Everton boss Marco Silva is currently under pressure following his side’s poor recent form. The Toffees’ defensive record has left plenty to be desired, whilst seeing similar mistakes being repeated has caused frustrations to grow amongst the fanbase at Goodison Park.
One such error has been the Merseyside club’s inability to defend set pieces. They have conceded from set pieces on 12 occasions already in the Premier League this season – giving them the worst record in the division.
Silva must address this chronic frailty if his side are to turn their poor form around and regain some confidence. A failure to remedy this situation could ultimately contribute to the Portuguese coach losing his job.
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In order to make his team more solid when it comes to defending set pieces, the Portuguese boss must abandon his preference for zonal marking. Whilst it may go against the manager’s instinctive principles, he must embrace a man-marking system, as his own methods are currently costing the club points.
Zonal marking, as the name implies, charges defenders with the responsibility of looking after their own little zone, rather than any specific opposition player. If the ball enters that defender’s zone, it is their job to deal with it.
However, in practice, this throws up problems for the defending side. If defenders stick to their zones rigidly, they cannot contend with the unpredictable movement of attackers. They can easily become outnumbered or find themselves pitched into mismatched battles with attackers who have considerable physical advantages over them.
Man-marking alleviates many of these problems, as defenders assume responsibility for marshalling a specific opponent, rather than a certain area of their own box. They can then be assigned to attackers they can actually compete with, and if everyone does their job then becoming outnumbered ought to be impossible.
No defensive tactic is perfect, but Silva should give Everton their best chance of escaping their current set piece nightmare by embracing a man-to-man approach.