Carlo Ancelotti rolled out the 4-4-2 diamond again in an attempt to not concede the midfield to a Southampton side who move the ball around smartly. Allan did well in his return to the Everton starting lineup though he looked rusty at times, with Abdoulaye Doucoure’s tireless running and Andre Gomes’ best Toffees performance in some time playing supporting roles.
It was still a grind at times with the Blues intent on taking the pace out of the game and trying to play it on their own terms especially after going a goal up early on. Speaking to BBC Sport after the final whistle, Ancelotti was satisfied.
“It is an important victory - it was a difficult game - we knew it would be beforehand. We started well and controlled the game. We didn’t concede chances until the last minutes when they put in a lot of effort. We deserved to win.
“We were really dangerous, it was a fantastic finish and assist and then we were really dangerous from set-pieces. We had two or three opportunities. It was a game with a lot of fight in midfield.”
After scoring just twice in the first eighteen league games, Richarlison is finally catching fire with his third in three league games, and fifth in five games in all competitions.
“Richarlison had a lot of problems in the first half of the season - he travelled a lot, and missed three games through suspension, but now he’s playing a lot and we’ve changed his position a bit and it is better for him.”
This was Jordan Pickford’s second consecutive clean sheet and he came up big again at the time of asking, just like in the Merseyside Derby.
“Jordan Pickford did really well too. When he was involved he did really well and was calm. He is now really calm in the goal and it was what he missed in the past. He has a lot of quality.”
Ancelotti’s options off the bench were pretty slim with outfield players James Rodriguez, Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies all nursing injuries.
“We have time to recover for Thursday. Allan was back after two months, we have to take care of this, it might be more difficult for him. We have to check on James, Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies for Thursday.”
The Blues desperately needed to get their first home win of 2021 under their belts, and the manager wants to see his side continue to build from this.
“We would like to touch the fourth place. I am an optimist by nature - after the defeat against Fulham we were really sad and upset, but these two victories can give us confidence for the future.”