Everton fans decided to take matters in their own hands by welcoming the team coaches with a show of blue pyrotechnics before the game, with thousands of fans arriving early to really make and then soak in the atmosphere. No Everton are not celebrating any trophies quite yet, but by golly they did show up for their team when they were needed the most, and it made all the difference today.
The Blues were under siege mentality for most of the game against a loaded Chelsea side, but the players stood up tall when it mattered, especially England #1 Jordan Pickford who was stellar today.
Frank Lampard had the Blues lined up in a conservative 5-4-1, with Vitalii Mykolenko and Alex Iwobi as the wingbacks to quell the wide threat from Chelsea’s 3-4-1-2, but foudn themselves with their backs to the wall very early on. To finish the first half there were times the home side had every single player on or inside their defensive third!
Thomas Tuchel was about to blow his top on multiple times during his first trip to Goodison as things got chippy early, with a total of eight yellow cards handed out by the ref, three going to Mason Holgate, Seamus Coleman and Fabian Delph.
Everton scored early in the second half when the nerves were getting tetchy, with Richarlison’s endeavour rewarded as he caught Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta in possession and Demarai Gray fed the ball to Richy to tap home to pure elation from the players and the fans.
DEADLOCK BROKEN!— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 1, 2022
Richarlison picks the pocket of Azpilicueta on the edge of his own area and cooly slots the ball past Mendy! pic.twitter.com/P0VEFoeDi4
The last half hour of the game and a whole eight minutes of time added on were played in full defensive fortification mode as the Blues simply could not find an out ball and every time they cleared their lines the ball worked its way right back. Still, the fans roared and the players soared and despite failing to find the killer second goal to seal it, Pickford did enough in the back to keep the clean sheet and keep the Blues well and truly alive in the relegation battle.
Burnley continuing their fine form racking up wins has certainly heaped the pressure on the Toffees, but so far the Blues are showing they have the bottle for the fight ahead. Who will crack first though, Everton, Burnley or Leeds?
That Everton support though. The Blues were in full voice hours before the game, turning the whole area around Goodison blue, and sustaining that wall of noise for most of the game.
More analysis later, but for now, just the sense of relief that we did pick up all three points that were on offer today. Bigger battles lay ahead Blues.