Football articles

It’s give or taka with Roberto Martinez’s sides: Everton’s decent start to the season covers up their potential defensive frailties


Wednesday 18th September 2013

Everton have made a promising start to the campaign – unbeaten with six points and only two goals conceded in four league games – but the casualness in dangerous areas that blighted Roberto Martinez’s time at Wigan Athletic was there to be seen in last Saturday’s 1-0 win against Chelsea. Defence was Wigan’s problem and the game against the west Londoners highlighted why it could prove to be a handicap in the future for Martinez’s current side.

When Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka made one or two too many passes in their own box, giving the ball away to Andre Schurrle who squared it to Samuel Eto’o for what looked like a certain a tap-in until Gareth Barry’s miraculous intervention, we were reminded of a similar incident near the end of last season when Tottenham Hotspur visited Martinez and his former club at the DW Stadium.

Then, defender Maynor Figueroa and goalkeeper Joel Robles carried out a similar scenario only for Robles to kick the ball against an incoming Gareth Bale in the most nonchalant way possible with the Welshman rebounding it into the back of the net. Both defender and keeper were to blame, but I’m surprised Figueroa got the bulk of the criticism considering how casual Robles was in trying to clear it. Never mind tika-taka, it’s often a case of tit for tat when it comes to the consequences that face Martinez’s teams.

Whether the Spaniard would give a rollicking to his side’s backline should they simply hoof it away from danger, I don’t know. But however fluent a team can play, sometimes a hoof will do. Gerald Pique has said that the masters of the pass-and-move, Barcelona, are ‘‘not a slave to tika-taka. If we’re being pressed, hitting a few long balls isn’t being negative. It gives us oxygen, it gives us an out and forces the opponents to adjust.’’

The aforementioned occurrence against Tottenham and many other defensive lapses helped relegate the Latics. The same won’t happen to the Toffees, but the casualness that leads to these kinds of errors, like we saw against Chelsea, will have an effect on whether they challenge for those European places and beyond.

What do you think of Martinez and his style of play in defensive areas? Feel free to leave me any comments on here and/or on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube:


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