European football? È possibile

By Paul Traill 09/02/2020 17comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 3 - 1 Crystal Palace

With a few of the other lads unable to make this one, just Dan, Alfie and me were in attendance. An early kick off meant an early start and Dan swung by mine at around 10am, meaning we were in the pub before 10:30am to sink a few jars. I’ve heard rave reviews about the newly refurbished pub, The Spellow, and with time on our side we decided to move on to there to check it out. We used to drink there before the game years ago and it was nice to go back and see how much it has changed, while noticing a few things in there which brought back a few memories from when we used to go. It’s good in there, has a nice outdoor area and sells pizzas also. Service is a bit sluggish. If they can improve that, they’ve got a cracking little boozer.

Anyway, enough about pub reviews. We were enjoying ourselves sitting outside in the sun until we dragged ourselves off to Goodison Park. Four changes to the team - Michael Keane, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bernard and Seamus Coleman in for Mason Holgate, the suspended Fabian Delph, Alex Iwobi and Djibril Sidibe. Ex-Everton midfielder James McCarthy featured for the visitors and promptly left his mark, literally, on Bernard just 10 minutes into the game, collecting a yellow card for his troubles. Never change, James. Having lost the toss we attacked towards the Gwladys Street in the first half though took a little time to get going and before going ahead, we could well have been behind when Patrick van Aanholt struck the post from inside the penalty area with Jordan Pickford beaten.

Everton responded in style with a lovely intricate passing move between Seamus Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott after RIcharlison had won the ball back well. Theo did well to beat Patrick van Aanholt and crossed well for Bernard to power home on the volley. A mate messaged me wondering if it was tactical that Dominic Calvert-Lewin had darted to the near post, taking James Tomkins and Gary Cahill with him, thereby creating the space for Bernard. I don’t know if that was tactical or fluke but if it was planned then it was smart. Regardless, it was a very well crafted goal from Everton and it was all smiles throughout the crowd. We battled out the rest of the half and at the break were just about deserving of a 1-0 lead.

With Storm Ciara arriving later in the evening, I was conscious of the wind picking up and after a calm first half, it arrived for the second…and alas was in Everton’s faces. You could really feel the strength of it in the Gwladys Street and Crystal Palace took full advantage, forcing us back and putting us under pressure. Full credit to the visitors. They began the second half really on the front foot and skirmished with our goal, before levelling only six minutes into the second half. Christian Benteke, inevitably, with it. A terrible goal record at Crystal Palace and an ex-Liverpool player he was obviously going to score against us. Jordan Pickford was visibly disappointed and apologetic for not keeping it out, as Benteke’s low drive fizzed under him. It happens.

Such was the wind and as Crystal Palace really had their tails up, I was saying to the guys around us that I thought it would be very difficult for Everton to get back ahead in this game. It was hard to get out of our half and the Eagles were all over us. Thankfully, Richarlison had other ideas and took matters into his own hands. From around the left side of the half-way line he picked up the ball and made a beeline for the Crystal Palace penalty area. Like a man on a mission, he jinked in and out of the back-peddling defenders before slotting home beautifully past Vicente Guaita’s goal from just inside the penalty area. It was a goal of real quality from Richarlison and a vital one too as it changed the dynamic of the game completely.

As important as Richarlison’s piece of brilliance at one end of the field was Jordan Pickford’s incredible reflex save to deny Christian Benteke from point-blank range. Everton were caught napping just after scoring and, if not for Jordan, the scores would have quickly been level again. A great save, and he will have felt a lot better after that.

Everton had a measure of control after that and managed to see out the game pretty well. Indeed, we put some gloss on the scoreline when Richarlison powerfully headed Lucas Digne’s corner onto the crossbar. That would have been some header, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin was on hand to swiftly tap home the rebound for his 13th goal of the campaign. Can he get 20 for the season? He’s certainly on the right path. He almost scored his second of the game and what would have been Everton’s fourth shortly after when he skied a chance high into the Park End.

From my view in the Gwladys Street it looked as though he had missed a good opportunity though Dan, who will have had a considerably better view from the Top Balcony, felt it came to him very quickly and that he did about all he could with it. I’ll take his word for it, and 4-1 would have been harsh on Crystal Palace. They gave it a good go. Everton were deserved winners but they certainly ran us close. Well done David Coote, the match official, who refereed the game very well in my opinion. You didn’t notice him much in the game. The best referees are the ones that let the game flow.

An important win then, one which has lifted Everton up to 7th, following Sheffield United’s comeback win over Bournemouth. With Manchester City’s game postponed, Everton are now second in the form table, which will raise a few eyebrows. Though Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United all have a game in hand on us, two of them against each other, we sit 7th, only three places from 5th place, and five from 4th. European football at Goodison Park next season is beginning to look a reasonable possibility.

Arsenal (a), Manchester United (h), Chelsea (a) and Liverpool (h). We will know a lot more about our credentials following them next fixtures but we can tackle them with genuine optimism, and not trepidation.

Player ratings:

Pickford: Though he made a mistake that cost us a goal, he atoned well with a brilliant save shortly after. I also thought he dominated his box well. I’m impressed with how he was able to put it out of the system quickly. A good effort overall. 7

Digne: Whisper it quietly but I think he’s starting to find form again and look more like the player of last season. 7

Keane: Mopped up well at the back. 7


strong>Mina: A commanding display from Yerry. 7

Coleman: A good battling display from Seamus. 7

Schneiderlin: Excellent from Morgan. A solid display with plenty of tackles made and won. 8

Sigurdsson: Did very well in there and was unlucky not to score in the second half. He’s slowly becoming an influential figure in that midfield again. If we’re going to be successful in the big games coming up, I feel he will be at the heart of it. 7

Walcott: Made a telling contribution with the assist for our first goal before succumbing to injury. 7

Bernard: Took his goal well but otherwise wasn’t quite as influential as he can be. 6

Calvert-Lewin: Not his greatest game but still managed to come away with a goal. He’s in good form, long may it continue. 7

Richarlison: His decisive goalscoring contribution turned the game in our favour. He was also very busy throughout and assisted Dominic’s goal, plus won the ball back for our opening goal. A stellar effort Richarlison. My Man of the Match. 8

Sidibe (for Walcott): Did okay. 6

Davies (for Bernard): Certainly got involved. A good effort. 6

Holgate (for Sigurdsson): Also got involved. 6

Reader Comments (17)

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Dan Murphy
1 Posted 09/02/2020 at 22:44:20
Careful mate. You'll get kicked off ToffeeWeb for being chilled about Pickford's mistake. 'It happens'? Don't you mean 'effing clown, disgrace to the shirt, get rid, I remember me dad puťting me on his shoulders to watch Big Nev who woulda never done that etc.'
Tom Bowers
2 Posted 09/02/2020 at 23:20:43
Pickford's error was awful but all keeper's drop clangers.
The main thing is that these kind of things are kept to an absolute minimum.

I know some fans are ready to lynch him no matter what but there aren't that many top class keeper's out there.

Leading up to the goal Keane lost out on a 50/50 header before the pass to Benteke caught Digne way out of position.

Everton are still a mess at times in defence and until Richarlison scored they were under the cosh and all over the place.

It's totally unfair to blame the keeper all the time when goals are conceded.

John G Davies
3 Posted 09/02/2020 at 00:01:46
"I know some fans are ready to lynch him no matter what but there aren't that many top-class keepers out there."

There are definitely not. Saying that, Pickford is not a top-class keeper.

Jerome Shields
4 Posted 10/02/2020 at 00:36:55
Sorry Paul but disagree with your rating for:

Pickford 5
Colman 8
Sigurdsson 5
Bernard 7
Calvetrt Lewin 6

Agree with the rest, Sigurdsson did play well as his stats for the game show.

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 10/02/2020 at 00:41:16

Correction on the previous post, It was Schniederlin that played well not Sigurdsson!!!!!!!

Morgan Schneiderlin’s stats vs C Palace:

Touches - 66
Successful passes - 37
Successful forward passes - 20
Successful attacking third passes - 12
Successful long balls - 6
Pass accuracy - 86%
Recoveries - 4
Successful tackles - 4
Interceptions - 4
Clearances - 4

Mark Guglielmo
6 Posted 10/02/2020 at 04:13:08
That was Schneiderlin's best game in an Everton shirt in at least 2 years. I couldn't believe my eyes.

You have to give Carlo credit, he's truly getting a tune out of this squad, even the ones so many of us had written off (myself included).

Bob Parrington
7 Posted 10/02/2020 at 04:46:47
Thanks for the stats Jerome but most of us didn't need them to rate Schneiderlin as maybe our MotM. It's good to see some of the players improve with CA and his support team on board.

Paul, great report as usual. Ta!

David Ellis
8 Posted 10/02/2020 at 09:28:08
Great report, Paul.

I thought Keane and Schneiderlin both played pretty well. We just seem to lack overall cohesion. It's not so much about individual players but how the team clicks. Maybe off the ball movement is lacking when we have possession but we're not quite firing yet. Still the recent results are very welcome and help build momentum and confidence.

Christy Ring
9 Posted 10/02/2020 at 14:15:56
I thought Coleman's superb performance on Zaha, there most important player, was crucial, and I could see why Carlo started him ahead of Sidibe. Paul, I have to completely disagree with your analysis of Sigurdsson, he could, and probably should have scored, but apart from that one chance, he was totally out of his depth in midfield, and couldn't wait to get rid of the ball. I couldn't believe, he wasn't subbed way earlier.
Jerome Shields
10 Posted 10/02/2020 at 16:14:08

Had to put the stats in to recover my cock up in the previous post.


Agree with you regarding Colman and Sigurdsson. Colman was playing at the best international level in his position in the game. Could not get stats on Sigurdsson, but I am sure they would support your analysis.

Jerome Shields
11 Posted 10/02/2020 at 16:43:49
Sigurdsson stats v Crystal Palace ( Available)

Defensive tackles 0

Defensive Clearances 1

Dribbles. 6

Attacking passes final Third 2

Successful long Balls 4

Pass completion 77. 8%( back and sideways passes dominate. )

Shots. 4

Explains Crystal Palace getting the upper hand in midfield. Actually be has had a lot worse performances this season. Schneiderlin was working overtime incomparison on the stats available.

Liam Reilly
12 Posted 11/02/2020 at 14:10:54
Stats don't always reflect the true picture. Sigurdsson gets a lot of stick on here but I thought he did OK today as it was difficult to be very creative in those conditions.

Dunno why folk get on Pickford's back so much. There's few keepers in the PL would've made that save so soon after his error. What he possesses in abundance is confidence and the ability to bounce back quickly; traits of a fine keeper.

Rob Marsh
13 Posted 11/02/2020 at 20:55:08
Dan # 1

If Pickford lets a howler past him as he did against Palace but then makes three or four wonder saves to keep us in the lead or even, it's the howler the fans will focus on.

Whereas up the other end the miss of the season (while we were winning) took place with Calvert Lewin showing his limitations, but he's had a few good games recently so all is forgotten (and forgiven).

In general fans do forgive keepers less, but there are some on here who have taken a less than subjectively critical dislike to Pickford.

To answer the main question of this thread, yes we can qualify for Europe, assuming we keep playing like we are and there's the odd slip up elsewhere?

Dan Murphy
14 Posted 12/02/2020 at 00:48:00
Rob, Pickford isn't perfect but probably compensates for his errors with his freak saves. As usual with Evertonians, criticism is OTT but I suppose some can never get past the derby last season.

Re Calvert-Lewin's miss, you're probably a bit harsh. His goal was similar and he did react in time. Concentration maybe dropped as he'd just sealed the win. His one against Newcastle was top draw, Kane-esque, 1 touch and bang! He is getting really good at this level.

Thomas Lennon
15 Posted 12/02/2020 at 06:46:39
Europe is possible if we can grow the clean sheet count over the next four games, it's as simple as that. Two or three managers now have temporarily improved our win rate but been eventually overwhelmed by being unable to stop goals against. Right now, I am expecting goals against and that certainly needs to stop.
Martin Mason
17 Posted 13/02/2020 at 17:39:09
Paul, I think the DCL dummy was a training ground move. Good point about us being disadvantaged by the wind in the second half. All told a very good result. Thought Pickford had a great game.
Dean Johnson
18 Posted 13/02/2020 at 19:47:53
I think all your ratings are generous this week Paul, save for Richarlison.

I am one who criticised pickford but so what?

Does anyone genuinely think we can win anything with him in the sticks?

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