Everton maintained their home unbeaten record today, but dropped more points in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United. Despite an improved performance in the second half, the Blues are missing a spark and fortune has not been their friend in this streak as they remain with one win in the last ten games.
Ronald Koeman made three changes to the side from last week, taking off Phil Jagielka, Ross Barkley, and Aaron Lennon - with Ramiro Funes Mori, Tom Cleverley and Kevin Mirallas taking their spots respectively in a 4-3-3 formation.
The home side started decently enough, but looked like they were happy to let United have the ball. A flurry of corners aside, the first quarter of the game didn’t have any real chances either way.
On the half hour mark, Gareth Barry picked up his 150th yellow card of his Premier League career in his 608th start, after being lucky to escape referee Michael Oliver’s ire for first a crunching tackle and then a handball.
Just before the half though, Zlatan Ibrahimovioc broke through the backline, and as Maarten Stekelenburg lost his mind rushing out of the box, Ibra chipped the ball over him for the goal. The ball hit the bar, then bounced off the post, before bobbing in just as Funes Mori got there to hook it away. The replay proved the ref’s decision correct.
It wasn’t till the 53rd minute that the Blues got their first shot on goal with David De Gea making his usual great save against Everton to deny Mirallas. That woke up the crowd who roared the Toffees on again but the immediate challenge petered out as United controleld the game again, even hitting the post from close range.
A poor Tom Cleverley went off for Gerard Deulofeu halfway through the second stanza, and then Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie both went off with injuries. Their replacements Mason Holgate and Enner Valencia didn’t too much in the half hour or so they were afforded, though the young defender did look very poised handling the pacy Anthony Martial.
However, with five minutes to play, former Evertonian Marouane Fellaini brought down an excellent Idrissa Gueye in the box, with Leighton Baines slotting home coolly to tie the game at 1-1. Probably a deserved result for both sides on the balance of the effort put in on the day.
For long stretches, Everton relied on a long ball out of the back to Romelu Lukaku, using him to hold up the ball and engage the wide players Yannick Bolasie and Mirallas. However, the desperate need for a competent attacking midfielder is very visible in this Toffees side. Despite multiple warnings from Koeman, Barkley has not been able to cut it and this looks to be a priority for the Blues in the January transfer window.
The Blues looked a better attacking side in the second half, but in the end poor passing accuracy and a general lack of creativity doomed Everton like it has many times this season.
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