Everton fail to build momentum
Everton needed a near-perfect performance in order to come away with any points against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Early in the match, it looked as though they might be able to do just that. The capitulation we’ve become accustomed to seeing against top teams seems to finally be a thing of the past as Everton looked ready to take the game to City. However a smattering of blown opportunities cost Everton the chance to get the momentum on their side.
The biggest culprit in not putting away chances was easily Richarlison. On both of his main scoring chances he was guilty of trying to be too fancy instead of making the easy play. But it has to be the first half volley attempt that stands out as the most egregious offense. Had Richarlison just taken a touch or let the ball fall a little closer to the pitch then the tide of the match could have been entirely different. City is by no means an easy team to beat, especially at home, but chances like that cannot fall by the wayside against a team so proficient at punishing mistakes.
Jordan Pickford kept the match in reach
The goalkeeper may not be the obvious player to compliment after an opponent scores three goals, but without Jordan Pickford, the score could have been much higher. His blunder against Liverpool has understandably been a big talking point in recent weeks, but don’t let it take away from the fact that Pickford has been outstanding this year.
In this match especially, Pickford’s shot-stopping prowess was on full display as he kept a three goal match from turning into a six goal one. Even as his own defenders were pushing shots towards their own net, the England number one’s reactions were sharp and his saves timely.
A defense that has been pretty solid this season looked poor for most of this match. While this City team is hard to defend against, many of Everton’s defenders did themselves no favors. And while the attackers failed to convert on most of their chances, it was Pickford that kept the match from getting out of hand. Had those chances been converted, Pickford would have been a big reason for a more positive result.
As for the two close-range goals that got by him - it’s hardly fair to expect him to make blinding saves on point-blank headers from just a few yards out.
Ademola Lookman has earned another start
I was certainly skeptical of Ademola Lookman’s ability to contribute to this team at the start of the season. Despite being so young, he had yet to really put together a complete performance that warranted more than the occasional second half substitute appearance. However, the young England international has used those substitute appearances to make a darn good case that he should finally get the chance to start for this Everton side.
While Bernard has certainly had his fair share of good performances this season, his shine seems to be fading a little bit. His speed and creativity is certainly welcome, but Lookman’s play against City was just that much better. Lookman was gliding past the host’s defenders with ease and slotting excellent passes in dangerous areas. And given his age, Lookman has the prospect of being a more long-term contributor to Everton than Bernard.
Starting next Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur, Everton have a number of games condensed into a short period of time. This would be the perfect opportunity to rotate Lookman in and give him a real opportunity to earn a permanent spot in the starting line up.