Old habits die hard and it makes these dogged and professional games where Everton get themselves ahead and then dig in to protect what they hold nerve-wracking to watch. Evertonians of any vintage remember all too well how often their side would try and sit back against opposition teams and inevitably concede to toss away points but they’re now having to get used to the pragmatism and game-management of Carlo Ancelotti, a man not averse to finishing a match with seven defenders on the pitch in the interests of seeing out a match.
This evening’s second-half against Arsenal was not a comfortable watch and it came on the back of a first period that wasn’t much better. But this was also the third match played by an injury-hit side in the space of seven days so, having got themselves back in front on the stroke of half-time, you could forgive the Blues if they sat back a bit and dared a team struggling for goals and points to break them down.
To be fair to Mikel Arteta’s side, they tried manfully but just lacked the quality to negotiate Everton’s increasingly low block consistently enough and by the end they were banging their heads against the same brick wall that confronted Chelsea and Leicester last Saturday and Wednesday respectively. It says much for how far the Gunners have fallen despite their impressive cup form that Everton almost completely ceded the midfield battle in the second half and only fleetingly looked like being punished for it.
And yet Arsenal did came close to wiping out their hosts’ lead for a second time early in the second half when David Luiz hit the crossbar and it needed a save from the returning Jordan Pickford in the closing stages to ensure that Ancelotti will toast a third successive victory this evening.
A year into their respective managerial tenures, Ancelotti and Arteta find themselves in very different positions, Everton heading into Christmas sitting in the top three while Arsenal languish towards the bottom of the Premier League table. The visitors’ approach early was indicative of their lack confidence as the two teams sized each other up in cagey fashion for a quarter of an hour before the first real moment of excitement presented itself from the unlikely boot of Michael Keane.
The centre-half strode forward as space opened up ahead of him and unleashed a swerving missile of a shot that bent agonisingly within a whisker of the post from thirty-plus yards out.
Seven minutes later, Alex Iwobi, playing against his old club, capitalised on more space afforded him by Arsenal to whip the ball in from the right where Calvert-Lewin got a glance on it with his head and it flew in off Rob Holding for what would go down as a 22nd minute own goal.
Arsenal responded and three minutes later Eddie Nketiah found himself completely open to collect Kieran Tierney’s cut-back but he snatched at the chance and dragged it well wide. 10 minutes later, though, Arteta’s men were handed a route back into the contest.
Ben Godfrey, again performing admirably as a makeshift left-back, made an uncharacteristic error by giving the ball away as he tried to knock the ball forward for Richarlison and Ainsley Maitland-Niles intercepted before putting the ball in towards the six-yard box. Yerry Mina stooped low to head it away and Tom Davies clumsily felled Maitland-Niles as he tried to collect the loose ball giving referee Andre Marriner an easy decision to award a penalty.
Nicolas Pépé assumed responsibility for the spot-kick and calmly slotted it past Jordan Pickford to make it 1-1.
With Allan out injured, Davies had been asked to step into the breach and while he had a decent enough first 45 minutes, he was emblematic of a lack of creativity from the Blues that largely characterised their performance as a whole. It was a display crying out for the invention of someone like James Rodriguez and, in the second half, someone like Bernard, but in the Colombian’s absence, the onus fell in Iwobi and Richarlison, both of whom popped up now and then with decent contributions without ever really stamping their authority on the game.
Importantly, in the absence of any consistent imagination or ideas going forward, Everton fell back on the industry of Calvert-Lewin and their threat at set-pieces to reclaim the lead. The striker’s overall work-rate deserved a goal and he almost got it on the stroke of half-time when he tested Bernd Leno with an excellent left-footed strike from the edge of the box that was heading for the top corner until the keeper finger-tipped it behind.
From the resulting corner, Gylfi Sigurdsson delivered the ball to the near post to meet Mina’s run and the big Colombian defender steered a header impressively on goal and past Leno at his near post for his second goal of the campaign.
The challenge laid down to a side that had scored just three times in nine games was to earn their way back into the contest for a second time and Everton gave them the confidence they needed after half-time by allowing Arsenal to control the tempo and the direction of play.
Ancelotti’s back line looked comfortable dealing with it for long stretches but when Pickford flapped at an attempted punch under the attentions of Holding and the ball dropped to David Luiz, the Blues were relieved to see the defender’s shot come back off the face of the bar.
Forays forward by Godfrey and Richarlison ended with crosses just eluding their targets in the middle and Keane came close to ghosting on to a Sigurdsson free-kick but otherwise, offensive moments from Everton were few and far between until a corner came out to Iwobi and he lined up a half-volley that deflected wide.
That left Arsenal, with Willian dropping deep to direct attacks, to carry the bulk of the threat in the closing stages as Everton dug in resolutely led by the tireless Abdoulaye Doucouré, who was a stand-out again as he protected the back four, and Ancelotti managed the clock with late substitutions.
Arteta introduced Alexandre Lacazette and the Frenchman added a more potent dimension to Arsenal’s attack but it was another substitute, Joseph Willock, who popped up in front of goal but headed wide and Pickford repelled Bakayo Saka's shot/cross with a strong, one-handed save in stoppage time as Everton secured the victory.
So, hardly a performance to set the pulse racing but the win was paramount and the fact that it was secured without the team playing especially well in an attacking sense – not to mention without three of its best and most creative players – bodes very well as the manager deals with injury absentees and mounting fatigue as December wears on.
In that sense, with just two shots on target, Everton were a model of efficiency as they climbed into second place in the Premier League for the time being and go into to Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final in a rich vein of form.
Reader Comments (85)
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1 Posted 19/12/2020 at 22:44:43
Wandsworth will continue his improvements and there will be a confidence in him, that he really knows what he is doung.
Exciting times at Everton and credit to Moshiri.
2 Posted 19/12/2020 at 22:50:14
It wasn't the manager's first choice eleven certainly, but those that come in all battled hard for the shirt, which hasn't always been the case.
Three of his 'certain starters' in recent week's, Digne, Allan and Rodrigues all out injured, but in fairness to the Ancellotti, he hasn't whinged one iota, unlike the 'media darling' across the park.
Onwards and upwards, Wednesday night will be another battle, but who would have predicted nine points from the last three games.
Early days, but Godfrey look's like he will be instrumental in Everton's development in the long term, just unsure of his position, what an athlete though.
3 Posted 20/12/2020 at 02:28:21
I said earlier in the season that we would see the best of Richarlison when he had someone beside him who was putting away the half chances and while you can't criticize his work rate it seems that by playing him out wide we are back to the one striker in the box which seems to be drying up both their scoring rates. Perhaps the answer lies in having a left back who can get comfortably up and down the line.
I thought Davies covered for Allan admirably and was unlucky with the penalty, the Arsenal player throwing himself between Davies follow through and the ball. The way things are going it won't be long before free kicks are given for kicking the ball hard and hitting an opponent anywhere above the knee!
Still, another win against the "not quite" Top 6 and for now very close to the position we would most covet but I do wonder if we will play this type of game against the bottom six.
Onwards & Upwards!
4 Posted 20/12/2020 at 03:45:17
We are likely to see Coleman start, Holgate moved inside and Mina rested. Potentially James for Sigurdsson seems logical.
Man Utd will rotate with important games either side and in close proximity. As alluded to above, it's important not to dry the service up for both Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.
5 Posted 20/12/2020 at 06:33:50
In the main, most Everton players played well, but Richarlison is below par. In other games, Mina's weak clearance and Pickford's wild punch would have cost us 2 points, but the momentum was there to win.
Ancelotti has brought Everton a long way, shattering the glass ceiling that has dogged Everton for over 20 years. I am sure he will think there is still work to be done.
Olsen will be in goal against Man Utd seemingly on rotation, but Ancelotti will not have liked that punch. Mina will be rested, a decision helped by the weak clearance, with Colman available.
Sigurdsson I expect will start, on the merit of his essential contribution. Rodriguez will be an impact sub, not necessarily a Sigurdsson replacement.
Richarlison will be selected on his worthwhile workrate contribution and potential. But he does need to improve and did miss opportunities to bury Arsenal. He did give away possession more than he should have against Leicester. It could be his agent is mucking about with his head.
Bernard is in the last chance saloon and is not buying in, with Tosun as a bench warmer. The two youngsters on the bench are now part of the squad.
Calvert-Lewin's final-third passing has come on in leaps and bounds and he will score. Godfrey, Holgate, Keane and Iowbi are turning into the backbone of the team. I thought Davies was seamless and unlucky with the penalty.
Ancelotti will keep trying to improve. . . and Everton should become more clinical.
6 Posted 20/12/2020 at 07:57:00
It was like all of the last three matches, a gritty and workmanlike performance. It may have lacked a little va va voom, but was effective and for those of us of the Blue persuasion, a very enjoyable experience. Ancelotti has given this team grit, and I believe this commodity will give us hope of a top six finish, and I hope good cup runs.
7 Posted 20/12/2020 at 08:35:10
8 Posted 20/12/2020 at 08:50:38
Davies is good cover for now and played reasonably well yesterday. I won't repeat from the other thread, but if Gomes gets criticised for stupid fouls and giving away possession, then Davies is on a par.
I like the 4-2-3-1 set up. I would rather see Richarlison on the right and see us rotate Sigurdsson and Rodriguez in the Number 10.
10 Posted 20/12/2020 at 09:16:30
This will be our most important transfer window and will define our final position in the league. Another well rated midfielder and top class forward would stand us in good order for any further injuries and will enhance the strength in our squad.
11 Posted 20/12/2020 at 09:19:02
DoucourÃ© always looked like a good athletic box to box player. But in this ultra-defensive approach he has shown a level of discipline and reading of the game I didn't think he had. He really has been excellent. It's a good reminder about just how far you can go with hard work. I don't think we've seen this since Moyes left. It must be horrible to play against.
12 Posted 20/12/2020 at 09:26:03
Only Liverpool and Chelsea have scored more than Everton this season
13 Posted 20/12/2020 at 09:53:51
6 goals in 7 days against teams touted as Champions League hopefuls at the beginning of the season and one of those as potential challengers to Liverpool's crown. That is not ultra-defensive.
14 Posted 20/12/2020 at 09:54:58
We'll also have to watch them in the box as well as no doubt they'll be throwing themselves to the floor looking for penalties. Hopefully Rodriguez will be fit for the bench to make a cameo.
15 Posted 20/12/2020 at 10:33:04
16 Posted 20/12/2020 at 10:42:18
If you rewind slightly, it's actually a sloppy ball from Godfrey that creates the problem.
But, like I say, that's being hyper-critical. Tom played well last night and Godfrey was immense. Silly fouls are an area of Tom's game he must address, as was Keane's ability to anticipate and read the game. He appears to have improved on that no end.
17 Posted 20/12/2020 at 10:47:38
Davies, in my opinion, won't be good enough to play in the evolving squad. At best a sub's spot now and again as more players come in over the next two transfer windows.
18 Posted 20/12/2020 at 10:57:37
I think that's one area of his game that he can be encouraged to develop, as I can imagine more teams will slowly begin to sit back against us. We don't shoot from distance enough.
19 Posted 20/12/2020 at 12:01:37
I think the laws of the game need drastically changing, because it was a penalty by the letter of the law, but it was just a case of Maitland-Niles busting a gut and anticipating getting there before Davies. He knew this might just get him a penalty, even though, on a scale of 1-10, the danger was definitely nearer the bottom numbers.
20 Posted 20/12/2020 at 12:22:52
I forgot to mention DoucourÃ© who is becoming the backbone of the team as well. He does play better when Allan is not playing for some reason. Seems a bit confused what his role is when Allan is playing. I have seen him hesitate making himself available for a pass. No such problem recently.
21 Posted 20/12/2020 at 12:33:29
My point was the ripping Gomes got for a tackle that was clean.
22 Posted 20/12/2020 at 13:30:01
Not a great match yesterday, but fighting spirit prevailed. DoucourÃ© and Godfrey were very good yesterday. That gut-busting run of the latter down the wing, wow...
More of the same on Wednesday, please!
23 Posted 20/12/2020 at 13:43:02
Circumstances dictate the analysis and every instance is different. Davies was sleepy but also unlucky with how the ball fell to him.
Most importantly, it didn't affect him and he went on to play steady and never hid throughout the game which, to be fair, he never does hide.
24 Posted 20/12/2020 at 13:44:08
He's been used to plug holes with his energy and grit. Well, Phil Neville played that role too and maybe Tom is down that path. If we want to trim down the squad, players with versatility is a good thing.
25 Posted 20/12/2020 at 13:51:49
I don't think they trust him to be honest.
26 Posted 20/12/2020 at 13:56:58
He hadn't really managed apart from his short, ultimately unsuccessful spell at Spurs. There were many other candidates with better CV's but not the celebrity.
I couldn't help thinking the same thing whenever I heard Arteta being touted as a possible solution for Everton, and couldn't believe that Arsenal took a punt on him. He had played for them for 5 seasons, so a bit of familiarity, but had only been a coach for a few seasons. I don't see what he had done to earn the opportunity to manage a club of the size and prestige of Arsenal.
Being a coach working under a great manager is no guarantee of success as manager. Quieroz, Kidd, Phelan and, to a lesser degree, MacLaren have never ascended to great heights even though spending time under the best manager in British history, for example.
He may turn out to be a great manager in the future, but I am glad we managed to get hold of a guy who has more than earned his right to manage one of the most successful and venerable sporting clubs in the land.
27 Posted 20/12/2020 at 14:09:39
Our very own Colin Harvey arguably fell into this category too. Great player, outstanding coach at all levels, didn't quite cut it as a manager.
28 Posted 20/12/2020 at 14:14:02
As my father used to say; the word honest is used in more lies than any other word.
29 Posted 20/12/2020 at 14:14:44
30 Posted 20/12/2020 at 14:23:35
Yes, those all as players, but I don't think many trained as coaches under him?
There was at one point 3 or 4 ex players from utd all managing in the PL, Keane, Bruce, Hughes and Robson, but again I don't think they coached with him. And also didnt go on to achieve big things.
31 Posted 20/12/2020 at 15:07:35
Davies should, as mentioned above, should had a better picture of what is happening around him. Both were poor pieces of play, Gomes, however, was brain dead in his approach. Rightly one got more criticism than the other. Also, the narrative of their games was that Gomes was generally poor, Davies was not.
32 Posted 20/12/2020 at 15:12:08
Interesting Joe, as that kind of leads into another narrative; we just aren't producing good coaches and managers and haven't done for some time now.
Avoiding relegation is what the likes of Bruce and Allardyce have made a living from. Back to Jim's point, they've not really achieved big things.
33 Posted 20/12/2020 at 16:48:14
In the second half, I thought Sigurdsson was showing fatigue and slowed right down from his new level. Davies was less of an influence and we became a bit ragged. Arsenal were finding it easier to pass through the midfielders.
With having three games in a week and the effort the lads had put in previously, we held on well. I think, to maintain our league position, we will definitely have to rotate certain players a bit and also hope Gbamin can come in and add some more quality to the midfield when needed in the months ahead.
It's clear we are a work in progress for Mr Ancelotti, this team has been excellent, but it is not the finished article yet.
Thinking ahead, if we sign a couple of players of the same calibre as DoucourÃ© and Allan in the next summer window, we will become a stable and consistent force, very realistically challenging for the top 4 and establishing ourselves as one of the major teams in the Premier League.
34 Posted 20/12/2020 at 17:31:24
I think backup or competition for Dominic and a wide player for the next window as well as full-back cover. 3 players and, as you say, of similar calibre to what we bought in the summer. I trust the current regime to identify players that will improve on what we have rather than splashing ridiculous money on players that didn't in previous years. That is where Ancelloti's influence and network comes in.
Keeper not a priority just yet and, in Godfrey plus the improvement in Keane and Mina, I'm quite comfortable with the centre-back quartet of those 3 plus Holgate.
I am also hopeful of Gbamin. With him in the team, it gives us options to go very attacking with a 3-5-2. I know we have all been scarred of late with a back 3, but that was with a 3-4-3 with no genuine holding midfielder sat between defence and Allan or Doucoure. Not saying every week, just gives us options to mix it and not be predictable.
Then, next summer, we raise the bar again. Step by step and continuous improvement over time.
35 Posted 20/12/2020 at 18:18:55
I would like a forward with pace to burn as a complement to our attack, and the ability to cause panic from the subs bench. Tosun and Bolaise will be gone, maybe in a few weeks, so I think we will be looking for someone.
I think, in the modern game, any forward we buy has to be a complete player, or can become one. Richarlison is a menace offensively but his inclusion never weakens the side defensively. Iwobi is well on his way to achieving that, but it's still early days. Calvert-Lewin is the Premier League top scorer and contributes to the physical and combative side of the game more than anyone. What I'm trying to say is that we can't sign talented players who will be passengers.
I'd be looking for a Sadio Mane: goal threat, fast, agile and a pain in the ass with an edge too. Sam Hoare flagged up a young (Mane-type) lad playing in Germany I think, who is looking promising. Can't remember his name...
Right-back is still on the agenda, and just has to be addressed next time round. We all love Seamus but we have to be proactive, like we were with Leighton. We need a right-back â€˜Digne' â€“ if Mr Brands can find one.
The fortunes of the club this season could rest on Jean-Philippe Gbamin hitting the ground running or AndrÃ© Gomes stepping it right up. Tom Davies isn't too far off, but he is still looking like a cover player. All that or Allan coming back and having a clear run without injury.
I think Carlo will be looking at these three very closely between now and the summer because we need top-class cover for Allan to avoid being too weakened. Can one of those three step up to the plate?
Another thing to look forward to is the inevitable switching of James Rodriguez in the No 10 position. Sigurdsson has been much, much better there these last 3 matches (until fading against Arsenal). I can see a sharing of that position between those two players. It is a job share that may reap dividends for the club and keep both players fresh and fit playing their best football.
36 Posted 20/12/2020 at 18:45:47
Sam often mentions Krepin Diatta, the young Senegalese playing in Belgium. He'd be good. But probably not available till summer.
More obscure options are Abdellah Sima of Slavia Prague who West Ham are looking at. He's 19 also of Senegal. Looks absolutely exceptional all-round centre-forward.
Another one is Kamaldeen Sulemana, the 18-year-old Ghanaian playing for Nordsjaelland in Denmark. He's an exceptionally fast tricky goal-scoring winger.
I'd love us to pick up these sorts of players now, so that they can be readied for the first team when Richarlison inevitability leaves.
37 Posted 20/12/2020 at 18:51:03
Back to the subject, did anyone notice how we went back to our last season like midfield show in the last few minutes?? Saw Davies dropping into defense and Sigurdsson as usual a bystander... I hope Allan comes back asap.
38 Posted 20/12/2020 at 20:31:39
Ancelotti is starting to take a more pragmatic approach, he was a bit gung-ho with James in the team hoping to win games with mostly flair, but he's finding out there are other ways to win them.
However, here's the 'but'... we're riding our luck too much and have to start showing more ability, cunning and composure when trying to kill a game off. Just thumping the ball back to the opposition and enduring another wave of pressure is not the way to go, Arsenal were very unlucky in not getting the draw; we need to start playing some quality possession football.
39 Posted 20/12/2020 at 20:57:47
Whilst I agree that Everton can't continue to play like we are for the remainder of this season and expect to be successful, I have to say that it is far easier to become a more expansive team when it has a string of positive results behind it.
As for luck, well that old adage that "the harder you work the luckier you get" springs to mind. That's what the current team is doing, working extremely hard and it is deservedly reaping the rewards.
The really difficult part comes next with three great results in the bag: Can the team continue to work as hard, regardless of the tactics employed or the stature of the opposition, the question being will they take their foot off the pedal and revert to believing that they don't have to put the hard yards in?
All that the team has achieved in recent weeks, despite the points haul, is to put themselves back in the running, but the 'big six' with Leicester replacing Arsenal, they will be hard to finish ahead of, due to their greater experience and probably more capable squads.
What I do like about the current run is the re-awakening of the morale and camaraderie that is on show from the players, which is vital in our quest to upset the applecart, and even if the team fails to achieve anything meaningful this season, that spirit will only help us to progress.
This Everton side is capable of winning one of the cups if it continues to retain solidity, whilst having a threat in attack and it doesn't let its work ethic fall away.
40 Posted 20/12/2020 at 21:02:48
I'd be surprised if Brands wasn't keeping tabs on him and a few others. It looks nailed on that a bigger club will take a gamble on him in the summer.
41 Posted 20/12/2020 at 22:23:41
Confidence is a wonderful thing when it's on your side; and you're right â€“ the more of these wins we get, there is a snowball effect.
I just want to to see the midfield when gaining possession in these situations, when we are under pressure, be more composed instead of looking for the Calvert-Lewin long ball every time and move up as a unit while keeping possession.
We don't have to try to score as quickly as possible every time we have the ball. Against the Gooners, we got the ball and tried a goalscoring counter-attack every time; they dispossessed us and still had most of their men around our penalty box and so could reassert pressure. If we had played out at a slower pace, it would have forced Arsenal to run back to defend their own penalty box; their men in their own half is much safer for us.
42 Posted 20/12/2020 at 22:28:11
The seeing games out and not riding our luck will come when more quality is in the 11.
I'd like to think Coleman, Digne, Allan, and James, can be as disciplined as their replacements and, in regimental performances like recent ones, we automatically have more quality with them in the side.
1-0 jammy will do me every week, though, and I don't believe we have to be entertaining with our resources.
We can't have a bad window, though we have to keep the squad in good shape to keep up there.
Bit weak in central midfield, I think... and another forward would be great.
43 Posted 20/12/2020 at 23:23:56
I'm pleased he's found a working and robust formation.
The irony is that I don't see where James will fit into it? He's not a defensive type of player and doesn't seem to have the fitness to get up and down the pitch all match.
He needs a stable group around him to get his passing game going and give him options, the way we are playing at the moment he'd be on his own and closed down.
I'm interested to see how Ancelotti fits him in again.
44 Posted 21/12/2020 at 02:52:11
45 Posted 21/12/2020 at 05:33:57
I don't think that Richarlisons transfer out is a given. Of course his agent will have filled with ideas, The one weakness, in his game his passing , which will cut down his options. He is more of a power runner, who uses pace to get into a shooting position. If he doesn't get in that position he is easily snuffed out and is devoid of ideas if he finds he has no option but to pass.
He does work hard and his industiousness gets him goals. His suitability for a lot of top flight teams is questionable. He is below par at the moment possibly, because transfer has been playing on his mind during Evertons bad spell. There may not be that many suitors.
46 Posted 21/12/2020 at 08:58:11
47 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:05:37
48 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:12:45
49 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:43:45
The quarter final should be a cracker.
Godfrey looks undroppable.
I'm sorry to say, I was glad Gomes was out injured. His first touch is now poor, his pace is way too slow and his tackling decisions are highly dubious at best. I hope he can recover his form and fitness but he's sadly dead weight currently.
We need James' creativity back asap (even if we'll inevitably suffer defensively for that).
With Allan out for presumably some time perhaps Carlo moves Holgate to defensive midfield and Seamus back in?
Iwobi has worked hard over recent games but his end product is so often underwhelming. I'd like Bernard or Gordon in for while. The former was excellent v Man Utd.
Pickford is a dilemma. Makes some important saves still, but I wince every time a cross comes in. If I say he still exudes signs of a headless chicken then I feel I owe all poultry an apology for the comparison. If he could get through a few consecutive games with no crises then the confidence could finally return. Fingers crossed.
Keane has been consistently superb all season and I'm pleased because he's a sound bloke.
It's nice to be in our lofty position and I hope we push on to really give it a go. Such a pity we had that really poor run.
Here's to a great new year - in so many ways.
Merry Christmas Fellow Blues.
50 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:49:26
Strangely in the last couple of minutes, Davies, who comes under more stick than most on here, with Everton under increasing pressure, brought the ball out of the penalty area and with no Everton player ahead of him to pass to, calmly aimed the ball fifty yards down the field but out of play, giving us seconds to regroup and leaving the Arsenal team to go back and start again from scratch, not pretty I admit, but was needed at the time.
51 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:51:28
Ancelotti now knows what he has, what they can and can't do, positions and systems they can and cannot play in
The players now realise the expectations and requirements they have to produce under the, probably, most experienced manager they have ever worked under.
Of course there will be set backs along the way. That would be the case with whoever came in.
As long as there is recognisable improvement then, in my opinion, that's what counts.
The haters will never change their position but using the money Ancelotti is on is just nonsense.
We have players at this Club who are on or nearly on the same money! Who gets slagged the most? Ancelotti or the player?
The media are totally focused on Klippety and his injury ravaged squad performing miracles and undoubtably retaining the league
Man Utd are now fantastic and the RS nearest challengers
Leicester are going to push them both
Let them all get on with it. We may hit the ropes again but as long as we can see improvement and pick teams and tactics to suit the opposition then lets be glad
52 Posted 21/12/2020 at 09:51:38
53 Posted 21/12/2020 at 10:52:52
Tierney and Saka, were two of Arsenal's most willing runners though, but watching the game, I definitely wished we had signed Maitland-Niles, rather than Iwobi.
54 Posted 21/12/2020 at 11:03:11
All is relatively fine with John Snr, he was given the vaccine yesterday, which is good news. As for him posting on here, I believe he has taken a sabbatical from posting for the time being.
55 Posted 21/12/2020 at 11:13:24
56 Posted 21/12/2020 at 11:37:33
57 Posted 21/12/2020 at 12:06:53
Yep, Davies had a very good game, considering he's not getting much game time this season, he looked composed.
As you said, he had not many options when he did have the ball. The problem is that Richarlison and DCL are seen as the solution to our problems when we're under pressure, but more often than not they're dispossessed and it comes right back to us.
They're just not performing as unit in midfield, our game management is poor because of this, when we should be slowing the game down and keeping possession, we're trying to score a dramatic goal to kill the game.
58 Posted 21/12/2020 at 15:22:02
Just because he has no pace doesn't mean he won't work hard. I think he does that. If he plays over Sigurdsson we have better pass ratio, smarter movement and faster vision.
Sigurdsson has done well lately and his hard work has paid off but James is better at everything.
Everytime we have a talented player it seems to be a natural inclination from a large portion to assume they don't work hard?
I can never understand that.
59 Posted 21/12/2020 at 15:53:19
I'm not sure whether or not I will resume contributing to this site, because I consider the response to a post I submitted was both ill-mannered and offensive. I will, however, extend Season's Greetings to 'friend and foe' alike. Best Wishes, John.
60 Posted 21/12/2020 at 16:15:19
61 Posted 21/12/2020 at 16:27:24
62 Posted 21/12/2020 at 16:47:28
63 Posted 21/12/2020 at 16:54:53
64 Posted 21/12/2020 at 16:58:20
65 Posted 21/12/2020 at 17:00:31
66 Posted 21/12/2020 at 17:39:55
67 Posted 21/12/2020 at 21:14:16
Good to hear from you and glad to hear you are well. Merry Xmas and Best Wishes.
68 Posted 21/12/2020 at 21:19:50
Some Glam Club may have a punt. But, in the Covid crisis, they are few and far between and it wouldn't be good for his career. He did kind of threaten a move, but it was more agent-speak. Bet his agent's phone isn't ringing too much.
69 Posted 21/12/2020 at 23:40:21
70 Posted 21/12/2020 at 00:24:09
And for those at Finch Farm, something different seems to have happened very lately, to our benefit. One of our most controversial contributors has cited "reliable info" that Davide Ancelotti has been showing previously comfy but ineffective players, defenders especially, the importance of "body position" when defending. About time too, and one penalty being the only score against us from three teams with very expensive and proficient attacking units says it all.
I'm happy to win "ugly" for now. Winning in that way is guaranteed to improve squad morale.
If Moshiri wants to further improve fan morale, and his bank balance quite soon, I suggest he takes note of the reality of this season, with the vulnerability of the Sky Babes, and forks out for a couple of notable players in January to make top 4, never mind "6", achievable.
71 Posted 22/12/2020 at 01:48:07
72 Posted 22/12/2020 at 03:49:08
On the face of it, this would appear to be a classic case of getting 9 or 10 men behind the ball, working their arses off and defending the lead for their lives. I've seen people say it's unsustainable. I don't agree.
What I saw was economy of movement. Our centre-halves defended deep; our full-backs stayed home, our wide men were disciplined... But it was in midfield where I saw the biggest difference. Davies and DoucourÃ© did not charge around tackling everything from the lino to the corner flag. The simply stood in front of the Arsenal team and challenged them to break them down. Both were unspectacular, but their positioning was flawless.
When you get good players doing the very basics in defending, staying compact, holding their ground, sticking to their individual tasks within the collective effort, there are very few teams in this league with the ability to open you up. Champions League football awaits any team who can do this consistently and effectively.
There is of course a trade-off. What do we do when everyone is fit? James has the ability to get us all on our feet, to open up any opposition, but his presence immediately reduces the collective discipline. Allan will not be content to simply stand his ground; of course, he will win us more possession but, every time he goes ball-hunting, a gap appears between our midfield and defence.
And what about the full-backs, would Coleman and Digne be able to quell their desire to get down the lines? Do we need them too? People who had seen Godfrey in the flesh had already told us he was fast, but I think we were all startled by the devastating turn of foot he showed us on the rare occasion he did break ranks.
Who gets back in? Do we change our style to accommodate certain individuals? Do we risk points in order to entertain?
Is "playing the right way" more important than accumulating points?
73 Posted 22/12/2020 at 04:29:09
So in a nutshell you're foregoing the traditional turkey and cooking up Mike Gaynes magnifico crow for Christmas? Enjoy.
74 Posted 22/12/2020 at 08:00:09
This is well-observed, which I had not considered, and shows Ancelotti's team's good individual coaching. It shows an acceptance of the limits of certain players. It's a form of back to basics.
I can't see Ancelotti not trying to push beyond these limits. Against Arsenal, the early goal was vital, as it is in all Everton wins. It takes the initiative of setting up shop away from teams. In Arsenal's case, it forced them to come out and play, changing tactics.
To get into the Champion League, there has to be consistent wins against lower-placed teams, as Arsene Wenger showed throughout his tenure. These are the teams that set up shop. Everton have often bust a gut in the first half to break them down, not getting the early goal, only to deflate in the second half.
This is the conundrum you have correctly observed that Ancelotti faces in team selection and why coaching has to raise the limit of certain players.
There are quite a few Everton players that like the comfort zone of play in front of them.
75 Posted 22/12/2020 at 08:47:56
We'll need a variety of tactics and personnel to keep us where we are. The good news is that Carlo now has two very different tactics he can use and a core of about 14 or 15 first-teamers who give him consistent performances and different options.
So I think there's a decent chance we can keep up the good form â€“ albeit with some disappointments to be expected. Top 6 remains doable.
76 Posted 22/12/2020 at 09:12:53
As Robert says, it depends so much on us getting the first goal and shots that are currently hitting our woodwork not going in.
Even then, we could be only a Pickford error or an undisciplined tackle away from turning a great result into a disappointing one.
How long do we stifle the supply line to Calvert-Lewin?
Not sustainable in the long run â€“ especially against more moderate opposition.
That said, same again tomorrow night against Man Utd with the same favourable result will be perfectly acceptable!
77 Posted 22/12/2020 at 09:21:13
Having not won a trophy for almost 26 years, the style of play matters not a jot to me at this stage of Ancelotti's reign.
I have no doubt whatsoever that a more attractive style will develop.
78 Posted 22/12/2020 at 10:19:09
That's what caused the poor results run as you say ;Hitting the Bar, Reckless tackles and Pickford errors. Mina and Docoure put in great performances against Asenal. But when Mina has to come out of his comfort zone of playing deep and has to defend on the turn he gets the head staggers. Dourcoure when Allan plays bombing forward, is out of his comfort zone and doesn't show for a pass.
There have been improvement though Keane especially. Holgate and Godfrey make Everton less predictable. Iowbi and Davis are able to carry the ball more. Sigurdsson is more confident. Maybe Richarlison is not as comfortable with the current system. Calvert Lewin final third play has improved
Managing the reintroduction of Colman, James, Digne and Allan will be the challenge, for the reasons you outlined. I suppose, Ancelotti would consider his a movement to the next level.
79 Posted 22/12/2020 at 10:31:04
Keep this formation against Man Utd and Man City, it works and we're good at it. But against Sheffield Utd, we can't play the same way. We'll look slow and ponderous and, unless we get an early goal, we will allow The Blades to play themselves into the game â€“ like we have done with so many teams.
The same goes for Sigurdsson. He is very effective in the Number 10 role against teams who attack us, it affords him the time and space he needs between the lines. He proved this in Silva's good run against the better teams. He is hopeless against teams that defend deep against us.
If Carlo is worth his money, he will realise the need to mix it up and not work on the mantra of “Well, it worked in the last game...â€
80 Posted 22/12/2020 at 11:02:13
You make good points there, mate, but he knows.
81 Posted 22/12/2020 at 12:14:07
Spurs were lauded recently as potential champions and they were unlucky to lose at Anfield playing on the break. Ironically Leicester followed up their defeat to us with a superb counter-attacking display at Tottenham.
So there are quite a few teams doing what we do. They all seem to struggle when asked to control a game and break down teams sitting deep.
Thus far, it is only our neighbours who have the answers as Man City and Man Utd have struggled when trying to play possession football.
82 Posted 22/12/2020 at 13:44:58
We will miss Digne's assists from the left in such games, but Godfrey looks adept in he role and can make some excellent forward runs that could destabilise Sheffield and other similar teams.
83 Posted 22/12/2020 at 14:07:33
I think it's funny how football goes in roundabouts. Everyone has been lauding Leicester and Spurs for counter-attacking ruthlessly with minimal possession.
When Roberto Martinez came along at the height of the Pep era everyone was judging teams based on possession. I remember when we drew under him at Arsenal and McNulty banging on about how the fact we had 60 percent of possession indicated we were so great.
84 Posted 22/12/2020 at 15:20:03
Our neighbours set up shop against us defending deep, even targeted our best player. In the second half, they harried outside the box countering all the time. A lower half Manager could have coached them, the dirty pack. I even think our poor spell coincided with teams following the same tactics.
Inadvertently, Pickford got them back and then they had the cheek to cry wolf. We are now in second place making sure they don't get away with it.
85 Posted 22/12/2020 at 17:11:02
If you had then been offered our current league position, Allan and Rodriguez, Doucoure and Godfrey with Calvert-Lewin as an England International at the top of the scoring charts â€“ well you'd have been in dreamland.
There's more to come from this group of players and Ancelotti. There have been a few crap performances and mistakes too. But I'm right behind this side as we enter Christmas and I think we're in really good hands.
86 Posted 22/12/2020 at 19:10:49
Mistakes will be made and tired players will be picked with not much option. As long as they work their socks off, the formation shouldn't affect us.
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