Though the result was paramount in a game Marco Silva had labelled ‘must win’ in the build up, it was also encouraging seeing the team play so well, restoring some attacking dynamism to their play after weeks of drudging monotony.
The positive midfield pairing of Andre Gomes and Tom Davies helped the team swiftly transition from defence to attack (even if injuries may have forced Silva’s selection). Alex Iwobi offered mobility in the No.10 position, Richarlison worked his socks off as the frontman, Bernard capped his recall with a finely taken goal while Djibril Sidibe’s energetic performance has given Silva a selection poser at right-back.
Before we get carried away it’s important to note that West Ham were more than obliging opponents, in fact they were dreadful. Everton should have finished the game off well before Gylfi’s last-minute thunderblaster and very nearly paid the price but for a fine Jordan Pickford save late on when it was still 1-0.
But, a win is a win, and given what we have put up with of late that is something to be grateful for.
It doesn’t, however, mean Silva is free of the pressure that looked to be overwhelming him going into the game. A defeat on Saturday and all the rebuilding work from the West Ham game will come tumbling back down again.
With Watford FC awaiting in the Carabao Cup three days later, this will be a critical few days for the Portuguese’s tenure.
Brighton & Hove Albion are currently enjoying their third successive top flight season, the latest chapter of a thrilling story that has seen them climb from the bottom of the football league and near bankruptcy to the Premier League in the space of 20 years,
But, like many sides who quickly achieve Premier League survival, thoughts quickly looked beyond merely staying in the division and onto the style of their football.
Chris Hughton, who guided the club into the top flight, kept them there and reached an FA Cup semi-final last season, was dispatched shortly after the end of the campaign.
A run of three wins in 23 league games, which put their top flight status at risk, was given as the main reason behind his dismissal. But it was also suggested that his cautious, defensive style of play wasn’t what the club wanted going forward.
Graham Potter was quickly installed as his replacement. The Englishman has developed a fine reputation as an up-and-coming, innovative coach during his time with Swedish side Ostersunds and then a year-long spell with Swansea last time out.
Potter’s positive approach was demonstrated with a fine 3-0 win at Watford to open the campaign. Frustratingly for the Seagulls they have won just once in the league since then, though that was a memorable 3-0 thrashing of Spurs earlier this month. They were unlucky not to come away with a point at Aston Villa last weekend, conceding a goal in the 94th minute after playing the majority of the game with 10 men. It leaves them in 16th place, one point and one place behind the Toffees.
Brighton 1-0 Everton December 28, 2018 – (match report)
Everton were in the midst of their deep mid-winter slump as they fell to a limp defeat on the south coast shortly after Christmas, with Jurgen Locadia’s late goal enough to earn the Seagulls the win.
West Ham (H) Won 2-0
Burnley (A) Lost 1-0
Manchester City (H) Lost 3-1
Sheffield Wed (A – Carabao Cup) Won 2-0
Sheffield Utd (H) Lost 2-0
Aston Villa (A) Lost 2-1
Tottenham (H) Won 3-0
Chelsea (A) Lost 2-0
Aston Villa (H - Carabao Cup) Lost 3-1
Newcastle (A) Drew 0-0
Yerry Mina is a severe doubt with a hamstring injury suffered in the closing stages of last weekend’s win over West Ham, with Mason Holgate ready to step into his place.
Fabian Delph and Morgan Schneiderlin are fit to return to the squad while Seamus Coleman is available again after the suspension. Though all three may have to make do with a place on the bench given the team’s performance against the Hammers.
What they said
Everton boss Marco Silva: “We performed so well, we showed that quality and pride in ourselves. We have to build from that and believe it was a turning point for us. Of course we’re not going to win every match from here until the end of the season, but we have to play in that way to win always, to have that pride in ourselves and desire to win the game.
“It’s a must-win game for us again.”
Brighton boss Graham Potter: “It will be a really tough game against a side with really good quality. They’ve had a tough time in terms of results recently and they’ll feel like they could have done better overall.
“But they had a very dominant performance last weekend against West Ham and deserved to win the game. Sometimes when you’ve gone through a difficult period and you get that win, it’s a really good feeling, so they’ll be coming here feeling confident.
“They’ve invested well and have good players, they want to be at the top end of the table, and so we know it’s going to be a challenge - but we have a feeling of frustration ourselves and want to respond after last weekend’s result - hopefully we can channel those feelings in the right way and get a good result.”
While I was quietly confident of getting a result last weekend, Everton’s dreadful away record means I’m less optimistic this time around. We have yet to beat Brighton at the Amex since their promotion and are without a win on the road since March. The West Ham win was welcome, but I will only truly believe they are on the road to recovery if they also get a result here.