Everton had to fight hard to make it nine games unbeaten at Goodison Park by beating third-placed Leicester City 2-1 yesterday, but with seven points in their last three games find themselves right back in contention for a spot in Europe next season.
Earlier in the week Carlo Ancelotti had spoken of how the Blues would need to be quicker in moving the ball upfield to trouble Leicester, who have the second best defence in the Premier League.
An excellent early sequence of almost one-touch passing between Mason Holgate, Lucas Digne and Anthony Gordon found Richarlison steaming into the box at speed, and the Brazilian’s thunderous shot from close range was virtually unstoppable. The Blues then raced into a two-goal lead when Richarlison was fouled down the left, and Digne’s freekick was handled in the box, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coolly depositing the resulting penalty in the back of the net.
9 - Everton are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games at Goodison Park (W5 D4); their longest run without a league defeat there since between April and December 2016 (11 games). Carlo. pic.twitter.com/bn5l83GzHK— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 1, 2020
After the game the veteran Italian manager was full of praise for the youngster Gordon who had his best game to date in the royal blue, including his first assist. During the second half, he even slotted into the central role behind the striker where Ancelotti has envisioned him in as well before coming off late on for Bernard.
“Anthony showed motivation and strength on the pitch, he had confidence and gave support to the team defensively.
“It is important for him to show quality and above all to be confident to play. Usually when a young player comes in they are a bit worried. But Anthony has personality and did well in these two games.”
Richarlison, who had a goal and an indirect assist, had to leave the game after picking up an ankle injury in the second half, which brought Tom Davies on to batten the hatches. The injury-ridden Toffees cannot afford to lose any more players, least of all one of the Blues most influential, but Ancelotti sounded positive that it was a minor knock.
“I am pleased for the team. Now we are going to recover other players – [Djibril] Sidibe and [Theo] Walcott – the physical aspect is not bad.
“Richarlison had a knock on his ankle and he will recover without a problem, we hope for Monday.”
The Monday the manager references is a mid-table sixpointer as Everton travel to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur, who sit just a point ahead with a game in hand today against Sheffield United, who are tied on points with the Blues right now.
“The key game is against Tottenham. They are really close to us.
“We have to fight like today in the rest of the games we play. We fought well in the first half and showed spirit in the second half.”