Everton returned to Goodison Park after the international break and the chaos of the FFP points deduction reaction. The points deduction most certainly got the Dogs of War mentality being called for by fans but the players, in Dyche’s mind had to keep focused on the job that they have had since the manager arrived.
Manchester United arrive at Goodison Park in 8th place and hoped to add to their success against Everton after doing the double last year. Both teams had been in excellent form recently. Everton had earned 10 points from their last five games, a record only Manchester United (12) and Liverpool (11) could better. Would the Dogs of War mentality be the difference.
Amadou Onana continued to struggle with a tight calf after returning home from the Belgium camp. Seamus Coleman was back in contention and took a place on the substitutes bench.
Manchester United welcomed back Luke Shaw after three months out with a torn thigh muscle. They made three changes to the side that edged past Luton last time out. Teenage midfielder Kobbie Mainoo made his first Premier League start, although Rasmus Hojlund failed to recover from hamstring injury, so Anthony Martial started up front.
The Premier League Corrupt signs were out in numbers as the match kicked off. Manchester were the recipients of boos from the Evertonians at each touch. The game was only two minutes old when Dalot crossed a ball deep and Alejandro Garnacho did a bicycle kick and the ball rocketed into the top corner. The Goodison crowd were as stunned as they were when the FFP decision was announced. How would the Blues respond?
The Blues started to get more possession after the goal and a nice run by Calvert Lewin resulted in the first shot on the United net but Onana was up to it. The 10th minute arrived and the posters and the boos rang down. The commentators on the Premier League feed did comment on the protest which was appreciated.
A questionable corner for United led to a shot from Luke Shaw who blasted it over the bar. Firecrackers or fireworks went off for several minutes as the protest continued. Unfortunately, the players did not have the same intensity and the worry was the high line that Everton were using and the potential room in the back was troubling.
The game was lacking any intensity and when Ashley Young was given a yellow card the crowd was getting back into it. Another worry was the potential second yellow card for Young like he received in the Merseyside Derby. It was then Doucoure getting a yellow card after arguing for a yellow card for Scott McTominay. The ‘Corrupt’ signs were being held high.
The game was almost tied when Garner put in a lovely cross and Calvert Lewin headed the ball goalward but into the hands of Onana. Moments later it was Calvert Lewin who put the ball onto the post but McNeil could not get enough on the rebound which was cleared off the line by Mainoo. The chances continued when Doucoure put the ball just wide and his reaction showed what a chance it was for the big midfielder. The last six efforts on goal had come from the Blues and the Evertonians got louder.
Another nice move down the right was whipped in by Ashley Young and Calvert Lewin rose high but his header went well over the bar. It was then Idrissa Gueye that had the next chance but it careened off his own foot over the bar. Possession stats showed Everton having 80% in the last 10 minutes. The whistle blew and the booing for referee Graham Pols who was receiving lots of stick for his work.
The second half kicked off and United started on the front foot but the game quickly became a little stop and start. The game was held up as VAR was called into action when Anthony Martial broke into the box and Ashley Young made contact. The decision of a yellow card for Martial’s dive was rescinded and a penalty was given. The ‘Corrupt’ signs were out in force again.
Rashford stepped up and it was 2-0 with United’s second shot of the match. Ashley Young was furious and Sean Dyche was apoplectic. Twenty minutes to go. The response was a great shot from Gueye that was saved by Onana.
The Blues pushed forward again showing the required resilience and Mykolenko put the ball goalward but no one was there to redirect it. United were starting to control the play but a lovely play by Tarkowski to Harrison ended up being blocked by Maguire to deny the final touch by Calvert Lewin.
Everton continued to get chances but United were doing their defensive duties well. Dalot blocked Doucoure’s shot and Maguire was blanketing Calvert Lewin. United made the first change with Mainoo and Garnacho being replaced by Pellistri and Amrabat. Everton’s Young and McNeil were taken off with Nathan Patterson and Beto coming on.
The changes were barely sorted out when Martial took the ball through the gap and tapped it over a sprawling Pickford. The Blues came close when Mykolenko hit the bar. Garner then took a shot that went well over the bar. Calvert Lewin was replaced by Chermiti for the final 10 minutes. The Goodison crowd started to drift out of the stadium as the game ebbed and flowed to it’s conclusion.
Extra time arrived and Lewis Dobbin joined the match and Chermiti shot narrowly wide. The Blues continued to go forward with Harrison coming close. The crowd was just waiting for it to be over and the referee put them out of their misery as he blew his whistle to end a truly disappointing day at Goodison Park. It was great to hear the fans raise their voices after the whistle.
The absence of Amadou Onana and the imminent return of Seamus Coleman has shown more proof that Sean Dyche is happy to go with the old heads of Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Young. Both of the players showed why Dyche continues to call on them in these matches although it is frustrating that players like Patterson are being overlooked. The worry for me was brought about when Young was given the yellow card in the first half. His passion sometimes does cloud his judgement and he was finally replaced later in the second half. It should be noted that Dyche took a long time to make changes. Beto and Danjuma had to wait until the 73rd minute to get a chance to impact the game and Chermiti only got on after the 3rd goal had been scored.
The expected goals conversation reared it’s ugly head after the first half. United had one shot on net and an xG of 0.08 with Everton having an xG of 1.08. The second United goal was on their second shot of the match in the 56th minute. I am sure that when Dyche discusses the match he will once again discuss how the team did lots of good things but did not finish well enough. In the end, our xG was 2.43 against United’s xG of 2.18. We had 3 big chances and 22 shots on goal.
Today, the cauldron of Goodison Park was even more fiery with the FFP protests that were happening. Dyche had made it clear that sticking to the plan was the way forward and allowing emotions to cloud judgement was to be avoided at all costs. The early goal was a blow but the plan was the plan and Everton’s reaction to the goal was very good but the finishing was just not good enough. United were the patient team and they did what they needed to do. This was our 11th home defeat of the calendar year. Two wins in our last 12 at home. I wonder if being away from home will be better for the Blues when there is not the added pressure.
We end the day ahead of Burnley on goal difference and five points from safety. We are a long way from the end of the season and the team continues to create chances. Heads up boys! On the road again with a Saturday match in Nottingham next week.