View: Davies' defensive woes show importance of Allan to Everton
Tom Davies has been afforded a first-team chance recently but his defensive deficiencies shows why Everton need Allan back in the side.
He was a peripheral figure at the start of the campaign but Davies is doing his utmost to take advantage of Allan’s recent injury troubles and is offering Everton a different style in the centre of the midfield.
Statistically speaking Davies is starting to show some of his qualities. In his last two matches, vs Sheffield United and West Ham, the 22-year-old recorded WhoScored ratings of 7.25 and 7.04 respectively, which are his highest and third-highest totals (7.23 v Leeds on November 28 is second).
He completed all six of his attempted dribbles across both games (three in each) with Alex Iwobi against Sheffield United the only player to top this in the Everton team.
The qualities of Davies on the ball are not really in question but it is his defensive work that really needs to be examined.
He has been the beneficiary of an injury to summer signing Allan, a player brought in from Napoli where he used to work with Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti, and he has missed Everton’s last four games.
While the former stat is respectable enough and ranks him in the top 30 Premier League performers it is the second stat that is more remarkable as it means only Southampton’s Oriol Romeu (3.5) is averaging more per game.
Everton do not have another player in the top 30 for this metric with Richarlison (34th) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (38th) the next Toffees players to appear.
Davies, meanwhile, is not a player whose game is centred around tough-tackling displays.
An example of Davies lack of defensive nous can be shown in the images below taken from the West Ham loss (per Wyscout).
A ball is bouncing towards Everton captain Seamus Coleman on the right-hand side, and Davies is in a decent position at the hub of the Everton midfield, with Benrahma just in front of him.
However, while Benrahma is on his toes and anticipating a mistake from Coleman, Davies is on his heels and loses ground on the West Ham attacker who presses the Everton defence.
Coleman subsequently makes a mistake with his weak header giving Antonio the ball and the Hammers the chance to capitalise.
The advancement of Benrahma has now given West Ham a two on one with Davies desperately chasing back, but it is too late for the midfielder to have any effect on the play.
Yerry Mina eventually does well to restrict Antonio to the weak effort that he produces but it is a chance that could have cost Everton, and it would not have just been because of Coleman’s error.
There is an argument to suggest Allan’s natural defensive ability would have snuffed out that chance long before and allowed Mina to step up and challenge Antonio without having to worry about the run in behind of Benrahma.
The 2-0 League Cup defeat to Manchester United on December 23 showed another example of Davies’ defensive dithering.
In fairness to Davies the game was on its last legs with Everton pushing forward to find a late equaliser and the pacey Marcus Rashford attacking space.
He was only a second half substitute himself however, and shouldn’t have been feeling weary. While he initially makes a good decision to step off he then plants his body in a flat-footed, awkward stance that makes him unable to block the path of a potential pass to Anthony Martial, and also means he his not aggressive and cannot approach Rashford to tackle him if he continues his run.
Rashford opts for the slide rule pass to Martial and he finishes off to secure the game for Manchester United and dump Everton out of the cup. Davies was unable to have any effect on the French striker with his poor positioning and negative defensive nature.
Davies has still only played 427 Premier League minutes this season so his sample size is still relatively small compared to that of Allan’s, but a glance back at last season shows he made the same number of average tackles per game (1.3) in 2057 minutes.
On the other hand, Allan has produced over two tackles per game in all of his seasons in Europe, dating back to Udinese in the 2012/13 Serie A campaign.
While Davies has his qualities and is a product of the Everton youth academy he cannot be absolved of blame and included on sentimental value. His defensive performances are showing why he looks unlikely to be a mainstay in the Everton midfield any time soon.
Everton signed Allan and Doucoure in the summer transfer window and they have both shown they are there to stay, while Ancelotti is also reportedly after Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira which would act as another blow to Davies’ Toffees career.
The jury is still out on Davies and Allan’s return to the first team cannot come soon enough for Everton and Ancelotti.
In other Everton news, our view on the West Ham tactic that disrupted the Toffees in the Goodison Park defeat.