Dyche must respond to defensive flaws that are costing Everton

Everton could only manage a 2-2 draw at Leicester City in their last Premier League game with defensive failings costing them again as relegation looms.

Manager Sean Dyche continued with his preferred centre-back pairing of Michael Keane and James Tarkowski, despite the problems the Blues’ have had leaking goals recently.

In their last nine games Everton have conceded sixteen times after having only let in ten goals in the first seven matches after Dyche took over.

And, if you discount the 4-0 defeat at then league leaders Arsenal, it is only six goals conceded in that period. That’s pretty good.

Interestingly, despite Dyche’s reputation for being a defensive coach and the lack of a natural centre-forward for most of his time, the Toffees’ have actually been creating and scoring more goals than they were in the final months under the more alledgedly attack-minded Frank Lampard.

Everton only scored six times in Lampard’s last ten games as manager. Dyche’s team have doubled that total in his time in charge, despite not having his best striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin for almost all that time.

But, after taking twelve points in eight matches, the Blues’ have since only managed four in the last six games. That is relegation form at exactly the wrong time.

So, it’s clear that the biggest problems are perhaps unexpectedly, at the back. For the monent Dyche seems determined to stick with his former Burnley central defensive partnership.

Keane was once again badly exposed at Leicester and he was at fault for Jamie Vardy’s goal, which put the home team 2-1 up and the penalty that Jordan Pickford fortunately saved.

No Evertonian is surprised to see Keane making unforced, elemental errors and getting easily beaten by forwards with any pace or decent movement. We have seen it time and time again over the last few seasons.

Dyche has been resistant to picking Yerry Mina – who many would regard as Everton’s best centre-back – or returning to Conor Coady who he dropped a few months ago.

He prefers to stick with the two he knows but it’s not working.

It is true Coady had lost his early-season form when Dyche took him out of the team, but he’s not any more prone to mistakes than Keane who continues to play. And why does Mina still sit on the sidelines?!

With four matches left to save the club’s Premier League status, it is time for Dyche to re-think his defensive set-up.

Previously, I have said the manager should return to the approach which got him off to a decent, solid start and the 4-5-1 formation he adopted.

But, perhaps he needs to consider looking at something like a 3-5-2 formation.

I am not a big fan of a three centre-back system as a rule, but Seamus Coleman’s injury, although not as serious as first feared, means he has to reshuffle at the back anyway.

Going to that formation, Mina and Coady or possibly Godfrey could then play with Keane dropping out and Nathan Patterson pushed up to provide width and attacking service from the flanks.

Than would mean Patterson essentially operating as a wing-back with Dwight McNeil on the left hand side. Doing this would increase the amount of quality balls into the box for Calvert-Lewin.

In the middle he could still play three: Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure or maybe Alex Iwobi with Demarai Gray or Ellis Simms to support DCL.

This is a more attacking line-up. But it’s one that I think still offers enough defensive cover and makes the most of his available resources, particuarly Mina and Patterson, who both surely have to start on Monday night.