With a run of difficult away fixtures mixed with winnable home games in the weeks ahead, Silva may have to vary his approach week-by-week, which leaves the Everton manager with the difficult but pleasing dilemma of having to find the right balance and a place for all these players within his setup. One positive along the way, marking a clear and obvious shift from last season, though, is the number of viable alternatives within the squad. When performances or the result are going awry, with Everton heading for a frustrating draw until substitutes intervened on this occasion, Silva has several options to call on to refresh the team and switch formations if required.
This uptick in resources after the recent international break allowed Silva to name all six of his summer signings in the same matchday squad for the first time. Five of the new recruits started while Yerry Mina was among the substitutes after making the squad for the first time since his summer move from Barcelona. But while Mina was an unused substitute on his return to fitness, another player who swapped Barcelona for Merseyside in the summer managed a more productive afternoon as midfielder André Gomes turned in an effective debut during his 82 minutes on the pitch.
Injury had delayed his debut and Gomes seemed keen to make up for lost time during an increasingly influential performance that eventually ended with a deserved ovation from the Goodison faithful upon his substitution. This promising debut saw the midfielder finish second on attempted passes, third on pass accuracy and fourth on touches.
Gomes started cautiously in the initial stages, seemingly content to recycle possession and let others try to do the bulk of work. That is not to say he was shirking his responsibilities, but this steady approach was more than understandable for a player making his first appearance for a new team on his return from injury.
But as a physical contest warmed up, so too did the debutant. Whether it was the occasional sharp turn to advance up the pitch, a burst into space with the ball at his feet or a well-timed pass to a teammate, Gomes showed glimpses of why Silva was so keen to add him to an already congested central midfield. As his confidence and comfort within his new surroundings grew in the first half, a couple of deft reverse passes sprang the overlapping Lucas Digne down the left flank.
Signs of his ability were in evidence throughout this 82-minute outing, but it was after the interval that Gomes started to demonstrate his quality. If the first half was a player working his way up to speed, then the second saw the summer signing click through the gears and start to dictate proceedings from his midfield base. Passing became that bit crisper and more purposeful as the match wore on, clearly moving from basic ball retention to a more progressive approach. Comfortable off either foot, finding Digne once more with a driven pass off his so-called weaker left foot in the second half, the sight of a midfielder spraying passes to various corners of the Goodison turf is something Everton have lacked since Gareth Barry joined West Brom in August 2017.
While the central midfield alternatives available to Silva tend to do their best work recovering the ball and capitalising on opposition mistakes through pressing high up the pitch, Gomes seems a player likely to have the most impact in possession. In a midfield engine room packed with energy and tackling ability, Gomes can provide the finesse to compliment the traits of his teammates.
This was the first glimpse of the Barcelona loanee, but this one performance did enough to suggest he will be a key figure as this season advances, particularly in matches like this. Defensive and organised visiting teams are often the most difficult assignment for Everton at Goodison, but Gomes can offer that link between defence and attack, especially when faced with opposing teams happy to dig in and frustrate. A different type of central midfielder to those already at Silva’s disposal, Gomes could be the missing link in midfield.
Reader Comments (9)
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1 Posted 23/10/2018 at 09:08:35
Silva has gelled together the back line and midfield. Wingers and overlapping full-backs working fine. Scheneiderlin?
The forward line is the next project. Poor pass-completion in the final third being the final piece in the jigsaw. Everton do have alternatives, as was proved by Silva in the last match, but a Gomes-type figure still has to emerge.
The good news is that Everton in Brands and Silva at last have a management team that are playing football to Everton's traditional strengths and know what they are about. The players are improving a lot in this framework and will improve more.
It's a long time since one could say that about Everton.
2 Posted 23/10/2018 at 09:31:08
The team is really starting to take shape. We have England's number one in goal, and a first choice back 4, with Mina waiting for his chance to step in.
We seem to now have a first choice midfield 3, consisting of Gueye, Gomes and Sigurdsson (if Gomes can carry on as he has started).
Up front, it's getting interesting. Our first choice front 3 at the minute seems to be Bernard, Walcott and Richarlison. But none of them covered themselves in glory the other day, and the subs all came on and changed the game. Tosun looked like a man possessed, and if Calvert-Lewin can add more goals to his game, he can be an option off the bench.
In less than 6 months, the squad has been transformed. We've strengthened all over the pitch, and the mentality has changed also – we are now having a go at dominating and winning games.
We may be in transition, but the signs are positive. Let's hope Gomes can build on his promising start.
3 Posted 23/10/2018 at 12:36:53
As Danny above says, the front three line-up is getting interesting as I think Richarlison is more effective on the left at this stage. That leaves the door open for Calvert-Lewin and Tosun again through the centre whilst, on the right, Lookman is breathing down the neck of Walcott for a starting place.
Front 3 against Man Utd? Place your bets... Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Walcott with Bernard, Tosun and Lookman ready to step in on the hour mark if and when necessary.
4 Posted 23/10/2018 at 14:40:45
If Man Utd were playing well, it'd be tempting to put Davies in alongside Gana and Gomes to make sure we look solid, but no need to with this United side at this time.
Richarlison on the left, Tosun through the middle and Walcott right for me next weekend with Sigurdsson, Gana and Gomes behind them.
So great to have options off the bench, and the fact Holgate, Kenny, Jagielka, Niasse and Schneiderlain can't even get on the bench is a sign of how strong we are now.
5 Posted 23/10/2018 at 20:06:54
Let them worry about us, we'll look after our selves. I'd take a 1-0, but a draw would be a good result, hopefully we'll get a referee, who will be mentally strong and won't bottle it.
Genuine hope, and that's saying a lot bearing where we've been the last four years.
Onwards and upwards.
6 Posted 23/10/2018 at 23:10:15
Hopefully now with him, Gana, Schniederlin, and Sigurdsson all able to play through the centre, plus McCarthy on his way back, Davies will be used more sparingly, allowing him to develop in a less harsh environment. Hopefully fans will begin to see Davies used as a sub when more experienced players have tired a bit through a game, and allow Tom to showcase what a talented young lad we have on our hands.
If Gomes looks as good as he's threatening too I'd look at moving out Schniederlin or McCarthy along with Besic to gain funds to buy Gomes. We don't need all of the midfielders we have especially if Davies, Dowell and Baningime want a future at the club.
7 Posted 24/10/2018 at 09:46:29
8 Posted 24/10/2018 at 11:25:13
If he kicks on, hopefully we will not be fielding two 'dogs of war' alongside each other, especially against weaker teams or in home matches. Defensively he's not great, but he's okay – though I'd maybe limit his time defending at set pieces. I also felt that Gana, no longer in a position to rely on a fellow 'dog of war' alongside, upped his game to take on the extra responsibility and had his best game for a while. You won't get Gomes like passing from Gana,but you need one of these types in your team.
In terms of providing balance, Gomes might just be our most important signing, albeit for a year given he's on loan. Personally I'd also like to try Bernard at Number 10 with Lookman on the wing.
9 Posted 04/11/2018 at 13:41:33
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