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Venue: Goodison Park
Premier League
Saturday 26 August 2023; 3:00pm
0 1
Half Time: 0 - 0 
Kalajdzic 87'
Attendance: 38,851
Fixture 3
Referee: Craig Pawson

Match Reports
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  Branthwaite booked
  Gueye (Keane 90'+2)
  Garner booked
  Dobbin (Chermiti 66' booked)
  Danjuma (Cannon 90'+1)
  Subs not used
  Alli (injured)
  Calvert-Lewin (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Harrison (injured)
  Iwobi (injured)
  McNeil (injured)

  Semedo booked
  Dawson booked
  Geuno (Gomes 85')
  Lemina booked
  Joao Gomes booked
  Hwang (Ait-Nouri 46')
  Cunha (Kalajdzic 85')
  Fabio Silva (Sarabi 74')
  Subs not used

Match Stats

Shots on target

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

1 Manchester City 9
2 West Ham United 7
3 Tottenham Hotspur 7
4 Liverpool 7
5 Arsenal 7
6 Brighton & Hove Albion 6
7 Aston Villa 6
8 Manchester United 6
9 Brentford 5
10 Chelsea 4
11 Crystal Palace 4
12 Fulham 4
13 Newcastle United 3
14 Nottingham Forest 3
15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
16 Bournemouth 1
17 Sheffield United 0
18 Burnley 0
19 Luton Town 0
20 Everton 0

Match Report

It’s utterly joyless being an Evertonian at the moment. Since the 11th of March, the Blues have played 14 games and their fans have had precisely two wins to savour in that time — that’s if anyone truly “savoured” the final-day win over Bournemouth rather than simply breathed a massive sigh of relief.

The glorious aberration of the 5-1 win at Brighton in early May is really the last time we Toffees have truly been able to celebrate anything. For weeks before, between then and the narrow win over Brentford, it was points desperately eked out here and there and a pervasive sense of crushing anxiety.

The new season, one greeted with only cursory optimism, has just been depressing, with mounting injuries, the ongoing failure to land a striker — one appears, in the form of Beto, to be close to signing, albeit an entire season and three more games too late — and, now, three successive defeats and no goals scored to start a league campaign, something that had never before happened in Everton’s history before today.

When added to last season’s worst-ever points haul, it’s just another sorry statistic from matters on the pitch to add to the utter failure thus far of Farhad Moshiri’s reign. And, of course, there was demoralising news off the field last Wednesday when it was revealed that MSP Sports Capital, arguably the most suitable potential owners of any that have emerged so far, won’t be taking an investment position in the club.

Today’s clash with Wolves was billed as an early-season relegation “six-pointer”, with both clubs expected to be battling it out at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season. It was a lot to put on only the third match of the campaign but it reflected the importance of Everton picking up points from bottom-half clubs, many of such games they lost last season which almost ended up costing them their top-flight status.

Frank Lampard oversaw home defeats to Wolves, Southampton, Leicester, failed to beat Nottingham Forest and Leeds and lost at places like Bournemouth and West Ham. Under Sean Dyche, meanwhile, the Blues played two home games against teams in the lower half of the table — Leeds and Bournemouth — and beat them both which at least offered hope that he could glean the points the club will need to again survive from those kinds of fixtures.

So far, that hasn’t been the case but it hasn’t been for the want of trying and there hasn’t an awful lot you can blame the manager for in these opening two games at Goodison Park. Against Fulham, Everton recorded a higher xG without scoring than any team managed in 2022-23 and this afternoon against Wolves they had seven efforts on target. They had as many corners to the visitors’ zero but the less said about those the better. (Suffice it to say that how Ashley Young was allowed to keep curling the ball into Jose Sà’s gloves time after time without somebody else taking over set-piece duties was an infuriating mystery.)

No, in a game in which both teams had goals ruled out for offside and both goalkeepers made brilliant reflex saves to deny almost certain goals, this came down to quality — or the lack thereof — in the final third, more gilt-edged chances, and lax defending at the crucial moment from the captain, James Tarkowski. You could see why the club have pushed to sign Wilfried Gnonto this summer, a player with self-confidence belied by his diminutive stature and who can make things happen creatively, especially in the absence of Alex Iwobi.

Lewis Dobbin was handed his first senior start wide on the left and was willing and industrious but ultimately didn’t have the guile to get the best of Nelson Semedo. Youssef Chermiti came off the bench midway through the second half for his debut and Arnaut Danjuma shifted to the left and he also showed some nice touches and good hold-up and link-up play in the absence of the kind of service he, Beto and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will need. In that respect, Dwight McNeil and Jack Harrison can’t get fit fast enough.

The 2pm team news had at least given Everton supporters what they had been hoping for, with Michael Keane finally demoted to the bench in favour of Jarrad Branthwaite and the young defender put in an impressive display on his first Premier League start since May last year.

With Danjuma up front playing off Abdoulaye Doucouré, the Toffees’ intent was clear from the off as they pressed and harried Wolves in the early phase of the match.

Danjuma let fly from distance in the fifth minute his his shot sailed over and Nathan Patterson’s centre just eluded him a few minutes later after the much-improved Amadou Onana’s side-foot shot had been blocked before the Belgian threaded the Dutchman in beautifully with almost a quarter of an hour gone.

Danjuma was narrowly flagged offside and Sà denied him superbly anyway but it provided hope that Everton might find the cutting edge in the final third if they kept plugging away.

Just like Fulham a fortnight ago, Wolves were largely kept at arm’s length in the first half, with their best openings coming from sloppy passing from the home side in their own half. Fabio Silva was almost allowed in twice from successive giveaways by Idrissa Gueye and Onana but it was the home side who should have gone in at least a goal to the good.

James Garner’s half-volley bounced off Dobbin’s chest on the edge of the six-yard box and fell to Tarkowski but he lashed the ball disappointingly into the side-netting, Branthwaite headed a free-kick wide on the half hour and Danjuma could only place a cushioned first-time effort wide from close range.

Everton began the second period the brighter as well and created the first genuine opening when Doucouré was played in behind the full-back but he elected not to test the goalkeeper and tried to find Garner in the centre but delivered his cross behind the midfielder and the chance was lost.

A couple of minutes after that, after Danjuma’s attempt to flick the ball home was bundled behind by Sa, Garner’s shot was parried to Branthwaite but he planted his header from the rebound straight into the keeper’s arms.

Wolves, growing into the contest just as Fulham did on the opening day, then had their best spell of the game and appeared to have taken the lead when Hugo Bueno whipped a ball in and Silva nudged it home but the offside flag came to the Toffees’ rescue.

Jordan Pickford then hesitated almost fatally coming for a long pass and Silva nipped in behind Tarkowski but the Portuguese missed the target and the Everton keeper made amends a couple of minutes later with a terrific reflex save to deny Matheus Cunha.

Pickford’s exploits were matched by Sà at the other shortly afterwards. He had already pushed Danjuma’s shot away but when Garner delivered a wicked cross to the back post, Doucouré met it with an unconvincing header that looped up and the keeper had to change direction and paw it over his crossbar.

Chermiti replaced the willing and industrious Dobbin with 23 minutes left and soon forced a corner trying to divert Danjuma’s cross past Sà and Doucouré thought he had grabbed the winner when he finally found the composure in front of goal to take it wide of the keeper and slot home but the linesman’s flag, confirmed by VAR Graham Scott, cut his celebrations short.

That just left Sasha Kalajdžić to enter the fray with five minutes left and within two he had delivered the killer blow as he stole in between Tarkowski and Patterson to flick a deep cross from the Wolves right inside the far post.

Dyche replaced Danjuma and Gueye with Tom Cannon and threw Keane on as a desperate auxiliary striker but Everton were unable to fashion anything in the five minutes of added time.

Dyche will again be doing his best to cling to the positives, as he must and should. It was another case of the Blues living and dying by the fine margins and being left to count the cost of missed chances as the visitors found the decisive goal to render the effort from Everton meaningless by the final whistle. (If you want some metrics on which to hang an optimistic hat that rather prove the point, Michael Greenall's stats should help.)

Beto, should he come through his medical and become the fifth signing of the summer, should help. He may not be prolific but he is big and will provide that much-needed focal point up front in Calvert-Lewin’s absence. Beyond that, there is hope that the likes of McNeil and Harrison can provide thrust on the flanks and that in Iwobi and Danjuma there’s sufficient flair to bridge the creativity gap but the importance of picking up those elusive first points grows with every passing game.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton return to Goodison Park this weekend to face Wolves for their second home game of the season still searching for their first goal and points of 2023-24.

And Sean Dyche's daunting task continues to be made harder as the injury list expands relentlessly, with Calvert-Lewin and Iwobi added back onto it last week.  

Dwight McNeil, Seamus Coleman, Dele Alli, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin remain injured, with the fitness of new signings Jack Harrison and Youssef Chermiti still under question.  

Branthwaite starts in place of Keane, as many had hoped, with Danjuma and Dobbin preferred instead of the misfiring Maupay. Youssef Chermiti is finally considered fit enough to at least suit on the bench. 

Wolves kicked off but the Blues were quickly on the ball, without creating a real attack but they continued to press hard, Gana making the first foul on Silva. The exchanges were lively but a stupid ball from Onana saw him then catch Silva badly but the ref fortunately played advantage. 

Dobbin had a good contest brewing with Semedo down the left. Danjuma fired off a shot from a long way out that was always rising. Lamina did much the same at the other end. Patterson put in a great cross that really should have converted but Danjuma did not jump for it. 

Everton continued to push forward but the final ball was missing and, on one counter, Branthwaite made a poor pass but chased down his man to recover well. 

Dobbin put in a good cross from the left but it was headed away. His next chance to cross was badly overhit. Danjuma, obviously onside, saw Sa deflect his goalbound shot onto the post before the flag went up. 

Some more good passing saw Dobbin win a corner after Semedo stalled him again. But Sa collected Dobbin's corner with ease. Everton were moving the ball nicely but still not getting anywhere near the Wolves goal before moves were breaking down, while Wolves were starting to probe a little more, Patterson catching Hwang on the byeline.   

Everton won another corner, Tarkowski firing it well wide and hitting Dobbin, rebounding back across goal but fumbled by Sa and lashed into the side netting by Tarkowski. Semedo cynically grabbed at Danjuma but it was Gomes who was yellow-carded or delaying the restart. The free-kick delivery by Young was decent but Branthwaite could not get enough on it to direct it goalwards. 

Branthwaite saw the danger when Young was beaten and he was across quickly to intercept. Smarts by Cunha started a stronger Wolves attack that Neto blasted over. Patterson put over a tasty cross that Danjuma tried to volley first time with his instep but it squirmed wide. 

Semedo caught Dobbin late from behind and was finally cautioned. Young's free-kick came to nothing. It was very competitive in midfield with Wolves pushing forward and harried at every turn, Cunha falling awkwardly and getting accidentally trodden on by Tarkowski after he tried to head a cross. 

Some real chances in the first half which was fairly even in the end. Dobbin drew another foul from Semedo early in the second half, but Young's free-kick came to nothing, Dobbin unable to get past Semedo.  Patterson was tested by Bueno who crossed into the side netting. 

Young put a great ball into Doucoure who chose to cross again instead of shooting. Silva pushed Gana, Lemina getting booked for dissent. Danjuma tried to flick it past Sa, winning a corner from which Young delivered well Branthwate and Garner saw Sa in the way of their attempts, Brainthwaite baulking Sa. 

Onana caught his ankle in an attempted tackle but soon came back on. Wolves attacked and Silva looked to have converted Bueno's excellent cross but he had stepped a foot offside. 

A dreadful error by Pickford saw Silva nip in but fire wide. A quick counter to he other end saw Dobbin win another corner but Young's delivery to the near post was headed behind by Tarkowski. 

Garner blocked Ait-Nouri for a foul, the free-kick saw a fantastic reaction save on the line  by Pickford down to his right, possibly off an Everton defender. Danjuma got a good through ball but he was shepherded well and could not beat Sa. 

More end-to-end excitement, curtailed by a debut for Chermiti, on for Dobbin. A fantastic move by Everton saw a great cross from Garner headed into the ground by Doucoure and saved incredibly by Sa as it bounced up under the bar. 

Some excellent defensive work by Branthwaite on Neto turned another Wolves attack, Everton winning another corner but still not beating Sa. Danjuma fouled Neto, the free-kick defended well for a quick break by Doucoure but Sa is out quickly to smother the danger. 

A good move saw Garner work the ball through to Doucoure who controlled it well and deftly fired past Sa but it was called offside and confirmed by the VAR. A promising Young free kick after a foul by Gomes was delivered straight to Sa. 

Everton tried to build again but Patterson's cross was straight to Sa. Everton won yet another corner, not delivered well by Young and driven wide by Branthwaite. 

Neto swung in a deep cross that Pickford backed off from and the defenders avoided as Kalajdzic glanced his backheader into the Park End goal to utterly stun Goodison Park with 2 minutes left. 

Chermiti stupidly barged Dawson off the ball for a straight yellow card. Everton had 5 minutes added time to try and get their first goal of the season, but with Dyche making two desperate late changes. 

Everton huffed and puffed but could not make it happen, Tarkowski having to make a desperate block, and then giving up a dangerous free-kick. that Pickford saved well enough.

But it was not to be and Everton would set another hugely embarrassing record: never in all their long history had they lost all three opening games without scoring a goal. 

Everton: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite [Y:53'], Young, Garner [Y:63'], Gana (90+1' Keane), Onana, Doucoure, Dobbin (66' Chermiti [Y:90']), Danjuma (90+1' Cannon).

Subs not Used: Virginia, Lonergan,  Maupay, Mykolenko, Godfrey, Onyango.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Jose Sa, Nelson Semedo [Y:39'], Dawson [Y:68'], Kilman, Bueno (85' Totti), Pedro Neto, Joao Gomes [Y:29'], Lemina [Y:52'], Hwang (46' Ait-Nouri), Matheus Cunha (85' Kalajdzic), Silva (73' Sarabia).

Subs not Used: Doherty, Traore Gomes, Bentley, Hodge.

Attendance: 38,851

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton return to Goodison Park this weekend to face Wolves for what will be their second home game of the season still searching for their first goal and points of 2023-24.

The Blues’ performance in their opening home fixture against Fulham may have been encouraging in terms of chances created but it was ultimately frustrating because it ended in defeat, while last Sunday’s 4-0 drubbing at Villa was simply alarming.

It means that this weekend’s match, against a side expected to be down at the wrong end of the table with Everton and expected to be there all season, carries inordinate weight so early in the season, at least in terms of supporter sentiment.

The new campaign may yet be young but Sean Dyche is already dealing with absences for key players, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Alex Iwobi ruled out with injuries sustained at Villa Park.

Calvert-Lewin sustained a fractured cheekbone and will be seeing a specialist now that the significant swelling on his face is subsiding before his latest return date can be pencilled in.

Iwobi, meanwhile, suffered a hamstring tear that is expected to sideline him for a few weeks, depriving Dyche of one of his most industrious and creative players.

As is the case with new signing Jack Harrison, who is back on the grass but not yet in full training, Dwight McNeil isn’t expected to play until after the upcoming international break and Seamus Coleman is targeting October for his comeback from knee surgery.

With no new signings through the door, it means that Dyche otherwise has the same squad from which to choose as he tries to fashion a team capable of scoring goals at one end and keeping them out at the other.

Arnaut Danjuma, the standout performer last weekend despite only playing under an hour against Villa, should be ready to start, most likely wide on the left, with James Garner continuing on the right in Iwobi’s absence.

Up front, there is little option but to start the hapless Neal Maupay as the lone striker once more, that is unless Dyche opts for Danjuma up front and Lewis Dobbin on the left flank.

It’s on the defence where most Evertonian eyes will be at 2pm when the teams are announced, however. The defensive partnership of Michael Keane and James Tarkowski has struggled under Dyche and it led to the former being removed from the team in the final few games of last season in favour of Yerry Mina.

The Colombian has left the club but Dyche’s apparent lack of faith in the youthful Jarrad Branthwaite — in his press conference at Finch Farm the manager cited a curtailed pre-season for the former Carlisle centre-half’s lack of minutes thus far — has seen Keane restored to the starting XI but that decision has been met with frustration and mounting angst from fans.

It would be brave of Dyche to overlook Branthwaite on this occasion and he did acknowledge that the 21-year-old is on contention to face Wolves.

For their part, Wolves are still adjusting to life under new boss Gary O’Neil who was drafted in to replace the late-departing Julen Lopetegui and the loss of some regular starters like Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore.

Additionally, Matheus Nunes is a transfer target for Manchester City but Matheus Cunha has made a strong start to the season despite not yet scoring and Hwang Hee-chan, who netted in Wolves’s 4-1 home defeat to Brighton, always does well against the Toffees.

Though they were swept aside by the high-flying Seagulls last weekend, O’Neil’s men were impressive against Manchester United in their first match of the season and were hugely unfortunate not to come away from Old Trafford with something to show for their efforts.

They won’t be a pushover at all for an Everton side short on potency and confidence but the hope is that Dyche and his staff will have been doing as much work on the mental side of the players’ game as the technical and physical ahead of an early-season “six-pointer”.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 26 August 2023
Referee: Craig Pawson
VAR: Graham Scott
Last Time: Everton 1 - 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Young, Gueye, Onana, Garner, Danjuma, Doucouré, Maupay

Lyndon Lloyd

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