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Venue: Molineux, Birmingham
Premier League
Saturday 30 December 2023; 3:00pm
3 0
Kilman 25', Cunha 53'
Dawson 61'
HT: 1 - 0 
Attendance: 31,639
Fixture 20
Referee: Thomas Bramall

Match Reports
2023-24 Reports Index
« Previous Man City (H)
» Next Crystal Palace (A)
  Toti (Traore 85')
  Semedo (Doherty 84')
  Joao Gomes (Traore 85')
  Doyle booked
  Ait-Nouri booked (H Beuno 73')
  Sarabia (Bellagarde 80')
  Cunha (Neto 80')
  Subs not used
  S Bueno

  Tarkowski booked
  Keane (A Gomes 63)
  Patterson booked (Coleman 63')
  McNeil booked (Danjuma 74')
  Calvert-Lewin (Beto 74')
  Subs not used
  Alli (injured)
  Doucouré (injured)
  Gueye (injured)
  Young (injured)
  Maupay (loan)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Aston Villa 3-2 Burnley
C Palace 3-1 Brentford
Luton 2-3 Chelsea
Man City 2-0 Sheff United
Nott'm Forest 2-1 Man United
Wolves 3-0 Everton
Fulham 2-1 Arsenal
Tottenham 3-1 Bournemouth
Liverpool 4-2 Newcastle
West Ham - Brighton

Match Report

Everton served up their worst performance since their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa back in August as they were soundly beaten by Wolves at Molineux to end the year with their fourth successive defeat in all competitions.

Max Kilman had scrambled home the opener in the 25th minute but while the Blues were fortunate to only be 1-0 at half-time, Sean Dyche delayed making any changes to a demonstrably weak 3-5-2 formation until the hosts had extended their lead to 3-0 and the game was irretrievably lost.

Dwight McNeil rattled the woodwork with 22 minutes left but Everton, so positive in defeat at Tottenham a week ago, were mostly atrocious on the day and failed to register a single effort on target in the 90-plus minutes.

With Abdoulaye Doucouré still out injured and Idrissa Gueye also ruled out, Dyche had opted for a five-man defence that included Michael Keane but involved the 30-year-old playing in the middle and James Tarkowski operating uncomfortably on the right of a central three.

Jack Harrison was handed the task of playing off Dominic Calvert-Lewin in Doucouré's absence but Everton looked jaded and disjointed from the first whistle. Wolves were sharper, quicker and made all the early running, with Hwang Hee-Chan once again proving to be a thorn in the Toffees' side.

The South Korean was played into oceans of space in only the second minute after Amadou Onana had inexplicably passed straight to Kilman at the other end but he had cut inside and tried to find Matheus Cunha in the six-yard box, Jarrad Branthwaite made a crucial block.

The visitors were caught on the break again four minutes later when James Garner made a mess of trying to control the ball in midfield and Hwang was sent away again but Jordan Pickford did enough to close him down and the chance was wasted.

Cunha bent a shot inches wide from 25 yards on the quarter-hour mark while Everton struggled to put anything meaningful together in their attacking third until McNeil blazed a speculative effort over from outside the area.

Time and again, Dyche's side failed to find another grey jersey with a pass or overhit their throughballs; their hosts, meanwhile, were crisp and incisive by comparison.

Wolves's first would come following a corner, though, when Everton failed to adequately clear their lines and Nelson Semedo was left with time to whip the ball across goal. Craig Dawson was denied well by Pickford from point-blank range but Kilman was quickest to the loose ball and stabbed it home.

Calvert-Lewin had a chance to register an almost immediate reply when McNeil threaded a pass in behind the defence but the striker slid his shot across goal and wide as Jose Sa rushed off his line to close the angle.

Semedo flashed another delivery into the six-yard box that just eluded Sarabia with half an hour gone and although the Blues had the better of the closing stages of the first period, they couldn't unduly trouble the keeper.

Onana split the defence with a delicious pass for Calvert-Lewin who was flagged offside but not before he had again failed to find the target with just Sa to beat.

The game was crying out for a change in system and personnel from Dyche but he was made to pay for his inaction just eight minutes into the second half.

Sarabia cut in from the right touchline and split the Everton defence with a pass to Hwang who accelerated past the lumbering Keane and crossed low where Cunha had the simple task of tapping in from close range to make it 2-0.

It probably should have been 3-0 on the hour mark when a horrendous error by Tarkowski gifted Hwang with a chance but Pickford denied him with a superb one-handed save.

That, however, merely delayed the inevitable. Two minutes after that, Dawson was left unmarked in the box following a set-piece and when the ball was sent back in, the defender stuck out a leg and diverted it past Pickford to effectively kill the contest.

Dyche finally responded by withdrawing Nathan Patterson and Keane in favour of Seamus Coleman and André Gomes and though McNeil hammered a spinning effort off the post, the real chances kept falling the way of the hosts.

Wolves split the Everton defence again with a rapier-like passing move but Gomes's shot was parried and gathered by Pickford before Cunha splut the visitors' back line for Hwang but the England keeper foiled him once more.

Both Hwang and substitute Pedro Neto would have the ball in the net in the closing stages, the second occasion coming from yet more unprofessional play by Pickford trying to play out from the back, but both goals were ruled out for offside while Harrison wasted a chance for a consolation in stoppage time by screwing his shot across goal.

If the defeat to Manchester City in midweek was one to quickly forget and move on, this heavy loss and the abject display that accompanied it should provide plenty of food for thought and material for analysis for Dyche and his coaching staff.

A heavy December schedule has taken its toll on a core group of players who have carried its burden and it showed in this leggy and tired display.

As has been the case too often this season, Everton were wasteful with the ball, executed poorly in the final third and looked woefully ill-at-ease with a five-man defence.

On other occasions, the presence of Doucouré and sheer effort and determination has made the difference and allowed the team to pick up some valuable wins away from home. Without the Frenchman, the Toffees look lost, have failed to win when he isn't in the side and the manager has yet to find an effective way of coping in his absence.

The result leaves Everton sitting just a place and a point above the relegation zone heading into the New Year with an unforgiving sequence of four Premier League matches against Villa, Fulham, Tottenham and City to come after the tricky FA Cup tie away to Crystal Palace next Thursday. 

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton are at Molineux to take on Wolves for their final game of 2023.

Doucocure and Gueye are still out injured. Sean Dyche makes two changes, with Keane and Calvert-Lewin returning to the starting line-up at the expense of Gomes and Beto.

Everton got things going in their silver strip and looked to play up but Wolves got in behind and they almost scored. Everton struggled to retain possession as it became something of a midfield ding-dong but Everton were caught out from their own attacking free-kick, Wolves on a counter through Hwang that they should have done more from with Everton all over the place, but somehow they kept the ball out. 

Harrison put in a decent ball where Calvert-Lewin should have been but wasn't. Harrison again looked to put one in but Everton's striker was still ambling forward, well behind the play. When Tarkowski did play a nice ball to him, he could not control it.   

Wolves got forward again and Cunha had a pop, just wide of Pickford's goal. Mykolenko did well to stop a cross but Everton were really struggling to keep the ball. Some great work from McNeil ended with an overhit pass in for Sa to collect. 

Mykolenko was very lucky not to be penalized for a silly drag on Semedo's arm when the ball was going out of play. Calvert-Lewin did well to collect a forward ball and play it in for McNeil to shoot high and wide of the angle. 

Patterson was carded for a clumsy foul on Gomes. Branthwaite had to defend at the expense of a corner that went behind off Tarkowski, who headed the next one away but it came right back in and the initial shot parried by Pickford but  was scrambled in by Kilman despite Branthwaite's and Tarkowski's efforts to block it on the line.  

McNeil did well to feed a perfect ball forward for Calvert-Lewin, who only had to dink it over the advancing Sa but his touch was poor and the shot bobbled across goal and wide. 

At the other end, very quick play by Wolves created another guilt-edged opportunity but Sarabia couldn't make contact. McNeil tried to release Harrison down the right but Semedo clearly cheated him with a trailing leg to win a free-kick. 

Onana had maybe twisted his ankle and went down for a second time, needing treatment before he came back on.  A poor backpass from Onana set up Hwang to give Tarkowski a torrid time, winning a free-kick that was eventually cleared.  

Ait Nouri was booked for delaying an Everton throw-in. Calvert-Lewin did well to intercept a strong forward ball but played the pass to Harrison all wrong. 

Another long ball forward to the speedy Hwang produced an unorthodox clearance from Pickford. Hwang was released again down the left but Pickford gathered it.  

Onana released Calvert-Lewin with a lovely through-ball but the striker's first touch was all wrong and Sa was able to get a hand on the ball before the Everton forward took a shot before his run was deemed offside.

Everton won a corner but it was overhit and eventually went behind for a goal-kick. A collision between Dawson and Calvert-Lewin led to Doyle and McNeil getting involved in a Japanese wrestling tussle, both booked before a rather unsatisfactory half for Everton was brought to an end. 

Everton worked the ball around well from the restart but it broke down and Semedo crossed just wide of the far post. Everton got the ball forward but Harrison's shot was way off, and Tarkwoski's shot was blocked by Dawson's nose. 

The action returned to the Everton area where a couple of shots needed blocking. But Hwang got through again and was able to drive the ball beyond Pickford to the far post where Cunha had outrun two Everton markers to bundle the ball in. 

Everton now had a mountain to climb with Dyche seemingly unwilling to make any changes just yet. It needed an Everton response but Wolves were now full of it and stepping in to pick up balls the Everton players expected to roll for them. 

Somehow, Tarkowski and Keane gifted the ball to Hwang who this time shot at goal himself, Pickford touching it onto the post for a corner. It looked like that had been cleared but a weak shot in and Dawson waved a foot at it to divert it past Pickford for a real stinker. 

Finally time for a few changes after the horse was galloping away into the distance… Coleman and Gomes on for Patterson and Keane. But Everton still could not make much impression until Gomes fed Calvert-Lewin for a neat feed to McNeil who fired a screamer onto the top of the Wolves post. 

Everton upped their game a little and some god play fed McNeil for a cross that someone should have been in place to tap home but wasn't. Wolves countered and should have had a fourth but for a fine one-handed save by Pickford.

But Everton were sliced open again and Hwang curled a beautiful finish around Pickford,... but he had made his run from an offside position. Dyche seemed surprised at the effect his changes had finally made, bringing on Beto and Danjuma for Calvert-Lewin and McNeil.

But the net result was that Everton were even more open to the Wolves counter, bringing everyone back for a corner when Sarabia's shot had been deflected behind. 

Still Everton played up as if they could get something from this game, but Mykoleno's cross was meat and drink for Sa to collect. And the speedy Wolves runners came so close to scoring again on the counter, with Everton backpedalling once again. 

Everton came forward again and won a corner but it was cleared by the first defender. More Wolves changes pretty much killed the game.  Everton huffed and puffed until they lost the ball and Wolves scampered forward again, Neto going for glory with his wild strike before an astounding 9 minutes were added on. 

Everton got themselves in trouble again with Coleman getting caught and Pickford passing out to a Wolves player. But the fine finish by Neto was ruled out for offside. 

And so ended a really disappointing performance for Everton, who were perhaps missing Doucoure and Gueye more than they should be? 

Wolves: Jose Sa, Kilman, Dawson, Gomes (85' Traore), Nelson Semedo (85' Doherty), Joao Gomes, Doyle [Y:45+3'], Ait Nouri [Y:43'], Hwang, Sarabia (80' Bellegarde), Matheus Cunha (80' Pedro Neto). 

Subs not Used: Santiago Bueno, Hugo Bueno, Kalajdzic, Bentley, Hodge.

Everton: Pickford, Keane (63' Gomes), Tarkowski [Y:66'], Branthwaite, Patterson [Y:23'] (63' Coleman), Onana, Garner, Mykolenko, Harrison, McNeil [Y:45+3'] (74' Danjuma), Calvert-Lewin (74' Beto).

Subs not Used: Virginia, Godfrey, Chermiti, Hunt, Dobbin.


Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton round out 2023 with a trip to the West Midlands to face Wolves, hoping to arrest a two-game losing streak that has left them back in the thick of the relegation dogfight.

In fact, victory for Luton town over Chelsea in the lunchtime kickoff would see the Blues begin their match in the bottom three thanks to the 10-point deduction handed down by the Premier League and the Hatters’ recent uptick in form.

Rob Edwards’s team have won three of their last six games and sit just a point below Everton in the table with a game in hand coming into the final weekend of the calendar year.

Meanwhile, of course, Sean Dyche’s men have lost their last two matches, against Tottenham and Manchester City, although they will feel they deserved a lot more than a return of zero points from their fixtures either side of Christmas.

The Spurs game was additionally costly in terms of the loss to injury of Idrissa Gueye, who was replaced by André Gomes in 2-1 defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and missed the clash with City. He won’t recover in time for the trip to Molineux and will likely be deputised again by Gomes who was excellent as a substitute in the former game but had a more up-and-down performance in midweek before he was withdrawn in the second half.

Ashley Young and Seamus Coleman won’t be ready for this one either and while Dyche described Abdoulaye Doucouré as “touch-and-go” to face Wolves, it would be a surprise if he is risked.

That will probably mean James Garner operating behind the striker, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin expected to be rotated back in with Beto dropping back to the bench.

Wolves will be without midfielder Jonny but defender Craig Dawson has passed a fitness test and striker Hwang Hee-Chan, who has made a habit of scoring in this fixture since signing for Wolves, has also been given the green light despite being substituted with a back injury in the 4-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday.

Mario Lemina, who scored the opener in that win over the Bees, looks set to miss out after he returned to France to attend to a family matter.

Everton's away form over the past few weeks suggests that they should travel with confidence that they can get something from this game even if Wolves's recent record of three wins and a draw from their last five games makes this another tricky fixture for the Toffees.

Dyche has instilled a never-say-die attitude in his players, though, and with the right application, defensive solidity and execution in the final third, they have every chance of coming away with all three points.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 30 December, 2023
Referee: Tom Bramall
VAR: Michael Oliver
Last Time: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 - 1 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Onana, Gomes, Harrison, McNeil, Garner, Calvert-Lewin 

Lyndon Lloyd

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