Clean Sheet Purgatory
Yes, Everton failed to keep the ball out of the back of the net. Yes, that marks the 13th straight game Everton have conceded. And yes, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight with fixtures against Chelsea, Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester United ahead.
For all the defensive woes, however, Jordan Pickford has, surprisingly, put together back-to-back strong performances. Against Leeds United, Pickford faced eight shots on target and let in only one. Had it not been for a moment of brilliance from Raphinha’s left foot, Everton would have kept a clean sheet. Against Burnley, just ask Chris Wood how Pickford played. Over the last two games, Pickford has saved nine of 11 attempts on net (82-percent save rate). Still unconvinced? In that same span against United and Fulham, his save rate was an appalling 55-percent. Don’t look now but Pickford is gaining form.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin for Golden Boot
The young Englishman can’t stop scoring. With a goal in the 48th minute against Burnley, Calvert-Lewin now has 13 goals in all competitions this year and is leading the race for the golden boot. Consistently the most enjoyable member of this Everton squad to watch, in tandem with James Rodríguez and Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin has so often been the spark of joy for an otherwise dreary group. The youngster can score from anywhere. He can make defenders pay in the box, on the ground, in the air or outside the 18.
On the stroke of halftime, Calvert-Lewin paced into the box to slot home a pin-point pass from Richarlison. What’s all the more impressive about Calvert-Lewin’s scoring touch is that he has done it with, at times, a complete lack of service. Oh, and once last thing. He’s still only 23 years old.
Miscues in the Midfield
In the second minute of the game, Robbie Brady sent a screamer past a fully outstretched Jordan Pickford to open the scoring. While the shot was undeniable, Brady never should have gotten the ball at his feet. Allan received the ball and attempted to be cheeky with his pass — he opened up his body to guide the ball to Abdoulaye Doucouré. The touch, however, was out of Doucouré’s reach, Burnley picked up the ball and Brady opened his scoring account for the season. And that wasn’t Allan’ only mistake of the game.
For a midfield that gave away possession cheaply, committed errant tackles and lost yet another player — Fabian Delph — to injury, it was a forgettable affair. Alex Iwobi was decent going forward but still hasn’t grasped his defensive responsibilities (or crossing the ball with any sort of consistency). With Delph now hurt, the options of Bernard, Tom Davies and André Gomes do little to instill confidence in the middle of the pitch improving moving forward.