If you’re on social media and follow enough Everton accounts you won’t have been able to escape the much-repeated — and retweeted! — fact that today Richarlison became the first player to score in his first two games for the club since Brian McBride in 2003.
It’s a statistic that perhaps says more about the paucity of the Blues’ finances, pulling power and recruiting over the intervening 15 years than the Brazilian’s achievement but it underscores the impact he has made since Everton “ruined the transfer market” by splashing out £35m on the 21 year-old last month.
Incredibly, Richarlison’s last 53 shots for Watford yielded no goals; his first three for Everton have all found the back of the net. Goodison Park has a new hero; an industrious, skillful, goalscoring wide man who has provided genuine excitement and flashes of thrilling ability in just 80 minutes worth of action so far.
What’s even more exciting for Evertonians is that, really like the team’s performance as a whole, you get the sense there is much, much more to come. By turns dormant and electrifying, Richarlison flitted in and out of his first competitive appearance in front of his home fans. Peripheral for the first 20-odd minutes of the game, he looked to be headed for the treatment table when he slipped awkwardly in the 28th minute, unnaturally extending his groin and crying out in pain, only to return to the action and head home an excellent goal to double Everton’s lead just three minutes later.
The Blues’ first goal, one that underlined the difference in approach and imagination of the new manager compared to that of his archaic predecessor, had been even better. A training-ground routine played out to perfection on the main stage, it caught Southampton cold and put Marco Silva’s men ahead with a quarter of an hour gone.
That Everton were two goals to the good with a little over half an hour gone without having consistently found third gear was both a cause for optimism that they could increase the visitors’ misery but also a source of consternation when Mark Hughes’s Saints rallied after the interval and made it an uncomfortable final half hour or so for their hosts when Danny Ings halved the deficit from a corner.
While many of Silva’s directives are clearly evident already — Everton press higher, work harder, are more dangerous from set-pieces, manage the game better and generally move the ball quicker and more effectively — some of last season’s foibles remain. Concerns remain on the defensive side and that inability to put matches beyond their opponents to stave off nervy finales is something that still needs to be developed.
They deserve credit, however, for grinding out the win in what was often a bruising encounter against a team that appears to have been moulded very much after their manager’s uncompromising and physical style. Not generally known for brute force, Southampton conceded a litany of fouls across the 90 minutes, collected four yellow cards in first half and were lucky not to have at least one man sent off for second bookable offences.
Three of the early infringements ended with efforts on target, albeit routine saves by Alex McCarthy, from Gylfi Sigurdsson free kicks, one ended Morgan Schneiderlin’s afternoon early because of injury but one led to breakthrough after Sigurdsson himself was clipped by Wesley Hoedt as he danced past the centre half not far outside the penalty area.
Leighton Baines shaped to bend one over the wall but rolled a pass to Morgan Schneiderlin inside the box instead where the Frenchman laid it off to Theo Walcott with the outside of the boot and the forward took a touch before lifting into the goal via the goalkeeper’s glove.
Southampton, who had gone close themselves in the 10th minute when Charlie Austin guided a free header wide of goal from a free kick, came within inches of equalising against the run of play in the 25th minute, though. Cedric Soares unloaded a swerving missile from outside the box that Jordan Pickford spilled into Ings’s path but got a vital arm on the striker’s shot to diver it onto the face of the crossbar to prevent what had looked to be a certain goal.
Three minutes later, as Richarlison lay in a heap following his fall and Southampton counter-attacked, weak defending by Michael Keane ushered Austin in on goal but Pickford did well to get to the ball first with a strong hand, referee Lee Mason waving away appeals for a penalty as the striker went down as a result.
Everton seemingly put themselves on course for a handsome victory three minutes after that. Seamus Coleman ended a fine passing move by pushing the ball down the flank to Walcott who whipped the ball across and Richarlison rose expertly above Soares to power a header past McCarthy and make it 2-0.
Ings had another chance from a corner but glanced wide 10 minutes before half-time but he couldn’t miss with his next opportunity, also from a corner on the Saints’ right, nine minutes into the second half. What appeared to be zonal marking from Everton left the on-loan striker completely unmarked in the six-yard box so that when the dead ball delivery was flicked by Mario Lemina, he had the simple of task of shooting past Pickford.
Everton were unquestionably the better side overall, however, and they found the incisiveness a dozen minutes later to score the third goal through Walcott, only to have it chalked off for a fractional offside decision against Tosun, and then carve out a gilt-edged chance for Walcott to end the contest legitimately, only for the former Gunner to drag his shot horribly across goal when he seemed odds-on to score.
Profligacy of the kind that stopped him from being a genuine star for club and country in his Arsenal days perhaps but had he scored he would unquestionably have taken the man-of-the-match award from Sigurdsson who was a tireless fulcrum even if he wasn’t superlative on the day.
The game had not been put to bed and, as such, Goodison had to endure one of those uncertain last 20-odd minutes as the opposition came forward in search of another equaliser but Southampton were largely kept at bay. Instead it was the Blues who might have scored again. First, when Idrissa Gueye’s low drive was parried away by McCarthy and then when substitute Oumar Niasse tried to gallop clear behind the defence but the ball got held up in his gangly stride allowing the covering defender to close him out.
So, three points on the board a week after Silva probably would have registered his first win as Everton boss were it not for Jagielka’s red card and things are looking very encouraging at Goodison under the new man. What was striking was how much better almost to man virtually the same team that Sam Allardyce complained he had inherited and could do more to improve than he was already doing played today.
Gueye was his usual tigerish presence in the centre of the park but was so much better with his distribution; Schneiderlin was actually deemed a significant loss when he went off even though his replacement, Tom Davies, looked re-energised and barely put a foot wrong for the rest of the afternoon; and, as was the case against Wolves last week, there was just so much more balance about the side.
At the back, Mason Holgate was composed, robust and solid, making a very strong case that it should be he who steps into Phil Jagielka’s shoes now that the club captain appears to be on the way out of the starting XI.
Keane, however, was less convincing in his efforts to ensure that Silva has a real selection headache when it comes to new signing Yerry Mina. The ex-Burnley man was shown up as the weak link at the back on two or three occasions and although he wasn’t punished, they serve as notes of caution when it comes to settling on the best combination at centre half.
Nevertheless, taken as a whole, when you consider that neither Bernard nor André Gomes, two technically gifted, experienced midfield players, have yet to kick a ball in anger in an Everton jersey and that Silva’s work has only just begun, there is so much to be optimistic about for the season. Tougher tasks than Southampton lie ahead but the new regime is off to a hugely encouraging start.
Marco Silva orchestrated a splendid start to his first home Premier League fixture as Everton put two finely worked goals past Southampton in a bright and expansive first half. The Saints pushed back in the second half but Walcott should have wrapped it up.
Mason Holgate retains his place in defence for the suspended Phil Jagielka. Otherwise, Everton are unchanged, with no other new signings starting, except the dynamic Richarlison, who is sure to receive a massive Goodison Park welcome. Seamus Coleman is Captain.
Kurt Zouma is the only new face on the bench, where Ademola Lookman is named for the first time this season.
After a fine welcome for the team and the new manager, the visitors kicked off. Everton's early passing was questionable at best, Walcott and Gueye not following the plan, but there was an intent to move the ball forward more quickly.
A blocked shot from Austin spun away for an early corner that went straight to Pickford after being played short. Sigurdsson was fouled, he delivered a very fine ball for Richarlison to power a header at McCarthy. Another deep free-kick followed, Tosun connecting in the Dee.
Neat work down the left saw Baines win a corner smartly, Sigurdsson, floating it deep for Gana running in to volley, but it was blocked. Everton looked so much brighter than last season, Tosun and Richarlison trying to create something that Walcott spoilt with a sloppy touch.
A free-kick for Southampton exposed the Everton defence, though, Austin getting on the end of it but heading wide when he could easily have threatened the Everton goal. Fine defensive work by Richarlison was warmly appreciated by the Goodison faithful.
Sigurdsson was clipped, this time much closer to the Soton goal, the Islander yielding to Baines, whose smart routine brought a cleverly worked goal from Walcott off a brilliant touch by Schneiderlin. Textbook brilliance thanks to Marco Silva!
Another foul, this time a yellow card for Hoedt, and another fine delivery, met again by Tosun but straight at McCarthy. Schneiderlin was clipped, Lemina getting a yellow card also.
At the other end, Ings got ahead of Keane but his shot was wayward, as Schneiderlin went down again, clutching his hamstring, Tom Davies coming on for him.
An astounding shot from Cedric caught out Pickford and there was Ings to volley hard but incredibly Pickford got a firm had to it forcing the ball up onto the face of the bar, with the goal gaping, but it was a poor spill by the England No 1.
Richarlison spun and twisted horribly, pulling his groin badly, while Southampton galloped away and forced Pickford to come out, with questions of a foul on Austin. Thankfully, Richarlison resumed.
But some absolutely top-notch passing down the right between Gueye, Coleman And Walcott brought the second goal in excellent style, a beautiful cross from Walcott powered home by Richarlison. Pure class from Everton.
Baiens was horribly sold short by a poor pass from Gueye that led to a rare Southampton corner, Ward-Prowse putting in a very fine ball and a totally free header for Ings that he incredibly put wide. Another stark warning to the sleepy Everton defence.
Romeu cynically chopped down Richarlison after the Brazilian had produced a lovely moment otherwise classed as 'showboating', Baines putting in the free-kick and Tosun first to it but no clean contact.
Fine work by Sigurdsson in winning the ball was spoilt by a heavy pass forward. But the movement, desire, and speedier passing from Everton, looking to go forward in the beautiful Goodison sunshine was a thing to behold.
Another deep set-piece, Sigurdsson, swinging it in brilliantly but this time a defender was first to head it behind. Sigurdsson's corner was met awkwardly by Richarlison. In the follow-up, Cedric took out Richarlison, Lee Mason correctly playing advantage, and showing Southampton's 4th yellow card of the half 5 minutes later.
Some tricky footwork by Davies invited a foul from Austin but Baines's delivery was too deep. Lemina fired well wide at the other end to underline the balance of the first half very much in Everton's favour despite a somewhat charmed life for the Everton goal — the scoreline could so easily have been 2-3 instead of 2-0!
Tom Davies kicked off the second half, Tosun getting forward down the left. Bertrand got behind Coleman a little too easily and his cross won a corner, Keane defending well. It was a little scrppy until Tosun and Richarlison exchanged passes and advanced with intent down the left. But things kept breaking down.
Southampton showed more desire, and won a corner that was unsurprisingly powered home by Danny Ings to put them back in the game thanks to dreadful zonal marking after a slow and faltering restart from the Blues.
Lemina went in a little hard on Gueye, conceding another set-piece that almost came off, Walcott not quite alert enough to convert. Stephens trod on Tosun's foot, but was off the field for the free-kick which came to nothing and the visitors mounted another threatening attack.
Everton realised they needed to do more and pushed a little harder, Richarlison again going to ground, this time a clip to his foot that seemed to be nothing, but plenty of treatment was required.
Southampton continued to press for their equalizer, whole Everton looked a little better with a slick pass from Richarlison through the middle that almost set up Tosun. But everything they did, Southampton kept coming back at them.
Finally, a nice move saw Walcott finish cleanly off a great cutback from Tosun, only for him to have been ruled (wrongly) offside. Walcott got another chance off a brilliant exchange with Sigurdsson but he incredibly drove wide.
Another threatening cross saw Holgate head behind above Ings, but more unwanted warnings and another strong chance for the Saints.
Everton were trying to play the same bright football going forward but it just wasn't working and Silva finally decide to switch out Tosun for Calvert-Lewin, the Turk getting a fine round of applause.
It became a little scrappy, Long fouling Gueye, then Pickford having to come out and high-kick a ball, connecting with Ings on the follow-through, ripping the Liverpool man's shirt and leaving some nice red stud marks across the tramp-stamp tattoo on his lower back.
A free-kick fired in by Ward-Prowse forced an unconventional but ultimately effective punch of the ball into the ground and behind off a Southampton player, with Everton still looking uncomfortably shakey and unable to get that vital third goal. A third bookable offence by Lemina was ignored by Lee Mason.
Coleman did his best to create something from a decent cross but it just was not happening, Calvert-Lewin was next to be released but he elected to cross carefully between two Everton attackers. Gueye then shot low, forcing a save.
A poor sign of Everton's frustrations was a deep free-kick played to no-one, Richarlison was then withdrawn for Oumar Niasse, the final ploy. Niasse almost broke through but Coleman spoilt the move this time with a wayward cross.
Walcott tried a classic strike from the corner of the are but overhit the ball as Everton looked to play out 5 minutes of added time. But more pressure from Mark Hughes's side kept hearts in mouths and few in the crowd brave enough to leave before the final whistle.
A final set-piece for Everton was wasted by Gueye, played straight to a defender, Southampton advancing from the second ball but the game finally ended with the Blues victorious after a massively testing second half.
Scorers: Walcott (17'), Richarlison (31'); Ings (54')
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Baines, Schneiderlin (24' Davies), Gueye, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison (86' Niasse), Tosun (75' Calvert-Lewin).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Zouma, Kenny, Lookman.
Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric [Y:44'], Stephens [Y:58'], Hoedt [Y:17'], Bertrand, Ward-Prowse (84' Armstrong), Lemina [Y:20'], Romeu [Y:36'] (72' Gabbiadini), Redmond, Austin (58' Long), Ings.
Subs not Used: Gunn, Yoshida, Targett, Hojbjerg.
Referee: Lee Mason
Early signs are very positiveWith Dan recently purchasing a shiny new set of wheels, he was quick to offer us all a lift to the game. Everything coordinated and connected pretty well, almost too well, as we, collectively, made our way to Goodison Park via North Wales, Brimstage, West Kirby and then Prenton. We did well to get to the pub, pint in hand by 1pm.
As always after a pre-season, it’s nice to get back to it and see everyone, especially when there is new-found optimism about what can be achieved on the pitch. Fair to say that pre-game everyone was rather satisfied with where we currently find ourselves. Let’s all hope our optimism is vindicated this time.
There were no big surprises or changes to the team with Mason Holgate continuing, impressively, in deputy of Phil Jagielka. It was nice to see the young players all feature on the substitutes bench. Southampton featured ex-Red Danny Ings amongst their line up, under ex-Blue Mark Hughes’s leadership.
Everton began the game impressively. I’m not sure if this is Marco Silva’s preferred style anyway, or if he is trying to take a leaf out of the book of Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and, yes, Jurgen Klopp, in forcing teams onto the back foot and blowing them away early in games. We didn’t quite “blow Southampton away”, but, despite a bad miss by Danny Ings, were very good value at the break for our two-goal advantage.
Our opening goal was a joy to watch. I can’t remember Everton ever being so slick and inventive from a free kick and it was a lovely well-worked and well-practised move that put us in front. Leighton Baines’s smooth pass inside to Morgan Schniederlin was deftly flicked on to Theo Walcott, who took a good touch before poking the ball past Alex McCarthy. A great goal by Everton.
Our second goal though much simpler, wasn’t bad either. Seamus Coleman found Theo Walcott down the right who crossed for Richarlison who got ahead of his marker and headed into the net to double our advantage. Great stuff by Everton and as we went into the break you had to be satisfied, and with four Southampton players already on yellow cards you wondered if the visitors could finish the game with 11 men on the field.
Southampton could only improve in the second half and that they did, though I felt Everton looked relatively comfortable in the 10 minutes or so until Danny Ings half-volleyed in easily from Mario Lemina’s knock down from a corner kick to half the deficit. I’ve a mate who’s a Watford fan and, naturally, asked him for the low-down on Marco Silva once he’d arrived. “You’ll love the football,” he said “but you’ll hate the way you defend corners”. Early days I know, but I can see what he means. Everything is zonal. This is something I’ve never really liked as, for me, zonal equals free headers, but let's see, and hope that his favoured method can be taken on board by the players and they can adopt it successfully.
Danny Ings's goal led to a jittery 35 minutes or so. I remember looking at the clock on about 63 minutes and thinking “Blimey, there’s a long way to go here”. Thankfully Everton managed the game well. We kept the ball and at the back; Mason Holgate particularly was able to empty most things that came his way, while Jordan Pickford came and made several good catches to relieve pressure.
I thought we’d put the game to bed and was up celebrating when Theo Walcott had the ball in the net, capping off what would have been a lovely flowing move when he netted Cenk Tosun’s clever pull-back, but the linesman had already flagged for offside.
A few minutes later Theo then had a golden chance to put us 3-1 ahead when he was teed up by the classy Gylfi Siggurdson, but he flashed this one wide of the post.
As we edged to victory we had a free kick in their final third and in taking it the referee realised the Southampton player was nowhere near the required yards away from the kicker and ordered a re-take. This killed more time and you felt that was probably it. Instead, inexplicably, with the retaken free-kick Idrissa Gana Gueye passed it straight to a Saints’ player and they broke well, and quickly. Down the other end of the pitch we managed to get the ball behind for a corner. Convinced a corner would mean a certain goal, I grimaced, though thankfully Lee Mason felt enough was enough and blew for full time.
A good and deserved win then with good football played at times. With our new players still to be integrated, you have to be excited about what we might be able to do this season. Win one of them shiny cups would be my preference and the nice League Cup draw we have against Rotherham United has to be taken seriously. But next up is Bournemouth away, and with two wins on the trot for the Cherries, plus two defeats on the trot for us at the Vitality Stadium; you’d say next weekend will be quite a challenge and a pretty good yardstick measurement of where we are so far this campaign.
A win would be a heck of a shot in the arm.
Player ratings:Pickford: Spilled, though recovered, a routine save from Danny Ings in the first half but otherwise was pretty good. The talking point from Mark Hughes was that he should have been sent off for dangerous play in the second half. That’s not a red card for me. He catches him but you can’t say that’s deliberate, or especially dangerous despite what it did to Ings shirt. He’s not quite back up to speed yet following his World Cup exploits but will be there soon. 6
Baines: Had a good game and isn’t ready to relinquish that left back birth just yet. 7
Keane: Did okay. Got in the way of a few things. 6
Holgate: Did very well. From being thrown into the game at Wolves when many didn’t even think he was fit, he’s performed commendably. It’ll be interesting to see if his place in the team remains once Kurt Zouma, Yerry MIna and Phil Jagielka are available. 7
Coleman: He’ll have been very proud to have been made captain for the day and he didn’t do badly. 6
Gueye: Excellent defensively. Hunted players down and won numerous tackles. One of the better ones out there. 8
Schneiderlin: Had started quite well (including a nice assist) until limping off with a hamstring injury. Wanting to put last season’s torrid campaign behind him, he’ll be gutted to have come off injured having started the season brightly. 6
Richarlison: Took his goal nicely and he gets around the pitch very well. Needs time but will be a big hit I believe. Unfortunately I feel we’ll need to get used to his rolling around and making sure the play is stopped so he can receive treatment. That’s going to get frustrating. But otherwise, a great start. 7
Walcott: A well-taken goal and an assist. Should have scored another as well. Good work Theo. 7
Sigurdsson: Absolutely class. He had an outstanding game and showed a lot of leadership. He looks lean, fit and ready to play his part. Nice to see he, like many of the others with new and improved competition for places, that he won’t be moved easily. My Man of the Match. 8
Tosun: Led the line well albeit without getting many (any?) chances. I fancy him to have a good campaign. 7
Davies (for Schneiderlin): On to replace the injured Frenchman quite early in the game, Tom settled into the game quickly and had a good, steady, game. 7
Calvert-Lewin (for Tosun): Got involved quickly. I think Everton missed a trick not utilising his pace against a tiring back line. 6
Niasse (for Richarlison): Got involved and caused problems for them. Did well in the short time he had. 7
Marco Silva takes charge of his first Premier League fixture as Everton manager at Goodison Park with Southampton the first visitors this season.
It's just over three months since the Saints secured a vital draw in their successful bid to stave off relegation. That May encounter in which Tom Davies scored an equaliser with practically the last kick of the game handed the Blues a point they didn't deserve after another poor performance. Together with his players, Sam Allardyce was booed from the field at the end of both halves, the final such indictment of his moribund tenure before he was sacked 10 days later.
Evertonians will walk up to the Grand Old Lady in altogether more optimistic mood on Saturday, buoyed by a summer of impressive transfer business and last week's 2-2 draw at Wolves, secured despite playing 50 minutes a man down following Phil Jagielka's controversial sending off.
Richarlison, the most expensive of those close-season acquisitions, scored twice, beginning the process of repaying Silca's faith in his talents while simultaneously thumbing his nose at those pundits who branded his transfer fee as wildly excessive. The Brazilian is in line to make his home debut after the “injury” that forced him off towards the end at Molineux was revealed to be little more than cramp. You get the feeling Goodison cannot wait…
With André Gomes targeting after the international break for his debut because of a hamstring injury and Yerry Mina only reporting for training late this week, only two of the four deadline-day acquisitions are likely to be considered for the matchday squad for the visit of the Saints.
Jagielka's three-match suspension means that there will be a vacancy at centre-half that will be filled by either Mason Holgate or the on-loan Kurt Zouma, with the younger defender, now recovered from Achilles tendonitis, perhaps having the edge due to his longevity and experience at Everton.
Bernard, meanwhile, joined his new team-mates in training at Finch Farm this week and all eyes will be on the manager's press conference this morning to see if he suggests whether or not the Brazilian midfielder will be in his plans.
Signed as a free agent after he left Shakhtar Donetsk this summer, Bernard has not played a competitive game since March due to a shoulder injury and it remains to be seen whether he will have the required match fitness to be on the bench for this weekend.
The forced change at the back aside, the starting XI is likely to be unchanged from the one that lined up against Wolves. Gylfi Sigurdsson will be hoping for a second chance to get his season going after he was the one sacrificed to bring Holgate on when Jagielka was given an early bath. And Cenk Tosun will be looking for his first goal of the campaign after drawing a blank in the opener.
Southampton are coming off an opening-day goalless draw with Burnley, one which the Clarets controlled during the first half before Mark Hughes's side came back into things in the second period after the introduction of new loan-signing, Danny Ings. The Liverpool striker returns to Merseyside no doubt hoping to make his first start for the Saints.
For Evertonians who suffered through last season and the massive disappointment that was Ronald Koeman's reign, it makes quite a change to be looking forward to a game rather than dreading it.
Blues fans have an exciting player in the side now to fire the imagination and rise off their seats in anticipation when he gets the ball. Even better, there are two more of the afore-mentioned new recruits who could have the same effect if they live up to expectation.
Few will be getting carried away because we're too wise from so many setbacks but there will be cautious optimism and the promise of some entertainment on the field even if our prayers aren't answered straight away.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 18th August 2018
Referee: Lee Mason
Last Time: Everton 1 - 1 Southampton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Tosun