We here at Royal Blue Mersey are going to try something a little different when it comes to match recaps. Instead of a basic breakdown of the on-field action, we are going to relive the match the way fans experienced it, both inside and out.
So without further ado, let’s break it down:
For what it’s worth, my own thoughts are few and simple:
- While this 11 is not the lineup I would have personally chosen, I think that (assuming they are intelligently deployed) this squad could be a competent Premier League side.
- The problem is that these players and lineup are so unfamiliar to each other it’s tough to see them playing any type of fluid soccer.
- Hope they prove me wrong.
As for the hosts, they welcomed the Toffees to Turf Moor with a 4-5-1, with former (and forever beloved) Toffee Aaron Lennon manning a wing for the Clarets.
The match started as anyone who has watched the Toffees on the road this season would expect, with Everton struggling to gain a foothold in the match.
Luckily for the Toffees, Burnley were in the same position, with both sides working hard but not producing much class in the final third.
In the midst of the back and forth, Everton were able to carve out a few chances, and actually took the lead when Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross was flicked on by Seamus Coleman to a well-positioned Cenk Tosun.
The Turkish striker took his chance beautifully, directing his header into the bottom corner, giving Burnley keeper Nick Pope no chance at making the save.
The goal was a massive one for both the team and the player alike, and the pressure on the team was visibly lifted.
The announcer’s first observation is that Burnley have failed to ever come back and win a match in the Premier League under Sean Dyche after giving up the first goal.
After the goal, the home side struggled to push back, while Everton started to play with confidence, a sight so rare I was unsure what I was seeing.
Of course the Toffees found a way to undermine their own good fortune with a number of promising opportunities going waning as the Toffees lack of technical acumen sunk their chances of putting the match way early.
As the half moved into the later part of the half, Burnley began to regain a foot hold and put pressure on the Everton defense.
When Ashley Barnes headed a cross towards the back corner of the net, it looked certain that Burnley had equalized, but Jordan Pickford produced a world-class save.
The save was so good, in fact, the traveling Toffees offered up chants of ‘England’s Number One” in response.
Cenk Tosun and the rest of the Everton side worked hard to craft another opportunity late in the half but Theo Walcott was unable to build on a sumptuous Tosun cross.
The half whimpered out as both sides withdrew to their respective locker rooms to plan for the second 45 minutes.
After weathering the first 15 minutes, Everton slowly became a more consistent threat in the match.
Cenk Tosun’s first start since January saw him get off the mark for the Toffees with a wonderful header into the bottom corner.
The Turkish international did more than just score a goal, however, offering hold up play and key passes all around the pitch.
With the Toffees unable to find a second goal, the outcome of the match was now left to be determined by how the Toffees come out in the second half and set the tone.
How did it go?
Not good at all.
Down a goal at half, Sean Dyche decided to be proactive and bring on forward Chris Wood for the second 45 minutes.
The substitute began to pay dividends immediately as, unsurprisingly to Everton fans, the Toffees were driven back to start the second half and (well-founded) fears of another second half collapse began to emerge in the hearts and minds of Everton fans everywhere.
Struggling to find a chance in the match, the Toffees maintained their one goal advantage thanks to the continued heroics of Pickford, who produced another stunning save when he tipped Ben Mee’s cloe range header off the bar, which was eventually cleared from danger.
Unfortunately, for the first time this season, Pickford found a way to turn around a great game and made a massive error in positioning, leading to the Clarets tying the match up through Ashley Barnes.
Barnes was able to latch onto a great ball by Aaron Lennon, but Pickford was torched by his own starting position. The fact Michael Keane was too far up and too slow to turn didn’t help.
Even if the Everton keeper wouldn’t have gotten to the ball first had he come out, his mere presence would have taken away any time Barnes may have had to cultivate a finish from a difficult angle.
As it was though, Burnley got a well-deserved equalizer and Everton fans got the sinking feeling they knew EXACTLY how this match was going to end.
If you are curious how Everton responded to the Burnley goal, well frankly, they didn’t. Instead of the response one would expect from a side led by a manager who prides himself on ‘toughness’, the Toffees instead slunk further back onto themselves and let the home side use Barnes’ goal as a foundation upon which to build an improved performance.
Wayne Rooney’s introduction in the 59’ for a hard working but offensively ineffective Tom Davies did little to settle the Toffees as Burnley continued to hang around a suddenly shaky Pickford’s box on a consistent basis.
Frankly once Burnley scored, all of the veneer that Tosun’s goal had applied to Everton’s tactical issues burned away under the raging fires of the Toffees ineptitude.
Speaking of catching fire.
No, not Hunger Games, Oumar Niasse.
Allardyce brought on Niasse in hopes the striker would provide one of his patented late-game goals.
For some reason though, this came at the expense of a hard-working, goal-scoring, obviously fit ( didn’t he just get back from Dubai?) Cenk Tosun who Niasse replaced the 67th minute.
To Big Sam’s credit, the Senegalese striker’s introduction did coincide with the Toffees best burst of the second half, though Niasse had little to do with it.
Theo Walcott got off a number of crosses into dangerous areas, Niasse took a wild shot at an overhead kick, and Everton looked like they might find a match winner.
In fact, when Gylfi Siggurdsson received the ball 8 yards out and calmly settled to his left foot the Icelandic wizard looked sure to put Everton on top.
When his effort whizzed wide of the post, it proved the last time Everton would pose a serious threat to the Burnley goal.
The area around the Everton cage, however, was unfortunately bursting at the seams with action.
In fact, it took only two minutes for Burnley to capitalize on Gylfi’s miss.
When haltime sub Chris Wood waltzed in on the back post unmarked (the Blues were zonal marking - Williams was marking the ozone and Keane was marking the friend-zone) and finished off a corner kick with a wide open header, it marked the completion of the most obvious comeback of all time.
My immediate reaction?
Who could be surprised?
After the Burnley goal, Big Sam responded like all good managers by removing the most consistently dangerous Everton player on the field (and set piece master) Sigurdsson and replacing him with the shell of Yannick Bolasie.
As Everton fans have come to expect, the team failed to respond to the challenge offered by Burnley and folded like a cheap tent.
Burnley effectively killed off the final ten minutes of the match as Everton were able to maintain possession but unable to get the ball into dangerous positions.
A few poor crosses were floated into the box, but nothing that presented any sort of trouble for Nick Pope and the Burnley defense.
To put a cherry on top of an already abysmal performance, captain (how?) Ashley Williams delivered the final blow of the game in the form of an elbow to the man assigned to mark him and had himself sent off with a straight red card.
How he didn’t get one a couple of minutes before that is also a surprise.
As the final seconds ticked away, the smattering of Everton fans who had traveled to Turf Moor passed along the indignation all Toffees fans must be feeling right now, and Big Sam surely heard their cries for his departure (Though I am sure he will still act unsure of why they feel that way.....I’m not sure he actually watches the matches).
Boos rained down upon Big Sam as the Blues had to walk by the away support to get off the pitch, but Allardyce found it apt to laugh off the fans’ ire.
Sam Allardyce smirking when told about the fans frustration, get him as far away from my club as possible. pic.twitter.com/y1ZHgJuWPP— Everton Fans Corner (@EFCFansCorner_) March 3, 2018
With Brighton visiting Goodison and Stoke on the road before the international break, Everton fans will be desperate to forget another anger-inducing drop of points that was this trip to Turf Moor.
Hopefully the squad will be as desperate as the fans.
The worst thing about this game was that we could actually have won it.