In the fourth game of his interim role as Everton manager, David Unsworth once again eschewed any wingers in an attempt for defensive solidity while posing some sort of attacking intent.
Here’s some thoughts from the game, in no particular order.
- Blues starting XI - Pickford; Kenny, Keane, Jags, Baines; Davies, Beni, Gueye; Sigurdsson; Niasse, Rooney.
- No Mirallas, Vlasic, Schneiderlin, Sandro or Klaassen - one or more of them could be gone in January, depending on who takes charge.
- Everton mostly held their shape in that formation, without creating too much or looking defensively fragile either. You’ll never get the best out of Wayne Rooney or Gylfi Sigurdsson out wide.
- Oumar Niasse brings a different type of energy to the pitch whenever he plays, it’s good to see.
- Jonjoe Kenny is not ready to play at this level quite yet, especially not twice a week. Seamus Coleman will be great to have back.
- Beni Baningime on the other hand is ready, with a capital R. Just like Tom Davies took the team by storm last season as a teenager, Beni is doing the same, making Morgan Schneiderlin quite disposable.
- Leighton Baines had the best chance of the opening stages, but his weak shot was straight at the goalie when he had all day to shoot.
- Everton were lucky to not be behind after Richarlison ran free at goal with Baines chasing him and Pickford stranded, but the Brazilian shot wide.
0-0 at the half, Everton’s strategy clearly long-ball, with none of the sideways passing that marked Koeman’s tenure. On the plus side, it meant the Blues transitioned faster, but the negative was that it was hit or miss most times with no real big target up top.
- Richarlison punished the Blues after the break on a counter as the Toffees pushed up, and went 1-0 behind.
- Sigurdsson came so so close to scoring, but Gomes made an amazing save to keep him out. That chance was all Niasse though.
- Watford scored from a corner soon after, and Jagielka beaten by his man and that was surely game over, no way Blues score twice.
- Off a great ball from sub Ademola Lookman, Oumar Niasse broke through on goal and pulled one back in the 65th minute.
- The Blues then somehow pulled level with other sub Dominic Calvert-Lewin rising highest at the back post to tie it at two all.
- What a difference to the speed and transition of the Blues when there are two wingers on the pitch. Nothing fans haven’t been crying for all season.
- Unsworth threw on another winger, Aaron Lennon, who promptly won the Blues a penalty that Baines dispatched for an unbelievable lead.
- With 12 minutes of time added on, the drama did not end there, with Pickford then hauling Richarlison in a goalmouth melee for a penalty in the 100th minute.
- Tom Cleverley then stepped up and shot his penalty wide of the post, the Blues lead was preserved, and finally a win in the Premier League.