A well-deserved point for Everton
Everton earned this result from Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United courtesy of a late Leighton Baines penalty. This was the first match in a long while in which the Toffees looked interested in grinding out a result. Too often during this recent skid the squad looked uninterested in attack, flat-footed on defense and lacking chemistry. If this game is any indication, the squad looks ready to put their season back on track.
The attack, while not overly threatening early on, was making good runs, finding the open man and threatening the Manchester United goal throughout the match. Everton were at least making United work and this was a massive difference over the last run of matches. With Ramiro Funes Mori replacing Phil Jagielka, the defense looked much more organized and solid and was able to keep a dangerous attack at bay for most of the match.
Everton are not always going to win matches in which they play well, but it is the hallmark of a good team to grind out results against difficult opponents.
Boneheaded move costs Everton the first goal
There’s not much to say about Maarten Stekelenberg’s first half mistake other than it was a boneheaded move. The Dutch goalkeeper, who has been relatively error free throughout the year, did his best Manuel Neuer impression and cost Everton the first goal of the match. As the broadcast team pointed out, it is unclear what Stekelenberg hoped to accomplish with this move. The ball was far too high to play with his feet, and had he put his hands on the ball we would have seen him sent off.
When playing against a team that includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, mistakes must be kept at a minimum. Ibrahimovic especially has made a career out of making goalkeepers pay for their mistakes and he did just that, flicking the ball into a vacant net. Up to that point, Everton had done a solid job at limiting United’s chances and this goal took away much of Everton’s hard fought momentum at home.
Idrissa Gueye puts on a masterclass in midfield
More often than not, as Gueye goes, so goes Everton’s fortunes. Idrissa Gueye was at his finest against United. Don’t let their record fool you, United have an immensely talented squad, one that could have easily bulldozed a struggling Everton side. However, Gueye was up to the take today, harassing two of the best players in the world in Ibrahimovic and Pogba. While the United duo were able to wreak havoc in Everton’s defensive third, Gueye did an excellent job of closing them down and causing them to move the ball around.
Gueye was crucial in the late game push that lead to the Everton penalty, along with Gareth Barry, Gueye was winning ball after ball in the midfield and doing an excellent job of getting the ball forward to the attacking players. Players like him are so often unheralded but are key to hard fought wins as their energy in the midfield reverberates and lifts everyone around them.