Everton never fail to surprise.
I confess I saw little chance of the Toffees claiming all three points against Chelsea given their wretched form. But they once again proved me wrong with the kind of dogged, determined display Evertonians love to see.
It was a vital win that puts Everton right back in the mix again after their stuttering form threatened to suck them into mid-table.
As it is the Toffees are seventh and within five points of leaders Tottenham, though the tightness of the league means they are also just three points of 13th.
It was certainly lapped up by the 2,000 supporters allowed back into the stadium, who I’m sure made an impact on the players’ performance, particularly as they dug in to protect their lead in the second half.
It was great to see supporters back in the stands again after nine long months. Football is not about piped in crowd noise or empty seats.
We still have a long way to go before we hear the roar of a packed out Goodison, but this is a vital step in the right direction and undoubtedly gives Everton an advantage.
With five out of their next seven games at the Grand Old Lady, their turn could not have come at a better time.
Leicester City’s famous 2016 title-winning team will always be the yardstick by which any future side is measured, but the current generation could put up a convincing argument that they are up their with that Premier League winning side of four years ago.
The Foxes were third when the country went into lockdown back in March, with a top-four place seemingly a certainty ahead of the restart.
However, they would win just two of their final nine games to eventually finish fifth.
That summer blip has been put well behind them though as they currently sit third in the table once more, with no side winning more than their eight games this season (they don’t do draws) and progress through to the knockout stages of the Europa League as group winners.
Some possible encouragement for Everton though; the Foxes have lost three of their six home league fixtures this season having lost four in total in 2019-20.
Wednesday’s game will also be a clash of two of the league’s top scorers, with the ever-green Jamie Vardy on 10 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin 11 for the season.
Everton 2-1 Leicester - July 1, 2020
Everton gave their ultimately fruitless hopes of European qualification a boost with a 2-1 win over the Foxes in early July thanks to early goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson
Chelsea (H) Won 1-0
Burnley (A) Drew 1-1
Leeds (H) Lost 1-0
Fulham (A) Won 3-2
Newcastle (A) Lost 2-0
Brighton (H) Won 3-0
AEK Athens (H - Europa League) Won 2-0
Sheffield United (A) Lost 2-1
Zorya (A - Europa League) Lost 1-0
Fulham (H) Lost 2-1
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that James Rodriguez again misses out with the Toffees boss determined not to take any risks with the Colombian.
James is training on his own as he recovers from a groin problem and could return against Arsenal on Saturday.
Seamus Coleman is also absent despite returning to training. Carlo is again being extra cautious with the Toffees skipper.
Fabian Delph is sidelined with a hamstring problem picked up at Burnley.
There was encouraging news for Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who is due to return to Finch Farm this week after his long injury lay-off.
What they said
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti: “If we want to have a good result against Leicester, we need the same performance as against Chelsea.
“We need to defend well, be focused there, and not let them have the possibility to play on the counter-attack.
“It is really difficult [to play against Leicester].“They have players with quality, fast players, a fantastic striker in Vardy who is used to scoring in every game.
“Their best quality is their style of attack, it is really efficient”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: “We want to go into each game with a positive outlook. I trust my players, we will pick an aggressive team to win the game.
“It’s been great for us, we are used to playing a lot of games and it’s something we will look to continue to manage.
“We’ve done that since the start of the season and it feels no different now. The games over Christmas will test everyone, other than that we will get ready for every game.”
The Chelsea boost was a real shot in the arm, especially given the challenges that lie ahead. Yet why do I have a bad feeling about this game? Call it typical Toffee pessimism. I’ll happily take a point. Sorry.