Everton badly needed a boost at home after their recent road debacles and the pressure continuing to mount as they sat just a point above the relegation zone at kickoff. Frank Lampard had Allan and Michael Keane back from suspension and put them straight back into the starting lineup, joined by Fabian Delph in the middle and Seamus Coleman returning at right back.
The Blues started well with the Goodison Park crowd in full voice as they have often been this season, but Manchester United slowly worked their way back into the game as the Toffees struggled to create any real chances in the first half hour.
United were equally poor, but were able to get a couple of decent shots on goal from Marcus Rashford thanks to poor giveaways by the hosts, with Keane at fault a few times. The Everton right seemed suspect and United continued to create all their best chances from that side.
However, twenty five minutes in the Blues were able to win the ball in the middle and break forward, with Richarlison’s cross coming to Alex Iwobi who laid off for Anthony Gordon to shoot, and his attempt took a big deflection off Harry Maguire and the ball nestled in the net to the joy of the home crowd.
The second stanza started off with more of the same, with Everton sitting compact and letting United come at them and make mistakes while trying to hit them on the break. However, if anything Everton had the better chances after the break, but failed to build on their lead.
The visitors looked like they knew their faint chances of making the Champions League were rapidly diminishing and played like it too. Everton did enough in the end to get the goal and hold the lead, and can be counted as deserving of all three points, and what an important three points that could be in this relegation battle.
Keane back in the side and back to making his usual errors in possession that put everyone in front and behind him under pressure. The possession game in tight spaces is not his game, and instead he needs to be focusing on getting the ball behind the opponent’s backline.
Too often we saw Everton’s front three running into trouble instead of running free into space. While Gordon and Richarlison corrected their ways as the game went on, Calvert-Lewin appeared to lose interest instead. It is partly that he hasn’t had much service, but when he has gotten the ball he hasn’t done anything with it either.
Everton’s right side is weak defensively. United have always attacked the Blues from that side and did so again today. Alex Telles had plenty of joy against Seamus Coleman, with Allan and Gordon in front of him getting pulled into tackles, and Keane is also a liability against quick passing.
What a game from England #1 Jordan Pickford! His saves early in the game kept Everton from going behind, and then right at the death he ensure the points would not be frittered away.