Crystal Palace 2 - 3 Everton

Like a number of clubs, Crystal Palace have been woven into the tapestry of Everton’s struggles for survival over the past couple of seasons. In 2021-22, under Rafael Benitez and then Frank Lampard, Selhurst Park was the scene of two particularly ugly defeats and the Eagles were, of course, the opponents at Goodison Park when the Toffees came back from 2-0 down to win one of the most dramatic matches in the club’s history the May before last.

The 3-0 win that Lampard oversaw in October 2022 was the high watermark of the Londoner’s tenure; a deceptively fluid and complete performance that would end up being his last victory as Everton boss.

But it was that harrowing 4-0 defeat in the last eight of the FA Cup in March last year that, when compared to what unfolded in South London today, helps illustrate how far the club has come under Sean Dyche.

The team still may have deficiencies in terms of their use and care of the ball — Everton were abysmal at times in the second half in terms of their ball retention today — and there may have been a feeling they were, perhaps, fortunate to have come away with all three points (given how open they were in midfield at times and how much possession they ceded to Roy Hodgson’s side), but in terms of mentality and unity of purpose, it’s night and day from the day Lampard questioned whether his charges had the “bollocks” for the fight in front of them.

Everton twice lost the lead today but on both occasions, they regrouped, rose to the challenge and got their noses back in front. On the third occasion, they locked it down and secured the points, delivered in wholly unexpected fashion by Idrissa Gueye.

The Senegalese midfielder’s wayward shooting and lack of goalscoring prowess has become something of a running joke among Evertonians but this afternoon he played his part in a rapier-like move in the 86th minute, collecting a perfectly-weighted return pass from Abdoulaye Doucouré before finishing with a motion more evocative of his sliding tackles in his own half than a Premier League marksman.

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Doucouré himself had demonstrated again his ability to be in the right place at the right time when he restored early in the first half a lead originally given to the visitors by another unlikely goalscoring hero in the form of Vitalii Mykolenko.

The Ukrainian got the chance to spread one of those endearing, almost child-like smiles across his face with less than a minute on the clock when he popped up in the six-yard box to score his second goal in as many games. Palace may have taken the gloss off his moment almost straight away by wiping out the lead but Mykolenko and his team-mates had the last laugh in the end.

Dyche had made one change to the team that started against Brighton last weekend, recalling Amadou Onana, who had missed out against the Seagulls with a calf problem. The Belgian would only last 45 minutes, though, and made way for the eventual match-winner at the start of the second half.

By then, both teams had got onto the score sheet inside five minutes, with Everton finding the net before 60 seconds had elapsed, making them the club to have scored more goals in the first minute of a match in Premier League history. After Mykolenko’s initial shot had been charged down, Doucouré laid the loose ball wide to Jack Harrison to clip a teasing ball into the six-yard box where the Ukrainian arrived to gleefully head home his second goal in a week.

The response from Hodgson’s side was immediate, however, and when Eberechi Eze, who was a handful throughout, danced his way into the area and drew contact from Jarrad Branthwaite’s out-stretched foot, referee Sam Barrott pointed to the spot.

Eze placed his shot wide of Pickford who had remained central trying to fake the winger out and it was 1-1 with five minutes gone.

Both sides then had spells of pressure as Dwight McNeil deposited a volley into the arms of Sam Johnstone off Ashley Young’s deep cross and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was denied a headed chance by attentive defending by Joel Ward.

Eze thought he had won a second penalty midway through the first half when he skinned Onana along the byline and initially appeared to be caught by Branthwaite’s trailing foot but the Palace man was booked for diving instead and Video Assistant Referee, Andy Madley, saw no clear and obvious error in the decision.

James Garner then narrowly missed with a scuffed shot from 20 yards and, at the other end, Tarkowski’s tackle denied Odsonne Edouard who had raced onto Eze’s clever dummy.

With the final action of the first half, Eze was involved again as he threaded Edouard in once more and Jordan Pickford spilled the striker’s shot before Tarkowski knocked it behind for safety.

The second period was less than four minutes old before Everton struck again. Marc Guehi had put the ball behind for a corner that eventually fell to Mykolenko on the edge of the box. The defender’s volley, reminiscent of his strike against Leicester 18 months ago, was deserving of another goal but when it came back off the base of the post, Doucouré was played onside by Jefferson Lerma and on hand to side-foot the rebound home.

Again the hosts tried to respond straight away and it took a good save from Pickford to beat away Eze’s powerful drive from the angle while a mix-up between Gueye and Mykolenko almost resulted in an own goal.

Branthwaite had recovered from a shaky start and he put in a terrific saving tackle to deny Edouard in the 62nd minute before Lerma spurned a gilt-edged chance to level things up again when he placed his shot wide of goal from 20 yards.

Palace only had to wait another eight minutes, though, and it came from a mix-up between Pickford and Tarkowski. Assuming that his keeper had a ball over the top from Eze covered, the defender allowed it to bounce behind him where Edouard stole in to bang it home from close range.

The Eagles’ tails were up but Everton weren’t to be denied. Gueye collected a pass inside from near the right touchline and fed Doucouré. The Frenchman held his pass until he’d spotted the Senegal international’s run and played him in superbly where Gueye took a touch before sweeping it past Johnstone to make it 3-2. The last time he'd scored for the Toffees, Sam Allardyce was in charge.

Beto, on as a substitute for Calvert-Lewin, could have killed it in stoppage time but smashed a shot across goal from an acute angle and Michael Olise wasted the hosts’ last chance to try and force the ball home from a set-piece when he spooned a free-kick into the stand behind Pickford’s goal.

Everton won only two matches away from home in the entirety of last season; this term, they have already notched three in the League and will probably feel as though they should have won at Sheffield United in September as well. They’ve also now won seven of their last 12 games in all competitions, a sign that the Dyche revolution is very much on track, with confidence in the ranks growing all the time.

And if another marker were needed to prove the effect the former Burnley boss is having, Evertonians need only cast their minds back to almost exactly a year ago when, having twice lost in the worst way at Bournemouth, it felt like a very bleak winter was ahead.

This time, the team and fans as a collective might well be relishing what lies on the other side of the international break and a tricky-looking December beyond. Where before lay trepidation, now there is opportunity. Quite the transformation…

Reader Comments (82)

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Russelll Smith
1 Posted 12/11/2023 at 08:04:03
Haven't Sunday mornings suddenly got a lot more enjoyable.💙
Gareth Williams
2 Posted 12/11/2023 at 08:08:46
The team has improved so much this season after a rocky start. Let's hope they can keep it up.
Chris James
3 Posted 12/11/2023 at 08:16:08
Great article as always, Lyndon, and love the positive finish.
I've been pretty upbeat since the start of the season as I feel our performances have been good enough to see us comfortably mid-table and that we were in a largely false position for the first few weeks.

Fulham (H) - Dominated, deserved a win. 3 pts dropped
A Villa (A) - Pitiful, deserved nothing. 0 points
Wolves (H) - Dominated, hit with sucker punch 3 pts dropped
Sheff Utd (A) - Arguably could have won, but fair result, 1pt
Arsenal (H) - Didn't really turn up. 0 pts
Brentford (A) - Great performance. 3 pts
Luton (H) - Deserved a point here, 1 pt dropped
Bournemouth (H) - Great performance. 3 pts
Liverpool (A) - Robbed by poor decisions, 1 pt dropped
West Ham (A) - Edged an even game, 3 pts
Burnley (H) - Purring now. 3 points
Brighton (H) - Rearguard action, but freak goal, 2 pts dropped?
C Palace (A) - Clinical performance, 3 pts

Obviously, I'm by no means impartial and maybe I'm being a bit over-optimistic with the Brighton and Liverpool results, but if we'd got what our performances merited (attacking and defensive) then we could be 7-10 points up, putting us on 21-24, in the top 7 and the hunt for Europe.

In reality we are where we are (14-maybe 15-16th by end of day) and we have a chunk of tough teams to play so I'll be happy with mid-table and ideally a tilt at the cups. But IF we stay fit, don't lose any of the key players in January and avoid some crazy points deduction, then I think we'll be fine.

Donal Armani
4 Posted 12/11/2023 at 08:54:34
Chris, I think apportioning 3 points for the Burnley cup win might be a burst of enthusiasm too far!
Niall McIlhone
5 Posted 12/11/2023 at 09:36:36
Good write-up, Lyndon, and it's uplifting to see your concluding paragraphs, as it is helpful to reflect upon the absolute turmoil we were in at this stage last season with that abject showing in the two games down at the Vitality Stadium.

Whilst it is a bit of an irritation having yet another international break after a morale-boosting win, it does nonetheless allow for another period of recovery for Coleman and Alli, and I feel this is relevant because we are very light as far as cover in both midfield and defence.

We are not there yet by any means, but to have goals across the team and such a strong and focussed group of players clearly playing for the manager – and each other – is as much as we can expect, given the absolute pit of despair we were in after those Bournemouth games last season.

There is no reason at all why we cannot get a result against Man Utd; beat them and we are well set for the difficult fixtures up to Christmas.

Geoff Lambert
6 Posted 12/11/2023 at 10:23:56
Just need to get our forwards scoring now and we will be okay.
The team are working as a unit and giving their all you can't ask for much more than that.

Man Utd at Goodison next – this is a winable game and could spell the end for Ten Hag if we smash them. COYB.

Adam Carey
7 Posted 12/11/2023 at 10:48:08
Watching the game by way of a stuttering stream, the rearguard action was first class. I have always liked Palace as a team and they will be lucky to keep Eze, who is clearly destined to play for a better team.

I'm actually happy about the international break as some of our boys were looking a bit leggy yesterday. We have played virtually the same team for the last 4 league games with minimal substitutions. Young may have good fitness levels but 5 minutes off at the end of a few games will take its toll.

The way we play allowing the other team the ball means we are flat out for most of the game. It would be nice to play it around for the final 5 mins rather than just kick it long into the opposite corner and then press defend again.

That said, great result!

Colin Battison
8 Posted 12/11/2023 at 11:27:31
Tremendous win that, at 2-2 I can honestly say I feared the worst but this team keep bouncing back, the difference from 12 months ago is unreal.

Mykolenko looks like a proper full-back, generally stable at the back and partnerships forming all over the park. Great attitude and work ethic with the high press and we are finally being rewarded with the goals we deserve from past games where we've managed to be beaten having 20-25 shots in a game and lose.

I can only really think of Villa and Arsenal where we have not been on it. Goals are coming from all over the team as well which is fantastic. Well done lads, Bring on Man Utd. UTFT.

Eddie Dunn
9 Posted 12/11/2023 at 12:33:54
It was clear that keeping the same team as often as possible is bearing fruit.

We are improving, lots more still to do but it is so good to see progress.

Barry Hall
10 Posted 12/11/2023 at 13:49:41
I have tremendous respect to those who travelled and represented Everton at the game.

Based on a last-minute conflict, I "watched" the second half with only audio of the Peacock stream in my car while driving. The cheers and singing of the away supporters pumped me up. It sounded at times like it was being played at Goodison.

I can only imagine how the players on the pitch feel hearing that support. Thank you for those who made the trip and used their voice. You deserved that win and a great day!

Chris James
11 Posted 12/11/2023 at 14:54:40
Haha, good point about Burnley, got a bit carried away! ;-)
Kevin Edward
12 Posted 12/11/2023 at 15:43:25
We are where we are, and what a great win yesterday.
To me the way we won was more impressive than just taking all the points.
This team didn’t fold under the pressure but looked to have belief that they could get back in front, regardless of the odd mishap.
And it wasn’t a ‘one off’ in between poor performances.
It set’s expectations and I’m really looking forward to Man U at a rocking Goodison.
With the chances we are creating someone’s going to get a thumping there one day soon, I sincerely hope it’s Man U.
Paul Kossoff
13 Posted 12/11/2023 at 16:35:48
Perhaps now we can agree that wonder boy, future England centre-half, the next Brian Labone, Jarrad Branthwaite is as prone to cock-ups as the next man. He could have cost us the game yesterday with reckless tackles.

You don't do what he attempted in the penalty area, it's one of the things you are taught as a youngster, don't go to ground. Centre-half is one of the easiest positions on the pitch: you don't need any skill set other than, head this, kick that.

With his poor clearances and fogging of the brain, he's a lot to learn, and in our position, we can't afford that.

Helmet on, bunker down.🙄

Jerome Shields
14 Posted 12/11/2023 at 17:15:15
Certainly Dyche has brought a revolution to Everton. Right from the start, he has had his methods and stuck to them.

He has consistently tried to improve individual player stats, which has been let down by inconsistent player performance. But he has kept working with them and is gradually improving performance.

He has reduced the fear of a trademark inept performance by seeming to have upped the commitment to training at Finch Farm. Some commentators say that he has Everton playing like Burnley, but I think it is Burnley with potential.

They look like a side that could improve further. The winning goal that was scored against Crystal Palace was telling. It was a pass through the centre, with an Everton player running onto it. No team likes that type of goal scored against them in the final quarter of the second half.

It is something that every team spends time trying to prevent, in their preparation. It is something that will be taken note of and thought about by deciding to push up against Everton.

With some other forward play improvements, it may get to Big Club potential.

Ryan Holroyd
15 Posted 12/11/2023 at 17:32:37
13) Paul

Let's play Michael Keane then who has been a walking, error prone disaster for 7 years.

Course Branthwaite will make mistakes, he's a young lad playing centre half in the Premier league in.

Also it's really not a 'head this, kick that' position at all. Not in the modern game.

Dale Self
16 Posted 12/11/2023 at 17:38:14
Big words Jerome, those are big words man.
Brent Stephens
17 Posted 12/11/2023 at 17:44:50
Paul #13,

"Perhaps now we can agree that wonder boy, future England centre-half, the next Brian Labone Jarrad Branthwaite is as prone to cock-ups as the next man."

So all players are equally prone to making cock-ups? Really? So you'd be equally happy with Keane instead of Branthwaite?

"With his poor clearances and fogging of the brain he's a lot to learn, and in our position, we can't afford that."

His poor clearances? I think he's a very good distributor of the ball. But maybe we can't afford to wait until he learns, as you say. Keane it is? Or who else at the moment? Ah, yes, Godfrey!

Lyndon Lloyd
18 Posted 13/11/2023 at 04:28:35
Paul K (13),

I'm absolutely baffled by your comment. It appears as though you want him to fail; at the very least you seem to be expecting perfection from our youngest regular player.

Of course he makes mistakes. He's 21. (John Stones made them, too, and look at him now.) The lad's been an absolute revelation this season but has made a few errors in the past 2 games.

The good thing is, nothing he has done so far has cost us anything and there can be no bigger positive than that – he's learning what to do and not to do, making the odd mistake all while we're picking up points! It's pretty much an ideal situation for a kid of his age.

I'd enjoy him while we can because a massive offer will inevitably come in for him within the next couple of years and "in our position" (that phrase is more apt to our off-the-field circumstances than on-the-field, where I think we'll be fine) we probably won't be able to turn it down.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 13/11/2023 at 05:05:40
"Centre-half is one of the easiest positions on the pitch"

One of the densest, dimmest comments I've read here in a long time (and that's saying something).

Certainly could only have come from somebody who never played the position -- or the game.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 13/11/2023 at 06:27:01
I started my footballing life playing wide, either as a winger or full-back. I eventually settled as a very good football-playing centre-back. I also played central-midfield. And to a decent standard.

To suggest centre-back is one of the easiest positions on the pitch is a very strange comment. I don't think there is an easy position on the field of football.

You have to anticipate, read the game and play out from the back. Defend, but play football. Aside from the goalkeeper, the last line of defence. But get the momentum going again when you turn possession.

If a midfielder loses the ball, the defence is still behind them to recover the situation, turn possession, and get the team back on the front foot.

I've said many times, be patient with Branthwaite. He will come good. You can see it in him every time you watch him play for those who have. Composed on the ball. Anticipates well. Yes, he will make mistakes. Tell me a player that doesn't or never has. We have a player in the making. Football is a game of mistakes.

I said at the time it was a penalty and I had a direct line viewing point. I think the Palace player did play for it, but let's not slate young Jarrad. He went for the ball, arguably clipped the player, who went down with the slightest of contact.

It happens. It's football, not Playstation.

By the way, we won.

Man Utd next at Goodison. Maybe… just maybe, Ten Hag joins Ron Atkinson and David Moyes on the list of Manchester United managers who end their tenure at Goodison Park.

Frank Sheppard
21 Posted 13/11/2023 at 07:11:54
Lots of good signs and green shoots of recovery.

Team spirit is excellent, but we do need to stop giving ball away and have hardly any possession for long periods of games.

Rob Jones
22 Posted 13/11/2023 at 07:13:29
Branthwaite is a work in progress. He's also, alongside Tarkowski, the best central defender at the club. In five years, he'll be the crown jewel in England's defence.

Eze is a tricky customer. He preyed on Jarrad's inexperience, buying a penalty, and nearly conning his way to another.

Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 13/11/2023 at 07:27:10
I'm not getting carried away. We are not spectacular. But there is a resilience about this team. Look at the joy on the faces of those players that replicated mine at the end. There is a unity about them.

As for the supporters… unbelievable. As I keep saying, just wait. The football will not know what has hit it. Dare I say startled.

To coin and old advert phrase.

Newcastle? Who are day?

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 13/11/2023 at 07:39:44
I could just Imagine us getting the maggots at Wembley, Danny. The fastest moving light infantry against the great pretenders, what a day that would be!
Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 13/11/2023 at 07:48:11
As the banners say, Tony, 1878, The Originals.

Not The Imposters.

For the first time in a couple of seasons, I'm feeling confident rather than worried.

Brian Williams
26 Posted 13/11/2023 at 09:07:18
#13. Hope that helmet's a modern Kevlar one.

FFS were you bored or something?

Brent Stephens
27 Posted 13/11/2023 at 09:47:12
Danny #20,

“You have to anticipate, read the game and play out from the back.”

Danny, I'd argue that it's preferable if at least one centre-back can do that but you don't necessarily need two.

“I eventually settled as a very good football playing centre-back.”

I also played centre-back. Wouldn't want to judge my own performance there, though!

Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 13/11/2023 at 09:54:41
I would guess you were a proper nark, Brent!!!

In my own mirror, graceful and classy.

I actually didn't like heading the ball. I always tried to read ahead and pick the ball up and play on the floor.

Man Utd home?

I don't think we're starting.

Alan J Thompson
29 Posted 13/11/2023 at 09:55:56
Should we be giving thanks to Dele Alli for explaining to the Manager that the other players hadn't understood what he had been telling them?

Perhaps next week he might mention set pieces.

Kevin O'Regan
30 Posted 13/11/2023 at 10:17:29
I suppose coming from where we have been, this is starting to look pretty solid and quite positive. Of course we still have to tighten up a bit and stop making silly mistakes – but at the same time, if you risk something (which we are finally starting to do) then sometimes it will backfire.

However, what I did notice both last week and also this week is that there is a cheeky positivity about some of those goals – especially from those you least expect to be scoring them... it's the sense of "I can do this – so what the hell!"

It's a burst of energy and positivity which is very refreshing and takes the pressure off the strikers to see the whole team contributing. Well done, Mick and Gana.

Finally some light, finally some goals, finally some stability and much less fear going forward. Long way to go but, just like the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, the foundations are firm and stable.

Lee Courtliff
31 Posted 13/11/2023 at 10:48:53
I'm happy to admit that Dyche is proving me wrong so far, and I was a big critic of his.

I'm still not a fan of this "playing without the ball" or his bizarre attitude towards substitutions but overall he's doing exactly what we need after 2 seasons of near disaster.

Well done to all concerned.

Jimmy Salt
32 Posted 13/11/2023 at 11:25:22
As people have mentioned above, mistakes happen. The most significant for me being Tarkowski ducking under the ball for their equaliser. That levelled the game and put us on the back foot.

But we recovered and, as also mentioned above, Tarkowski is our best centre-back. Jarrad will be a good player, he may even be great. But even if he is, he will still make mistakes.

Pete Clarke
33 Posted 13/11/2023 at 12:04:30
Frank at 21.

Very sensible post and one we should all take note of because it's all too recent that we were getting beat by relegation candidates at home.

I do like the fact that we are now capable of getting goals from midfield and defence. We play a certain way under Dyche that is sometimes very painful to watch because we have very little controlled possession but, at the same time, we can create a few chances on the break with McNeil and Harrison working hard. That's down to Dyche.

December is definitely going to be a big test against teams who could put us to the sword with 80% possession.

Beating Palace was brilliant and especially with Gueye and Doucouré finally showing that they do indeed have a little something else in their skill set other than running.

Over the past few seasons if we'd lost the ball in that attack we would have conceded a goal from the opposition counter.

Branthwaite has been quality of late but I thought he had a poor first half with his clearances, positioning and allowing the striker to get goalside of him as well as putting his foot in for two risky challenges. I noticed Tarkowski telling him what to do which shows good leadership. Gladly it wasn't Branthwaite who made that terrible error for their second equalizer otherwise he'd have been dropped.

I didn't want Young anywhere near this club but I think he had a good game on Saturday and his experience was telling. Mykolenko is finally coming of age as a left-back and is pairing nicely with McNeil who himself is now a big part of the team in attack and defence.

I thought Calvert-Lewin was poor on Saturday despite the running. His challenges for aerial duels were amateurish and I would like to see a bit more of Beto. He needs a goal soon though to put the pressure on.

As Frank said. Green shoots of recovery and great team spirit are now showing and I'm looking forward to taking on the team I hate most in our next game.
Brent Stephens
34 Posted 13/11/2023 at 13:28:25
Danny #29 – always got a response, worked a treat.

I'll take my boots for the Man Utd game but won't hold my breath.

Dale Self
35 Posted 13/11/2023 at 14:03:47
Paul 13,

No, the easiest position is the uninformed one many of Dyche's critics take up. Get your shinpads on.

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 13/11/2023 at 14:19:58
When Tarkowski ducked, I read that as the centre half saying to his keeper that, we are doing our job, so why don't you come and do us a favour, catch the ball and relieve the pressure for a little bit?

In the heat of the battle, it looks like the team are starting to trust each other, and although it sometimes goes wrong, hopefully next time they get it right between them, and it takes us to the next level at defending as a team.

Rob Halligan
37 Posted 13/11/2023 at 14:39:35
Tony, am I reading that right, in that you're saying Tarkowski just left the ball, assuming Pickford would come and collect it?

Quite shocked if you are, as you, probably more than anyone, knows that communication between players is a vital part of the game. There would have had to have been a shout by Pickford of “Keepers”, or “Away”, and if there was neither, then Tarkowski should have taken the only option available to him, by heading the ball away.

If there was no shout by Pickford, then that is clearly an error on his behalf, but also an error by Tarkowski, assuming Pickford would come and collect. A vital lesson learned, and fortunately we went and got the winner a few minutes later.

Dave Cashen
38 Posted 13/11/2023 at 15:18:15
I think Tarkowski's lung bursting efforts have made him a firm favourite with many of our fans. So much so. He gets away with murder. Clumsy in possessiom, poor passer of the ball. His last ditch tack!es are treated as heroic, but they are near!y always a result of his inability to see danger in its infancy.

I've seen Dyche blamed for the second Palace equaliser. I've even seen Branthwaite and Pickford blamed.

Make no mistake. This was another Howler from JT. He very nearly cost us three points.

There seems to be a few center halves posting on this thread. I would like to think they would all have apologised to their team mates if they had handed such an easy goal to the opposition. Whatever level they played at.

Eze is a beautifully balanced footballer. He also has the quickest feet. More experience players than Branthwaite will be drawn Into making challenges when he is playing like that.

I find it bemusing to see some are prepared to criticise Branthwaite, While Tarkowski is given a passage.

One of our central partnership committed a forced error in the face of clear danger. The other made an error which would shame a semi sober Sunday league player.

Dale Self
39 Posted 13/11/2023 at 15:31:35
Tarkowski's lapse could be from some new instruction for Pickford to start claiming more balls around the 6-yard area. We don't know but it looked like a misunderstanding more than an outright error of judgement.

Bottom line: we had two mistakes from usually reliable players gift Palace two goals and we found a way to respond. An affordable lesson for both, possibly three if Pickford was in any way culpable.

Mark Murphy
40 Posted 13/11/2023 at 15:57:05
Very harsh that, Dave – Tarkowski has been very good for us this season.

However, he definitely should have dealt with that Palace equaliser. If in doubt, clear it out, was our defensive mantra, and no, I wasn't a centre-back.

At the same time, Pickford should be claiming those. I used to tell my keeper “If I'm in the way, clear me out too!”. And they always did very happily…

Barry Hesketh
41 Posted 13/11/2023 at 15:59:02
One of the reasons that Tarkowski has become a firm favourite with the fans is because he's fully committed to the cause and has cleared many a ball via his head, and blocked shots left, right and centre. He never ever hides and is in the process of marshaling the back four and coaching his young team-mate. He made a mistake on Saturday, he learns, we move on.

He's not a top, top centre-half and why should we expect him to be? Same as the rest of our current squad, few of them are the creme-de-la-creme, but on Saturday and for most of this season they are all giving 100% effort and commitment to help Everton gain points.

That's what we all wanted to see from this squad at the start of this season, and despite the poor start, the team has gained confidence and won a few good points on the road.

Will we see most of our players make a mistake in future games, you can bet your life on it, will it be because they didn't care? I don't believe so.

All players are open to be criticised and when they make mistakes it's fair to point out where they went wrong, but to denigrate the overall ability of a player because he doesn't suit somebody's minds-eye view of what an Everton player should be able to do is to fail to understand where we are at as a club and it sets an expectation above the ability of most of the current squad.

I'm all for demanding better, and keeping the standards high and not accepting anything below what our players are capable of, but we must remember that we have been down in the lower reaches of the league for quite some time, not for one year but for many.

If this season, we get a team that works its socks off and tries to do its best in every game, we really should be pleased with that, not necessarily satisfied but pleased.

We also have to realise that in our next few fixtures at Goodison we are the underdogs and as a crowd we should react to that and support the players out on the pitch to help them perform and give maximum effort.

Criticising players for what they can't do, is easy and serves no purpose, praising them and getting behind them for what they do on the pitch, is far more productive, even if at times, if might prove difficult.

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 13/11/2023 at 16:17:45
Defenders Union alert.

Tarkowski is practically our captain.

The keeper usually makes the shout.

If you don't get the shout, you clear. If you get the the shout, you get out of the way and leave it. There was clearly a miscommunication.

Tarkowski has been great for us and is a good mentor for Branthwaite.

I like how he gets in the face of the opposition and just smiles or laughs at them.

Basically piss off gobshites.

Jay Harris
43 Posted 13/11/2023 at 16:34:27
Dyche, in his comments seemed to suggest that Tarkowski got a shout. Didn't make it clear by whom though.
Tony Abrahams
44 Posted 13/11/2023 at 17:17:11
Communication is massive Rob, because a lack of communication usually results in misunderstandings like we witnessed on Saturday.

I’m not saying I’m right, especially if the manager allegedly said Tarkowski heard a shout, but I am saying that when a team is under the cosh and defending for their lives, then sometimes defenders expect their keeper to come and help them out, by collecting things like that little looping header, that could have easily been Pickford’s, but our goalkeeper doesn’t play on the front foot enough, imo, and something that was easily avoidable resulted in a Palace goal.

I hope it’s sorted out because as I said earlier, I believe that trust is absolutely massive, and the more you can trust your teammates, then the better things become for everyone.

Rob Halligan
45 Posted 13/11/2023 at 17:32:24
I've just had another look at the Palace second goal.

As the goalkeeper, Pickford can see everything that's in front of him, including Edouard who scored the goal. As the ball comes in and Tarkowski ducks, there is no movement whatsoever by Pickford, and Edouard runs past Tarkowski to fire home.

Now if it's Pickford who's shouted, he would, or at least should, have come and collected the ball. But he didn't, he made no movement at all.

So has the shout come from Edouard? I guess it wouldn't be the first time an opponent has tried something like this to try and gain an advantage.

Mark Murphy
46 Posted 13/11/2023 at 17:43:11
In the commentary on MotD, Rob, the pundit remarked that Eduard is known for his Pickford mimicry.

I thought it was a joke at the time but maybe there was something in that?

The general consensus around my spec was that Pickford must've called and should have collected it. It doesn't fully excuse Tarkowski but I don't see Pickford as blameless either.

Tony Abrahams
47 Posted 13/11/2023 at 17:46:23
I thought Jonathan said something interesting on this thread about how referees can usually tell by a defender's reaction, if they feel hard done by, Rob, but I honestly think he was talking about different times?

Cheating has become so acceptable now that a lot of players don't even argue because they know they have simply been outfoxed by their clever cheating opponent. But I'm sure Pickford and Tarkowski especially, would have gone absolutely menta if they had been kidded by the Palace player in this incident.

Dave Cashen
48 Posted 13/11/2023 at 18:11:28
Is it really harsh, Mark?

As I say in my first post, he has generally got away with the hammering other players get. Happens all the time. Can you imagine this place if that was Michael Keane or Young or Gana?

Sorry, if we are going to criticise inexperienced players like Branthwaite for their perceived errors, We shouldn't be making excuses for the experienced guy who makes an absolute howler.

I don't buy the lack of communication theory. Any defender worth his salt would have cleared that ball and asked questions later.

It does baffle me when some demand football on the front foot whilst stoutly defending the main reason we don't play it.

Jeff Armstrong
49 Posted 13/11/2023 at 18:11:52
Danny 42,

I thought Tarkowski was, officially, our captain, whilst Seamus is out.

Rob Halligan
50 Posted 13/11/2023 at 18:31:35
Mark, if Tarkowski can’t distinguish between a broad Geordie accent, and a French accent, then he needs a hearing test! 😁😁😁
Brent Stephens
51 Posted 13/11/2023 at 19:18:38

"If Tarkowski can't distinguish between a broad Geordie accent, and a French accent, then he needs a hearing test".

Rob, I can distinguish between the two accents but I can't understand a bloody word either the Geordies or the French say.

Neil Cremin
52 Posted 13/11/2023 at 19:25:45
Seems like Saint Pickford is being absolved of all blame here.
It is clear Tarkowski got a call, the question is from whom?

I've always said, even going back to the day Pickford clattered into Ashley Williams in his first season, that Pickford is a great shot-stopper, but is useless supporting his centre-halves by commanding the 6-yard box. Hence the vulnerability to set pieces.

Everything is laid on the centre-halves but what about a commanding keeper???

Mark Murphy
53 Posted 13/11/2023 at 20:10:37
Dave, I'm not one of those trashing Branthwaite or even Keane. I don't blame any of our players for the odd brain fart – if they were perfect or even very good, they'd be out of our reach.

Personally I believe Tarkowski is having a good season and, for me and many others, he's a major part of this team and the spine to build on. I think his and Branthwaite's growing understanding is a strength.

Yes, he shouldn't have ducked, I've agreed that. But overall he's been solid and decent and yes, I think you're being harsh on him.

Mark Murphy
54 Posted 13/11/2023 at 20:12:26
"If Tarkowski can't distinguish between a broad Geordie accent, and a French accent, then he needs a hearing test".

What? With those ears??? He looks like Martin Clunes!!

Dave Abrahams
55 Posted 13/11/2023 at 20:23:10
I don't think Pickford made that call, he's usually very quiet until he saves the ball or it goes out of play then he never fuckin' shuts up ranting and raving over God knows what.

Then he takes ages before he decides whether to play it small to one of his defenders or waves them away and kicks it up the field or out of play a lot of the time.

Dave Abrahams
56 Posted 13/11/2023 at 20:29:33
Mark (54),

Or King Charles who has got permission to shit in the street with the size of his ears!

Graham Mockford
57 Posted 13/11/2023 at 20:50:35
I love Tarkowski but I find the argument weird. Pickford is at fault for not making the shout?

If he didn't make a shout then surely you don't duck out of the header.

He dropped a bollock, it happens. He has enough credit in the bank.

Mark Murphy
58 Posted 13/11/2023 at 21:21:46
Talking of whom, Dave, I share something with Charlie that I'm very exited about right now….
Dave Cashen
59 Posted 14/11/2023 at 09:06:08

My post about criticism of Branthwaite was not aimed at you. It was an observation. Many have pointed fingers at him whilst not even commenting on Tarkowski's error. I felt the latter was the greater mistake.

Tarkowski is not without his qualities. He is a determined tower of strength. If there is a better backs-to-the-wall defender in world football at the moment, I haven't seen him.

Unfortunately for Tarks he has never attracted attention from the top clubs who want to dominate possession. Theres a good reason for that. If you want to boss the game, a defender who is not comfortable on the ball and sits deep doesn't start for you.

For me. Those extolling his virtues whilst complaining about the team surrendering territory and possession are answering their own argument.

Our Progression to being a team which dominates the football can, for me at least. wait. We have more pressing matters. We desperately need to win a trophy. That's something I firmly believe we will put right on the 26th of February.

I believe the form of James Tarkowski will be pivotal in our quest.

Danny O’Neill
60 Posted 14/11/2023 at 09:19:00
I think that is a fair assessment Dave Cashen.
Geoff Lambert
61 Posted 14/11/2023 at 09:25:35
Rob #50 It might be that Jordan is a mackam not a geordie. A bit like calling us mancs.
Mark Murphy
62 Posted 14/11/2023 at 10:18:49
Yes, Dave, I didnt think the bit about Branthwaite was aimed at me. But you did ask me if you were being harsh – which is the bit I was alluding to.

You said, "He gets away with murder. Clumsy in possession, poor passer of the ball. His last ditch tackles are treated as heroic, but they are near!y always a result of his inability to see danger in its infancy."

I think that is harsh, but it's opinions.

As Danny says, your more recent assessment is fair enough - especially the bit about him not attracting attention from the top clubs, which was also my point. He's the best we can get at the moment – if he was better he'd be out of our reach.

So I accept his odd mistake and yes, Saturday was his mistake whatever the circumstances, he shouldn't have ducked. (I still prefer him to top club McGuire tho...)

Dave Abrahams
63 Posted 14/11/2023 at 10:25:22
Dave (59),

Being honest, Jagielka was far from comfortable with the ball. Dave Watson was another but they both did very good jobs for Everton, over a longer period than Tarkowski.

Unfortunately, he is getting on a bit but is doing a very good job now and I'm more than happy we have him bolstering up our defence, and helping at the other end as well.

Danny O’Neill
64 Posted 14/11/2023 at 10:46:40
Dave Abrahams,

I used to constantly argue with my youngest brother (17 years my junior) about Jagielka. One of his idols. I used quote the Jagielka clip.

Then again, in my youth, I was in the camp that was mortified when we replaced Derek Mountfield with Dave Watson. I think I was only about 14.

In hindsight, Watson and Jagielka were solid if not classy defenders. I think Tarkowski falls into that category.

Dave Abrahams
65 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:05:46
Danny (64),

True enough, and I forgot to mention Jagielka and Watson both got a few caps for England, mind you so did Michael Keane and McGuire is still getting them!

Tony Abrahams
66 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:13:55
After poaching Michael Keane from the Republic of Ireland, the player has gone onto play twelve times for his country of birth and score one goal.
Barry Hesketh
67 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:15:39
As one of those who advocates Everton being a bit more progressive, particularly at Goodison, it doesn't mean that I fail to see the limitations of the skill-set amongst our team. If people are happy to see Everton regularly sit back and soak up the pressure from the visitors at Goodison, fine, if it manages to get points on the board, again fine.

It's not about me or anybody else being right or wrong, it's only an opinion, but I do know what I'd prefer to watch and it isn't seeing Everton doing a backs-to-the-wall job every other home match.

My argument will always be that if your team is not brave enough with the ball, and constantly relies on defenders and defensive football over the whole season, you will likely drop as many points as you might gain. You may also fail to see any improvement of the team's ball retention because the team will generally have far less of it than some of us would wish to see.

Pragmatic versus progressive will always be the argument, right now it would seem that pragmatic is the correct choice, but at some point progressive will have to come into view, both types require the same amount of concentration, commitment and work ethic from the players.

One style is easier to watch from a fans point of view and perhaps one style is easier for the players to implement because it's a little less challenging for them.

Dave Abrahams
68 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:30:50
Barry (67), progressive for me too,, and although I understand the way we play at the moment it is nauseating to see professional footballers just hoof the ball away from the danger zones without any composure or thought about what they are doing.

I saw a young Michael Ball in the do or die relegation battle versus Coventry take the ball calmly out of defence and hammer it high into the stands to gain a few seconds and let the team regroup, not bang it straight down the field and put Coventry immediately on the attack again.

He was a young lad thinking, not a lot to ask or to put into operation is it? Or better still bring the ball out of defence calmly, I saw Jonjoe Kenny do it at Anfield in the build-up to a goal, Onana did it at WHU a couple of weeks ago.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:33:04
Good post ,Barry, because there's enough talking points in what you have just wrote to start a whole new discussion imo, mate.

Some people have got more patience than others, and I'm sure most people would love to see Everton playing beautiful football, but right now I think that Sean Dyche, is doing a very good job, and especially because he seems to be instilling things that Everton have lacked for years.

I remember reading Dyche saying that it would do him no good fighting against people's opinions of him, especially because most of them would have already had a pre-conceived idea about his style of management,

After he has cleaned up the almighty mess he inherited the day he took the Everton job, he will definitely have to go and show people that he has got quite a few feathers in his cap; otherwise, his baldy head won't be able to cope with the cold winds around Bramley-Moore Dock!

Christine Foster
70 Posted 14/11/2023 at 11:57:36
Right from Go, I thought Dyche was the man to clear up the mess and bring stability to the club. He is well on track to finish mid-table.

All well and good, but I also said that as soon as we have safety, many of the previously happy supporters will not be praising the style of play, demanding change of style or change of manager, which at some point will be his downfall.

We are slowly and surely coming out of a mess, but soon aspirations and expectations will demand more. New owners' aspirations too... who knows where their head is? I just cannot see Dyche in the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, and that's a shame.

Robert Tressell
71 Posted 14/11/2023 at 12:21:21
Christine # 70, I would expect 777 see Dyche and Thelwell as a good fit for a low spending player development led club as we will almost certainly be under their watch.

As for the fans, you're right. There will be (as there already is) a lot of criticism for style of play and 'failure' to get us competing for top 6 finishes.

However there's not much Dyche (or indeed anyone else) can do without the same level of investment as the top 8 clubs we're currently well adrift of financially.

Dave Abrahams
72 Posted 14/11/2023 at 12:34:44
Christine (70) and Robert (71),

Some fans can be happy with Dyche and not asking to change his style of playing but asking him to alter it slightly like he does when the other team equalise or go ahead.

He then starts attacking more and changes from being ultra defensive and start letting the other team we know how to attack, not going mad just trying to put the ball in the opposition net!

Dave Abrahams
73 Posted 14/11/2023 at 12:42:06
Just to add to my post @ (72), any fan who is expecting a Top 6 finish or even a top half finish is definitely asking too much.

But asking for safety instead of fretting and worrying is only asking a fair request, that's all I ask of this manager he's done enough to get us where we are. Just attack a bit more for now will do.

Danny O’Neill
74 Posted 14/11/2023 at 12:47:14
Progressive Barry.

Confidence on the ball.

I don't need to add any more to your post. I'm a purist even though I was a defender!

Dale Self
75 Posted 14/11/2023 at 12:48:01
I don’t think we are changing a damn thing in the middle, that’s middle, of an unbeaten streak. UTFT!
Dale Self
76 Posted 14/11/2023 at 13:02:16
I hope we aren’t going to Frank this up by asking players to play a way they are not comfortable just because it is easier on the eyes. Let them develop confidence finding ways to win. There is no singular prescription. Once they can impose their game on stronger opponents then take off the reins and see what can be done for the art of football. Until then keep taking care of business, literally.
Pete Clarke
77 Posted 14/11/2023 at 13:11:25
Whether what we are watching is all that Dyche can offer we may only find out once safety is secured but right now we are basically doing our relegation-fighting football early in the season to get points on the board.

I detest us not being able to have good control of the ball but it makes it a lot easier to swallow when we win. That win on Saturday was really crucial and even a draw may have left us all talking about it and Sean Dyche in a very different tone.

I've got no nails left so I'm glad there's an international break before we play the other red shite.
Dave Cashen
78 Posted 14/11/2023 at 14:32:56

You're not wrong, but are you not comparing apple's to oranges mate?

When Dave Watson played, possession stats didn't exist. He was also surrounded by people who could play. His job was much easier than Tarkowski's. Win the ball, give it to Reidy or Bracewell. He also had two exceptionally talented wide men as options.

I believe Harrison is possibly as good without the ball as Tricky Trev. I also think McNeil is better than Sheedy was when we are not in possession. However, you certainly won't need me to tell you that there was massive gulf between these two sets of wide men when we had the ball.

I think Jagielka was a fairer comparison, but was our football any better then? Even with talented players like Baines, Pienaar and Arteta. Moyes regularly served up percentage football. It drove me to distraction. Jagielka was often slaughtered for just "hoofing it".

I won't get involved in the non-argument about what fans prefer (progressive v pragmatic football) because I don't think there is a fan of football who would prefer the latter.

I and many others believe Dyche is working with the tools at his disposal. Tarkowski is not the only player who is uncomfortable with the ball. Most of this team give it up far too cheaply.

Dyche has found a way of making us look like a unit. Our football may not be sexy, but there is clear evidence to suggest we are attacking in greater numbers when we do get the ball.

Can he take us to the next level? I don't know enough about the guy to comment on that. That's why I keep badgering your Tony.

Danny O’Neill
79 Posted 14/11/2023 at 14:58:12
Dave Cashen.

Don't start me on Reid and Bracewell or I'll be here all day and night with the dogs listening to me.

McNeil is good and has a great delivery on him.

But wash your mouth out.


Dave Abrahams
80 Posted 14/11/2023 at 15:58:12
Dave (78), yes Dave Watson definitely played in a better team than Tarkowski and in a slower tempo of football than today’s, I don’t think either of them thought about stats, they were team players and the team came first, same as Jagielka,although Jags was pretty hopeless passing the ball and it really showed when Moyes played him in central midfield, he was a better goalie than he was a midfielder, I think it might be harder for Tarkowski today playing in a weaker squad that is only now getting some semblance of teamwork and players beginning to understand what is required of them,I don’t have to tell you Dave how much we will miss Tarkowski if he is injured or suspended.
Robert Tressell
81 Posted 14/11/2023 at 17:52:03
Dave #72, absolutely.

I'm one of the fans who won't be content if we don't develop a more effective style of play with the ball. Just as I was with long spells of shocking football under Moyes (and Royle and Ancelotti and everyone else).

But I will accept that it's the club's responsibility (through spending and / or player development) to deliver better players to the manager, to enable that better football.

Hard to be too critical of Dyche after inheriting a crap squad and one window where we were outspent net by Luton.

Danny O’Neill
82 Posted 14/11/2023 at 17:55:48
I remember when we signed Jagielka as a central defender come holding midfielder, Dave. That didn't last long. It probably worked for Sheffield United in the Championship but became quickly apparent it wouldn't in the top tier.

I remember a game at Goodison years ago. I think it was against Norwich in the FA Cup. If I recall correctly, we came out for the second half and tried Stubbs in midfield.

I think it lasted about 5 minutes!

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