Rafael Benitez can begin to right Carlo Ancelotti failing at Everton next week
It’s been a solid start to the season for Everton who navigated a tricky opening three Premier League fixtures against Southampton, Leeds United and Brighton to come away with seven points.
Up next is Burnley at home on Monday night, a fixture that’ll be perceived by many as one the Toffees can again pick up all three points.
However despite their underwhelming start to the campaign, picking up just a single point from their opening three matches, there’s a reasonable case to be made that Burnley could represent one of the Toffee’s toughest tests so far.
Sean Dyche’s men are renowned for being a robust and compact side who rarely aim to dominate the ball, and instead are happy to remain difficult to break down whilst looking to take advantage in counter-attacks or dead-ball situations.
Although far less extreme, this was perhaps Everton’s strongest tactic under Carlo Ancelotti, highlighted by their standout away form and record vs the division’s top sides last season.
However, their home form was one of the league’s worst, exhibiting clear issues when expected to try and play through or break down the teams happy to forgo possession of the ball.
Thus far, though not a carbon copy, Rafael Benitez has adopted a similar approach to his predecessor in terms of keeping his Everton side defensively sound without too much of a focus on trying to dominate possession or territory.
Although we’re only three games into the new season, notably Everton have the second-lowest possession average across the league (39.2%) – coincidentally Burnley rank bottom.
The Clarets also rank second bottom in terms of touches made inside the opposition’s penalty area so far.
Therefore based on the above, plus the fact Everton are the home side, we’re almost certain to see the Clarets adopt a defensive approach, which will put the onus on Benitez’s men to break them down.
Everton struggled with this task last season, drawing at Turf Moor 1-1 and suffering a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park.
There’s been an injection of pace into the side over the summer with arrivals such as Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, however, with space likely to be at a premium in the Burnley half, good possession play will probably be the key to success.
Ancelotti was accused of not always being the best coach from a tactical perspective, excelling more in the man-management side of the game.
Benitez though is considered the opposite and it’ll be hoped he can orchestrate a better more synchronised attacking display on Monday night in order to continue Everton’s good start to the campaign.