After a seven-game goal drought, Dominic Calvert-Lewin again displayed his knack for putting the ball in the back of the net. He now has 12 league goals — tied for second in the league — and has 16 markers in all competitions. And Calvert-Lewin could have tallied more than once against Leeds United; he didn’t put enough power on a left-footed shot at the top of the 18 and saw a breakaway chance denied by goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
For as good as the striker was in the final third, his manager Carlo Ancelotti was more impressed with the Englishman’s work in Everton’s half.
“I think in my opinion it was more important the work that [Calvert-Lewin] did with Sigurdsson defensively.”
This is not to minimize his offensive contributions, rather it illustrates Calvert-Lewin’s impact on a game’s outcome extends far beyond how many goals he can score, although that also is important — the Everton forward leads the Premier League with five headed goals this season.
1️⃣6️⃣ and counting for DCL in 2020/21...— Everton (@Everton) February 3, 2021
Everton’s midfield has been a constantly changing cast of characters this season; inconsistencies and injuries have precluded Ancelotti from picking his preferred midfield. But he might just have found the winning formula against Leeds. After excelling at the beginning of the season, only to see his form drop off following injuries, André Gomes had found success as a super-sub in recent games. To bring him off the bench now seems sacrilegious. The Portuguese midfielder yesterday had a 94-percent pass completion rate, won six duels, had four successful dribbles and was the setup-man to the ball Lucas Digne played into Gylfi Sigurdsson — the third central midfielder — for Everton’s opening goal.
After the game, Ancelotti praised his dynamic midfielder.
“In my opinion, the best player on the pitch was André Gomes. He played technically, physically, tactically a fantastic game. This is the real André Gomes.”
And it wasn’t just Gomes. Abdoulaye Doucouré made 11 recoveries, won five duels and created two chances. And who can forget the great run up the field where he managed to keep the ball and only failed to create a chance because he was surrounded by three defenders with no teammates in sight.
| "In my opinion, the best player on the pitch was André Gomes. He played technically, physically, tactically a fantastic game. This is the real André Gomes."@MrAncelotti on a belter of a performance by @aftgomes. ✨ #LEEEVE pic.twitter.com/8eifWAssKR— Everton (@Everton) February 4, 2021
While Yerry Mina and Michael Keane have formed a sturdy partnership at the heart of Everton’s defense, Ben Godfrey injected a breath of fresh air into the center-back pairing against Leeds. His speed and skill with the ball at his feet compliment Mina’s strong, yet slow-footed play. This is not a call for Ancelotti to drop Keane from the starting XI, rather it is an appreciation for a player in Godfrey who won three duels, made two interceptions, provided seven clearances and added four recoveries.
Then there was the lovably dominant Lucas Digne, who, with his pass to Sigurdsson, now has more Premier League assists (six) than any other defender. His six helpers puts him above James Madison (five), Marcus Rashford (five), Andy Robertson (five) and Roberto Firmino (four). And to cap off a dynamic defensive performance — Everton held Leeds, who average around two goals per game, to just one tally — was the work of Robin Olsen in net. The Swede parried away six of seven shots on target, helping his side to three points on the night.