Everton surprise by taking an early lead
For all of Everton’s improvements under Carlo Ancelotti, scoring early and often has not really been one of them. But to the surprise of many, Everton found themselves with a two goal lead against Leicester City in the first 16 minutes of the match, something we saw more of during Marco Silva’s tenure.
Everton’s first goal was a thing of beauty, Young Anthony Gordon, in only his third appearance this season, placed a point perfect cross at the waiting feet of Richarlison who blasted the shot past Kasper Schmeichel. The second goal came only a few minutes later thanks to a VAR confirmed handball by Wilfred Ndidi. The call may be controversial to some, but from where I was sitting it appeared to be a clear-cut handball.
This was certainly not a match that many were expecting Everton to win. Leicester may have struggled since the restart, but they are high up the for good reason. But these early goals were the main reason Everton were able to come away with all three points.
Impressive counter attack in the first half
Prior to this match, Everton’s lone goal since the restart came from a set piece. They haven’t looked terrible in the run of play, but there has been some rust that built up over the break. This match against Leicester has been the first time the Everton attack has really started to click.
Everton once again ceded the majority of possession to Leicester. They instead opted to attack via the break. Ironically, this was the same style of attack that Leicester used to win the league a few years ago, being used against them. While this method didn’t result in any further goals, Everton were able to relieve the pressure on their beleaguered from time to time.
Defense stands tough in nervy second half
It felt inevitable that Leicester were going to work themselves back into this match. Brendan Rogers made two offensive substitutions at the start of the second half and they almost immediately paid dividends for the Foxes. Kelechi Iheanacho put Leicester on the board in the 51st and from that moment on, they were in the driver’s seat.
Fellow second half substitute James Maddison wreaked havoc on the Everton defense while cross after cross was pumped into the box. Luckily for Everton, the often maligned Michael Keane put in a player of the match worthy performance. Anytime Leicester put a cross towards goal it seemed as if Keane was always on the other end of it. The defender ended the match with 12 clearances and Mason Holgate was not far behind with 9.
The second half of this match was undoubtedly stressful. But this is usually a match that Everton give away. This defensive unit has improved massively under Ancelotti, and while it would have been nice to notch another clean sheet, grinding out a big win against a tough opponent feels just as good.