It’s been a mixed bag for Everton so far this season. The Toffees got off to a great start to the Premier League season under new gaffer Rafa Benitez, claiming four wins from their opening six matches. However, the Merseyside outfit are currently on a run of five games without a win, including three defeats, so their manager still has plenty of work to do after the November international break.
Coming off the back of a strong pre-season, hopes were high, and with some good results in their early games, there was a good mood around the club. However, in the last five games, that’s rapidly changed with some poor results and performances. It’s clear that the team is a lot more rigid, and poor consistency along with failure to adapt means Everton have failed to pick out results from their recent games.
Allan Marques Loureiro has been one player who has found his place in the Everton starting lineup. Allan signed for Everton from Napoli in 2020 and struggled to be at his best in his initial season. But this season he has been playing his natural games as a central midfielder and was an influential figure alongside Doucoure in their first six games.
Allan has featured on the left side of midfield alongside Doucoure in the initial games and most recently with Fabian Delph, who got into the team because of an injury to Doucoure. Normally deployed as a holding midfielder in front of the back-line, Allan is known as a dynamic, physically strong, tenacious, and energetic right-footed midfielder, with good ball-winning abilities. But due to him playing higher up the pitch this season, it sometimes gives a chance to win the ball higher and can lead to a chance being created. Last season, we’d often see him a lot closer to the centre-back, where he’s a lot less effective, but under the new system, Rafa is giving him a lot more tactical freedom.
The above visual shows us the defensive actions performed by Allan in the Premier League so far. As seen from the viz, most of Allan’s defensive metrics are better than the median league value. Allan has a higher success rate in winning ground defensive duels as well as loose ball duels. Allan has attempted 16.21 defensive actions per 90 minutes, and has won 73.12% of these actions. He has won 52.38% of the loose ball duels he has attempted. The work rate Allan shows in the midfield helps him cover more distance on the pitch and he also reads the game pretty well. He has 5.14 interceptions per 90 minutes and is better than 88% of the players in the league for the same.
Allan has attempted the most number of defensive duels in the league, with a total of 118 attempted duels. Allan has been playing as his team’s primary ball-winner, sweeping up misplaced passes or poor touches, cleanly pinching the ball when possible, before quickly forcing the ball forwards into dangerous areas.
Allan is a player who likes to keep possession of the ball with his team and is a great distributor of the ball. The defensive actions he attempts to recover the ball help his team regain possession, and once he has the ball back, he tries to set the tempo of the game. Allan has more side passes in the midfield, which indicates that he distributes the ball towards the wider players on the pitch for them to move forward with the ball. He has also attempted a couple of passes in the opposition penalty area, which generated a high xT. Everton have failed to maintain the intensity they have in the first half into the second half. Allan has the energy and will to maintain this intensity throughout the game and can help boost their performance in the second half.
The above visual shows us the positions of the duels Allan has attempted to win the ball. He has attempted most of his duels in the opposition half, playing as a holding midfielder, but also presses the opposition higher up the pitch and tries to win the ball in the opposition’s half. Allan has attempted the second most number of tackles in the Premier League and does not shy away from attempting these tackles. He is a very physical player and also has the pace to time the tackle to perfection to win the ball.
While he is a confident player with the ball, he can also read the game well and position himself accordingly when his team is out of possession. He has completed a higher number of pass interceptions in the midfield area and positions himself well to read where the opposition player is going to pass the ball and intercept the ball before it reaches the opposition.
With the rarely-seen Delph anchoring a midfield three, Allan was able to press the ball-carrier at will and also drift forward in support of attacks. The Brazilian looks much better playing higher, as he can play his natural game and not worry so much about staying in position, which is not his inclination. Everton have struggled to keep possession of the ball and have mostly relied on counterattacks against big teams. Allan can help Everton maintain possession of the ball and provide more balls to their forwards.