He may not be the tallest, but Richarlison is proving to be one of the best headers of the ball in the Premier League
Everton’s Richarlison has received plenty of plaudits in recent weeks after scoring three goals in as many games. Those three have contributed to his tally of eight goals across all competitions so far, which is impressive.
Notably though, it’s his prowess in the air that is really standing out, with each one of his recent goals vs Leicester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all coming with his head.
In fact, five of his eight goals this season have come by way of headers. That's already three more than he managed in the whole of last season.
His heading record this season is pretty remarkable when considering that he stands at an unremarkable 5ft10in meaning he won’t always boast a height advantage against all opposing defenders he comes up against.
Yet evidence suggests that he has been doing astute work on the training pitch, perhaps working with Everton's current interim boss Duncan Ferguson - who himself was an aerial menace for the opposition in his playing days - to improve this particular facet of his game.
On too many occasions last season, Richarlison was eager to drive into the box, sometimes arriving too early which is turn meant he would lose momentum from his run and be an easier target to mark in the box.
As Seamus Coleman shapes up to cross the ball into the box, Richarlison has already positioned himself in the penalty area and is stationary waiting for the delivery.
Due to arriving in the box early, when the ball comes in, Richarlison is crowded out by the Palace defenders and cannot generate any power behind his header. The ball is therefore comfortably cleared by the Palace defence.
This season however, Richarlison seems to be more apt in timing his runs to arrive late in order to make himself difficult to mark whilst also generating enough momentum to get plenty of power behind the header, examples of the same are below.
Against Leicester, Alex Iwobi played the ball out to Djibril Sidibé who geared up to cross it into the box. Note Richarlison's position, he purposely slows down in the build up and delays his run.
As the ball is crossed in, Richarlison reads the direction of the cross and angles his sprint to attack the same.
The timing of his run means he beats Ricardo Pereira to the ball and can power his header past Kasper Schmeichel.
He showed similar awareness in Everton's second goal away at Liverpool last week. As Everton build their attack down the left through Bernard, Richarlison again delays his run and takes a quick glance at the positioning of Liverpool's two centre-backs.
Richarlison then attacks the cross in the middle of the two centre-backs and heads the ball past Adrian who has no chance of saving his effort.
As a result of this adjustment by the Brazilian prior to attacking these crosses in the box, he is providing himself with the best platform to convert these aerial chances into goals.
Now, both he and Everton are reaping the rewards of his improving aerial ability and the same is becoming a crucial attacking tool for the Blues.
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