Everton had plenty of rest before this game and should have know exactly how to approach this Leicester City side that was playing their fifth game in a fortnight. However, as they have done so often this season, they started off slow and needed an ‘all hands on deck’ late on to salvage anything from it.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s latest hamstring ailment meant Frank Lampard put Richarlison up top with Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon on either side of him. The midfield was unchanged from the last game with the trio of Fabian Delph, Allan and Alex Iwobi. Yerry Mina is fit again and went into the backline alongside Ben Godfrey, flanked by Seamus Coleman and Vitalii Mykolenko.
Leicester were up for this one and really should have been up by three goals within the first ten minutes as Everton sleepwalked their way around the Goodison Park pitch as the fans’ disquiet grew. As luck would have it though, it was just the one that went in in the fifth minute from Harvey Barnes, and while the Blues worked their way back into the game and finished the half stronger, the visitors were always the bigger threat to score.
The home side started the second half with more urgency and did a lot better creating chances, though it was telling that the first shot on goal did not come until after the hour mark. Richarlison was both the scourge and the saviour today, missing a handful of chances when it looked harder not to score, before finally tucking home a Dele Alli cross that Salomon Rondon played on to him late in time added on to Goodison’s relief.
Richarlison as the sole striker simply does not work, especially when coming up against big bruising central defenders and the only mode of creating chances is pumping in crosses and long balls. We’ve seen it umpteen times this season already but as soon as Rondon came on as the focal point of the attack, Richy became immediately more effective and direct.
Dele Alli has come in for quite a bit of criticism for his perceived ‘lackadaisical’ attitude, but the goal today was created by him, and he showed he was not afraid to mix it up a couple of times too, scrapping with the visitors.
Anthony Gordon is still a bit of an unfinished product, but what a gem he is developing into. Full of hard-running and creativity, the final ball is still lacking at times, but when he adds that weapon to his arsenal, he’s really going to live up to the Phil Foden and Mason Mount comparisons Lampard recently made.
Vitalii Mykolenko put in another good shift today, making himself useful and available on both ends of the pitch. Once he’s settled in, he’ll be looking to make that his spot permanently too.