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Creaking defence damns Everton

Everton
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Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines show their age in defeat at Leicester

Claude Puel gets the win on his managerial debut for Leicester City as David Unsworth's Everton are left searching for answers.
Shaka Hislop breaks down Leicester's first win under Claude Puel and highlights the issues causing problems for Everton.

Add this 2-0 defeat at Leicester to the mountain of evidence preceding it and it is clear the next permanent Everton manager has one hell of a job on their hands to lift this squad out of their present predicament.

Caretaker manager David Unsworth summoned a much-improved display against Chelsea in midweek but paid the price for too bold of an approach here. Switching from Wednesday's 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with only one specialist defensive midfielder left an ageing defence exposed and chasing shadows in a devastating first 30 minutes.

This pace mismatch was never clearer than on the opening goal, as in a mere matter of seconds an attacking Everton set piece ended with a Leicester goal. The home side grabbed their second soon after and that two-goal lead was never under any genuine threat for the remainder of the match.

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Positives

A ninth defeat in 13 matches in all competitions means positives are in very short supply. Effort and commitment are there for the most part but that alone is not enough.

Negatives

This felt like a harsh dose of reality after the signs of improvement against Chelsea. This unbalanced squad deficient in many key areas is a daunting task for anyone, never mind an Under-23 coach who is two matches and only a handful of training sessions into what is beginning to look like an improbable task.

Seven goals scored in 10 league games and 20 conceded with no clean sheet since the opening day underline a team that is struggling to score goals and failing to keep them out. That is never a good sign.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- The gung-ho tactics evident at the start of the match seemed a touch naive, though this overall situation is hardly the fault of the caretaker manager.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- Despite the gaping holes in the defence in front of him, Pickford barely had anything to do except twice pick the ball out of his net.

DF Jonjoe Kenny, 6 -- Unsightly slice into own net for the second Leicester goal was a mixture of misfortune and poor defending, although the 20-year-old tirelessly worked the right flank throughout and provided a rare outlet in the second half.

DF Phil Jagielka, 5 -- The club captain is the oldest member of the defence and frequently had his pace tested by the rapid counter-attacks of the home team. This particular uphill struggle rarely ended well.

DF Ashley Williams, 5 -- There were one or two timely interventions sparing further misery, but it was too little, too late by that point. Save for Kenny at right-back, Williams forms part of a defensive trio, along with Jagielka and Baines, that has a combined age of 100.

DF Leighton Baines, 5 -- A lack of protection left the experienced left-back looking every one of his 32 years, seemingly standing still while players moved at pace around him. Leicester simply appeared too quick for him.

MF Tom Davies, 5 -- Davies cheaply conceding possession deep in his own half with his first real involvement was a warning sign. The opening goal and much of the first half showed why the young midfielder is not a viable option for protecting the defence.

MF Idrissa Gueye, 7 -- Gueye was another at fault for the opener, needlessly charging forward and vacating open space behind him. However, by the final whistle, the Senegalese midfielder was probably the only player close to the level expected, scrapping for everything in midfield and trying to drag the visitors forward.

Captain Phil Jagielka looked every bit of 35 at Leicester, constantly outran by the younger Foxes.

MF Aaron Lennon, 6 -- Quiet for much of the first half and subbed at the interval, yet it was Lennon involved on the two occasions Everton managed to get behind the Leicester defence and one should have resulted in a penalty.

MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- A quality pass creating a chance in each half served as fleeting glimpses of the magic that seems to be running out. Too often, more of a threat to the Everton defence than the Leicester one thanks to poor touches and sloppy passes.

MF Kevin Mirallas, 6 -- Puzzlingly removed at half-time after a first half in which the winger was comfortably one of the better performers, even if that was not much of a challenge. 

FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- Resembled Zorro thanks to a facemask protecting his broken nose, but the young forward was unable to offer any of the swashbuckling qualities associated with the fictional character. This was an afternoon of toil and struggle.

Substitutes

MF Beni Baningime, 6 -- Added some presence in midfield and the youngster was solid enough on his Premier League debut.

FW Oumar Niasse, 5 -- Plenty of effort but not enough quality.

MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, NR -- Barely noticeable beyond obligatory set piece duties.

Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.

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