Morgan Schneiderlin has adapted to life at Everton with relative ease. After being left out in the cold at Manchester United under José Mourinho he's making the most of increased playing time under Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park.
He may have made just five starts since his January move but his influence on the Toffees midfield is already evident. He's put in a number of all-round, all-action performances much to the delight of the Everton faithful.
However, he was culpable for the second Tottenham Hotspur goal over the weekend in the 3-2 defeat and it appears that was enough for those in the media to claim he's not convincing and that's why Mourinho sanctioned his sale. It reaffirms the point that these days players are only as good as their last game in the eyes of many.
It couldn't be further from the truth, though. In the games he's started, Everton have conceded seven goals. It works out that they're conceding 1.16 per game with him in the starting XI which is slightly above their season average of 1.11.
Since Schneiderlin's arrival nobody has made more interceptions (2.9 per 90 minutes) than he has for the club. Only Idrissa Gueye (59.6) attempts more passes than the Frenchman's 54.9, but it's advantage to the January signing when it comes to pass success. The former Southampton man has an 89.8 per cent pass completion rate compared to Gueye’s 85 per cent. He's also giving away fewer fouls than Gareth Barry per 90 minutes.
My mate Morgan pic.twitter.com/9Ho0bLIrbP
— Everton Musings (@EvertonMusings) February 26, 2017
Schneiderlin and Gueye have the potential to be one of the best midfield units in the Premier League. The pair have only played three full matches together but the balance between the two seems to be there already.
The 27-year-old was recently involved in a fans Q&A on Facebook Live. He was about whether he and Gueye could become the best holding midfield duo in England’s top flight, Schneiderlin said: “That’s our aim. For the first two games together against Middlesbrough and Sunderland we felt good together.
“He wants to get the ball back and he wants to link up the play and I like that.
“He’s a very good player who has everything and I’m relishing playing alongside him.
“I believe we can be a great partnership and a struggle for every team.”
In the two pictures above you get to see just how useful Schneiderlin is. Middlesbrough have a chance to counter with Adama Traoré in possession of the ball. The former Barcelona graduate is full of pace and power and he drives into acres of space.
Schneiderlin manages to get back and execute a tackle to kill the attack dead before Boro reach the Everton backline. It's by no means an easy tackle to make: if he misses it, the away side are in danger of being breached.
These two screenshots are from the Toffees' thrilling 6-3 victory over Bournemouth. In the first picture, Schneiderlin is pressing Harry Arter in the opposition's half. The ball is played forward by the centre-back and Bournemouth are in behind the Everton midfield. However, the French international covers a lot of ground to get back before winning possession with yet another well timed slide tackle.
Win the ball now back in their possession, the home side are able to start an attack and look to exploit the fact Bournemouth will be transitioning from attack to defence.
His anticipation is there for all to see in the picture above against Sunderland. The away side look to play their way through the Everton press and one of the their attacking players has dropped to receive the ball but he's given no time or space. Schneiderlin has tracked him and he dispossesses him immediately.
Everton win the ball back in the opposition's half and there are players in dangerous positions. He's not just having an impact defensively but offensively too by winning the ball back high up the pitch.
Many players can win the ball back but what separates the good from the great is where they're doing it. In the picture above you see Schneiderlin making a tackle just inside Sunderland's half. It keeps those in blue on the attack and they already have a number of bodies in the Black Cats' half — it's a sort of momentum sustaining tackle.
If he makes that tackle five yards deeper than it allows the opposition to regroup and get back into favourable positions. Higher up the pitch you win the ball the better it is, as shown in the pictures above.
His impact has been instantaneous. A full season with Schneiderlin beside Gueye could see Koeman's men challenge for the top four and that's exactly why the former Southampton destryoyer joined the blue half of Merseyside.
“I believe in the project and I believe this club will be pushed forward.
“This year we’re trying to win as many games as possible and get into Europe then next year the manager will bring in more players to improve the squad and hopefully we can push for the top five in the Premier League.
“I’m sure the club dreams of a Champions League place and maybe in a few years time we can give that to them.”
Koeman is piecing together quite the team, filled with a blend of exciting young talent and experienced players. Schneiderlin could be an influential member of this side.