While it’s tempting to write these remaining games off as a box-ticking exercise or a lengthy pre-season schedule ahead of what will hopefully (but might not turn out to be) a more normal 2020-21 campaign, there are still points there to be won and European qualification spots to be claimed.
In that respect, while this was an utterly forgettable game, dragged down by a truly dreadful first half, Everton accomplished the most important thing — they eked out a victory that moves them back into the top half of the table at least until a couple of the sides they have displaced play their 31st fixture.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team also avoided adding to the tally of injured players and with the luxury of a full week off now until they face Leicester City at Goodison Park, the Italian might be able to welcome back a couple of absentees before his charges next kick a ball in anger.
That these Everton players have been off for three months and had only played their first full, competitive 90 minutes three games ago (whereas Norwich had an extra couple of days’ preparation) showed at times this evening at Carrow Road, not least during those pedestrian first 45. But they did enough in the end to stand firm at the back, preserve a second successive clean sheet and grab the game’s only goal 10 minutes into the second half.
Indeed, the corner that delivered the crucial strike via the head of Michael Keane came as a result of Everton’s first concerted spell of pressure, itself a product of a half-time substitution by Ancelotti and a tactical shift that gave Ales Iwobi greater license to drift into his more favoured central to help build attacks.
The Nigerian has been the subject of much criticism from certain quarters this season, as has Tom Davies but where the former came into his own the longer the match wore on and arguably emerged as the Blues’ man of the match., the latter was hooked at half-time following as aimless and disappointing a display he has ever produced.
With Ancelotti and Marcel Brands plotting their summer transfer business with the need to strengthen central midfield high on their agenda following the sale of Morgan Schneiderlin, Davies has a claim to stake in this side but he will, unfortunately, have left his manager doubtful that the young Scouser is capable of a starting role.
The rest of the starting XI didn’t play especially badly on an individual level; they were simply unproductive, ineffective and lacking any genuine attacking threat as a collective apart from an early foray down the left that ended with Bernard teasing in a cross that Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t get underneath and headed behind.
The striker had a 20-yard effort comfortably gathered by Tim Krul and put in an inviting delivery of his own that eluded Richarlison but apart from that, Everton didn’t come close to worrying the scoreline.
Norwich actually had the more dangerous openings before the halfway stage. Onel Hernandez’s. mazy run ended with a shot that deflected off Mason Holgate and had Jordan Pickford scrambling to his left before it bounced off the outside of the post.
Ondrej Duda fired a direct free-kick into the defensive wall and Lukas Rupp forced Pickford into a two-fisted save in stoppage time.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson introduced in central midfield in place of Davies and Iwobi allowed to roam a little more, Everton looked much more fluid going forward in the early stage of the second period and within a couple of minutes of the restart, Richarlison had forced their first corner with a shot from the angle that was blocked behind.
It was from a corner from the other side, won by Seamus Coleman, that Lucas Digne picked out Keane with a flighted dead-ball delivery and the centre-half glanced the ball inside the far post with his head.
Initially, Everton didn’t rest on their laurels and first Calvert-Lewin tested Krul with a shot from the edge of the box that the Dutchman palmed over, and then the Canaries’ defence rebuffed another effort from Richarlison before Calvert-Lewin missed disappointingly with a header from an excellent Iwobi cross.
But as the half wore on, Norwich began to grow in belief and it felt for a while as though the inevitable equaliser would come. Alexander Tettey saw a speculative effort deflected wide, André Gomes almost turned the ball past Pickford trying to defend McLean’s cross and substitute Adam Idah also had a shot blocked behind.
A late free-kick when late substitute Moise Kean was felled on the edge of the box by Todd Cantwell gave Digne a chance to seal it from a direct free-kick but he curled over the crossbar with Leighton Baines, also on for the last few minutes, also in attendance and, probably, the better candidate to take it.
Ancelotti admitted afterwards that Everton hadn’t played well but he was clearly happy to have got the victory, the Toffees’ first in five matches. Seven points separate them from fifth and sixth place, quite a sizeable gap with only seven games to go but stranger things have happened and Ancelotti’s men still have to go to three of the teams that sit close above them before the end of the campaign.
Reader Comments (34)
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1 Posted 25/06/2020 at 09:56:51
He's like the polar opposite of Roy Keane, nervous, peripheral and often invisible. Tom makes dreadful mistakes, but you can see he is trying manfully to affect the game.
2 Posted 25/06/2020 at 10:02:01
Let's not forget we got turned over by Norwich earlier in the season by going fo them. I'm confident that, with a transfer window and a more energetic midfield being able to link the defense with the attack, we will be a bunch more dangerous and exciting proposition.
3 Posted 25/06/2020 at 10:36:06
A lot of work for Ancelotti and Brands.
4 Posted 25/06/2020 at 10:50:12
Tom Davies may benefit from playing alongside Sigurdsson instead of Gomes. Gomes was just as awful as Tom first half.
5 Posted 25/06/2020 at 11:25:35
6 Posted 25/06/2020 at 11:29:36
Defense was good against Norwich, but midfield failed in the first half to capitalise on a assured defensive performance. In the second half, Ancelotti managed to turn this around. Pickford's distribution was much better against Norwich.
Attack was better finishing because Calvert-Lewin actually did manage to lay off the ball against Norwich, though he still failed to attack the near post. Richarlison was isolated with barely nothing from midfield in the first half. He had to work extremely hard to get the ball.
Kean needs a lot of work on basics; looking up to see who is available, positioning and anticipated runs.
So Ancelotti has got the defence working and on the second half performance the midfield going.
The attack is next on the agenda. All the basic stuff; attacking near post, getting in front of marker, anticipatory runs, positioning, awareness of other attackers positioning /runs, passing ( low, attempted and completion rates) and of course finishing -finishing- finishing.
Two good results, 3 points. Before the restart, I would have been happy with that.
7 Posted 25/06/2020 at 11:37:56
Tom Davies was poor last night, but whether he does it here or elsewhere He has more chance of winning stuff in his career than any of the expensive signings we have made.
At this stage of his career, Davies has fundamental flaws to his game. He hangs on to it for too long and gets caught in possession. He often tries passes he doesn't have the ability to make and even when he plays well, he can't seem to do it in both halves of a game...but he has the one essential quality that you need to win prizes - Bravery.
I'm not talking about Mick Lyons get-your-head-in-there type of bravery, or the misguided bravery we saw in young Jimmy Vaughan. I'm talking about the bravery that makes a man keep demanding the ball no matter how badly it's going. The Bravery to ask for and receive it in difficult situations knowing the hate will rain down from the stands if he fucks it up. The balls to always be prepared to help a team mate out. To take responsibility.
You can't win anything without brave players. They don't have to be blindingly talented, just look at Liverpool. Henderson, Milner and a few others are not exactly gifted, but they are all prepared to help each other out. Take responsibility. That's why they will finish a country mile ahead of our highly paid losers.
Tom Davies will get stronger. He will learn not to try the Hollywood pass he doesn't have the ability to execute. He'll learn not to dwell on the ball too long.
I hope he is armed with the certain knowledge that those who don't understand, don't matter. I hope he doesn't let them destroy him or drive him out.
We need the likes of him. That's why a succession of managers have given him more game time than any other 22-year-old that I can think of off the top of my head.
8 Posted 25/06/2020 at 12:34:41
Gomes was equally as bad as Davies in the first half – lethargic, poor passing, getting caught in possession. It wasn't good enough from the senior man.
To turn the argument around, it could be said that it is Gomes's responsibility to shoulder the burden and coax Tom Davies into the game. I know Tom had a stinker but Gomes's play and leadership in the engine room was substandard.
Maybe it's just Gomes's physique and body language but he always looks like he is 10% short of maximum fitness. I think this player could push himself harder and would really improve for it.
Anyway, there will be definitely one and really hoping two central midfielders coming in soon. The club will tread water without a big improvement in the centre of the park.
Two signings in will give Tom and especially Gomes massive and healthy competition for a starting berth. It maybe is just what Gomes needs, and what will drive our club forward into the top 6 next season.
9 Posted 25/06/2020 at 12:39:22
Glenn Hoddle used to talk about the bravery to hit a 50-yard pass in a tight game. It's true. You can see he does have the bravery we need, and at his age he is still capable of significant improvement.
As you say, look at the strides Jordan Henderson has made, from headless chicken to world-class lynchpin, in under two years when no longer a young player.
Gomes though, should be bossing games like yesterday, and the fact he did another vanishing act is of concern (much as I have been willing him to succeed). Key thing though, we are in good hands. Carlo is righting this team, slowly but surely.
10 Posted 25/06/2020 at 13:08:53
For the money paid for him the club and Ancelotti desperately need him to be a regular and effective starter. He needs to add more goals to his game, be more consistent in his use of the ball and continue to work hard on improving his defensive play. There are however promising signs of progress. The player himself must also appreciate if he doesn't deliver under Ancelotti he never will.
11 Posted 25/06/2020 at 15:21:06
12 Posted 25/06/2020 at 18:58:18
13 Posted 25/06/2020 at 20:11:18
14 Posted 25/06/2020 at 21:07:26
The big test for both of these youngsters will come when hopefully we have added to the squad, which is way too small and short on quality. Holgate however looks the best prospect by a mile, he is the real deal.
15 Posted 25/06/2020 at 23:04:52
16 Posted 25/06/2020 at 23:40:34
Tom is learning and if he stuck and executed basics and kept the momentum of the move going and intercepted and closed space like Lee Carsley, did for Everton, he could do a lot worse.
For me every game he seems unsure and hessitates and we loose the ball and in many occasions,we concede free kicks in dangerous positions.
But in Toms defence he doesnt shadow box with the shadows of the players whove gone past them, he tries to make amends.
All injured players considered, and that impact, our midfield is too pedestrian and we have very rare advantage points in games, as we repetition pass crab and back for 60% of our possession in any game.
How can you win a game, but you play to limits of your players?
17 Posted 26/06/2020 at 00:38:53
Darren H – All this learning that you think he will eventually do; when? And why hasn't he done it already? I watch other young players who have latterly broken into Premier League first-team midfields – Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Steven Alzate*, Mason Mount, Reece James, Hamza Choudhury, Scott McTominay, both Longstaff brothers, Todd Cantwell, Oliver Skipp, Declan Rice*, Morgan Gibbs-White – and in my opinion they are all now ahead of Davies in terms of development/ability/potential. At best he is treading water, at worst he is already going backwards. What actual signs of improvement are there for us to hold on to?
* I marked out these two because I think Alzate is going to be a very very good player, and Rice because he is currently the most over-rated footballer in the Premier League.
18 Posted 26/06/2020 at 07:51:16
The midfield is absolutely atrocious at times, I'm but just talking about the inability of Tom Davies either but the entire lack of movement across the pitch.
Two players that have really not kicked on since about October or November of 2018 are Bernard and Gomes.
I thought back then that Bernard would be our modern day Juninho, a similar small in stature player at Boro in the 90's but ultimately a class act.
Bernard just doesn't seem to get involved in games enough does he?
Gomes, look I know he had a quite horrible injury in November but I'm talking about his inconsistencies before then, another guy who should have been bossing many games but looks like he runs in treacle more often than not, just hasn't kicked on from those promising early days under Silva.
Davies I'm sorry I know fans want him to succeed and he's a decent fella but he hasn't got any of the attributes that make for a top level midfielder, is he quick, strong, aggressive, can he pass, can he shoot, can he really win physical aerial duels?
How many of those boxes does he really tick?
As for the rest?
Iwobi looks ok coming inside but still can't see what he's meant that be, he's not a winger and he's not disciplined enough to play in the middle, maybe he's what they would have once called an inside right forward, I don't know.
Richarlison still let's too many games pass him by without knowing he's in the game, probably our only real game changer when he's in the mood that is.
19 Posted 26/06/2020 at 08:18:32
20 Posted 26/06/2020 at 08:25:49
None of these three would get a game for Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Spurs or Chelsea. They are decent players with significant shortcomings. You get what you can afford.
21 Posted 26/06/2020 at 09:16:06
I am not against keeping him for the time being, because he probably earns peanuts and is another body - but he is clearly not the answer in the middle of the park going forward.
There has been talk of a load of centre backs and a load of right wingers in this upcoming window, but for me, central midfield is where we have major problems - for the remainder of the season it needs to be Gomes and Sigurddson.
22 Posted 26/06/2020 at 09:27:20
To me Gomes needs to be sharper, fitter and more focused. I see him as a thoroughbred racehorse that needs some special training regime to get it race fit. Also he definitely needs a complimentary, more combative midfielder to flourish. He will have one next season so we will see.
Tom is young still but next season his opportunities will be diminished. I think there is still development and improvement to come from him over the next year or two.
If he went on loan playing week in week out to a decent club like Derby for a year it could be the making of him. Especially if he is a driving force for them in getting promoted. I dont want to see him rot on the bench or miss the squad altogether and this solution could be the best option for him and the club.
23 Posted 26/06/2020 at 09:29:42
I like Tom and I really hope he pushes on but I'm not quite sure what his basic skillset is. He's not quick or strong, he doesn't seem to anticipate well or break up play frequently. I think he passes forward alot and has decent vision so maybe this is his strong suit but if so then is that too similar to Gomes? Perhaps it is enough if he improves incrementally across the board to become a more accomplished all-rounder. I have a feeling that the best thing for him at this stage could be a loan to a good championship team and getting 30+ starts for a decent team to really nail down his game like Mason Mount did.
24 Posted 26/06/2020 at 10:01:00
Then, three days later, he flags in the heat when doing all the running again for André. His qualities are energy, tackling and, as alluded to above, bravery.
25 Posted 26/06/2020 at 11:41:16
I know I am a perennial critic of Pickford but I cannot agree that his distribution improved at Norwich.
I counted at least 3-4 kicks that went out of play and at least 2 more that were just about prevented from going out but not controlled. That for me is par for the course and certainly does not give us control of midfield.
26 Posted 26/06/2020 at 11:55:13
I'm one of those who likes Davies, he's willing, looks for the ball has an engine and could be trained to be a fine defensive midfielder. He is not an attacking midfielder, someone before mentioned Carsley and that's a good comparison, as would Dennis Stevens be from the early sixties team.
27 Posted 26/06/2020 at 12:16:27
To be fair to Lee Carsley he was a bloody decent technical player certainly never got the plaudits that Tommy Gravesen alongside him got.
I remember Cars hitting some delicious freekicks in his time here and he was a hard man's tackler and reader of the game.
I'd put Carsley more in the Gareth Barry category than Tom Davies.
28 Posted 26/06/2020 at 12:22:29
29 Posted 26/06/2020 at 13:07:23
30 Posted 26/06/2020 at 13:57:47
31 Posted 26/06/2020 at 15:28:46
32 Posted 26/06/2020 at 16:27:57
How can anyone compare Miller to Davies? Milner was an excellent player at Davies's age and he'd still run circles around Davies now. Some say send him on loan. I think he would struggle with the physical side of the Championship.
Germany got a mention. The pace may suit Tom. However, they are very high on technical ability that rules Tom out.
33 Posted 27/06/2020 at 12:54:41
I'll give you a perfect example: Against Brighton at home in the 90th minute, he casually gives the ball away and Murray was inches away from scoring. If that went in, that would've been the end of his Everton career for me.
I say loan him out to the Championship o Germany and bring in Allan or Sangare, and play one of them along with one of Gomes or Sigurdsson.
34 Posted 04/07/2020 at 00:43:29
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