Everton captain Seamus Coleman will likely miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee at Leicester. Fellow defender Ben Godfrey was still absent with a groin issue. Amadou Onana, who was an unused substitute in the last match after suffering from illness, had recovered but was on the bench. James Garner retained his place but the biggest news was the return to the starting lineup for Yerry Mina.
Brighton will continue to assess injury doubts Evan Ferguson and Pascal Gross but head coach Roberto De Zerbi says he won’t take risks with either player. The game came too soon for Joel Veltman, while Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder and Jeremy Sarmiento remain out.
Sadly, the reaction to the national anthem was less than respectful from some of the travelling Everton fans but that did not affect the Everton players as they attacked early and a lovely pass from Calvert-Lewin was put into the path of Doucoure and the ball was in the back of the net before Brighton knew anything! Just what the doctor ordered.
The majority of Brighton’s attacking play was going through Mitoma on the left side which was putting pressure on Patterson and Mina. After the goal the possession was controlled by Brighton and at the 15 minute mark the possession was at 87%. The early yellow card for time wasting was unnecessary and it meant hat he was going to have to be careful for the last 75 minutes. That was also true for Lewis Dunk who took down Calvert Lewin shortly after.
At the thirty minute mark, it was a quick counter attack down the left side by McNeil who put a lovely ball into the path of Abdoulaye Doucoure who volleyed the ball home.
Brighton was trying to get back in the game with 75% of the possession but it was the counter attacking by Everton that was creating havoc. Another ball from McNeil was put into the Brighton net by their keeper.
Before the half time whistle blew it was almost Three goals in the same match! Half time arrived and the travelling Evertonians were checking to see if this was a dream! The last time we scored 3 goals was against Burnley on September 13, 2021.
The second half started and Brighton were starting on the front foot and were attempting to get an early goal. The well organized back four had other plans and the travelling Evertonians were showing their support. A great save from Pickford denied MacAllister and the pressure continued.
Incredibly, it was another quick break out from Gueye and a lovely move from Alex Iwobi put Dwight McNeil into the box who made a nifty move and walked the ball into the goal with outstretched hands.
Brighton’s fans were leaving the ground but the team was more than willing to continue their quest to score and the goal finally came when a lovely cross into the box and Mitoma met it and put the ball into the net. Six minutes of added time conclude with another great individual effort from Dwight McNeil who cut inside and blasted the ball into the top corner. The thrashing was complete as the whistle was blown to end an impressive result.
Everton Man of the Match: Dwight McNeil
From the first moments of the game, it was clear that Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ready to do his bit in this game. He had scored in this fixture last year and his assist on the first goal showed his willingness to contribute and not just be the goal scorer. His presence has also allowed the midfield players and wing backs to know that there is an outlet that can hold up the play or get the ball quickly forward. His timing has improved and his fitness is getting better each match.
Yerry Mina’s return to the team was the big news after Sean Dyche finally caved in and took Michael Keane out of the starting lineup. In the first half alone, He ended the game with a passing percentage of 94%, with 37 touches, 12 clearances, 2 blocked shots, 1 interception and 2 tackles. He won 60% of his aerial duels and only lost posession twice. Solid numbers and all against a team that has walked over many teams this year. Keep him in.
McNeil was great today but it was really a team performance. A first away victory which should give the team confidence heading into the last three matches. The hiring of Dyche gave McNeil the support that was not given by Lampard. Dyche has stuck by him and today he provided creativity, width and finishing that he had shown in his early career at Burnley.
The performance that was needed. The win puts us into 16th place and two above Leicester. With a better goal difference than both Leeds and Nottingham Forest there is some light between us and the drop zone but the three remaining games need to be played with the same desire and skill. Today we were great at both ends of the pitch. Long may it continue.