Everton’s win in the fifth round over non-League side Boreham Wood was not without its moments, and it’ll be difficult to garner any useful insights from the match stats especially with the gulf in league positions and quality between the two sides.
All the Possession in the World
The Toffees had the ball pretty much whenever they wanted it in this game, ending up with 80% possession and a total of 23 shots, with ten on target and three blocked. Lucky for The Wood that goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond continued his inspired FA Cup form or else this could have easily been an avalanche of goals.
Still, Boreham Wood’s tactics of trying to keep the play in front of them and trying to funnel the Blues through the congested middle worked in the first half, as Everton appeared to not know how to get their opponents moving or open up gaps.
Creative Midfielder Needed
The one thing we’ve known about Everton for a few years now is that they are badly missing that one orchestrator, that playmaker to put his foot on the ball and direct traffic. Different players have somewhat filled that role occasionally, but it’s not been on a consistent basis.
Watching Michael Keane’s (80 touches, 74 passes) attempts to be that person on Thursday evening only rammed that point home more soundly. Allan (106 touches, 97 passes) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (111 touches, 97 passes), for all their yeoman effort and tireless pursuit are not that player either. The Blues have tried Demarai Gray, Richarlison and even Andros Townsend in that #10 role, but against some of the quality sides in the league they’ve gotten swallowed up.
Frank Lampard will be waiting for the summer transfer window with bated breath to bring in that creative influence.
A New Captain
Everton and Boreham Wood players all walk out with Ukrainian flags ❤️— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 3, 2022
Ukrainian Vitalii Mykolenko will captain Everton this evening
In a touching gesture, Vitalii Mykolenko was not only named in the starting lineup for the Toffees, he was also handed the captain’s armband, leading the Blues out draped in Ukrainian flags to a rousing welcome from a packed Goodison Park.
The fullback started at the left wingback position in a 3-4-3 set-up and had a decent game too. The volume ratcheted up a few more decibels when in just the seventh minute Mykolenko found himself in space in the box but put his shot too close to the goalie, but you can only imagine how loud things would have gotten if he had managed to put the Blues ahead there.
He switched to left back after a formation change at halftime to 4-4-2, and ended up leaving the game at the hour mark after getting run into the hoardings by a Boreham Wood player and then looking like he pulled something crossing the ball into the box.
For long periods in this game Anthony Gordon looked like the only player on the pitch intent on getting a goal. Wave after wave of Everton attack faltered on the Boreham Wood breakwater, repelled by the resolute defending by the visitors who showed little interest in possessing the ball in the Toffees half of the pitch.
But it was Gordon who really impressed here, just like he has time and again this season. Showing a willingness to take the ball and take on his man, the youngster lost possession five times, but every one of those times was because he was trying to make something happen. He ended up with 8 shots and 93% pass accuracy, and was the spark for the Blues on the left wing.
Contract Kenny to the Fore
With his current deal expiring at the end of this season, Jonjoe Kenny was not expected to be contending for a spot in the starting XI this year. Yet, he has shown off his dependability especially this campaign with both Rafa Benitez and now Lampard leaning on him at times.
What’s even more incredible is that he’s getting the job done at the left back position where the Blues remain short of depth after the sale of Lucas Digne. Kenny displayed his versatility again on Thursday, starting as the right-sided centrehalf in a three-man defence, and then providing the assist for Salomon Rondon’s opener from the right back position before closing out the game as the left back after Mykolenko went off.
The 24-year-old is certainly making a case for a contract extension, finishing up the game with 5 key passes, an assist, 5 crosses, 3 tackles, 1 interception, 1 clearance, and 4 aerial duels.