Everton remained nearly unbeatable at home on Sunday as they topped Leicester City 4-2 and now find themselves even on points with Arsenal for sixth place in the Premier League. Romelu Lukaku led the way with a brace while Tom Davies and Phil Jagielka pitched in a goal apiece at Goodison Park.
Davies was the one who opened the scoring after just thirty seconds, which ties him with Lukaku for the quickest goal in the league this season. Much of the credit for this goal, though, must go to Kevin Mirallas. Kev took a throw in and ran with the ball half the length of the pitch before being tripped up and dishing the ball to Davies, who easily slotted it home for the early lead.
After that, Everton fell right in Leicester’s trap for a while. By now, it seems obvious that the Foxes love playing fast and on the counter. They thrive in chaos. It would have behooved the Toffees to slow the game down. Instead, they went for the throat, committing men forward and leaving themselves vulnerable at the back.
Leicester took advantage. First, Jamie Vardy played Islam Slimani into wide open space and he poked a shot between Joel Robles leg to tie things up after only four minutes. Moments later, Marc Albrighton put the defending champions ahead with a free kick into the top right corner for a lovely goal. However, Robles was awkward on the “shot” and barely got off the ground to try and bat it away. In postgame interviews Albrighton was coy about whether or not he was really going for goal. Most people can probably guess it was intended to be a cross. Whatever it was, it fooled the Everton keeper.
The Blues wouldn’t stay down for long. All day, they were clearly the better side. Leicester had not put their best side on the pitch in preparation for their upcoming Champions League match, allowing Everton to exploit some holes, which they eventually did.
From a lovely Ross Barkley cross, Lukaku ran into the box and simply redirected the delivery past Kasper Schmeichel to knot things at two goals apiece.
Just before halftime, Jagielka put Everton ahead for good. The skipper just can’t stop scoring. First he had the Blues ahead against Manchester United and now against the Foxes. This goal came off of a corner from Mirallas where Jags simply jumped higher than every defender around him.
That goal was surely a relief to Barkley who had, moments earlier, earned the corner by missing a golden opportunity. He attempted to dribble around Schmeichel and seemed to be home free, but the keeper stuck out his right hand at the last moment and smacked it away from the net.
The second half was not nearly as exciting. Everton battened down the hatches and played defense; happy to allow the Foxes more possession. But Lukaku would get his second. This one too came off of a Mirallas corner. Jags got to the delivery first, but his header was deflected off of a Leicester defender and landed at Rom’s feet. The big Belgian just needed to smash it into the net to earn Everton the three points they deserved.
There can’t be too much to complain about today. Everton looked dominant. The first goal was deserved from Leicester. It was dumb defending from Everton, but there is a reason this team won the league a year ago and is still alive in Europe. The second goal was a bit fluky and a result of some poor goalkeeping.
Other than that, there was a lot to like about this performance. Mirallas had an outstanding day despite no goals. Lukaku got two more goals. The return of Morgan Schneiderlin made such a huge difference in the midfield. And Barkley had some bright moments. These are the days where the potential of this squad in the next year or two is so evident if they can just convince the right players to stick around and recruit others to join up and complement what is already in place.