Everton 3 - 0 Fulham
If you were using history as your guide then Fulham at home would be high on the list of opponents you would pick for an Everton manager badly in need of a victory to face. Since the Cottagers left Goodison Park with a 0-0 draw in 1959, the Toffees have had a 100% record in these games in the league and, thanks to a strong second-half display, that statistic lives on.
While the grumblings from some quarters that Marco Silva’s job should be under review just six games into the new Premier League campaign were, frankly, ridiculous it’s fair to say that the anxiety over the Portuguese’s first season would have been ratcheted up had his side not won today.
Thankfully, however, Silva was not only handed his first clean sheet of the season, he will have taken encouragement from the strength of Everton’s performance after half-time as well, while also taken satisfaction from a couple of increasingly scrutinised players getting onto the scoresheet.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s £45m price tag has hung heavily around his neck in recent weeks as the Blues have struggled for inspiration and leadership in the attacking third. And while there was an air of inevitability about his penalty miss six minutes into the second half, there was no denying the brilliance of his opener five minutes later or the composure he displayed in burying a second in the closing stages.
For Cenk Tosun, meanwhile, who was dropped from the starting XI at the Emirates last Sunday and was again named among the substitutes today, there has been a feeling that he just needed a goal to get his season underway and re-ignite his confidence. If that’s the case then his routine but no less important header in the 66th minute will hopefully provide the catalyst he has been looking for.
As important and handsome a win this eventually turned out to be, it should be acknowledged that it masked a largely frustrating and impotent first-half from Everton’s perspective and better finishing from Andre Schürrle or Ryan Sessegnon would have almost certainly seen Silva’s men go into the break a goal down.
In the first instance, Michael Keane committed himself to a sliding block in the 12th minute that Sessegnon nonchelantly shrugged off before cutting it back to Schürrle who blasted over.
And if the Blues’ midfield has felt like it simply evaporates at times, the same sensation greeted a Fulham attack three minutes before the end of a bitty first period in which the home side lacked conviction, leadership and personality. Jean Michaël Seri carved the defence open with a pass to Sessegnon (although there was more than a suspicion of offside against Aleksander Mitrovic) who had a free run at Jordan Pickford but lifted a shot onto the face of the crossbar when he seemed certain to score.
Given the unease which can pervade Goodison when Everton have been on top in terms of possession and chances, failed to press home that advantage and then fallen behind, this might have turned out to be a very different game had either chance gone in. Likewise, had Jordan Pickford not done brilliantly to spring off his line to deny Luciano Vietto with an hour gone and the score at 1-0, the psychological tenor of the Toffees’ afternoon and that of the fans might have changed significantly.
Just as was the case last week, however, quality in the final third would eventually tell and the away side would leave without a goal or a point.
Much of the talk leading up to the game had centred around Everton’s lack of firepower up front but Silva had clearly seen enough from the XI that started against Arsenal to feel confident fielding the same team from kick-off today.
Once again, the focus was on Richarlison and, to a lesser degree, on Theo Walcott to produce the goods going forward and the early signs were that the Brazilian wasn’t going to disappoint. An early foray that served up an early chance for Sigurdsson that the Iceland international ended up stabbing wide with what was neither a shot nor a forward ball pointed to a testing 90 minutes for Fulham’s defence.
Richarlison was involved in much of Everton’s best moments but like Walcott, he was perhaps guilty of too much selfishness when team-mates were in better positions and he ended up having a bigger impact in terms of winning free kicks and corners than creating clear-cut openings. He took a set of Denis Odoi’s studs to his thigh towards the end of the first half and while he stayed on until making way for Bernard with six minutes left of the 90, that injury may have affected him more than at first thought.
While Tom Davies and the otherwise excellent Idrissa Gueye were tenacious in central midfield when Everton didn’t have the ball, there was a general lack of movement and link up play in that area of the pitch at times when the Blues were in possession in the first half which made it hard to see where the breakthrough was going to come from.
A penalty awarded to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was sent sprawling by Odoi’s shove in the 50th minutes looked to have provided it, though. Referee Roger East was given the nod by his assistant who deemed there was sufficiently illegal contact from the defender as the striker out-muscled him in the box and it handed Sigurdsson the perfect chance to put the Blues ahead. Unfortunately, he scooped his effort onto the woodwork and that just felt typical the way things have been going for him and Everton lately.
Sigurdsson atoned for the miss just five minutes later, however, with a lovely strike that did make it 1-0 and set the hosts on their way to three valuable points. It was his pass to Jonjoe Kenny that set the full-back up to cross from the right and when the initial clearance came back out to him, the Nordic star curled a precision shot around the forest of legs in front of him and inside the far post.
The aggressive search for a second goal was almost Everton’s undoing, however, as they were caught having committed too many men forward for one of a host of corners when the ball was cleared and Fulham raced away on the counter-attack with just Kenny back as cover. The two-on-one attack ended with Vietto being played in in an ocean of space but he knocked the ball a hair too far in front of him and Pickford scrambled onto it, grabbing it decisively off the attackers toes.
It was another let-off for Everton but they doubled their lead five minutes later. A slide-rule pass by Kenny ushered Walcott to the byline where he clipped a gorgeous cross into the six-yard box where Tosun, a 55th-minute introduction for Calvert-Lewin, was unmarked to head home.
As the corner count for Silva’s side mounted, it was still from open play where they were most threatening. Walcott had another opportunity on the breakaway 10 minutes from the end but he ignored Tosun and saw his shot saved by Marcus Bettinelli.
In the end it was another substitute, Bernard, who engineered the third and final goal of the afternoon. Thrown on late for Richarlison, the fleet-footed Brazilian was sent down the left flank by Lucas Digne where he cut back inside on his right foot, waited for Sigurdsson to arrive and then set the midfielder up for a side-foot finish past the goalkeeper to make it 3-0.
While far from fully convincing, this was an important result that can provide a platform going into the Carabao Cup tie against Southampton and then the trip to Leicester in the League beyond that. It still doesn’t feel as though the Blues have hit anything like their full stride yet and Silva has yet to find the right blend in midfield and attack.
Much will probably depend on Richarlison getting back into his groove, Sigurdsson using this as a springboard for his season and, perhaps, Andre Gomes getting fully fit and adding a different option and dimension in the middle of the park.
For now, though, three points secured and the chance to get some forward momentum on the season.
Reader Comments (31)
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1 Posted 30/09/2018 at 00:59:31
Happy daze !!
2 Posted 30/09/2018 at 05:33:23
Kenny did well – great pass to put Walcott through for the assist to Tosun. Very important goal not only for us but for Tosun. Watch him go now.
Digne is a cracker and Bernard in his brief cameo showed us what we have needed for so long. A player with anticipation, skill, vision, and composure on the ball.
Richarlison will be black and blue this morning. He is getting no protection from the refs.
3 Posted 30/09/2018 at 06:55:01
4 Posted 30/09/2018 at 07:42:12
The more tactically and technically adroit type players are introduced, the more synergy Everton will get from similar type players, such as Sigurdsson and Tosun.
In the second half, Everton looked miles away from the Big Sam era. In the first half, some players weren't up to implementing the tactics.
5 Posted 30/09/2018 at 07:55:25
Keane looks reborn and, if Gomes and Mina do as well as those first 4, we'll have a great center with depth too.
It's not all blue skies just yet, but I really do think we are 1 or 2 short of being a serious team. With Brands and Silva, I'm fairly sure we'll find them!
6 Posted 30/09/2018 at 08:21:16
although we could be heading for some basketball scores later in the season ! ;-) COYB
7 Posted 30/09/2018 at 08:30:09
I think Zouma will be immense as the games go by and Digne looks to be a very cultured classy performer at left-back, very much in the Baines at his pomp mould.
Richarlison will always carry the ball forward and there will be games like yesterday when his decision-making isn't great but he will always be a threat to opposing teams, that much is obvious.
Bernard really excites me. I had my doubts over him coping with the physical nature of the English game at first but as soon as I saw him play you could see what a technically gifted footballer he is. He reminds me of the other great little Brazilian master of the 1990s, Juninho.
We will await to see what Mina and Gomes have to offer but Silva has so far signed pretty well.
He has transformed Michael Keane into a new lean mean defender with new founded confidence and for me he should be the captain at this present moment.
I think we needed that win yesterday but perhaps, in today's Twitter keyboard warrior world of getting managers sacked, Marco Silva needed it more than most.
8 Posted 30/09/2018 at 08:31:43
Gueye had a lot better game too, I have to agree.
Up top remains a worry. I fancied Tosun to score from the bench. Calvert-Lewin remains a worry, he's not getting in the danger zones or using any sort of physicality. To me, he needs a season playing every week in the Championship to learn his trade.
9 Posted 30/09/2018 at 08:48:08
Definitely agree on Calvert-Lewin.
It's really started to show that jump up from League One, the game is just too physical for him.
You don't always need to be super strong but if you are not then you need a class touch and footballing brain like Bernard for example, sadly Calvert-Lewin has neither touch nor football brain.
I think he will be loaned out next season once Silva gets his hands on a top striker with money at his disposal.
The defence has also looked a lot more steady for Holgate not being in it, again another player like Calvert-Lewin who needs to bulk up and loses too many of his personal battles.
Zouma looks so big and strong and next to Keane he could form something good, it gives Mina a task to get in the team when he does get fit.
10 Posted 30/09/2018 at 09:04:49
11 Posted 30/09/2018 at 09:43:29
Excellent team performance with a great step-up in the second half!
12 Posted 30/09/2018 at 10:49:42
13 Posted 30/09/2018 at 10:51:34
14 Posted 30/09/2018 at 10:57:46
15 Posted 30/09/2018 at 11:21:49
MOTM for me is Siggy without a doubt, although up until 89 minutes either fullback could have made their case, I thought Kenny was excellent and on the basis of what Ive seen of Digne, Baines aint getting back in the team anytime soon.
16 Posted 30/09/2018 at 11:33:10
Lyndon, I don't think Walcott ignored Tosun on that breakaway attack – Tosun never gave him any options, just stayed out wide of the penalty area waving his hand for a pass. He should have been making movement towards the 6-yard area and make himself available for a pass. That's why Walcott had no option but to have a shot on goal; wasn't a bad one either.
18 Posted 30/09/2018 at 11:45:43
I don't mind seeing Baines in for Digne (who is wonderful) but let's keep Davies and Gueye together and play Tosun and let him get another goal (or two). Lookman and Dowell from the Bench when we are 3 up.
COYBs. Saints first followed by Foxes.
19 Posted 30/09/2018 at 11:49:00
Not many guys could clatter into Keane like at Bournemouth and dust himself down while Keane was stretchered off; even yesterday, he got studded by one of our own right down on the knee ligaments and same thing – slap of the magic sponge and away you go... I've seen this countless times with him, he is a little warrior.
I can't help but feel he gets little credit for doing his own job very well and a lot of stick for not doing other people's jobs also... Speaking of which, I thought Davies was poor yesterday but I am willing to give him time.
Good result and brave call from Silva naming the same side that just lost. It could easily have looked bad on him had we got turned over – it's good to see that, in the pre-match press conference, he was fielding all sorts of questions regarding tactical changes he may or may not employ and he stuck to his guns.
Is he starting to find his feet? Let us wait and see...
20 Posted 30/09/2018 at 12:07:20
I was pleased Sigurdsson finished on such a high that he rightfully was given a standing ovation when he came off. He was publicly slated by Carragher on Sky last week and the only way a player can answer is to do what Sigurdsson did. But our stand out player was Gana Gueye. I am tempted to say his best performance in a blue shirt, the amount of ground he covered was immense. Winning tackles, starting attacks, he looked like the player he was when he first arrived and his fitness levels must be through the roof. So it seems the extra training sessions that Marco Silva has been having them do are paying off.
Yes, there were still some worrying moments, obviously when Sessegnon hit the bar and in the second half when they broke from our corner to have a 2 against 1 situation where only a brave intervention from Pickford saved an equalizer. But the second half gave us glimpses of what Silva is trying to build and, given time, I think he will get it right. Keane looks a far more confident player than he did under Koeman or Allardyce. Zouma seems to have settled well and, with Mina likely to challenge them in the coming weeks, it will keep them both on their toes. Silva said when he first came he wanted 2 players for every position; well, that is starting to happen, Coleman and Kenny, I can't choose between them at the moment. Holgate, Jagielka, Mina, Keane and Zouma at centre-back, and Digne and Baines at left-back.
Midfield might need another one or two and a quality striker but I like the purchases Silva has made. I can't wait till Bernard finally starts a game, the guy looks quality, a real talent with bags of composure – if only Walcott had half of Bernard's composure, he would be a fantastic player. We did this yesterday and I thought 2nd half Richarlison didn't have the impact he was having in the first half but maybe he was carrying a knock as Fulham certainly marked him out for some rough treatment in the first half.
21 Posted 30/09/2018 at 14:22:30
That said, I was delighted with the win and pleased to see the lad score 2 after his penalty miss. However, 2 goals do not mask the fact that he has been poor for many of the games since he signed.
But, if he continues to improve and really starts dictating things from midfield for us, then I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit I was wrong. Until then, I stand by my opinion that he isn't the creative midfield player we were hoping he would be.
22 Posted 30/09/2018 at 15:23:05
23 Posted 30/09/2018 at 17:00:15
25 Posted 30/09/2018 at 19:54:10
Instead he has magic moments of pure brilliance. It's just that these magic moments have happened too infrequently for me. Maybe, though, we don't need him to run the game and we can bring out the best of him by playing better as a team. We certainly saw evidence of that in the second half.
I thought there was a noticeable change in us after the first goal. Now it could just be the Fulham heads going down (I don't think so). I believe it was actually the tension being lifted from the players and them gaining in confidence. The crowd really needs to get going more. We were still lacking in atmosphere (Park End at least) at 3-0. I just wonder what it will take to get the Everton atmosphere of old back.
26 Posted 30/09/2018 at 20:04:55
Maybe Sigurdson, also does too much donkey work, for a proper number ten?
27 Posted 30/09/2018 at 20:19:08
28 Posted 30/09/2018 at 20:25:39
Anton, Silva really, really rates Davies. He is in the team to stay. Prepare to eat your hat on him because that kid can only get better.
29 Posted 30/09/2018 at 22:26:26
Bernard. Tosun. Lookman.
30 Posted 30/09/2018 at 22:46:37
Calvert-Lewin and Tosun are good, but Calvert-Lewin must be less predictable. He loves to spin to the right during hold-up play. I think he has the skill to be a good striker. He is so aggressive and intelligent.
31 Posted 30/09/2018 at 23:00:06
But hey ho, the win was very welcome, even though it's not changed our position in the table much.
Hopefully those goals will spark the team into life; sometimes all it takes is one or two flashes of quality or the ball to bounce favourably.
32 Posted 30/09/2018 at 23:00:07
It's disgusting the treatment this lad receives. Yesterday especially. He was poor generally on the ball. But he always showed for it. He was brave enough to take it on under pressure time and again. Maybe he doesn't have the skill to be able to boss that right now. But he has the balls. And that's more than half the battle.
I'm ashamed to associate with the modern Evertonian. They squirm each time a player they dislike gets near the ball (currently Davies, Calvert-Lewin and Schneiderlin). Imagine playing under that kind of pressure. Receiving a simple bread and butter pass and knowing 35,000 people are sat around squeezing for a fuck-up.
33 Posted 01/10/2018 at 13:56:19
1. I saw the piece in the Echo on the stats on our 3 midfield players. Amazing how stats can conflict against perception. My perception was that Gana was a beast in hunting down the ball – but, once he got on it, he was average. I have never expected him to be creative, but the stats bigged him up on the ball. It was not really an all round performance for me from him – he did great as a destroyer, but even his pass to Bernard was not exactly that of a play maker. Bernard had plenty to do and I think the assist was all of his own making.
2. Davies – I want this lad to succeed, because he is very brave. He was closed down and targeted, but always tried to play the forward pass. Too many times Gana and Schneiderlin have taken the easy option of a side pass. Any player who is brave and keeps trying gets praise in my book. It cannot be his job alone to retain possession or win it back – players have to make options for him (which too often in the first half they did not) whilst often he was isolated in the middle of the park when Fulham broke.
3. Sigurdsson – I realize Siggy is not really the play maker / no 10 we craved for. I don't think he has the guile necessary for that. What he is, for me, is an industrious midfielder with a very good eye for goal. His set pieces have not been great recently, but he is starting to score a few goals, and I will take that. I will say he is a slightly less talented version of Ramsey. With that in mind, perhaps fans will stop being so critical of him. Goals from midfield are a very important commodity and goalscoring midfielders carry a premium. It is no bad thing we got him, and he is finding the net, as it is clear we simply lack a proper goalscorer at present. Sigurdsson, Richarlison and Walcott will, in my book, have to carry the goal scoring burden until we find a consistent goal scoring forward.
4. Calvert-Lewin. I am baffled by the amazing stick this boy gets. Cenk Tosun has been average, bar the first half against Southampton. He is slow, not particularly predatory, and does not exactly have good body strength. Calvert-Lewin has, once again, been thrust into the limelight. Yes, he is 21, and by comparison to other young talents may suffer but we bought him from the lower leagues and physically he looks like a later developer – once he fills out I think we will have a gem. What I enjoy about him is that he is not afraid of a physical contest, and does appear to possess decent pace.
5. Keane. He is starting to look confident. He suffers from nerves and most of last season I saw a nervous looking player who made a series of mistakes. He seems much more settled and confident and that is shining through. His real strength is anticipation – he seems increasingly in the right place at the right time to make interceptions. If Mina brings the pace and strength, Keane could be an excellent foil in this vein of form.
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