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5 Telling Stats from Everton’s Impressive 1-1 Draw at Manchester United

A point was the least the Blues deserved at Old Trafford

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Getting in on the Goals

Rafa Benitez has told Andros Townsend that he expects him to score all types of goals, not just the rare long-range blasts that we tend to associate with him. Whilst the thunderbolt that helped sink Burnley a few weeks away are such that will stick long in the memory, all count the same when it comes to deciding games. The winger is still cutting in on his left-foot and letting loose from outside the box, but he is showing more variety, such as his tap-in against Queens Park Rangers in the cup and the calm right-foot finish to an incisive Everton counterattack yesterday at Manchester United. He is getting in good positions and Benitez is driving him on to succeed.

Fighting Spirit

Once again, the Blues have shown commendable resolve to come back from adversity, this time in the bear pit that is Old Trafford. Despite a battling and impressive first half performance, the Merseyside outfit found themselves trailing at the interval, courtesy of bogeyman Anthony Martial’s deflected strike. In previous seasons, this would be the cue for the game to drift away, resulting in a comfortable win for the hosts. However, under Benitez the Toffees are proving no pushovers and fought back effectively, ultimately counting themselves unfortunate not to leave with all 3 points. Coming back from a halftime deficit to share the spoils is something that few teams have managed in recent times on United’s home turf.

Much More Than Expected

In the summer of 2020, Everton fans thought they were signing a true box-to-box midfielder in Abdoulaye Doucoure. At season’s end, whilst he’d played well, he hadn’t produced the attacking threat that he’d shown at Watford. This year, not only are the Blues faithful seeing the player they all thought they were getting, a hard-working, industrious fighter with a goal in him, but he’s showing more guile and awareness than anyone thought he possessed, adding 4 assists to the 2 goals he’s scored in the Premier League. His assist today was a thing of beauty and demonstrated all his expected attributes, plus touch and vision.

Off to a Great Start

I’ll add the obligatory codicil here, as we are only seven games into the league campaign, but this is Everton’s best start to a new season since way, way back in 2004/05 when they got 16. Under the young David Moyes, the Blues won five and drew one of their opening seven matches, slightly bettering Benitez’s start and eventually ending up 4th - which sadly, is still their best finish in the Premier League era. Nobody is getting carried away and expecting Everton to secure a Champions League spot, but considering injuries to key players and the lack of funds to reinforce the squad this summer, no-one can argue that the Spaniard isn’t getting the most out of this squad. We’re seeing cohesive performances, great élan and player improvements across the board.

Getting Back to What We Expect

We all know that Ben Godfrey, an unexpected star turn under Carlo Ancelotti last term, came down with Coronavirus, causing him to miss the start of the season. Since then he’s not looked the same player, seeming slower and lacking the power that’d become familiar to the Goodison Park faithful. Additionally, most of his appearances have seen him lining up at right back, covering for the injured Seamus Coleman and he’s looked uncomfortable there.

Yesterday, Ben had by far his strongest outing thus far, leading the team in tackles, clearances and duels won, a solid defensive effort. He is still learning how to play the position, clearly and his positioning was off a couple of times, notably for Martial’s goal, where he found himself sucked in a little too tight, giving the Frenchman time to get his shot off. Most importantly, this afternoon the defender seemed to have much of his old speed and strength back, which is encouraging looking beyond the looming international break.