When you’ve been struggling to the degree that Everton now have for almost a year, context is probably important. Under Rafael Benitez’s insipid leadership, the Blues lost this fixture last season without laying a glove on Brentford as Salomon Rondon toiled fruitlessly up front.

This was the game where things really started to turn toxic against the Spaniard, with the away fans jeering his name and the players having to face a seething away end at the final whistle.

Since Frank Lampard came on board at the end of January, Everton had picked up just four points away from home in 10 attempts before today and if 2022-23 is going to be another slog to avoid relegation, anything the team can collect on the road should be gratefully received.

It’s hard not to feel despondent, though, at two precious points dropped, particularly given how much Lady Luck had smiled on Lampard’s men, who had looked encouraging going forward at times but were often alarmingly open at the back even with three centre-halves on the pitch.

Brentford hit the woodwork three times, Bryan Mbeumo will wonder how he didn’t score and yet had Demarai Gray had the composure and clinical finishing of his younger team-mate, Anthony Gordon, he might have put the game beyond the Bees with a quarter of an hour to go.

Instead, it was Thomas Frank’s side who profited from a late assault, pinning Everton back, exploiting the fact that the visitors had no out-ball in the closing stages, and then punishing them for horrendous defending at an 84th-minute corner that left Vitaly Janelt all alone to bang home the equaliser.

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Lampard’s game management has rightly come under scrutiny in the aftermath, although it’s unfortunate that he was forced into withdrawing Amadou Onana just when the young Belgian international was starting to have an impact on proceedings.

It was his through-ball that set Gray up for that great chance to seal it and he was responsible for a couple of fine interventions in his own box but he had informed his manager at half-time that he didn’t think he would be able to last the full 90 minutes.

The substitution that saw him depart and Tom Davies come on did little to stem Brentford’s advance and there is merit in debating whether Allan could have been thrown on to make a three-man midfield when Mason Holgate was forced off with a knee injury or whether Rondon should have been introduced earlier than he was to allow something to stick up front.

With new signing Neal Maupay not registered in time to be eligible to face his old club and Rondon failing to convince in the League Cup tie at Fleetwood last Tuesday, Lampard reverted to the front three of Gray, Gordon and Dwight McNeil that employed in the opening two fixtures.

Despite its ineffectiveness in those games, it was a formation that looked as though it might reap dividends this time, with Everton surviving some early scares to take the lead in the 24th minute.

They were caught out by a long ball forward that Rico Henry centred behind the visiting defence but Mbeumo missed the target when he really should have scored.

Then, after Alex Iwobi had tested David Raya from 25 yards out and James Tarkowski failed to reach a tempting looping header back over the Bees’ defence following a corner, the hosts countered and came within inches of scoring.

Henry’s cross was only headed out as far as Mathias Jensen by Holgate and the Dane rattled a shot off the base of the post from the edge of the box.

Gordon then had a tame effort saved and Jordan Pickford managed to keep an awkward corner out at his near post before the former notched his first goal of the season to put Everton 1-0 up.

Conor Coady spotted Gordon’s run with a perfectly-weighted ball over the top that the 21-year-old controlled with one touch and then tucked past Raya in composed fashion.

Iwobi and Coady almost got into trouble trying to dribble out of their own box and then an awful error by Nathan Patterson allowed Henry to cross but this time it was Ivan Toney who planted a header onto the post and Yoane Wissa blazed the rebound over the bar with the goal gaping.

Mbeumo then shot weakly from a good position and was presented with an even better chance a few minutes later as Brentford were afforded all the time they needed to pass the ball around outside the Everton box but the forward curled an effort wide of goal.

Everton finished the half with an opportunity for Gordon set up by good by Vitalii Mykolenko but it was Brentford who came within inches of scoring again seven minutes after the interval.

A long throw by Jensen was nodded on into the six-yard box where Christian Norgaard despatched an overhead kick onto the bar that struck Pickford’s hand on the way back out and the keeper was able to gratefully clutch it to his chest.

A decent Toffees move that went from McNeil to Gray saw a Gordon volley parried into the path of Mykolenko but the Ukrainian’s shot was blocked behind while, back at the other end, Mbeumo spurned one more chance when a curled a foot wide of Pickford’s right-hand post.

Everton had to regroup after Holgate was forced off mid-way through the second half and Michael Keane replaced him but they were almost undone shortly afterwards when a corner was cleared only as far as Henry and Pickford had to push Janelt’s header away at the far post.

The chance for 2-0 arrived at the feet of Gray after Onana strode into space and split the defence with a great pass but where Gordon had been emphatic in the first half, Gray hesitated and tried to cut back inside and the chance evaporated.

10 minutes later, after a claim for handball against Iwobi had been waved away, Frank’s side equalised and it was a desperately poor goal to conceded from the visitors’ perspective.

Substitute Keane Lewis Potter flicked a corner from the Brentford right across the box where Janelt was left all alone by a clutch of static blue shirts to convert and deny the Blues two points.

Ultimately, the manner in which Everton went into retreat trying to hang onto a point was asking for trouble and it wasn’t altogether surprising when their luck ran out or that the equaliser came from a set-piece. Defending corners and free-kicks has been Achilles heel for this side for a long time now and, unlike against Chelsea when they successfully repelled a barrage of dead-ball deliveries, the new-look back line went to pieces again to throw away two points.

While the defensive solidity that we felt was there with the acquisition of Coady and Tarkowski to play in a back three was lacking, there were many aspects of this performance on which to hang some optimism, however. Once again there are signs of how Lampard wants this team to move the ball forward and attack with a combination of wing play and balls over the top or down the channels for the likes of Gray and Gordon to latch onto.

Iwobi fell a bit below the recent standards he has set yet was still one of the Blues’ most important players, Onana is growing into his new surroundings with every passing minute on the pitch and Gordon will have done his confidence no end of good by taking his one clear-cut chance with such aplomb.

What happens in the transfer market between now and 11pm Thursday will have a huge bearing on just how difficult this season is going to be but the foundations appear to be there to build on with a couple more key attacking signings and, hopefully, the long-awaited return of Idrissa Gueye to open up the options in midfield.

Reader Comments (26)

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Lev Vellene
1 Posted 27/08/2022 at 23:29:43
We can only hope that Lampard's 3-4-3 will eventually succeed, as there will be no hope of abandoning the back 3+2, I think. Frank + Thelwell love that one too much, so I just hope we can get the right people in to play Frank's way...

It's all speculation now, but how could any of our supposed targets fit in to play in this formation?

Mick Roberts
2 Posted 28/08/2022 at 08:29:13
Lampard hasn't got a clue how to change things and when he does it's already too late when he's forced into it. When the opposition scores, he needs to be more proactive rather than reactive.

His after-match quote said it all: "Disappointed we couldn't hold on and we played well."

Really??!?!?! Brentford should have had five… fucking wake up, Frank!!

Dupont Koo
3 Posted 28/08/2022 at 08:40:27
1) The drop-off after Davies & Keane came on was depressing and huge:

- If Onana was not injured, Frank's blind faith in Davies cost us the 2 points.

- For those who have been critical of Holgate, be careful what you wish for because what Keane brought (or a lack thereof) yesterday was excruciating and a lot worse (fingers crossed that Frank will start Seamus on that Right Centre Back position of the 3)

2) This game showed why Gray's career was stalled: any detailed scouting report would point out his sub-par decision-making and monotonous 1-on-1 moves. He lost the ball every time he tried to be fancy (should he choose to shoot with his left foot, he might not have scored on that shot but definitely better than fooling around with the ball so long that a defender recovered to clear it for corner).

I don't buy what the commentators phrased as trying to be a "Perfectionist". When he played direct without the need to make an extra decision, the result was brilliant (see all the goals he scored for us so far).

Colin Metcalfe
4 Posted 28/08/2022 at 08:40:58
Still early days and we were lucky to get a point in the end.

One thing that is disappointing is Lampard's choice and timing of substitutions he seems to be reactionary than proactive and he needs to learn fast to take the initiative and make things happen on the pitch before action on the pitch dictates his choice.

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 28/08/2022 at 09:14:34
Just read this report after posting on the other match report, and after writing something very similar to your last paragraph, Lyndon, I don't think it can be underestimated how important this week is going to be in determining what type of season we have.

Watching the highlights, I instantly thought that Mykolenko should have stabbed that ball back inside to Gordon with his heel, instead of shooting whilst getting forced away from the goal.

It's easy watching from the sidelines, and with Mykolenko being a more defensive minded player, rather than a natural attacker, it shows me that you need the right players to make any system work cohesively?

This throws up another conundrum, about whether Lampard should only be trying to develop his system once he's got all the pieces in place,? Quite a few posters don't seem very happy with our manager, once again.

My own feelings are well known, and centre around a lying bastard who actually told us other clubs often ask what would Everton have done but fails to add any credulity to this story when you consider how long it's been since we actually existed to compete, never mind actually won something.

Brian Murray
6 Posted 28/08/2022 at 09:15:59
Said in another thread the top managers win games with their subs and the timing of them.

On game management, Benitez and a few more before him were hopeless at. Maybe his backroom can help him.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 28/08/2022 at 09:20:55
I'm holding back on giving judgement until after Wednesday when the window closes.

As far as I'm concerned, we still need another striker and a creative central midfielder (are they really so hard to find?).

At present, I think this team will struggle to reach 40 points even with the inclusion of Maupay who does give us something extra but not enough to make a big difference.

Broja looks unlikely now, Conor Gallagher probably always was a pipe dream and Brereton Diaz will likely go to Spain but a move for any of these three should have been priority starting today.

Selling Gordon now can't be done either, it's too late.

The £60 million on offer is worthless once the window shuts.

Huge few days.

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 28/08/2022 at 09:43:35
They system, or insistence on it, until the right pieces are in place, is becoming an issue in my opinion.

4 games in and we've lost 3 centre-backs to injury. Luck (see last paragraph).

The interesting point about how well we kept the Chelsea barrage of corners ineffective was Holgate's introduction after the unfortunate injury to Godfrey. He seemed to constantly clear at the front post to prevent the flick on. And he done that job effectively.

I can see what the manager is trying to do, I'm just not sure he's got the right tools to do implement it yet. And the substitutions; they seem to be strange (total loss of balance against Forest), forced, or late. I guess I've covered 3 obvious bases with that equally obvious statement!!

By the sounds of it, we could have or should have lost. But we didn't. And if we've somehow stumbled on luck, then I'll take that. It's one of the factors in football and let's face it, we've not had much over the years. From what I've heard the fans' reaction was good. That tells me something.

Christine Foster
9 Posted 28/08/2022 at 09:54:39
I watched the game with the sound down as it was a Thai stream, not sure what to expect, but had reservations when the team was announced as no one to lead the line.

So as I watched, I listened to Everton Radio for commentary. As the game went on, I have to say I thought we were playing well, the number of mistakes were fewer than last season, and we created chances and generally did okay pressing high and shutting down play.

We rode our luck too, it seemed to be one of those days when, no matter what, they would not score, but in true Everton tradition, we couldn't hold out, sat back and let them come at us.

All-in-all, if I was asked before the game, would I take the point, I would have. But it's the hope that gets you!

Many good things to take from it but, whilst it's an improvement on last season, it's still a work in progress with at least a couple more players needed.

But on waking this morning, signed in to TW and was surprised to see the level of negativity bordering on abuse to the game and manager. We are far better than last year, but still way short of where we would like to be...

This season is one of few expectations from me other than improvement; why? Because we had fallen so far last season, it's going to be a few seasons before we change the bulk of personnel and build a full squad again. Till then, dig in, folks.

Brian Harrison
10 Posted 28/08/2022 at 10:08:17
I think that the majority of fans are still backing Lampard. He speaks well, he has a great rapport with the fans, and was successful in keeping Everton in the Premier lLeague. So Lampard has rightly built up a lot of goodwill since he arrived, but I have a couple of things which I am not happy about.

Last season, Lampard said that the style of football we were having to play was not what he wanted, but with the circumstances we were in, he felt like he had no choice. So I didn't expect that we would start this season with the same 5-2-3 formation that he employed last season.

In this window, Lampard has added a few players but I still feel this squad is unbalanced. We have 6 centre-backs and another on loan, and 4 full-backs.

Lampard added Tarkowski and he played him in the middle and he looked very dependable and a good distributor of the ball, but he has since added Coady (another good defender).

But has pushed Tarkowski on the left and, because of his lack of pace, he looks very venerable, which is understandable considering he has played predominantly in the middle of a back 4 for Burnley.

When most sides play 3 at the back, which maybe Lampards idea but always quickly changes to 5, they play a holding midfield player. But not only do we not employ a defensive holding midfield player – we expect our 2 midfield players to cover far too much ground.

We have added a young 20-year-old midfield player in Onana who looks a very promising player, but to expect him to play in a 2-man midfield when he is new to this team and the pace of the Premier League is asking a lot; no wonder he told Lampard at half-time he didn't think he could last the full 90 minutes.

For some reason, it seems that Lampard has frozen Allan out the equation – who, until we get a better one, would be the ideal player to sit in midfield with Iwobi and Onana able to play further forward.

Then another player brought in is Dwight McNeil. I bet in his wildest dreams he never thought he would start his first few games for the club as a false Number 9.

I think this more than anything highlights my concern with Lampard, our biggest problem for certainly the last 18 months is lack of goals... yet, until Maupay was signed, we hadn't addressed that problem.

We lost Richarlison 8 weeks back which left us with Rondon, who Lampard hardly played last season, and Calvert-Lewin, who was coming back from a long injury, yet his priority was to sign even more defenders.

Lineker asked Ian Wright on MotD whether Everton should sell Gordon and rightly he said "No, looking at them, they are going to need all the help they will get."

This could go pear-shaped very quickly and, with a break for the World Cup coming in November, Lampard needs for his own sake to make sure we are not in the Bottom 3 at that time.

Let's remember – Lampard wasn't Moshiri's choice... so, if it looks bad in November, he will have no hesitation in pulling the plug on Lampard.

Finally, just to be clear, that's not what I want to happen. We want Lampard to be a success, so please, Frank, change to a 4-3-3 before it's too late.

Brent Stephens
11 Posted 28/08/2022 at 12:11:31
Dupont #3

"If Onana was not injured, Frank's blind faith in Davies cost us the 2 points".

Lyndon's report says "[Onana] had informed his manager at half-time that he didn't think he would be able to last the full 90 minutes."

Ian Bennett
12 Posted 28/08/2022 at 13:23:05
Only saw MotD, but looks like Patterson could have done more for the goal. Same against Forest, he needs to switch on a bit more.

Great going forward, and a good athlete - but ball-watching, rather than sensing the danger of the opposition.

David Hallwood
13 Posted 28/08/2022 at 14:07:42
Dupont #3

"If Onana was not injured, Frank's blind faith in Davies cost us the 2 points".

This is taking the 'I hate Tom Davies' to another level; How was the goal Davies's fault?

What was obvious and is a continuation of last season is that 2 in midfield will get overrun by 3, so the substitution should've been Davies for McNeil, and then Onana for Allan, because the front 3 were offering nothing, and it should have been made around the 50- or 55-minute mark.

Ajay Gopal
14 Posted 28/08/2022 at 14:39:37
I watched the full match replay after knowing the final score. Here are my observations:

The defence looked shaky all game – even before the Holgate substitution. The commentator observed that the mid-field in front of the 3 consists of 23-, 21-, 20-, and 26-year-old players which is very inexperienced to protect the back 3. Gana or a fit Allan would probably help matters.

Gordon's goal and overall performance shows that Everton cannot afford to let him go at any price. His enthusiasm, as well as growing skills, cannot just be replaced at this stage of the season.

Holgate's injury may force Lampard to switch to a back 4 because another injury in the centre-back area could be disastrous for us. Next game, I would go 4-3-3:

Coleman Coady Tarkowski Mykolenko
Iwobi Davies Onana
Gray Maupay Gordon
I would sit out Patterson for a few games to help him catch up and reflect on what he might do better.

With all the players we have let go (Richarlison, Alli, Gbamin, Simms, etc), and the injuries and unfit players – Doucoure, Gomes, Allan, Calvert-Lewin, Townsend, Godfrey, Mina, Holgate – the squad feels very light, especially in the midfield and forward areas.

Lampard needs all the support we as fans can give him, because this season is one of rebuilding (again). I see some encouraging signs, and with a fit squad, we should be okay. But, getting in 1-2 players – especially if we can get in someone experienced like Gana would help things immensely.

Tony Everan
15 Posted 28/08/2022 at 15:04:30
Ajay, Good points, I am craving the 4-3-3 too. That team with Gana in the middle for Davies would be a better way forward.

Also not convinced that Seamus would be better than Patterson. Seamus has his issues on the other end of the age spectrum. In a flat back four, Patterson may focus his defensive duties better. I think he will get better the more he plays.

I see this as a far more balanced side and formation that will help give us the midfield strength we need to help us get better control of games.

Johan Elmgren
16 Posted 28/08/2022 at 15:19:39
Okay, so it's early days playing 3-4-3 and the players might need some time to learn the system, and what decisions to make in different situations. The question is, do we have that time?

When playing 3-4-3 with wingbacks, they are supposed to be high up the pitch when we attack, otherwise we lose the point of playing with wingbacks.

This will always create space behind them for the opponent to use in counter-attacks. When that happens, the centre-back on that side must run into that space when he sees the ball heading there, and then he must fulfil the tasks of a regular fullback. The back-three must be dynamic in these situations and move over towards the side the ball is heading to.

Aston Villa's first goal was an example of this. The ball came out to our left side and Coutinho (I think it was) got possession of the ball. Then Tarkowski, instead of rushing out putting pressure on the Villa player, stopped on the edge of our box, and let him advance in towards the center and then whip in a dangerous ball, which the other ex-redshite converted. A prime example of how to not defend the wide areas when playing 3-4-3.

It happended several times against Brentford as well, but luckily we weren't punished by them, but it was darn close. This must get better if we are to continue playing 3-4-3, and the outer centre-backs must understand that they are "deputising" as full-backs when countered upon.

Another thing I feel is worrying with the 3-4-3 is that, when defending, it turns to a 5-2-2-1 and we become very deep and yesterday we allowed Brentford to move the ball around in our half and ping in crosses at will. If you allow this, they will eventually score...

This must be fixed somehow, maybe that one of the forward-three join up the central midfielders so that we play something like 5-3-2 then, make it a little more crowded in front of our penalty box .

I do wonder if Lampard has the tactical nous to make the 3-4-3 work properly and can't stop thinking that we should revert to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 to be able to control the game better. I guess we'll find out as the season progresses...

David West
17 Posted 28/08/2022 at 15:36:29
Tony 15. Agree.

Patterson would be better in a back 4 I think and Mykolenko even more so. Mykolenko is like a rabbit in the headlights sometimes when he's got the chance to cross or shoot.

It's crying out for a change now. Now we have Maupay, I'm hoping for 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1:

Davis, Allan or Warrington

A back 4 and midfield 3 frees up Gray and Gordon to get wider too. To supply Maupay. I'm looking forward to seeing if Maupay changes the dynamics.
I fear if we just put him in to this same 5-at-the-back system, we will just have the same results.

Johan Elmgren
18 Posted 28/08/2022 at 15:53:54
I can add that yesterday, in the second half, when Brentford moved the ball around so much in our half, and we were getting really deep, and then Holgate got injured, I remember thinking "I hope Lampard puts a midfielder on" — but instead he chose Keane.

I would have put a central midfielder on to put more pressure on the Brentford players higher up the pitch, to try to avoid getting so deep... If it would have made a difference, I don't know, but that was my thought then...

Christopher Timmins
19 Posted 28/08/2022 at 16:00:27
Not too worried about playing 3 at the back once we pick the correct 3 in order to give proper balance, Tarkowski on the right, Coady in the centre and Mykolenko on the left.

Play one of the wingers as the left wingback. We can then play 3 in midfield!

Peter Dodds
20 Posted 28/08/2022 at 17:24:25
A 3-5-2 with Gordon as one of the wingbacks could be interesting

Tarkowski - Coady - Mykolenko
Patterson - Iwobi - Gana - Onana - Gordon
Maupay - Calvert-Lewin

Plenty of options then to bring on Doucouré for Onana; Allan or Davies for Gana; or Gordon up front if one of the strikers isn't working; or Vinagre on the left and put Gordon on the right. Square pegs in square holes.

Jerome Shields
22 Posted 29/08/2022 at 10:06:50
Most peop!e crave a change in formation in the hope that it will result in a more organised Everton. But if Frank continues with an open attacking style of once in possession fanning out to receive the ball in an attacking position, where is there going to be the defensive protection?

Whether it is a back 4 of back 5 will make little difference if this is not addressed. If the centre-forward can't hold the ball or is not there to do so, the same lack of protection will arise. A player like Gueye may help but not even he could stem the tide resulting from the gaps allowed for the Brentford attack.

Everton's midfield are walk-through at the moment and three rather than two may help, as long as they are preventing gaps and protecting the defence.

Neil Halliwell
23 Posted 29/08/2022 at 10:59:25
Lampard said that a momentary "loss of concentration" cost us a goal and two points.

When you are winning 1-0 away from home with 8 minutes to go... how do you not concentrate? For fuck's sake, someone failed in what they were supposed to do.

They were not good enough to do the job they were asked to do and should not be put in that position again. Simples.

Brian Murray
24 Posted 29/08/2022 at 11:08:47
I think we have to learn to put up with Frank's lack of in-game management for now but I'm sure he's like a fine wine hopefully. Quieten these cavemen early doors and we can get something tomorrow.
Frank Sheppard
25 Posted 29/08/2022 at 12:29:25
We are progressing on last season.

Why do I say that?

Because we weren't abject, we didn't lose, and we actually took the lead.

Kevin Molloy
26 Posted 29/08/2022 at 13:11:28
I think unflattering comparisons with Rafa (All Hail!) are a bit wide of the mark here, Lyndon. Brentford should have scored six on Saturday (hitting the woodwork 4 times).

They scored with their only shot of the match against Benitez. And this is with Frank able to wheel and deal much more than Benitez ever was.

Johan Elmgren
27 Posted 29/08/2022 at 13:36:13
Well Kevin, you have to take in to consideration that Brentford is a much, much improved side since that game. Watching that game I thought they were one of the poorer teams we had played in many seasons in the Premier League, and how we managed to loose it was a mystery... Now they are a real handful to play against, with their passing, movement and high pressing, so a big, big difference.

Another aspect is that, if Brentford levels earlier in the game, we probably react and attack more in that second half, compared to how the game panned out, and thus don't concede as many chances as we did.

I agree the defence looked shaky, but then again 4 out of 5 defenders haven't played many games in an Everton shirt. Last season's backline had played many, many games together and hence would have better understanding between each other.

And on top of that, add a newly arrived 20-year-old starting his first Premier League game and a converted winger at the two central-midfield spots, and you might have some understanding as to why we conceded so many chances.

I think we played really well in that first half, something that bodes well for the future. The second half, we sat too deep, and pressed way too poorly. Because of that, we were punished...

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