Everton have announced that not only will they be missing Seamus Coleman on Sunday, but new star signing James Rodriguez will also be out of action. Carlo Ancelotti revealed that following a challenge during the Merseyside derby, the Colombian picked up a slight problem (via Liverpool ECHO).
The Blues will certainly miss Rodriguez and his creative flair on the right-wing. Since his move from Real Madrid, he has notched three goals and three assists in just five appearances on Merseyside, contributing heavily to the club’s fiery start to the season.
However, this isn’t all good news for Southampton, who will be looking to cause an upset at St Mary’s on Sunday. With Rodriguez out, Dominic Calvert-Lewin may be without his usual creative passes, but it will likely force Ancelotti to deploy Alex Iwobi instead.
Whilst the former Arsenal man may not get himself on the scoresheet that often, he is strong in his ability to track back and help out the defence. But as highlighted by Danny Murphy, Rodriguez is a player who very much focuses on attacking only.
“The better teams will have seen how you can exploit the Colombian’s lack of willingness to track back when the opposition left-back is bombing forward,” the ex-midfielder said in his recent Mail on Sunday column (via Daily Express).
“Andy Robertson capitalised. Liverpool were a real threat down that side and of course that’s how they took an early lead with the full-back crossing for [Sadio] Mane.”
Indeed, over his last few appearances for Everton, Rodriguez seldom tracked all the way back to his own box to help out his defenders. His Sofascore heat maps show that whilst he did venture over the halfway line, it wasn’t very often, nor very far. Ryan Bertrand, who loves to get forward for Southampton, will have been looking forward to capitalising on this and pinging some crosses in towards Danny Ings in the box.
Ralph Hasenhuttl could be forced to rethink his game plan ahead of Sunday to avoid hitting a brick wall when trying to create attacking opportunities straight out from the back.