Everton remain unbeaten under Sam Allardyce, however they were well off the pace going forward in one of most forgettable games in years. West Bromwich Albion meanwhile made it 18 games without a victory and Everton failed to score for a second consecutive match, but also gained yet another clean sheet.
A Big Sam team vs West Brom... it was never going to be classic, I kept telling myself over the course of the first half which alone seemed to last a couple of hours. The Baggies were certainly the more enterprising of the two sides as they looked to exploit their tall, physical squad. Everton are well ahead of the Baggies in the quality department but they looked slow, tired and unable to compete physically, recording just one shot in the first half which was off target from the returning Yannick Bolasie.
The home side threatened with a number of dangerous crosses, with Jay Rodriguez’ early ball only needing a slight touch into the net however Salomon Rondon failed to connect. Matt Phillips whipped another ball in which wasn’t dealt with by Everton and reached Kieran Gibbs on the far side. He hung one up to the far post for Rondon who did well to nod back across goal but none of his teammates gambled and it was cleared by the Blues. They certainly weren’t clear cut chances but West Brom were coming closer than Everton to finding a breakthrough.
Everton’s best chance came from a free kick, won by Bolasie. Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped a perfect ball in which just needed a touch but no one in blue could find one and it sailed out for a goal kick. The Blues failed to really create anything of note, getting to the Baggies box on a number of occasions before running out of ideas and losing possession.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a tough job against the huge opposition backline and was bullied out of the game, failing to make a mark in the opening 45 minutes. Craig Dawson wasted West Brom’s best chance of the first period, heading over from inside the six yard box after Phillips’ volleyed cross reached him. The game slowed down completely after this, with both sides looking like they may have over-indulged yesterday at the dinner table and the final action of the half brought the game’s first shot on target, a rising effort from Chris Brunt which was comfortably collected by Jordan Pickford.
It could only get better, right? Wrong! (Donald Trump voice). The 2nd half was just as poor as the 1st half as once more neither side showed any quality going forward. West Brom were playing like a side without a win in 17 games and Everton just looked disinterested and lacked any guile up front.
Rondon had the only clear cut chance of the 2nd period, turning Mason Holgate before bearing down on goal however he wildly sliced his effort wide and injured himself in the process. Chris Brunt had a chance from a Phillips cross as he controlled and volleyed at goal but Jonjoe Kenny superbly blocked the ferocious strike.
Everton introduced Oumar Niasse and Aaron Lennon on the hour mark to attempt to fire up the Blue’s attack however it had little impact as the Everton continued to flounder in the final third. Niasse did his best and certainly added some energy, he squared for Sigurdsson after breaking forward but both his efforts were blocked and he had the Blues best chance of the game when he got through again late. However Ben Foster made a decent double save to deny the Senegalese striker from a narrow angle.
West Brom had a host of late corners in a row but they were all dealt with easily by the Blues who were solid as a rock at the back again. The hosts were also presented with a brilliant chance to take the lead after winning a free kick on the edge of the area however Phillips would have struggled to put it any further over the bar.
So another stalemate however this one was considerably less positive than Saturday’s. Yes we were brilliant at the back again and Allardyce has completely turned the backline around however we should not be coming to teams like West Brom and sitting back. The players were off the boil going forward which the manager has no control over but there was a real lack of ambition out there today and it was a painful watch for the most part.
We’ve been saying this since September but we really are crying out for the January transfer window to arrive to we can add some much needed quality into the attacking third. The midfield lacked creativity today so it would be nice to see someone like Davy Klaassen be given a chance away at Bournemouth to see if he can begin to show some of the qualities which got him his move to the Premier League and give Everton a bit of a spark to pull us through the festive period.