Tiote Aggression v Anita Subtlety
With Yohan Cabaye playing a more advanced, attacking midfield role in the last two games and Moussa Sissoko appearing to have secured his place in the team, that leaves either Cheik Tioté or Vernon Anita to play the most defensive midfield role.
The two have quite differing styles. Tioté is very physical and likes to use his strength to win the ball back. He is aggressive, winning a lot of tackles and also committing a lot of fouls. He is a classic destroyer and has a more obvious influence on the game than Anita. His discipline has been his most clear weakness in the past and that is unlikely to change very much. The fact is, he doesn’t know when to stand his ground rather than attempting a tackle, often too eager to win the ball. He breaks the game up well but he does give away unnecessary free-kicks and can be beaten too easily by diving in.
Anita is more subtle. He’s not your typical central midfielder. He can’t use his physique, so he has to use clever positioning and anticipation. He is quick and sharp, preferring to try and nip in front of opponents and nick the ball. He has great energy, he works hard and, like Tioté, he likes to close people down, but he knows that you don’t always have to make a tackle.
Anita is also tidy in possession. He looks to play short simple passes, keeping the ball moving and giving it to players with more ability. Tioté’s passing is similar but he is happier to hold onto the ball in tight situations, using his strength to keep the ball. This is a useful asset, but can sometimes be unnecessary and can occasionally lead to him giving the ball away in bad areas. Anita is safer in possession, “an economical user of the ball” says Pardew.
Anita has been impressive so far this season. Expect him to keep his place for the Everton game, as Alan Pardew has already suggested he will.
Tioté is still a good player though and there will be games where a more robust approach might be necessary, but with Everton’s midfield likely to consist of Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley and Leon Osman, his physical presence probably isn’t needed.
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