By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 5th February 2019
Everton manager Marco Silva’s inability to effectively drill his team for the defending of set pieces in the Premier League was held up to the light mercilessly on Match of The Day over the weekend.
It was revealed that across his three top-flight tenures at Hull, Watford and Goodison Park, his sides ranked worst, third worst, and equal worst in the division for goals-against from dead-ball situations.
The Toffees have already shipped 11 times in such circumstances this term and could be forgiven for fearing the worst ahead of playing free-scoring Manchester City, with another way to punish their leaky rearguard having been exposed so ruthlessly.
However, before Silva’s men scurry into the nearest air raid shelter, they might be relieved to know that bagging from set pieces is one area in which their visitors have yet to excel this season.
Will a lack of set-piece threat undermine City’s title retention mission?
Having already regained 4/5 Premier League outright betting favouritism following Liverpool’s draw with West Ham, Pep Guardiola’s side are questing to regain the Premier League lead at Goodison.
Not that they’re likely to be over-reliant on set pieces in their attempts to land match betting odds of 2/7 on Merseyside.
Only Crystal Palace, Fulham and Southampton have notched less league goals from set pieces than City’s five this season, according to whoscored.com. Liverpool have bagged a division-high 14.
Nicolas Otamendi is the only player in the champions’ squad that’s inside the first 89 in the top flight for attempts on goal from set-piece situations per 90 minutes (0.8).
Last term only Bournemouth (16) struck more often in the league from set pieces than the Etihad club (15) – a drastic differential and one that could prove decisive in the title race.
Unfortunately for the Toffees…
City have scored 10 goals more than any other top-tier club in spite of their dead-ball inadequacies, while Silva has lost all six of his previous managerial encounters with Guardiola.
Meanwhile, the visitors also appear to have begun debunking a recent history of struggles against Everton, which had seen them win just eight of 22 meetings with the Goodison Park club since the Abu Dhabi United Group took over at the Etihad in September 2008 prior to this season.
Sergio Aguero and friends have now laid consecutive 3-1 beatings on the Toffees. A repeat of that scoreline is priced up at correct score odds of 9/1.