Everton ended a run of five games without a league win with a 5-1 thrashing of Burnley.
The Blues, who were comprehensively outplayed in a 6-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, showed no signs of a lack of confidence as they easily swept aside the Clarets, finding themselves 3-0 up inside the first quarter of the game.
Here’s three points from Turf Moor to mull over for the rest of Boxing Day:
Silva’s tactical gamble pays off
After Blues boss Marco Silva opted for a back three for the first time this season in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City 11 days ago, it was probably not a surprise to see him revert to his trusted 4-2-3-1 against Spurs.
But Yerry Mina, Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane were all starters again today, and looked far more at ease than away at the champions, with the towering Colombian getting his first Everton goal with an unstoppable header.
Of course, there is a sizeable gulf in quality between City and Burnley, but all three defenders looked composed and assured, winning every header that came their way and rarely appearing troubled, albeit against a poor Clarets side struggling to fend off relegation.
The best way to nullify teams as physical as Burnley is simply to keep possession and frustrate, and Everton executed Silva’s game plan wonderfully with an extremely professional performance.
Another bonus of Silva’s three-man backline was that it allowed full-backs Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne to bomb on even more than usual, with the added protection of an extra central defender should they be caught out.
It brought the best out of Digne, with the Frenchman scoring another superb free-kick in the first half before getting his second with a long-range drive on 71 minutes.
With every passing week, the looks an even more astute summer signing from Silva and director of football Marcel Brands, and the former Barcelona man has taken on the mantle from club legend Leighton Baines perfectly. His £20 million fee has already repaid itself.
Emphatic win highlights strength of character
The heartbreaking fashion in which Everton let a deserved draw slip away at Anfield three-and-a-half weeks ago seemed to have left the Blues traumatised on the pitch ever since, with the Spurs hammering the nadir of their barren run.
Everton looked supine and devoid of resilience against Spurs, but proved their mental toughness by responding in such devastating fashion at Turf Moor.
There will be stiffer tests ahead for the Toffees, but recent weeks rendered today’s game a ‘must-win’, and Silva’s men rose to the occasion. To survive a particularly sticky spell after the Clarets had reduced the arrears before half-time was especially commendable; now they must back this result up on the South Coast this weekend.
Today’s win goes down as Everton’s biggest league away win since a 5-1 triumph at Sheffield Wednesday in September 1985, and is the first step on the road to recovery after a difficult December.
With an arguably easier set of fixtures around the corner, now is the time for the Blues to kick on and reignite their campaign.