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Everton 0-1 Leeds: Three Thoughts | Toffees lose wide-open game

Three thoughts from Saturday’s home defeat to newly promoted Leeds

Everton v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Emma Simpson - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

15 Shots on Goal

In a wildly entertaining match for neutrals, Everton and Leeds United combined for a total of 38 shots, 15 of which were on goal. Despite all the success the Toffees had in creating chances (eight shots on target), they simply could not find the back of the net. Two goals were, fairly, disallowed due to players being offside. There were several sublime saves by Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier. And then there were several missed chances. A blind look at the stat sheet would lead even the most cynical of soccer fans to believe that a team with eight shots on target had managed to score at least once.

For all the chances the Toffees created, they conceded just as many; Leeds had their fair share of missed opportunities, and Jordan Pickford made a handful of smart saves. With the scoring acumen of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison paired with the playmaking of James Rodríguez, Everton should be embarrassed by the lack of goals yesterday.

Sill Experimenting

As unconvincing as the 3-4-3 Carlo Ancelotti utilized last weekend against Fulham was, Lucas Digne’s injury only exacerbated Everton’s depth issue. The insertion of Mason Holgate in favor of Yerry Mina was a necessary move; the defensive trio of Ben Godfrey, Holgate and Michael Keane was a much more competent unit than the one that conceded twice against Fulham. For the tactical shrewdness Ancelotti showed in replacing Mina, he simultaneously opted for the sluggish and error-prone Tom Davies on the wing. On the opposite flank, Alex Iwobi wasn’t nearly as effective going forward as he was against Fulham, while still showing the ineptitude of his defensive game.

In the central part of the midfield, Allan had a fantastic outing — he was powerful in possession, tough on defense and carried the ball forward several times. Abdoulaye Doucouré, on the other hand, struggled. The forward pairing of Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Rodríguez looked sharp, but they can’t do it all. Let’s see if Ancelotti gets his formation and player selection right next Saturday against Burnley.

Silver Lining: No More Injuries

Here’s the list of the players who have appeared in every league match this season: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Michael Keane. There has been a particularly pernicious injury bug that has plagued Premier League sides this season, and Everton are no exception. Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne are the two regulars currently rehabbing injuries, but Allan, André Gomes, Mason Holgate, James Rodríguez and Richarlison — among others — also have missed time.

Even though Ancelotti’s side failed to pick up any points against Leeds, there were no additional injury setbacks. For a team struggling with consistency, health will be paramount in keeping Everton competitive while key squad members regain match fitness.