Everton made a meal of it but in the end did just enough to scrape out another clean-sheet win. Richarlison’s sixth goal in six games was the difference in this one.
Win and go fourth, even if it’s only temporarily. Everton’s task was pretty straightforward going into today’s game at the Hawthorns. For Sam Allardyce, this stop at West Bromwich Albion is an attempt to make it the latest chapter in his book of how to save clubs from the drop.
The four players who were fitness doubts for this game all missed out, and Carlo Ancelotti also saw fit to rest Allan after he played a full ninety minutes on Monday and another big game beckoning next Monday at Chelsea.
Bernard and Alex Iwobi came into the squad as Ancelotti lined them up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Bernard in the hole behind Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. However, it was the hosts who started on the front foot and did well to create a number of chances taking advantage of slack passing from the Blues.
When attacking Everton struggled to beat the offside trap, and even when they had chances to cross the continually seemed to find the striped shirts of the Baggies more often than not. Out of possession, they seemed half a step off the hosts though and the Blues survived mostly because West Brom were either shooting wildly or trying overambitious passes.
The Blues did manage to put together a couple of shooting chances, with Richarlison seeing his blocked attempt skim over the bar and then Dominic Calvert-Lewin taking advantage of a defensive deflection that he ran onto, but then shot straight at Sam Johnstone when he really should have scored.
The second half started off with much of the same from the first half and Carlo Ancelotti decided enough was enough, bringing on Allan for the ineffective Alex Iwobi, but it was the next change minutes later that made the difference. Gylfi Sigurdsson came on for the seemingly-injured Abdoulaye Doucoure and immediately laid on an assist.
Ancelotti insisted that Sigurdsson take the corner on the left even though Digne stood over it. The initial ball in was blocked, came right back to him, and his return cross into the six-yard box was headed in by the in-form striker Richarlison for the opener.
Josh King came on for the tiring Bernard in an attempt to stretch the hosts, though West Brom continued to push into the box. The barrage of high balls continued into the box, but the defence did enough to keep Big Sam’s side at bay.
There was a late moment of panic as Mbaye Diagne pulled down another high cross much like he had all game long, but this time he was able to fire into the far corner for the equalizer but the assistant referee immediately had his flag up for offside with VAR affirming that he was right.