Everton vs. Cardiff City: 5 Things We Learned

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2013

Everton vs. Cardiff City: 5 Things We Learned

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    Everton continue to wait for a first Premier League win under Roberto Martinez after their trip to Cardiff ended in a 0-0 stalemate, handing the Toffees a third consecutive draw. 

    Having dominated possession and carved out a greater number of chances, Martinez's side will feel the more deflated at the result.

    They were denied what looked a clear penalty for a foul on Leighton Baines, but will once again point to a lack of cutting edge in front of goal.

    Here's a look at a few Everton-related talking points to emerge from this contest.

Shooting Struggles

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    Everton created more than double the chances of their opposition for the third consecutive match, but were let down by some hesitant, nervous finishing in front of goal.

    The Toffees mustered up 13 shots to their opponent's four, but failed to find the back of the net for the second time this season. Kevin Mirallas was especially fallible in front of goal, and only three of the 13 shots tested David Marshall.

    Over their three Premier League games, the Toffees have now registered 55 shots at goal32 coming from inside the areayet have found the target just 18 times and scored just twice. Incidentally, the two goals they have conceded have come from just 19 shots against them.

    These are basic numbers, yet it shows exactly where Everton will struggle again and again this season. Without a proven goalscorer, dominant spells will rarely put a game to bed and the Toffees will seldom be able to kill opponents off.

    Last season, despite a top-six finish, the rest of the Premier League's top seven clubs scored at least 11 goals more than Everton, while no other team drew more games.

    It's clear where Martinez's side need investment, yet despite the possibility of both Marouane Fellaini and Baines being sold, it seems unlikely that this problem will be resolved in the transfer window.

Mirallas a Missing Man

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    As previously mentioned, Mirallas was especially guilty of fluffing his lines in the penalty area, missing with two headers and overcomplicating a through ball. His overall contribution was also particularly substandard for a player with such immense talent.

    After an impressive preseason, many expected the Belgium international to become one of the Toffees' key, and most consistent, performers this season. But thus far he's remained peripheral.

    He touched the ball just 38 times in this match, far less than the likes of Steven Pienaar (69), Ross Barkley (63), Fellaini (83) and Leon Osman (68).

    Mirallas certainly went through quieter spells last season, but rarely long enough to question his input. He's such an explosive presence, capable of turning any match with a sudden burst of class, yet so far this season he's been disappointing.

Barkley and Baines Impress

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    The Toffees' leading performers in this game were Barkley and Baines.

    Barkley continues to grow into his role just behind the striker. He unleashed a couple of decent efforts, sprayed the ball around with precision and, once again, dribbled past more opponents than any other Everton player.

    He also showed a willingness to thread passes through the defence, which is a vital trait in his position. While he's yet to consistently demonstrate this awareness, there were positive signs to take from this performance; something Nikica Jelavic and Arouna Kone will enjoy seeing.

    As for Manchester United target Baines, he was once again his side's most likely creator. He made 105 touches23 more than any other playercarved out two chances, should have been awarded a penalty and was as committed as he's ever been in an Everton shirt.

    He was his side's most creative player in 23 league games last year, and has continued that trend in all three games of this season. The prospect of losing such a key influence is a huge worry between now and the end of the transfer window, and is something the club must do everything to prevent.

Tempo Still Lacking

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    Everton once again dominated the possession and passing columns, yet converted little of this supremacy into clear-cut chances.

    The main reason for this is a conservative tempo and a lethargic, unimaginative passing game. Moving the ball around so slowly and predictably allows defences to form two banks of four in front of the Toffees and frustrate them.

    Osman and Fellaini have not gelled as a central partnership and neither seem able to move the ball on quickly enough, or envisage the next sequence of play in advance.

    Everton need more of a football brain in midfield, with greater vision and anticipation, capable of constructing passages of play and better implementing Martinez's desired approach.

    The pace needs to be considerably quicker and more urgency is required once possession is won with opponents out of position.

    While the potential sale of Fellaini would come as a blow to the club, if it meant additions could be brought in who would suit this system and help Everton evolve, then perhaps it's the best thing to do moving forward.

Three Points Needed

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    The title states the obvious, but Everton need a win to install a bit more confidence around the dressing room.

    The three matches which have ended in a draw could and should have been won, with the Toffees the dominate force in each contest, yet—excluding a scrappy Capital One Cup win over StevenageMartinez is still scraping around for his first triumph of note.

    For many players, the absence of David Moyes may still feel peculiar and the best way for Martinez to establish his presence is by securing that first Premier League win.

    The Spaniard will need considerable time to adjust methods applied a certain way for the past 11 years, yet without that elusive win in the bag, pressure is undoubtedly going to mount before he even gets going.

    He will certainly expect this and will get nothing but support from most fans, but the sooner his side can claim maximum points, the better.

    Statistics via WhoScored?