Once again yesterday Everton shipped the first goal. Now, the team is one of the best in the league in terms of rescuing points from a losing position and that of course is a positive, but how do they keep finding themselves in this situation? This was the Blues first fixture for 17 days because of cancellations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so Rafa Benitez had plenty of time to prepare his side, but you wouldn’t know it watching them sitting off passively and with seemingly no clue how to progress the ball towards the Brighton & Hove Albion goal.
Everton have conceded the first goal in 14 of their 20 games in all competitions this season, including each of their last 7 games. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) January 2, 2022
The Firsts Keep on Coming
Earlier in the season, Watford managed their first win at Goodison Park and on Sunday it was the turn of Brighton to make history, as the Seagulls recorded their first win at The Grand Old Lady. True, this was only the 10th time the south-coast outfit have visited Everton for a competitive match, but with the Blues due to be leaving their long-time home in the summer of 2024, it was a bit sad to see another milestone fall and so limply at that.
A Pivotal Moment
After the Toffees had made a woeful start to the match, trailing 2-0 on 25 minutes, the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a great chance to gain a foothold for his team with a penalty awarded for a foul on Anthony Gordon. The England man, who had cut an isolated figure in Benitez’ 3-4-3 formation up to that point, blazed his attempt over the bar. The striker had scored twice from the spot in the opening weeks of the season, but this was his first action since the 28th of August and possibly a more prudent choice to take the kick would have been Demarai Gray.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin's penalty against Brighton was his first shot in a competitive game since August 28th...— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2022
It showed. pic.twitter.com/SYDhoS0UHC
Running out of Excuses
The latest failure at the weekend means that Everton have now picked up only six points from the last 36 available, which is appalling form. A strong start over the opening six matches, in addition to some truly awful performances from other teams this season keeps the Blues eight points clear of the drop, although they have played a game more than Burnley, who lie in 18th place. Benitez has almost an full-strength team to choose from now, with only Richarlison and Yerry Mina unavailable due to injury - plus the marginalised Lucas Digne - so cannot use a lack of squad depth as an excuse.
Everton have 6 points in their past 12 games.— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) January 2, 2022
It's their fewest in any 12-game stretch since 1994. pic.twitter.com/HcDYDCuMzu
This is not a Phase
The narrative for pretty much the entire season has been that the team played well to open the season, then got derailed by injury to key personnel, in addition to what depth existed in the squad and this is true, to a large extent. However, a side should be able to cope to a degree when missing key players and to find different ways to win and under Benitez this is not happening. Over almost half a season, Everton are feeble when attacking and give up loads of chances when the score line is level. This applies of course to the period the Blues where actually getting positive results, coming from poor starts against Southampton and Burnley.
Nice insight re: the state of Benitez's Everton this season, and just how bad they are.— Michael (@greenallefc) January 2, 2022
First image ~ at even game state & no penalties. Quite clearly the worst team in the league.
Second image ~ when trailing by one or two goals. Only then do Everton appear even slightly good pic.twitter.com/82srz4f4FX