It’ll be too easy to make sweeping conclusions about Everton’s upcoming season from the ninety minutes or so that just ensued.
We are here to tell you that absolutely nothing we saw today should be used as conclusive evidence of anything. The Blues just started preseason six days ago, and most of the players looked half-fit and not entirely ready for the new season, and that is okay! This is why we have preseason training.
Nairobi is a high-altitude location and a number of the players looked like they were gasping after making runs, which is also okay. Marco Silva has already said that he wants to ensure the players have a tough preseason to prepare for the grind of a long season, and this was just the beginning.
Mason Holgate endured a torrid first few minutes as he looked off the pace multiple times, leading to an early booking and the Kariobangi Sharks taking the lead. Communication was definitely lacking within the backline as Lewis Gibson and Holgate did not seem to be in sync, which again is okay as this is the preseason.
Maarten Stekelenburg looked awful on the goal, as he made a half-hearted attempt at stopping Duke Abuya who jinked into the box and danced around with all the time in the world to slot home in the far post.
The midfield of Morgan Schneiderlin, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies didn’t really seem to work together, and seemed overwhelmed by the Sharks 4-4-2 that afforded them no space or time. Oumar Niasse was too isolated on his own up top while Theo Walcott appeared to still be on holiday.
There was some unfortunate news too, with Ademola Lookman looking to have picked up an ankle issue and left the game with just a quarter of an hour gone.
The second half was better with Everton replacing most of the starting XI with Under-23 players, who definitely seemed readier for the challenge. Dennis Adeniran looked very good in the middle, but the real revelation was Joe William playing higher up the pitch than his usual central defensive midfielder role allows. Josh Bowler on the right also looked good, making weaving runs and looking quite lively overall.
Williams picked up the equalizer after getting fouled on the edge of the box, and it was with an intelligent freekick slipping the ball under the jumping wall.
There was little else to write home about for the rest of the half and the game petered to a 1-1 draw, with penalties to follow.
Spotkicks are always a lottery, and even though the Blues took five decent efforts, Sharks goalie did well to beat away Williams and Adeniran’s efforts, to win the shootout 4-3.