Everton 3 - 1 Brighton & Hove Albion
It says something about the progress being made under Marco Silva that you could come a way from a game hugely satisfied with a comfortable win while still feeling a little niggle in your belly that Everton really could have handed out a proper thrashing.
It would have been harsh on Brighton — not that they were particularly unfortunate to lose; the Blues were dominant throughout — simply because you have to admire what the thoroughly decent Chris Hughton is doing on the south coast but it would have underlined the quality coursing through Silva’s increasingly confident team.
Richarlison deservedly grabbed the headlines with a superb brace but from the unflappable defensive duo of Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma to the indefatigable anchor formed by Idrissa Gueye and André Gomes in the centre of midfield, there were impressive displays to be lauded as Everton won their third home game on the spin. Oh, and there was a moment of redemption for Seamus Coleman who let it be known that he hasn’t been oblivious to criticism of his performances this season.
What should be hugely encouraging to Evertonians and unsettling for our rivals is that Silva’s side still haven’t hit their stride. The final ball and the composure in the final third is a little inconsistent and that was probably the difference between a handsome win — by most measures, the best of the season at home — and a rare Goodison tonking. It will come though; this Blues team is going to tear someone apart one of these games and it’s going to be glorious.
Despite all the speculation about the ongoing effectiveness of playing Richarlison as a central striker, the chequered form of Theo Walcott, and the need for Yerry Mina to get some competitive playing time ahead of next weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Silva went for the same line-up as that which started the two previous matches. The importance of a settled team is seemingly not lost on the Portuguese and it paid dividends this afternoon.
Walcott was lively and exhibited some great movement but he might feel he could have done better with a chance early in the second half after Gueye had slammed a shot off the post and Bernard had pinged a fast ball across goal where the right winger sliced wide at the far post.
Mina, meanwhile, got a few minutes at the end to savour the atmosphere at Goodison when the crowd is in full voice from pleasure at an imminent home win. His time will come at Stamford Bridge when Zouma will be forced to step aside by eligibility requirements against his parent club.
That will postpone the manager’s selection headache for a week but, depending on how the Colombian performs next Sunday, he will face another impossible choice when Cardiff come to town towards the end of the month. Because, with England manager Gareth Southgate watching on from the stands, Keane put in another imperious performance at centre half alongside Zouma who was just as good.
Both players read the game so well and they commanded both the air and the ground against Glenn Murray and Solly March. Brighton’s goal, another annoying lapse at a set-piece that allowed Lewis Dunk to steal in behind Zouma and head home, was disappointing but you sense that in a zonal marking system, it’s more difficult to assign individual blame and, perhaps, it was the ease with which the visitors were allowed to cross that was the real issue.
Thankfully, Dunk’s 36th-minute strike was rendered academic by an Everton display in the second half that was a more realistic reflection of their collective talents and the intensity they can bring. They had been in control for most of the first half, enjoying more than 60% of the ball but had just one shot on target to show for it at the interval. (Indeed, the Blues were remarkably efficient when they got the ball on target over the whole game, scoring with all three.)
Gylfi Sigurdsson, another unsung hero on the afternoon, really should have scored with just five minutes on the clock when Coleman collected a sublime pass from Keane and cut it back perfectly for the Icelander but, whether it bobbled at the crucial moment or he took his eye off the ball, he miscued what should have been a routine crack at goal.
He narrowly missed trying to convert a low Lucas Digne cross from the other flank five minutes later but he was instrumental in the opening goal when it arrived in the 26th minute. Zouma back-headed a Brighton corner into space outside the Everton box and Sigurdsson took off into the yawning gap that lay ahead of him down the left flank.
He exchanged passes with the alert Bernard and advanced to the visitors’ area where he met Richarlison’s run with a neat ball that the Brazilian thumped emphatically over the head of the hapless Mat Ryan.
The second goal, one which restored the Blues’ advantage just five minutes after the break, was scored in fine style by the captain and it was followed by a passionate hands-cupped-to-the-ear, what-say-you-now? celebration in front of the Gwladys Street End.
Typifying his deceptive physical strength, Gomes tussled with his man to recover after he had tried to control a heavy pass inside from Bernard and did enough for the ball to break to Coleman 20 yards from goal. The Irishman had enough time and space to pick his spot past a couple of defenders and despatched a crisp drive inside the far post.
There were some nearly moments that followed where a misplaced pass or a moment of indecisiveness would ruin a promising move and prevent Everton from increasing their lead until a moment of superb opportunism from Richarlison led to the third goal.
Anticipating Dunk’s attempt to find Shane Duffy with a cross-field pass, the Brazilian seized on what was a slightly under-hit ball, knocking it past the former Everton defender and then confidently rounding the keeper to slot into the empty net.
That was more or less all she wrote. Ademola Lookman came on for Bernard for the final 25 minutes and Dominic Calver-Lewin replaced Walcott for the last few minutes but the Blues were home and dry by that point.
Having not been tested apart from the Brighton goal — there was little he could have done to prevent it — Jordan Pickford’s only real action of the second half was to push Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s curling shot over the bar three minutes from the end. Brighton had been game enough but they couldn’t cope with their visibly superior hosts.
Coming on the back of the previous home wins over Fulham and Crystal Palace, this was another very encouraging performance from Everton with key individuals starting to really starting to blossom and the quality of play is becoming increasingly pleasing at the same time.
Freed up to what he does best by his new midfield partner, Gueye was exceptional in midfield, covering every blade of grass, snapping into tackles and disrupting the opposition time and time again. Gomes, meanwhile, was the metronome in the middle of the park, running the show with tidy passes, forward momentum and no shortage of muscle in the challenge of his own when required. The Portuguese just oozes class and his signature on a permanent deal has surely moved towards the top of Marcel Brands’s agenda.
Silva would be the first to admit that there is still plenty of room for improvement in general, however, and that should concern our rivals bidding to finish “best of the rest” in the Premier League. Another test of whether the top six, two points away as things currently stand, is a viable target looms next week at Chelsea. Spring a surprise there — this Blues team has the talent to do it — and the optimism around what can be achieved under the new regime can be ratcheted up a little further.
Silva also knows, however, that if his team keeps winning its home games and can collect draws on the road, they will still be in very good shape. This was a pleasingly routine victory that very much keeps that strategy in play while the wider rebuilding job continues.
Reader Comments (37)
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1 Posted 04/11/2018 at 05:53:48
It was pure joy seeing Seamus be Seamus again for the first time since his Neil Taylor encounter.
Gomes has truly liberated Gueye to an extent that I never anticipated – Gana now has 55 tackles, a third more than anybody else in the Premier League.
As for Brighton's goal, it was less a function of zonal marking than Zoumal marking – for all his impressive talents, our Chelsea loan never seems to have any idea what's going on behind him because he never looks to see.
2 Posted 04/11/2018 at 07:12:21
Lyndon, you are right it could have been more, but what is annoying me is the injustice of last week. This team didn't deserve that.
If we want to get to the next level, we need wins against the likes of Chelsea next week. We have strength in depth and proper quality in all positions. We have the ability to win at Chelsea. They will have more possession but goodness me – that breakaway goal from Siggy, Bernard and Richarlison was scintillating. Pep Gardiola would have been jumping for joy if his Man City side had scored that one.
Chelsea will be wary of our threat and rightfully so. We can hurt them.
3 Posted 04/11/2018 at 07:43:17
How long before the red tops start spreading the rumours to unsettle our players? Can't be challenging the elected elite, can we?
4 Posted 04/11/2018 at 08:06:58
We'd be mad to let Richarlison go. Hoping we can keep that team together for a couple of seasons.
If we can keep Zouma and Gomes and find or coach a more productive striker, we are a decent outfit.
5 Posted 04/11/2018 at 08:21:46
Silva continues to back Walcott which is questionable when he's not scoring. He offers very little protection to Coleman who is down on pace. I know Lookman isn't defensive-minded but his inclusion is growing by the week.
6 Posted 04/11/2018 at 08:57:43
On another day, Walcott could have scored one and assisted a few. His end product wasn't bad at all – the finishing was! Agreed he's been poor last few weeks but I actually thought our finishing let his delivery down yesterday – not the other way round!
7 Posted 04/11/2018 at 09:12:47
I think he's correct in what he's doing too, the team is gelling, bonding and playing for one another. Walcott was vastly improved from last week, as was Coleman and Bernard.
Partnerships are forming all over the place. I think Silva believes continuity is key... I just hope it stretches to the FA Cup.
8 Posted 04/11/2018 at 09:37:50
I don't get the negativity about Walcott either. He was one of our best signings last season and we've been crying out for players of his quality for years. The end product will come back again.
We don't have to have a whipping boy, it's okay to be positive!!
9 Posted 04/11/2018 at 09:58:42
We should have been 2 up by half-time against Arsenal, they were the better team against the red shite. Gana is a whole new ball game now alongside Gomes, an out and out warrior. We can take them at midfield and Richarlison can do damage against anyone.
They will target Seamus all day no doubt and hopefully yesterday gives Seamus some much-needed confidence and it must be drilled into either Lookman and Walcott to consider themselves more of a defender this game. Savage work rate required.
Sorry for going off topic, but I'm just bloody loving Everton at the moment, it's been a tough life following them!!
Great article above.
10 Posted 04/11/2018 at 10:01:01
A little more belief at the so-called big 6 and getting results at their grounds may not be far away. The football is so much better to watch; of course results always help, and it looks like there is much more to come from the players which are all reasons to be positive going forward.
11 Posted 04/11/2018 at 10:19:41
We do need to be patient … Pep, Klopp have been at their respective posts for over two years at least – Marco only one-third of a season,
The new pressing, passing, attacking style is coming together; it will take time to be sharper and more consistent. If they keep progressing, with the odd glitch, then we will have a top team on our hands to compete with the best.
Another week of training and honing Silva's patterns of play will stand them in good stead. Irrespective of anything, or how well Chelsea can play, or how the ref makes blunders, or the luck goes against us – we know we are going to be positive and be confident and go and continue building on this style of play.
There will be setbacks but we are showing great signs. Silva is definitely our man! And of course Mr Brands – who is obviously managing the spirit and togetherness of the players.
12 Posted 04/11/2018 at 10:25:28
Goodison is becoming what the old lady deserves once again, and hopefully it's only going to get better!
13 Posted 04/11/2018 at 11:11:27
Managers stand or fall by the players they bring in and if they have the ability to improve players already at the club. I think most fans are delighted with all the signings Silva and Brands have made, and the improvement in the players who were here when he came is noticeable.
Especially Michael Keane: last season, many (including me) criticized him but, under Silva, he looks like the assured defender we watched play for Burnley. I know he wrote about his bad foot injury and that must have played a part in his form last season. But his positional sense under Silva has improved out of all recognition.
I was pleased Richarlison scored a couple of goals yesterday as it will have given his confidence in playing the main striker roll a major boost. Gomes gives us a presence and assured approach that had been sadly lacking, his first thought is can he play a forward pass which again is a big plus. Then you come to Mr perpetual movement in Gana Gueye – what an engine this man has... and yesterday, despite some very good performances was for me head and shoulders above everyone on the pitch yesterday.
I also thought it was a very clever move of Silva not to take off either of his central defenders who have performed very well over the past few weeks, to allow Mina to make his debut. His headache will come after the Chelsea game, obviously Mina will partner Keane but what does he do for the following game? Reinstate Zouma or keep Keane and Mina together?
What a change from last season when the choice was an out-of-form Keane or Williams or Jagielka, who has been a brilliant servant to this club but age catches up with everybody some time.
I was pleased to see Lookman come off the bench; he is 21 as are Richarlison and Calvert-Lwein – all need to know how important they are to the future of this club.
14 Posted 04/11/2018 at 11:46:18
● There is no substitute for pace. Ask Duffy if he'd like to play Richarlison every week.
● There's no substitute for a settled defence. Ask Keane if he enjoyed last year.
● There's no substitute for class in the middle.
Gomes and Gylfi were a class above that Brighton team, and Gana is simply going to be irreplaceable in the years to come.
15 Posted 04/11/2018 at 11:56:35
If they could all click into gear on 2 December and tear into a team. Well that would be the best crimbo present I could ask for.
16 Posted 04/11/2018 at 13:01:36
Hopefully the goal will start him on the road to where he was before the terrible injury.
17 Posted 04/11/2018 at 13:36:40
On another day, that quite easily could have been 5 or 6. I wouldn't be surprised if we dish someone out a hiding real soon.
18 Posted 04/11/2018 at 14:10:16
Apart from two or three positions, the team is picking itself right now. The back and midfield have nailed their places and then Calvert-Lewin, Niasse, Tosun, and Lookman can fight it out with Bernard, and Walcott while Richarlison has a left wing option.
As for Davies, Baines, Schneiderlin, Kenny, and McCarthy they need to be realistic atm. That's not to mention the quality coming through the youth ranks.
19 Posted 04/11/2018 at 14:31:39
This is a common failing of Pickford, from every corner, centre and free-kick, he is glued to his line. I put that goal down to him, never mind what his defenders are doing, those centres are his problem; he fails to deal with them quite a lot.
20 Posted 04/11/2018 at 16:35:19
Watch Zouma on the goal. His eyes never leave the ball. As they never leave the ball during the entire game. He is a towering presence with blazing speed and exceptional passing skills, but he ballwatches like a 12-year-old. It's not the first time he's been burned by something behind him. It won't be the last.
And after 150 top-level games, I think it's incurable. I suspect it's why he's unwanted at a club that still features the now-sub-average David Luiz and still has a place on the bench for creaky old Gary Cahill.
21 Posted 04/11/2018 at 17:08:48
What I've seen of him, he has added strength and speed to the Everton defence and, hope I'm wrong, I think we will miss him more than Keane next week. Keane has upped his game this season and unfortunately has to start again next week with a new partner; let's see what happens... hopefully we will have three good centre-backs to help our team with a continued progression that is filling fans with more than just hope right now.
Safe journey over in a few weeks, Mike, and keep your winning run following the Blues! Best wishes.
22 Posted 04/11/2018 at 17:15:55
23 Posted 04/11/2018 at 17:49:20
Dave, what day is it you are taking Mike to The Midland?
24 Posted 04/11/2018 at 18:20:21
I imagine the date will be announced again as it gets nearer the date, I am sure it is the one above.
25 Posted 04/11/2018 at 19:01:47
Richarlison can score plenty from the wing as he did earlier. I think we are far more balanced this way, and it was interesting to see Kevin Ratcliffe say exactly this in the Echo.
26 Posted 04/11/2018 at 21:04:42
One player who could do it and is yet to kick on this season is Walcott. And, with Lookman, we have options.
27 Posted 04/11/2018 at 21:16:55
28 Posted 04/11/2018 at 21:38:34
29 Posted 04/11/2018 at 21:48:19
30 Posted 04/11/2018 at 22:06:42
I would like our travelling hords to really take it to their home crowd and Barkley… He is looking to regain some of his old self…
By consistently singing "We've got a Diamond called Ross Barkley…" etc
That would really confuse the fuck out of them and him… mental breakdown guaranteed! ;-)
We can laugh all the way to the three points.
31 Posted 05/11/2018 at 02:23:23
I agree with the main thrust of Lyndon's opening post, that we are still very much a work in progress and are yet to hit our full stride. Thus, the encouragement that there is lots of room for improvement across the board and throughout the team.
For a good few seasons now we have very, VERY rarely put together a good performance over two halves, or 90 minutes. On Saturday we did. That has to become the norm, rather than the exception.
Of individual players, Pickford is a diamond who can only get better than the very high standards he already sets. Keane and Zouma look a solid pairing at centre-back and Mina is going to have to put in a special performance at Chelsea to permanently displace Zouma. Keane is a man re-born. He is consistently an 8 out of 10 player – at least! – every game this season.
Seamus has struggled, but he was another standout performer against Brighton. Digne did 'okay', but there is still room for improvement on what he can offer the team.
Gueye is a key component in this new-look Silva side, looking more like the outstanding player he appeared to be when first arriving at the club – and then some! His performance Saturday was of the highest caliber.
Some nominated Gomes as their MotM, but for the 3rd consecutive game, I thought he had a quiet and passive 1st half before growing more into the game in the 2nd half. Again, given his limited game time due to injury in a new league, plus him needing to exorcise the negative memories of his time at Barcelona, he is another with a lot more to offer than he has shown already, which is extremely exciting given some of the plays he has made since coming into the side.
Sigurdsson, like Keane, is paying back his transfer fee now and is contributing with goals and assists. Still messes up on occasions, but he never hides or quits in a game.
Bernard has been over-praised for me by some. Yes, when he is good, he is very, very good, but whilst he has quick feet and control, is technically sound and can pick a pass, he still appears to be getting to grips with the pace and physical aspect of the Premier League. So that's another with plenty of wriggle room to improve.
Walcott was better on Saturday, but he is another capable of producing more for the team. Richarlison, as his goals on Saturday showed, is the magic dust which spearheads the team. He is still learning his trade, but his potential continues to dazzle.
Add to that mix some very fine back ups and we have good reason to have stirrings of belief that the slumbering giant that is Everton is finally awakening once more.
And for those saying 'it was only Brighton', no game in the Premier League is an easy touch. Chris Houghton is a manager I have huge respect for. He wasn't shy in calling Everton a 'top side' who will challenge for the top six this season.
Clearly, the Goodison faithful are warming more and more to what they see at the Old Lady these days. And like others, I see signs that when it all clicks we are going to give some teams a right twatting.
32 Posted 05/11/2018 at 08:28:27
33 Posted 05/11/2018 at 13:11:41
I haven't felt as enthusiastic for the football we are playing since Martinez's first season. I still think we will struggle against quicker forward lines, eg, the RS and we do still need a regular and reliable goalscorer. Whilst we didn't get the results at Old Trafford and the Emirates, we gave a good account of ourselves and were a bit unlucky.
It would be nice for us to go and get something at one of these tough away games we have coming up. At least I'm looking forward to the games again though.
34 Posted 05/11/2018 at 13:17:19
"A right twatting" means a good hammering.
35 Posted 05/11/2018 at 15:12:23
36 Posted 05/11/2018 at 16:07:13
37 Posted 05/11/2018 at 18:44:38
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