Everton have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield in almost two decades but could that change on Derby Day this weekend? Matt Cheetham examines how Marco Silva has transformed them this season.
Marco Silva's assured start as Everton manager has them sitting in the Premier League's top six. For a side who were hovering ominously above the relegation zone at this stage last season - with their third manager of the campaign waiting in the wings - it has been an impressive transformation.
Silva's side have won five of their last seven games and the healthy stream of points has been achieved with an attractive brand of football, which is highlighted by some of Everton's attacking statistics. The leap from last season - when Everton recorded the second-fewest shots in the Premier League, and the fewest by any side during Sam Allardyce's time in charge - has been seismic.
No set of supporters is currently seeing a bigger improvement from their side in terms of shots. Everton are attempting almost 50 per cent more per game - the biggest increase in the Premier League this season.
After the attacking lows of last season, this improvement might have been expected by some. Such progress at the other end, however - where Everton are also the most improved side in terms of shots faced - is more than anyone predicted, especially with last season's managers favouring more pragmatic playing styles.
Most improved Premier League sides in shots faced per game
|Team||Last season||This season||Change|
Much of Silva's early success has been driven by the summer's transfer business. Everton's spending in previous seasons had left them with a bloated, imbalanced squad, but since Marcel Brands' appointment as director of football in May, a far clearer structure and vision has emerged.
Everton added six summer signings, all aged 25 or under. In contrast, the final six buys from the previous regime were aged 26 or older. They are small margins, but Silva and Brands recruits have an average age of 24, while those brought in under the previous regime had an average age of close to 27.
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Each new summer signing has made an impact, too. In defence, Kurt Zouma has been a perfect fit for Silva's high line, as has Yerry Mina, while Lucas Digne has quickly provided the attacking impetus fans have enjoyed from Leighton Baines previously.
Most chances created by Premier League defenders (2018/19)
In midfield, Andre Gomes is helping Everton progress up the field better than any central midfielder in recent seasons, while Bernard has created more chances from open play than any of his team-mates. His creative numbers already place him alongside the Premier League's very best playmakers.
Most chances created from open play (Premier League 2018/19)
|David Silva||Man City||3.0|
|Alexis Sanchez||Man Utd||2.8|
Further forward, Richarlison, whose £40m price-tag made him the most scrutinised Everton purchase, has looked an inspired buy, scoring six Premier League goals and earning a place in the Brazil squad.
From picking up players already in their prime, perhaps only set to decline, the youthful core of the Everton squad is now well placed to continue its improvement.
Silva has also coaxed improvement from many of the players he inherited. The performances of Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson, two players who struggled last season, have been central to Everton's recent rise, with both revitalised under the new leadership.
Stylistically, key changes have also worked well for Silva. His high-octane, adventurous style greatly contrasts with last season's laboured approach. Everton are pressing far more aggressively. They have won possession in the attacking third more times than any other side - and by a remarkable margin.
Overall, Everton now win the ball 6.6 times per game in the attacking third, almost doubling the return of 3.8 last season. Some of Opta's advanced metrics further emphasise Silva's tactical shifts, specifically in terms of moving the ball forward faster, and with better end product.
Everton's attacking evolution
|Everton||PL rank last season||PL rank this season|
Sitting sixth, ahead of Manchester United, a third of the way through the season represents an impressive start for Silva. Statistically, he has improved areas of his side more than any Premier League manager.
Direct speed: Metres per second progressed upfield in open play sequences.
Direct attacks: Open play sequence that starts just inside the team’s half and has at least 50 per cent movement towards the opposition’s goal, ending with a shot or touch in opposition box.
After a summer of inspired signings, he's also married an exciting, fast-paced approach with a steady stream of points - something recent predecessors were seldom able to do. This Sunday's trip to Anfield presents a fitting chance to distinguish himself further still.
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