It’s been a baptism of fire for Jean-Philippe Gbamin in an Everton jersey.
On after 45 minutes on opening day to replace fan favourite André Gomes. Midfield partner Morgan Schneiderlin sent off 30 minutes later. Alongside new partner Tom Davies for the last 20 minutes with 10 men. And to top it off he was a starter this week to partner Gomes against tough Watford duo Abdoulaye Doucouré and Étienne Capoue.
It’s fair to say a few Evertonians wobbled at JP’s wobbles, particularly in that first game against Crystal Palace.
Will the real Gbamin please stand up? We’re here at Statsbomb Towers, so let’s have a look at his radar:
So yeah, moving swiftly on to a comparison with last season’s radar at Mainz. What else is in his locker?
Ok, so still nothing amazing. But extra facets to his game there that we’ve not seen yet in the small sample of 120 minutes so far at Everton. His passing can be better, he can carry the ball nicely, and he can press the ball more. Good.
Even though the sample is small, the different aspects of his play on the radar are mirrored in his defensive work at both clubs too. At Everton, he’s mainly stuck to the right-hand side of the pitch:
Despite starting nominally on the right side of the pitch at Mainz too, he still found a ton of time to roam the pitch much more freely to disrupt play:
Are we likely to continue to see a more restricted Gbamin in Marco Silva’s line up?
His shot map last season in the Bundesliga featured a fair few bombs. Two hit the target:
He hasn’t even pulled the trigger yet at Everton…
On signing the Ivorian, Silva stated that Gbamin wasn’t a direct replacement for Idrissa Gana Gueye. Yet due to injury and suspension that’s how he’s chosen to play him so far.
Can we assume Gbamin was bought so Everton could gradually switch to a three and have Fabian Delph and Gomes in there with him? Personally, I think this would be a forward step to resolving Everton’s attacking issues where Gylfi Sigurðsson either does something wonderful or does nothing at all.
An extra Gbamin shaped body in the middle of the park might lead to more control than the team completing just 300 passes against Watford at home.
Would this disruption of shape without the Icelander who works so hard to close down opponents at every opportunity ruin Everton’s good defensive numbers?
They’re used to playing this system now and The Toffees are grinding out results with it, but will it get Everton where the club need to go?
If Silva thinks it is, I was interested to look at what the radars suggest Gbamin and Gomes bring together as a two:
They clearly both bring different things to the team, which is a good, but it just doesn’t look like it’s enough at this point.
Stretching play with deep progressions isn’t part of either’s game or seemingly in Silva’s tactical plan. The lovely Statsbomb Tactics IQ dashboard can show us successful passes (red) versus unsuccessful (yellow). Those longer vertical balls just haven’t come off yet for the new boy:
The radar also suggests both are content to sit and hold ground in the middle. The front four do a hell of a lot of the defensive work in front of them. Add in the form of centre back pairing Yerry Mina and Michael Keane and it perhaps explains those good defensive numbers The Blues have right now and showed for most of last season. It’s a safe system.
I get the feeling a straitjacket isn’t a look that Gbamin’s particularly keen on. I think he naturally wants to be free.
Silva might worry enough to replace him if Delph is back soon from injury. Everton haven’t bought a £25m misfit. He’s just one piece of an expensive jigsaw that isn’t all that easy to put together. The Portuguese may well change it round again for Villa on Friday night.