If you’d asked someone completely unfamiliar with the Premier League which team had been the subject of much talk among pundits for being rock bottom of the table and their manager odds-on to get the sack not long ago, they wouldn’t have picked the team playing in black this evening at Goodison Park. They'd have pointed a concerned finger in the direction of the one in blue.

Leicester have been improving markedly in recent weeks as Brendan Rodgers has steadied the Foxes’ ship following a 6-2 humiliation by Tottenham five weeks ago and they underlined their superiority to Frank Lampard’s team in almost every department by recording a 2-0 victory that lifts them above the Blues in the table.

Before tonight, Rodgers had failed to win on Everton’s home turf but his men played their hosts off the park from start to finish and the result looked ominously assured after Youri Tielemans had rocketed in an admittedly excellent goal on the stroke of half-time.

Lampard had tried to respond to a sloppy and disjointed first half from his charges by making a change in midfield at the break but he had no answer to his side’s struggles going forward, even if on another night, Alex Iwobi would probably have given Everton an early lead and Dominic Calvert-Lewin might have equalised in the second half rather than being foiled smartly by goalkeeper Danny Ward.

This was the fourth game in five where Everton had failed to score and Calvert-Lewin’s departure from the fray with another niggling muscle complaint only deepened the gloom around the Toffees’ struggles in attack. Everton managed just two shots on target and generally struggled to make chances while James Maddison on his own went close to scoring four times for the opposition, rattling the woodwork with one effort in the second half.

Where the win over Palace had seemed to signal the birth of a newly confident, free-flowing Everton, today exposed the team's collective limitations in moving the ball forward with consistent effectiveness. More often than not this afternoon, the Blues battled to play their way out from the back, frequently got themselves into trouble and lacked conviction and ideas when they did get to the final third. 

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Lampard had made one change to the line-up at Fulham, dropping Anthony Gordon to the bench in favour of Dwight McNeil and electing not to bring Nathan Patterson back in despite the Scot being fit enough to start.

The Toffees’ boss was, no doubt, hoping for a repeat of the stellar display that had brushed Crystal Palace aside in Everton’s last home game but it was Leicester who started the more effective of the two sides, with Maddison and Patson Daka almost combining in the hosts’ box inside the first minute and Jordan Pickford having to make a one-handed save to deny the striker three minutes after that.

Everton should have scored with less than five minutes gone, however, when Idrissa Gueye out-muscled Boubakary Soumare outside the Leicester area, Calvert-Lewin held off a defender long enough to play Iwobi in on the overlap but with plenty of goal to aim at, the Nigerian swept his shot across goal and inches past the far post.

Maddison would go perilously close on three separate occasions with shots that took decisive nicks off Blues defenders before flying narrowly past the post while James Tarkowski had a header from a corner pushed behind by Ward, Calvert-Lewin saw a strong run end with his shot being charged down at the last and Amadou Onana probably have done better with a free header off another dead ball.

Everton were largely the architects of their own problems in the first half with dreadful distribution at times and poor decision-making trying to play their way out of trouble and an error by Tarkowski in deciding to leave a bouncing ball for Pickford allowed Daka in but the keeper foiled him to bail the defender out.

The home team’s luck ran out at the end of the half, though, when Conor Coady failed to clear the ball from near his own penalty spot, the ball was worked to Tielemans 20 yards from goal and the Belgian took one touch off his thigh before despatching a dipping volley into the top corner.

Lampard withdrew the error-prone Gueye at the break in favour of James Garner and Calvert-Lewin thought he had levelled the contest four minutes into the second half when Iwobi slipped him in beautifully but Ward was quickly off his line and saved with an out-stretched leg.

Unfortunately, it would be the centre-forward’s last chance before he was forced off with what looked to be a recurrence of a hamstring problem. He was replaced by Neal Maupay while Abdoulaye Doucouré came on for Onana but it was Leicester who almost doubled their lead when Maddison drifted easily past McNeil on the hour mark and smashed a shot off the outside of the post.

Maupay’s only look-in came four minutes later when McNeil powered to the byline and the substitute’s effort at the near post was blocked behind for a corner but, depressingly, Everton generally lacked attacking threat during the last quarter of the match.

Patterson came on for Seamus Coleman and Gordon replaced McNeil but the Blues were caught on the counter when a weak pass by Doucouré was easily cut out deep in Leicester’s half and the visitors raced away on the break.

Barnes and Maddison exchanged passes in the final third and the former turned Doucouré in the box before rifling a shot high into the net to make it 2-0 with four minutes of the 90 to go and only a late intervention by Pickford following another giveaway by Maupay prevented it from being worse.

With no teams looking nailed on for the drop this season and a clutch of clubs who looked at one stage destined to struggle at the bottom but are now finding the spirit, drive and goals to drag themselves out of trouble, Evertonians look set to go into the hiatus for the World Cup nervously contemplating another battle against relegation rather than sitting safely in mid-table.

The work done over the summer to strengthen the side defensively has upgraded the back line and made Everton tougher to beat, the team looks less likely to fold in the face of adversity, but any Premier League outfit that can’t score enough goals is always going to struggle to pick up points.

While there is an urgent need to complete the summer’s transfer business in the upcoming winter window, there are no guarantees that Kevin Thelwell and his team will be able to bring in the quality required. In the meantime, it behooves Lampard to find solutions with the players he already has to keep the club treading water.

Reader Comments (39)

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Roy Johnstone
1 Posted 05/11/2022 at 21:23:45
Onana not arsed from the off. Garner comes on and Maddison is chatting away to him, arm around, getting right in his head. Deli Alli clattered him within 5 minutes last time we played them at home and he ceased to be effective. Lampard needs to be careful putting out comments about how good they were. We allowed them to dictate midfield by watching them play.
Danny Baily
2 Posted 05/11/2022 at 21:40:16
What's worrying is that this was one one the 7 or so winnable home games we had left. We really needed this fixture to come a little earlier when they were a basket case. We'll need a win on the road to make up for this.

Let's not wait until the end of the season to start approaching games with that all-or-nothing, relegation mindset. We're very much in the mix for the drop.

We needed 3 points from Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth. There's still a chance to get 4.

Bill Fairfield
3 Posted 05/11/2022 at 23:00:39
Second-rate just about sums it up. Totally outplayed by better players. It's going to be another hard season. Suppose it'll have its highlights here and there. Just not good enough again.
Pete Jeffries
4 Posted 05/11/2022 at 23:01:15
Let's face it, Gueye has proven to be a liability for us to the point of starting with 10 men every week, similar to the old Iwobi or Davies. He is too slow for the Premier League.

And yes, okay, he makes the odd good tackle but he is the past, not the present or indeed the future defensive central midfielder and will cost, us just like Doucoure in every match

Players like them are weak links and no threat to the opposition – only to their own teammates.

Simply not good enough but past it – Nil Satis in fact

We must admit our mistakes, take action now, and not play them again. Instead, make it a priority for replacement,t like a top striker in the next transfer window, or we will regret it big time.

Rob Dolby
5 Posted 05/11/2022 at 23:50:10
Pete 4. Gana played for 45 mins. Was he to blame for the 2nd half debacle?
James Byrne
6 Posted 06/11/2022 at 08:01:15
A disappointing performance and we seem to look okay for 15 minutes in most games now and that's it.

I know most comments will say Leicester have quality etc, but over 90% of the Premier League have players with match-winning quality.

We are in the 10% of the Premier League with very little quality, so I'm now expecting another relegation battle.

Does anybody else see Doucouré getting on the bench (not the first team) of any other Premier League club? Exactly. He is dogshit; I'd rather see one of the academy lads getting a chance.

Kunal Desai
7 Posted 06/11/2022 at 08:25:54
Until the day we have an owner who states "This is Everton Football Club and we demand winning and winning trophies which we will start doing by putting together a team capable of competing for top honours," Everton will remain a nothing club.

We have a looser of a board and an owner who has no intentions of seeing any success on the field other than fulfilling his remit of completing the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

David Bromwell
8 Posted 06/11/2022 at 08:38:22
This was a poor performance from a team which cannot pass the ball and look devoid of ideas going forward.

I think we have to change the way we are set up as our two wide players offer very little and, with a single central striker, we have no threat.

Looks like Calvert-Lewin will be missing for the games next week so change is inevitable. Maybe a 'surprise' centre-forward and the much-maligned Tom Davies in midfield as our best options?

Gareth Williams
9 Posted 06/11/2022 at 08:45:24
A poor performance... just not good enough.
Rick Tarleton
10 Posted 06/11/2022 at 08:57:15
As I said last week, we are set up for a nil-nil draw and praying for a goal on the break. There is no ambition, especially against a team below us in the league and at home.

This setup is fine against Man City, Arsenal etc, but not in this kind of game. For this kind of setup to work, we need very efficient finishers and we certainly haven't got them.

Tony Everan
11 Posted 06/11/2022 at 09:15:09
Here we go again, the balanced Sunday view after the previous day's bitter disappointment.

I wrote a longer rambling post and scrapped it. I am cutting to the mustard.

Two problems:

1) Midfield has to be stronger.
2) More forward threat.

Two solutions:

1) Garner has to come in and be a starter.
2) As things stand, Maupay has to play in tandem with Calvert-Lewin, feeding off knock-ons, scraps, making a total nuisance of himself.

I think it is not a recipe for beautiful football but, with what we've got at the moment, this at least plays to our strengths. It will cause the maximum problems to opponents that we can offer right now and they won't like playing against this approach. It's the best chance of us getting progress with narrow victories. Then, and only then, can we introduce more expansive football.

Julian Exshaw
12 Posted 06/11/2022 at 10:48:29
We hear the term 'a work in progress' a lot and it would appear to be the 'go to' answer when results like last night's occur. Since when exactly have we been 'in progress' though? Not since Roberto Martinez's first season, I would say.

Although we improved, at times, under Carlo we were very much 'in decline'. Since the Moyes era, team after team has surpassed us, albeit at times sporadically: Leicester, Spurs, West Ham and now the likes of Brighton and Fulham.

We are floundering. I like Lampard, I think most of us do, but who can honestly say with any conviction that he is the man to get us out of this?

Still, I live in hope of progress. I see our magnificent new stadium on the horizon, I dream of big European nights there. As I said, I live in hope.

Geoff Lambert
13 Posted 06/11/2022 at 10:55:12
If we are going to stay out of the Bottom 3 this season, I hope Lampard and Thelwell have got a quality striker lined up for January. Never mind the price – the cost of going down will be much greater.

Playing one up front at home in a game we should be looking to win was not good enough. Let's get a couple of the young lads in the team for the Carabao Cup and see if they can give Frank the option of a youthful change.

Danny O’Neill
14 Posted 06/11/2022 at 11:43:43
I've spoken enough on Michael's matchday thread.

As much as I don't like criticising as football is a game of mistakes, despite the poor performance, we had 2 gilt-edged chances.

Iwobi has to score from there and it's a different game. Calvert-Lewin demonstrated that whilst he's a good striker, he's not top drawer. All he had to do was put a bit of lift on that.

And as much as I admired the Leicester goals, there were defensive mistakes.

Seamus gets caught ball-watching and, although it was a great pass on Leicester's part, he's then playing catch-up. And Coady's clearance left a lot to be desired.

The second one, yes, Barnes made the space, but whoever our player was (I have watched it back and won't), gave him the space.

Sometimes you just have to accept you are beaten by a team that performed better. We were.

Next match, please.

Christopher Timmins
15 Posted 06/11/2022 at 12:02:58

I know you are a believer in the importance of winning the midfield battle; we lost the the battle at Fulham and again last night.

Their first goal was a worldy and the second one resulted from a mistake by Doucouré.

Our back four as a defensive unit is still a positive, as is Iwobi; over time, we need to improve the midfield sector and have more firepower up front.

Let's finish up with two wins before the World Cup break.

Jacques Sandtonian
16 Posted 06/11/2022 at 12:51:45
We can no longer carry Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon any more. They simply don't produce any output.

We don't have a lot of options going forward but, as unpopular as this might be, I'd be inclined to play three at the back, two wingbacks in Patterson and Mykolenko, with Iwobi, Garner and Onana in midfield and Calvert-Lewin and Maupay up front.

We'd have better natural width plus we can go direct to Calvert-Lewin and have Maupay picking up the pieces.

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 06/11/2022 at 12:57:06
That's a very good point, Christopher. I'd said enough on the other thread about our gaping hole in midfield and yes, the second did all come from that giveaway from Doucouré.

I think that all started close to the edge of their box. About 30 seconds later, Pickford is diving and it's a goal.

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 06/11/2022 at 13:10:50
It's not a proud statistic given the lack of goals, but from what I'm reading, "carrying" Gray and Gordon is a bit harsh, Jaques.

Along with the seemingly unpopular McNeil, for whatever reason, those 3 have scored 7 out of our 11 goals (all competitions) this season.

And one has hardly played and looks like he can be a good provider for Calvert-Lewin once he settles.

Although that looks like it will have to wait until after the World Cup.

By which time, apparently, we'll be confirmed as relegated and replacing our manager.

Jim Bennings
20 Posted 06/11/2022 at 13:49:26
Fair result, we were dreadful and can't argue.

We carry too many players that can't (maybe never will) be able to do the basics of football, which is pass, move and shoot.

Our midfield is a nonentity.

Onana is not good enough on the ball to play there, he's meant to be physically strong and domineering but games are passing him by when teams with trickery and movement turn up.

Gana wasn't awful, he breaks play like he's always done but for the number of times he gives possession away it's hardly worth it.

Where is the creativity in the midfield?

Look at what Leicester had yesterday? They had everything that I wish we had but can only dream of.

We have loads of money to spend but seem to make the same mistakes, year-in & year-out. More big money spent and not a single quality attacking player brought in again.

Onana, Gana, Maupay, McNeil, Garner – how many goals are we getting from that lot?

The only two signings we've made which have improved us are Tarkowski and Coady, as without those two there it's back to getting smashings every other week like last season.

We should have replaced Calvert-Lewin last summer, we can't bury our head in the sand and think this fella will play more than 15 games this season, his body is clearly knackered and he's not clinical enough anyway.

Ian Hollingworth
22 Posted 06/11/2022 at 14:07:39
I honestly thought we were moving in the right direction but disturbingly we seem to be slipping backwards again.
We have to accept we don't have enough quality when going forwards and only time will help that in getting better quality in.

At home, we need to be more offensive and play with an intensity that gets the crowd going from the start. Midfield is an issue. Onana, for all his potential, plays like it's a training match.

We need to see a "We are Everton... Who The Fuck are You???" attitude from our team.

A very long hard season ahead of us and, as an earlier poster alluded to, we can't wait for the run-in to start fighting to save ourselves.

Steavey Buckley
23 Posted 06/11/2022 at 14:15:07
Frank Lampard has to be less cautious and more adventurous with his team selections. Everton have to find an attacking formula where Everton can still defend properly but get more players in as many forward positions as possible, because time is running out for him.

But there are two players who can't play together that are Gana and Omana; both players make too many mistakes, and Everton can only afford one of them to make so many mistakes.

Jim Bennings
24 Posted 06/11/2022 at 15:43:38
Newcastle showing us how you think and act like a positive club once you get a takeover.

Much of football is about belief.

Newcastle haven't spent loads of money so far but Eddie Howe has produced a fine football team that believes it belongs in the Top 6.

Look at us: 6 years on, we are still making ourselves second favourite to win home games.

Andy Meighan
25 Posted 06/11/2022 at 15:49:50
Any neutral watching the game last night would definitely have us down as one of the 3 teams to go down this season. And they'd be justified; goals win games and we don't have any, failing to score in 4 of the last 5 games is shocking.

I see people on here saying we'll get 3 points at Bournemouth next week... Why? Our away form is atrocious and, since Lampard has been here, we've only won 2 away and we've got to go to Anfield, The Etihad and Stamford Bridge among others this season.

Anyone who comes on here and says we are not in a relegation battle this season is living on Planet Twat. I really don't trust the club to get a striker in January, so therefore we'll struggle to score goals, hence another relegation battle.

Christopher Timmins
26 Posted 06/11/2022 at 15:52:24
One thing that did concern me last night was the lack of impact made by those brought on.
Joe McMahon
27 Posted 06/11/2022 at 15:53:40
Jim, absolutely and they have pace and plenty of goalscorers.

Callum Wilson is another striker who will chalk up 100 Premier League goals; we've had one in 30 years.

Tony Hill
28 Posted 06/11/2022 at 15:55:38
What's remarkable is how generally terrified we are as a team, and that has been so for many years. I don't think our players lack technical ability, they are paralysed by dread.

I don't know where that comes from and why it is so ingrained across so many regimes and Everton teams, but it is a real blight and even when we have the odd uplifting performance (Liverpool, Palace this season) it re-asserts itself.

We need a witch doctor.

Jim Bennings
29 Posted 06/11/2022 at 16:02:24
It does seem like a psychological issue at Everton Football Club, yes.

So many managers, players, regimes all go the same way.

1) Must play with big Number 9.

2) Must just cross the ball to big Number 9's head.

3) Corner kicks and set plays don't matter, just don't bother.

4) Must play two holding midfielders that offer zilcho attacking threat.

Nothing ever changes; same shit, different season.

The fear of losing (perhaps even a greater fear of actually winning?) at Everton has become so overriding that it's scary as a long-term fan watching it unfold.

Barry Rathbone
30 Posted 06/11/2022 at 16:15:41
Tony @28,

It's because we have too many very ordinary players and have done for years. There's enough about them to exist in the Premier League but little else. How many times do we sign players who appear decent at first only to be subsumed by the disease of "Evertonitis" 5 games later?

They can all pass backwards and sideways, appearing to look like players, but the game is about taking it to the opposition and we've only done that in one season for coming up to 3 decades. Our standard of recruitment is piss poor.

John Raftery
31 Posted 06/11/2022 at 17:38:55
The gap in quality and organisation between the teams was alarming. For the first time this season, we have reason to be worried about what the rest of the campaign may bring.

Not only do we fail to score enough goals, we fail to create many opportunities to score. It is obvious using two wide attackers isn't working. They don't offer enough threat in open play while leaving the midfield open to counter-attacks. Until we can improve the quality in those positions, it surely makes sense to seal up the midfield with an extra body. That would be pragmatic. I fear our current manager doesn't willingly do pragmatism.

We really miss Richarlison. He was a player who frequently made something out of nothing and in a poor team could be relied upon to pop the ball in the net. Signing a player of that ilk should be a priority in January.

Tony Hill
32 Posted 06/11/2022 at 17:46:40
Barry @30, you're right, of course, about recruitment but I think it runs deeper. We do not believe in ourselves and this has reinforced itself down the years. I am very sorry to say that I think the RS's multiple successes have played a part in creating and sustaining our inferiority complex. That's unpalatable but true.

A Blue Shankly or Ferguson would be nice, someone to rip it up and reboot, but I don't see him on the horizon.

Clive Rogers
33 Posted 06/11/2022 at 18:07:25
Recruitment has been dreadful again in the summer. Some of that must be down to Thelwell. The two CBs are the pick of the bunch, but even they have their limitations with their distribution and lack of pace. The rest of the signings are turning out to be poor. McNeil and Maupay are simply not good enough while Gueye is clearly past his best and Onana and Garner are struggling to make any impression. The signing that has baffled me most is that of Vinagre who seems to have been written off already. Why did we sign a player for cover when the first team were so poor. Looking at his record he has never established himself anywhere he has played. He is not even getting in the squad recently. He was at Wolves under Thelwell so it’s mystifying why he was signed unless it’s jobs for the boys.
Andy Meighan
34 Posted 06/11/2022 at 18:13:42
Great Post Jim 24. Funnily enough I only said something similar earlier today. Howes doing a great job there and I think his biggest signing to date has been Guimares, and what a player he's turning out to be for them. You're right when you say Jim belief plays a big part in football and we as a club has lacked it for years. I couldn't bear another season like last but I firmly believe it'll happen again because I wouldn't trust them cretins upstairs to give Lampard and Thelwell the funds to get a striker or two in come the January window. But I truly believe Frank will get this right with the right backing, if not Well
Rob Dolby
35 Posted 06/11/2022 at 18:29:54
Think Eddie Howe has spent a few Bob.

60m issak and 30m wood as strikers. 50m midfielder bruno

35m centre back botman. Trippier is earning a fortune. Pope 10m, Target 15m but other than that he has got them organised and they look like a top 6 team.

Siggurdsson is still our record signing from nearly 5 years ago.

Momentum is everything in sport and Newcastle have it at present we don't.

Jim Bennings
36 Posted 06/11/2022 at 18:42:37
We've had money, lots of it over the last six years.

We've spent I'd say 80 percent of that cash woefully.

The fact that since Romelu Lukaku left in summer of 2017 we haven't signed a striker that's been able to score 10 league goals is an absolute negligence of duty.

I also agree that we can't play with two wide players especially two as erratic and lacking punch that Gray and Gordon do.

It's not like we have Andrei Kanchelskis on the wing firing shots in left right and center.

I worry for the remainder of this season, I think the writing has been on the wall most of this season to date but we've managed to keep it tight defensively and ride our luck out in a few games.

I just can't see however where enough goals are going to come from within this current group to win enough points in what looks like being a more competitive bottom three than last time.

Henrik Lyngsie
37 Posted 06/11/2022 at 18:59:31
Clive 35. Agree that recruitment seems odd. I think there is a lack of coherence. Lampard wants to play it out from the back. And then we buy two central defenders who are really poor at that and on top of that a defensive midfielder in Gana who is just as challenged with that sort of tactics.
We can all agree that Coady and Tarkowsky are doing very well with their own game. But as a team there seems to be a lot of confusion about what is the tactical plan.
Phillip Warrington
38 Posted 06/11/2022 at 20:25:28
For all the so-called good this season, we are 4 points off the bottom and two points above the last relegation place.

The club, Lampard included, have failed to address the real issue: we need a striker who can score 20+ goals a season, Calvert-Lewin is not that type of player and Maupay is a reserve squad player trying to punch above his weight as a striker.

Due to the morons running this club, we are now being over-run financially by the bottom 10 clubs, who can buy quality players while we are getting everybodies' hand-me-downs.

Andy Meighan
39 Posted 06/11/2022 at 20:30:58
Sorry Rob 35. Forgot about Issak although he has been injured. Still they're doing well enough Without him. Whatever he has spent, he's spent wisely. Can't stand them though.
Jerome Shields
40 Posted 07/11/2022 at 07:02:43
The main reason imo for the space that Leicester City had was a failure of the defensive line to move up in support of attacking play.

This means that there are less players available to receive passes in midfield, putting midfield players under pressure. Errors didn't help. It also allows the Liecester forward line to stay high up the pitch and build attacks.

Some are blaming Coleman for getting caught out on the halfway line. If the rest of the players in the defensive line were following his lead, it would be more difficult for attacking players to run into space to recieve the ball.

The main culprits where Coady and Tarkowski who did not push up the defensive line, staying deep most of the game, allowing Liecester to encamp and organise in Everton's half most of the game.

As for Calvert-Lewin, he is never the player that he is heralded to be.

Ajay Gopal
41 Posted 08/11/2022 at 10:52:30
Now that we have run into a bad patch, it is ridiculous to suggest that the summer recruitment was bad.

Yes, if we had tons of money and we pissed it away on average players, like we have done in the past 6 years, then yes. But we basically sold our one star player to bring in a bunch of decent pros to keep us up in the Premiere League.

Apart from the centre-backs, I still think Thelwell and Lampard did a good job getting the likes of Onana, Gueye, Garner, Maupay, McNeil, perhaps Vinagre also. Lampard is yet to find the right combination and formation to make us more threatening.

As someone else alluded to above, I would welcome Lampard trying a more solid, if unexciting, 4-4-1-1 formation with Maupay up front, Iwobi playing off him, Garner and McNeil on the wings, and Gueye and Davies sweeping up and keeping things ticking over. The width would come from the fullbacks.

I realise this is a ‘small' team, but I believe we will create more chances with this formation and set of players. I am not worried about not scoring goals (I mean, not immediately), but let us start creating decent chances at least. The goals will surely follow.

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