The busy Christmas period is now over with Everton recording three losses and the impressive draw against the champions. Everton are on a dismal run of one win in their last 12 matches in all competitions. The pressure on Lampard is almost at breaking point with many predicting that today’s result would have a significant impact on his future. A win gives him more time, a draw gives him one more game and a loss would see him shoved out the door.
The pressure on Lampard is huge but there was even more pressure on Moshiri and the board. A planned sit in after the match was expected and reports before the match suggested that the board members would not be in attendance because of a “real and credible threat to their safety and security” [EFC] This was so disappointing because this should not be how we, as fans, should behave. Our voices should be heard but not in this manner. My hope before the match was for the fans in attendance would support the team and leave the politics for later.
It was so great seeing the Evertonians welcoming the team before the match.
Frank Lampard’s pre-match comments:
“We know the importance of today’s game against Southampton to give us a chance to get back to winning ways at Goodison, earn three points and move up the Premier League table.
For our players, though, the objectives remain the same as every other time they pull on an Everton shirt: to show great work-ethic, passion and play with an intensity that ignites our supporters.
To represent this club is a huge privilege and with it comes a great responsibility. I’m a big believer that success can only be earned by how you work and behave every day. That is the attitude I demand from the players and it is something that has to remain consistent to get us the results we want.” [EFC]
Everton had already won the first game this year against Southampton and a win today would be the first double over the Saints in 20 years. The Saints arrive at Goodison Park on the back of an impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the Carabao Cup. This was a match between two of the bottom three in the Premier League and the outcome would be significant. A classic 6 pointer.
There were three changes for Everton from their last Premier League game - the 4-1 loss at home to Brighton. Amadou Onana, Ben Godfrey and Seamus Coleman came in while Alex Iwobi started despite being an injury concern after being stretchered off in the match at Old Trafford.
Your Everton team to face Southampton! pic.twitter.com/IaD53gfPpU— Everton (@Everton) January 14, 2023
The Saints made three changes from their victory over Manchester City as Che Adams, Samuel Edozie and Mohamed Elyounoussi came in. Southampton’s new signing Carlos Alcarez was on the bench following the midfielder’s £12m arrival from Racing Club.
Everton started the game with three at the back with James Tarkowski, Conor Coady and Ben Godfrey. Vitaliy Mykolenko and Seamus Coleman were in the wing back roles. Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi slotted in alongside Idrissa Gueye. Up front we started with Demarai Gray and Dominic Calvert Lewin.
The Goodison crowd was in full voice as the match kicked off. It took all of 30 seconds before Ben Godfrey landed awkwardly on a challenge with Che Adams and the physio was called on to look at his right leg. Thankfully, he returned but it was Southampton who started to control the play.
It took Everton six minutes to get the ball down the pitch and into the Southampton box. Iwobi was taking up a very high position which was giving Calvert Lewin support on both sides up top. A tangle between Mohamed Elyounoussi and Mykolenko led to the first flare up of the match which led to Everton getting the first free kick outside the Southampton box which was well defended.
An excellent tackle from Amadou Onana tracking back showed the determination that was being called for by the fans. It was a forward run by him then led to a yellow card for Lavia in the 14th minute. The resulting free kick was met by Calvert Lewin but his header lacked power and was easily caught by Gavin Bazunu.
Everton started to control the game and it was Demarai Gray who tried to get the ball over Bazunu but the ball went over the net. The play had been crafted by Onana who was having a great game in the middle of the park. Southampton did get a chance but Tarkowski was in place to block the shot. Everton then started to really put pressure on the Southampton goal. Demarai Gray put in a free kick but it was too close to the keeper which was disappointing. The pressure continued and Onana took a chance and put the ball wide of the post.
The game was swinging back and forth but the blues had more of the ball. However, Southampton struck back and had a great chance when Elyounoussi finished a great move by shooting just wide after a deflection off Coady. The pressure continued and Salisu met the corner from Ward Prowse and was stopped by a great reaction save from Pickford.
It was then Everton’s turn and Coleman’s cross was unable to find a blue shirt. The final fifteen minutes arrived and when Idrissa Gueye was dispossessed, it was Dialla who had a chance but it was hit high into the Gwladys Street stand. Southampton started to hold onto the ball. Demarai Gray went down outside the box but the referee felt there was nothing in the tackle. It was some good control by Demarai Gray that led to a corner. His cross was met by the MOTM Amadou Onana who put the ball into the back of the net with his head! Exactly what Everton needed and his first goal for the club.
Another challenge on Demarai Gray led to another free kick. Onana was there again and a mad scramble ensued which was finally cleared by the Saints. The next chance fell to Iwobi after Gueye made a great tackle to win the ball back. His shot went just wide of the post. The Evertonians in attendance were in full voice. Just what we needed. The seconds ticked down and two additional minutes were added. Jordan Pickford made a huge save right on the stroke of half time after parrying a ball onto the post from a James Ward Prowse shot.
The second half kicked off and the response from Southampton was immediate. A long ball forward, a flick from Che Adams and a patient finish from Ward Prowse had the game tied after less than a minute. The Goodison crowd was stunned and the tension was palpable. All of the good work of the first half had been undone. Everton needed to get back to their game plan.
The game started to get choppy and neither team could gain control. More back passes were being made but Everton finally got the ball forward and Demarai Gray had Everton’s first shot of the half in the 52nd minute. Ben Godfrey then strode forward and put Calvert Lewin in who had his deflected shot glance off the bar.
Both teams were going for it which must have made it exciting for the neutrals. Everton started to get the upper hand and the work of Onana was front and centre. Southampton were breaking quickly but the Everton defenders were well organized. There were calls for a penalty after Coleman and Edozie went down in the box but there was nothing from the referee.
Southampton then brought on their new signing Carlos Alvarez along with Adam Armstrong. A very attacking move which almost ended in a goal from Armstrong if not for the block from Coady. Edozie and Lavia were the two Saints who were removed. Would the changes in the match be the way forward to victory for the teams?
It was Ward Prowse who had the next chance but a good save from Pickford smothered the shot. The game was end to end. Coady recovered brilliantly to block shot from Che Adams who was left unmarked. Demarai Gray was also dispossessed by Walker Peters. Onana was then on another lung busting run before he was taken down by Diallo who was given a yellow card. It was Everton’s turn to ring in the changes with Anthony Gordon replacing Seamus Coleman.
Seconds after the change, Onana’s cross deflected off the keeper just enough to put off Ben Godfrey who wasn’t quick enough to react and put it into the net. Calvert Lewin then broke away and the keeper was there to palm away the ball. It was Godfrey following up and his shot went wide.
Anthony Gordon had certainly made a more positive impact going forward. After Idrissa Gueye was taken down, Gray put the ball into the box and Alcaraz put the ball out for a corner. Gray’s corner was cleared and Southampton broke forward but Idrissa Gueye was there to break it up.
Southampton were given a free kick after Gordon had barged into Adams. Ward Prowse lined up the free kick and his shot curled into the corner with Pickford rooted to the ground. Mykolenko tried to get back on the line but was just too slow, 2-1 to the Saints.
Southampton were immediately on the front foot and the Everton fans were showing their discontent. Cooler heads were needed in the last ten minutes. Everton did get back on the ball with Gueye even going forward to get the equalizer. It was then Gueye who was withdrawn with Ellis Simms being brought on to get a goal. A corner from Gray was cleared by Adams but the pressure continued as the minutes ticked down.
The visitors slowed down the game by making another change with Ainsley Maitland Niles coming on for Diallo. The pressure continued but there was no penetration. Crosses were being gifted to the Saints keeper who happily took them into his control. Everton were throwing everyone forward and it was a nice move from Gordon that led to Tarkowski who couldn’t sneak the ball into the net.
Four minutes of added time arrived and Lyanco was immediately given a yellow card for a clear foul on Coady. Another cross into the box was cleared by Southampton. The ensuing corner was also ineffective. The seconds were disappearing and it was the Saints that were marching in! A last clearance from Pickford went nowhere and the time was gone as the whistle blew and the boos rang down from the stands.
At half time we were sitting in 14th place. At full time we were 19th. A proverbial tale of two halves and their half was better. A loss and a probable change of manager. The toxic environment took over and the sit-in was underway for long after the players and manager had disappeared down the tunnel.
The inclusion of Alex Iwobi from the start was an incredible feat after being stretchered off at Old Trafford. The effort that must have been gladiatorial from both Iwobi and the medical staff to get him ready. As Lampard said before the game: “Alex Iwobi has proven his fitness. Had a great week himself which shows how professional he is – he was desperate to be involved in this game.” His return was truly indicative of the work that Iwobi has done in the past year. When Iwobi was missing last year, Everton lost 8 and drew 2. He is such an important player. His return to fitness may also open the door for Abdoulaye Doucoure to leave in order to free up money to make signings.
Amadou Onana played one of his best games for the club. He was sitting in front of Idrissa Gueye and was obviously given the role of controlling the middle and getting the ball into the forwards. He did this in the first half completely and deserved his goal. He was willing to get the ball forward and his defensive work was excellent. In the first half alone he won 100% of his aerial duels. There is so much more to come from this 21 year old.
For all of the positives, ultimately it was another loss and Everton end the day in 19th place tied with Southampton and West Ham on 15 points. Our defense, which was so solid at the start of the season, is now letting in goals too frequently both at home and away. The first half was our best half since the City game but the second half saw Southampton make changes and get rewards. We made changes with no impact.
The board was not present but they may already be meeting to decide their next moves. Manager changes have not helped, the board seems happy to stay, the way forward is looking very grim.