Everton host Cardiff City at Goodison Park this weekend and will be confident of keeping their recent good form going with a win over the newly-promoted Bluebirds. However, the Welsh outfit pose certain threats that Toffees boss Marco Silva must be mindful of in his preparations for this match.
If Everton are at their best then they ought to dispatch Neil Warnock’s visitors relatively comfortably. However, their opponents will be primed to capitalise upon any complacency amongst the home side’s ranks.
On top of that, Cardiff will also set up tactically in a manner designed to frustrate and make life difficult for Everton. The visitors’ midfielders, likely to feature the likes of Harry Arter and Joe Ralls, will be aggressive and combative. Meanwhile, their backline, built around the central partnership of Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison, will not be bullied by Everton’s forwards.
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As well as having to contend with what will be a dogged and difficult to break down Cardiff defence, the Toffees cannot afford to lose sight of the danger that they face at the other end either.
Everton’s wide players, likely to be Bernard and Theo Walcott – assuming that Richarlison retains his central berth – are not generally known for their defensive prowess, and against a team with Cardiff’s defensive reputation they may be more likely to be even less diligent in their tracking back.
In Josh Murphy, Bobby Reid, Kadeem Harris and Junior Hoilett, the Bluebirds’ possess plenty of pace and dynamism. Abandoning the full-backs to deal with this attacking force alone could cost Everton.
In the face of their unfashionable, underdog opponents, Everton must be strong, and not fold to Cardiff’s physical approach in the middle of the park. Nor can they afford for complacency to allow Warnock’s wide men free rein to run at the Everton defence. Failure to meet these requirements could result in a shock defeat for Silva’s side.