Everton face another tricky test on the road as they travel to Leeds United still searching for a first league win that will kick-start their season.
These opening games while the transfer window is still open were always going to be tricky to navigate as the squad remains far from complete, particularly in attacking areas.
It means the Toffees have to mend and make do, again going without a recognised striker against Brentford on Saturday. But they deserve credit for coming away with a battling point.
They rode their luck at times, but fortune has not always been with the Blues in other matches this season. They have not been outplayed in any match yet but found themselves without a win.
It was perhaps fitting that man of the moment Anthony Gordon scored the goal. There remains feverish speculation about his future but the 21-year-old does not seem to be letting that affect him. It now seems (at time of writing) that he is more likely to stay at Goodison Park than go, though things can change very quickly in the final few days of the window so I’m not taking anything for granted.
There was more good news on the striking front with Neal Maupay joining from Brighton Friday night. Though he is hardly prolific the Frenchman does fit the type of profile Frank Lampard and Kevin Thelwell have sought this summer – hard working, energetic and fully committed. He should hopefully combine well with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury and could even make the bench for the derby.
Reasons to be positive then as we enter what could be a dramatic and eventful week both on and off the pitch. Though with Liverpool and Arsenal to come next, this clash at Elland Road already feels like a big game.
Leeds were one of Everton’s relegation rivals during last season’s run-in but pulled off a great escape of their own thanks to a last day win at Brentford.
Like the Toffees they also lost a key forward player in Raphinha, while midfielder Kalvin Phillips departed for Manchester City.
The Whites responded quickly to those departures though and the arrivals of midfielders Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams, plus winger Luis Sinisterra looks to be shrewd acquisitions.
Boss Jesse Marsch, ho replaced Marcelo Bielsa in February, also seems to have harnessed the power of the boisterous Elland Road crowd with Leeds winning all three of their home games so far this campaign, including an impressive 3-0 victory over Chelsea. With their only defeat so far in all competitions coming at Brighton on Saturday.
Everton 3-0 Leeds, February 12 2022
Frank Lampard’s first Premier League home game in charge resulted in a comprehensive 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane and Anthony Gordon.
New signing Neal Maupay is eligible to make his debut after joining from Brentford on Friday.
Mason Holgate will miss out though after suffering a knee injury against Brentford. Michael Keane is likely to deputise, though an alternative could Vitaly Mykolenko moving to left centre-back and Ruben Vinagre coming in at wing-back.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is expected to resume full training this week but is not yet ready for a return.
Abdoulaye Doucoure, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes are still weeks away from a return. Ben Godfrey and Andros Townsend are out long term.
What they said
Everton manager Frank Lampard: “They [Leeds] lost at the weekend but they’ve made a good start.
“I watched their game against Chelsea and they’ve got such an energy about them that they’ve had since Bielsa’s time and fair play to Jesse Marsch, who has come in, kept them up and it feels now as a squad and as a club that he’s invigorated them with some good signings and passion and coaching, which I don’t see but you see a reflection of it on the pitch.
“It’ll be really tough. An evening game on a Tuesday night at Elland Road... It’s going to be a tough game, no doubt.”
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch: “It will be a different match, just like Chelsea was a different match than Brighton.
“There will be different tactics involved, there will be different players, different match plans. But certainly we don’t play foolishly, where we’re playing into the hands of the opponent and more where we’re playing to our strengths and what we want to achieve on the day.
“My goal is always to have an entire squad that is very clear in their roles and ready to execute and perform at all moments. Certainly this week will be a test of that.”
This is a tough, tough game, especially coming just three days after another match on the road. Elland Road under the lights is always a tricky assignment and this will be even harder given Leeds’ good form. Frank Lampard wanted to recruit strong characters over the summer to give the side some much-needed steel. This is an early test of just how effective he has been.