In his programme notes for this, Everton’s first home game of 2020, Carlo Ancelotti announced the beginning of a “fresh” period for Everton. It was a match that followed the Italian’s first full week with his players on the training ground — “a chance to draw breath,” in his words — but it was also the first since one of the worst results in the club’s history and the Blues’ boss had some uplifting words for the Goodison faithful.
Ancelotti acknowledged the depth of pain felt by Evertonians in the wake of their humiliation at Anfield last Sunday, that “it will take time to wash away the disappointment,” but pledged that he and his players must “work … hard to make sure it is not repeated.”
It was in that spirit of atonement and a reset of sorts that he sent his team out against Brighton this afternoon and, while the resulting display was far from transcendent, it produced three vital points nonetheless and ensured that Ancelotti has taken 9 points from 12 to start his tenure as the Toffees’ boss.
Importantly, he got a reaction from his players and, for the first two-thirds of the contest at least, an accomplished display that offered plenty of hints at what might be to come if he can quietly start getting the best out of the individual components of his squad. Today, his two Brazilian stars shone — one dazzled for most of his 72 minutes on the field while other impressed with his running and work-rate either side of an impressively-taken goal that turned out to be the winner.
Injured in the warm-up at Man City on New Year’s Day and only introduced late at Anfield, by which time Everton had psychologically beaten themselves, Bernard lit up the first half against the Seagulls, driving from deep, probing through the visitors’ lines and exhibiting flashes of wonderful skill.
Typically, he was involved in the build-up to the goal, laying the ball off to Lucas Digne — the Frenchman looked much improved with his best partner on the left flank back in the side — to centre where Richarlison produced what proved to be a precious moment of quality. The team as a whole did the rest. holding Brighton at bay — just! — to get back to winning ways and keep themselves within touching distance of the top six.
Perhaps reflecting either his faith in the squad he inherited, his ability to sort their heads out and get them playing, or both, Ancelotti’s starting XI did not represent a major reshuffle or any intent to make an example of many of those responsible for the debacle against Liverpool’s kids in the FA Cup.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Seamus Coleman dropped back to the bench alongside Yerry Mina who has had his share of injury problems in recent weeks and could have used the rest. In their stead, Tom Davies, Bernard and Michael Keane were reinstated and all three turned in good performances. Somewhat surprisingly, Gylfi Sigurdsson not only retained his place but was named captain, while Digne played despite a trying week personally (that appears, from a post to Instagram, to have involved his grandfather) and his own apparent signs of fatigue in recent matches.
The team selection looked wholly justified in the first half, one that Everton controlled despite Brighton’s head-turning efforts at Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks where they were lauded for their possession of the ball and slick passing game. This afternoon, it was the home side who carried all the threat in the first half and might have gone ahead as early as the 4th minute when Theo Walcott, latching onto Richarlison’s sumptuous ball following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s smart back-heel and burned Lewis Dunk for pace, was dragged back by the shoulder by the defender but neither David Coote nor Video Assistant Referee, Michael Oliver, deemed it worthy of a penalty.
Finding a surprising amount of space to play through Brighton’s lines in midfield, Bernard frequently accepted the invitation to attack and it was his disguised pass that put Calvert-Lewin in near the goal but he ended up having to shoot from a very tight angle and Mat Ryan blocked it.
Calvert-Lewin went close in the 25th minute when his attempted cross curled inches past the far post, Bernard engineered space for a shot that was blocked by Adam Webster and Richarlison’s early shot from 18 yards forced a one-handed stop from the keeper as the Blues continued to press their case heading into the last 10 minutes before half-time.
The goal arrived in the 38th minute. Sigurdsson picked up the ball near the halfway line and quickly found Richarlison with a pass; he, in turn, laid it off to Bernard who then moved it on to Digne on the overlap down the left. Richarlison knocked the Frenchman’s low centre off the toe of Shane Duffy with his first touch, stopped the ball and then dragged it back to evade Webster with his second, and finally picked a spot in off the far post with an excellent finish to put Everton 1-0 up.
A crucial glancing touch by Duffy on a Sigurdsson free-kick a few minutes later prevented Keane from having a clear chance to double the advantage as the Blues finished the first half in the ascendency whereas Brighton had really only had a wayward Alireza Jahanbakhsh volley that flew over Jordan Pickford’s bar to show for their efforts to that point.
Predictably, Graham Potter’s side emerged from half-time with a bit more attacking intent and they came close to levelling the contest within a couple of minutes of the start of the second half.
Leandro Trossard jinked past his marker and flashed a shot wide. A few seconds later, Davies was robbed of the ball in a dangerous spot outside his own area and Neal Maupay’s pass found Trossard wide open but offside and the flag was raised before the Belgian could slot past Pickford.
Then, after the impressive Mason Holgate had been barged in the back by Martin Montoya and Duffy had gone through Calvert-Lewin with his elbow, neither challenge resulting in penalties, Trossard rattled the crossbar with a curling effort after he had been left too much space on the Seagulls’ left flank.
The pendulum swung back in the Toffees favour as Duffy deflected a shot from Richarlison behind and Ryan denied Calvert-Lewin from point-blank range after good work near the byline by Bernard before Everton’s young striker galloped onto a ball over the top but, under pressure from Dunk, fired too close to Ryan who beat his effort away.
Richarlison would also have a chance when he raced onto Davies’s high ball forward but Dunk got back to deflect his effort behind after Holgate had almost diverted a Trossard cross into his own goal.
It was at that point that Ancelotti began scaling back the attacking posture of his side by first withdrawing Bernard for Fabian Delph (the former Manchester City midfielder took to the field amid a smattering of boos from the home fans) and then Walcott in favour of Coleman.
It felt a little premature and the result was Everton sitting further and further back, seemingly inviting more pressure from the visitors but not before Calvert-Lewin appeared to have put the game beyond them with 13 minutes left. Keane headed Digne’s corner off the underside of the bar, Calvert-Lewin pounced on it on the goal-line but replays would show he had used his upper arm and it was chalked off following the check by VAR.
Potter’s own second-half change almost made the difference. It was Glenn Murray, on for Dale Stephens with 18 minutes to go, who connected with Trossard’s cross with a header searching for the corner of the goal but Pickford made a one-handed save at full stretch.
Then, with just a couple of minutes of the regulation 90 remaining and after Mina had been introduced in the 85th minute for Digne as the last act of shoring up the back line, Maupay put the equaliser on a gilded platter for Murray when his prod forward deflected fortuitously to the veteran but he lifted the ball wide of Pickford’s left-hand post to the relief of the home faithful.
So, three more points that keep Everton within four points of Sheffield United in sixth place and more signs of the settling and confidence-inspiring influence that Ancelotti is bringing to the team. In truth, had Murray grabbed a point for Brighton in the closing stages, the conversation might well be revolving around the Italian’s defensive substitutions.
As it is, Ancelotti can reflect positively on his game management and a third win in four since taking the reins from Duncan Ferguson last month. With each victory, the possibilities for salvaging something from this otherwise chaotic season will be enhanced but, for now, it’s one game at a time while the recruitment team perhaps looks for a rabbit to pull out of the transfer hat before the end of the month to add to the options in midfield.
Everton turn their focus back to the only remaining business of the 2019-20 season and that is making a concerted push for the top six over the remaining 17 games of the Premier League campaign.
Davies, Bernard & Keane start as very one strives to forget the horrors of last weekend, Carlo Ancelotti promising that this is the first day of anew era at Everton. Mina, Coleman and Schneiderlin drop to the bench.
Brighton kicked off, Dunk getting his first touch early on. Everton tried to pass the ball around but it was a scrappy. Start, Sig with a clumsy tackle, the free.kick causing havoc but Pickford then grasping it out of the air. Some half-decent attacking ended within Walcott running in, getting pulled back by Duffy, and finally the VAR check came but no penalty despite the clear pullback.
Some decent crosses were headed away by Duffy before they reached Calvert-Lewin, who later got into good space but nothing really came of it. More good build-up play ensued but that perennial final ball, this time in from Digne, missed everyone. But at least it was Everton controlling the play. Bernard played in Calvert-Lewin but Ryan was out very quickly to deny him the shot.
Brighton finally mounted a good offensive move Jahanbakhsh shooting high over Pickford's bar. Richarlison could only do the same with a dreadful strike of a great feed from Bernard at the other end. Bernard once again forced a decent ball to Walcott, thanks to a defection off a defender, and Walcott was again impeded as he shot: nothing given.
Everton had heavily, almost leadenly controlled the first quarter of the contest with ominously few real chances created. Calvert-Lewin Got behind again and tried a finish that was way above his pay grade, from an impossible angle the ball missing the far post by mere inches. What a goal that would have been!
Bernard lashed a shot of Dunks chest, with every Evertonian screaming for a penalty that never was. Sidibe then demonstrated why he's not a forward, launching a hopeless shot beyond the goal with at least 3 other players waiting for a meaningful cross.
Richarlison managed to injure himself as seemingly only he can, needing treatment off the sidelines. Walcott got in but passes to a defender; perhaps there was space for a shot?
Richarlison was next to be played in but Matt Ryan fully had the measure of his goal bound attempt. Richardson would then find the back of the net with some fine football, a really good goal by the Brazilian, turning well and firing far beyond Ryan but just inside the post.
A great ball in seemed destined for Keane to finish but the slightest glance from Duffy redirected the ball onto the Everton defenders arm and the chance never came. Holgate accidentally caught someone with a high boot.
After the restart, Holgate got a push In the back but was far too dramatic in his reaction. Calvert-Lewin got bundled over and needed treatment. Trossard got some space to deliver a teasing shot that beat Pickford but not the bar.
Signs and Rich showed some good invention down the left but the cross was easily volley.ed behind. Brighton were seeing more of the ball as they made a double-change, while Ancelotti looked on passively, biding his time, with the crowd less than convinced by this lukewarm 2nd half display.
Bernard did well to play in Calvert-Leon but Ryan pulled off a vital save from a rare almost powerful shot from the Yorkshireman. Ancelotti decided it was time for Delph to come on as Richarlison put in some good moves. At the other end, Holgate had to scoop a cross over Pickford and his goal as Brighton threatened, and Bernard was withdrawn for Fabian Delph. Walcott off for Coleman was the next change by the Italian maestro.
Richarlison got through but Dunk in close attention prevented a meaningful strike for a corner. Keane's header hit the bar then Calvert-Lewis bundled it in over the line with his arm (so says VAR) and an ensuing injury multiplied by a yellow card for his troubles.
Glen Murray forced a fine save from Pickford, with Mina then coming on as Brighton threatened from a corner inside the final 10 minutes, with the Everton defence living on their nerves, Diane the one coming off, to protect an injury.
Calvert-Lewin chased down a ball and wanted a corner but no dice. Duffy put his arm across Holgate's face, bringing him down.
Scorer: Richarlison (40')
Everton: Pickford; Sidibé, Keane, Holgate, Digne; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Davies, Bernard; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Lössl, Baines, Delph, Mina, Schneiderlin, Coleman, Kean.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan; Webster, Duffy, Dunk; Montoya, Propper, Stephens, Bernardo; Jahanbakhsh, Trossard; Maupay.
Subs: Button, Schelotto, Bissouma, Gross, March, Murray, .
Referee: David Coote
All that we askEarlier in the week I was still licking my wounds from the Merseyside derby debacle you kind of questioned if you could really be bothered going along for Everton vs Brighton.
For my money, as I was too fed up to write about my Anfield experience last Sunday, while the players were woeful in the second half I can’t accept the notion that Carlo Ancelotti is devoid of criticism. We all know how Liverpool play, and he must surely have known we needed more legs in midfield. Why Tom Davies wasn’t involved beggars belief for me. We didn’t have a single local player on that pitch when they probably had a fair few.
Why Richarlison was deployed on the wing rather than up front was also a mystery to me, given the success he and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have enjoyed under Duncan Ferguson. With our inability to play it out from the back against a very high Liverpool press, going direct would have reaped much greater rewards. The players take responsibility for it, and quite rightly, but I did expect better from Carlo.
I needed to get that off my chest. Sure enough, however, as we approached the weekend, I began to look forward to getting back to Goodison Park and seeing how the lads could respond; come Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t wait to see the boys in blue. We’re Evertonians. We support our team through thick and thin… mostly thin. It’s what we do.
That said, Dan was not quite as enthusiastic as we journeyed through the tunnel and towards Goodison Park. He, like many, had not forgiven the players from the previous weekend and was struggling with motivation. Dan drove to the game and my biggest stress of the day was in getting to the rendezvous point, as I somehow hit every possible red light between leaving mine and arriving, so much so that I made everyone about 10 minutes late.
We weren’t exactly pushed for time however and, though a bit behind schedule, it was nice to relax in the pub for an hour or so before making our way to Goodison Park. I’d had a boozy evening in Manchester the night prior. “This could go either way, this” I said, referring to my first sip of beer. Thankfully it went down well.
The team news showed only three changes to the XI which were downed at Anfield with Yerry Mina, Seamus Coleman and Morgen Schneiderlin all making way, replaced by Michael Keane, Tom Davies and Bernard. Richarlison was this time back where he is more effective — in attack. Ex-Evertonian Shane Duffy featured at centre back for the Seagulls alongside his doppelganger Lewis Dunk.
A player who really caught my eye out there for the visitors was their Brazilian winger Bernardo. He looks a very intelligent and hard-working player and one to keep an eye on. He won’t remain at Brighton for long one wouldn’t have thought.
I’m always interested to see who the referee is at games and am always keen to see how new referee’s who I haven’t heard of get on. I always assume they can’t be worse than the current mob; however, I’m disappointed to say that David Coote stunk the place out throughout and doesn’t seem to be an upgrade at all.
It was clear to us at the other end of the pitch in the Gwladys Street that Theo Walcott was impeded by Lewis Dunk early in the game and we certainly should have received a penalty there. You shouldn’t need VAR to confirm this but it got referred for a lengthy period… and STILL wasn’t given much to the dismay of the Goodison Park crowd.
It comes to something in football when players are getting punished for staying on their feet. This decision was especially galling given the outrageous penalty awarded against us at the Amex Stadium back in October.
Though Brighton weren’t playing badly, Everton maintained a measure of control throughout the first half with our Brazilians, Bernard and Richarlison, central to most of our attacking play. In midfield, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Davies did everything that Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgen Schneiderlin didn’t do at Anfield, while I was particularly impressed with Michael Keane at the heart of our defence.
We played pretty well in the first half and, as it wore on, you felt that all it was missing was a goal. This thankfully arrived on 38 minutes and what a goal it was too. Richarlison came short to collect a pass and carried the ball forward towards goal before laying it off to Bernard. He fed Lucas Digne whose ball in will go down as an assist I suppose but blimey, Richarlison had an awful lot to do and essentially assisted himself, leaving Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk a merry dance before curling the ball in exquisitely with his right foot. A goal of beauty from Richarlison and we got to the break 1-0 ahead.
At half time, Speedo Mick’s brother attempted the crossbar challenge and came mighty close to hitting the bar from the edge of the penalty area. The wind really began to pick up at the break and it got pretty cold. I for one had underestimated the weather and spent a lot of the second half pacing on the spot to try and keep warm.
The wind certainly had an impact on the football in the second half, but while it lacked in quality at times, it became a very closely fought contest as Brighton upped their game somewhat after the break. I felt we still had the better of it, and we should have made the game safe long before our nervy final 10 minutes when Carlo went gung-ho with the changes.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came close to scoring when a punt forward found him through on goal under pressure from Lewis Dunk, and Matt Ryan was forced into a good save. Dominic also should have scored when excellent anticipation from Bernard resulted in an opportunity for our number nine, but his effort went straight at Ryan.
The controversial moment of the half came when Everton had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for a Dominic Calvert-Lewin handball. It would have been a strange goal. Firstly the wind nearly carried the ball all the way in from Lucas Digne’s corner kick but it unfortunately came back off the post. It then popped back to Michael Keane who really should have scored but his header came back off the crossbar and out. Dominic then bundled it in on the goal line, and it looked like he may have used his arm in real time, and so it proved, the goal was disallowed following a VAR check.
I thought the then subsequent booking of Dominic was ridiculous. I mean, we watched Trent Alexander-Arnold when already on a yellow card in the Merseyside derby back in December, clearly, like very clearly, reach out and handle a ball which stopped a pass for us. Lucas Digne, and other players, made Mike Dean and the linesman very aware of what had happened but they just ignored it. They wouldn’t want to upset them lot now, would they?
However, in this game, the referee, who initially hadn’t seen the handball, then decided to book a player for something he hadn’t seen. Having watched it back, though it is a handball, it’s impossible to say with any certainty if Dominic deliberately handled or not. The goal was rightly ruled out, but the yellow card was a disgraceful decision by a referee who never had control of the game.
The final 10 minutes with a reshuffled back line was as nervy as it gets but thankfully we got ourselves over the line, and on the balance of play, deservedly so. Brighton weren’t without opportunities though and will rue missing them. Leandro Trossard had earlier rattled the crossbar when he took a dip from distance; and Mason Holgate’s wayward clearance dangerously looped over our own crossbar with Jordan Pickford stranded.
However, it was their substitute, the veteran Glenn Murray, who twice came close to scoring, firstly heading goalwards and forcing Jordan into a fine save away to his right. And then, in the closing stages of the game, Glenn came even closer when he got on the end of an opportunity inside the penalty area, though his deft flick swished just beyond the far post. One of the fellas in front of us suggested that the wind may have carried it wide; he could be right. Glenn didn’t get much contact on the ball and the wind may well have saved us there.
We got the full time unscathed… just. But it was a deserved win and the most important thing is that the effort was there. It’s not enough to erase the scars of last week’s Anfield horror, but a reactive win certainly helps ease the pain. Effort from the players should be a given. It’s not much to ask, is it?
On the face of it, three wins out of four league games for Carlo Ancelotti (with the one defeat away at Manchester City) isn’t anything to be sniffed at. Though the black mark at Anfield remains. On we go to another old acquaintance… it’ll be interesting to see what David Moyes has up his sleeve for us at next weekend's trip to the capital.
Pickford: I thought he did well. Saved what he had to and his penalty box command and distribution were both good. 7
Digne: A bit better than he has been of late. He will be made up to register an assist. His form has been under question for some time now, some excusing it with a groin injury, others feeling his head has been turned. Looking at his social media, he has had a personal issue recently, perhaps that has been hanging over him somewhat. Either way, let’s hope for a return to form for Lucas Digne in 2020. 6
Keane: I thought Michael was excellent, a bit like his form of last season. There’s an opportunity there for him to cement his place in the team. I’ll be interested to see if he takes it. 8
Holgate: Did quite well also. I’d never have believed you if you’d told me at the start of the season that Mason would be a mainstay in the team this season. 7
Sidibe: Did okay. Carlo seems to rate him over Seamus Coleman. 6
Davies: Tom had a very effective game in the middle, full of fight and always looking forward. I read a stat somewhere that Tom has played a higher percentage of forward passes in the league than anybody else. It can get us in trouble sometimes such is his over-eagerness, but I’d rather have that than someone playing it safe all the time. I’m staggered he didn’t begin the game, or at least get on the pitch at Anfield. 7
Sigurdsson: Particularly as he was given the captain’s armband and following the raft of criticism he received from supporters following the Merseyside derby, there was a lot of pressure on Gylfi to perform in this game, and he certainly stood up to be counted. He worked hard and dictated a lot of the play in midfield. A good performance. 7
Walcott: Theo did pretty well. He got involved and caused them problems down the left-hand side before he was substituted with 20 minutes to go. You can never really question Theo’s attitude. His decision-making can be poor, but he does work for the team, and there are precious few alternatives to playing him currently so we might as well get behind him. 6
Bernard: Bernard had a very effective first half, and was having a good second half before he was substituted. Let’s hope he can stay fit and get a run of games now because he does make a big difference when he’s in the team. 7
Richarlison: Richarlison had a splendid game. He was busy throughout, productive, slippery, aggressive and won us the game. A great effort. I still can’t believe he didn’t play up front at Anfield. My Man of the Match. 9
Calvert-Lewin: Did some good things and carried the fight but he probably needed to be more clinical with his opportunities. Still, a good effort. 6
Delph (for Bernard): I’m not for booing players onto the pitch. Yes, Fabian got in a barney with a supporter on Instagram. No, it’s not ideal. No, I’m not a big fan of his, but let’s get behind the lads. Booing our own players is futile. Fabian did okay from a defensive aspect and that was about it. 6
Coleman (for Walcott): Seamus was brought on as part of Carlo’s staggered shutting-up-shop attempts and got involved quickly. 6
Mina (for Holgate): Also brought on as part of a late reshuffle. Also got involved and didn’t do badly. 6
A decent responseThe alarm went off at 5:45 and, as I padded past the dog, she raised an Ancelotti-style eyebrow at the early hour, having adopted 9:15 as her wake-up time since I retired.
A 45-minute drive and I boarded the West Country Blues coach — not completely full but still 47 diehard fans, the majority of them season ticket holders willing to travel over 500 miles to support their team after the shame of Anfield. Players — take note!!
A very clear run saw us arrive at Stanley Park just before noon, so plenty of time to kill. No ToffeeWebber took me up on my request for company over a beer (miserable shower... joking!!) so I decided to have a tour of the pre-match offerings.
Walking along Stanley Park and glancing across to the scene of shame, it drives home how badly we need this new stadium. I love Goodison Park to bits but, if we are to compete, we simply have to move to a base which levels the playing field.
First stop was a nose around the club shop, then down the road to the People’s Hub. This is very good — a modern, clean and very friendly facility; being so early, it was half-empty. I ordered a very nice sausages and chips (chips were to die for — no one makes chips like scousers) and a half-decent coffee. Staff kept asking if everything was okay; I would recommend this to anyone who is not after a beer (or can’t find anyone to drink with!!).
Next was the Fanzone, where Dave Watson was interviewed; he looked fit enough to play. Then into the ground where I had a quick chat with the very nice bloke who is Graeme Sharp and found myself sitting directly in front of one David Moyes.
I have to say “Dour Davie” he most certainly is not. He absolutely oozed charisma and before the game he lit up the room with his personality and the staff were clearly as delighted to see him as he was them. Nice guy.
Onto the game itself and I thought we played really well until the last 20 minutes when Davies, Sigurdsson and Bernard tired. Bernard was excellent and, as others have said, Digne is much better with Bernard ahead of him.
Sidibé is an enigma: he looked great going forward, his sharp forward passing along the deck is excellent but, in the last 20 minutes, his positional sense was letting him down... hence Seamus coming on.
I decided to watch Tom Davies very closely in view of the stick he gets from some; I was impressed. He drove the team on, controlled the midfield, tackled, passed and intercepted well and kept his position. Okay, he hit a few stray passes towards the end but I suspect he was shattered. He is not so comfortable wide left anyway, and it was noticeable that they were getting too much space in the centre with him no longer there. This is a very good young player who will be better again once we assemble a midfield fit for purpose.
I will have a go at my player ratings here:
Pickford: one fantastic save, kicked well. 7
Sidibé: great in attack, not in defence. 6
Holgate: very strong game. 8
Keane: played well. 7
Digne: better but not up to last season's standard. 6
Walcott: decent, definite penalty, faded. 6
Davies: very good. 7
Sigurdsson: okay... but I'm not a fan. 6
Bernard: skilful, energetic, brave, inventive, great control; my MotM. 8
Richarlison: excellent — and a very good goal. 7
Calvert-Lewin: he got battered by Duffy and his mates but kept going and gave as good as he got. 7
Subs: 6 across the board as no-one had a lot to do.
I thought the booing of Delph was out of order; okay, he shouldn’t have got involved on social media but we needed the points and booing our own is not going to help.
I had a great view of Carlo and the man must have been exhausted at the end of the game. Whether he is coaching much, I haven’t a clue... but boy does he manage his team from his technical area! Constantly barking out orders for players to adjust position or change the tempo of the game — he is a polar opposite of the pursed lips and folded arms of the silent Silva.
Also, very noticeable was the involvement of Duncan Ferguson, who appeared several times in the technical area to discuss something with Carlo and this was something I can’t recall seeing with any other manager.
I may be wrong here but I can’t remember seeing Schneiderlin warm up during the game. All the other outfield subs had a few runs and stretches at some point but not him. If that is right, then I wonder if he was avoiding the possibility of abuse and, if so that is, to use Sigurdsson’s word, 'disappointing'.
Finally... VAR. I was against it from the start as this is a spontaneous game and referees' mistakes are part and parcel. How they can decide that Walcott was not impeded when it was clear he was pulled into running sideways to try to keep his balance is absolutely stupid.
The disallowed goal was 50:50 but there was no way Calvert-Lewin was deliberately handling it. He was trying to chest it over the line with his body at the wrong angle and a yellow card was just senseless.
We had a happy coach for the drive home with five players receiving votes for Man of the Match. One for Pickford, honourable mentions for Mason and a Richi but Bernard a clear winner ahead of Tom.
Incidentally, Richarlison has cleaned up his act, hasn’t he! He will still make out he is mortally wounded on occasion – only to rise again and run his guts out; but the falling to the ground for no reason seems to have gone.
He and Calvert-Lewin took a lot of stick from Duffy, who must have put on two stone or more of solid muscle since leaving us, and looks a very decent centre-half, but kept going back for more and Richarlison's goal really was a superb piece of skill.
My usual thanks to Ron, Mike, Ian and the rest of the people who run West Country Blues and enable people to see their team in pleasant and cost-effective surroundings. A much better performance.
Everton turn their focus back to the only remaining business of the 2019-20 season and that is making a concerted push for the top six over the remaining 17 games of the Premier League campaign.
The Blues made the meekest of exits from the FA Cup at the hands of their arch rivals from across the Park last Sunday and must begin the process of making amends with their long-suffering fans with the visit of Brighton this weekend.
The fallout from the cup derby defeat to a largely young and inexperienced Liverpool side has been predictably sobering but while the players were given a dressing down by Duncan Ferguson the immediate aftermath and Director of Football, Marcel Brands, held counsel with a small group of concerned fans outside the gates of Finch Farm, the most important work will have been done by Carlo Ancelotti on the pitches and in the video room of the club's Halewood complex.
Having taken over at the height of the Festive programme, this has been the new manager's first full week on the training ground with the players where he could not only manage the response to the latest Anfield debacle but also impart his ideas and methods to the players in earnest.
The manner of the defeat will present a stern test of Ancelotti's renowned man management talents but he will also learn a great deal more about the character of the team he has inherited over the coming weeks.
If Ancelotti was as shocked as reports suggested he was by Everton's performance at Anfield, his first move would, ordinarily, be to make a number of personnel changes to the starting XI this weekend. The continuing lack of options, however, particularly in central midfield mean that the Italian's scope for making wholesale changes is still limited.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin were paired together against Liverpool and proved to be a spectacular failure as a partnership, with the Frenchman emerging with little credit from his return to action after three weeks out and Sigurdsson being substituted after about an hour for the second game running.
It would be hugely surprising to see the same players line up together again against the Seagulls and there is merit in deploying Mason Holgate in a midfield role once again and recalling Michael Keane to central defence, even if the England man's form has been decidedly iffy this campaign. Tom Davies will also be pushing for inclusion while Fabian Delph might argue that he was only on for the last half hour against the reds and could make the case that some experience is needed in the middle of the park.
Ancelotti also has decisions to make regarding both full-back positions. At left-back, Lucas Digne looks exhausted and completely unproductive at the moment, perhaps because he hasn't fully recovered from the groin problem he picked up five weeks ago. Bringing Leighton Baines back in would seem to be a “no-brainer”.
At right-back, Djibril Sidibé has had an awful start to the new year but was arguably Everton's best player over the preceding month while Seamus Coleman seemed to have a mini-revival form under Ancelotti but he, too, has been taken off in the last two games so much will depend on whether or not the manager opts for his three-man defence, with Sidibé in a wing-back role again.
Further forward, Richarlison has looked dead on his feet but will have benefited from the six-day break and is almost certain to start playing off Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Despite missing good chances, the two attacking players were, perhaps, deserving of what little sympathy there was to go round on Sunday given how poorly the team used the ball and got it forward on the day and there is definitely something to be said for now turning to those players who appear to genuinely care.
You could add Bernard to that list, another player who is deserving of a start having recovered from the knock he picked up on New Year's Day and with Theo Walcott having demonstrated how little he now brings to the team, there is definitely scope for starting Anthony Gordon on the opposite flank. He may be young but he can't possibly be worse than the former Arsenal man.
Everton will be coming up against a Brighton side that has won just once since their 2-1 win at Arsenal a month ago, with their head-turning early-season form under the equally impressive Graham Potter giving way to three draws and three defeats in all competitions in that time.
The south coasters are well organised, move the ball very well and are difficult to beat, though, and, as such, will not be easy opposition for a Blues side needing to show a significant response to the events of last weekend.
How Ancelotti's men respond will be key in what could be an uneasy atmosphere in the early going. It will be incumbent on them to ignite the home support through commitment and deed on the pitch as that will be quickest way to get Evertonians back onside and fully behind them for the rest of a season that is by no means over yet despite the gloom of the past few days.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 11 January, 2020
Referee: David Coote
Last Time: Everton 3 - 1 Brighton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Holgate, Baines, Delph, Davies, Bernard, Gordon, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin