February proved another difficult month for Everton, winning just one of their four league matches and losing the other three.
Tuesday night’s 3-0 win at Cardiff City saw the Blues arrest a run of three consecutive defeats against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester City and Watford FC in a month which yielded just four goals from Marco Silva’s side.
But which strike was a cut above the rest last month?
Gylfi Sigurðsson v Cardiff City (second goal) - it was somewhat surprising to see Sigurðsson named in the starting XI for Tuesday’s win in South Wales.
The Icelander, despite having ten goals this season prior to this match, has looked out of place and out of form for much of the last three months, but rediscovered his golden touch in emphatic fashion against the bitter rivals of his former club, Swansea City.
Sigurðsson seemed to thrive off being booed and jeered by the home crowd throughout, and after putting Everton ahead late in the first half, doubled their lead midway through the second, neatly placing his strike past a number of Bluebirds players and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who paid the price for palming Bernard’s cross straight into the the path of Everton’s number ten.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin v Cardiff City - a fine finish in injury-time to seal the points from one of Everton’s brightest young starlets.
There is still a rawness about Calvert-Lewin which, at 21, is as undeniable as it is understandable, but strikes like this demonstrate the ability he already possesses.
He outpaced the wilting Cardiff back line to receive a piercing through ball from Idrissa Gueye, who has been exemplary since his desired January move to Paris Saint-Germain never materialised, and caught Etheridge off his line to fire past him from 20 yards.
Runner-up: Gylfi Sigurðsson v Cardiff City (first goal)
While Sigurðsson’s second goal at Cardiff was impressive, it did not top the excellent team move which led to his opener.
A far cry from the disjointed, static football the Blues have often lumped up lately, this was genuinely one of Everton’s best passages of play all season, starting with a forgotten man in midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.
The Frenchman, making his first league start since mid-September, curled forward a delicious ball down the right flank to the recalled full-back Seamus Coleman, who looked back to his old, menacing self on Tuesday having endured a difficult campaign so far.
Rather than pulling on the brakes at the by-line, as Coleman has done with such frustrating regularity this term, he delivered an inch-perfect cross to Sigurðsson, who arrowed a side-footed shot perfectly out of reach for Etheridge and into the corner of the net.
Winner: André Gomes v Wolverhampton Wanderers
As commendable as the trio of Cardiff goals were, nobody was ever realistically going to upstage Gomes’ stunner in the home defeat to Wolves.
Totally running counter to the narrative of the game, in which an appalling Everton were deservedly beaten 3-1 by the visitors, the Barcelona loanee provided a rare moment of quality from the men in royal blue, receiving Cenk Tosun’s pass before unleashing an rasping drive past his Portuguese compatriot, Rui Patrício, to equalise.
So often this term, like Coleman down the right-hand side, we have seen Everton midfielders retreat, or play the safest pass, with little end result. Here, though, Gomes showed great drive and conviction, and certainly reaped the rewards.
That Gomes’ effort, his first and only Everton goal, has also been nominated for the Premier League’s own monthly accolade epitomises just how special a strike this was. If only he could produce this more often.
What Everton lacked in quantity of goals in February, they certainly compensated for in quality, with all four goals superb finishes.
For Silva, the hope has to be that the momentum from Tuesday’s win carries into March, starting with tomorrow’s Merseyside Derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park.
Whether scrappy or sumptuous, Evertonians won’t care; a winner on Sunday afternoon would be one of the most important Toffees goals in years.