Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka in total disarray as Everton enter tailspin
When things start to go wrong, the issue can sometimes be specific to an area of the pitch. On the evidence of their 4-1 defeat at Southampton on Sunday, Everton are well beyond that point, as there are problems all over the pitch that show little sign of abating.
One particular moment in the match underlined how even the basics are beyond too many of these players at present. Everton trailed 2-1 when the ball ricocheted toward their corner flag in the second half. While those in blue stood and watched, seemingly willing the ball out of play, the home side reacted. Within five seconds of recovering possession, the hosts had a two-goal lead as Charlie Austin headed home his second, a carbon copy of his first.
After a second heavy defeat in four days and nine goals conceded in the process, stumbling from one shambolic display to the next, there is no doubt Everton are in serious trouble in their current state.
Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a timely reminder to past, present and future Everton managers that he does his best work centrally. Starting on the left side of midfield, the midfielder reverted to his preferred role after an injury to Leighton Baines created a change of formation. A fine turn beat two Southampton players before an exquisite strike from distance briefly drew Everton level. The £45 million summer signing needs to be the No. 10 from the start.
Injuries to Baines and Michael Keane compounded an awful afternoon for a defensive unit in total disarray. A league-high 28 goals conceded and no clean sheet since the opening day barely scratches the surface for a team that has now gone 15 Premier League games without an away win. Five defeats and 20 goals conceded in seven matches reflect poorly on David Unsworth and a caretaker stint that has gone on too long.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Unsworth seems destined to repeat the mistakes of Ronald Koeman. There is the same misuse of players, defensive neglect and failure to enforce a style of play with and without the ball.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- Distribution dipped below his usual high standards on a day when his hapless defence left him exposed and unable to do anything about the four Southampton goals.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 6 -- Unlike some experienced teammates, his commitment is not in question and the young right-back performed admirably, even when moved to the opposing flank. Some sloppy passing was the main critique of his display.
DF Michael Keane, 4 -- Confidence has evaporated and performances are starting to follow a similar downward trajectory. Terrible marking for the first Austin goal was the low point.
DF Phil Jagielka, 4 -- An afternoon to forget as the club captain made his 300th league appearance. Slow to react and poor in his positioning for the first two goals Everton conceded.
DF Leighton Baines, NR -- Outnumbered for the opening goal, but might believe he could have prevented it. As the only recognised left-back, his injury heaps more pressure on a broken defence.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 5 -- Won the ball back well in the first half, twice starting attacking moves with his persistence and tackling, but the midfielder became less influential as the match wore on.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 4 -- Any hopes that a match against his former club could spark a reaction proved misplaced as the midfielder once again disappointed. The French international is not worth a place in the team on this form.
MF Aaron Lennon, 6 -- Forced into a wing-back role because of the Baines injury, and the midfielder fared better in his defensive role than several of the actual defenders alongside him. However, the switch limited an attacking display that had begun in lively fashion.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 7 -- Scored his first league goal since April with an excellent strike, worked tirelessly throughout and tended to be involved on the fleeting occasions the away side threatened.
MF Kevin Mirallas, 3 -- Started both matches in the past four days and has done little in either to warrant the faith Unsworth has shown him. Heavy touches wasted two promising openings in the early stages before his obligatory fade to nothingness.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 4 -- Difficult to recall a single worthwhile pass played in his direction in the entire match. Having spent so long without the ball, on the rare occasions he found possession, poor touches and decisions occurred.
DF Ashley Williams, 4 -- Formed one-third of a hopeless three-man defence and lost Austin far too easily for the third Southampton goal.
MF Ademola Lookman, 5 -- Tried to spark a response but to no avail.
MF Nikola Vlasic, NR -- Frustrating cameo arrived with the game already long gone.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.