Everton have been a side that has suffered when it comes to dealing with set pieces under seemingly every manager since David Moyes, with often little threat going forward and even less defending when facing them.
Carlo Ancelotti employed his son Davide to fix the issue, which he did to great effect from an offensive point of view, with Patrick Boyland suggesting they were “elite” when it came to attacking set-plays in the early stages of 2021.
Now, following their half a season under Rafa Benitez where this structure was dismantled, Frank Lampard has been left picking up the pieces of a side that, as of March 2022, had conceded the fourth-most goals from set pieces in the league.
In the past, it was Anthony Barry who shouldered the burden of set pieces for the former Chelsea manager, but at Goodison Park he has had to rely on Paul Clement to complete this task.
They have now had the summer to further implement their tactics, and the Toffees are reaping the rewards under their new management with the Toffees coach a dab-hand when it comes to this area of the game.
Lukasz Fabianski had been full of praise for the tactical know-how of Clement at the time he led Swansea City to safety.
He claimed: “He has a really good eye for football. He gave us confidence and demands a lot of hard work on the training ground. His work ethic is pretty amazing. And he is always very well prepared when it comes to the tactical side of the game.”
This praise can certainly be found in his work on Merseyside, where he has helped turn Everton from a side that last season conceded 66 goals into the best defence in the league with James Tarkowski and Conor Coady’s additions proving game-changing.
Indeed, they have both made this side more resilient but they could not have done it without the work of Clement on the training pitch.
Against West Ham United, a team renowned for their set-piece prowess, they faced 14 corners and yet still kept a clean sheet, a marker of a team who have come far since the days of Ancelotti, where they were conceding above the average number of goals expected for a Premier League side from corners and free-kicks.
Huge improvement has been made under Lampard, with Clement the man to thank. The decision to add him to his backroom staff was game-changing for the 44-year-old, whose experience is clearly invaluable.
Following Thomas Tuchel’s sacking last month there may have been calls for Everton to appoint Barry to their backroom staff, but with their upturn in form and improvement with set pieces, many will wonder whether he is needed at all.
Set pieces play a huge part in the modern game, and now that the Blues seem to have got it right, they are on track to go somewhere really special under this leadership.