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Martinez’s Everton: An Impressive First Impression

The Boot Room

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Saturday saw the start of a new era at Everton with Roberto Martinez taking charge of his first competitive game for the club, away at Norwich. Despite not taking maximum points from Carrow Road there was plenty enough in Everton’s performance to suggest that the blue half of Merseyside could be in for an exciting season under the Spaniard.

Everton were dominant throughout the game as the stats show: 61% possession, 7 shots on target (Norwich: 2) and 87% pass completion. These key stats don’t just indicate that Everton should have won the game but also the apparent smooth transition to Martinez’s style of play which, at the moment, has only slight differences to Moyes’.

The main difference in play was the tempo; Everton attacked Norwich with less pace and more passes as illustrated by the possession stat: 61% possession, as opposed to 53% possession in the same fixture last season. This change in tempo, away from home, allowed more players to get into goalscoring positions as demonstrated with Everton’s 2nd goal; the slower build-up play allowed Pienaar to pick up the ball and have 4 instant options with Fellaini and Osman still to get forward.

The image above also displays another feature of Everton under Martinez; the controlled attack means that wide players play even further in-field than they did under Moyes and full backs push up in behind the Norwich defence rather than supporting the play and creating chances from deeper positions. Right back Seamus Coleman, who set-up the 1st goal and scored the 2nd, spent 32.31% of the game in the highest part of the pitch on the right side; meanwhile left back Leighton Baines, who created 5 chances (more than anyone else in the match), spent 23.28% of the game in the highest part of the pitch on the left side. Compare the stats to 16.67% (Coleman) and 6.33% (Baines) from the same fixture last season, it really shows that Martinez is attempting to turn attacking full backs into genuine wing backs and is lucky enough to have 2 guys very much up to the task.

Another impressive aspect of Martinez’s first game in charge was how the players responded to their new manager; having lost Moyes to United it might have been expected that some players might look to leave Everton but that hasn’t happened and in fact players such as Coleman, Jelavic, Baines and Mirallas looked as good as ever. One player who reacted more than anybody however was Ross Barkley, the teenager was given a show of faith by Martinez and responded with a brilliant performance.

Despite the positives, Roberto Martinez does have a bit of work to do with the defending, particular in the middle. Norwich’s 1st goal was far too easy at any level, let alone the Premier League; a lack of pressure on the ball invited the full back on and when 2 players failed to stop him, Fellaini’s non-tackle was rather pathetic. Playing Osman and Fellaini together as deeper midfielders could take a lot of work from Martinez to get right; both players are very good on the ball and they link well together but there are issues with them as a defensive paring. The main problem there isn’t a real ball winning player in there, both players can tackle but don’t set out with the aim of being a destructive force; players like Lucas, Yacob and N’Zonzi are very important for their respective teams as they spend the game very centrally, winning the ball back and setting up attacks. Everton have a player in Darron Gibson, who missed the game against Norwich through injury, that can perform that role but i’m not sure if Martinez will sacrifice Ross Barkley after such a great performance.

Everton will face a tough test at home Steve Clarke’s well-organised West Brom side for Martinez’s first home game in charge and the pressure will really be on to get the win. I would expect Everton to dominate that game and play in a similar way to they did against Norwich and get a result. If they don’t get the win I don’t think Everton fans should get too worked up, Martinez’s Everton look more than good enough to have a strong season and will only get better.

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West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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