Another tactical success has Everton looking up once again

Lyndon Lloyd 16/12/2020 77comments  |  Jump to last

Two games against teams sitting in the top four with aspirations of moving back to the top of the table, two wins, and six valuable points. First Chelsea and now Leicester have been seen off by Carlo Ancelotti’s redoubtable Blues and the complexion of Everton’s season has changed again. Suddenly you're wondering what might be possible if the team can put a consistent run of results together.

With four centre-halves strung across the back and attacking adventure forsaken in favour of pragmatism and resilience, there have been touches of Moyes and Mourinho about these last two victories. They have been nerve-jangling at times, an opposition goal seemingly just a good move or a defensive lapse away and not always brilliant to watch, but after seeing their side lose three on the bounce between 25th October and 7th November, Evertonians won’t mind too much.

Indeed, few Blues were expecting much from this hectic December with Seamus Coleman’s and James Rodriguez’s injury problems compounded by the loss of Lucas Digne. However, while the switch away from a back five may have been forced upon him by Fabian Delph’s hamstring strain, Carlo Ancelotti has adapted impressively and his players have risen to the challenge.

Almost impossibly, the Italian was handed another significant setback with 40 minutes gone at the King Power when Allan pulled up with a clear hamstring issue of his own. It looked like a “proper” tear of the soft tissue given the pain he was in and his own assessment offered to the physio and if the worst fears are realised, he will miss the entire Festive programme and won’t be back well into the New Year.

It was incredibly hard luck on the Brazilian who was really looking at home in the Premier League and with Everton having to be disciplined and compact in the face of Leicester’s much-vaunted attack, he was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half.

By contrast, his replacement, André Gomes, never got up to speed and came very close to handing Leicester a route back into the match eight minutes from the end when he sent Ayoze Perez tumbling inside the area and referee Lee Mason awarded the Foxes a penalty. Thankfully, on the recommendation of the Video Assistant Referee, Mason made use of the pitch-side monitor to review the incident in slow motion and determined, presumably, that Gomes had got a toe on the ball before clipping the substitute’s foot.

Everton were 2-0 up at that point and full value for a professional away performance; a proper Ancelotti master class to make up for some questionable team selections in recent weeks. Leicester had started energetically and Jamie Vardy served up an early chance for Youri Tielemans but the Belgian placed his shot the wrong side of Robin Olsen’s post.

The Swede had been selected ahead of the rested Jordan Pickford and would enjoy a comfortable afternoon as the Toffees restricted their hosts to just two shots on target over the 90 minutes. Everton, for their part, would register six on Kasper Schmeichel’s goal and the first from Richarlison proved too much for the Dane to handle.

The Brazilian had been trying to find his feet amid what was, in terms of his recent form, a characteristically erratic display but with 20 minutes gone, he picked the ball up on the left, drove inside past James Justin and leathered a low shot from 25 yards out that Schmeichel got a hand to but couldn’t prevent from sneaking inside the far post.

It was just what Richarlison needed as a reward for his tireless work-rate and his confidence as he carries the bulk of the onus for making things happen in the final third while James is missing.

His goal was almost wiped out within two minutes, though, following one of only a couple of occasions that Justin got past Ben Godfrey down Leicester’s right and the full-back found Jamie Vardy with a cross. The prolific former England international was odds-on to score but planted his header straight into Olsen’s arms from close range.

Cengiz Ünder was looking one of the more likely players to create something for Brendan Rodgers’s men and he had one shot that deflected wide after 24 minutes and another that he fired at Olsen in the 38th but in between, it was Everton who came closer to adding to the scoreline.

Alex Iwobi, again demonstrating excellent ability carrying with the ball forward and unnerving the opposition defence (even if it wasn’t clear if even he knew what he was going to do next) was having a terrific game, particularly in terms of his decision-making. He arrived on the overlap in the 32nd minute but his cross was behind the well-placed Gylfi Sigurdsson and kicked up awkwardly for Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was able to knock it forward while Sigurdsson couldn’t get enough on the ball to stab it home.

A few minutes later, the Icelander swung in a free-kick that found Calvert-Lewin but he headed straight at Schmeichel.

It was a job very well done by the halfway stage but with Allan now gone and both Godfrey and Mason Holgate picking up bookings early in the second half, the task of protecting the lead and three precious points seemed a daunting one, particularly if Leicester really kicked into gear after half-time.

Everton continued to frustrate them, however, with Abdoulaye Doucouré stepping up in majestic fashion to protect the back four in Allan’s absence, turning in a man-of-the-match performance, but supported by immense displays across almost the whole team. Tielemans had one effort but fired well off target and James Maddison also had a sight of goal after Harvey Barnes had beaten Holgate easily near the touchline but, overall, Leicester couldn’t really get close to Olsen’s goal.

Instead, even though they had become increasingly risk-averse and ineffective with their use of the ball in the second half, it was Ancelotti’s side who plundered an all-important second goal from a corner. Michael Keane connected with Sigurdsson’s corner and forced a save from Schmeichel. Calvert-Lewin thought he’d scored when he side-footed the rebound down the middle of the goal but the keeper pushed it onto the crossbar, only for it fall invitingly to Holgate to react quickly and swing it home to make it 2-0 with his first Premier League goal.

Iwobi and Richarlison switched flanks to give the Brazilian a crack at attacking the veteran Christian Fuchs and allow the Nigerian to help Godfrey in shackling Justin and Perez after the latter had replaced Ünger and the former Arsenal man’s driving run down the left ended with a centre to Sigurdsson but his first-time shot flashed over the crossbar.

Despite not having created much, it always felt as though Leicester could produce something and their opportunity to sow some panic in the visitors looked to have arrived when Gomes, so often a liability on the edge of his own box, was beaten for pace by Perez and appeared to clip his heel.

2-1 with eight minutes plus stoppage time might have made for a very different finale but VAR came to Gomes’s rescue and Everton safely saw the game out, with Perez seeing a late goal ruled out for offside.

Ancelotti will, no doubt, have taken enormous satisfaction from two fine performances but he will have left the East Midlands with a couple of questions on his mind. The first will be how to cope without Allan, and the answer, based on Gomes’s uneven 50-odd minutes of action, might lie with Tom Davies or even Mason Holgate as a holding midfielder once Coleman returns as the Portuguese never looked a safe option defensively.

The second is how to work James Rodriguez back into the line-up once the Colombian is fit because the hard yards done by Iwobi and Richarlison in front of the full-backs have been indisputably key to the wins over Chelsea and Leicester. There has been push-back from the Everton-focused media on suggestions made elsewhere that Rodriguez is lazy, with stats wheeled out that show he has attempted more tackles this season than most player in his position.

But the gaps left in front of right-back when he has been deployed in right midfield have been obvious for all to see so if his manager is to persist with him that position, it may, again, come at the expense of defensive solidity. More preferable would be James operating in his natural role as a true roving No.10, with his defensive duties reduced to pressing the ball from the front, but it remains to be seen how Ancelotti will proceed and whether the player will be fit to face Arsenal this coming weekend.

Reader Comments (77)

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Bob Parrington
1 Posted 17/12/2020 at 01:33:59
On the whole, we were the better team and deserved the win.

With the Gomes tackle in the area, I thought it would be confirmed as a penalty and was surprised when the VAR decision went the other way. Good fortune for us; if the penalty was converted, as it might have injected some extra energy in to Leicester. My son and I were shouting Gomes be careful, don't do it, don't!! But he did. Otherwise, I thought he did a good job.

Iwobi was again very good and Doucouré played well. Olsen looked under control except for one first-half nervy moment at the edge of the area. Godfrey is looking better each week.

Keane stood out the most IMO, though.

I would like to see more of Gordon as well.

John Pierce
2 Posted 17/12/2020 at 01:34:47
Lyndon, I don't often see a game the same as you; however, this is pretty much what I saw. The best point, how hard Iwobi and Richarlison work, is not lost on me and gave the midfield two a ‘box' to work in. The rub being Leicester barely got down the outside, got funneled inside, where they ran into traffic and repeatedly had to turn back to their centre-backs. It was telling both Maddison and Tielemans never looked like getting a grip of the game.

I'm still hugely concerned despite the win, at the system, whilst contrived through necessity, the energy it takes to chase the ball for most of the game is sapping. It also isolates Calvert-Lewin who I don't want to see dry up.

We have two more comfortable fixtures and, given the injury and fatigue, I would expect to see changes.

Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 17/12/2020 at 02:42:19
This game and the last seem to show a pattern of play forming and it will be interesting to see if it is maintained when Rodriguez becomes available. While it seems based on defence, I would like to see more speed of play and increased individual skill in midfield, someone who can take on and draw others of the opposition out of position. It doesn't seem to be a case of serendipity, shape forced by injuries even, through player selection maybe.

More immediate though is who will replace Allan? While I can understand rotating outfield players to give them some rest, I have to wonder about it when it concerns the goalkeepers.

Whatever, it is working.

Kieran Kinsella
4 Posted 17/12/2020 at 02:49:53
I came of age in the era of boring boring Arsenal, Red Star winning the European Cup, and Italian dominance. Suffice to say, I couldn't give a crap how we play as long as we win. If we were to win 27 games 1-0 with goals bouncing of Keane's ass and 1 percent of possession, I'd be more than happy.

Fact is, Chelsea are “in the title race” and spent 𧶀 million to bolster their top three team. We are ahead of them. Four central defenders, slow ass Portuguese liability in midfield. Don't care. All that matters is results.

Jim Harrison
5 Posted 17/12/2020 at 03:26:53
I think credit has to go to Carlo.

He has made the changes in the past two games and got results. He had a bad run but has turned it around. In past seasons those bad runs have spiralled and cost 3 full-time managers their jobs. Hopefully we don't suffer any more injuries!

We desperately need an alternative to Calvert-Lewin, the guy is running himself ragged and will need a break at some point.

John Keating
6 Posted 17/12/2020 at 05:31:32
Agree about resting Calvert-Lewin.

Richarlison at centre-forward and Gordon replacing him out left.

Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 17/12/2020 at 05:47:51
John #6,

I'm pretty sure Richi broke his wrist on that odd fall in the second half.

Playing up top alone with a soft cast, not being able to use your hands normally to hold off defenders, might not be ideal for him right now.

John Keating
8 Posted 17/12/2020 at 06:22:18
Hi Mike,

I hadn't seen mentioned a break? Different story then...

You'd never know with Richarlison. Every foul on him, it seems he's been poleaxed.

Jerome Shields
9 Posted 17/12/2020 at 06:41:57
Defence and midfield played well. The stars for me were Holgate, Godfrey and Doucouré, with good performances from Keane, Mina and Iwobi. Sigurdsson was reasonable, as was Calvert-Lewin.

I thought, other than the goal, Richarlison broke down a lot of attacks and provided little support to Calvert-Lewin. His attitude is a bit suspect, though he kept trying. Gomes was okay, but has a glaring late-tackle weakness. I would rather have Davies. Everton need to have more players taking chances.

Hopefully Gordon gets more playing time and others come on in the Carabao and FA Cup games. Allan will be missed, but Doucouré put in a MotM performance after he went off.

Olsen was solid in goal. It's good to have Rodriguez as an impact sub in the coming weeks. Bernard is starting not to fit in and is under pressure competition-wise.

But a great result and well played. Rodgers completely tactically out-manoeuvred again by Ancelotti.

It is worth pointing out that an early goal against opposition prior to Chelsea and Leicester would have yielded a different Everton? The veneer is not deep enough attack-wise, against a set-up-shop defence.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 17/12/2020 at 06:54:00
John #8, injuries not affecting a player's availability aren't usually announced.

I could be wrong, but saw how he landed on it, how much pain he was in, and how he doubled over it when he landed on that arm again in the final minute. And he didn't waste a moment heading for the tunnel at the end. Pretty sure you'll see it heavily wrapped for the Arsenal game.

Paul A Smith
11 Posted 17/12/2020 at 07:11:28
Excellent win for us and gives great confidence for the Arsenal game.

Allan was always going to need a spell out anyway and Doucouré can sit deeper now which he has done really well without Allan who was great again before going off.

It's the link between midfield and attack which is the problem.
Gomes has been shocking and I cannot see Davies being a much greater choice.

Still, even in a win, I like to see where we can improve... and this is one of those areas.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 17/12/2020 at 07:38:00
Mike #10,

I did think that it looked like a break at the time, but when I seen him on again thought it was more of a strain. As you say, it would not help him ward off defenders. It may mean him getting more targeted than he already is. He has not been right since he came back from suspension anyway.

Mal van Schaick
13 Posted 17/12/2020 at 07:44:08
Two good wins have put us back in the thick of it at the top.

Again, nobody can fault the effort and commitment. The back four has given us a solid foundation, where we can counter-attack and we look dangerous on corners and free-kicks.

For the Arsenal game, bring Coleman back, put Holgate in midfield to replace Allan. Hopefully Richarlison will be okay.

Christopher Timmins
14 Posted 17/12/2020 at 09:44:21
We have found another way over the past two games and while it's not pretty it's effective. Hoping for another three points at the weekend.

Given the season that's in it, will we go back into the market in January in order to give ourselves a real chance of a top 4 finish. Back up to DCL and a solution at left back might make the difference between a top 6 and a top 4 finish.

In Carlo we trust!

Charles Brewer
15 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:12:21
The big difference is that versus Chelsea and Leicester Ancelotti played people in their best positions. Everton seem to have a group of footballers who are very much ties to a single position (Holgate and maybe Godfrey excepted).

Sigurdsson looks hopeless except at No10, Iwobi stinks anywhere but on the right, and we know Dominic Calvert-Lewin is “championship at best” except when playing an advanced centre forward role.

DC-L has proved to be the best predatory forward in the Premiership so far this season, and his leaps for headers would have me demanding a forensic analysis of his DNA looking for recent splicing of frog genes if I were an opposing manager.

Sigurdsson and Iwobi have been the worst players on the pitch played out of position, but Iwobi has been pushing for MoTM is the last few games and Sigurdsson is starting to play as though he's worth what was paid. (Looking at Walcott at Southampton, he may be another).

I suspect that most players can operate reasonably in most positions, but are a bit better in one - statistically their performance is a normal distribution with a fairly large standard deviation. Everton's best players appear to have abilities like a large, narrow spike. If Ancelotti can keep players working in their best positions, I think we could be in for a very interesting season.

Kevin Molloy
16 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:16:11
in theory the wingers shouldn't have to work as hard if you have two stay at home fullbacks as we have had the last two games, so Ancelotti may feel more comfortable putting James back in on the right. I suspect he feels that the no 10 also needs to do alot of running to stop the other side's deep sitting midfielder from picking his passes. I think James will be key at the weekend, cos unlike the last two games, Arsenal are just going to sit there.
John Raftery
17 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:18:08
One of the attributes which has made the team more resilient is that they have a much more imposing physical presence. Of the team which played the majority of last night's game, ten are six feet or over. Only Iwobi is less and he is 5ft 11in.

We may still lack pace in some key areas but the team at least now has the physical strength to stand up to teams when defending and exploit set play situations in the opposition penalty area.

Compared with the lightweight teams we have fielded in recent years the team looks equipped for a battle. With the increased physical strength has come improved organisation with players knowing precisely what they are required to do in each role. That in turn has helped increase the mental strength of the team when they are put under pressure. No longer do they look a soft touch, especially away from home.

Michael Kenrick
18 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:18:14
I really can't understand these calls for Calvert-Lewin to be rested. I wanna see him run ragged. I wanna see him give 100% every single game.

He's a professional footballer. He lives to play the game. He gets 2, 3, 5, 6 days between games to rest... but I bet he's not resting because he's a professional athlete, in the gym or out on the training ground every day... because that's what he does, that's his job, that's his passion.

He wants to be better than Jamie Vardy, better than Harry Kane. Why the fuck would he want to sit on the sidelines during any game and have to watch someone else denying him the opportunity to get on the scoresheet and keep his goal tally fr the season ticking up?


Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
19 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:22:37
Today is the same but different.

Next Up - Arsenal at home. 2 weeks ago it was maybe our only chance of a point in December, now it is favourites to win and anything less will be a complete disappointment.

Then United in the League Cup - failure to win will be a real disappointment because we are in with a shout

Then away at Sheffield United - who have only one point and look odds on for the drop and so we are all expecting Everton to be their usual generous selves and give a boost to a struggling team/striker.

So the pressure is now on to win all 3 of the next games and if we don't then we will all be depressed. Not because we are in danger or dropping into the bottom 3 - but because we are not in the top 4. Nice problems!

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:29:37

I would be careful of using the term tactical success as I said after the Chelsea game it was an Ancelotti masterclass and was rapped on the knuckles for doing so. I just love Ancelotti when you look at the improvements he has made to several players both individually and collectively. For most of his time here most fans including me thought Iwobi was a waste of money, but now he is a regular 7 out of 10, DCL has certainly improved and the biggest improvement has to be Michael Keane who was another who thought needed changing. He and Mina look as solid a pairing as there is in the Premier league. Plus seeing Godfrey and Holgate playing so well, they both know one bad game and either could be replaced.

I see many are concerned about how long Allan will be out, and I share that concern, for me he is the best midfield player since Reid and Bracewell played. Mind there were some on here the other week saying they didnt think he was all that good, so they presumably will not be worried about how long Allan is out for.

Paul A Smith
21 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:36:40
Any decent manager knows his players qualities and limitations.

One of the biggest problems clubs have is expectations of fans that want to see average players lighting up the game.

I can't imagine how frustrated the likes of Arsenal fans must feel in this respect and its a great time to set ourselves aside from these clubs and back the manager to get the best out of what we have.

Since Moshiri came, expectations rose high and rightly so but it shouldn't take Einstein to realise a lot of money has been wasted and levels of quality haven't jumped much.

I think Ancelotti has the best chance of all Moshiri's managers to actually build. If the team can grind out wins while this is happening we'll look a big attractive club that is on the up for real.

Until we can pull players with ability like James Allan and Richarlison with dynamic movements and skill, we have to do what is ugly and get on the front foot that way.

Look at Holgate and Godfrey, massive praise to them both.
Both went on 50 yard runs v Chelsea because they found the front foot through being solid, focused and aggressive.

Long may this attitude continue.

Thomas Richards
22 Posted 17/12/2020 at 10:57:04
Ancelotti is very clever tactically.
Anyone suggesting otherwise must have slept through the massive success he has had with numerous elite clubs.
John Raftery
23 Posted 17/12/2020 at 11:16:13
Michael (18) Horses may train every day. They don't race every day. Marathon runners train most days but they don't train at racing pace every time.

When there is talk of players being rested it is not so much about them putting their feet up and watching Netflix it is more about them being able to do recovery training so that muscles are able to return to peak level for the next match.

Calvert-Lewin and all the players train most days. Players, most of them anyway, are able to play a game every couple of days. The question is whether or not they can do so at optimum levels of fitness.

I believe as happens every year at this time the crowded fixture programme will see a reduction in quality with knackered teams slogging it out in ‘last man standing' tests of stamina. Then people will be asking in January why teams have so many muscle injuries.

David Cash
24 Posted 17/12/2020 at 11:25:28
Carlo is finding his feet now.

The feel good factor is back and we are looking up. The doubters are being silenced.

Hope Darren and Conor are feeling a little hungry. I suspect the humble pie is about to go in the oven

Steve Carse
25 Posted 17/12/2020 at 12:22:59
Given the pre-match league positions of our last two opponents, these must be the best back-to-back scorelines for many a year.
Karen Mason
26 Posted 17/12/2020 at 13:22:02
How good it is to see the results in the last 2 games?
For all the doom- mongers here on Toffee web who had waived the white flag for these 2 fixtures after the Leeds game, some humble pie required.
Maybe it's because this year has been so tough and taken it's toll mentally, but my patience has been really tested reading a lot of the posts on Toffee web.
For all the doom-mongers who said :
DCL was championship level - WRONG.
Mason Holgate - not good enough. WRONG
Michael Keane - has to go. WRONG
Alex Iwobi - Useless. WRONG
I need to mention that Siggy has upped his game too, and is contributing in more positive way.
These players may have all had bad spells, but clearly, Carlo doesn't agree with your assessments. The fact that he has a CV of success longer than my hockey stick, AND watches and coaches players everyday, call me stupid, but I would respect his assessment over yours. Many of the comments here on Toffee web entertained me, and some made me laugh out loud, but of late, the constant disparaging remarks about EVERTON players, yes OUR players, have mad me see my arse. Constructive criticism has a place on any forum, but not the downright abuse that some players get on here - and an EVERTON FAN website. The positive posters and comments have been fewer and fewer and it seems the negative doom-mongers are the dominant force. Many of you seem incapable of seeing any positive in anything or of giving players a chance.
Rant over.
I know that this post will probably be ripped to shreds by all the usual suspects, but I will be giving Toffee web a swerve from here on in. So face, bothered ?
Ps. John at 23. Spot on !
Jay Wood

27 Posted 17/12/2020 at 13:30:29
There have been bumps along the road and there will be some potholes we hit moving forward, but without completing a full year at Everton, you can see an evolution under Carlo.

* He restored Everton to being a fortress, 11 games before his first home loss
* He is getting us winning on the road - 8 wins in 16 PL games (50% success rate). Compare this to:
Silva 6 wins in 27 (22% win rate)
Allardyce 3 wins in 12 (25%)
Koeman 4 wins in 23 (17%)
* Last season, you could identify his core selections that if they were fit, they played. They were:
Holgate **

** Since Holgate's self-sustained injury v Spurs last season, and again getting injured this pre-season, the automatic pick at centre back is now Michael Keane.

That core six were added to with 3 more 'if they are fit, they play' signings - James, Allan and Doucoure. Seamus also joined that core band this season, making 10 out of 11 default starters, with only who accompanies Keane at centre back open to change.

Injuries have necessitated changes to that core 10. The only player dropped for poor form has been Gomes. It has long been evident to me that Carlo has always seen something in Iwobi he likes and frequently found ways to include him.

It is notable that when Gomes was dropped, Carlo didn't go with the seemingly natural replacement of Siggy, but went instead with Iwobi. Oh so gradually, the Nigerian is proving to be very effective.

Iwobi, then, replaced Gomes in the 'default XI'. In the last two games Siggy has replaced James and done well playing his prefered central role linking defence and midfield, behind the striker.

I spell that out because I'm a tad bewildered at some suggesting our upturn in form is because we are less vulnerable due to the absence of the 'liability' called James. That he should only be used as an 'impact sub'.

Quite simply, James is the most gifted footballer sprinkled with stardust we have had at the club in many a year. If he is fit, he plays. The best 'impact' he can make is having as many minutes on the park as possible, not coming on in the last 15-30 minutes of a game.

The way we are currently set up James' selection is a simple one: he replaces Siggy.

As it is, Carlo now has a different conundrum to solve: who replaces Allan and what formation and tactics do we employ in the next key games? My personal choice would be Davies, but Carlo passed on that option last night.

And one final word in reply to Michael K's observations on DCL: Don't flog a dead horse.

Of course Dominic should feature in the big games - this weekend v Arsenal, the cup game v United. But you risk losing a player for longer to a stress injury if you don't give them R&R in this manic Xmas and New Year fixture congestion.

Paul A Smith
28 Posted 17/12/2020 at 14:13:59
I fully agree: James is absolutely blessed with ability and his skill and vision must be in the team if he's fit. Nobody else comes close to him in terms of quality. I think we have a handful of players that could get in the best sides. He is most certainly one of them.

The rest outside the handful aren't as blessed but there is no doubt they can all have a good game or show good form. Just don't expect us to be like Barca or Brazil.

Where have all the Baningime fans gone??? 🤣

Thomas Richards
29 Posted 17/12/2020 at 14:44:51
One year anniversary coming up for Carlo.

The club have not been in as strong a position as we are currently since the '80s:

A world class manager.
A strong financial backer
A good, young evolving squad.
A state-of-the-art stadium.

Things are looking up for the Blues.

Bobby Mallon
30 Posted 17/12/2020 at 15:26:02
I really hope we go all out to beat the Mancs. That's all that matters to me. It won't be easy but I think this is our chance for silverware.
Paul Jones
31 Posted 17/12/2020 at 16:31:03
I thought it a very astute decision to play Olsen when the game plan is to defend very deep and allow no space behind for Vardy to run into. Ideal circumstances to rest Pickford as he is prone to being wound up against Vardy when calmness and organisation is needed to disarm his strengths.
Des Farren
33 Posted 17/12/2020 at 16:35:58
David 24. When the doubters on this site are silenced, I will help myself to a slice, assuming any remains.
Peter Mills
34 Posted 17/12/2020 at 17:21:57
Michael K #18, there is also the little matter that, if Calvert-Lewin is rested, you will have to forfeit the most scathingly critical lines in your match reports!

Ricky Oak
35 Posted 17/12/2020 at 17:22:19
Does anyone else not see the beating Richarlison gets? The wrist thing came about due to a heavy foul, whilst standing on his opposite foot. Seriously, sometimes, well mostly, I feel I'm going insane – he gets smacked non-stop all game, most games.

Just saying, he's our kiddie; if he was in a lot of other teams, he'd get protection from the officials. Yes, sometimes, he does drop easily. Maybe he's not worked out that he gets no support from any bugger – not even his own team or supporters.

Just saying that's exactly how I've seen it, for some time now.

Jack Convery
36 Posted 17/12/2020 at 17:29:18
Brenda outfoxed. Simples.

Would like to take this opportunity to send sincere condolences to Gerard Houllier's family and friends. One the games good souls. RIP.

Mike Gaynes
37 Posted 17/12/2020 at 17:51:42
Karen #26, field hockey or ice hockey?

Paul #32, interesting speculation, but I'm betting Carlo's decision to play Olsen was less about strategy and more about Pickford's tweaked hip in the Chelsea game.

John and Pete... good 'uns!

Paul A Smith
38 Posted 17/12/2020 at 18:44:06
Michael 18, I agree and don't think we can rest Calvert-Lewin but I'd bet my life nobody would have mentioned it if Carlo hadn't.

Be interesting to see how many calls there were on here before Ancelotti mentioned resting him?

Thomas Richards
39 Posted 17/12/2020 at 18:49:14
It is inevitable Calvert-Lewin will need resting at times during the season.

Every centre-forward in the league will be rested at some time.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
40 Posted 17/12/2020 at 18:59:14
Karen #26 – the worst was last night. I was involved elsewhere until my son called in the middle of a Zoom call to start singing Jingle Bells... when Everton win away.

So I went and scrolled through the forum to see how it went. The names and abuse called on Gomes when the penalty was awarded were awful. But equally was the swiftness of which everyone retracted their comments when it was overturned... er, no. Maybe sometime after Hell freezes over. Many doubled down and called him fortunate and perhaps most politely stupid.

I agree with what you said and somehow I also think that Carlo has a better idea about managing this team of ours better than me.

Darren Hind
41 Posted 17/12/2020 at 18:59:32
You do make me smile, Casho.

For the best part of a year, you have been excusing and apologising for Carlo by claiming the 20-odd internationals he inherited were simply not good enough. "What chance has he got?" Now, when they proved you utterly wrong by beating a couple of the fancied teams, it's all down to Carlo.

Carlo must love fans like you. Eleven million quid a year and he can never be wrong... Let's be very clear here. Carlo has not found a formula. It has found him.

We all saw his attempts to cover the injuries to his two full-backs with his crazy back three and makeshift wingbacks. Only when Delph got injured and he had no option but to abandon his tactics did the penny drop.

This was our most impressive performance since Carlo got here, but lets remember a few facts. One of the world class players he used his "pulling power" to bring here missed most of the game. The other one missed all of it. This was done essentially with players that you have repeatedly claimed are not good enough. With players who simply would not have been playing if Carlo had a full squad to choose from.

The result was gained by getting good players to do the simple things. Basic tactics. It was in stark contrast to the over complicated awfulness we had to endure when Carlo had options.

I don't support Ancelotti, I support Everton – and when he fucks up, I wont make excuses of apologise for him.

The best thing about these two results is they strip away the claim that the players are not good enough. I was delighted with the six points.

I also have to say that, given a choice between Carlo Fantastico and Carlo Forcedhandio, I would take the latter all day long.

David Cash
42 Posted 17/12/2020 at 19:08:20
Would you like that humble pie seasoned, Darren?
Thomas Richards
43 Posted 17/12/2020 at 19:15:52
Oleo de Olivia?
Brian Harrison
44 Posted 17/12/2020 at 19:22:07
David @42,

You know it's nearly Xmas when the Grinch appears.

Chris Leyland
45 Posted 17/12/2020 at 19:30:52
After a year in charge, Ancelloti's win rate at Everton is now 49%. That makes it the 3rd best in our entire history behind Kendall Mk 1 and Dick Molyneux, who was manger in the late 19th Century.

Not bad for a bloke who fans have apparently had to spend a year “excusing and apologising for”

Maybe, just maybe the bloke actually knows what he's doing?

John Otway
46 Posted 17/12/2020 at 19:54:23
Chris #45,

"Maybe, just maybe the bloke actually knows what he's doing?"

Surely not more than Darren Hind??

Jason Li
47 Posted 17/12/2020 at 20:00:55
Charles @ 15. Interesting thoughts. Looks like Iwobi and Mina and any other serially up-and-downs have settled down on a 7/8 out of 10, so we can have a 95% confidence level they're within your standard deviations going into future games - so hopefully steady for the next 100 games.

Whether you like Carlo or not, a third of the season in and in 5th place. When I WhatsApp with friends and old work colleagues including Arsenal, West Ham, Tottenham, Man Utd and Liverpool (living in London 10 years) supporters, they don't have the old sympathetic "Everton's a good nonthreatening club trying for Europa League" convo anymore. Some of them wish they had Ancelotti as their manager as their clubs have self-destruct over the last few seasons (mostly Man Utd and Gunners supporters).

Sometimes in life, we gotta be grateful whose on our side. We have a genius manager at the helm whose taking us to the moon. Enjoy.

Thomas Richards
48 Posted 17/12/2020 at 20:12:26
Some people will never buy into Ancelotti regardless of his obvious and clear improvement of the team.

More fool them.

We have a serial trophy winner in charge and it's not good enough? Only Evertonians could find fault with their club employing a manager of this calibre.

Brendan McLaughlin
49 Posted 17/12/2020 at 20:25:47
Jason #47,

I know some footy fans like stats more than others but talking of 95% confidence levels and standard deviations really is taking it to a different level altogether... :-)

Mike Gaynes
50 Posted 17/12/2020 at 20:29:03
Off-topic, congrats to our old friend Jags. Just subbed on for Blades to become only the 20th player in England ever to appear 300 times for two different clubs. Unfortunately then got beat by Rashford for the tying goal.

Darren #41, you're never gonna concede an inch on Carlo, are ya? Or on characterizing every positive post about the guy as an "apology"? Or about the "pulling power" debate? I'll say this for ya -- when you stake out a position, you sink the stakes in concrete.

Tony Abrahams
51 Posted 17/12/2020 at 21:17:56
To be fair to the grinch, he's put his money where is mouth his and won a few quid thanks to Carlo's forced hand!
Bobby Mallon
52 Posted 17/12/2020 at 21:18:17
Oh Daren Hind (51), did Carlo not give you an autograph or something?
Danny O’Neill
53 Posted 17/12/2020 at 21:29:48
I don't support Carlo either, Darren. Like you and probably everyone on here, I support Everton.

The Everton manager tried something that didn't work so changed it. Whether that was forced or not, he changed it. We are in December, nicely placed in the table and well on target to where we need to be despite having a typically "Everton" October.

We are well placed for where we need to be when it matters; better than in previous seasons.

I don't have a problem with trying something as long as you realise that, when it's not working, you change it. We've gone back to 4-2-3-1; the most complete formation in football if you ask me (but that's just me).

But, as with any formation, you play the formation that best suits the players you have available, not make the players you have available fit the formation you want to play (Silva).

Everton fantastico, not Carlo fantistico. We judge on the season; so far, the season is going well and we are in touch with where we need / want to be. I judge in May.

Jason Li
54 Posted 17/12/2020 at 23:49:51
Brendan @ 49

Absolutely :)


The best stat that gives us joy for another couple of days every time you think about it.

Jerome Shields
55 Posted 17/12/2020 at 23:51:13
There is a lot being made of the great start and then run of poor performances only to recently bounce back.

But there are two factors at play. Firstly as the season progresses the type of football required changes and there are two types of teams in the Premiership, those that engage, playing football and those that sit back setting up shop. The latter tend to be the lower half Clubs of the Premier League and gain advantage in the Winter part of the season.

As Autumn progresses into winter it is the ability of the footballing Clubs to adjust to conditions that determines their progress in the Premier League Add to that a increase in injuries as games are clocked up.

What happened to Everton was that at the start of the season good football paid dividends, but then a combination of injuries, weather and playing set up shop teams showed up a weakness in Evertons ability to adapt.

But Ancelotti kept going taking a long term view, playing players in different positions. Sometime forced. Adopting different formations and concentrating on training, coaching and attitude. What he achieved was a more adaptable Everton, a new found squad depth with existing players and a wide range of players all with match time.

There is tendency to favour a certain formation, amongst Posters, but Ancelotti can vary formations and switch player positions according to their strengths throughout a game

We are now looking at a solider Everton, with players well coached on their positional requirements and knowing what they have to do. It now the case that Colman and Rodriguez are not guaranteed a start and younger players will get more playing time due to continued Carabo and FA Cup involvement, added to the squad depth. Other player will be coming back from injury.

So Everton are heading into the Xmas fixtures with confidence and ready to push on into the new year.

Contrast with the great football that Arsenal where playing at the start of the season, and Arteta now at a loss on how to adapt, with a disillusioned squad. Ancelotti has shown he is better than Moyes , Martinez, Koeman, Big Sam and Silva. Dyche and Arteta are amateurs in comparison, as Ancelotti builds toward a Top Six finish.

Nicholas Ryan
56 Posted 17/12/2020 at 00:20:11
Karen [26] I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at how many people quietly agree with you; a silent majority perhaps.
Jim Harrison
57 Posted 18/12/2020 at 00:57:57
This stage last season, having played 18 or so games, we had something like 19 points. A clear improvement this year.
Andrew Keatley
58 Posted 18/12/2020 at 01:21:51
Darren (41) - “Carlo has not found a formula. It has found him.”

I'm not so sure. Because it's not like anyone on here - or anywhere - was suggesting that we play Holgate and Godfrey as full-backs (or if they were then I didn't hear them). In fact it felt like almost every fan was calling for Nkounkou to be given the right to stake a claim for the left-back berth. But Carlo found a different solution to our injury-induced problems, and I think he and his staff deserve genuine credit for that. Finding a successful temporary fix is not easy; he tried the 3 at the back with converted wing-backs and after a couple of uneven performances he decided that he would try Holgate and Godfrey as full-backs. After spending Silva's entire tenure praying for him to deviate from his 4231, I am delighted to have a manager who keeps asking himself if he is getting things right. You could arguably learn something from that.

I should also say that I think your use of inverted commas when talking about Carlo and his pulling power is “spot on” and “clever”.

Alan J Thompson
59 Posted 18/12/2020 at 03:56:00
I don't understand how you can hold the Manager responsible for success and/or failure when you have previously stated that professional footballers can't be taught to trap a ball.
Karl Meighan
60 Posted 18/12/2020 at 04:32:40
People might not have been suggesting Holgate and Godfrey played fullback, but I will guess many wanted a flat back four.

The important thing is the clean sheets. It might not be 4-3 exciting games of football but exactly what was needed for confidence and just finding a way to win games when not playing free flowing football.

Of the many different ways of winning games of football, the commited gritty hard working one nill is a good sign and long may it continue.

Jim Harrison
61 Posted 18/12/2020 at 04:51:37
Micheal 18

That's fine. And for as long as he is fit it will work. But where the back up if he gets injured? And not just a fitness thing, what alternative do we have when it isn't working for him?

A rest doesn't need to be a whole match.

Ron Marr
62 Posted 18/12/2020 at 06:53:31
Yes, 3 more wins after 13 games this season compared to last season.
Jim Harrison
63 Posted 18/12/2020 at 11:11:15
Ron 62

After 5 less games right?

Kevin Prytherch
64 Posted 18/12/2020 at 12:12:26
In regards to resting Calvert-Lewin...

True, in the last couple of games he has worked hard up front. However, against teams in which we have dominated possession, he doesn't exert himself that much. He has floated around the same area conserving his energy so he is first to react to anything in the area.

I don't know whether he will need resting all that much. If he can get through the next two games, hopefully he'll have a bit of a rest against Sheff Utd.

Darren Hind
65 Posted 18/12/2020 at 14:13:58
Oh dear

My post was not meant as an attack on Carlo, It was a direct response to one posters unadulterated sycophancy. Although I shouldnt really be surprised that some would step in and attack the fact that I posted...Whilst very carefully avoiding the points raised.

Good to know that Carlo has turned Goodison into a fortress.
Good to know that all those internationals who were simply not good enough after the Leeds game. Have been turned into good players by Carlo..In a fortnight.
Good to know that when some were blaming poor form on inadequate players. poor coaching. Injuries, suspensions and the permanent slope we have to play up. They were not REALLY apologising for Carlo...They were just being "positive"
Really good to know that 15 out of 34 = 49%. That Carlo has "Decided" to ring the changes.
I was delighted to hear Holgate and Godfrey have been so well coached in their positional requirements - in four days...This right on the back of discovering Carlo had spent hours on the training ground with Keane improving his long range passing - unless he just had a word in his shell like and that did the trick.
But I think what impressed me most about Carlo, is that nobody here or anywhere else was suggesting we ditched the wingbacks and play Holgate at right back...Not even the world and his dog...It was all Carlo's idea.

I feel an enormous sense of relief that finally, finally, Ancelotti is doing what he gets paid the big bucks to do. and has sent his team out to bear a striking resemblance to a cohesive unit.

Gutted I missed the miracles, but having read the comments on here, I now feel so lucky and grateful. Carlo deffo an improvement on Silva...

Andrew Keatley
66 Posted 18/12/2020 at 14:27:20
Another classic post from Darren Hindsight...
Tony Abrahams
67 Posted 18/12/2020 at 14:55:04
Darren's second to last paragraph is music to my ears Andrew, and long may it continue, because I love watching Everton, being hard to beat, probably even more than when they play beautiful football, if I'm being honest mate.
Tony Everan
68 Posted 18/12/2020 at 15:23:17
Tony, I'm a fully paid up member of the ‘hard to beat club'. I think it is the foundation that all great teams are built on. I think the secret is having a few players who cross over from that uncompromising physicality and hellbent desire to win but also have the sublime skill as well.

I am think of players such as Kevin de Brunye. Richarlison is on his way there, these players are the special players who can do both, a bit of dirty work and win games with some magic. These are the dream players for managers and the players who are worth splashing the big cash on. It's this type of crossover player that is a major ingredient of what makes a team top 4 standard.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 18/12/2020 at 15:49:54
Loads of different ways to skin a cat, or win a football game Tony E, and although I'm a purist at heart, I think being hard to beat is also pure, especially when talking about professional footballers, because it is their trade after all!

Seriously though, I think we have got a manager, who knows how to send out a team to play open, skillful football, and this is why our current way of playing, is so heartwarming for me, because I think the beautiful side of football, is something that is second nature to Carlo Ancellotti, and being dogged first, might just help get us, to where we want to go?

Danny O’Neill
70 Posted 18/12/2020 at 00:00:46
Being hard to beat is very important, but I believe in being hard to beat by rest and foremost being better than the opposition going forward. Put them under pressure and give them something to worry about. Successful teams, ours alike are more renowned for their attacking flair. We remember and fable Number 9s at Everton.

Yes, defensive solidity is important, but "building from the back" being difficult to beat gets you so far. Defend all you want, but if you don't venture forward and score, you don't win. I say that generically; clearly those who advocate the keep it tight and nick one approach would differ. But we all see things differently right.

I think right now, with the players available, we are striking the right balance.

Tony Abrahams
71 Posted 19/12/2020 at 11:53:40
That last paragraph is the most important one imo Danny. Play to your strength and let your strength's grow, because without balance, the wheels will eventually come off, and that's why it's imperative the system (any system) must always suit the players.
Mike Dolan
72 Posted 19/12/2020 at 13:58:29
Ancelloti is a brilliant coach but he is also pragmatic and knows that he has to win. While our new founded defensive solidarity has perhaps come about as much by the accident of misfortune than the prescience of design, Carlo did something that none of our other coaches or managers have been able to do adapt and find a solution rather than seek an excuse.
The man is a genius because he always gives his teams the best simple way to win. He allows us to be fortunate.
Now that James is close to returning lets resist the temptation of blaming him for our prior defensive problems. James is a world class player who overall does his job brilliantly. He wins us games. He is also (like Alex Young) a defensive liability. He is also probably a really bad hairdresser but thankfully that's no his job either. Sort out the right full back problem it was there long before James arrived on Merseyside.
Rotate all and any of our players including DCL and Michael Kean and the goalie it rests them mentally and must be hugely instructional to see the shape from a different perspective. Its a squad game and all the players in the squad are equally important.
Dave Abrahams
73 Posted 19/12/2020 at 14:17:46
Mike (72),the right back problem seems to be solved for now, more so now Seamus is fit, I think James was a big part of the right back problem because he offered no,protection whatsoever the way Carlo used him on the right hand side, he may be a world class player but only in spasms the way he was being used, Carlo's job is utilise James in a system that suits the team as well as James.
Clive Rogers
74 Posted 19/12/2020 at 14:29:26
I would like to see Gordon today as I thought he looked good when he came on for a few minutes against Leicester. Last twenty mins minimum.
Mike Dolan
75 Posted 19/12/2020 at 15:30:21
Dave 73, As brilliantly as the players and coach have responded to us losing both of our full backs the present alignment is at best temporary. We are still a team in transition and every game we play must be judges that way. It is almost inevitable that our patched up defense will be rumbled after a few games Godfrey is not only out of position but also on the wrong side of the pitch. We are making it work but

While in football the finished product is always elusive and something we always strive for all of the parts needed to make a team do not arrive at the same time.

James is a fantastically gifted attacking player who has arrived in out team a little ahead of his time. We do have a problem on the right side but it is unfortunately that our fullback there requires extra cover even when he sits at home. I love Seamus and what he has meant to our club as much as anyone but as much as his heart wants to his legs don't cover as much ground as they used to.
James is our main creative outlet and relieves pressure on the defense with his precision passing, that's his game. He does contribute to the entire defense by playing his natural game. We actually need an in depth solution to our right back position to help James out not the other way around.

Dave Abrahams
76 Posted 19/12/2020 at 16:10:30
Mike (75), yes I appreciate James' quality and I understand he helps by receiving and holding on to the ball, his problem, and Everton's is when he loses the ball, which is quite a lot, sometimes with a poor pass, he doesn't compare with David Silva, when he was at City, in the game all the time, not in spasms, although I have to admit Silva was in a team with fantastic quality and better players than have Everton have at the moment, doubt Everton would have the same problems that James brings, if Silva was in his place.
Mike Dolan
77 Posted 19/12/2020 at 16:37:36
Dave 76,

Silva and Rodriguez are both at their best are both fantastic players but they are very different players but I do get your point.

Iwobi (who I've always liked) playing out on the wing and would offer more defensive capability than James, no doubt about it, but at what cost? Last season, we tried Sidibé as a more mobile update on Coleman and, for all of his skills as an extra winger, he was permanently exposed as a full-back.

With full-backs, the main task is to defend; otherwise, you are pulling the forwards back. I think when we eventually get our Seamus 2.0 and 2.0s understudy this discussion goes away. Safe Holidays.

Dave Abrahams
78 Posted 19/12/2020 at 18:22:57
Mike (77), fair enough and I hope we do get sorted out because then the team and squad are stronger. Safe holidays to you Mike, we are down to just one day now, think it will be safer that way in the long run.

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