Taking an early lead
Everton did something in this match that they haven’t done much in the recent slump - score first. For once it was Everton taking advantage of some shoddy set piece defense and went up a goal very early on.
Normal feelings of pessimism and dread were at least temporarily put to the side as Everton actually looked really good in the first half. They had a clear advantage over their opponent and looked set to score at least another goal before the match was over.
This first half has more or less been what Everton look like at their best. Capable of dominating possession, and getting the ball into dangerous areas. Unfortunately, this season’s Everton side is not the best one we’ve ever seen and still struggle to put away chances. Scoring chances and set piece defense issues are broken records at this point. While the lead did eventually disappear for a time, Everton at least had that goal cushion to play with going into the second half.
Giving away the lead in typical fashion
While Everton didn’t give away their lone goal of the afternoon directly on the set piece, it wasn’t too long after. The initial volley was dealt with by Yerry Mina, but the follow up attack was nothing short of shambolic defending.
Despite having just about every Everton player on the pitch in the box, a Sofiane Boufal cross found its way past Morgan Schneiderlin, over Mina’s foot and onto Danny Ings’s boot. Cue those feelings of pessimism and dread I mentioned earlier. This was typical Everton, taking a game that they were dominating and letting an inferior opponent right back into the match.
It should be said that this was one of the only significant defensive blunders of the match. On the whole Mina and Mason Holgate were excellent in central defense and the team as a whole limited Southampton’s chances on goal. But unfortunately it only takes one good chance to turn a match on it’s head.
Grinding out a win
Everton did another thing they rarely do anymore, they ground out a win after giving up the lead. After Southampton tied up the match, it looked as though this one would end in a draw or somehow an Everton loss. Their inability to finish chances in the first half were beginning to haunt them as Southampton hunkered down to save the draw.
Chances did come, but the Toffees struggled to get that final pass where it needed to be. Enter Djibril Sidibe and Richarlison. The French right back has started the last few matches and while decent enough, hasn’t left much of an impression. He’s solid defensively but lacks the aggression in attack that Seamus Coleman is known for. Sidibe played an inch-perfect cross right to Richarlison who gave Everton the lead for good.
Not every match can be a blowout, especially for Everton. With this team struggling so much, it’s important to get wins like this. If this squad can show the ability to grind out these kinds of wins, then this season may just end up being a little better than previously thought.