It’s now seven games without a win for Everton who continue to plummet down the Premier League table after a limp 1-0 defeat to Brentford.
Ivan Toney’s first half penalty was the difference at the Brentford Community Stadium, with the Toffees once again putting in a worryingly brittle display.
They improved after the break and briefly penned the home side back, but failed to produce any clear cut opportunities. Brentford did not even half to play that well to take the three points.
Some immediate post-match thoughts:
Everton still look fragile from set pieces and you feared for them every time Brentford won a corner, free kick or throw in.
The penalty for the opening goal came directly from a corner, though it was not the worst punch out from Jordan Pickford, with Andros Townsend failing to notice Frank Onyeka as he hooked the ball clear on the edge of the box. They can’t have any complaints with the decision, we all knew it would be given as soon as it went to VAR.
The return of Abdoulaye Doucoure was a welcome boost and he immediately showed why he is such a vital component of the side, linking both attack and defence. The midfielder made a vital interception to prevent Vitaly Janelt a clear cut opportunity during the first half.
The much-maligned Salomon Rondon was recalled in place of the suspended Richarlison. The Venezuelan has reportedly embarked on an intense training regime to get up to match fitness. We didn’t really see it here, though he did have a wonderful opportunity to score seconds after Ivan Toney’s opener but was denied by a fine stop from Alvaro Fernandez and saw a volley blocked by a Bees defender after the break.
Anthony Gordon is enjoying the longest run of starts in his senior career and he looked bright in patches, linking up with Lucas Digne down the left. He still looks a little lightweight though and for all his weaving runs down not deliver much end product (he wasn’t alone mind).
Everton were the better team at the start of the second half but despite plenty of possession outside the Brentford area they never really looked like scoring. It was all so slow, ponderous and predictable. Demarai Gray did well coming on and put in a couple of great crosses, but there was no-one in the box looking to get on the end of it.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin cannot come back soon enough.
All in all this was a wrongly timid performance from a side who look to be in free fall. But with so many injuries Rafa Benitez does not have many options to change things - though his refusal to throw Ellis Simms or Lewis Dobbin on when chasing the game late on was puzzling to say the least.
There is no creativity or spark about this side at present. And, perhaps more worryingly, there doesn’t seem to be any fight either.
The upcoming fixtures make grim reading meaning things are set to get much worse before they get better.