Everton v Tottenham: three tactical tweaks Rafa Benitez must consider against Spurs in Premier League

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The Blues have lost their past three games and changes are required to get back to winning ways.

Rafa Benitez has a challenge on his hands to get Everton out of their current predicament.

After a barnstorming start in the Goodison Park driving seat, momentum has hit the buffers in the past three games.

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The early feelgood factor has been sapped, with the perennial anhedonia Evertonians have felt for so long rife yet again.

The Toffees have lost their past three games against West Ham, Watford and Wolves.

In particular, the latter two were abject. Everton capitulated from being 2-1 ahead to slump to an embarrassing 5-2 defeat against Watford.

And an insipid, meek first-half performance meant the Blues slipped to a 2-1 reverse at Wolves.

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Benitez has much to ponder ahead of the visit of Tottenham on Sunday, with Antonio Conte to take charge of his maiden Premier League game.

With Abdoulaye Doucoure, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina all again set to be absent, the boss has three tactical tweaks he’ll surely be considering to turn around Everton’s plight.

Changing the formation

Jean-Philippe Gbamin struggled for Everton at Wolves. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty ImagesJean-Philippe Gbamin struggled for Everton at Wolves. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Jean-Philippe Gbamin struggled for Everton at Wolves. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images | Getty Images

Benitez has favoured a 4-4-1-1 system for the vast majority of his time at Goodison.

During the opening matches of the season, Doucoure and Allan thrived together and dominated the engine room.

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The former, in particular, flourish after being handed freedom to get forward and recorded an impressive haul of two goals and four assists in nine games.

However, since Doucoure suffered a foot injury, Everton have looked brittle in the middle of the park. The Blues are lacking the Frenchman's tenacity and energy which allowed the two-man midfield to prosper.

Allan's not been the same player without Doucoure's relentless running and Everton have been brittle.

Tom Davies might have scored against Watford but was too passive when the visitors started to run riot. He offered little in the way of resistance.

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And you had to have some sympathy for Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who was thrown straight into the deep end at Wolves.

Making just his fifth Everton appearance in more than two years, he was never going to have the legs to cope against Bruno Lage's high-octane side.

It's why an additional body in central midfield and a switch to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system could be the answer. It'll provide further defensive cover and give Everton more control when in possession.

The tweak worked wonders in the 3-1 victory over Burnley in August. Benitez brought on Andre Gomes in place of Ben Godfrey, with the Blues going on to win the game comfortably.

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Starting Delph

Fabian Delph helped Everton get a foothold back in the game against Wolves. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty ImagesFabian Delph helped Everton get a foothold back in the game against Wolves. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Fabian Delph helped Everton get a foothold back in the game against Wolves. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images | Getty Images

Whether it's a two-man or a three-man midfield, one thing is fairly clear: Fabian Delph has to start.

How many Evertonians would have thought they'd be saying that in the summer?

The former Man City midfielder was making just a second appearance of the season at Wolves, having been sidelined for more than two months with a shoulder injury.

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And for all the flak he's taken, even Delph's harshest critics couldn't disagree he made the difference when replacing Gbamin at half-time.

Delph gave Everton more nous in midfield and showed more know-how when on the back foot. He helped the visitors get back into the game, but they ultimately ran out of time.

It's not exactly the ideal situation hoping a much-maligned figure will start.

But such are the Toffees' shortcomings, the 31-year-old can at least add experience.

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Scrapping zonal marking

Max Kilman of Wolverhamton Wanderers scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty ImagesMax Kilman of Wolverhamton Wanderers scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Max Kilman of Wolverhamton Wanderers scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images | Getty Images

The way Benitez set his sides up when defending set-pieces was a big criticism during his time as Liverpool manager.

Now it's being scrutinised just as closely on the opposite side of Stanley Park.

Two of Everton's five goals against Watford stemmed from dead-ball situations, while Max Kilman headed home for Wolves to break the deadlock.

Benitez is steadfast that his way of keeping out set-pieces has bore fruit in the past.

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He's argued it’s not working because he’s missing three of his main aerial threats in Doucoure, Mina and Calvert-Lewin.

That's a valid case and the Blues might reap the rewards when the trio are all back to availability.

But, as things stand, Everton seemingly don't have the personnel to deploy such tactic. There’s too much confusion about who’s commanding which area and who’s marking which opposing player.

Switching to man-marking would at least banish any disarray of roles in the box.

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