For the first time since 1969/70, Everton have won their first four matches of a top-flight season. The result of that fateful season, a championship title… While we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves, I do think celebration is warranted. In seven games in all competitions, the Toffees are a perfect 7–0, the first time they’ve won seven straight since 1994/95, and the first time since 1897 seven consecutive wins to open a season. In the words of Everton’s prolific number nine Dominic Calvert-Lewin, “There’s been a mentality shift and a momentum shift around the place and that has been a big catalyst.”
Everton sit top of the table at the beginning of October, having scored 24 goals in all competitions. This team is doing what fans haven’t seen in half a century. The energy Carlo Ancelotti has conjured will continue to see the club progress to higher standards, but a deeper dive reveals some glaring weaknesses; Everton have conceded far too many times against inferior clubs, mostly in the beginning of the second half.
While Everton didn’t concede early in the second half against Brighton, mental errors persisted against the Seagulls — nobody closed down Yves Bissouma, who was given time to rifle a shot past Jordan Pickford. Against Brighton, Pickford was horrible, but it’s not just the young goalkeeper who is to blame for leaking goals, rather it is a team issue. Lucas Digne had a late giveaway, and Abdoulaye Doucouré, who was overall excellent, was caught in possession several times. Momentary lapses in focus have led to too many soft goals thus far.
Injuries and Goals
A pair of James Rodriguez goals was offset by a pair of injuries — one to Richarlison and one to Seamus Coleman. The Brazilian seemed to be having issues with the same ankle he injured against West Ham earlier in the week and had to be withdrawn in the 25’. Less than 20 minutes into the second half, Everton’s skipper was similarly forced off the pitch, this time with a hamstring ailment. Add Richarlison and Coleman to a growing list of injuries — including Allan, Jarrad Branthwaite, André Gomes, Mason Holgate and Jonjoe Kenny among others— and the international break could not come at a better time. The other pair came from James’ right and left foot. With Brighton’s defenders being sucked out position, James merely floated to the back post and was the recipient of an Alex Iwobi and, later, a Doucouré cross.
Everton’s opening win against Tottenham was driven by many storylines, one of which was the fact that Ancelotti had finally fixed the midfield. The trio of Allan, Doucouré and Andre Gomes looked as if they had been playing together for years. The only remaining member of the opening-day midfield, Doucouré flashed his capabilities against Brighton. The Frenchman pops up in all areas of the pitch, filling-in at center-back and right-back, clogging the midfield by intercepting passes or winning the ball off opposition forwards and creating on the counter-attack. Doucouré’s assist — below — to James is but one example of his capabilities. He looks to be everywhere on the pitch, especially important with Allan and Gomes out. Doucouré was caught in possession late in the game, but he is the all-around midfielder Everton have been missing in recent years.