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Wolves 3-0 Everton: Match Report & Instant Reaction | Embarrassing end to 2023

Everyone in the squad including the manager should be embarrassed with this final performance of the year

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Everton were left licking their wounds after their second consecutive loss put them even closer to the relegation zone with the gap before the match down to one point. The two losses were to top five teams and both games saw the Blues show the fighting spirit that Sean Dyche and Evertonians require. Today, the task at hand was more manageable with the trip to Molineux in the West Midlands.

On paper, this match looked to be a difficult one for Everton. Wolves had won four and drew one of their last five league games against Everton who have managed just two wins in their nine Premier League games at Molineux. Gary O’Neil’s side were on an seven-match unbeaten run at home in the league (W4, L3) since losing 3-1 to Liverpool on 16 September.

The one positive was the fact that the match was away from home where Everton have been very strong. Everton have won five of their last seven away league fixtures, losing the other two at Liverpool and Tottenham. Their five away league wins is already more than the four they won in the previous two seasons combined.

Team News

Everton made two changes to the side that lost to champions Manchester City on Wednesday. Beto and Andre Gomes drop out with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Michael Keane coming in. Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure missed his 4th match running. Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Young remained sidelined.

Craig Dawson returned for Wolves after missing the win at Brentford because of a cut to his knee. Top scorer Hwang Hee-chan started the match despite being forced off in that game with a back spasm. Mario Lemina was absent after his father passed away which was a big miss for Wolves.

Match Review

Everton were in their away greys as they kicked off. The swirling winds around Molineux was going to be a factor. Hwang created the first chance but the excellent covering from Everton’s defenders snuffed out the chance. Ait Nouri was on his bike early putting Patterson under pressure down the left. After the initial few minutes Everton started to get on the ball.

On five minutes, the Wolves crowd rose to show their support for Mario Lemina whose father passed away yesterday. Hwang was on his bike again and chose not to shoot with Pickford coming well out of his goal to cut down the angle. Hwang rounded the keeper but could not get a shot away with Onana forcing the play. Wolves were getting in behind the back line which was worrying.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

Calvert Lewin was doing excellent tracking back which showed his determination. The first shot from Cunha had Pickford scrambling but the shot went wide. A nice tackle from Mykolenko on Sarabia relieved some pressure but Wolves were starting to exert some sustained pressure. Our first foray into the Wolves end had McNeil bursting forward but his pass to Calvert Lewin was too heavy.

Tarkowski was struggling which was a worry. He has started all 58 games since he signed and had only been withdrawn once. Thankfully, he was up and ready to continue. A loose ball by Wolves ended with Dwight McNeil getting a shot away only to have it go well over the net. Moments later, Nathan Patterson was in the referee’s book for bundling over Cunha.

A lovely cross into the box resulted in a scramble in front of goal which saw Pickford make a super stop but the ball fell to Kilman who bundled it over the line. It was his second goal for Wolves.....his other.....against Everton!

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

Everton’s first real positive moment saw McNeil putting a nice ball into Calvert Lewin who had his pass go wide of the post. Wolves were then putting pressure on the Everton goal after a nice passage of play but the ball from Semedo had no one on the end of it. Everton just didn’t have anything going forward.

Onana was tackled by Semedo and he went down. Minutes later he was on the ground again which caused Andre Gomes to warm up on the sideline although Onana decided to run it off. The match became very disjointed and neither team was able to create anything. Hwang got in behind Keane but Pickford was able to beat the Korean to the ball.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Calvert Lewin was put into the open after a lovely ball from Onana but it was deemed offside. A challenge between Calvert Lewin and Dawson ended with Doyle and McNeil getting yellow cards for handbags. Thankfully, the whistle was blown and the half ended. Statistically, a very even half but the one goal from Wolves was all that mattered.

The second half kicked off with no changes for either team. Everton started on the front foot and were responding to what must have been a Sean Dyche rollicking at half time. Wolves did counter attack and Semedo’s cross sailed over Pickford and went wide. Pickford put a ball into the box and a scramble saw Dawson block a shot which snuffed out the chance. For the first time, the Evertonians were heard singing to push the team on.

Wolves started to get back in the game and the pressure saw Hwang get the ball wise and Hwang was in behind and his ball was put past Pickford with Cunha racing in to tap the ball into the net. Dyche was on the sideline trying to figure out what to do. I would say that the change should have happened at half time.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

Wolves and the crowd were buzzing and Everton were on the back foot. A robust foul from Kilman saw Jarrad Branthwaite on the ground getting treatment for an ankle injury. He was definitely in discomfort but he returned to give it a try. Moments later, Michael Keane made a complete hash of a clearance and it was only a brilliant touch from Pickford that saw the ball rattle off the post. Wolves were all over and a long ball into the box was deflected by Dawson who guided it into the corner of the net.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Everton finally withdrew Patterson and Keane to be replaced by Andre Gomes and Seamus Coleman. The appearance took Coleman past Tim Howard for the most games in the Premier League. Dyche looked at his watch an looked like he was convinced that there was enough time....

James Tarkowski was asserting himself and took Hwang out and got a yellow card for his effort. Moments later, a ball up to Calvert Lewin from Gomes was laid off to McNeil who plastered the ball which shook the post. A positive moment. Would there be more?

Hwang was at it again on the counter attack and Pickford made another brilliant save to keep it at 3. McNeil drove into the box but was crowded out by several Wolves players. Hwang had the ball back in the net but he was deemed to be offside. Ait Nouri was withdrawn for Bueno. Everton had Danjuma and Beto stripped off and ready to go with Calvert Lewin and McNeil.

Wolves were finding it far too easy to get in behind the back line of Everton. Wolves brought on Pedro Net for Cunha with Bellegarde taking off Sarabia. Everton were trying to get into the game but the team never really showed any cutting edge even with the changes. We did get the ball forward but that could have been attributed to Wolves coasting with the three goal lead.

A big cheer went up when the Everton bench was given a yellow card. Neto was then in behind and his shot was indicative of his game sharpness as it sailed well over the bar. The agony continued when nine minutes of added time was announced. Neto did have the ball in the back of the net but he was offside so the calamity of play from Everton did not get punished. Beto tried to get into the box but was blocked and the Wolves counter attack spurred the crowd into a series of “Ole’s”.

Tom Brammal had seen enough and so had we as he blew his whistle and put Evertonians out of their misery. A Christmas period that needs to be forgotten for us.

Everton Man of the Match: On a day with few positives, Dwight McNeil was the only player who turned up in the first half. He was willing to run and tried to get the team moving forward, and was unfortunate to not get a goal after hitting the woodwork in the second half. Mykolenko was in the reckoning but that was more because he didn’t make a mess of anything for the entire match.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Instant Reaction

Tactically, Everton matched up with Wolves and went with a back 3/5 with the return of Michael Keane to the lineup. The first half saw Everton struggle to get anything going with Calvert Lewin very isolated and the play being very narrow. When the ball reached either wingback, it was either hopefully punted into the channel or passed back and inside. Wolves always use this system so they were able to get the ball wider, we were unable to use it successfully because too many of our players were out of position. We did use this successfully against Burnley but today, it just wasn’t working. Also, a lone striker vs a back 3 is very challenging. DCL was forced back into midfield, or wide chasing long balls, it was hopeless. To work it needs penetrating runs from midfield or out wide and none of our players could do that. The worst part was that Dyche took until the third goal to change the shape.

When we get to the business end of the season, it is matches like this that have to be where Everton get points. The last two losses against Tottenham and City cannot be the games where we hang our hat. Six pointers with those around us in the table need to be where we show our mettle and produce games where we show our quality and get the points. Today, we were awful from the start and the lack of commitment was very disappointing. We have to be better and those games against our closest rivals will all be nailbiters!

The decision to allow Abdoulaye Doucoure to miss today’s game was a big one. Without Doucoure we don’t have the same drive forward and he contributes on the scoresheet to take the pressure off Calvert Lewin and Beto. The crazy Christmas rush ends today and the additional time to recover properly will allow Doucoure to be ready for the second half of the season. Our record without him has been awful and our ability to set up the team has resulted in disjointed performances. Thankfully, Doucoure chose to sit out the African Cup of Nations so his return will be welcomed by all Evertonians.