Abdoulaye Doucoure has hit the ground running so far this season and is one of the main reasons Everton have started so well. With a goal and three assists to his name, his standout performances have been the foundation that Rafa Benitez’s side have built their unbeaten run on.
When talking about the threats that Everton pose to Aston Villa on Saturday on the Claret & Blue podcast, David Hughes had this to say:
“The midfield has done well, and I wasn’t expecting much, particularly Doucoure through the middle. He played a fantastic through ball for Gray’s goal against Burnley and he’s been one of Everton’s star performers this year, he could have a telling impact on the game.”
Hear more from David on the latest Claret & Blue podcast in the video below.
Doucoure played the inch-perfect pass to Gray as he ran through and slotted in Everton’s third of the day. He also dished the ball off to Townsend who then did the rest with his astonishing effort into the top corner. Doucoure’s ability was on full display against Burnley and without him they wouldn’t have mounted their come back.
This wasn’t the only time this season Everton have come from behind to win, and it wasn’t the first time Doucoure was influential in this effort. They went one nil down to Southampton in their first game and Doucoure’s thunderous effort into the top corner gave his side the lead after Richarlison had equalised.
He possesses a high degree of composure in the final third, whether this comes in the form of an opportunity for himself or slotting in a teammate. This was showcased once again against Leeds United as he assisted Gray for another one of his goals. Stopping the link up play between these two should be a priority of Dean Smith’s.
He is an extremely versatile player who displays quality on both ends of the pitch. As well as his attacking threat he is also second in the side in terms of pressures with 99, just behind his partner in midfield Allan, who has 102.
This outlines just how hard-working their midfield is. The likes of Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey will have to be in fine form if they are going to come out on top of this battle in midfield.
Hughes also outlined Benitez is happy to adjust if he thinks things aren’t working. This was demonstrated as he swapped his formation in the 60 th minute from 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3, which proved to be an inspired decision as the midfield took control and Everton went on to win.
They will likely line-up in a similar way with a midfield of Doucoure, Andre Gomes and Allan. Dean Smith is fond of the 4-3-3 and has found a degree of success within this formation so far this season. He lined up to mirror Chelsea and their formation and it is likely it will be a similar situation this weekend.
The main threat will stem from out wide for Everton, but Villa shouldn’t ignore the threat that their midfield possesses. They have the quality to punish Villa if there is even a slight lapse in concentration.