Blues held to disappointing but hugely instructive draw

By Lyndon Lloyd 28/04/2019 39comments  |  Jump to last

When you look at the post-match statistics from this game, they underline how annoying this result was for Everton who should, by rights, have left Selhurst Park with all three points and their sixth win from their last seven in the Premier League.

64% of the possession, 22 shots and 10 corners… six days after beating their third top-six team in succession with a 4-0 hammering of Manchester United, Everton travelled to Crystal Palace and controlled the game in the manner befitting their ambitions of breaking the hegemony of that “big six” cabal but left with just a point.

Unfortunately, while the dominance of the contest was there in combination with another impressive defensive performance, the requisite quality in the final third was not and in that sense, if nothing else, this game was instructive of what Everton still need in terms of additions to the squad if they are to achieve their aims over the next couple of seasons.

Ultimately, the fact that Marco Silva’s side failed to unduly trouble Palace from dead-ball situations — for example, it’s hard to recall any of the afore-mentioned corners leading to anything meaningful —and that only three of their efforts on goal were on target rather brings home the point that sometimes you need a player with the confidence and ability to produce a piece of magic or a deadly clinical striker who can make a difference on afternoons when things aren’t quite clicking up front.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has relished the opportunity afforded him by Silva’s lack of alternatives to put together an extended run in the Everton team and he has rightly received plaudits for his tireless work-rate and the effective way in which he has unsettled defenders from the four top-six teams that came to Goodison over the past couple of months and left with a mere point between them.

His efforts against those sides has enabled those around him to score the goals that beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United but it’s also an unavoidable consequence of his position that when chances go begging, the focus of the conversation around what this Everton squad lacks inevitably falls on him as the centre-forward.

It’s tough for a relatively inexperienced, still-developing young player tasked with leading the line for a Premier League side chasing European football but England’s top flight is an unforgiving place where results are paramount which is why securing a reliable, dynamic and pacy striker to supplement the Calvert-Lewin remains the Blues’ most pressing need in terms of recruitment.

That regular goals, acceleration and a ruthless streak have been the few missing attributes to the 22-year-old’s game was illustrated on a couple of occasions within the first 10 minutes. Everton had survived a couple of early scares at one end, first when Christian Benteke broke into space off a fortunate ricochet in midfielder but was foiled by Jordan Pickford’s block before referee Lee Mason pulled play back for a foul by Idrissa Gueye and then when Max Meyer drove the ball in the side-netting from a tight angle, before the Blues’ created their first chance at the other.

Calvert-Lewin did well to pounce on the ball as Martin Kelly mis-judged Pickford’s wind-assisted long kick downfield but he initially got it stuck under his feet and then ended up producing a powder-puff left-footed finish that was routine for Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal.

A couple of minutes later, another defensive slip, this time by Scott Dann, appeared to present the striker with a chance to create something but he was a fraction slow to anticipate it and couldn’t stab it quickly past the covering man, either for himself or Bernard.

Not that Calvert-Lewin was the only one who looked slightly off his game in attacking areas. Richarlison had the chance to run at the defence in the ninth minute but elected not to play Gylfi Sigurdsson in and was tackled while a succession of attempted crosses from both flanks and shots were blocked or deflected behind.

Calvert-Lewin, meanwhile, would spurn a couple of decent headed chances before half-time, despatching one disappointingly over the bar and the other straight at the goalkeeper while Gueye tried his luck from 20 yards but his effort was also comfortably saved.

The second half began in the same manner as had the first, with Palace attacking early and putting the ball into the side-netting — James McArthur the one this time to fail to work Pickford — but Everton very quickly grabbed hold of the game once more and would dictate things until the final whistle.

Perhaps needing a touch of fortune to carry them over the line, the Blues found Lady Luck looking in the opposite direction with Bernard seeing his low shot bounce off the base of the post via a deflection off a defender and Lucas Digne almost guiding a cross in off the back post, again via a deflection, but the ball came off the woodwork and out.

In between, after Cenk Tosun was introduced in place of Calvert-Lewin to perhaps provide a surer touch on the ball up front, the Turk came as close as anyone would to winning the game. The impressive duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Gueye combined in the centre circle to halt a Palace move and begin another Everton attack that ended with Seamus Coleman collecting Richarlison’s nutmeg through Patrick van Aanholt’s legs ball in an advanced area down the right flank.

His low cross was behind Tosun but the striker back-heeled it brilliantly towards goal, only to be denied by an instinctive, point-blank save by Guaita.

If there was a criticism of Silva it was that his substitutions in a game that felt like it needed an injection of fresh ideas earlier in the half, it was that the Portuguese delayed his second and third changes until the 84th and 86th minutes respectively.

Ademola Lookman came on for Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott for Bernard but while the young winger immediately went on a mazy run that unsettled the Palace defence, neither had much time to make a much of a difference.

Instead, Everton were forced to settle for a draw that, in the context of Wolves’s 2-1 win at Watford, probably ends the Toffees’ pursuit of seventh place. That may end up being a blessing in disguise and, again, there was much to learn from this display in terms of how much the team is doing right and what is needed by way of injection of genuine of quality this summer to move the club up a level next season.

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Reader Comments (39)

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Kase Chow
1 Posted 29/04/2019 at 00:21:47
Great article as usual Lyndon

As you rightly say, we just don’t have enough goals in the team full stop

Bernard neither scores enough nor creates enough. Same for Gomes (or MS when he plays). Gaye is the same.

Indeed Richarlison and Siggy are our only reliable sources of goals and neither are stickers

I like DCL and he can definitely do a job and he’s had an excellent 2nd half of the season. But he seems unable to shoot nor score with any conviction/regularity. To develop he should spend the summer with a goal scoring coach (Fowler, Henry, Cottee, Wright, Shearer etc) and simply understand where to be, and how to feel out goals

But aside from this we need to get a goal scoring centre forward.

We need to create and we need to take chances and win ugly and win when we’re not playing well

Saying that, we’ve made great strides this year

David Ellis
2 Posted 29/04/2019 at 02:31:42
Great article. I think the conditions were a massive factor in making us look a bit poor in the final third - I think it likely played havoc with the delivery from set pieces.

I think DCL should have done better with the two or three half chances he got - likewise Bernard Cribbins still seems to lack composure in the box.

Lookman looked electric whenever he got on the ball - he's going to be some player.

I think that's the Euro league gone for us this season, particularly with Wolves beating both Arsenal and Watford. I'm not too disappointed however as we are finishing strongly and there are signs that the team are gelling. I don't buy the theory that some mythical unicorn 20 a season striker will solve all our goal problems - its a team game. If the team clicks we will score goals and we do score goals. I'd rather have DCL than Lukaku. Lukaku would have loved the type of chance that DCL spurned, but his presence would ruin our build up play.

Jim Harrison
3 Posted 29/04/2019 at 04:34:24
Corners and free kicks against their players always hard for ours. They must be one of the biggest teams in the league
Gary Russell
4 Posted 29/04/2019 at 05:03:07
Not a word from Lineker, Wright or Shearer on Son Heung-min's stamp on Snodgrass. Are we surprised? Surely a three-match ban is coming for the South Korean. I'd love to see stats of incidents throughout the season where retroactive decisions didn't happen. Easy to know which teams avoided these 'decisions.' The bias is beyond shocking.
Alan J Thompson
5 Posted 29/04/2019 at 05:08:21
What happened to that early season free kick routine that saw Schneiderlin slip it wide of the wall and resulted in a goal, we haven't seen it or anything similar since.

I think Calvert-Lewin might be better if his runs into the penalty area where on more of an angle between or across the central defenders. At the moment he seems to come on a straight line, a right angle to the goal, which makes it easier for the defence, on the angle shows up zonal defending and requires both central defenders to know where he is and which of them needs to be with him.

Gary Russell
6 Posted 29/04/2019 at 05:38:32
Not a word on the BBC's write up of the game, either...
David Pearl
7 Posted 29/04/2019 at 07:29:12
I'd like to see Tosun given a chance on Friday. The team is doing a lot better now, I don't think he's had that kind of chance before. Give DCL time on the bench for a bit and bring him on in the 2nd half, although not in the 86th minute.

Let's face it, only Siggy and Charlie score goals. Even Bernard has only scored one premier league goal. Not good enough. We all know what we need. We also need Silva to show a plan B when things aren't going to plan. Plan A should be to score a goal and win the game. If things aren't going to plan he stands with arms folded wondering what to do and very rarely sorts it out baring throwing on his forwards. Never a change in shape and if he does change it's too late.

All-in-all, though there are signs that next season could be a breakthrough season. A season to finally bring in those couple of players that make the difference instead of seeing another 5 or 6 new faces start the new season. We don't want or need wholesale changes that means any bedding in period. Let's hit the ground running. That means a productive pre-season for once.

Christopher Timmins
8 Posted 29/04/2019 at 08:00:47
We are going in the right direction and hopefully we will finish the season off with two more performances against Burnley and Spurs and push our points tally into the mid-50s.

Jon Withey
9 Posted 29/04/2019 at 08:02:32
Looks like we missed our chance for Europa. BBC described us as a 'mid-table' team, which is about where we are likely to finish - but on recent evidence we are better than that.

Summer will be interesting as others look to nick our best but hopefully we manage to keep the best of the squad together and add to it. If we can keep Zouma, Gomes and Gueye that would be great.

As for DCL, I appreciate what he does for the team and look forward to him improving further next season. Clearly we could do with another striker or two.

Paul Birmingham
10 Posted 29/04/2019 at 08:17:57
Very frustrating but it's a reality check and we don't score enough goals, and we'd be in a stronger position to finish the season with a good chance of a Europa League spot if we'd converted our chances.

Recall Arsenal and Man Utd away and two games that we could have easily been 2-0 up at half-time, with clinical finishing. Priority is a pair of lethal strikers, but easier said than done, but finishers are essential if we are to progress, rather than making up the numbers.

To get close and whilst still a chance, depending on Wolves, we could still sneak 7th so let's see... if rejuvenated Fulham can stop Wolves, whilst we must put a tough Burnley side away, this Friday.

To beat Spurs away, can be done, and we owe them for the Christmas hiding at Goodison Park.

Kevin Prytherch
11 Posted 29/04/2019 at 08:58:19
We're definitely moving in the right direction with 7 clean sheets from our last 9 games. If we continue this, then we start with a point in most games and just have to worry about turning 1 point into 3. Imaging if we'd have done that for half of our losses, we'd be 7 points better off and Europa League assured.

As for DCL... he's obviously feeling it in front of goal, but he's also come on so much and creates space for others to play in. As someone else has said, we wouldn't create half as much with someone like Lukaku, but he'd score a lot more. I think he needs a break at the end of the season and he'll come back even better next season. I'm confident that, if he is the first choice striker next season, DCL, Sigurdsson and Richarlison will all be on around 15 goals, which would be a good return.

Brian Williams
12 Posted 29/04/2019 at 09:19:41
We needed more players to "have a go" from around the edge of the box. Schneiderlin in particular had a few chances to shoot but always wanted to pass and the area was chokka block. There only seems to be Siggy who's regularly prepared to shoot from any distance, and the occasional one from Gana, oh and the odd worldie from Lucas!

Also, time and time again we had weak crosses into nobody in the box. If you get past your full back and the 6-yard box is packed fizz it in hard and low for God's sake. That way even if one of ours doesn't get a touch a defender can inadvertently deflect it not his own goal.

We seemed to overplay at times which when it works is great to watch but we need to mix it up now and again. Having said that, our improvement is there for all to see, despite no improvement in league position and I feel completely different to this time last season when me and my match-going mates couldn't wait for the season to end due to the zombie footy we were playing.

I'm not TOO down after Saturday; even the very best teams struggle now and again.

Chris Gould
13 Posted 29/04/2019 at 10:50:58
Crystal Palace treated us like a top 6 team and played for a draw. That speaks volume as they are a decent side and were playing at home. We are a very good side and other teams have taken notice.

With regards to late subs, I just don't think Silva trusts them to be able to make a difference. I think, if we had some real talent on the bench, then he would have changed things quicker.

Tony Everan
14 Posted 29/04/2019 at 10:52:39
Well said Lyndon

I just feel that we are banging our heads against a brick wall when it comes to our need for a top class striker, I am sick of hearing that we have not replaced Lukaku, sick to death of it, but it is true. It's the plain, bald truth that we will not get further than 7th without that addition.

Let's not beat about the bush, there is zero chance of bettering 7th without major investment [or an unbelievably shrewd buy] in the top class striker department.

This perennial striking issue with Everton FC makes Brexit look a fast paced and efficient process.

Daniel A Johnson
15 Posted 29/04/2019 at 11:29:03
Bring on Spurs. I hope the players have it marked in their Calendars after they came to our backyard and humiliated us.
Rob Halligan
16 Posted 29/04/2019 at 11:46:36
Gary # 4. I I never saw the incident with Son, but have you seen the incident with Rojo of Man Utd with his dangerous challenge yesterday. It was a red card all day long, but only a yellow given.

Dermot Gallagher on Ref Watch on SSN said Atkinson never saw the challenge by Rojo, otherwise he would have sent him off. So if he never saw it, why was he booked?

Also, the yellow card means Rojo cannot receive a retrospective 3-match ban. A yellow card, in my opinion, means the referee saw something but, as usual, Atkinson is too much of a shithouse to send off any player from the so-called top-six teams.

Chris Gould
17 Posted 29/04/2019 at 11:48:59
Tony, I think it is possible to break the top 6 without a top class striker. Obviously it would be easier with one, but a 10-15 goal striker who puts in the hard yards would be enough if the rest of the team pitch in. If Richarlison and Sigurdsson get 10-15 each, and Bernard can increase his output to 7-8, then it is possible. Especially if the defence continues its fine recent form.

Man Utd's top scorer is Pogba on 13, they have Lukaku on 12, and Rashford on 10. Chelsea have Hazard on 16 and nobody else has reached double figures.

We can match them with a striker who scores 10-15 goals as long as Bernard can raise his output and we have better options off the bench. I think Arsenal, Man Utd, and Chelsea are all vulnerable next season.

Tony Everan
18 Posted 29/04/2019 at 12:20:23
Fair points Chris, Games like Saturday's 0-0 infuriate me when we are dominant but can't manufacture one goal in the 90 mins. I just can't help thinking that Lukaku would have got his head [or toe] on one of those many crosses or when clean through, like DCL was, he would have blasted that into the net. It is small margins in these tight games that the top 6 seem to eke out a win and the rest fail.
Tony Everan
19 Posted 29/04/2019 at 12:27:05
Rob #16

A disgraceful challenge by Rojo, how was he not sent off for that? It is as clear-cut as you will see. Willian lucky to not have his leg or ankle smashed to pieces. The tackle forced him off.

Jagielka and other defenders that have been shown red this season for less, will be gutted by the shocking inconsistencies.

Atkinson can hang his head in shame for that one, probably the big crowd got to him. If that's so, he should pack it in.

Martin Mason
20 Posted 29/04/2019 at 12:37:46
Everton have momentum now throughout the club (even amongst us fans) and that is everything. It will help us get the right players this summer and it will propel us onwards and upwards next season. We have a good management team and a good coach who is still in the learning phase. I think I called the bottom of this season and we have actually done very well since with just the odd but inevitable blips.

Unlike some, I don't believe that we need an out-and-out striker because I don't think that they exist or are even needed anymore. Kane is the nearest to it but his game is much more than being a striker and amazingly he isn't really missed. Saleh plays wide and not as a striker he just scores from that berth as the amazing Christiano Ronaldo did.

Lukaku is a striker but he's like a spare part in a toy factory in the modern game. What a great bit of business getting rid of him. Rather than a specialist striker, we need more players who can score and assist and that could be 12-15 goals a season rather than having the one unobtainable guy who can score 30.

Gary Russell
21 Posted 29/04/2019 at 12:39:32
Aye Rob, it's mind-blowing how often it happens. Son's was a carbon copy of our Portuguese loan man's stamp. I am not complaining cos it's an Everton player. The powers that be should be impartial and consistent across the whole of football. It is their inconsistency which is outrageous and enrages.
Paul Le Marinel
22 Posted 29/04/2019 at 13:01:48
A frustrating result really, as we played well but for all the chances we had just couldn't score and take what would have been a well deserved 3 points.

Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored 14 goals and Richarlison has also scored 14 goals this season and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored 8. So from our attacking players they have collectively scored 36 goals.

That is pretty good, but with Dominic Calvert-Lewin progressing well at present, I would hope that come next season he could take his tally to 12. He is still young, but I think that he is capable of that.

So if he scored that next season and Gylfi and Richarlison scored 15 goals between them, then that would be 42 goals from our attacking players. But however, if we get into Europe for next season, then that will mean more games and so perhaps a striker that will bring 15-20 goals may be required.

I do worry about Ademola Lookman, as he does seem to be wasting away on the bench and even when he has come on, has had very little game time. I think he's a good talented prospect and can do well for us, but if he's not getting a chance in the team then I can't see him staying with us and that would be a shame.

Chris Gould 17, I do agree that Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea will be vulnerable next season, as in challenging for the league title they have been well off the pace and having not long ago played all three and won against them, I think at present we are better than them.

I hope we can be successful in trying for permanent deals for Kurt Zouma and Andre Gomes in the summer and hopefully, Idrissa Gueye will be convinced to stay at Everton but if he pursues a move to PSG and that happens, then of course we will need a replacement.

There have been promising signs of late with our recent performances, of which I think gives a lot of room for optimism for next season.

Mike Doyle
23 Posted 29/04/2019 at 13:03:18
I tend to agree with Chris [#17] and Martin [#20]. Another player who could join Sigurdsson and Richarlison with 10+ goals (plus a few assists) would make a big difference – and put us in a position to close in on the top 4. Whether this contribution comes from a conventional centre forward or a midfielder/winger (which is what Salah is) seems fairly academic.
Kevin Molloy
24 Posted 29/04/2019 at 14:14:31
I don't think Saturday was about ruing missed chances, it was more the fact that – despite all our possession – we just didn't hurt them enough, cos our passing wasn't as good. This was partly I think the loss of Gomes, and also the fact Palace, unlike recent opposition, were set up to defend (and did so pretty well).
James Hughes
25 Posted 29/04/2019 at 14:18:33
Continuing the how shit are the pundits thread, Just seen Garth Crooks Team of the week. The bias is unreal, Mordor home game against the bottom team and THREE of their defenders make TOTW.

Huddersfield scored 20 and conceded 74, I am truly lost for words.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 29/04/2019 at 14:20:44
If Atkinson never saw it then it shouldn't have stopped him giving a red card, when you consider he couldn't have seen Rodwell's foul on Suarez?

That Maddison should also get a retrospective ban for deceiving the match official with his blatant cheating.

Mike Gaynes
27 Posted 29/04/2019 at 15:32:20
Off-topic -- tragedy in Turkey. A van hired by seven Alanyaspor players crashed after a league match at Kayserispor. Czech Republic international Josef Sural was killed. Among the injured are Papiss Cisse, formerly Newcastle, and Steven Caulker, who played a couple of games for the RS a few years ago and also for Spurs, Swansea, Cardiff and the England Olympic team. Caulker had just scored in the game at Kayserispor.
Raymond Fox
28 Posted 29/04/2019 at 17:59:55
I've said before the usual top 6 get a 10pt + start on the rest of us every season because of the favoured treatment they receive off referees.

How many of their players actually get sent off? Very very few.

Brian Hennessy
29 Posted 29/04/2019 at 18:26:05
James @25 I'm surprised they didn't name all of their back 4. The media bias towards them is truly pathetic.

Funny how ever since City beat Utd and Burnley, I seem to be hearing several pundits saying that it will be "unfair" for either team to lose out on the title. I have even heard some saying that the title should almost be "shared" this year because both teams have been so good.

I wonder would we be hearing the same rubbish from the pundits if it was Liverpool in the driving seat... I don't think so.

Eddie Dunn
30 Posted 29/04/2019 at 18:45:38
Mike, the BBC report that Caulker is physically okay but very upset.
Paul Birmingham
31 Posted 29/04/2019 at 18:56:22
Boycott Sky! But seriously, I appreciate everyone's right to their choice of ISP, and Service Provider, but I gibbed them over 10 years ago as, in my view, they were taking the piss, with their price hikes, and their prejudice and favouritism have accelerated. They are not impartial and are totally biased. In my view, many of the media presenters of sport on BBC and ITV news don't have a clue about football in general.

Atkinson won't change, he's always been weak, scared of big decisions, and takes me back to Clive Thomas at Maine Road in 1977, when he disallowed Brian Hamilton's winning goal. Don Hutchinson's legitimate goal in the dying seconds of the Goodison Park derby in 2000. Call us bitter and angry... And without mentioning events of 1985, and the ultimate dereliction of Everton FC as a major force in the English game.

Chuck in a minimum of 20 more bad critical decisions and it's a fair sketch. Don't get me wrong – all teams get them – but Everton seem to get treated as bad as any if not the worst.

Niasse gets banned for alleged diving last season, Salah does it most weeks, this season, gets away with it every week.

Back to DCL, his confidence has improved and his all-round game has improved, so in pre-season to focus on centre-forward positional play in the box and finishing. If he can add this to his game, then he'll be a very good player.

But we can't wait and must get a striker who can finish as, aside from DCL, we have no back-up, and rumours via a Turkish mate say that he will go back to Turkey this summer, but we shall see.

Let's hope the results go our way this week, and we may well still be in with an genuine chance of Europa League next season.

Ivan Varghese
32 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:07:08
Amazing to watch Everton, it's a different team, controlled midfield. Defense dealt with runners and Crystal Palace can do a world of hurt on the counter. DCL's hold-up play is excellent, has the making of a good striker. He just needs to not get desperate and fluff shots at goal. I guess the pressure on him is high.
Tony Everan
33 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:13:53
Yes Paul, I'm still clutching at straws too hoping Fulham can do us a favour on Saturday.

Fulham in good form though, won their last 3 ?, and Brighton got a draw at Wolves a couple of weeks ago so it is not pure fantasy that Fulham can get us result.

Paul Birmingham
34 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:23:54
Hope eternal Tony, let’s hope so, and as you say, anything can happen, and Fulham, have hit some good confidence and form.

The glass is full, and here’s to a good week for a Evertonians.

Dermot Byrne
35 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:26:55
Paul #31: I checked Sky Sports many years ago too. It actually gives me pleasure to watch games without paying as the amount of money fleeced from fans is disgusting.

As for the top 6. Sadly long term they will destroy their own business model as people will eventually become bored.

Sport journo said tonight about how exciting the PL race is. Funny how the Leicester year was far more exciting nationally

Sam Hoare
36 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:31:44
Anyone hoping for a top class striker this Summer is likely to be disappointed.

I think the best we can hope for is a striker who can become top class in time. It’s possible of course that we already have one.

Mike Gaynes
37 Posted 29/04/2019 at 20:18:07
Good news, Eddie. Reports also that Cisse was not seriously hurt.

Fox News in the US reports that BOTH bus drivers fell asleep.

Bob Parrington
38 Posted 01/05/2019 at 05:04:39
I agree with others Lyndon. Excellent article. Frustrating day for Everton, who were clearly the better team on the day. Would be nice to have some luck every now and then. I recall in the RS home game vs Man Utd 2 massively deflected goals from Shaqiri etc
Annika Herbert
39 Posted 01/05/2019 at 07:08:06
Kase @1, you seem to have a big downer on Bernard, which I find very strange. He has improved with each game and I believe he will be even better next season. Yet you always find the time to criticise both him and Gomes.

Not sure what you really expect from these players other than the goals you mention. Because I feel both have been creative this season, given the struggles of the whole team at times.

In my opinion, both players, should we be able to keep Gomes, will become huge assets for us next season. Still, everyone to their own opinion. I just happen to disagree with yours quite strongly.

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