Burnley continued their fine away form and heaped the pressure on Ronald Koeman with a deserved 1-0 win at Goodison Park.
After a string of impressive cameos, Nikola Vlasic was handed his first Premier League start, playing on the right flank with Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the other wing and Oumar Niasse being handed a first league start of the season. Wayne Rooney watched from the bench for the first time since his return to the Blues. Everton started well and should have been a goal ahead as Gylfi Sigurdsson had space to shoot in the box, but his shot was straight at Nick Pope. Oumar Niasse also forced a save from the impressive stand-in Burnley goalkeeper, before the Clarets took the lead with an uncharacteristic 24-pass move involving nine players.
Sean Dyche has got Burnley brimming with confidence and playing some really nice stuff as they shake off their traditional “long ball team” tag. They knocked the ball about with crispness and confidence and eventually Stephen Ward got into a position to cut the ball back to Jeff Hendrick in the box who nonchalantly feigned past Morgan Schneiderlin before placing his shot past the helpless Jordan Pickford. A deserved opener for the visitors who were capitalising on a low-on-confidence Blues side.
There was a distinct lack of intensity in the Everton side and they were certainly playing like a team facing their fourth loss in seven Premier League matches so far. Burnley were well on top and certainly the more comfortable of the two sides. Ashley Williams had a couple of his trademark brainless moments and nearly gave away crucial chances, with Scott Arfield going down under a clumsy challenge from the Welshman in the box, but Jon Moss deemed it a dive and booked the Canadian winger.
The second half began and if it wasn’t for the scoreboard you’d have thought Everton were 3-0 up, with no real energy or production going forward. The players looked a bit lost and confidence is certainly now at rock bottom. Burnley’s defence has won them points away at Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool, so our toothless attacking really wasn’t much of a threat for the claret and blue wall. Niasse headed the best chance of the second half but couldn’t score.
Burnley could and probably should have wrapped the game up when Robbie Brady was allowed far too much space on the left wing to square for the unmarked Chris Wood who would have been left with a tap in; however Pickford expertly got a hand to it to keep the Blues in it. Rooney and Davies both tried their luck from distance late on to no avail and Everton’s desperate lumps into the box were child’s play for the impressive Ben Mee and man of the match James Tarkowski. There were a couple of penalty appeals from the Blues, calling for hand ball on two occasions however Jon Moss wasn’t interested and rightly so as neither were penalties.
The final whistle sounded and a chorus of boos greeted it, with Koeman swiftly sloping off down the tunnel as he prepares himself for the tough questions and major scrutiny he will now face after guiding Everton to 4 league losses from 7 games. Couple that with fact he has spent £150 million and it isn’t hard to see why Koeman’s job security is going to be the focus of the intense media spotlight.
I’m beginning to feel like a broken record. These performances, devoid of endeavour, intensity, ingenuity and quality, are becoming a common theme and that should not be the case when you consider the talent we possess at this club. No one other than the coaching staff and the playing staff know what is going on behind closed doors but recent performances stink of a team who are no longer playing for their manager. The fans all know the talent our players have which is why it is so bemusing they are performing so poorly. Teams we should be comfortably dispatching are running us ragged and snuffing out attacks with consummate ease. It is the manager’s responsibility to get the best out of his players and at the moment Koeman is falling well short of the mark. We now sit in 16th place in the table.
The manager has an international break now to gather his thoughts, regroup and try and arrest what is becoming a farcical run of form, starting with a tricky trip to the south coast to face Brighton at the Amex Stadium. Failure to win there coupled with anything other than 3 points at home to Lyon four days later and the tricky Carabao Cup game at Chelsea the following week becomes a must win game. A loss at Stamford Bridge could just be the final nail in the coffin for the Dutchman.