In a dreadful performance from the top to the bottom, Everton lost 2-1 to Burnley on Saturday at Turf Moor. The attack failed to convert numerous chances and the defense collapsed under limited pressure.
It was a first half dominated by the Toffees. No, it was a GAME dominated by them, at least in terms of chances created, possession and overall quality. But it’s all about goals, baby, and Everton lost in that category.
Early on, Everton saw A LOT of the ball. Almost immediately after kickoff, Kevin Mirallas was given a golden opportunity. A ball fell to him in the box and all that needed to be done was find a way to slot it past the keeper. Seriously, pick a side. No defender was near. Instead, it was struck directly at Tom Heaton in goal. What a waste.
Heaton, by the way, had a tremendous day minding the net. The shots he had to block or catch were not always the most difficult, but there were plenty of them, and he was up to the task just about every time.
But it was Burnley who would strike first in one of the weakest goals you are ever going to see. Their attack did a nice job to get around some of Everton’s defenders. But the ball that led to the goal was a deflected shot that was headed out of bounds until Everton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg got his hand to it, keeping it in bounds. It settled right at the foot of Sam Vokes, who poked it in for the lead.
When you find a rebound right in front of the net #burnleyfc https://t.co/MlRAVeSWvo— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 22, 2016
The game continued in the same fashion, with Everton on the front foot and looking likely to score, as they had most of the day. In the 58th minute, Yannick Bolasie knotted the score at one apiece with a bit of thievery. Romelu Lukaku was dribbling down the right wing when Bolasie took the ball from his teammate, continued the run and smashed it past Heaton. It’s only fair as Rom stole a goal from Bolasie a few weeks ago.
Billie Bob gives Yannick Bolasie's goal a 10 #EFC https://t.co/8J1Qp3cpjW— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 22, 2016
After that, the Blues stayed attacking. Gerard Deulofeu came off the bench and gave them a slight spark. Seamus Coleman was impressive down the right flank. And Bolasie continued to be active, but they just couldn’t put together a finish, and it cost them dearly.
In the 90th minute, Burnley had possession in the final third of the field for a rare moment in the second half. Bolaise nearly had the ball cleared but sort of fell over while doing so and allowed the Clarets a shot at goal. The shot ping-ed off the cross bar and rebounded to Scott Arfield. The same Scott Arfield who likely should have either been handed a red card earlier in the game for multiple fouls or been subbed off because of the inevitability that he was due for a red card. Instead, he remained on and put the rebound into the back of the net, sealing the game for the hosts.
Celebrate as much as you want Scott Arfield, you deserve it #burnley https://t.co/NCSA3FKW2V— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 22, 2016
There wasn’t much time after that. Enner Valencia came on for Phil Jagielka, but no other chances were created. Everton lost and lost to a poor team in an awful fashion.
This team seems to lack that killer instinct. They will both rise to the occasion, as they did last week against Manchester City, and sink to their opponent’s level, as they have done multiple times this season against subpar competition. It’s maddening.
It’s difficult to point out individual players as the problem today. It was a total team failure. Stekelenburg had a bad day after such a glorious performance a week ago. Jagielka looks every bit like the 34 years old that he is. We could stand to see Ramiro Funes Mori more and give Jags a rest. And both Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley were quiet. When they struggle, so does Lukaku.
The Blues are back home next weekend when they host West Ham on Sunday. Then, they follow that with another Premier League battle and a trip to face Chelsea on Saturday, November 5.