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5 Stats from Everton’s Thrilling 3-2 Win at Hull

The Blues sleepwalk through the first 20 but just about get the job done

Hull City v Everton: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

He’s Everton’s 3rd Choice Striker!

Salomon Rondon was predictably slated once again on social media during and after yesterday evening’s match. He’s certainly gone back somewhat from the player who was a troublesome, if not exactly prolific striker before he departed for China a couple of years back and his signing didn’t excite anyone in Royal Blue before he’d even kicked a ball.

Whilst he failed to offer a goal threat, this time against Championship strugglers Hull City, Rondon did actually contribute to several of Everton’s best moves, including both first half goals. It is worth noting also that he was signed as the Blues third choice striker and has been overexposed due to injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

Starting in Reverse Gear

Under manager Rafa Benitez this season, the Toffees seem to be trying to find increasingly lower gears to start matches in and new ways to concede soft goals, the earlier the better. Yesterday was a new low as Everton conceded from an indirect free kick within the opening minute, courtesy of more abject set-piece defending, with Michael Keane dropping too deep and playing Hull onside. As the Blues ambled aimlessly through the opening 20 minutes of the match at the MKM Stadium they gave up more decent chances and would likely have been severely punished by superior opponents.

Debutant Assessment

The Blues have uncharacteristically been proactive in the early days of the transfer window, signing two players: one a long-overdue new right back, the other to fill a gap that we entered the season not knowing would even be an issue - a replacement for left back Lucas Digne, whose days in a Royal Blue shirt are surely limited. Enter 22-year old Vitaliy Mykolenko, who was thrust straight into the starting line-up in a rough-and-tumble FA Cup tie against Hull, after only a few training sessions. The Ukrainian overcome the shock of watching his new side ship a goal in the opening seconds and an uncertain start personally, but gradually asserted himself and put in a competent performance, all things considered.

The Upward Curve

After a wobbly opening 20 minutes, during which none of the Everton players distinguished themselves, the team began to play with some semblance of the class and style that is expected of a Premier League outfit. Along with Demarai Gray, 20-year old Anthony Gordon was instrumental in turning the game around, as the two linked up brilliantly for Gray’s goal. As we are seeing increasingly in recent matches, Gordon is not looking out of place at all and is adding some craft and end product to his pace and enthusiasm, contributing two goals and two assists in the last pair of matches.

Pragmatism and Compactness

Benitez arrived with a reputation for pragmatism and defensive solidity, but this has yet to be seen on the pitch. It can only be assumed, based off the manager’s past history and his comments after each match that the team is not carrying over any good work from the training ground to matchday. He’s blaming individual errors - and there’s been no shortage of those - but there is something wrong when a team is looking this vulnerable and slack defensively, in almost every game. Are the problems being exacerbated by formational and personnel changes? Intrinsic weakness in the set-up? Whatever is going on needs addressing quickly, because Everton cannot afford to be conceding so frequently with any expectation of securing all three points in the winnable sequence of fixtures that stretch over the next couple of months.