The 'Pombo' is back
Through the first 22 league games of the season, Richarlison had scored twice. While he did have an impressive record in cup competitions — six goals in five contests — his form had drastically fallen in the league. That is until the number seven had a conversation with Carlo Ancelotti to refocus his mind and improve his play. Since his powwow with the manager, Richarlison has scored in each of the last three matches — the mercurial winger netted against juggernauts Manchester City and earned the game-winning goals versus Liverpool and Southampton. When the 23-year-old is firing, Everton look the part of a top-six club. But when he struggles, the team drops fixtures to bottom-of-the-table opponents. With 13 games left to play in the domestic campaign, the Brazilian needs a total of eight goals to equal the 13 he scored last season. If he maintains his current form, netting every other game should be doable. And the more goals he scores, the more pigeon dances we are treated to!
The Save that Counted
Jordan Pickford — who I have now written about in back-to-back pieces — wasn’t troubled very often against Southampton. The Saints had a grand total of one shot on target, largely failing to test the Englishman. That one attempt, however, came from five yards out in the 90th minute. After failing to clear a corner kick, the ball bounced around the Toffees’ box and fell to Jannik Vestergaard, who slipped but still managed a shot on frame. In response, the 26-year-old goalie was quick off his line, made himself big and parried the ball out of play. Perhaps it was fortunate that the ball found its way to a clumsy center-back, but the home side kept the visitors from an attempt on goal for nearly the entire contest. And when the team needed a save, Pickford answered the call. Since returning from a rib injury, England’s number one has kept two consecutive clean sheets, been commanding in net and demonstrated his capabilities with his feet.
Can we stay Onside?
The Toffees had a whopping, wait for it, one shot on target against Southampton. To say the Merseyside outfit made the most of their chances is beyond an understatement. While the Blues took care of business and earned the three points, there were plenty of chances the home side failed to take advantage of. Twice, they were caught offside on set pieces — one of which Michael Keane put into the back of the net. If there is something to nitpick about Monday’s match, it was the side’s wastefulness in front of goal. Against a struggling Saints team, Everton’s shortcomings didn’t impact the game’s outcome. But in a more competitive fixture, not generating shots is a recipe for an embarrassing loss. And while this all may seem obvious, the conversation is more nuanced than saying, “you need to shoot the ball to score.” The last time Everton won a game in which they scored their lone attempt on goal was versus Newcastle in April of 2018. In other words, the Toffees can bank on a win in a similar fashion every three or so years.