As the 2022/23 season comes to a dramatic conclusion, at least for those at the bottom of the table, Everton snatched a point from the jaws of defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday to stay in control of their own destiny, results permitting.
Despite a bright first half hour of the game from the Toffees, everything started to go wrong at the end of the first half. The first domino to fall was the injury to Nathan Patterson. Dyche only had Mason Holgate and Michael Keane to choose from as replacements, and he unsurprisingly opted for the latter.
Within 5 minutes, Adama Traore torched the lumbering Everton back-line and Hwang Hee-Chan tapped in the rebound from the Spaniard’s shot to give Wolves an undeserved lead. It went from bad to worse for Everton though, as in first-half stoppage time Dominic Calvert-Lewin went down injured and was also forced to come off.
At that point, defeat for the Toffees seemed inevitable, but in the 90-plus-9th minute with just seconds left to play, James Tarkowski beat Wolves keeper Daniel Bentley to Demarai Gray’s deep cross, finding the feet of Michael Keane, whose perfect cut-back found the sliding foot of one Yerry Mina. The Colombian couldn’t miss, and Everton snatched a point of paramount importance in the tightest relegation scrap in years. Here are 5 Telling Stats from Everton’s last-gasp draw at Molineux.
1. Left it Late
The fact it took three center-backs combining to provide Everton with a crucial equalizer is rather indicative of the Toffees’ 2022/23 campaign. With Calvert-Lewin playing even fewer minutes than he did last year, Everton have had to find many alternative sources for the goals necessary for survival. Although they probably should have scored in the first half, Everton waited until effectively the last kick of the game to avoid what would have been a disastrous defeat to Wolves. It was only the second time Everton have scored as late as the 99th minute in the Premier League era, the first coming from Alex Iwobi in last season’s dramatic victory over Newcastle United.
99 - Yerry Mina’s equaliser (98:54) was the latest Premier League goal that Everton have scored on record (since 2006-07, when exact times are available), while the Toffees scored with their 19th and final shot of the match. Gasp. pic.twitter.com/D2IbRlr7kb— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 20, 2023
2. Didn’t Deserve Defeat
The stats would suggest that the Toffees earned that equalizer as well. Everton took 19 shots to Wolves’ 13, and outscored Wolves on xG according to every single model despite playing the majority of the game with no right back, no left back, and no striker. Although Everton’s play was ugly, uncoordinated, and painstaking to watch, they certainly did not deserve to lose despite the awful luck with injuries that they had to deal with. When Calvert-Lewin came off injured in first-half stoppage time, it seemed that would be that, but Dyche’s men kept fighting until the very end and got their due reward. Had DCL not been injured, I’d have bet that Everton would have won the game and put themselves just inches from safety.
3. Pivotal Away Points
During the home stretch of the season, Everton have actually had more success picking up points away from Goodison Park than they have at home; the exact opposite of their formula for survival last season. The Toffees have lost each of their last 3 home games, but have avoided defeat in each of their last 4 away games (1W, 3D). Their recent home fixtures have been tough, to be fair, with Spurs, Fulham, Newcastle, and Manchester City all visiting since April, which has made their newfound ability to pick up points on the road that much more important in the race for salvation.
Everton have earned 8 points in their last 7 away league games (W1 D5 L1) - as many as they managed in their previous 14 away league games (W1 D5 L8). #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) May 20, 2023
4. Decided by the Final Day
For context, I’m writing this article on Sunday evening after Leeds’ defeat at the London Stadium. That result pushes the Whites to the very brink with a home fixture against Spurs awaiting them on the final day. Leicester, on the other hand, still have two games to play, but winning at St. James’ Park tomorrow seems a near-impossible task for the Foxes. If the Magpies beat them and secure Champions League football in the process, it’s likely that Everton would only need a point against Bournemouth next Sunday to stay up. In that scenario, Everton would go up to 34 points, meaning Leicester would be relegated on a maximum of 33, and Leeds would have to beat Spurs by 3 goals to tie Everton on goal difference and stay up based on the second tie-breaker, goals scored. Although a win is definitely preferred, as it would make the other results irrelevant, it may not be necessary, which eases the nerves just the tiniest bit. However, Newcastle winning isn’t a given, but it’s certainly the most likely result and is much less in doubt than West Ham’s victory today which helped the Toffees massively.
5. Selling Soon?
Although this stat doesn’t come directly from Saturday’s game, I think it’s worth discussing. As reported by the Daily Mail last week, it seems that Farhad Moshiri’s time as the owner of Everton Football Club may be over within the next few weeks, as both 777 Partners and MSP Capital seem ready to purchase should the club’s Premier League status be confirmed next Sunday. In my opinion, this is exactly what the club needs, as systemic changes from the top to the bottom are necessary in order to avoid being on the brink of the club’s first relegation since 1951 for a third-year running. My hope is that this season’s great escape will mark the end of this awful spell in the history of Everton Football Club and that the future under new ownership will not hold the same amount of anxiety, dread, and despair. It may be wishful thinking, but Moshiri and the rest of Everton’s awful leadership leaving is the first step in making it a reality.