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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 20 January 2018; 3:00pm
1 1
 West Brom
Niasse 70'
Half Time: 0 - 1
Rodriguez 7' 
Attendance: 39,061
Fixture 24
Referee: Stuart Atwell

Match Report

40 points and the end of this train-wreck of a season can’t come quickly enough. What lies beyond it will, no doubt, make for an intriguing summer but at the moment, Everton are slogging through the remainder of their Premier League programme hoping to accumulate enough points to justify the appointment of Sam Allardyce and stay in the top flight.

If the team’s goals are any higher than that, it’s not being reflected on the pitch. The Blues avoided a fifth successive defeat to start the year thanks to a rare moment of incisiveness, a deft assist from debutant Theo Walcott and the predatory instincts of Oumar Niasse but there was no escape from the feeling that the Blues were flattered by the 1-1 scoreline.

They haven’t won a Premier League game for over a month now and the threat of relegation that appeared to have receded following the new manager’s encouraging start is beginning to creep back into the Everton consciousness now that just six points separate them from the bottom three.

To say that things feel like a complete mess at Goodison is to understate it. On the face of it, football is a simple game but the complex relationship between key individuals and the team as a collective, combined with the driving force of confidence, is what keeps managers up at night and the best coaches in their jobs.

Right now, Everton have no confidence, they have no discernible leadership, direction or drive on the field and the consistency in team selection that helped Allardyce begin his Goodison reign with a seven-game unbeaten run has disappeared. Furthermore, big questions continue to be asked around the continued use and commitment of certain players.

It’s unlikely that his appointment was made with the expectation of much inspiration in terms of how Everton play the game but you would think that with his experience at the top level, Allardyce would be capable of coaching players to find a team-mate with a forward pass.

Once again, the Blues were shockingly bad on the ball — it starts with them routinely giving it away right from the kick-off and it goes from there. It’s staggering that such an expensively assembled a collection of players can exhibit such poor use of the ball, so little movement and so little invention at times.

Time and time again, the man on the ball was left searching for a passing option with the nearest blue shirt 20 yards away. So often, it was cycled back and forth behind the halfway line between the holding midfielders and the centre-halves with the frustration in the stands rising in tandem.

In one particular instance, of course, it had painful consequences for James McCarthy who got into a muddle with the pedestrian and crab-like Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield and ended up with a season-ending broken leg following a freak accident involving Salomon Rondon. That just seems to be the way of it at the moment.

Allardyce changed things up once more for the visit of the Baggies, somewhat predictably given what transpired at Wembley last week, but, again, it came at the expense of any of the continuity in terms of personnel that was evident when he first arrived.

A central defensive pairing of Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams that was in place as the manager won three of his first four Premier League matches and which allowed the much-criticised Williams to re-find his form and Holgate to flourish in his favoured position was finally restored yesterday.

Wayne Rooney dropped back to the substitutes’ bench along with Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie, who made way for Walcott to make his debut, while McCarthy and Schneiderlin were preferred as the manager retained his much-maligned preference for two holding midfielders in home games. The surprise inclusion was Nikola Vlasic in an unfamiliar left-side role.

Everton never got going, though, and were 1-0 down inside eight minutes. Grzegorz Krychowiak had already exploited the space in the home side’s rearguard with an early chance that he ballooned into the Park End when Rondon dropped back to chest the ball down in his own half and knock it on to the Polish midfielder.

With Williams dragged way out of position, Krychowiak sent Jay Rodriguez away with a weighted ball over the top and the striker slotted it past the stranded Jordan Pickford with Holgate vainly appealing for offside.

The hosts’ response amounted to little more than one teasing cross by Walcott into a penalty area devoid of blue shirts save that of Cenk Tosun, who would spend his 56 unproductive minutes on the pitch painfully isolated, and a first Everton shot on target in 251 minutes of football from Jonjoe Kenny that was saved by Ben Foster.

Vlasic, who had understandably struggled to make an impact in an malfunctioning team, was withdrawn at half time by Allardyce in favour of Bolasie but the pattern of play remained largely unchanged until the disaster that befell McCarthy forced a change in formation with an hour gone.

Caught in his own half with two West Brom players in close attendance, the Irish international overshot Schneiderlin with an awkward pass. The Frenchman threw in late, half-hearted tackle on Gareth Barry (for which he was rightfully booked) while McCarthy was left to chase back in typical fashion and deny Rondon a clear goalscoring opportunity with a brilliant saving tackle.

Sadly, having taken the ball away from the Venezuelan after he had committed to the shot, McCarthy’s leg took the force of Rondon’s swing, with both tibia and fibia breaking leaving him prone in agony on the turf, Pickford urgently summoning the medical staff and the visiting striker in tears.

McCarthy was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Rooney and following the introduction of Niasse, Everton carved out the equaliser, with all three substitutes involved. Bolasie laid a pass off to Rooney, he curled a ball to Walcott at the back post and Niasse swept his header into the net from close range.

A platform and the confidence on which to build and go on to win the game did not result in an improved display from the Blues, though. Instead, it was the visitors, who had only won their first game since August a week ago, who should have claimed the points.

While Foster was really only called upon once in the final quarter of an hour when he pushed away an excellent volley from Walcott, Pickford had to beat away efforts from Krychowiak, Matt Phillips and Rondon and also watched relieved as a header from the Venezuelan marksman dropped inches wide of his left-hand post.

And, having recovered mentally from the anguish of McCarthy’s injury, Rondon was unfortunate not to win it when he curled a shot over Pickford’s fingertips and off the face of crossbar in stoppage time.

Just as Leicester’s resurgence under Claud Puel and West Ham’s improvement under David Moyes are a study in the impact that new managers can have on a team, the approach of West Brom, whose squad is almost certainly inferior overall to that of Everton, to this game throws the chaos at Goodison into sharp relief. Pardew, who, it should be noted, played two strikers away from home, has only been in the job a month but his team came out of the “traps” with a purpose and an incisiveness that Everton have barely shown all season under three different managers.

This was a home match against a team sitting in the relegation zone that provided Allardyce and his players, with two new attacking players in the lineup, an opportunity to come out and play. Instead, with another defensively-minded starting XI they buckled early on and spent the next hour trying to summon the confidence to string more than two passes together.

Seeing as a pattern that emerged under Ronald Koeman is being perpetuated under his successor, it begs the question of how much responsibility lies with the players — experienced individuals like Schneiderlin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Williams continue to let the side down — and how much rests with the management charged with re-instilling into them the basic notions of pass-and-move and showing some tactical imagination.

If any of that is happening on the training field at Finch Farm, there is precious little evidence of it. Worse, too few seem to be all that upset about it.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Goodison Park welcomed new signings Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott against visitors West Brom today, with Williams as captain, Rooney, Jagielka and Bolasie dropped to the bench.

Nikola Vlasic also made a rare start, with Martina continuing at left back, and no sign of Luke Garbutt in the matchday squad but Michael Keane iwas fit enough for the subs' bench. Ademolah Lookman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies are not involved. Gareth Barry returned for the first time with the visitors.

With Sam Allardyce celebrating his 1,000th senior game, Everton kicked off playing toward the Gwladys Street end, it was the visitors who showed more intent early on, Rondon trying to shoot wide of Pickford. Everton looked very disjointed and could not string anything together in the way of joined-up football, with aerial balls knocked haphazardly in the right general direction.

Krychowiak got plenty of space and lashed his chance wide of target. Rodriguez, did not make the same error, a hoof onto his chest beating Pickford with ease, Holgate miles away from him. An absolutely shocking start for the Blues.

The Everton response was to try and do more in terms of building with the ball played to feet but the Baggies had just what they wanted in the early goal and were not minded to allow Everton to walk the ball through their defence.

Walcott's early touches were hardly inspiring, with too many backward passes and no attempt to beat his man or create anything. Sigurdsson fired at the target but a defender blocked his shot, straight at the body, never a penalty despite the claims.

Walcott was pushed over and awarded a free-kick wide right that Sigurdsson delivered in well enough but Schneiderlin could only glance it on its way across the West Brom area and there was nothing forthcoming in the follow-up, while Rondon threatened in lots of space at the other end and a shot just wide had Pickford scrambling to cover.

A laborious build-up ended with McCarthy's cross in Foster's arms. Sigurdsson then tried to dribble through three defenders. Tusun and Walcott unexpectedly played as strangers, unfamiliar with their respective runs as the Blues struggled to make anything notable until Walcott finally showed his skill, trapping a great long crossfield ball from Schneiderlin and delivering a good cross that had no takers in the West Brom area.

West Brom were too easily able to switch sustained pressure from an Everton free-kick into a marauding and speedy attack, with the Blues still to register a shot at goal with half-an-hour gone and the frustration overflowing from the long-suffering Goodison fans.

Phillips saw a shot deflected behind the Everton goal, winning the first corner that was well overhit. Finally, it was Jonjoe Kenny who pulled off he amazing feat of a shot on target, Foster tracking it all the way. But the football was dreadful, formless, scrappy, disjointed, simply horrible... Tosun not getting even a faint sniff.

In a brighter bit of play, Walcott beat three defenders but was overlapped by Tosun, who put in a decent cross but Sigurdsson was the wrong side of his marker. At the other end, West Brom won another corner, this one off Kenny, and Rondon put in a clean header driven just over the bar.

Walcott caught Krychowiak on his instep and saw the first yellow card, a fitting end to the half as the boos rung around the ground following yet another utterly dismal display of rotten zombie football from Sam Allardyce and his increasingly dispirited charges. Changes in store, no doubt, after the break.

Bolasie replaced Vlasic as proceedings resumed, and he tried to advance with the ball down the right, only to be stalled, and it was Williams who drove the ball forward to no-one and out for a goal-kick. Everton tried to play football down the right flank but close-order interchanges did not fool the disciplined Baggies defence.

The obligatory session of garbage head-tennis benefited no-one as Rooney resumed his strenuous warm-up. Everton eventually got the ball into the West Brom area but Foster was fouled as he went for the high ball.

Walcott finally got a chance to run with the ball but crossed straight to Foster.Sigurdsson tried to release Tosun but his pass lacked the legs and another attack fizzled out.

Rondon got lose and looked to be setting up to score but McCarthy flung himself in to deny him, McCarthy then crumbling to the ground with what must be a broken leg, Rondon, sobbing on the touchline. After many minutes of treatment, McCarthy was stretchered off, Rooney his replacement.

That horrible incident put a damper on the mood, but Everton looked much the same in terms of performance as they struggled to make anything work. Bolasie looked to beat Barry but couldn't, and Niasse replaced Tosun, who had done very very little,the decision being be booed by some of the crowd.

Kenny got a decent cross in that Rooney recirculated, Walcott placing a brilliant header and Niasse lashing it into the roof of the net with his first touch, less than a minute after coming on!!!

At the other end, Krychowiak found space for a shot that Pickford pushed out dangerously to Phillips who could only blaze over. Baolasie looked to create something, then Walcott was bowled over. Sigurdsson's free-kick fell to Walcott whose first-time volley was saved by Foster.

After three subs for The Baggies, Bolasie was a little greedy in trying a lame shot at Foster. But the visitors rallied, Rondon tying to pick his spot after Kenny was dispossessed. Rondon's header then bounced a few feet wide. It was all coming from West Brom as they looked for a winner.

Bolasie looked to curl one in as 7 minutes of added time were announced. A West Brom corner was cleared, but Everton's transition was too slow. A terrible free-kick was wasted by Kenny. Rooney then gave the ball away to Rondon who lashed a shot beyond Pickford, rattling the Gwladys Street bar.

Everton seemed determined to gift the game to their visitors, but Stuart Atwell finally brought another miserable exhibition of footballing incompetence — Niasse's moment of brilliance notwithstanding — to a painful end, with all thoughts turning to James McCarthy and his horrible plight.

Scorers: Niasse (70'); Rodriguez (6').

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Williams, Holgate, Martina, Schneiderlin [Y:56'], McCarthy (60' Rooney), Walcott [Y:44'], Sigurdsson, Vlasic (46' Bolasie), Tosun (69' Niasse).
Subs not Used: Robles, Keane, Jagielka, Gueye.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson [Y:87'], Hegazi, Evans (80' McAuley), Gibbs, Phillips, Rodriguez (79' McClean), Barry, Brunt (79' Livermore), Krychowiak, Rondon.
Subs not Used: Nyom, Robson-Kanu, Myhill, Field.

Referee: Stuart Atwell

Attendance: 39,061

Michael Kenrick

Woeful Everton take undeserved point

Rather than get picked up for the game by Gaz, I got dragged into Liverpool for a bit of shopping with the better half and toddler, though Gaz kindly offered to pick me up at the cobbles at 1pm.

At about 12pm, we went for some food. Of course, the restaurant brought the wrong food order which ate into our time. We were hurrying to finish up to be at the cobbles for 1pm, this being exacerbated when Ste phoned me at 12:50pm saying they were almost there. We settled the bill, hurried up as best we could and marched quickly towards the cobbles in the pouring rain. Three quarters of the way there, Ste called me saying a parking attendant was moving Gaz and Ste along as they had been waiting in the area for too long, so I was instructed to leg it, so leg it I did, and in trying to navigate around some other pedestrian, I slipped on some paper on the floor and went straight over onto my chest… and bounced straight up and carried on running. It was so humiliating, and I eventually hobbled to the car after a very frustrating hour.

I hoped the day would get better after this and it did for the next hour or so as we had a good laugh in the pub, also catching up with Dan. There were no huge shocks with the team news, with new signings Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun. The biggest surprise was probably the inclusion of Nikola Vlasic, with Wayne Rooney dropped to the substitutes bench. Prior to kick off there was a period of applause for much-loved Cyrille Regis, formally of West Bromwich Albion of course.

We began poorly, and never really got any better. Grzegorz Krychowiak had already sounded an alarm bell for us when he missed a good early opportunity, but our sleepy defence failed to heed the warning and were behind shortly afterwards when Jay Rodriguez waltzed through and finished well to give the visitors an early advantage. “Under-11s defending” was how Sam Allardyce described it.

West Brom were good value for their lead at the break as Everton offered little. At times in the first half there were a few little interchanges which were fairly pleasant on the eye, but nothing that resulted in any end product in the final third. The closest we came was when Jonjoe Kenny cut inside and shot at goal though the save was pretty comfortable for Ben Foster. This resulted in loud ironic cheers from the Gwladys Street, leading to a chorus of “We’ve had a shot”. It was pretty funny but the football on the pitch remained awful, so much so that I made the unusual step of joining Gary downstairs for a beer at the break. Things were that rancid.

You hoped we would vastly improve in the second half but we didn’t, if anything we were actually worse and some of the passing and decision-making was truly woeful. The horror moment of course came when James McCarthy sprawled on the ground in agony after colliding with Salomon Rondon as he bore down on goal. We were close enough to it to hear the bone crack. I’m as big a wimp as they come with things like this and the thought of it left me rather upset for James, though not as upset as Salomon who needed some looking after by his team mates. It was awfully sad seeing James stretchered off, particularly as he had been one of the few out there up for the fight. After the game, Sam Allardyce confirmed he had broken his tibia and fibula. I’m gutted for James, he will be out for a long time and would have made a difference for the remainder of the season.

On the pitch, things were beginning to get pretty desperate and Sam Allardyce’s response was to withdraw Cenk Tosun for Oumar Niasse. Just as everyone was lambasting Sam for the substitution, Theo Walcott headed a ball back into the 6-yard box and Oumar was on hand to smash into the net. It was all level and all to play for.

You hoped this would help us kick on but, though we rallied briefly, we didn’t make the most of this and Theo Walcott’s volley from the edge of the penalty area was about all we offered. Actually it was West Brom who finished the game by far the strongest and Salomon Rondon will feel he perhaps should have won them the game.

He certainly deserved to. His all round play was fabulous throughout, though unfortunately his finishing wasn’t quite up to scratch. He headed wide a few good opportunities and was also very unlucky to see his late effort crash away off the crossbar and to safety as Everton clung on amidst wave upon wave of West Brom attacks. Jordan Pickford’s face as he retrieved the ball near the end said everything you needed to know.

We were just awful throughout and I had to question those featuring on the substitutes bench. I felt the game was crying out for Tom Davies or Ademola Lookman to come on and grab the game by the scruff of the neck, but neither of them made the bench, nor did Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Overlook the youth at your peril Big Sam.

While uninspired by the appointment of Sam Allardyce, our initial form following his introduction won me over somewhat, and I’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt during our current lean spell, but there’s no denying how bad this performance was against one of the worst teams in the league. Did we panic too early with Sam Allardyce? I think so. I don’t believe that leaving the job with David Unsworth would have taken us down, and now we are paying a manager handsomely, who, especially if these performances remain, won’t be around to lead us into next season.

It’s a mess alright, and I can’t wait for this season to end.

Player ratings

Pickford: Didn’t have a huge amount to do, but one of the few who did little wrong. 6

Martina: Certainly not the worst performer out there, actually, I’d say his use of the ball was probably better than most. The position continues to be a problem one though, and why Luke Garbutt isn’t given a chance is beyond me. 6

Williams: He gave the ball away very early in the game and never got going after that. Had a weak game and was ran ragged by Salomon Rondon. 4

Holgate: Also poor. 4

Kenny: Didn’t really get forward a great deal and his end product wasn’t as good as it can be. That late free kick was a shocker. 5

McCarthy: Tragic for James, especially as he was one of our best players out there. Will be sorely missed and it’s so disappointing just after getting back to fitness. 6

Schneiderlin: He seems to be everybody’s favourite whipping boy, but based on his performances last season in comparison to this one, I kind of get why. He’s a shadow of the player, but with James McCarthy now out for the season, you have to assume he’ll stay in the team. 5

Vlasic: I don’t think he was doing so badly and we might have benefited more from him staying on the pitch, but he was hooked at the break. 6

Walcott: Not a bad debut at all and will be made up with the assist. He is capable of much better, but I‘d say he was the pick of a bad bunch today. Nice of him to stay behind and applaud all sides of the ground at full time. My man of the match. 6

Sigurdsson: He was OK first half and very busy but in the second half he never got going at all. Very disappointing. 4

Tosun: Also never got going. I was encouraged after the Tottenham Hotspurs game and I know better than to write a player off after two games, but we need more from him than that. Hopefully with a bit more time with his team mates next week he can do much better against Leicester City a week on Wednesday. 4


Bolasie (for Vlasic): Didn’t really offer much at all. 4

Rooney (for McCarthy): It was a good ball to Theo which led to the goal, but otherwise he was largely poor. He attempted many cross field diagonal balls to Theo Walcott but mis-hit several of them. He might end up getting a run in midfield now following McCarthy’s injury. 5

Niasse (for Tosun): What an introduction, scoring within a minute of coming on with his first touch. He was also denied a chance to run through on goal by a despicable handball by Craig Dawson (that should have been a red card surely?). His eagerness helped us out and even having just played 20 minutes he was as good a shout for man of the match as anyone. 6

Paul Traill

Match Preview

For the first time since New Year's Day, the Blues are back at Goodison Park to face West Bromwich Albion, less than a month after the reverse fixture at the Hawthorns produced a dull goalless draw.

While still early in his tenure as Baggies boss, Alan Pardew was unable to oversee a first victory since succeeding Tony Pulis and he had to wait until last Saturday before he could end the longest winless run in the top flight.

Everton, meanwhile, have lost four straight, mustering just two shots on goal in that time and exiting the FA Cup at the Third Round stage. They remain in the ninth place berth they occupied over Christmas coming into this weekend's round of fixtures but have lost ground on the top six while their cushion above the relegation zone has been diminished.

While last weekend's heavy 4-0 defeat to Tottenham, another game where this Everton side failed to test the opposition goalkeeper with an effort on goal, marked the nadir thus far of Sam Allardyce's brief reign, back-to-back home games and the arrival of some fresh attacking options offer hope of another revival in fortunes.

Both Theo Walcott and striker Cenk Tosun are expected to make their home debuts against the Baggies, with the hope being that the presence of pace and goal threat in the final third can spark some attacking life into a team that has been almost completely toothless since beating Swansea 3-1 over a month ago.

Walcott's £20m move from Arsenal was finalised on Wednesday while Tosun will have had a full week's preparation at Finch Farm to familiarise himself with his new team-mates and manager.

The presence of both players puts Allardyce in something of a quandry, however, given his post-match comments at Wembley where he asserted that he might have to be less adventurous and more defensive in his approach going forward — assuming that is possible — than was the case against Spurs an opportunity.

Yet in Walcott, Tosun and Yannick Bolasie, the boss has an intriguing trident at his disposal, one that affords him an attack-as-defence strategy aimed at unsettling a back line that hasn't exactly been a porous despite West Brom's poor but still has the unwanted distinction of having lost 3-1 at Stoke recently.

Allardyce started the game at the Hawthorns with not two but three defensive midfielders on Boxing Day and could yet opt retain at least two players in the holding role in an effort to protect his back line but this would be a game seemingly tailor-made for trying Wayne Rooney alongside either James McCarthy or Idrissa Gueye with Gylfi Sigurdsson centrally in front of them.

In terms of personnel, it remains to be seen how much Allardyce is moved to change things up given what happened at Wembley. The case for Ashley Williams to be re-deployed alongside Mason Holgate as seemingly the best-performing centre-half pairing since it was thrown together against West Ham in November has been made by some supporters but the youngster struggled against Spurs.

Bolasie, meanwhile, showed that he remains very rusty following his long lay-off and he could make way for Walcott if the manager isn't bold enough to go with that attacking trio mentioned above.

Whatever line-up he selects, there will be an expectation of more entertaining fare than has been served up at Goodison over the past month. The new signings can only help in that regard but they will need better service than the aerial route from Jordan Pickford and the back line. Time for Allardyce to earn demonstrate he can fashion some expansive football from this under-performing team.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 20 January, 2018
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Last Time: Everton 3-0 West Brom

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Martina, Gueye, McCarthy, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Walcott, Tosun

Lyndon Lloyd

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2017-18 Reports Index
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 Match reports
 Lyndon Lloyd Report
Ken Buckley Report
 Paul Traill Report
  McCarthy (Rooney 61')
  Vlasic (Bolasie 46')
  Tosun (Niasse 69')
  Subs not used
  Baines (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Funes Mori (injured)
  Stekelenburg (injured)
  Tarashaj (injured)
  Browning (loan)
  Dowell (loan)
  Galloway (loan)
  Mirallas (loan)
  Onyekuru (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  J. Williams (loan)
  Evans (McAuley 79')
  Brunt (Livermore 79')
  Rodriguez (McClean 79')
  Subs not used

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Arsensl 4-1 C Palace
Brighton 0-4 Chelsea
Burnley 0-1 Man United
Everton 1-1 West Brom
Leicester 2-0 Watford
Man City 3-1 Newcastle
Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield
West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth
Southampton 1-1 Tottenham
Swansea 1-0 Liverpool

Team Pts
1 Manchester City 65
2 Manchester United 53
3 Chelsea 50
4 Liverpool 47
5 Tottenham Hotspur 45
6 Arsenal 42
7 Leicester City 34
8 Burnley 34
9 Everton 28
10 Watford 26
11 West Ham United 26
12 Bournemouth 25
13 Crystal Palace 25
14 Huddersfield Town 24
15 Newcastle United 23
16 Brighton & Hove Albion 23
17 Stoke City 23
18 Southampton 22
19 West Bromwich Albion 20
20 Swansea City 20


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