Chelsea point represents another step forward for Everton under Silva

By Lyndon Lloyd 11/11/2018 51comments  |  Jump to last
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After years of punching above their weight and having to make do, the Blues have finally had the financial muscle to compete with that elite group above them in the market this summer but you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a performance over the past decade in which they looked so far behind than the one served up today. [D]epressingly, there was almost nothing to this Everton performance at all.

That was the assessment in this column in August last year following Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the first of four successive defeats in all competitions and the beginning of Ronald Koeman’s inexorable slide towards the Goodison Park trapdoor.

The season before, the Blues were annihilated in a 5-0 reverse to the would-be Champions, a performance described here as “atrocious in the context of the strong start they made under Koeman, the money he has spent and his European aspirations.”

Everton may not have ended a 24-year wait for a first Premier League victory on Chelsea’s home ground today but they finally looked like they were worthy opponents of Maurizio Sarri’s highly-regarded team, one that came into the game as the only unbeaten team left in the Continent’s top five leagues in all competitions.

The performance may not have yielded a goal but for long periods of this match, particularly in the first half, Marco Silva’s Blues were bold and undaunted, taking the game to Chelsea to produce another hugely encouraging away performance and earn what was, in the context of so many fruitless trips to these parts over the years, an important point gained.

This must surely have been as difficult an assignment as Sarri’s men have faced this season and with a bit more in the final third from the Blues, they might well have tasted defeat for the first time this season. Because, ultimately, while Chelsea would be restricted to just four shots on target, all four repelled by the excellent Jordan Pickford, it was the solitary accurate effort from Gylfi Sigurdsson on the other side of the statistics table that perhaps underlined the next step that Silva and his side need to take before a crack at that seemingly impenetrable top four is realistic.

Everton were laudably disciplined and industrious when they didn’t have the ball. Richarlison, passed fit despite picking up an ankle injury against Brighton last Saturday, and Gylfi Sigurdsson defended from the front with relentless pressing. Idrissa Gueye was, once again, superb alongside André Gomes in shutting down a Chelsea team bristling with talent. And when the Londoners, and Eden Hazard in particular, proved too much handle, Michael Keane, impressive full debutant, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Seamus Coleman or Pickford were there to clean up.

Going forward, however, while they would have their occasional moments, they exhibited that little lack of quality and composure in the final third that prevented them from breaching their hosts' goal. As you would expect, Chelsea were that bit crisper and more accomplished in their passing, especially in tight or fast-moving situations, and as such they would have the clearer-cut opportunities.

And while they weren’t able to attack as fluidly and in co-ordinated numbers as their hosts, perhaps understandably as the away team against a side looking to temporarily take top spot in the League, they did manage to engineer some early set-piece chances that exposed another area in need of improvement: Silva’s team are yet to score from a corner this season and a third-minute header from Gomes that flew high and wide, they didn’t look likely to break that duck this afternoon.

All of this is to be regarded within the context of the great forward strides being take under the new manager. Not only were Everton in touch with Chelsea throughout, they might have claimed that long-awaited Stamford Bridge victory had they been able to nick a goal in the closing stages… although by that stage, with Sigurdsson off having succumbed to the effects of an awful Jorginho foul in the first half (that should, were there any justice, have resulted in him being shown a straight red card by Kevin Friend) and Richarlison struggling with a groin problem, Silva appeared largely content with a draw.

The opening exchanges revealed an Everton team well up for the challenge and with genuine intent to go toe-to-toe with the best in their own back yard. A Richarlison shot as early as the second minute had deflected behind from Coleman’s first foray to the byline and Gomes might feel he could have done better when he met Sigurdsson’s delivery from the right.

A couple of minutes later after Richarlison had been tripped by Cesar Azpilicueta, Mina came within inches of connecting with the resulting free kick by Anton Rüdiger may have got the merest of touches to take it away from him.

Then, after a Coleman cross had been blocked behind, a corner was cleared only as far as Bernard but his cleanly-struck volley flew a yard the wrong side of Kepa’s goal.

It wasn’t until almost 20 minutes had elapsed that Chelsea were finally able to put together a meaningful attack but though Alvaro Morata out-jumped Keane, Digne’s tackle prevented Willian from stealing in.

A couple of minutes after that, Marcos Alonso was gifted a free sight of goal by the first of the referee’s dreadful decisions on the day. Mina appeared to win the ball fairly on the edge of his penalty area but his momentum meant that he caught Hazard’s ankle and Friend not only awarded a free kick but booked the Colombian too boot.

Alonso fired the direct free kick narrowly wide but when Jorginho harassed, tugged at and then scythed Sigurdsson down shortly afterwards, the Brazilian’s punishment was not befitting what was a terrible two-footed lunge that looked initially to have badly injured the Nordic star. The referee only brandished a yellow card and then took no action when Alonso chopped Theo Walcott down with a stamp to the ankle having missed the ball entirely.

Alonso remained the most dangerous man in Chelsea blue as half-time approached, the Spaniard peeling off the defensive wall at a free kick and connecting with Willian’s delivery with a sweetly-struck volley that Pickford pushed away with both gloves.

The half ended in peculiar circumstances, however, after Bernard was sent reeling off the ball in challenge with Rüdiger and the pair squared up to each other before the German collapsed to the turf clutching his face. The referee had been running away from the incident so witnessed none of it but saw fit to book both players, presumably on the advice of his assistant.

The second period opened with chances for both sides. Morata was put in by Hazard but Pickford was equal to his low shot, diving to his right to palm it around the post before Sigurdsson looked to release Walcott with a great ball over the top but the winger let himself down with a heavy first touch that ruined the opportunity.

Bernard and Sigurdsson then combined down the left with the winger passing to the Icelander in space 25 yards from goal and the latter unleashed a dipping shot that Kepa had to push over his crossbar one handed. Ambitious penalty shouts for handball against Rüdiger were sensibly ignored at one end before Willian’s loose touch took him away from goal at the other but he chased it down and crossed for Morata who went down in the box under the somewhat clumsy attentions of Mina.

Just before the hour mark, Sigurdsson turned provider for Bernard with a terrific cross from the byline but while the Brazilian was able to control the bouncing ball initially, he made a mess of his second touch, stumbling as he tried to shoot when, in reality, he had time to set himself and cut back for a better angle or perhaps lay it back to Richarlison or the arriving Gomes.

A flurry from Chelsea ensued but despite the raised attacking tempo from Sarri’s side, Everton’s back line held firm. Willian got in behind Digne but hooked his shot inches wide of the far post; Hazard unloaded from 25-yards with a stinging drive that Pickford pushed behind; and the Belgian jinked his way through again a couple of minutes later but Pickford did just enough to bat his deflected shot unconvincingly behind.

Though Morata would have the ball in the net with 18 minutes to go but was correctly pulled back for offside, Alonso had gone closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock when he struck a low shot off Pickford’s left-hand post from the angle a few minutes earlier.

Hazard had the last real chance of the game when he was played in behind the Everton defence but his attempt to prod the ball home off the outside of his boot dropped wide.

Meanwhile, Silva had withdrawn Bernard in favour of Ademola Lookman just past the hour mark. The former Shakhtar man had shown more fleeting examples of his talent but it’s clear that, given his small stature, he is going to take a while to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League. And while he is confident with the ball at his feet in wide areas, he has demonstrated in this game and at United recently a propensity to go to pieces in the box at the crucial moment. That should change with more games and more experience; a goal at home to settle his mind would do him no end of good.

In his stead, however, Lookman produced a mesmerising piece of skill late on that left three Chelsea players for dead before earning Everton the first of three late set-pieces, none of which came to anything.

As Silva said afterwards, Everton had come out intent on challenging Chelsea and for long stretches of this contest they did just that, even if the possession stats (61% to 39%) suggest that the home side were the dominant force. In truth, the Toffees were prepared to let Chelsea have more of the ball at times and, having diligently maintained their shape, would snuff them out in forward areas before trying to hit them on the counter-attack.

Things didn’t quite come together in the attacking third as the manager would have hoped or the impressively vocal travelling fans might have dreamed, though. Bernard was never able to be a consistent force and in Rüdiger and David Luiz, both Walcott and Richarlison found themselves dealing with two very difficult opponents.

Again, though, the result and the display that underpinned it do represent another significant step forward in the Portuguese’s nascent tenure; a clear demonstration that this Everton side is getting closer to living up to its billing as the team most likely to challenge the established order of the “big six”.

They go into the final international break of 2018 sitting just a point outside the current top six with a home game against Cardiff to come where they will get another chance to kick on in this increasingly exciting journey under Marco Silva.


Reader Comments (51)

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Derek Thomas
1 Posted 12/11/2018 at 07:57:40
All fair comment re the Team and outlook, Lyndon, but just when you think that Refs can't be any poorer, up pops another strange decision, then another.

Just how long will the Sky darlings' tail keep wagging the Referee dog before something is done to improve the standard to a higher more consistent level?

Ajay Gopal
2 Posted 12/11/2018 at 08:58:39
Derek, although you are right that the referee made some poor decisions, I take encouragement from the fact that he did not favour Chelsea in a blatant way. My take on some of the contentious decisions yesterday:

Mina yellow card: Correct (if you see the video in slow motion, the leading leg misses the ball completely and catches Hazard on the shin, the trailing leg kicks the ball away inadvertently)

Jorginho yellow card: Wrong! Straight red. No excuses.

Alonso tackle on Walcott. Wrong! He steps on Walcott's ankle – very painful. Should have been a yellow at least.

Kante: Yellow card. Meeaah, I think Richarlison makes a meal of the tackle.

Bernard: Yellow, lucky it was not a straight red, because Richarlison saw red against Bournemouth for a similar head 'kiss'. Refs take a dim view of a deliberate clash of heads nowadays. But, Rudiger's reaction to the head 'butt' was farcical with a clear intent to get Bernard sent off. Silva should have a quiet word with Bernard to never repeat such stupid actions ever again.

Other than that, the referee got the penalty decisions correct (not given) for both the teams. If that had been Jon Moss, I shudder to think of the outcome.

Brent Stephens
3 Posted 12/11/2018 at 09:30:12
Ajay, I think that's a very fair assessment of the ref decisions. We were all shouting in the Shed End as to how such a small player like Bernard could head butt a very tall Rudiger. Watching the replay, Rudiger's head is low down, and Bernard moves his head towards Rudiger's. Lucky not be a red.
Brian Harrison
4 Posted 12/11/2018 at 09:36:16
As Lyndon says, another step in the right direction, the confidence in this group of players is growing week on week.

There is no doubt Gomes has brought a real calmness and confidence to the midfield – no wonder Barcelona are not interested in talking about a permanent move.

Mina did well on his debut, but I can think of at least a couple of refs – Moss and Mason for starters – who would have given Chelsea a penalty when he tangled with Morata from a corner. I am sure Silva will be telling Mina you cant do that in this league, because refs will be watching for that in the future. I can't think of a time when we had such 3 good centre-backs, and Jags as back up.

While at times we did play 10 men behind the ball it wasnt like Koeman's or Allardyce's 10 men defences. We defended high up the pitch and held a high back line so there was very little space for Chelsea to play in. I also thought the tactic of letting Luiz and Rudiger have the ball but pick up everybody else worked a treat.

Again I thought both wide men had quiet games, but both could and maybe should have scored. I don't think Silva can do anything else but to play Lookman from the start in the next game. He looked very lively when he came on, I still think Bernard will be a real talent but will probably need most of this season to settle into the Premier league. Have to say another excellent performance from Gana playing alongside Gomes he is back to his very best.

I don't think anybody is getting carried away as we have had so many false dawns with managers and teams only to be let down. But the signs are positive, a team playing the way the fans want always looking to get at the opposition no matter who they are. Very early days for Silva but a lot to be positive about.

Sam Hoare
5 Posted 12/11/2018 at 09:46:18
Brian @4, I am getting a bit carried away.

Along with Mr Ferns, I was a massive supporter of Silva's appointment and think he and Brands have done a remarkable job to turn around what was one of the dullest most dismal Everton teams I have seen last season into one which is capable of being both exciting and very organised and disciplined at times.

We've gone toe-to-toe with Arsenal and Man Utd and Chelsea away and, though we are not at their level yet, we have made huge strides already in bridging the gap. We suddenly have a squad with decent options everywhere and players playing to their best rather than below themselves. We fear no-one. We believe. And I think the fans are beginning to as well.

If this type and speed of progress continues we might yet stand a decent chance of top 6 this season and maybe even a shot at the game-changing top 4 next season.

Dean Johnson
6 Posted 12/11/2018 at 09:51:20
Yes, the refs are always shite but, until we win something and establish ourselves in the top six, we will never get the benefit of any doubt.

Yes, it means we have to do more to win games, but this will only stand us in good stead for the future.

I thought we were excellent yesterday apart from the woeful final balls of Walcott, Coleman and Gueye.

Every time Walcott gets the ball, I say "Watch him fuck it up" and he obliges. Every now and again, he'll turn with the ball, accelerate away and look an amazing player, then he'll forget to pass it and he looks like a dick. Such a frustrating player, better than what we had but, my god, let's get Mola out there now!

Peter Gorman
7 Posted 12/11/2018 at 09:53:16
I'm fully with Ajay on the matter of the ref; I came away from the game feeling he had been mostly fair. Sure, he could have sent off Jorginho, shouldn't have booked Bernard IMO but no ref is perfect.

He was actually right to book Mina and crucially he didn't fall for any of Morata's attempts to con a penalty which is something I'd not likely be saying about many others. Overall, he did okay for me.

Brian Williams
8 Posted 12/11/2018 at 10:03:28
Who'd have thought we'd be this happy (me included) sitting one place below last season's finishing position.

It's a funny ole' game!

Drew O'Neall
9 Posted 12/11/2018 at 10:17:20
Dean 6,

I hate to criticise players who are trying their best but I have to agree that Walcott conceded possession with every involvement and his lack of control or finish when the ball came to him in the area on his right foot yesterday was enough reason not to retain his place for the next fixture. For me, however, you could level the same criticism at Bernard who had an equally gilt-edged chance and fluffed it.

I don't think we can drop both of them at the same time so there is a decision to be made and an example to be set. Who gives you the reaction?

Martin Clark
10 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:04:20
I would really like to see more of Lookman as he looked lively in the highlights and keen to do his bit. I would like to see him start next match as he seems to be the most composed in the box of the three wingers. We could let Bernard and Walcott split the game or have both on the bench if Richarlison is fit and moved out wide with Tosun given another opportunity.

Pleasing result though I really thought Barnard should be controlling and smashing that chance in; hopefully he's able to increase his sharpness as the season progresses.

David Pearl
11 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:11:19
Well, if Silva does drop one of Bernard or Walcott it could either be to accommodate Lookman or to switch to a back 3. It will be hard to leave out any of our first-choice centre-backs, and with Jags and Holgate waiting in the wings.

I liked the way we set up from the start yesterday when not in possession, basically a deep 4-2-4 so all the space was cut off. It created a block of 4 players in the middle leaving Chelsea frustrated and no answer, until we started to tire and injuries took hold of certain players. Thankfully they have some recovery time now with yet another international break.

What did concern me was going forward, the lack of composure. We can't be snatching at chances, giving the ball away cheaply or over-hitting crosses on such a regular basis and still think we can bridge that gap to the top places, because we won't. We have enough quality in the team to do better and I'm sure we will improve. A couple of players really need a goal.

Finally, I think Lookman is ready for a start. I'd have him on the left where Digne can provide better cover for him than Coleman. If he is played on the right then that would stop Coleman from going forward and I think it would disrupt the balance more and leave us open at the back.

Once again, I'm enjoying watching this team grow as the season progresses.

Tony Everan
12 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:15:57
If Gana did that two-footed leg breaker of a tackle that Jorginho did, he would be sent off. No doubting that.

The ref was out of order to bracket that in the same realm as a shirt tug to stop a counter. It could have easily ended Sigurdsson's season.

Jim Potter
13 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:28:24
I felt confident before the game – and the way we went on to play confirmed my pre-match optimism. So often in the past, if we could have obtained this level previously, we would have conceded late and been pleased with the 'plucky losers' tag. Not now.

Silva has got us playing some lovely counter-attacking football – and we now have a team that can defend very solidly. 'Team' being the operative word. There is real spirit and identity beginning to appear.

Keane's confidence has seen a huge positive U-turn in his contribution; and either of him, Zouma or Mina will float my central defensive boat. As previously mentioned above – Mina needs to change that WWE technique as quickly as possible or we could be conceding a lot of penalties. You cannot take your eyes off the ball, take an opponent by the neck and hope to get away with it very often. We were fortunate yesterday with that one.

I believe that playing Bernard and Walcott, both of whom aren't hitting the heights currently, is a luxury that on paper is mouth watering but on the pitch, currently, isn't the sum of its parts. For me, drop Theo to the bench and give Lookman his chance.

Hopefully this will be the kick up the backside Theo needs to get back to producing some positive outcomes rather than disappointing nothings. I like Walcott but he has not been adding anything recently – and we can't afford passengers with the RS test coming up.

So, a resounding 'well done' to Silva so far – the signs of progression are obvious.

But please, let's not crucify the guy when set-backs do happen, and they will. He is trying to build something, and that takes time. Let's give it to him.

Remember – it could still be Allardyce!

Tom Bowers
14 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:28:28
Yes, the confidence and competence is growing and with a terrific keeper at the back they are shaping into a really good squad.

Some players, granted are taking a little longer to adjust but, at least for the time being they have the youth and experience to challenge for the top places.

The 'bench' has some really adequate players and, with Lookman chomping at the bit, the rest of the season looks promising.

Obviously the striking element has to be improved and now, with Gylfi and Richarlison carrying injuries, there has to be concerns.

The international break comes at the right time and they could be both fully fit for the Cardiff game although may not get much training time in. No good risking them in any way if not 100% ready.

Sam Bull
15 Posted 12/11/2018 at 11:50:40
I missed the game, son had 2pm kick off. :-( He is Chelsea fan and so are all of the in-laws..

By all accounts, we did well, and to come away with a point is a great result; not many teams will not concede at Stamford Bridge.

I would also add that I don't think Chelsea are a highly loved Sky team like some of them!

Chris Green
16 Posted 12/11/2018 at 12:05:51
I thought it was a very good performance. I agree with the above, lacking a little qualit in the final third, but overall excellent. What really pleased me, was that Mina slotted in and looked like he had never not been there. Very confident and comfortable, if a little over zealous with his attempted work with Moratta.

I was sat in the Chelsea end (very quiety) and it was interesting listening to them. Talking about time wasting etc and their views on the Hazard foul. Bernard etc. Even they were saying Rudiger had milked it.

My only negative of the game was Walcott and Bernard. Both are players I like, but they seem to go to pieces anywhere near goal. Both had good chances you would expect them to deal with, and fluffed their lines. I think Lookman should definitely get a chance, he looked very lively when he came on and maybe starting a lot of games has tired Bernard, who hasn't played much.

The Silva era is going well: we are starting to see real shape, real desire, and a real spirit to not just give the points to the top sides.

Charles Barrow
17 Posted 12/11/2018 at 12:47:43
Having been to so many disastrous away performances under Koeman and Allardyce, this was like a breath of fresh air.

Yes, Chelsea had more chances and Pickford did really well as shot stopper but we actually fashioned some good chances ourselves and played some good football but couldn't quite break down a very good Chelsea defence. Let's not slip up against Cardiff!

Terence Leong
18 Posted 12/11/2018 at 13:11:02
Thanks Lyndon, always quality writing that you put on this site!

Team Performance:
I thought that there were plenty of positives in this game. Compared to the Arsenal and Man Utd games, this is probably our best performance, besides the fact that we got the one point.

In the first 20 minutes of the first half, it was as if we were the home side, in the way we pressed and attacked Chelsea. What I thought was encouraging is that we have improved immensely in our defending of corners. We won practically every corner swung in, and even when we didn't get to the first ball, we didn't make it easy for Chelsea, and we almost always got the second ball.

There were quite a few occasions when we hunted in packs, eg, two to three players closing in to a Chelsea player on the ball.

On the other hand, I have noticed that Sigurdsson's corners have been very poor. He seems to do better at passing or striking a moving ball, instead of a dead ball. Note the number of times that he overhits the corners. Digne's delivery are more effective, in my opinion.

Comparing the way Chelsea moves with and without the ball, it's a reminder of the gap in the quality between the two teams. They do a lot more pass and move into space, which we do well to incorporate into our forward play.

Individual Performance:

I thought that Bernard probably had his best game since Leicester. He was more effective in his dribbles and was able to open up space.

Walcott continues to be the one whose place is most likely to be threatened. His pace would probably mean that he would always offer that threat, because he can be so direct. I would prefer to see Lookman come on in place of Walcott rather than Bernard.

Bernard's best position is probably in the middle, but because Sigurdsson is there and thriving at the moment, Bernard's likely to remain on the flanks.

But he could still do a job there; David Silva was playing in from the flanks when he first came to Man City, and he was impacting the game from there.

What I noticed is that this Chelsea (and all the top sides) are not going to be just beaten by pace at the back. If it was, we have plenty of pace to burn, but we have hardly got the better of the quality teams. We need more trickery, as evidenced by Lookman's wriggle into the penalty box. Thus, I think a Bernard-Lookman combo on the flanks is worth trying out.
The thing though is, Lookman has a languid style which can come across as not committed/lazy etc. Much like how players such as Berbatov come across to others.

The question is whether fans will get impatient with the way he approaches the game, especially when we are chasing a game, and needing to up the tempo. It remains to be seen how he can translate his creative play into 90 minutes that fans can accept.

All-in-all, I think there are many reasons to be optimistic. We have more strength in depth, and a couple of victories in the next few games would be instrumental in overcoming the mental block that we can't hack it against the "big boys".

Of the three away games, this was the one where I felt that the players believed that they wouldn't fold.

Looking forward with anticipation to after the international break!

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

19 Posted 12/11/2018 at 13:18:57
Those hoping Richarlison will have time in this international break to recover from his knocks and twinges are a tad premature. He has joined up with the Brazilian squad in London for their games against Uruguay and Cameroon. This is confirmed by the official club site also:

Richarlison Fit To Report For Brazil

He may yet have to withdraw as he will be assessed by the Brazil medics. The same report adds that Sigurdsson is more of a doubt about joining the Iceland squad.

Thomas Lennon
20 Posted 12/11/2018 at 13:26:14
A couple of games ago, Man Utd targeted our right side successfully. Consequently, I flagged up Coleman & Walcott and questioned Gana as those who we needed to be looking to upgrade. Two out of the three have since shown they still have the right to a first-team place and fair play to them.

I watched us play Chelsea at home last season and they toyed with us – how quickly the football world turns. Clean sheets are starting to become a more regular feature but this one ranks the highest - against a very good side while still presenting an attacking threat.

One thing always seems to stay the same – if a top 4 team is not getting its own way, the studs start to be brandished against certain targets – those who present the most threat. It is abhorrent to me but perfectly illustrates why improving squad strength is the way forward.

Moshiri seems to suggest that this will largely be achieved by developing youngsters and that is certainly Brands's skill set so my guess is they will be given time to develop into the squad. The only snag is we will be left weaker by injuries this season. I don't think the champagne needs to be on ice this season.

Dale Rose
21 Posted 12/11/2018 at 13:27:01
It's early days yet, but things are looking better than for a good few seasons. The players are coming well together, and the games I've seen there has always been the optimism that we could snatch a result against anyone in the Premier League. The match pundits have also been far more positive about the new set up, which is a huge change.

If things carry on in the same vein, the future looks very bright.

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 12/11/2018 at 13:56:33
Once you start matching teams, then belief grows. So does desire and the will to win, which was the most pleasing thing about watching Everton yesterday. (The will not to lose was fantastic!)

We have signed much better players, and it's showing. Players with heart and fight, ability and work-rate, and also more quality as well.

Except maybe for “little Bernard”, who has fluffed his lines twice now away to the big guns, but because of his heart and natural ability, you just know he's going to get it right in the end!

Mike Gaynes
23 Posted 12/11/2018 at 14:53:19
Tony, "little Bernard" has spent five seasons in the Ukrainian league, which isn't exactly a pressure cooker. He's been accustomed to having space and time on the ball. In the Premier League, he gets neither. It's quite an adjustment, and understandably he's rushing whenever he gets a chance for an impact play.

I had a feeling it would take him a while to acclimate to the pace here, but like you I think he'll come good. And I think his first goal will make a big difference in his confidence. I predict it'll happen against Cardiff.

John Davies
24 Posted 12/11/2018 at 15:20:02
A really smashing first-half performance yesterday followed by a gritty and gutsy second-half defensive display. Loving the progress being made under Marco Silva and the fact that we actually try to play a bit too. (What a turn around from the recent dark past under Big Fat Sam!)

When you look at the signings made by Silva – Mina, Digne, Zouma, Gomes, Richarlison and Bernard – they are all really looking like they have something to bring to the party. I know a couple are on loan, and Bernard will take time to settle properly, but hopefully we'll get them all signed up when the time is right.

And we finally look like a squad of lads who are all pulling together and enjoying each others' company. The squad spirit is high and there are smiles on everyone's faces.

Great job to date, Mr Silva and Mr Brands. Long may these happier times continue!!

Tony Abrahams
25 Posted 12/11/2018 at 15:56:19
That's why I also think Bernard will become a big player for us, Mike, because it looks like he's got a big heart.

Tony Cascarino says Everton are well away from the big teams and Pickford being MotM, even though Chelsea had a bad day, proves it?

Was this the same fella who was asking, "What is it that Evertonians actually want?" when they all wanted Allardyce out.

Let's hope that Liverpool have an off day, then Man City, because once our players become more confident, then “our crowd” will show them they are exactly what we want. Especially if we can sign a top centre-forward in January!

Dave Abrahams
26 Posted 12/11/2018 at 16:37:32
Never watched the game; listened to the "Live Forum" which although funny and enjoyable, leaves you wondering which post to believe: the same player is shite, not bad, and brilliant, makes me more tired than when I actually go to the game.

However, I took great heart when my grandson, who went to the game, told me that's the proudest he's ever been watching Everton playing away, he's 21 and has been watching Everton since he was very young. It tells you a lot about the teams we have had to endure, also tells me, we are on the way back, slowly but surely.

Ray Roche
27 Posted 12/11/2018 at 17:49:08
Dave, if nothing else the Live Forum is entertaining but a measure of how the game is panning out it’s useless! Consecutive posts want Siggy sold or he’s MOTM.
Eddie Dunn
28 Posted 12/11/2018 at 18:12:08
I wouldn't change the team for the next game.

Lookman has looked dangerous off the bench and Bernard has shown enough progress to continue. Zouma will be unlucky if he misses out, but this competition for places is exactly what we need.

Ray Roche
29 Posted 12/11/2018 at 19:03:57
So, Sturridge will face a lifetime ban like crooked Grobelaar got? Oh, wait a minute...
Paul Birmingham
30 Posted 12/11/2018 at 19:17:52
Let's hope the squad can maintain this tempo and, with luck with injuries, it could be a very enjoyable season.

Rome wasn't built in seven days and this Team is growing in stature and belief. Last season under Allardyce, and under Koeman, they'd have had a meltdown. The assurance and confidence is maturing and yesterday was very satisfying.

On the subject of referees, it's no wonder there's no FA referees at major tournaments these days.

If the FA had any guts they would be suspending these over-paid arseholes and fining them.

I'm resigned to ultra piss-poor officials in this league. Let's hope we don't get any blurt of an official for our beloved neighbours in 3 weeks.

Karl Meighan
31 Posted 12/11/2018 at 19:25:33
Cascarino "Chelsea had a bad day" — why? Because they never won?

Pickford made 1 top save from Alonso, the 2 or 3 other decent saves he made were routine and, if he hadn't made them, would have went down as goalkeeping errors.

We also had decent efforts: Sigurdsson’s shot — a yard either side of the keeper, he probably ain’t saving it, Bernard's effort a foot wide and Lookman with a little more luck could have been in on goal after a fine dribble. Not to mention Chelsea could easily have been playing with 10 men.

Both sides could have snatched it and if gobshites who were shit strikers themselves cannot see we’re improving, then so be it.

How embarrassing was Rudiger when the huge Bernard knocked him to the ground after breathing on him?

Jay Harris
32 Posted 12/11/2018 at 19:55:27
Like others I thought the team spirit and "never say die" attitude was a joy to see and long overdue.

I am concerned however that the front three do not carry the goal threat they should.

Bernard in particular although a skilled footballer couldn't hit the net if he was standing in the goal.

Walcott's touch and confidence seem to have deserted him and Richarlison is never a number 9.

I think Lookman and Calvert-Lewin although not as skilled would be more prolific.

Mike Gaynes
33 Posted 12/11/2018 at 20:18:55
Jay, mostly disagree, mate.

Richarlison may not be a natural #9, but he's the best we have for the position at the moment. He maximizes our attacking threat.

Bernard may not be a top scorer by nature, but he can DEFINITELY finish:

Walcott hasn't lost confidence, he just has the same limits as always, particularly composure in the box and first touch. His goals/games and assists/games ratios for Everton are exactly the same as they were for Arsenal. He is what he is. And isn't.

If I were Silva, I'd start Lookman over Bernard right now, and bring in Bernard at 60 for whoever is playing worse.

Rob Dolby
34 Posted 12/11/2018 at 20:22:28
We are without doubt more entertaining and harder to break down this season.

A point at Chelsea is a real indicator of our upward spiral in form and attitude.

Our calmness on the ball in tight areas is impressive whilst we are carrying a real goal threat with Richarleson. We need Walcott to start scoring and either Bernard to show more composure or start playing Lookman.

Chelsea knew that they had been in a game yesterday not like in previous years.

It's standard that when playing the sky darlings that you also have to compete against the ref. This game was no different and neither will be the Derby.

Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 12/11/2018 at 20:40:11
I thought that was Richarlson's best game in a blue shirt yesterday. Not so much his quality, but his sheer endeavour, which was an absolute joy to watch.

The “kid” from Brazil, has only been at Everton for four months, but he looks like he has supported the club all his life because of his sheer will both for himself and his team-mates.

Obviously a lot of this is down to Silva, who looks like pride in the shirt, and fighting for your team-mates is his mantra, and this is why I'd leave Bernard in the team over Walcott, Mike.

Agree that these two have got to be rotated along with Lookman but, because Bernard seems to have the most discipline, then he would start for me before the other two, especially against the better teams, anyway.

I think we are going to see three centrebacks, and it's going to be intriguing watching this squad develop because it's full of potential – it really is!

Bill Gienapp
36 Posted 12/11/2018 at 21:06:50
As Lyndon said, one need only look at our last two trips to Stamford Bridge to see how much of an improvement this performance was. Last season we only lost 2-0, but we were basically played off the pitch – if I'm not mistaken, it was over an hour before we even recorded a touch inside Chelsea's box.
Colin Glassar
37 Posted 12/11/2018 at 21:44:15
I just love the tactical flexibility that Silva shows. Yesterday we went 4-4-2. Changed it to 4-3-3 then 4-5-1 and I think we even went to 3- 5-2. 21st century footy at last.
Martin Mason
38 Posted 12/11/2018 at 21:47:29
I'd say that, in Idrissa, we have the best player in the Premier League, on current performances.
Mike Gaynes
39 Posted 12/11/2018 at 22:12:30
Tony, three at the back would be intriguing indeed. Among other things it would mean only ONE of Lookman, Bernard and Walcott in the lineup.

Agree with you on Richarlison. Nobody has mentioned his price tag in a while, have they? Or Sigurdsson's, for that matter. Worth every dime, both of 'em.

Geoff Lambert
40 Posted 12/11/2018 at 22:21:53
Jay, did you mention 'Calvert-Lewin' and 'prolific' in the same sentence?
Ray Jacques
41 Posted 12/11/2018 at 22:23:36
I would keep Bernard in the team as I think he is going to improve with more game time in this league. His talent and skill is there for all to see. It is Walcott who I would drop for Lookman as I don't see what he offers except poor finishing and a lack of tracking back.

If Silva wants to persevere with Walcott then give him a run at centre-forward and move Richarlison out wide. A big no to Calvert-Lewin as a starter at present

ps: Most pleasing aspect of yesterday was the attitude of the players. Really looked as if they were up for it and looking after each other. I think Mina will become our leader on the pitch that we have long craved given time.

Alex Parr
42 Posted 12/11/2018 at 23:00:02
I think the only way we could bring in 3 centre-backs is to drop one of the attacking mids.

Pickford --- Keane Zouma Mina --- Digne and Coleman possibly playing as WB slightly further up and providing all of the width --- Gana and Gomes central --- Sigurdsson and Bernard playing either side but slightly deeper off Richarlison upfront. Relies a lot on Digne and Coleman getting up and down but hey, that's what they do anyway. Bernard could be more effective further in and without losing Siggy's effectiveness?

This link makes more sense: EVERTON 3-4-2-1

Bob Parrington
43 Posted 12/11/2018 at 23:06:47
An all-round good performance with a great team attitude.

IMO referee Friend lost the plot at times. Should have been a sending off for the two-footed tackle on Sigurdsson. The second is to do with Rudiger's drama queen behaviour after the incident with Bernard. Honestly, I didn't catch footage of any head butt/kiss by Bernard but, whatever, there was no excuse for Rudiger's pathetic behaviour when on the ground. Watching this again, he was cupping his hands over his mouth with face to ground and then with eyes closed and at least 3 times he looked up the see if the ref had called it, then away cupped hands and then look back up.

Pathetic. EPL should fine him for such pathetic behaviour IMO. Maybe also take retrospective action for the two-footed tackle. But ... we all know they won't, don't we?

Len Hawkins
44 Posted 12/11/2018 at 23:39:49
Jay #19, I'd report to the Brazil squad with a bad groin if they get a couple of them beach volleyball babes to massage it. In fact, I'd walk there with a little sprint every so often.
Don Alexander
45 Posted 12/11/2018 at 00:05:49
To me the performance on Sunday was what we've so rarely seen for years, and I mean the years before Martinez too.

I also can't remember any club enjoying the products of a single transfer window as we have since last summer's endeavors by M&M. Huge respect to the pair of them but as Tom Lennon (#20) all but says, it may take one or two more windows to create a squad fit for the owner's stated purpose re Champions League qualification.

Unusually I had TalkShite on last week when the absurd Jim White "interviewed" Farhad. He spoke very positively about the BMD plans but also inferred that the squad still needs to be slimmed, and I agree with that. I'd suggest anyone other than the six not signed by them up to now needs to look at themselves big-time, except for Jordan, Seamus, Gylfi, Idrissa and Michael of course, for now. He also spoke of the need to develop as a winning team from within the youth product, ideally.

That's how it should be too, at a professionally run club with designs on winning trophies rather than bulging the bank accounts of third parties allegedly doing Everton, via their teary chairman, a favour. Long may it continue.

Lev Vellene
46 Posted 13/11/2018 at 00:42:07
Before the Chelsea game, Silva did hint at playing 3 centre-backs later, as that was a formation he liked. For once, I did not groan at such an idea! Keane, Zouma and Mina sounds yummy; last season's options not at all so!
Machiel Barnard
47 Posted 13/11/2018 at 04:21:35
Some of you mentioned that we haven't scored from set pieces.

What I don't understand is that in our first home game of the season, the team had a few, well-executed set-piece moves. I am not sure if it was in the same game but, in one free-kick move, Walcott scored a blinder.

What concerns me is that we do not see any training ground moves anymore. Have they lost interest or did they run out of ideas?

Amit Vithlani
48 Posted 13/11/2018 at 06:18:35
Don - agree with much of what you say. Besides Bramley-Moore Dock, Moshiri still has an acid test to face. Can he keep Pickford, Richarlison, and Digne if, as I suspect, the European super clubs begin to actively pursue them if they maintain their current form? Will he be able to purchase Gomes outright?

We have not been able to build a squad partly because we have lost players just when the team is getting its act together.

By all means we have to dispense with fringe players.

But Moshiri, Brands and Silva must hold the spine of this side together. Levy and Pochettino have done very well fending off interest in Eriksen, Kane, Lloris & co.

Then, with 2 or 3 high-quality additions we may see our re-emergence as a consistent top 4 challenger.

Tony Everan
49 Posted 13/11/2018 at 10:46:25
I want to see Mina in the team, but I don't think the 3 centre backs formation is the way to go. We look balanced, solid defensively and threatening in attack. To change that around would upset the equilibrium of the side for the worse. With Mina in it gives us a bit extra – a threat from set pieces.

Its tough that someone has to sit it out. Zouma has done little wrong and its a difficult one for Marco Silva, but Zouma has to give way.

Keane and Mina did very well keeping Chelsea out and they are now in the box seat. It is up to them two to keep their places by playing well. It's up to Kurt Zouma to be professional and be pushing for a start and be ready to step in again when injury or dips in form inevitably happen.

Peter Norris
50 Posted 13/11/2018 at 12:58:07
Bob @43. I don't think they can go back and retrospectively look at it if he was shown a yellow by the ref during the game. As for Rudiger, if Niasse was done for cheating and conning the officials, then his actions should be looked at as he was clearly caught on TV looking to see if the ref was looking to try and con him into producing a red for Bernard. I'm not holding any breath though.
Jerome Shields
51 Posted 14/11/2018 at 10:58:32
What Silva showed at Chelsea was that Everton are now are defensively well-organised, well-coached and tactically astute side with a promising offensive ability. This has been achieved by clearly defined standards of play required in relevant positions as a result of competition.

Though the offensive play is promising better pass completion in midfield and especially in the final third is the next stage. In midfield, this is achievable with the players we have, but there are questions regarding the forward line.

Walcott has been peripheral in the last five games. Richarlison though improving is better on the wing. Bernard needs more games in the Premier League. Lookman is capable and Tosun & Calvet-Lewin are out of favour.

Brands and Silva will be looking for improvement and more competition for places. Any purchases will be funded by the sale of Niasse and other members of the forward line, if Moshiri is to be believed.

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