Carlo Ancelotti led his Everton side into yesterday’s game against Fulham on the back of three league losses in a row.
On top of that, the international break meant he had limited time to prepare with the likes of James Rodriguez and Richarlison coming off the back of long travel times.
In response, he took a gamble, sending out a three-man backline at Craven Cottage.
It worked a treat in the first half, with Everton 3-1 up at the break, but by the end it was only an Ivan Cavaleiro missed penalty which meant Fulham didn’t get a share of the spoils.
Ben Godfrey looked more comfortable on the right of a back three than he has as an orthodox right back, where he’s more exposed to pace.
Alex Iwobi was a revelation going forward from right wing back, producing an exquisite run in the lead-up to the second goal.
Lucas Digne thrived on the freedom on the other side, and Richarlison and Rodriguez were freer to get close to Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Considering Everton didn’t have much time to prepare the system, it worked pretty well for a first attempt.
Iwobi in that more defensive position could be an issue against more talented direct opponents.
He’s a creative midfielder by trade, and that would be a real test of his defensive ability 1v1.
Everton did end up a bit too deep when hanging onto the lead, but that could just be fatigue from their international excursions.
Yerry Mina also didn’t look especially comfortable in the back three, although Mason Holgate could come in and solve that.
It was a promising start with a back three for Ancelotti and it remains to be seen if it was just a one-off to catch Fulham out or a genuine blueprint going forward.
Nigel Martyn speaking to Everton News: Archive