Everton and the fans could be forgiven for approaching this game against Manchester United with great trepidation. The team has been on a three-game slide where they’ve given up eight goals without scoring any, and the resulting loss of confidence is write clear on the players’ faces.
Here’s my immediate thoughts on the game, in no particular order:
- Ultra conservative starting XI from Ronald Koeman. Playing to not get beaten too bad, it appears - Pickford; Baines, Jagielka, Williams, Keane, Martina; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies; Sigurdsson; Rooney
- This was not unexpected from Koeman, his comments before the game said as much when he mentioned he wouldn’t be ‘trying new things’ today.
- The first couple of minutes might as well have been any of the last three games, United pressed Everton hard and it appeared the floodgates were about to burst open.
- And then just 3 minutes in, Antonio Valencia hammered home an incredible volley from the edge of the box and all our fears came true.
- Oddly enough, despite a few more chances for United, the Blues really started to grow into the game as fans saw for the first time what an efficient Everton team looks like. There were a couple of chances too, with Wayne Rooney shooting just wide as well.
- Oh my word Tom Davies! What a performance from the youngster, especially after the criticism leveled at him by Koeman. The lad was everywhere, defending, hounding Ashley Young, linking up play, making runs, being at the forefront to receive crosses too.
We went in the break down 1-0, but could be genuinely happy with the effort and ability shown in the first half.
- No changes at the break from Koeman, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin still on the bench.
- Rooney had a golden chance to score when fed through, but shot straight at David De Gea. Sigurdsson also had a close range shot smothered by the goalie.
- The solution to not having a striker, is to play a ‘false 9’, Everton-style? Players seemed to rotate through the position, with Rooney, Sigurdsson, and Davies all popping up there.
- Sandro and Calvert-Lewin came on to inject some pace later in the game
- Terrible error from Williams killed off the Blues, with his misplaced pass falling to Lukaku to set up Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shame really, because for about 75 minutes he had played this game pretty well, apart from a couple of times Rom got away from him.
- Of course, just when it was looking like we had kept Lukaku off the scoresheet, Rom popped up after a terrible freekick to bang home the rebound. Shame.
- Everton, as we have seen multiple times this season, completely folded after the second goal late in the game and completely capitulated in the last quarter.