Stoke started the game strong with the home fans roaring them on. Everton struggled to handle the size of Peter Crouch as he constantly won aerial balls and set up his teammates. It was always going to be Route 1 football that would get them a goal, and so it was as Mason Holgate was caught out by a deep ball that fell to an onrushing Marko Arnautovic. He centered for Crouch to slip by Ashley Williams and put Stoke ahead.
Everton didn’t muster much of a challenge, losing the ball too easily and then snatching at chances when they did get them. Stoke were very good value for their lead and should have scored at least twice more. Arnautovic was the thorn again slipping past Holgate repeatedly, but both times Joel Robles charged out quickly to smother the ball.
The Toffees’ equalizer came from a bit of fortune just before the half. Seamus Coleman made another slashing run into space down the right, and his shot curled towards the back post. Romelu Lukaku was in an offside position but the ball deflected in off Ryan Shawcross. The referee’s assistant had his flag up for offside, but referee Craig Pawson upheld the goal.
Everton changed formation at the half, with Holgate getting the hook. James McCarthy came on and the Blues reverted to a 4-2-3-1 which immediately had the effect of shutting down Stoke in the middle.
The second half mostly meandered on from that point on, with both sides getting some looks at goal, but neither team creating anything of substance. Stoke ended the game with the better chances, though Everton were very close to stealing it in the 87th minute with Davies header palmed away by the goalie.
The Blues were both lucky and unlucky today – lucky that Joel showed up to play today, unlucky they didn’t steal a winner at the end.