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Venue: Molineux, Birmingham
Premier League
Saturday 1 November 2021; 8:00pm
2 1
Kilman 28'
Jimenez 32'
Half Time: 2 - 0 
Iwobi 66'
Attendance: 30,617
Fixture 10
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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  Ait-Nouri booked
  Trincao (Podence 79')
  Hwang Silva 90'+4)
  Jimenez (Dendoncker 90')
  Subs not used

  Coleman booked
  Gbamin (Delph 46')
  Iwobi (Gordon 78')
  Gray (Rondon 90')
  Subs not used
  Calvert-Lewin (injured)

Digne (injured)

  Doucoure (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Gomes (injured)
  Mina (injured)
  Gibson (loan)
  Kean (loan)
  Nkounkou (loan)
  Broadhead (loan)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Burnley 3-1 Brentford
Leicester 0-2 Arsenal
Liverpool 2-2 Brighton
Man City 0-2 C Palace
Newcastle 0-3 Chelsea
Tottenham 0-3 Man United
Watford 0-1 Southampton
Aston Villa 1-4 West Ham
Norwich 1-2 Leeds
Wolves 2-1 Everton

1 Chelsea 25
2 Liverpool 22
3 Manchester City 20
4 West Ham United 20
5 Manchester United 17
6 Arsenal 17
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 16
8 Brighton & Hove Albion 16
9 Tottenham Hotspur 15
10 Everton 14
11 Leicester City 14
12 Brentford 12
13 Crystal Palace 12
14 Southampton 11
15 Aston Villa 10
16 Watford 10
17 Leeds United 10
18 Burnley 7
19 Newcastle United 4
20 Norwich City 2

Match Report

Rafael Benitez to Everton was always going to be a hard sell to Blues fans but if there was one thing that he supposedly had going for him, it was that he was a fastidious, pragmatic and, many feared, defensively-minded coach. It’s for that reason that the 45-odd minutes of playing time, from the moment Watford equalised at Goodison Park the Saturday before last to the 32nd minute of this evening’s shocking first-half at Molineux when Wolves went 2-0 up, came as such a shock.

Six goals without reply (three of them from set-pieces), a seemingly non-existent midfield and a horribly suspect defence left Evertonians stunned and in genuine fear for how quickly and how damagingly this 2021-22 season could spin out of control. They will have taken a measure of encouragement from the second half when the fight returned along with a good deal more cohesiveness and purpose but the first period – as bad as anything we've witnessed in living memory – won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

That the Blues would struggle without Abdoulaye Doucouré was never in doubt but it surely behooved a coach of Benitez’s experience and repute to double down on caution, solidity in midfield, and a single-minded focus on being hard to beat. Since the floodgates opened against the Hornets leading to a chastening 5-2 defeat, Everton have exhibited none of those things and it was a damning indictment of manager and players alike that their response to that debacle at home was to come to Wolves and cave in almost as ugly a fashion.

Jordan Pickford had made two excellent saves, Hwang Hee-Chan had a goal ruled out for narrow offside and both Max Kilman and Raul Jimenez had claimed their first goals of the season before Everton finally threatened Jose Sa’s goal for the first time eight minutes before half-time.

This had had the makings of an all-too-familiar multi-goal humbling, the likes of which Everton supporters have had to put up with for years, with Allan and Jean-Philippe Gbamin especially all at sea in midfield. With precious little pressure on the ball in the middle and big gaps routinely opening up in front of Michael Keane and Mason Holgate at the back, the hosts revelled in the space and time afforded them and marched into an almost uncontested 2-0 half-time lead.

The Blues have not come back from 2-0 down at the break to win in the Premier League era and there wasn’t much hope it was going to happen this evening but they were several levels better in the second half and, having battled back to 2-1, they genuinely had Wolves worried at times in the remaining 25 minutes.

It speaks volumes for how poor Gbamin was on only his second League start in England that one regarded the half-time introduction of Fabian Delph with a measure of encouragement. To his credit, though, the much-maligned Yorkshireman played pretty well by keeping things simple, constantly showing for the ball and moving it around with confidence while also helping to make the Toffees’ midfield a lot more combative and harder to play through.

Unfortunately, while they had their chances in either half, the best of which fell to an unusually off-colour Demarai Gray, Everton were unable to salvage a point… not that they especially deserved anything from a game in which they were second best overall and managed to have just 38% of the ball.

Given how poorly they had performed in that shocking defeat to the Hornets, Tom Davies and Salomon Rondon dropped out of Benitez’s starting XI, one which lost Lucas Digne to a muscle complaint and necessitated Godfrey moving to left-back and Holgate coming back into the team at centre-half alongside Keane.

Surprisingly, last week’s star performer, Anthony Gordon, was also dropped in favour of Iwobi but it was the selection of Gbamin alongside Allan in a midfield two rather than a three that would prove costly in an embarrassingly one-side first 35 minutes from Everton’s perspective.

Wolves were slicing through the Toffees’ mid-section at will at times and when they forced a 10th-minute corner, Ruben Neves forced a good parrying save from Jordon Pickford while Conor Coady couldn’t prod the rebound home before Holgate hacked it clear.

Another quick Wolves move through the middle in the 14th minute ended with Joao Moutinho feeding the ball to Francisco Trincao but his fierce drive was tipped over brilliantly by Pickford as Everton continued to flounder.

And a minute late, the hosts thought they had taken the lead. Once more Bruno Lage’s men eased through the void in Everton’s midfield, Jimenez drove forward and fed Hwang who fired a shot that cannoned off the far post and spun over the line. The South Korean was shown by the Video Assistant Referee’s replay to have been offside, however, and the scores remained level.

Everton’s attacking impetus had largely been non-existent up to the midway point in the first half but they threatened for the first time when Iwobi and Richarlison played a neat one-two and the Nigerian international fizzed a ball in to Demarai Gray who could only divert the awkward ball well over the bar.

Wolves were quickly on the attack at the other end where Seamus Coleman charged down Jimenez’s shot setting up the corner from which the Midlanders would, somewhat predictably, score. Kilman rose to meet the delivery from the home team’s left and he steered a downward header past Pickford to make it 1-0.

The Toffees’ woes were compounded soon afterwards when Godfrey attempted a routine back-pass to Pickford but he under-hit it and Jimenez ghosted in unseen by Holgate and dinked the ball over the keeper to double Wolves’s advantage.

Everton had a couple of chances to reduce the arrears before half-time, not least when Ruben Saiss shinned a loose ball into the path of Demarai Gray seven minutes before the break but the winger, who looked out-of-sorts all evening on his return to the Midlands, dragged his shot well wide of Jose Sa’s goal.

Then, as the first period was drawing to a close and Richarlison was fouled wide on the right, Andros Townsend swung in a dangerous free-kick but Holgate skied a chance into the stands.

Needing to do something to address the gaping holes in midfield, Benitez introduced Delph at the break and the Blues visibly improved. Townsend almost prompted an own goal from Coady in the 47th minute but the defender’s header missed the far post by a foot before the veteran winger put Gray in on goal but the former Leverkusen man delayed his shot perhaps a fraction too long and it was blocked behind for a corner,

Saiss and Sa then got into a muddle trying to play out from the back with the latter hitting Richarlison with an attempt to return a pass to his defender but the Brazilian just wasn’t able to swing the loose ball in before the keeper recovered and foiled him.

Richarlison had then a half chance with a header off a cross from the right but didn’t time his connection correctly while at the other end, Jimenez missed an increasingly rare opportunity for Wolves when Nelson Semedo clipped in a cross and the Mexican could only plant his header onto the outside of the post.

Everton’s efforts since half-time were rewarded, though, in the 66th minute. A spell of pressure ended with Godfrey’s low shot appearing to hit Keane before rebounding to Iwobi who rattled it down the centre of the goal and in off the keeper’s leg to make it 2-1.

Yet Wolves could have restored their two-goal advantage almost immediately when Trincao found himself in space and found Hwang who cut inside and returned the ball to the Portuguese winger who deftly skipped it over Godfrey’s attempted block but then screwed his shot off target with just Pickford to beat.

With the game increasingly stretched and Everton more and more desperate, the visitors tried to pile on the pressure in the closing stages after Iwobi had been replaced by Gordon for the final 12 minutes.

And the teenager came very close to making the difference, first when he glanced a corner kick towards the inside of the far post but Sa palmed his header away and when when he chipped an inviting cross to the back post where Gray eschewed the chance to volley goal-wards and found himself closed out before he could test Sa from close range.

After the bizarre sight of Jonjoe Kenny briefly getting ready to enter the fray with the Blues in desperate need of a goal, Rondon was thrown on for Gray instead for the five minutes of stoppage time but Everton’s race was run by then and Wolves held on to take the points.

Three successive games against the “W” teams, three defeats and the Blues are already mired in mid-table obscurity. With the importance of the players missing, this stretch of games was always going to be challenging regardless of the opposition but while the narrow defeat to West Ham was palatable given their quality and aspirations, the way in which Everton have been carved open by supposedly inferior teams in their last two fixtures is deeply worrying.

Benitez is, of course, still learning about the players he inherited from his predecessors but his selection and substitutions choices (the treatment of Gordon is baffling), his team’s susceptibility to conceding set-piece goals and his refusal to entertain a more compact three-man midfield mean that he continues to leave himself open to criticism.

Things certainly don’t get easier from here. A Tottenham team that looks, at the time of writing, likely to travel to Merseyside with a new-manager bounce from having the inspirational Antonio Conte installed as head coach come to Goodison next and then it’s a trip to the Etihad, one of the club’s unhappiest hunting grounds in recent seasons.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton gave up another set-piece goal and a dreadful back-pass gift before they started playing properly and came very close to equalizing. But it is another loss that the Everton faithful will find hard to take. .

Salomon Rondon is finally held back from the starting lineup... but Iwobi starts along with Jean-Philippe Gbamin in a somewhat surprising lineup, with Digne absent and Tosun on the bench along with youngster Anthony Gordon and Reece Welch and, of course, two goalkeepers.

No place for Lewis Dobbin, who appeared to be in the process of grooming to play a bigger part, Tom Cannon, who keeps on scoring for the U23s, and Tyler Onyango, the young midfielder who came off at half-time against Chelsea U23s on Saturday; but none of them are involved tonight.

Rafa Benitez confirmed that Lucas Digne was feeling "discomfort" during training, with a late decision made not to risk the France international.

After a nice rendition of The Last Post, Everton kicked off in a noisy Molyneu but gave up possession in the enow expected fashion. Godfrey playing on the left had an early chance to cross but it was misplaced.

Wolves probed around and eventually won a corner, Neves lashed Coleman's clearance back forcing a great save from Pickford, then a second save before it was hoofed away.

Townsend broke down the right but went down too easily for referee Atkinson. A forced giveaway and suddenly Wolves could pounce, Trincão firing a tremendous shot that Pickford stretched to tip over the bar.

Another surging run from Jimenez and Hwang Hee-Chan slotted it in off the post but VAR called it back for offside. Everton were sliced through very easily again and this time a deflection took the sting out of the shot from Trincão.

Holgate rather lazily held back Trincão, giving up a very dangerous free-kick that was fired over. But Everton were rocking on their heels at every onslaught and had no answer going forward until Jimenez and Allan collided, but Holgate's lame free-kick was easily repelled and another Wolves attack developed.

Finally, after 25 minutes, Everton had a little time on the ball and Iwobi advanced into the Wolves area but the cross to Gray was difficult. And back the other way, Coleman had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Jiminez, and was livid with his colleagues, but from the corner it was zonal simplicity for Max Kilman, scoring his first goal for Wolves despite the solid pack of blue shirts surrounding him.

Everton were looking as naive and impotent as they had in those last fateful 15 minutes against Watford and the way Jimimez was allowed to waltz past Holgate to pick up a dreadful backpass from Godfrey and chip it past Pickford. Shocking from the Blues.

From nothing, a ball finally came forward to Demarai Gray but he lashed it horribly wide toward the corner flag. Richarlison eventually got a touch only to be flagged offside.

Benitez made a change in formation that at least stemmed the flow and Richarlison was rewarded for a push. The free-kick came through to Holgate but his lazy attempt flew over the goal, and Iwobi's header on was deemed offside. Gray was battling hard but not getting the run of the ball as a horrible half of football came to an end for Everton.

Gbamin, who had been next to useless, was replaced by Delph for the second half. And there was much more life going forward, a tremendous cross from Townsend almost causing an own-goal by Coady but they could not profit from the corner. Gray ran in with the ball but it just wasn't running for him tonight.

At least Everton were now spending time in the Wolves half but Delph was so off the pace. A good forward move seemed to set up Gray his touch was just too much and the chance was gone, with nothing from the corner, placed too close to Sa.

And immediately a corner was conceded at the other end, Keane heading clear. But Townsend stumbled on the ball as he tried to break down the line. Richarlison was goalhanging and came so close to stealing one back as Sa passed the ball straight to him! But the Brazilian was taken by surprise and he could not fashion a shot, with Coady coming to Sa's aid to finally clear the ball off the goaline.

Iwobi did his classic chicken-shit non-tackle, leaving Delph exposed and having to foul, giving up a dangerous free-kick but Everton cleared it.

A couple of slightly better balls in to the Wolves area looked almost like a sustained attack... but it didn't last long enough, as the game was more even until Wolves pace almost caught Everton napping and Jiminez put his head onto the outside of the post.

Everton were trying to get the ball to Richarlison but it wasn't really working. Still, at least Everton were mounting something approaching attacking football. But Wolves were defending pretty solidly until Alex Iwobi suddenly fired a shot in through the crowd after Godfrey's shot was cleared straight back to him.

In response, Wolves almost walked the ball through the Everton defence but somehow Trincao shot wide. Holgate then fouled him running into the area but it was inches outside and Wolves messed up the free-kick.

Jiminez and Hee-Chan terrorized the Everton back four and had them chasing shadows. Gordon replaced Iwobi for the last 15 minutes as the troublesome Trincao was replaced by Podence.

Gordon was a breath of fresh air, running forward with the ball determined to make something happen. Kenny then looked set to come on.

A better move set Coleman up for a powerful shot that was deflected behind and the corner was powered goalwards by Gordon but Sa pulled off a superb save to deny the equalizer.

Rondon replaced the struggling Gray for 5 minutes of added time and Everton continued to push for the point. Some silliness saw Coleman and Ait-Nouri booked and more time-wasting substitutions from Wolves as they withstood Everton's strong but ultimately unsuccessful finish.

Kick-off: 8pm, Monday 1 November 2021 on Sky Sports

Wolves: Sa, Semedo, Saiss, Coady, Kilman, Ait-Nouri [Y:90+2'], Neves, Moutinho, Trincao (79' Podence), Hee-Chan (90+4' Silva) , Jimenez (90' Dendoncker).
Subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Boly,Traore, Cundle, Storer.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:90+2'], Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Allan, Gbamin (46' Delph), Townsend, Gray (90' Rondon), Iwobi (78' Gordon), Richarlison.
Subs: Begovic, Lonergan, Kenny, Davies, Tosun, Welch.

Referee: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Chris Kavanagh

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Rafael Benitez takes his injury-hit Everton side to Molineux on Monday evening as the Blues try to bounce back from the debacle at Goodison Park against Watford last time out.

The team's already infamous collapse in the final quarter-of-an-hour against the Hornets evoked memories of some of the worst results of the modern era and the new manager has his work cut out to ensure that it doesn't spark a nosedive in the Blues' fortunes.

Benitez still has some significant injury issues with which to contend, however, with that all-important spine of his side missing as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Yerry Mina remain sidelined.

It was hoped that Mina might be ready to return after missing last weekend's defeat with a hamstring complaint but he was ruled out by Benitez yesterday which means that the Spaniard will need to select between his three available centre-halves.

And there could well be a change at the back given how poorly Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey performed against Watford, with Mason Holgate no doubt feeling that he is deserving of a chance to reclaim his spot.

Whoever starts in defence will, of course, be affected by what goes on in front of them and it was central midfield and the general lack of shape in the closing stages that were key issues in last Saturday's game. Allan and Tom Davies played the full 90 minutes but there has been much discussion among supporters over whether the manager needs to deploy a three-man setup in that area of the field.

Much would depend in that instance on whether Jean-Philippe Gbamin, André Gomes or Fabian Delph are fit enough to play or whether Benitez would contemplate, as both Duncan Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti were moved to do on the odd occasion, playing Holgate as a defensive midfielder.

Gomes returned to full training a week ago but has been out of action for long enough that his manager might pause over throwing him straight back into the starting XI. Delph, meanwhile, hasn't played in months and could be regarded similarly by Benitez, even if he is passed fit. Gbamin, who is yet to start a Premier League match this season, would seem to be the most obvious candidate if a change in the middle is to be made.

Another option, of course, is Tyler Onyango, the rangy young midfielder who has returned from a long injury lay-off of his own and played for the U23s this afternoon. Benitez, however, has already played down the likelihood that he will turn to the teenager in the short term, emphasising that, “I think it is still a little bit early for him but he has the potential, yes, and we want to manage his potential and not send him in too early and then people could say 'he's not as good'. So it is important we give him the chance when he is fully ready. I don't want to send the player in too early if it's not necessary."

The big boost, of course, is that Richarlison has largely recovered from his knee injury and will surely be in the line-up. Whether that is alongside or instead of Salomon Rondon remains to be seen; however, given Benitez's preference for two up front and, perhaps, his desire to give the Venezuelan time to prove himself, it would not be a surprise if Anthony Gordon were the one to make way from the team that started last Saturday.

“Do not forget that he was on loan last year," Benitez said of Gordon on Friday. "I kept him here because I could see the potential. So, I'm really pleased with his attitude and his commitment in every training session and during the game.

“Apart from that, you have to make decisions and, if I [think he is] a good option, that is it. Hopefully he can play 90 minutes in a lot of games [from] now and till the end of the season but my job is to make sure that he will play well. A lot of games, I know just put them on the pitch and just see what happens.

"So, I want to be sure he is improving, he is progressing and he will be a much better player at the end of the season.”

Wolves, under Bruno Lage, have been showing signs in recent games of settling under their new boss. They have picked up 10 points from the last 15 available, beating Aston Villa, Newcastle and Southampton since their last defeat which came at home to Brentford on 18 September and they came very close to winning at Leeds last weekend but were pegged back by a very late equaliser.

With Hwang Chee-Chan making a good start to life in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez back, and Adama Traoré a regular fixture down their right flank, the Midlanders have plenty that will worry an Everton defence that was rocked to its core by Watford.

As such, it promises to be a stern examination of the Toffees' players and Benitez's ability to get them focused on getting the basics right again, firming up the back line and winning the midfield battle, all with depleted numbers.

Kick-off: 8pm, Monday 1 November 2021
Referee: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Last Time: Wolves 0 - 2 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Digne, Gbamin, Allan, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison, Rondon

Lyndon Lloyd

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