Everton were effectively eliminated from the Europa League today with three games remaining in the group stage. The Blues were downed by Lyon by a 2-1 scoreline. Bertrand Traore and Nabil Fekir scored for the French club, while Ashley Williams notched for Everton.
Elsewhere, Atalanta defeated Apollon Limassol to remain top of the group with 7 points. Lyon are 2nd with 5 points, while Everton are dead last with 1 point.
- Everton fans have been calling for Ronald Koeman to add width to his side, and in some ways, that call was answered by the inclusion of Kevin Mirallas and eventual substitution of Ademola Lookman. Problem is, a midfield three of Davy Klaassen, Tom Davies, and Morgan Schneiderlin did not include any ball winners to get the ball into the forwards.
Leaving Idrissa Gueye - and even Muhamed Besic - on the bench was another Ronald Koeman mistake.
- Speaking of Klaassen, the Dutchman looks hopelessly overmatched in an Everton shirt. He can’t tackle, he can’t pass, and he can’t shoot. The talent is there, but the more time passes the more it looks like Davy is in over his head.
Leighton Baines certainly needs the occasional rest, but the biggest match of the season wasn’t the time to do it. Cuco Martina was shoehorned into a left back role, which meant Mason Holgate remained on the right side.
Holgate conceded a horrific penalty to Lyon not six minutes into the game, which Fekir easily put past Jordan Pickford.
- The Blues desperately needed a calming presence in possession, and the argument can be made that this was a game crying out for Wayne Rooney. Unfortunately, Wazza was in street clothes.
- The match was ultimately marred by stand-in captain Ashley Williams’ stupidity. After whiffing on a ball into the box, Williams issued a violent shove to Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes, which saw the Portuguese man tumble to the ground. Lopes’ teammates - particularly Bertrand Traore - took serious exception.
It should have earned the Welshman a red card, particularly for the punches that look to have been thrown in the aftermath. An unprofessional, needless brawl in an otherwise entertaining game.
The fight stirred up some emotion in the Evertonians - on and off the pitch - but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor team selection and the removal of an incredibly lively Kevin Mirallas.
- Williams would go on to tie the game at 1-1, and it’s arguable that Everton even deserved to lead off a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick that hit the woodwork. Unfortunately, Sandro Ramirez passed Lyon in behind the Blues’ defense, leading to Traore turning Keane around and slotting past Pickford. That was that.
Earlier in the day, Arsene Wenger rested nearly all of his first choice players against Red Star Belgrade. The Gunners will be fresh, and Everton won’t. Arsenal will have been buoyed by a stunning winner by (of course) Olivier Giroud, and Everton demoralized.
It’s likely to get worse before it gets better for Everton, and it all seems so preventable. A Baines here, a Jagielka there, a Gana Gueye anywhere. What are you doing, Ronald?