Osman and Gibson being the main proprietors of this CM role, and Moyes playing more possession based football high up the field, it will be very unlikely that Moyes makes this decision any time soon.
Do you agree that Jelavic’s drop in goal scoring form can be attributed to Fellaini’s more forward role? Or do you feel it’s simply down to form?