Everton started the game well despite the pre-game change of Donny van de Beek for Mason Holgate, looking quite comfortable in the 4-3-3 that they had lined up in against Manchester City as well.
However, as has happened so many times this season, it just took one error — this time from Holgate as he fouled Jarrod Bowen at a dangerous spot just outside the box — to put the Blues behind. Everton’s struggles with the deadball have been legion this season, but there was really nothing the Blues could have done about Aaron Cresswell’s pinpoint opener, lifted perfectly over the wall and into the unguarded corner as a helpless Jordan Pickford scrambled to get across.
The Blues have been hoping that Richarlison’s three goals for Brazil over the international break will have broken his drought for the Toffees, but no such luck. He had the two best chances of the game, once evading Lukasz Fabianski but Ryan Fredericks was able to clear, and then when Richy was able to shoot, he lifted his shot over the goalie and just over the bar too, and Everton went into the break behind yet again.
There was a brief flicker of life for the Blues early in the second half after Holgate’s deflected shot from a corner pulled them level for a few minutes, but a poor pass from Michael Keane that Alex Iwobi was unable to corral allowed Antonio to make a break. His shot was well-saved by Pickford, but fell perfectly for Jarrod Bowen to tuck home and make it 2-1.
Bad got worse a few minutes later when Keane slid in needlessly on Antonio and received his second booking of the game and the red card, and with him went pretty much any chances of the Blues getting anything from this game.
Evertonians have been complaining about inconsistent refereeing all season long, here’s another perfect example.
Watch the replay, Cresswell kicks out at Richarlison right? How is VAR not reviewing this?— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) April 3, 2022
Doesn't make a jot of a difference to this game, but it's this inconsistency in refereeing that is so frustrating. #EFC #WHUEVE pic.twitter.com/xQsG9ynCfD
Lampard just can’t catch a break with this squad can he? Allan’s substitution robbed him of one of three quality midfielders he has, and a warmup injury to van de Beek means another one was lost.
That said, Holgate was doing decently enough as the #6 until his unnecessary foul gave West Ham the opener via a freekick. It’s just immature mistakes like that have blighted Holgate’s career and the Everton season.
Lampard is desperately short of defensive options, but Keane really does not deserve any credibility whatsoever. He looked in trouble all game long against the quick and powerful Antonio, and it was no surprise he got sent off, while captaining the Blues no less.
Wednesday’s six-pointer against Burnley is looking precarious for the Blues who will have Godfrey and Holgate as their centrehalves for that one, their two weakest aerial defenders. Jarrad Branthwaite is an option too, but hasn’t necessarily been better either has he?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin still doesn’t look quite like himself yet, and Richarlison’s finishing woes continue. The Blues just need to be creating more.