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Everton beat Brighton 3-1: A counter-attacking masterclass

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Three Thoughts from the Toffees’ win yesterday

Everton FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Masterful on the counter

Everton have been spotty at best when attacking with the run of play, but their counter attack has been borderline masterful at times. The lack of precision and ball control that has been seen during the Toffees’ normal build up play vanishes during the counter and is instead replaced with inch-perfect passes and precise runs to goal.

Richarlison in particular plays a big part in Everton’s success on the counter. For all his struggles in performing the usual striker tasks like holding up the ball, he makes up for when Everton are on the break. The Brazilian’s unique combination of skill, pace and size make him a nightmare for opposing defenders as evidenced by his destruction of Shane Duffy on his second goal.

Even against a defensive-minded team like Brighton that likes to keep numbers behind the ball, Everton got a majority of their offense off the counter. Not only has this playing style been successful, it is delightful to watch. This team is one of the most enjoyable Everton squads to watch in recent seasons and look as though they can succeed while still playing with style.

Finishing is still not great

Don’t let the 3-1 scoreline fool you, this Everton team is still struggling to convert their chances. It is certainly not expected that Everton put away every single chance they get, if that were possible this team would be much higher on the table. But there has been a troubling trend this season of players not putting away clear chances to score.

It could be argued that this finishing problem is a symptom of not having a true number one striker on the team. Richarlison has clearly had success in the position, but almost all of Everton’s scoring has come from players who traditionally play in the midfield. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott have done their part in getting goals for Everton, but they are primarily playmakers. It is foolish to expect these players to be the primary goal scorers for this club in the long term.

Striker needs to be Marcel Brands’ key position to target over the winter or summer transfer window. This can allow Everton’s playmakers to do what they do best while still contributing goals when needed. This is an incredibly talented squad that really only needs a few more pieces to start making some noise in the Premier League.

Coleman bounces back

Seamus Coleman has struggled mightily this season. Due to injuries and an overall drop in form, the Irish international has looked like a shell of his former self through large swaths of the current campaign. But the Everton skipper came through in a big way today and finally looked like the Seamus Coleman of old.

When he’s at his best Coleman is arguably one of the better right backs in the Premier League. His crossing may be spotty and his defense is not the best, but he gets into attacking positions with an alarming regularity. Everton are often at their best when both full backs are a major part of the attack. Had it not been for Richarlison’s two goals, Coleman could have easily been the player of the game in this match.

Coleman’s overlapping throughout this match was excellent. He allowed his team’s play makers to find acres of space and while his contributions in this department were not directly reflected in the score, they were nonetheless important. The big moment for Coleman was his goal that saw Everton take the lead for the final time. It marked the first time Coleman had scored since the 2016/17 season and the goal was a massively important one.