Everton once again went into a league game without a recognized striker on the pitch, but Frank Lampard’s reluctance to use Michael Keane really stands out, even with Mason Holgate injured.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford once again captained the side, with the Blues line up in a 4-3-3 in front of him. Nathan Patterson, Conor Coady, James Tarkowski and Vitaliy Mykolenko across the back, Alex Iwobi, Tom Davies and Amadou Onana in the middle, and a rotating front cast of Anthony Gordon, Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil.
Allan and Andre Gomes returned to the bench for this one - could the Blues move one or both before the Thursday deadline?
Leeds United started off controlling the ball as could be expected, but to most Evertonians’ surprise, it was the Blues who emerged from the early skirmishes with the most credit as they defended well, showing organization under pressure and reverted to a mix of long and short passes to get out of trouble.
The Blues did take the lead against the run of play here, with Gordon starting and finishing off a fantastic move that saw him involve McNeil and Iwobi as well. The through ball from the Nigerian for the assist was nothing short of superlative.
The pressure from the hosts continued to mount as the half went on, with Jesse Marsch’s blood pressure and the crowd volume going hand in hand. A testy game continued well into the second half, but it was soon after the break that Leeds were able to get the equalizer through Luis Sinisterra, the new signing making his first start and beating Pickford at the near post.
Everton seemed to have no answers, certainly none that Lampard could see on his bench as Leeds kept the pressure on. The Blues did have two chances to steal a win with both Onana and Patterson missing golden chances late on, but in the end were full value for their point.
Everton’s inability — for whatever reasons — to get Neal Maupay signed and registered before the Friday noon deadline not only robbed the Blues of the striker for the 1-1 draw at Brentford, they were without him for tonight’s game at Leeds too. Criminal that.
Gordon’s finishing is the biggest improvement since last season. Still takes some low percentage shots, but 1-on-1 he looks deadly. It’s the quick shot that makes it work, doesn’t take too long to set himself, and not much backlift since he doesn’t really smash it too hard.
No superlative is enough to describe Alex Iwobi, who has been absolutely immense for the Toffees since the arrival of Lampard.
Speaking of Lampard, his utter reluctance to use any subs in this game should come under scrutiny, especially with the Merseyside Derby coming up on Saturday.