I reviewed the Everton game in full in the cold light of day to try and see just where things are going wrong at the moment, sometimes it's easier to see things more clearly when the emotional dust has settled. It is irrelevant whether we 'deserved' the draw or not, what does this mean anyway, I've never really understood. On the balance of play overall a draw was a fair result. What I think it is important to look at is why did Everton look so imposing against us and why did they create so many decent chances.
General tactical variation/Pace/Width/Everton. I thought that Everton would play the game very much a la Aston Villa, defending solidly with numbers behind the ball and playing on the counter. This was indeed the case and our game plan played into their hands, we had a lot of possession in front of them but didn't open them up often enough. Everton played very well and Moyes got the tactics spot on. The sad thing is that we don't really have the players to adapt our tactics, we don't have the electrifying pace in the side that we once had and consequently we are not as good on the counter as we once were. Look at our front six players and tell me how many of them have raw pace, exactly. Other than our full backs we often have no width and width is often the key in breaking down sides who defend with a lot of men behind the ball.
Basic defending. The first goal saw Osman have a completely free run at his header from a corner, this just shouldn't happen. A lot of criticism has come the way of Manuel Almunia and he is definitely having a shaky period, but a lot of the criticism coming his way is undeserved. He made a great save to keep us in the game at 2-1, and the abuse he's had from some quarters for the Pienaar goal is ridiculous. The fact that we have very few players who are tall and dominant in the air is a bit of a problem, Manuel should not be made the scapegoat for our systemic aerial failings.
Defending as a team. Everton gave our players far less time on the ball than we afforded to them. They pressed and harried us all over the pitch, they didn't give us time to settle on the ball, this was a stark contrast to the amount of time and space some Everton players found themselves in at times. Traore was caught out positionally a few times, no wonder he's a young inexperienced left back, but he had no help at all from our midfield. The Pienaar goal was poor, Traore was left on his own at the back for a corner, the other defenders were all far too slow to come back and no one covered their absence other than a very tired Samir Nasri, there was so little defensive armour for Everton to cut through, this was bad organisation and cavalier.
Lightweight in midfield. Denilson was knocked off the ball far too easily, as was Ramsey but to a lesser extent, Diaby was our only midfielder with a physical presence. Denilson just isn't a holding player, he cannot defend, he is very easy to drift past one on one, he doesn't anticipate danger, he doesn't track back and mark people tightly, it's just not a role he will ever do well. Nasri and Eduardo tracked back well, Arshavin didn't do much defensively that I noticed. The balance in our squad is all wrong, we have so many attacking ball players, but so few workers with a physical presence. Without Song this lack of balance is ever more blatant.
Players out of position. Eduardo should play centrally, he is always a threat in and around the box, he is quite handy when receiving the ball with his back to goal too. Conversely Arshavin is not a central striker, he needs to be in the inside forward channels, he is much better running with the ball at defenders than receiving the ball with his back to goal. As already stated Denilson cannot defend well enough to fill Song's boots in the holding role. Diaby is our only current player that can play the Song role, the problem is that you would lose him as an attacking threat.
One should always keep things in perspective, it was not a dreadful performance by any means, I am deliberately being negative in my analysis to point out where we need to improve. Everton were excellent and are a much better side than their position of 12th suggests. The thing is if we are seriously claiming we have a chance of the title this year than we need to do better than we did on Saturday. The striker shortage is a bit of a red herring for me, having RVP or Bendtner yesterday wouldn't have made a great deal of a difference, they wouldn't have had the service.
I see our main problems as our tactical naivety, our lack of ability to soak up pressure by defending solidly as a team and then kill teams with the pacey counter attack, our ability to only play one way. Our lack of defensive solidity is as a result of a complex set of factors, our midfield being too lightweight is a big part of it though. It will be very hard to remedy these problems in January, the frustrating thing is that these problems were obvious in the summer.