Everton didn’t make it easy for themselves last night against Leicester City, only showing up about twenty minutes after the David Coote had blown the whistle to kick off the Premier League game and then missing a hatful of chances by simply failing to hit the target often enough.
Still, a late equalizer from the biggest culprit on the night Richarlison ensured that the Toffees went two games unbeaten (!!) for the first time since October and stretched the gap between them and Burnley to four points. With the manager-less Clarets playing at home against Southampton and Wolves, who knows what that margin will be by the time the Toffees make the annual trek across Stanley Park for the Merseyside Derby on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking after the final whistle to the BBC, manager Frank Lampard was asked how relieved he was to have picked up at least a point when for long periods it was looking like the Foxes would run away with the game.
“Sure, especially when you get to the point of the game where you’re counting down the clock slightly. I think it was a tough match, on chances we deserved the point.
“In general play in the first half we weren’t quite our best and Leicester played well. Second half much better from us, we created enough chances to feel like we deserved something from the game and finally we got it.”
On the Blues sleepwalking through the first stanza, especially since they were coming off a ten-day break in games.
“We also had the best chance of the game in the first half with Richarlison, we had chances and that was a common theme. However, Leicester played well, gave us some problems in terms of possession.
“We were off the mark, we normally really fly out here at Goodison and we didn’t today. That can happen sometimes and it’s unfortunate when you concede, because obviously it makes it a lot more difficult on the night in many different ways.
“Its not easy. I told the players at halftime we needed to lift the attitude, desire and intensity in our play, and they did that and they kept flying until the end and that’s important at this point.”
Was Lampard encouraged by how his side responded to the supporters and the fact that they had fallen behind early and then needed to push forward?
“The Premier League is a test, the position we’re in is a test. Against Leicester you can’t run willy-nilly after the ball because they’re good players, and they will play through you. We were not nearly as compact as we normally are here at Goodison, that’s something we’ve got to address going forward.
“We got to halftime at one-nil down, and in the second half there was more urgency in our game, and a bit more direction in certain terms.”
Richarlison had already missed two sitters before finally scoring what was one of the more difficult chances on the night.
“Yeah that can happen, and the one he scores is a bit of a mishit and sometimes you can have days like that. The good thing is we are getting enough chances, we were dangerous at setpieces too, you felt we might get something from those.
“I’m pleased with a point, it’s something we haven’t been doing well enough — when we’re not quite on our game — creating chances and getting a point. At this stage this could be a crucial point for us.”
Lampard reiterated that this was not the time for the Blues to be playing attractive football, when the order of the day is to grind out results.
“It’s not easy in the situation we are in to talk too much about philosophies and the style we want to play long-term. Brendan [Rodgers] has been there for a long time, he’s a fantastic coach, working with really good players who can all handle the ball, you saw that.
“For us at the minute that’s not possible, we’re in a phase where we need to fight, that’s our first quality. To show commitment, and our players showed that. We started slow but they certainly showed it throughout the game. The captain Seamus [Coleman] was sensational in terms of his attitude, and we got the point we deserved.”
The draw was the first time since Lampard joined the Toffees that he was able to share the spoils, nearly three months into his tenure.
“Something we haven’t been able to do well enough in my time here is draw games when we are either are not playing as well as we should do - I think that was the case in the first half but not the second - and other games recently against West Ham and Burnley where are performances were good and we got nothing.
“As long as we stay in games and keep fighting in games then anything is possible. It’s a small run but it is the bounce of coming off a good result against Manchester United to get another point on the board.”