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Venue: Goodison Park
Premier League
Sunday 16 May 2021; 7:00pm
0 1
Sheff United
Half Time: 0 - 1 
Jebbison 7'
Attendance: BCD
Fixture 36
Referee: Jon Moss

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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  Holgate (Sigurdsson 46')
  Doucoure (Gomes 78')
  Rodriguez booked (Bernard 78')
  Subs not used
  Unavailable booked
  Gbamin (injured)
  King (injured)
  Branthwaite (loan)
  Gibson (loan)
  Gordon (loan)
  Kean (loan)
  Simms (loan)
  Tosun (loan)
  Walcott (loan)

  Basham booked
  Robinson booked
  Baldock booked
  Subs not used

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal
Newcastle 3-4 Man City
Brighton 1-1 West Ham
Burnley 0-4 Leeds
Southampton 3-1 Fulham
C Palace 3-2 Aston Villa
Everton 0-1 Sheff United
Tottenham 2-0 Wolves
West Brom 1-2 Liverpool

1 Manchester City 83
2 Manchester United 70
3 Leicester City 66
4 Chelsea 64
5 Liverpool 63
6 Tottenham Hotspur 59
7 West Ham United 59
8 Everton 56
9 Arsenal 55
10 Leeds United 53
11 Aston Villa 49
12 Wolves 45
13 Crystal Palace 44
14 Southampton 43
15 Newcastle United 39
16 Burnley 39
17 Brighton 38
18 Fulham 27
19 West Bromwich Albion 26
20 Sheffield United 20

Match Report

When you look back on it, there was a horrible inevitability about this result; the kind of predictability that makes you faintly embarrassed to have had any faith that it might have ended differently. How many Evertonians spent the past few days since an admittedly lifeless display at Villa Park, albeit one that at least yielded a point, convincing themselves that, despite a litany of dreadful results at Goodison Park since Everton scraped a win over Southampton at the start of March, this matchup with one of the worst sides in the history of the Premier League would yield a different outcome to the home defeats to Leeds, West Ham, Burnley, Fulham, Newcastle and Aston Villa?

Before today, Sheffield United had lost 15 of their 17 away games this season and were averaging 0.5 goals per game. Their relegation, a virtual certainty for weeks beforehand, was confirmed more than a fortnight ago and they had three of their first choice players missing so elected to hand a 17-year-old kid his debut up front.

Not surprisingly, Daniel Jebbison scored the game’s only goal and Everton, as spineless, aimless and toothless as they have been on home turf all year, failed almost completely to muster a meaningful response over the ensuing 83 minutes plus stoppage time. Needing to win to keep alive their prospects of qualifying for the Europa League, a target that felt like the bare minimum when the Toffees left Bramall Lane on Boxing Day sitting in second place, they followed up an abject first half with an even worse second before trudging off at full-time with their season effectively over.

Analysis of the performance would be largely redundant — it followed a familiar script of sideways and backwards passing, launched balls from the back, baffling tactics, a mystifying lack of movement in midfield or supporting numbers in attack, precious few options off the bench, and a crippling lack of confidence running throughout almost the entire side.

Only Jordan Pickford, a player who has stood tall — literally and figuratively at times — in recent weeks could emerge from the match with any real credit and if it weren’t for his smart save to deny Jebbison a second goal after yet another horrendous error from Mason Holgate, Everton would have been dead and buried at 2-0 down by half-time.

With better finishing from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin — where have we heard that before? — late in the first half, things might have been different but somehow you doubt it. Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton have tended to be worse after half-time at home than before it and so it proved again this evening. Aaron Ramsdale in the United goal was called upon to make three excellent saves in the first 45 minutes but wasn’t worked in the second as the hosts just ran out of ideas.

It made a mockery of Everton’s top-six ambitions and was a damning indictment of the poverty of Everton’s recruitment in recent years. Frankly, it once again painted Ancelotti in a very poor light because despite it being one player short of his strongest line-up, this was a sorry rabble that looked more like a collection of complete strangers than the fluid, attacking side that began 2020-21 on a Spirit Of The Blues-engendering tear.

Everton could barely string more than a couple of passes together this evening, struggled to work their way past the Blades’ initial press and shifted in and out of an amorphous and indeterminate shape that left huge pockets of the pitch bereft of a single Blue jersey to find with the ball. In 78 minutes defined by mounting frustration, James Rodriguez tried his best to create something and might have had a goal or at least forced a save from the keeper were it not for a crucial block by a defender but he looked completely fed up by the time he was substituted in favour of Bernard. It was an achingly far cry from the day he grabbed a brace against Brighton last October and you had to wonder what was going through his head.

Rodriguez’s return to the lineup at the expense of Gylfi Sigurdsson was the only change from the team that started at Villa Park on Thursday but despite appearing to begin with the right attacking posture, Everton soon succumbed to a fast start by the opposition.

Jack Robinson easily evaded Abdoulaye Doucouré and Allan before fizzing a square ball across goal for Jebbison who arrived unmarked as Ben Godfrey ill-advisedly stepped out to convert from around seven yards out. That put Everton in the kind of position in which they have struggled since the turn of the year — needing to chase the game but not being able to fashion enough chances to turn the contest on its head.

After Calvert-Lewin's shot had been deflected over, Ramsdale pulled off a smart save to deny Allan's goal-bound effort in the 11th minute while a 24th minute claim by Everton for handball in the box by Robinson was waved away by the officials.

John Fleck forced a parrying save from Pickford and Pickford blocked Jebbison's attempt to chip the ball over him following that awful giveaway by Holgate and the youngster's follow-up shot was charged down by Michael Keane.

James had been a disappointingly peripheral figure as Everton struggled to string more than a couple of passes together in what was an awful half of football from their perspective but he came close to serving up an equaliser.

First, he chested the ball down on the edge of the box and saw a decent shot deflect over the crossbar; then his superb cross picked out Richarlison but Ramsdale was equal to the Brazilian's downward header and Calvert-Lewin snatched at the rebound, firing straight at the keeper's midriff from close range.

Another ball over the top, this time from Keane, gave Richarlison another promising, albeit difficult, opportunity but he was unable to keep his volley down and he sliced it over the bar.

The start of the second half called for a big performance and a radical shift in posture from the Toffees but despite Sigurdsson coming in for Holgate and a shift to more of a 4-4-2 formation — it was a change in formation that should have been made in the first half but Ancelotti appears to have precious little faith in these players at Goodison that he has persisted with the setup that has worked so well away — Everton weren't much better after half-time.

John Egan did well to block an effort from Calvert-Lewin off Sigurdsson's neat pass and Richarlison had a powerful drive from a tight angle batted behind by Ramsdale but it was Sheffield United who came closer to scoring when

Enda Stevens picked out David McGoldrick in the box and Ben Godfrey had to block the striker's shot on the turn over the bar. From the resulting corner, Pickford had turn an Egan header over, although a foul was awarded to the home side for an infringement during the set-piece.

Ancelotti replaced Rodriguez and Doucouré with Bernard and André Gomes but Everton created nothing of note in the final 12 minutes plus stoppage time apart from a late, rising Godfrey header in stoppage time as they slumped to yet another loss at Goodison.

With two games left, sixth place remains mathematically possible but it feels somewhat ridiculous to believe that this team, playing the way it is, is capable of picking up the six points that would make it possible assuming results went the Blues’ way elsewhere. The return of a few thousand fans on Wednesday for the visit of Wolves will help and might, perhaps, offer a glimmer of hope that a change in the milieu at Goodison will help the players but it shouldn’t have to come to that.

Thoughts can legitimately turn to what is shaping up to be another massive summer at the club, with the list of players who could safely be jettisoned (assuming buyers could be found) growing by the week.

There’s no question that an influx of top-quality signings would improve this Everton squad but this horrendous run of home form and the ugly football that has characterised the team for the majority of the season has built a wall of worry and doubt over Ancelotti himself and whether he has what it takes to fashion a winning side out of pieces that are not universally top-quality. He seems to be at a loss to explain why his current charges can’t even get the basics right but questions are inevitably raised over how they’re coached.

The Italian has an abundant trophy cabinet and a glowing reputation but he has never faced a task like this and, 18 months into the job, it appears to be getting the better of him. The budget doesn’t exist for Marcel Brands to go out and buy him a team of superstars to mould into a side capable of consistently getting results to propel the club into the upper echelons of the Premier League; instead, Ancelotti is going to have to draw on every ounce of his man-management skills, experience and football acumen as next season will not be any easier.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton inexplicably lost their penultimate home match of the season to bottom dwellers Sheffield United in another atrocious display that plumbed the depths of incomprehension.

The good news for a team that was crying out for inspiration and creativity during the goalless draw the Villa Park on Thursday is that James Rodriguez has been declared fit to play. That was the story prior to the home game with Aston Villa a fortnight ago, of course, but this time Ancelotti expects him to make it past the warm-up.

With his compatriot, Yerry Mina, still out, the Colombian is the only change to the XI that started last time out, replacing Gylfi Sigurdsson who was disappointing against Villa, with the continuation of the three-man central defensive unit of Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, flanked by Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne as wingbacks.

The expectation is that James will be able to make the difference for a Toffees side that has been tentative and toothless going forward in his absence. While Josh King, whose signing becomes a deeper mystery with every passing game, is not even on the bench.

For Sheffield Utd, former Everton players Phil Jagielka and John Lundstram are on the bench.

The game kicked off in pouring rain, with the Blades this time hoofing it straight out of play. From there, the play was really quite open, with a fair bit of good passing and movement. Digne got in one good cross, but Calvert-Lewin could not handle the pace of a very direct pass as James picked him out brilliantly in the penalty area.

But it was the visitors who benefitted from the openness, young Jebbison on his debut benefitting from some fine work by Robinson who danced around Allan and he had a simple finish for the first goal after just 7 minutes. Apparently his hero is Calvert-Lewin, who likes scoring simple goals like that for The Blues.

At the other end, the old Blades player won a corner with a deflected shot and, from the corner, Allan tested Ramsdale with a fine shot that he parried for another corner. The Blades attacked again and had Everton at sixes and sevens, Digne clearing to empty Row Z in desperation.

The visitors were having a fine time in the pouring rain, or was it Everton tears from heaven at yet another abysmal home display? They seemed completely unable to get a grip on the game and resorted to the dreaded short back and sideways passing to nowhere. James tried to play in Richarlison but he was thinking wistfully about Copacabana beach.

A cross finally came in for Calvert-Lewin and he headed it on target but with not enough power to trouble Ramsdale. Coleman forced a corner, with the ball hitting the defender's arm, the corner launched over everyone.

Basham was in hard on Digne with his studs showing but only got a yellow card. Everton did absolutely nothing with the free-kick. Instead, the visitors built an attack, McGoldrick's shot was blocked and Fleck followed up with a great shot that Pickford batted away.

James Rodriguez was really struggling to make any impression, giving weight to the thought that he is more of a fair-weather player who could not do much in the pouring rain. Jebbison came so close to getting his second after a horrible mistake by Holgate.

Rodriguez finally got the ball in a great position off Allan and we looked for the net to bulge but a defender deflected his shot off-target. Two corners came to nothing. Finally, an exquisite ball from Rodriguez in to Richarlison was headed well by him and saved brilliantly by Ramsdale but Calvert-Lewin thought he could just tap in the rebound instead of lashing it into the roof of the net and, guess what, the keeper could easily recover and stop it. Shocking miss.

Keane played in a fairly difficult ball for Richarlison, who chose to volley it acrobatically, definitely a goalscoring chance, but he didn't catch it right, to sum up a truly dismal half. There have been some awful games played by Everton at Goodison Park this season but, judging by the first half, this one is going to take the soggy wet biscuit.

Perhaps in an expression of his annoyance for once, Carlo Ancelotti makes an almost unprecedented change at half-time, Holgate dragged off and replaced by Sigurdsson, whose first touch was to pass it straight to a Sheffield player!

With the rain finally relenting, Everton shaped a somewhat better attack, Doucouré crossing in low and James trying to make something, but all they got was a corner that Sigurdsson lofted in to Ramsdale. Sigurdsson played in Calvert-Lewin but he took just a fraction too long and did not lift his shot over the defender's leg.

It wasn't really working though, as Everton continued to huff and puff without really making any inroads. Like far too many supposedly 'inferior' sides this season, Sheffield Utd were controlling the game and Everton had no meaningful answer.

James gave away a soft foul that allowed The Blades to set up a free header at the far post that was fortunately headed well over. Then James did it again on the other side and got booked for it. Time to come off? Egan won the first header again but Calvert-Lewin got a good defensive header in to save more Everton blushes.

A great ball forward to Richarlison was lashed goalwards but not with enough guile to beat the keeper, who batted it behind at the near post. The visitors attacked again and caused nervous moments in the Everton defence.

James finally got his wish, Bernard his replacement, with 15 minutes of this agony to endure and Everton showing less and less signs of scoring, while McGoldrick had a great chance to double the score. Gomes also replaced Doucouré, the final play of the dice from Ancelotti.

Calvert-Lewin was barged over for a set-piece, Baldock getting a card. The set-piece as disappointing as ever, cleared by a defender, but a corner won on the next phase. That was cleared as well, but at least Everton were finally putting some balls into the Blades area.

But it was the visitors who responded to the pressure with some committed defending and a flurry of balls played upfield, the blue shirts powerless to stop the inevitable course of this dire display. To epitoomise Everton's quandary, Coleman fell flat on his face.

Richarlison won a late corner in 3 minutes of added time. Godfry headed it over.,

Kick-off: 7:00pm, Sunday 16 May 2021 on BT Sport 1
Referee: Jon Moss
VAR: Simon Hooper

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate(46' Sigurdsson), Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Allan, Doucouré (78' Gomes), James [Y:65'] (78' Bernard), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Virginia, Olsen, Delph, Iwobi, Nkounkou, Davies.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham [Y:27'], Egan, Stevens, Baldock, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck, Robinson, Jebbison, McGoldrick.
Subs: Lundstram, Lowe, Jagielka, Foderingham, Bogle, Brewster, Bryan, Brunt, Gordon.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton are back at Goodison Park for the penultimate time this season knowing that a dramatic improvement in their home form could yet carry them into Europe.

In what looks likely to be the last match played inside an empty Old Lady before 6,500 Evertonians are welcomed back on Wednesday, the Blues take on the bottom club, Sheffield United, searching for their first win on their own turf since they triumphed over Southampton on 1 March.

That was the only time in 2021 that Everton have won at Goodison in the Premier League but back-to-back victories in the next four days should put them in a strong position heading into their final match at Manchester City on 23 May.

Given that abysmal home record, it would seem like a tall order for Carlo Ancelotti's men but they could not have asked for more favourable fixtures — against a Blades team already relegated and a Wolves side with nothing to play for but pride and their places in Nuno Espirito Santo's squad next season.

Sheffield United, still operating under the temporary stewardship of Paul Heckingbottom following the sacking of Chris Wilder, have won just five League games all season and just one in their last nine. They have been thumped 5-0 by Leicester, 3-0 by Arsenal and 4-0 by Tottenham in the past couple of months, scorelines that should be the yardstick by which Everton measure themselves for this fixture.

But, again, there is nothing routine about Everton at home at the moment and it will be a measure of the players' attitude and confidence how they perform against the side that will begin the day nine points adrift of West Bromwich Albion at the bottom of the division.

The good news for a team that was crying out for inspiration and creativity during the goalless draw the Villa Park on Thursday is that James Rodriguez has been declared fit to play. That was the story prior to the home game with Aston Villa a fortnight ago, of course, but this time Ancelotti expects him to make it past the warm-up.

With his compatriot, Yerry Mina, unlikely to feature, the Colombian could be the only change to the XI that started last time out, replacing Gylfi Sigurdsson who was disappointing against Villa. That would mean the continuation of the three-man central defensive unit of Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, with Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne as wingbacks.

The expectation is that James will be able to make the difference for a Toffees side that has been tentative and toothless going forward in his absence.

The Blades, who have scored just six times in 16 League games since they surprised Manchester United at Old Trafford in January, will be without Sander Berge, Oliver Burke and Ethan Ampadu who are all sidelined by injury.

Kick-off: 7:00pm, Sunday 16 May 2021 on BT Sport 1
Referee: Jon Moss
VAR: Simon Hooper
Last Time: Everton 0 - 2 Sheffield United

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Rodriguez, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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