“Plus ça change…”, "deja vu”… pick your French cliché. Everton began a new season with yet another draw — their seventh in the last eight seasons — in a game that was eerily similar to the one between these two teams in late April. The script didn’t end up being written for Wilfried Zaha (or Moise Kean for that matter) and the two sides had to be content with a point apiece, one that damages neither but arguably aggrieves the Toffees more.
After the disappointments of transfer deadline day where Everton’s failure to replace one of their best performers from last season in Kurt Zouma, the optimism surrounding the build-up to this season-opener had been tempered by worries over Marco Silva’s defence.
By the final whistle, with Michael Keane and Yerry Mina having done everything that was asked of them by an admittedly blunt Crystal Palace attack and Jordan Pickford coming to the rescue when the hosts did breach the back line, the anxiety had reverted back to more familiar concerns over a lack of creativity and penetration at the other end.
An injury to André Gomes, one that visibly altered the pattern of the game after half-time, combined with an upcoming suspension for Morgan Schneiderlin following his second off for two “bookable” offences merely added to the sense of frustration at what can only be regarded as two points dropped against very limited opposition.
Palace compensated for their short-comings with a physical, uncompromising approach and spoiler tactics designed to throw Everton off their rhythm and in more than just that respect, this felt like a continuation of the 0-0 draw here earlier this year. The Toffees dominated the ball, ended the game having had 65% of the possession despite playing the last quarter of an hour with 10 men, and will feel as though they should have won, particularly on the basis of the first half.
They were let down, however, by poor finishing from Gylfi Sigurdsson early on and a general and familiar lack of inspiration going forward throughout, with the Icelander and Richarlison largely below par on the day and Bernard still betraying a lack of the kind of self-confidence that would allow him to drive at goal and shoot himself once in a while rather than over-engineering situations or trying to play a team-mate in with a difficult reverse pass.
It’s hard not to keep coming back to Sigurdsson, though, given his pedigree, ability to change games that he has repeatedly demonstrated in his time at Everton, and the enormous importance of the role he occupies. Put bluntly, he was anonymous for long stretches of a match he should have been bossing from start to finish and he needs to be better — much better — and produce on a weekly basis, otherwise our prospects of kicking on and improving on last season’s eighth-place finish are likely to be undermined.
Of course, the moves made in the transfer market this summer may eventually result in a different system and greater fluidity in attack that will provide Sigurdsson with more space in which to work. There was a sameness to the side in the first half from last season that will slowly change once Alex Iwobi is introduced to provide more attacking options and both Jean-Pierre Gbamin and Kean get up to speed. And yet you were left with the feeling that had Gomes remained on the field and Kean not had to feed on scraps as a result of the team having to play the last quarter of an hour a man short, Everton might have sneaked the win.
Those are the margins sometimes in the Premier League, particularly at places like Selhurst Park. Everton got off to a strong start this afternoon and when Lucas Digne’s cross rolled to Sigurdsson in a central position in front of goal with just two minutes gone, it looked as though Silva’s men would get off to a dream start. The No.10 not only failed to hit the target but he mis-hit his effort wide.
Still, Everton remained on front foot and after a nice “training ground” corner routine saw Digne slide the ball to Richarlison, Christian Benteke did well to charge down the Brazilian’s shot before it could trouble Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal.
Seamus Coleman was getting plenty of joy down the right as Patrick van Aanholt seemed content to give him yards of space in which work but Palace successfully repelled his deliveries from the flank until he almost popped up with a goal with half an hour gone. Digne’s shot deflected into the Irishman’s path but Guaita made an excellent, reflex save and though Bernard jinked his way into space to clip the loose ball back into the six-yard box, Dominic Calvert-Lewin could only head narrowly wide.
Palace, who, just like three months ago, were content to play like the away side and cede the possession to Everton, suddenly exhibited some attacking intent as the match moved into the last five minutes before the interval and Max Meyer almost profited. The Blues’ defence went to sleep as the German was played into space on the left side of the box but Coleman’s recovering block diverted his shot over the bar.
A turning point had come shortly beforehand, however, when Gomes came out limping from a heavy challenge and proved unable to carry on, eventually hobbling off on the stroke of half-time to be replaced by Gbamin.
Initially, the loss of the Portuguese didn’t seem to phase the visitors and they came very close to breaking the deadlock seven minutes after the restart. Digne was again the provider with a cushioned, volleyed pass into the middle which Sigurdsson flicked goal-wards past the keeper but Van Aanholt had scrambled back and cleared it off the line.
Schneiderlin was booked by referee Jon Moss a couple of minutes later, seemingly more for his frustrated reaction to the decision than for the fairly innocuous foul on Jordan Ayew that preceded it and Everton began to unravel a bit as the hosts took control in midfield.
Gbamin was caught in possession in midfield and Benteke quickly released Ayew behind the defence where Pickford came up big to parry away the Ghanaian’s shot.
A minute later, Townsend played Meyer in but Pickford was there again, standing tall and blocking the effort to keep the score at 0-0.
Back at the other end, Sigurdsson tried his luck with a low drive that Guaita got down to save before Richarlison ended a patient, probing Everton move by sweeping a shot a couple of feet the wrong side of the post from 20-yards out.
Kean’s introduction for Calvert-Lewin with 20 minutes to go was the injection up front that the travelling Blues had been hoping for but the platform from which Everton were no doubt hoping to use to go on and win the game late on was altered by a second yellow for Schneiderlin just six minutes later.
The Frenchman’s late challenge on Luka Milivojevic was ill-advised at best and, given that he was already on a yellow, stupid at worst and though there wasn’t a bad challenge, the Palace midfielder’s reaction did enough to sell Moss on handing out another booking. Silva responded by withdrawing Sigurdsson in favour of Tom Davies to shore up midfield.
Despite the introduction of Zaha, the player Silva had tried hard to sign before Thursday’s transfer deadline, Everton were able to keep Palace at bay in the closing stages and, thanks to their solid back line, never really looked in danger of conceding what would have been a painful late goal. A point, while hardly ideal, was probably satisfactory all things considered.
The gnawing irritation from this game comes, however, from just how much it echoed those missed opportunities last season where Everton dropped points against the kind of opposition they really should be beating, particularly given how much they controlled the game at times.
There were, of course, mitigating circumstances — the loss of Gomes was keenly felt, there was an element of rustiness that is to be expected at the start of a new campaign and the new signings will take time to bed in. Gbamin, in particular, was given a very quick lesson in just how little time you get on the ball in the Premier League. Clearly not match fit, the Ivorian had to be thrown in before he was ready but he will be happy to have got some early minutes under his belt and to not have been punished for a couple of untidy moments where he gave the ball away in vulnerable areas.
Again, the important thing was that Everton didn’t lose the game and the Keane-Mina axis showed every sign that it could be a very solid partnership this season if they can both stay fit. A home fixture against a Watford side wounded by a 3-0 defeat to Brighton this afternoon with a further week for Silva and his side to fine-tune the squad will hopefully provide a better indication of what is in store this season.
Reader Comments (47)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
2 Posted 10/08/2019 at 22:16:34
Richarlison, Kean and Iwobi to open their accounts next game.
3 Posted 10/08/2019 at 22:19:25
What was worrying though that, despite the possession, there was very little created in the way of goal-scoring chances, and the ones that were were fluffed by Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin.
Everyone (fanwise) was geed up for this match, after a mediocre pre-season, but a fair Transfer Window; it's a pity the players didn't share in that enthusiasm.
I hope next week produces an antidote!
4 Posted 10/08/2019 at 00:13:56
Coleman and Digne made good wide runs but, in true Hibbo fashion, they failed to deliver a decent cross.
Sigurdsson disappeared entirely as the game wore on.
Bernard showed lots of good ball control that went nowhere.
Richarlson was a hard-working unimaginative trier yet probably our best forward.
It is like taking candy off a baby for opponents marking Calvert-Lewin.
Until his brain snap, Sshneiderlin was okay as was Gomes. Our best by a long chalk were Keane, Mina and Pickford.
5 Posted 11/08/2019 at 00:32:48
We have got rid of 27 players, 11 on loan but 16 sold or released, yet we still need to allow Silva 3 more windows to get the squad he wants.
Over the course of the season we will have Delph, Sigurdsson, Gomes and Gbamin all fit, Kean will get up to pace and Iwobi will be in the starting 11, then and only then will we see the real Marco Silva side for this season. For now, we are without Delph, Iwobi, now Gomes (who's withdrawal made us lose our foothold in the game), plus Gbamin and Kean haven't had a full pre-season so aren't where they would like to be.
All-in-all, a clean sheet is good news, especially for Mina, an away point isn't the worst start to a season, and if we can help some of the new lads, along with Richarlison and Sigurdsson (who didn't look there sharpest) get up to speed quickly, we should improve going forward.
First game of last season was a draw in which we ended with 10 men (v Wolves), same for this season's curtain raiser, let's hope we step up the next few games as there are plenty of winnable games coming up.
Let's take 3 points next Saturday and go from there.
6 Posted 11/08/2019 at 03:01:04
The Gomes injury upset our rhythm. Gbamin was way off the pace and looked clearly not ready yet. It was foolish of Silva to include him. Davies would have been a better introduction at that earlier stage of the game.
What possessed Schneiderlin to repeatedly thump the floor like a petulant child for his first yellow? He gave the Ref no option then but to produce red for his subsequent silly trip. It spoilt a reasonable display from him I thought, up until then. Given the competition to stake a claim for a shirt, he did himself nor his team mates any favours.
We must get tighter. We must take our chances and be more clinical in our finishing. There is simply no room for error at the highest level. Had we capitalised on first-half opportunities, victory could have been sealed, well before circumstances allowed Palace back into the game.
7 Posted 11/08/2019 at 08:02:41
8 Posted 11/08/2019 at 08:09:53
Mina played well and so did Keane. Schneiderlin was, as ever, an accident waiting to happen: both yellow cards were marginal. Fouls? Yes; cards? Maybe...
9 Posted 11/08/2019 at 08:18:23
I'm still gutted we didn't get the marquee signing, the "statement of intent" player Moshiri supposedly wanted. And don't say a teenage striker from Italy is it, good though he seems to be.
10 Posted 11/08/2019 at 08:24:12
11 Posted 11/08/2019 at 08:45:15
The positives are we still controlled the game as best as we could with 10 men and we created chances.
I thought the ref was harsh on Schneiderlin and lenient on their skipper.
On yesterday's brief performance from Gbamin, I now understand why we bid for Doucouré.
Calvert-Lewin shouldn't have been brought off, his hold-up play was good yesterday. Sigurdsson stunk the house out and should have been subbed for Kean.
Playing 2 up top for 20 mins would be an act of intent; obviously, the sending off changed that.
12 Posted 11/08/2019 at 09:11:35
I thought we were solid at the back Mina and Keane did well; creativity from midfield was stifled once Gomes went off. Maybe Tom Davies should have been brought on at that point instead of Gbamin. Tom looked sharper.
I thought Richarlison was great in his defensive duties. Bernard was okay and Calvert-Lewin his usual workhorse efforts.
Trouble is, there was no exceptional offensive play from any of our forwards, and Sigurdsson was off the pace yesterday.
I was watching Man City and what struck me is the timing of their forwards' runs from deep, sprinting towards the opponent's box, and breaking the defensive line.
Their goals/assists nearly all come from these runs, and the ability of the man in midfield possession to clip the perfect ball in, beating the offside.
We need to study Pep's offensive strategy — we need more of it.
13 Posted 11/08/2019 at 09:22:34
I have no doubt we will see the same against every team we play home and away this season. Slight change in personnel but same formation and tactics.
Is 4-4-2 not allowed any more? Is it against the laws of the game? Could we not try it against certain opposition at certain times? We could draw Stevenage in the League Cup at home and Silva wouldn't change anything.
Teams have sussed us out and we haven't got a clue how to break them down, either personnel-wise or tactically. Until we shake things up nothing will change league position-wise.
14 Posted 11/08/2019 at 09:42:41
The disappointment for me was not the game itself but that we don't seem to have improved at all. It's early yet and our new players need to blend in.
Difficult to judge the new players in any favourable light but I can judge Silva in his defence of Schneiderlin. Tom Davies showed that he deserves to be picked.
15 Posted 11/08/2019 at 09:45:01
Still I hope next week, the injuries are healed and we start with Moise Kean upfront.
I see a lack of self-belief now in Calvert-Lewin, and his confidence is eroding every match. But we must get some pace and movement in attack, as we are too pedestrian.
Watford will no doubt be up for it next week. It's a must-win game.
16 Posted 11/08/2019 at 09:57:17
17 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:05:46
Positioning and movement off the ball from the forwards is key. Calvert-Lewin isn't up to it, hopefully Kean is.
18 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:05:50
Let's hope we start to see a better Everton emerge next week. Positives in the defence but, if Keane or Mina get injured...
19 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:16:28
You're living in an alternative universe if you think Davies is the answer to our creativity problems in midfield.
20 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:21:09
The writing was on the wall. Who would like Costa now? Yes, first game of the season but the best teams in the league are those that can score goals. We don't.
Richarlison is wasted out on the right-hand side in this system. Let's hope we find our shooting boots at home.
21 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:23:00
Brands fans turning on Everton fans before a ball is kicked because they are concerned about the squad.
The season has started in true Everton fashion and, because of all the hints Silva gave in his pre-match press conference (the ones everyone ignored), the season will continue to be a tough rebuilding job.
If Silva finished 8th with this squad, he has done a great job.
22 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:29:06
A Leicester team that lost their best defender in the summer? A Wolves side that were in the Championship until May 2018 but somehow have a better squad than us, even though we've had a billionaire owner backing us since 2016? A West Ham or Watford team that got destroyed yesterday?
23 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:36:47
Ours have come in and rebuilt from day one. Sold anyone that was Champions League potential and gave all the managers less quality to play with.
I know that all sounds totally hurtful and there's always an excuse but tell me where the manager has more quality than he had before? Where he can definitely push the side to go and win at Arsenal? Or even have them ready for Palace?
Nobody can say a 19-year-old Kean is better than Calvert-Lewin right now (I hope he is and have nothing but respect for the lad) or Iwobi is better than Bernard?
And somehow people are expecting this squad to leap over Arsenal and Man Utd?
Again, a manager has been left to start the season with an unprepared 11 and he told everyone in his press conference that it's a tough job again.
24 Posted 11/08/2019 at 10:54:15
25 Posted 11/08/2019 at 11:28:38
His best option would've been a loan to a Championship club, to give him the experience he needs to progress in his career, because he'll never get enough game time at Everton I'm afraid.
26 Posted 11/08/2019 at 11:34:02
Other than that, I thought we looked solid enough, and should really have had the game won in the first half. Iwobi and Kean should make a difference once they settle into the side because we're desperately short on players who can make the telling pass and the telling run to get us goals.
27 Posted 11/08/2019 at 11:37:57
A point at Palace isn't too bad in the grander scheme but the lack of menace up front remains a real worry. Calvert-Lewin holds the ball up well and brings colleagues into play, yet I wonder if he'd be more effective with a partner. We don't really play that way. Impossible to judge Kean on such a cameo. Bernard is still reluctant to shoot.
On a positive note, defence looked solid and Mina got stronger as the game went on.
28 Posted 11/08/2019 at 11:58:18
However, I am sure the new boys, when settled in, will improve this side immeasurably. I was very pleased with the defence today.
29 Posted 11/08/2019 at 12:23:07
Jon Moss was very poor, he kept allowing the sly Milivejovic with 5-6 fouls which were worthy of yellow cards. Gomes's injury changed the match, I agree Silva erred in bringing on Gbamin so early. Davies was clearly the better choice. But, I thought that Gbamin quickly adapted as the match wore on and he actually started upping his sharpness.
Sigurdsson was poor, Calvert-Lewin is a good player to have in the squad, but he is not the main striker yet. Hopefully, Kean or Iwobi can grab that spot. A midfield of Delph, Gomes or Sigurdsson, and Gbamin or Davies, with a front 3 of Richarlison, Iwobi or Bernard, and Kean or Calvert-Lewin might be the solution.
Digne looked a bit rusty. Keane was the better of the 2 centre-backs, I thought, Mina was always looking for the safe option of passing back to Pickford, which is fine for now knowing that it is the 1st match of the season, and you don't want to do anything silly.
Silva has his work cut out: he needs to work with a plan with the resources that he has.
30 Posted 11/08/2019 at 12:43:55
31 Posted 11/08/2019 at 13:20:33
When you consider the costs incurred by fans, including being herded like cattle on and off transport and in and out of grounds, then at least we should have athletic officials. I've had enough of fat old men panting after sauntering more than 10 yards!
The clubs should force the FA to sort it out. There is so much money in the game now that at least we should expect competent, athletic officials and fair decisions. Benny Hill would be an improvement on at least 4 of the present crop of so-called referees!
32 Posted 11/08/2019 at 16:03:42
33 Posted 11/08/2019 at 17:08:09
34 Posted 11/08/2019 at 17:55:45
Only my opinion and early days yet but this is if I had to give a summary and prediction based on the Everton I know of the last few decades.
Silva isn't the coach we needed; he has serious problems trying to force players who aren't suitable, into his system and not being able to change his system to suit the players we have (ref Sigurdsson). His support for Schneiderlin with respect to his ability and attitude just doesn't sit with him having judgement.
We are way, way below the level of the Top 6 and if anything we have slipped relatively since last season. Many teams below us seem to have improved.
I believe that this season there will be tears and we will have yet another new manager. I hope for the best for us but somehow fear the worst.
35 Posted 11/08/2019 at 17:58:51
Schneiderlin tried to fill the gaps left by the Gueye transfer but was not fit enough.
36 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:31:30
But I think when our new players have bedded in, this will become less of a problem. I am more concerned about our lack of cover for the centre-backs. If Sigurdsson had scored and we'd won 1-0, there would be less emphasis on his overall performance, and Schneiderlin's sending off. As if these alone were the cause of our overall performance. People need to find scapegoats.
I would agree with others that have looked to Schneiderlin's circumstances in the game. The first yellow was unfortunate, but he was all pumped up for it. Most of you would be the first to moan if he wasn't "up for it" and giving 100%.
Also, if the outcome of our season is dependent on Sigurdsson playing every game well, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. He's like every other player. And it was our first game. I think he's a cracking player, but we're all human, regardless of what we cost and expectations.
I took positives from this game, which could have been a banana skin. We blooded two new players, lost Gomes and spent a significant part of the game with 10 men. But apart from 3 occasions when Pickford and/or Coleman had to intervene, I never felt like we were in danger of conceding. I thought we bossed it overall, and our weakness was not converting chances. So much to be positive about.
I'm hoping we can break into the Top 6, so of course I'm disappointed. But I'm pragmatic too.
37 Posted 11/08/2019 at 22:26:04
Digne, Bernard, Coleman and Richarlison are successful with that part of the plan. Where it fails is our lack of a good central striker who can get on the end of crosses supplied by said four. Until we find such a striker, Silva must come up with an alternative plan.
38 Posted 11/08/2019 at 22:36:41
We have 4 players consistently on the wings, and one in the middle easily crowded out. We could have Ronaldo in the No 9 position and he'd fail to score in those conditions.
39 Posted 12/08/2019 at 01:51:23
The 2nd half showed up that we don't have a real and effective "team" strategy IMO.
40 Posted 12/08/2019 at 03:09:11
He came from Sheff Utd and was probably brought up on that style while they languished in the lower leagues. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes at the end of the season to a team that plays a 4-4-2 because I don't see him adjusting to what is needed in Silva's formation.
41 Posted 12/08/2019 at 04:46:13
42 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:20:00
43 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:23:44
Let's not throw all the toys out of the pram at the end of match day one!
44 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:13:59
45 Posted 12/08/2019 at 12:12:46
Our crossing is so poor from both sides, unless lucas crosses, and by that point, we have waited for 30sec to a minute before hes is able to, allowing the defence to reorganize, and our striker to of made 4 runs without being found... we are so slow in attack and in finding our striker, we had a couple of decent crosses from Coleman yesterday tbf, and 1 early cross from Richarlison late on for Kean.
Silva wants a left footer on the right and right footer on the left, so automatically creating poor crossing or delayed crossing..
Both Mina and Keane looked good yesterday, but not exactly "up against it" they will mop up most things in the air, but the thought of Mane, Salah, Rashford, etc, quick players put the fear of god in me.
46 Posted 13/08/2019 at 09:29:34
I would love to see if Liverpool signed all the players we signed, the Echo would call it a great window.
And by the looks of it, Silva wanted Zaha, Zouma, and Doucouré. Instead, he gets a babysitting job.
47 Posted 13/08/2019 at 13:51:13
However, I would like to see us playing with two up top. This would be great not only for DCL but also for Kean, both young and relatively inexperienced being asked to ply a lone furrow in the EPL is a big ask.
48 Posted 14/08/2019 at 02:42:41
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.