Multiple goals? A sensible lineup? A clean sheet? Did...did I just have fun watching an Everton match in 2018? Surely not, right?
A Gaetan Bong own goal and a Cenk Tosun howitzer saw Everton ease past Brighton and Goodison Park, and it was a well-earned victory - one of the Blues’ best performances of the season, to the point that Davy Klaassen even got to play.
- For perhaps the first time all season, an Everton manager selected what is arguably the first choice back four and first choice front four. Gylfi Sigurdsson was afforded time in his natural position, Yannick Bolasie was restored to the side, and both Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines returned. Refreshing.
- With Baines and Bolasie fit and firing, the Blues had a functioning left side for the first time in ages. For once, an attack didn’t die when it went in that direction (sorry, Cuco), and it meant that Seamus Coleman and Theo Walcott were freed up down the right given the newfound balance in attack.
- Sure enough, it was a left-sided player who created Everton’s well-earned goal. Yannick Bolasie was afforded time and space to whip in a ball which found Theo Walcott and/or Gaetan Bong - whichever you prefer.
- I don’t think a two man midfield of Wayne Rooney and Tom Davies would work against a more talented side, but at home against Brighton, it was pretty effective, particularly in possession. Rooney may be old and slow, but he’ll still pick out a pass or two if you give him that much time.
- Two straight starts, two straight goals for our main man Cenk Tosun - with this one even better than last week’s. Leighton Baines provided some magic in the box, and Tosun hammered a shot past Maty Ryan from the top of the area. Guess the Turkish striker likes the weather after all.
- Anthony Knockaert was sent off late in the match, and will have earned every bit of his three game suspension. Leighton Baines was standing out of bounds, and Knockaert slid in with two feet and his studs showing, shin high. The “challenge” incensed Seamus Coleman - who will have acutely known the danger - and the Irishman followed Knockaert nearly down the tunnel. Disgrace from the Brighton winger.
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned a late penalty, which Wayne Rooney promptly had saved. It was a good stop by the Brighton ‘keeper, but Everton’s insistence on Rooney taking the spot kicks when Leighton Baines and Gylfi Sigurdsson have such excellent career records on penalty duty is baffling.
Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines made it the full 90 minutes. Cenk Tosun was excellent. Yannick Bolasie was fairly effective. Frankly, only the knock to Theo Walcott can sully what was otherwise an excellent day at Goodison Park.