Is it time to reconsider the Everton defense?


Written by Jønathan Kahn. You can catch him on twitter @jkisthe1.

As someone who started the season watching his choice of keeper, Jordan Pickford get outscored consistently by the likes of Ederson, Allison and Foster it seems strange to be here considering, once again, investing in the Everton defence, or in fact, any Everton asset that isn’t Richarlison. But with many of us having a Benjamin Mendy sized hole in our defences, maybe the time is right for those who want to take some cash out of defence, to invest in those heavy hitting attackers for the busy schedule to look to the Toffees?

I hear the shouts that you can’t trust the Everton defense and as a former Pickford owner it would be tough to argue. But with three clean sheets in their last six, including one last time out away at Chelsea it could be that the team, from the blue half of Merseyside has found a way to make a clean sheet stick. But what do the stats say and if we are to invest, where should we be putting our cash. In this piece I will endeavour to answer those questions.

A quick glance through the stats shows that Everton sit fifth best for total number of shots conceded over the last four with 41. Only Chelsea (27), City (28), Liverpool (35) and Wolves (36) can better this number. But to really get an idea of they stack up defensively we need to delve a little deeper. Where are they conceding chances from? How many big chances are they giving up? How many defensive errors are they making? These are the numbers that will give a better indication of whether Everton can provide with the stable we need from our defensive picks, clean sheets. Remember that their assets are competing with the likes of Laporte for our attentions.

The first thing to note is that as with overall chances conceded, Everton rank fifth (actually joint fourth) for shots conceded in the box. They have conceded 22, the same as Wolves, just one less than City and two less than Liverpool. Chelsea (16) are way out in front here, but we all have Alonso right?

In terms of big chances conceded it gets slightly worse. Everton have given up eight in the last four. On paper that doesn’t sound bad at just two per game but it’s enough to put them joint tenth (again with Wolves). Chelsea once again lead the pack with just two, and Watford leap up the charts with just three.
The last crucial aspect we need to look at here is errors, especially errors resulting in a goal. This metric makes very good reading. Everton sit joint first here with no errors of any kind in the last four, no prizes for guessing who they share top spot with, yes it’s Wolves.

So in broad statistical terms the stats are very good for Everton if we take their statistical chances for a clean sheet. They aren’t conceding many chances, they aren’t making errors and they aren’t giving up chances in key areas. Their fixtures may be a mixed bag but the four gameweeks we have been looking at contained trips to Manchester United and Chelsea. With neither Liverpool nor Tottenham currently looking like they are firing on all cylinders perhaps the real test is the Gameweek 17 trip to Manchester City. If you are going down this route have good cover this week (Doherty has Bournemouth at home for example). Having looked at the collective let’s turn our focus to the individual options.

Jordan Pickford – £4.9m (15%)

Slowly working his way back up the keeper standings, those three clean sheets have been supplemented by back to back penalty saves against Crystal Palace and Manchester United, Pickford has also racked up four save points and 7 bonus points in his last five games to establish himself as a new option for our considerations. Most of us will rarely, if ever, spend a transfer on a keeper but for those who will, or perhaps for those considering their options on a wildcard; Pickford could be an interesting alternative to the more popular Ederson and Patricio.

Seamus Coleman – £5.2m (11%)

The Everton and Ireland captain, the Everton full back once went by the nickname of Goalman, due to his outstanding goal threat from open play racking up at least three goals on four separate occasions. It’s been a long road back from a serious injury for the right back but he is beginning to look like his old self racking up three attempts in his last four. His price may deter some looking for a rotation option but Coleman’s FPL pedigree cannot be overlooked. If Everton do resort to a back three, a wing-back Coleman with license to bomb forward could hit those heights again.

Lucas Digne – £4.8m (2.1%)

Now we enter differential territory. An ownership perhaps based on the fact that he didn’t start the season the Frenchman has now established himself as the first choice left back ahead of FPL legend Leighton Baines. He’s beginning to develop an understanding with Bernard in the left flank; Digne also has a share of set pieces, though currently he has just one assist to his name. But in his last four he’s recorded four goal attempts and a remarkable 43 crosses as well as being fairly well placed in the BPS rankings. Digne offers what many FPL managers love, a budget friendly, low ownership option with the potential to rack up a big score.

Michael Keane – £4.9m (2.8%)

After struggling in his first season Keane has now begun to show why Everton brought him from Burnley and is firmly established as the clubs first choice centre back. Another budget and ownership friendly option Keane is top of the shops for BPS amongst the Everton defence and has recorded four shots in the box over his last four. With the likes of Sigurdsson and Digne putting the balls in, Keane could add to the one goal he has already. An interesting alternative to Digne.

Kurt Zouma – £5.0m (0.3%)

Still recovering from both a serious knee injury and a spell at Stoke that ended in relegation, the Frenchman, on loan from Chelsea, has begun to rebuild his career. His unavailability against Chelsea may count against him as the team kept a clean sheet without him, Zouma represents a risky option. As well as competing with Yerry Mina should the Toffees stick to a back his numbers are also way down on those of his cheaper teammates and on Coleman who costs just 0.2 more. It would take a very brave FPL boss to plump for Zouma is buying an Everton defender due to the much increased likelihood of points from his colleagues.

Yerry Mina £5.4m (0.6%)

The ultimate wildcard pick. It could be argued that picking the Colombian would be based entirely on his World Cup performances alone. This, coupled with the fact that he represents the most expensive route into the Everton defence, means it would take a true maverick for pick Mina. With just one start under his belt we don’t know if Mina can translate that World Cup form into the Premier League or if he will be even keep his place with Zouma available again, given Mina’s lack of Premier League experience. It’s an extremely risky pick.

To conclude, I think that if one is looking for a budget replacement for Mendy, the Everton defence could be the way to go. My preference would be Digne due to his favourable price and multitude of ways to rack up points. Keane could also be an option for those who worry that Baines may get a game or two over the busy festive period. Coleman represents the nostalgia pick. Right now I wouldn’t touch Mina or Zouma. We don’t if both will start and of they won’t, we don’t know which one will partner Keane. If Mina manages to get a starting place then it’s worth placing a watch on him, but for now it’s an avoid for me.

All stats courtesy of Fantasy Football Scout


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