Everton News

Five things we learned as Lampard’s Everton win against Brentford

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Frank Lampard’s reign as Everton manager began with a comfotable win as the Blues bested Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Goodison Park.

The home side started the brighter of the two teams and took the lead just after the half hour mark when substitute Yerry Mina powered home a header from Demarai Gray’s pinpoint corner.

New signings Donny van de Beek and Dele Alli were introduced to the crowd at half-time, both cup-tied having been involved in the previous round with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, and watched their new team-mates double their lead minutes after the re-start as Richarlison clipped a fine finish over the on-rushing David Raya from compatriot Allan’s lofted pass.

Less than ten minutes later, however, Jordan Pickford was adjudged to have sent Ivan Toney tumbling after the striker was picked out by a pristine Christian Norgaard pass, and Toney stepped up to score the penalty and bring the Bees back into the game.

But the Brentford resurgence didn’t last long as Mason Holgate flicked the ball into the net with his forehead at the back post after Mads Roerslev inadvertently nodded Gray’s delivery towards his own goal. From there Everton were comfortable and Andros Townsend scored a late fourth as they progressed to the next round of a competition they last won in 1995.

Here are five things we learned from the action at Goodison Park this afternoon.

New system for Blues

Everton lined up in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 shape, having spent the majority of the season oscillating between 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 with similarly low levels of success under Rafael Benítez.

The Toffees have been particularly weak in the centre of the pitch so far this campaign, too often walked through in midfield and too easily beaten to the ball by opponents in and around the penalty area.

Lampard’s decision to set his side up with an extra defender in their own penalty area feels like a rudimentary method to try and render Everton harder to beat, and you can’t really blame for him for trying to solidify the foundations of the team. Whether it actually works, though, depends on whether each defender can improve their individual level of performance after sketchy campaigns all around so far in 2021/222.

After an early injury to Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate and Yerry Mina lined up either side of Michael Keane, who has struggled especially since last summer. All three will need to display better reading of the game and positioning if Everton are to make a success of 3-4-3.

Wing-backs could be problematic in Lampard’s shape

The nature of the Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon’s playing styles meant that the three-man Everton attack was fairly narrow this afternoon, as both players looked to link up with Richarlison down the middle and find space in front of the Brentford penalty area.

That lack of width puts pressure on the wing-backs in the 3-4-3 to move high up the pitch, drag defenders out with them and subsequently create space in the middle. Seamus Coleman and Vitali Mykolenko, though, do not seem especially suited to playing that role. Neither player is particularly quick or confident on the ball in attacking areas, and the threat of them delivering an excellent through ball or dribbling past opponents is relatively low.

If Everton do manage to stay in the Premier League, retain Lampard’s services for the next campaign, and persevere with the 3-4-3 in the long run, they may need to look for new players to fill those roles on the left and right.

Mina can be bigger threat in opposition area

Yerry Mina has struggled to maintain a starting place in the Everton side since his arrival from Barcelona in the summer of 2018, and a combination a thigh problem and Rafael Benitez’s squad selections mean he only started for the club once since early October prior to this afternoon’s fixture.

Lampard’s three at the back shape will surely allow him more opportunities, and he may well have started here had he not returned barely 48 hours beforehand from international duty with Colombia.

One thing Mina offers that his colleagues cannot truly match, and which he demonstrated just after the half hour here, is his goalscoring ability in the opposition box. This was his seventh for the club, who signed him on the back of his impressive showing at the 2018 World Cup, in which he scored three times from corners.

He is not without his weaknesses, of course, but if Mina can manage to string together a run of starts, then Everton’s ability to both defend and attack corners will be all the better for it.

Goodison crowd is united once again

Goodison Park might be known for its raucous noise but the atmosphere doesn’t typically manifest in a traditional sense.

The sound at other stadiums in England and around the world which are lauded for their atmosphere is usually song-based and consistently supportive of the home side. The predominant noise of Goodison’s atmosphere, though, is shouting rather than singing and has its foundations in adrenaline, expectation, and often, sheer fury.

The Goodison crowd reacts to the action and roars either its approval of the men in blue shirts or disapproval of those in any other colour. The issue with that in the latter stages of Benítez’s reign was that it was very easy for anger about the club’s direction to become rage towards the Blues’ own players.

In Lampard, though, Everton have hired a manager the crowd approves of and the positivity of the atmosphere this afternoon will have been a great comfort to the footballers working under their new coach for the first time. Everybody inside Goodison in pulling in the same direction again and, considering the depths the club had sunk to under Benítez, that in itself is a significant win.

Brentford need to freshen things up

This was Brentford’s seventh defeat in their last nine games, a wretched run which has seen them tumble down the Premier League table and now fall out of the FA Cup.

Here they looked exhausted, unable to compete with Everton on a physical and lacking creativity in attack. The Bees squad is small, sure, but they need to find a way to freshen things up somehow or risk falling into the relegation fight.

The transfer window might have come and gone without much in the way of incomings but Thomas Frank needs to consider a change of shape or personnel at the very least before the return to league action at Goodison again next week.