Oh, the difference 365 days can make. One year ago, Southampton had just conceded nine times against Leicester City. A full calendar year later, however, the Saints were unquestionably the better team, sending Everton crashing back to earth.
The loss at St. Mary’s Stadium only further demonstrates that success in the Premier League is predicated upon depth. With both Seamus Coleman and Jonjoe Kenny out due to injury, Ben Godfrey, signed at the transfer deadline, slotted in at right back — the position he was deployed against Liverpool after Coleman exited. Godfrey — who is tapped to become a future England defender — looked outclassed and outsmarted nearly every time Southampton picked the ball up on the wing. He was caught forward too frequently, beaten down the wings too easily and looked confused as to what his position was. His poor outing was summarized on Southampton’s second goal — Godfrey was too far forward, tracked back but was beaten on the wing and allowed a cross into the box.
For all that Godfrey failed to do to contain Southampton’s potent attack, his play was nowhere near as atrocious as fellow fullback Lucas Digne. As one of the top fullbacks in the league, Digne was a shell of himself at Saint Mary’s. He was a non-factor going forward, as every cross he delivered met the first defender, and he was a defensive liability, committing a clumsy challenge that left Kyle Walker-Peters in a heap and saw the Frenchman receive a straight red. At least he can keep Richarlison company in the stands now as they both serve three-match bans.
Heading into yesterday’s game, Dominic Calvert-Lewin had scored seven goals in five league appearances and taken a total of 12 shots on target. All of his seven goals were scored inside the box as has been clinical and deadly on the ground or in the air. His prolific start, however, came to an abrupt halt against Southampton. In Everton’s first loss of the season, in all competitions, Calvert-Lewin did not take a shot and had one touch in the opposition box. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying, rather the service was nonexistent — the Toffees only had 45-percent possession. Southampton’s heavy-press coupled with a high turnover rate due to poor passes meant that Calvert-Lewin was feeding on less than scraps.
Slow and Sluggish
The three players subbed off by Carlo Ancelotti were easily the worst performers on the day. Alex Iwobi was yanked at halftime after having failed to contribute in any meaningful way. About ten minutes later, both Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had one darting shot ring off the woodwork but otherwise was pitiful, and Abdoulaye Doucouré, who was invisible at best, saw their days end as well. Disjointed and lethargic, yesterday’s loss was characterized by unforced errors, an inattention to detail and mind-numbingly dreadful passing. Credit where credit is due, Southampton unequivocally deserved to win, although an impressive win for the Saints was aided by the eye-rolling play of Iwobi, Gylfi and Doucouré.