Lucky bounces and missed chances
When the dust had settled the point could have been made for either team coming away with a victory from this match. Everton, despite largely dominating were unable to find the back of the net for most of the afternoon. Crystal Palace, to their credit, hung in the there and certainly gave Everton a run for their money with a handful of near misses.
One of the several issues that plagued Everton throughout this season was that things never seemed to be going their way. They could’ve played fine throughout the match, but an unlucky bounce or a closely missed challenge doomed them to a draw or loss. However Everton seemed to be on the right side of lady luck in this match, and were fortunate to come away with all three points.
Obviously there was a clear human element to this win, Wayne Hennessey skillfully denied a number of clear cut Everton chances and multiple Crystal Palace attackers fumbled their dribbles to halt the counter attack in it’s tracks. Everton’s lack of aggression in the attacking third also snuffed out what could have been at least one goal. Many of the Everton attackers were caught flat-footed as Hennessey failed to control his saves on more than one occasion. Despite this, something about this win just seemed lucky and it’s about time luck worked out for Everton.
Coleman takes his turn as the center of the attack
One of the things that I believe has led to Everton’s recent resurgence is their ability to not rely on one player to get goals. Sure, Romelu Lukaku is going to be the key to most attacking plays, but Ross Barkley, Tom Davies, Kevin Mirallas and others have all had their moment in the spotlight for Everton.
In this match, that spotlight was consistently shining on Seamus Coleman. With play down the left side of the pitch not working, Coleman’s teammates seemed to be finding the Ireland international in space down the right side. Always available for a pass and often playing it into dangerous areas, Coleman was frequently the focal point of the offense.
It was fitting that Coleman would be the one to seal the match for Everton with his signature marauding run down the right flank for a late goal. It is also no surprise that Coleman is the Toffees’ second highest goalscorer after Lukaku this season.
When healthy, Coleman is arguably the best right back in English football. And given Everton’s struggles with wing players, the 3-5-2 formation that Ronald Koeman has been deploying suits Coleman so well. Both Leighton Baines and Coleman have been significantly more effective out wide than any of the wingers on the squad and it’s no surprise that Everton are finding success in this set up.
Grinding out winnable games
Going into this match I had a bad feeling about the end result. Coming off a dominant win against Manchester City, Everton had all the momentum in the world and were expected to win against a struggling Palace side. However as recent history has shown, these are often the games that Everton do not win. Far too often, we have seen Everton come into matches against struggling opposition, only to give up an early goal, or grow frustrated in their inability to score. In other words, they shrink when things aren’t going their way.
As this game wore on, it looked as though this would be one of those frustrating matches. The opportunities that Everton did have were snuffed out, and many of the shots on target were narrowly saved. The players could have easily gotten frustrated, pushed a little too hard and given up a heart breaking goal on the counter attack. Granted this was not for lack of trying as Everton nearly gave up two goals off of headers.
But, despite the growing negativity that has overcome so many when it comes to this Everton team, they found a way to grind out a result. With the top six so competitive this year, Everton need every point they can get if they want to stay in contention for a spot in European competition. Wins against Man City and the other top clubs are great, but getting three points against Palace is just as critical. Those are the matches that are looked back on at the end of the season as missed opportunities. Fortunately on this day the opportunity was seized and Everton get that much closer to 6th place.