It’s official. Carlo Ancelotti has lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2006. With another disappointing result, Ancelotti must use the international break to reflect on how to rectify his side’s alarmingly poor form.
In each of the three losses Everton have suffered, there was one major constant: no Richarlison. Ancelotti has struggled — and failed — to find a player who can effectively fill the role left by the Brazilian. On the wing, Richarlison brings pace, strength, creativity and a willingness to defend. This is not to say the players who have deputized don’t do those things, merely they don’t do it at the same level as Richarlison.
Enter — to a lesser degree — Bernard. He was the lone goal scorer against United and worked well with Lucas Digne on the left wing. The diminutive midfielder has struggled with the physicality and pace of the Premier League since signing from Shakhtar. While he wasn’t brilliant against United, he did well to create several chances for the Toffees. He was the strongest performer of the options Ancelotti had at his disposal, let’s just be thankful that Richarlison has served his three-game suspension and is eligible to return in two weeks’ time against Fulham.
The Rust Showed
What Everton did poorly against Southampton and Newcastle — defending, generating offense and dominating the midfield — they struggled with to a lesser extent against the Red Devils. One area in particular was defending. Mason Holgate resumed his starting role at center back after a lengthy injury spell — the rust showed. On United’s tying marker, Bruno Fernandes waltzed in between Holgate and Keane for an easy header. Moving to the second tally, Holgate again was guilty of letting Marcus Rashford wiggle in front of him. But it wasn’t just Holgate who looked rusty.
Seamus Coleman — aside from a handful of gallivanting runs on the wing — didn’t close down defenders as frequently as he has in the past — his failure to take away space from Luke Shaw contributed to Fernandes’ goal. And while James Rodríguez has undoubtedly been Everton’s top player this season, his return from injury saw him looking a bit slow. An uptick in form needs to be a team-wide trend.
| "This is a moment we have to manage difficulties. We started the season really well and we have to come back after the international break and be focused."@MrAncelotti's #EVEMUN verdict... pic.twitter.com/VjMOOkNgeV— Everton (@Everton) November 7, 2020
Chances to Equalize?
A 3–1 scoreline makes United’s performance more impressive than it actually was. Both teams dominated at times, United were simply better in front of net. Everton had some chances but failed to convert when it mattered. Digne hit the outside of the post in the first half — much to the dismay of Dominica Calvert-Lewin. Coleman made a winding run inside the 18 but failed to release a shot.
And then there was Abdoulaye Doucouré, who was the recipient of two chances in the final minutes of the game. The first was a shot from the top of the 18, which he sailed over the net. The second being an attempt inside the box that he whiffed. The offense, again, wasn’t there for Everton. And it didn’t help that the team threw away the few chances they managed to produce.