After five Premier League losses in a row, Everton traveled to Wales for the first match in 17 days not really knowing what to expect. Would the rest revitalize the team? Did it give Marco Silva time to invent any solutions? Could the injured Everton defenders get healthy?
Well, yes, and no. The Blues were fortunate that Cardiff City lack any sort of Premier League quality, and Silva named a strange lineup that included Phil Jagielka and Morgan Schneiderlin. Long stretches of open play were ineffective and static, but it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter because Everton got two of the finest individual performances we’ve seen from any Blues all season. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin were utterly dominant in midfield. The Icelandic international scored a brace, coming from a Seamus Coleman assist and Bernard dribble-move that rebounded right to his foot for a tasty finish.
Richarlison was completely ineffective and needs some self-reflection before the derby on Sunday, but Silva’s substitutes today were on the mark. Bernard was electric, Ademola Lookman bright as usual, and Andre Gomes looked like his vacation was quite beneficial (he’s handsome - get it?).
Of course, there remains much to work on. Everton won today’s match because talented players have a tendency to make big plays. Morgan Schneiderlin, Seamus Coleman, Bernard, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (he scored the late third marker) and Sigurdsson all did things they’re capable of doing on a regular basis. Marco Silva will need more than that on Sunday. A lot more.