Everton were comfortably beaten by an energetic Leicester City side yesterday who out-battled the Toffees from start to finish. Goals from Jamie Vardy and Demarai Gray were enough to get Claude Puel’s side all three points in his first game in charge as the crisis at Everton worsens.
You could see from very early on which side were more up for it as Leicester’s tenacious attack sparked into action from the outset. Just three minutes in the brilliant Demarai Gray, who would be chief tormenter for the Toffees, drove one just wide of Jordan Pickford’s goal and it was a small taster of things to come. Ashley Williams’ defensive capabilities came under scrutiny once more from an 8th minute corner.
As the ball was whipped in, Vicente Iborra flicked on to the far post were Williams had left Foxes captain Wes Morgan all alone, however the Welshman slightly redeemed himself as he blocked the Jamaican giant’s goal bound strike. Gray was involved again shortly after as he glided past Leighton Baines and cut the ball back for Ben Chilwell, but he failed to get his shot on target and squandered a good chance for the home side. Early warning signs for Everton that were unfortunately not heeded.
Everton had started far too tentatively and were extremely wasteful in possession, half asleep at the back and limp in the final third. It seemed only a matter of time before Leicester took the lead and they did so just shy of the 20 minute mark, from an Everton free kick. Baines’ free kick was easily cleared and Gray got clear of Tom Davies and then skipped past Idrissa Gueye before bolting towards the Everton box. He slipped in Riyad Mahrez who in turn squared for Jamie Vardy to side foot home. That was the 5th goal in five games against the Toffees that Vardy had been involved in, scoring three and assisting two. It was a swashbuckling run from Gray and a sweeping counter attack harking back to the title winning Foxes side of a few years ago.
10 minutes later and Everton should have been level as Wayne Rooney slipped through Aaron Lennon. Lennon was one on one and should have shot but instead opted to square to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who couldn’t connect under pressure from Harry Maguire. That missed opportunity would prove costly as just two minutes later Leicester would double their advantage. Gray was causing problems again as he lost Davies and whipped a wicked ball into the danger area. Jonjoe Kenny swung a boot at it to clear but instead completely mishit it and sent the ball spiralling over Pickford and into the Everton goal. That goal summed up Everton’s season so far and left them with an almighty task if they were to get anything out of the game.
Only a couple of minutes later however Everton should have had a route back into the game as Lennon got into the box and was scythed down from behind by Austrian wing back Christian Fuchs. It was a blatant penalty but referee Andre Marriner failed to see it and cost the Blues a chance to halve the deficit. Kevin Mirallas came close a couple of times from range before the break but Schmeichel was never really threatened. As far as first halves go, that was as bad as it gets. Things could only get better in the 2nd half...right? Wrong!
Oumar Niasse and Beni Baningime came on at the break to replace Lennon and Mirallas as Unsworth looked to change the emphasis. This did give us one positive to take from the game as Beni was composed and impressive again, but it was little consolation. Everton created very little in the 2nd period as Leicester were quite content to sit back and soak up the pressure. They were obviously aware of how toothless our attack is and they never really looked too concerned.
A hatful of corners in the second half were all either headed clear by the first man or claimed comfortably by Schmeichel. Oumar Niasse’s heroic return seems a distant memory now as Evertonians are beginning to remember just why he was exiled from 1st team matters. The guy gives his heart and soul and leaves everything out on the pitch but as far as actual footballing abilities go he is dreadful and it still makes me feel slightly dizzy when I remember someone actually decided he was worth £13.5 million. After being brilliantly played through by Rooney his first touch was astoundingly poor and bounced straight into the keepers grateful clutches and shortly after he was played through again by Gueye but his shot was poor and cannoned off Morgan, both chances Lukaku or the replacement that never was would have gobbled up.
That is the issue at the moment; a team who offer absolutely nothing going forward yet are calamitous at the back. It’s a recipe for disaster and Everton are looking well and truly submerged in the relegation quicksand. The Toffees failed to really test Schmeichel at all in the 2nd period and the game fizzled out to its inevitable conclusion. After some positive signs on Wednesday night things dropped to an all time low today. The majority of them players need to look at themselves and each other and confront the fact that they are performing well below the standards expected of them at this club. The only players who can be exempt from criticism today are Baningime and Pickford. The rest of them were unacceptably below par and if they don’t sort their act out very quickly then we are in serious trouble. I’m struggling to find any side in the Premier League with a defence and attack as bad as ours and with Aston Villa and Newcastle showing in recent years that no club is too big to go down, it’s time these players wake up and realise we are hurtling towards disaster.