Everton won only their second away game of the season thanks to Cenk Tosun's brace and Charlie Adam's first-half red card.
The Turk scored twice in the second half, once to break the deadlock in snowy conditions at the bet365 Stadium and then to head home the winner after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had equalised with 13 minutes to go.
The Cameroon international looked like he might have salvaged a point for relegation-threatened Stoke when he poked home Joe Allen's free kick but with a man's advantage, Everton eventually prevailed when Tosun struck seven minutes later.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson injured, Sam Allardyce was forced to change things in midfield where he brought Idrissa Gueye back into the side after he missed the win over Brighton through illness. The Senegalese international slotted in defensive midfield alongside Wayne Rooney, with Tom Davies given license to push forward between wingers Yannick Bolasie and Theo Walcott.
Everton struggled to get going in a dreadful first half that was not aided by periodic spells of heavy snow that began to settle over two thirds of the pitch. Poor distribution from the back and a general lack of cohesion going forward meant that, not for the first time this season, they failed to register a shot on target before half time.
Davies really should have done, however, when he arrived at the back post untracked to meet a Rooney free kick in the seventh minute but he couldn't keep his header down with almost the whole goal to aim at.
Stoke, meanwhile, weren't much better, although they managed to test Jordan Pickford with a couple of efforts from distance, one from Peter Crouch that the ‘keeper spilled before gathering at the second attempt.
The Potters came into the match sitting in the bottom three and some in their ranks had declared this game as their “cup final” in their bid to beat the drop but their cause was critically undermined by Adam with half an hour gone.
The Scot lunged into a late tackle on Rooney midway inside the Everton half that caught the Blues' midfielder on the ankle and referee Martin Atkinson had little hesitation in brandishing a red card.
The visitors made little headway in making the numerical advantage tell, however, and went into the interval level at 0-0. They would slowly start turning the screw as the second period wore on, however, with Rooney registering a first effort on Jack Butland's goal two minutes after the restart and then forcing him into a routine save just before the hour mark from a direct free kick.
Then, after Michael Keane's missile from 30 yards had been beaten away by Butland, Everton finally put together a move capable of making a breakthrough. Bolasie whipped in a cross from the right onto which Tosun got the merest of glances, Butland could only parry it to Calvert-Lewin but Konstantinos Stafylidis stopped it on the line. Tosun was on hand to rap the loose ball home, however, and the Blues had what should have been the decisive goal.
The were undone, however, in familiar circumstances from a set-piece. Gueye was penalised for pulling back his man and when Allen dropped the resulting dead-ball delivery into the space between Pickford and his back line, Choupo-Moting stole in to plunder the equaliser.
Everton were able to wrestle the initiative back and after Walcott's had let himself down with poor touch to control Tosun's clever ball behind the Stoke defence and Butland had had time to save his eventual shot, Tosun himself scored the winner with his fourth goal in three games.
This time Walcott was the provider with a cross from the right that Tosun anticipated and stooped in ahead of Ryan Shawcross to power the ball into the corner.
The victory, Everton's first on their travels in three months, finally lifts Allardyce's side to the 40-point threshold that usually guarantees safety from relegation.
Though the performance left much to be desired — even allowing for the conditions, which veered from bright sunshine to near blizzard, it was very poor at times — the manager's only concern will be those three points and the end of a run of six games without an away win in all competitions.
Cenk Tosun starts for Everton with Rooney playing the Number 10 role at the bet365 Stadium this weekend to face embattled Stoke City.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured and Ashley Williams still suspended, Allardyce elects for stability at the back, respecting the rare clean sheet achieved by the defence last week against Brighton. Idrissa Gueye returns after missing the Brighton game through illness.
Shaqiri started for Stoke despite rumours that he would miss the game through injury.
Stoke kicked off from the blue centre-spot with snow in the air and Everton played it cagily around the back for the first few minutes until Jagielka passed to a Stoke player, with Charlie Adam firing off a long shot over Pickford's goal. Davies picked up a knock on his ankle but resumed after treatment.
Rooney floated in a beautiful free-kick that Davies watched all the way but got slightly underneath it with his head, missing a brilliant early chance. Tosun gave the ball away cheaply then fouled his man winning it back, but then won a corner with persistence but it was taken short and cleared, leading to a Stoke breakout with Crouch shooting at Pickford.
Stoke put on a decent attack, Shaqiri looking to curl one in but Keane blocked his shot but Stoke kept coming, wining a corner that Keane headed clear. Another long shot was collected by Pickford, while at the other end Butland fluffed a backpass clearance.
Stoke attacked but Walcott broke with pace, Davies getting too close to him and playing the ball back for Baines to cross well enough but no-one on the end of it. Everton drove forward well enough, winning another corner that Rooney delivered very well but Sobhi was first to it.
A terrible lack of effort by Bolasie let Stoke build another attack that Pickford smothered as the snow turned to a blizzard. Bolasie showed a few tricks to pull out a cross but it was not met by a blue shirt.
Johnson picked out Crouch at the far post but it was too high for him. A laboured attack through Walcott ploughing down the right stalled in a snowdrift. Charlie Adam caught Rooney in the increasingly poor conditions and saw a straight red from Martin Atkinson. Rather harsh to be honest, but the studs were up.
Davies was the next to tumble but Everton started to play on the man advantage, almost creating a chance at the far post. But they were still struggling to create real chances against a competitive Stoke side who were determined to dig in and weather the storm.
A great chance to move forward but Davies poorly positioned to receive Rooney's fine ball and flagged offside. Coleman did well to turn his man and whip in a good cross but again, no takers. Everton's success in pushing forward against 10 men looked no different to their efforts against 11, with no real attempt on goal to speak of after another distinctly unmemorable half away from home.
Walcott got things going after the break, the ball eventually working through to Rooney, whose speculative shot bounced up a little but not enough to deceive Butland. Davies went flying when Butland came out to secure a lose ball in his snowless goal area, Stoke groundstaff thoughtfully avoiding such half-time courtesies for Pickford's snowy goal area at the other end. Davies was eventually replaced by Calvert-Lewin.
An Everton attack saw fairly lame crosses from Walcott and then Bolasie. Shawcross saw yellow for blocking Tosun, as Rooney started to link better with Walcott, winning a corner but again no real chance ensuing, while Everton were living dangerously at the back.
Another corner sent in by Rooney avoided Coleman and Keane, before going out and the follow-up corner was cleared until Shobhi fouled Walcott, setting up a dangerous free-kick that Rooney curled over the wall into Butland's hands.
Stoke attacked but it was repelled and the Blues skated forward though the snow, the link-ups broke down on the edge of the area, but Calvert-Lewin beat the offside only to miscontrol the ball as Bolasie put in a decent cross that Tosun could not quite make anything of.
There was some end-to-end action with Pickford punching out to Johnson before Everton went up the other end and Tosun got behind the Stoke defence but was flagged offside. Keane had a fantastic shot, just too close for Butland to punch it aside. Nothing again from the ensuing corner.
The breakthrough finally came in a scrappy manner after a ball in from Bolasie caused havoc, Butland parrying Tosun's header, Calvert-Lewin, clipping the ball goalward only for Stafylidis to clear it off the line but Tosun saw his chance and rammed it home.
Bolasie came close off a Rooney corner, heading backwards and over the bar. Stoke tried to reply after a couple of subs, and on the second fre-kick somehow Choupo-Moting got the final touch in front of a very timid Jordan Pickford, a poor goal to give up against 10 men. Choupo-Moting pulled a groin muscle as he scored, and was replaced by
Everton had surrendered any initiative and it was Stoke setting the pace, Jagielka seeing yellow for a foul and another dangerous set-piece, but Jagilka beat Crouch annd set up a counter where Bolasie should ahave scored but the ball got stuck between his feet.
But a fine cross in from Walcott was met with a stooping header by Tosun and a second goal was well placed just inside the post for the rapidly improving Turk.
Calvert-Lewin got free and ran at Butland, shooting at the Stoke keeper rather than setting up Tosun for his hattrick. Rooney was replaced by Schneiderlin.
Walcott fired the ball into the side netting in the final minute with 4 minutes of added time to follow for Everton to hang on in a ding-dong second half.Calvert-Lewin went down as he advanced into the Stoke area but no penalty.
Stoke fluffed their lines as Keane almost allowed them a second equalizer but it was crossed behind Crouch, and Everton played out the win, much to the delight of the travelling faithful.
Scorers: Choupo-Moting 77'; Tosun 69', 84'
Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross [Y:56], Zouma, Stafylidis, Ndiaye, Allen, Adam [R:30'], Shaqiri (76' Berahino), Crouch, Sobhi (71' Choupo-Moting (79' Jese)).
Subs not Used: Haugaard, Bauer, Martins Indi, Fletcher, .
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Jagielka [Y:82'], Baines; Davies (53' Calvert-Lewin), Gueye; Bolasie (92' Holgate), Rooney (87' Schneiderlin), Walcott; Tosun.
Subs not Used: Robles, Martina, Niasse, Klaassen.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Slalom at Stoke
Intrigued by my trip to Stoke-on-Trent (as I’ve never been), I jumped on the train at Euston having had no breakfast and not taken any cash out.
Two hours later and I walked in the bitter cold to the stadium along the Trent. Bet 365 or the Britannia as it is signposted, is an out-of-town stadium which looms large high above the Trent but is essentially within an industrial estate. It reminded me of St Mary’s although seemed bigger inside. I don’t want this sort of stadium for Everton.
A snow blizzard was coming in and so when I reached the ground, I was eagerly awaiting some Bovril. I was to be disappointed as they don’t serve it but worse, they were only taking cash at the refreshment stalls inside so I remained very cold and hungry. I know we moan about the facilities at Goodison but I have experienced shocking service at Vicarage Road and today which the Gwladys Street End is better than.
I was a little perturbed sitting in the home end and resolved to keep my head down. The line up was sensible – keeping with the same one from last week’s win – apart from the injured Gylfi being replaced by Gana. Suddenly I fancied us to win or, at least, not lose.
The game was end to end early on and the home fans made it clear they disliked Davies and Rooney, the former who was really out of sorts, going down on several occasions before he was subbed in the second half. Carrying an injury? Stunned by the headed miss he had early on? Bothered by the snow? Because the snow came down in a heap about 20 minutes in and certainly curtailed the quality of the football. It did encourage a whole string of sliding tackles which resulted in a studs-up challenge from ex-RS Charlie Adam on Rooney and, to a resigned silence of the home fraternity, he saw a red card.
We didn’t press this advantage home for the rest of the half, were clearly missing Gylfi, Walcott and Coleman couldn’t quite punish them on the right and Bolasie was…sigh…doing his usual Nike Exhibition Player Impression down the left. Gana was also a cause for concern. His passing is too often into players surrounded by too many opponents or too short.
The second half started and just before it got underway, there was some amusement at the ground staff not clearing the snow from what would be Everton’s area so that Pickford acquired a spade of his own to try sweeping away at the areas he deemed important.
We were locked for over 20 minutes and the weather was still a problem. Tom Davies went off with a knock for DCL who ran about as enthusiastically as ever. What became clear to me was how lacking in confidence Stoke are. Secondly, you’d think we would deploy Keane on Crouch but surprisingly it was Jags and he was cutting him out every time. On multiple occasions our Captain beat him on the ground and in the air by just getting their first.
And then, just when I was thinking we are 10-men ourselves with Bolasie involved, we pushed and pulled at them long enough for Tosun to finish. The away end leapt up to celebrate about three times before I could tell a goal had been scored.
But now we did what we have been doing a lot under Allardyce. Drop deep and pass around in our own half before we eventually lose possession and are attacked. We conceded a host of free kicks which Stoke launched long. To be fair Jags conceded one of them and got a yellow card but from his body shape running to the right side of the pitch which was where all the snow lay, I think he slipped and that’s why the challenge was so clumsy. Indeed, Walcott and Coleman manfully soldiered on down the right but most of our attacks were happening down the much cleaner, green left.
They scored after we had kept them out of several chances and it was galling. Their tails were up and they continually aimed for Crouch. But finally the extra man and additional space paid off as we over loaded them again with Tosun getting a bullet header.
Given many of the natives had walked out after our first, now was the time for silence and mass exodus. They’re a rowdy bunch this lot but I think they know they’re going down.
As for us, I will have to caveat a lot of what I saw with the harsh conditions. It was like going back in time.
Pickford – didn’t have much to do, coped with some high balls, struggled with conditions, nice bit of ground keeping – 6.
Coleman – always on it, chasing down and intercepting, twisting and turning – 7.
Keane – is improving again after the blunder at Burnley, tidy and a shot which led to a goal in the next sequence – 7.
Jagielka – I read fans saying he needs to go in the summer. Not for me – 8.
Baines – the Bainlassie combo is in it’s early days. But Baines was rock solid and skilful enough to evade pressing – 7.
Gana – he did some good sweeping up but sometimes he caused the problem with his passing. For me we should give Beni game time – 5.
Davies – Gana doesn’t help him as the two continually link (or don’t) but this was one to forget for Tom. However, the Stoke back line did foul him a lot in the early part of the match – 5.
Rooney – ticked over, seemed to enjoy the conditions and adapted to them – 7.
Bolasie – so many attacks break down with him and Tom. I can forgive Tom because he’s often in a crowded part of the pitch. Bolasie has space and time but his control lets him down – 5.
Walcott – looked like he’d hurt them but given his section of the pitch was the worst, he was restricted. Plus there were the usual sneaky fouls on him. Too many flat balls played to him which made him have to turn back – 6.
Tosun – scored two, better first or second touches could have meant a hat trick but still – 8.
Calvert-Lewin – energetic as usual but this kid could do with some goals to get going - 6.
Schneiderlin – idiotic sub by the manager at it brought us deeper – 4.
Holgate – presumably brought on to challenge in the air once the previous sub made us vulnerable to deep defending – I like the lad, he wasn’t on long enough to rate.
Everton take their miserable away record to the uncompromising environs of the bet365 Stadium this weekend to face embattled Stoke City.
The Potters have eight games to save themselves from the drop and will be looking to bounce back from defeat to Manchester City while the Blues are hoping to build up some momentum over the last couple of months of the campaign to salvage some respectability from an otherwise dreadful season.
If the return of Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka to the side has lent Everton a more settled, organised and solid air, that sense was bolstered last Saturday in the 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Granted, it was at Goodison Park where the Blues have been lopsidedly effective since Sam Allardyce assumed the helm following David Unsworth's victorious swan song at the end of November, but a first clean sheet in two and a half months and a second goal in as many matches for Cenk Tosun provided some grounds for optimism.
Away games have been a different proposition under Allardyce, of course, and he will have to plot Stoke's downfall this weekend without Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Iceland international arrived on Merseyside with a massive price tag around his neck and expectations to match and, while Everton's struggles have made it almost impossible for him to live up to his billing, he has, arguably, been the team's most effective outfield player this season.
His versatility, eye for a long-distance goal and potential to provide assists will be sorely missed and hard to replace. In that respect, Allardyce's team selection is going to be an intriguing one.
If the reaction that greeted his introduction off the substitutes' bench last week was any indication, much of the clamour from the supporters will be for Davy Klaassen to be handed the opportunity to stake his claim in the No 10 role. It didn't appear from reading the manager's mind during his press conference yesterday that Klaassen was a likely starter, though, and that is probably prudent.
In the limited chances he has had so far, the Dutchman hasn't looked the part as a creative play-maker type capable of sitting behind a front two and there's an argument to be made that the cheers that greeted him against Brighton were as much in support of a player whom many feel has been badly treated than anything else. In other words, the idea of Klaassen as midfield maestro might have overtaken the reality of a player who has struggled to adapt to the English game.
Indeed, if we're looking for criminally overlooked fringe players who could do a job in Sigurdsson's stead and who might actually be cut out for the creative demands of the No 10 position, young Nikola Vlasic might have more of a case. Dragged in from the proverbial cold for a rare start against Manchester United on New Year's Day and stuck out on the left flank where he had never figured for Everton before, the Croatian played the full 90 minutes and hasn't been seen again.
Which is a shame because, as a player with natural flair, an eye for goal himself and someone who uses the ball well, he could do well… although it might not be wise to pitch him into the role away at Stoke. Which is just as well because the likelihood that Allardyce would be so bold when he's trying to address a horrendous record on Everton's travels is almost non-existent.
That leaves Wayne Rooney, who could move forward and be replaced in central midfield by Morgan Schneiderlin (assuming Idrissa Gueye returns automatically anyway), or Allardyce could dispense with having anyone in the hole and just deploy Dominic Calvert-Lewin, perhaps slightly withdrawn off Tosun and keep Theo Walcott out wide.
Stoke will begin the day in the relegation zone, a point from safety, but in more optimistic mood than they might have been if Mark Hughes were still in charge. (Ironically enough, it's Sparky's new club, Southampton, who currently occupy the last safe spot in the Premier League at the moment and whom the Potters will be looking to overhaul once matchday 31 is complete.)
They've lost just two of their last seven under new boss Paul Lambert — one of those against Champions-elect Manchester City last weekend — and harbour genuine hope now of beating the drop. They struggle to score goals, however, having notched just five on those last seven games but in Xherdan Shaqiri they have a player capable of producing a goal out of nothing.
Genuine threats elsewhere in Lambert's side are few and far between, though, and Allardyce's biggest worry on the day might be how his defence might hold up against a more direct, aerial approach, should Stoke elect to go that route.
There's a feeling that Everton might just have enough in the mentality department to win this one and claim a rare away win. But the bet365 Stadium is never an easy place to come and the Blues have only won once on Stoke's turf in the last decade, that being in the closing stages of the Roberto Martinez era when they registered a rather deceptive 3-0 victory.
The smart money is probably on an unspectacular draw which would represent progress for the Blues after six successive away defeats and, no doubt, a more than satisfactory return for their under-pressure manager.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 17 March, 2018
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Last Time: Stoke City 1 - 1 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Rooney, Walcott, Calvert-Lewin, Tosun