Marco Silva says his players are united in their determination to “keep fighting for what is best for Everton Football Club”.
Fortune has not been kind on Everton in the past month, with a handful of key decisions going against Silva’s side – who face Southampton this weekend.
The serious injury suffered by Andre Gomes against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, meanwhile, added to the issues keeping Bernard and summer signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin out of action.
Everton’s draw with Spurs featured a succession of interruptions for video assistant referee referrals.
One lengthy hold-up ended with Everton denied a penalty for Dele Alli’s handball in the box because the Tottenham player “was under pressure from the attacker [Yerry Mina] as the ball struck his hand”.
Silva’s team had another penalty appeal rejected after Richarlison collided with defender Davinson Sanchez. In Everton’s previous Premier League game, VAR intervened to award Brighton & Hove Albion a penalty – the first given with the aid of television replays this season.
“In football sometimes you have these moments, some decisions that are difficult for us to understand… tough injuries to key players,” Silva told evertontv.
“No one is saying, ‘Someone is making them [decisions negatively impacting Everton] on purpose’.
“Now is the moment for us to show how we are strong as a football club.
“We keep fighting because it is our obligation, we keep fighting for what is best for Everton Football Club. I am 100 per cent sure we will do the same thing on Saturday.
“With all these things that have happened to us, all the players in our dressing room need our support to give the right answers every single day and, of course, on the matchday.
“My feeling now is we will give a good answer with the support of everyone – first of all our fans. I think they realise how tough the past month was for us, all these things happening to us, the decisions, injuries to key players.
“But in these types of moments you can see how you are strong as a dressing room, the togetherness we have in our dressing room and among all the staff.”
Everton have won two and draw one of their past four games in all competitions, beating West Ham and scoring late to draw with Spurs in the Premier League and progressing to the Carabao Cup quarter finals with victory over Watford.
Their one defeat in that period came in last month’s ill-fated clash with Brighton when Silva’s team appeared set for a first away victory this season before the hosts levelled through their VAR-awarded penalty.
Richarlison’s gallop to the back post and exquisite volleyed finish landed a knockout blow on Southampton and earned Everton a valuable Premier League victory on the south coast.
Danny Ings had equalised for the hosts on 50 minutes after Everton had only Tom Davies’ fourth-minute strike to show for their first-half supremacy.
Djibril Sdibie, charging forward from right-back on 75 minutes, was responsible for dishing up Everton’s winner.
The Frenchman’s cross would have been a terror to defend, a missile loaded with trouble scudding across Southampton’s box from the home team’s perspective.
All Richarlison saw was opportunity and, my, he grabbed it. Or skilfully placed it into the net to be precise.
The thick end of 3,000 Evertonians stationed behind the bulging net were delirious.
Midfielder Davies has conclusively seized his opportunity in Everton’s starting XI of late and here he got the Blues off to a roaring start with the Academy graduate’s first Premier League goal away from Goodison Park.
Englishman Davies darted to the back post to meet Mason Holgate’s crafty flick on Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner and head high beyond the helpless Alex McCarthy.
Indeed, Davies was excellent all told. Progressive on the ball and disciplined without it.
When Southampton threatened to stretch Everton for the first time on 45 minutes, it was Davies chasing back to plug the gap and steal possession from Cedric Soares.
Davies had McCarthy frantically back pedalling to tip over with a deep ball from the right just before the half hour, too.
Home goalkeeper McCarthy palmed out a cross from Theo Walcott after the former Saints player outpaced Cedric and Jannik Vestergaard, the two defenders scrambling in Walcott’s trail, after a terrific ball down the line from Sigurdsson.
Cedric was a busy man. He dashed across on the cover to slid in and prevent Cenk Tosun getting a shot away after Walcott’s incisive 16th – minute pass.
Two minutes later and Tosun applied a gossamer touch with the outside of his boot to help Sigurdsson’s low cross from the left to Walcott.
He checked onto his left foot and stood up a ball which Tosun headed off target at the far post.
St Mary’s was restless now. Southampton’s players had little in the way of options on the ball.
Silva’s side, by contrast, were moving quickly and cleverly and regularly progressing into their opponents’ area.
The hosts three-man defence was keeping them alive, though, Southampton still breathing after a Sigurdsson free-kick from the right first evaded Yerry Mina’s outstretched boot and then Davies’s charge to the back post.
Lucas Digne and Sidibe – who did well to muscle Nathan Redmond of the ball with the ex-Norwich City player poised to shoot close to goal – were both routinely charging deep into opposition territory.
Digne shanked over right footed after Walcott’s surge through the heart of the pitch enabled Sigurdsson to feed the Frenchman.
That was in minute 32 – and just 60 seconds later following neat approach play from Digne and Tosun, Sidibe slammed a drive into the body of Cedric.
Portuguese Cedric was hooked at the break, replaced by Sofiane Boufal, who promptly sent a curler on target which Jordan Pickford clutched under the bar.
Boufal’s contribution five minutes after the restart was more telling. He advanced into the box from the right and slapped in a ball which ricocheted off Mina, falling kindly for Ings to turn home.
Everton responded through Richarlison, hurtling upfield but running out of room in battle with Jan Bednarek.
Defender Bednarek’s weak clearance, however, alighted with Sigurdsson, whose rising drive produced McCarthy’s sharpest piece of work, a tip over the bar at full stretch.
Tosun dragged fractionally wide after being fed by Walcott on 59 minutes, the Turk finding McCarthy’s gloves with a header from Digne’s corner soon after.
Pickford needed to be agile to spring to his right and push round a vicious James Ward-Prowse free-kick from tight to the left of Everton’s penalty area.
Southampton had been devoid of genuine threat in the opening half but now they came forward with intent.
Regardless, it was Everton making most of the running.
Richarlison had a blast blocked by a combination of Ings and Bednarek – and Holgate headed onto the roof of the net after Digne’s throw somehow travelled unmolested and via a giant bounce to the middle of goal.
But when Sidibe careered forward to thud the ball to the fasr post, there was Richarlison, on the move and steering the ball past McCarthy.
Alex Iwobi, not long on for Walcott, had an effort deflected inches wide by Jack Stephens.
And if he felt hard done by after that episode, the former Arsenal player was incredulous when his thumping strike hit Ward-Prowse on its way to clattering the post.
Calvert-Lewin, who had come on along with Iwobi, was denied by the sliding Bednarek after being slid in by Iwobi.
Had he scored, the roar from the travelling fans at the final whistle would have been no louder.
Richarlison's Sublime Finish
Everton peppered Southampton’s goal – firing 24 shots to the home team’s four.
Had Marco Silva’s team been forced to make do with a point it would have been a footballing travesty.
That eventuality appeared set to come to pass until Richarlison prompted a 10-minute chorus of the ditty Evertonians sing in his honour with a fabulous finish following Djibril Sidibe’s delivery from the right.
A five-point haul in this period between international breaks suddenly became seven points from four matches.
With a fair wind, Everton would have accumulated a whole lot more.
But those are the cards they’ve been dealt and this was a response to recent misfortune brimming with character and purpose.
Silva’s side started on the front foot and did not take a backwards step. Not even when Southampton got their goal and the locals got excited.
It is important, too, that Everton banished talk of not wins away from home in the league this season.
They’d won twice on the road in the Carabao Cup and really should have broken their league duck at Brighton.
Richarlison’s goal, however enables Everton to enter this international break without looking over their shoulders.
Three points here alone rocketed Silva’s side four places up the table and within touching distance of the top five.
No wonder those Evertonians think Richarlison – five goals this season – is brilliant.
Southampton generated an atmosphere of defiance around this game, free scarves planted on every home spec to be hoisted when the home team emerged.
We March On screamed the message emblazoned across the knitwear.
This show of togetherness was a direct response to Southampton’s nine-goal beating by Leicester City last time out on their own patch.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team, had nevertheless looked a far more robust bunch – in keeping with the way the Austrian had them playing late last season – on two trips to Manchester City in the past 11 days.
What the hosts really wanted was to built up a head of steam in front of their own fans, to get the natives involved by pinning back their visitors in a rush of action.
Accordingly, Everton wanted to puncture any home optimism, to administer a hurtful blow early in the contest.
And as the clock ticked past four minutes Everton landed a shot to Southampton’s temple.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, back in the team after three games on the bench and on a ground where he has three goals to his name, whipped in a corner from the right.
Mason Holgate got the flick on at the near post, the defender continuing to prove himself a menace in opposition boxes after scoring his first Everton goal against Watford last month.
Tom Davies anticipated the ball arriving deep and burst onto Holgate’s touch to gleefully head home.
You’ll have to go a long way to see a footballer happier to score a goal.
Everton’s tails were up. Southampton, meanwhile, had a gloomier view of the 85 minutes ahead of them.
Had the teams still been level on 40 minutes, for example, would home centre-back Jack Stephens have heard howls raining down from the stands as he dallied over releasing the ball on halfway?
Davies’s fifth-minute goal was a significant boon in a game which was always destined to be a close-run thing.
Tosun's Just Rewards
“I’ve waited a long time for my goal, declared,” Cenk Tosun after netting Everton’s equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur last week.
In terms of days and weeks, the Turk was spot on – his previous strike coming against Spurs on the final day of 2018/19.
To suggest he waited for his moment, though, would imply Tosun has been kicking his heels in anticipation of his luck turning.
Which would do a gross disservice to the striker, who has got his head down and worked like fury to try to muscle his way back into Marco Silva’s team.
Two appearances from the bench in successive games – he came in against Watford in the cup before facing Spurs as a substitute – would have felt like rich portions for Tosun in light of his hitherto quiet season.
How he bit when the carrot was dangled, though, creating a goal for Richarlison in the meeting with Watford before banking Everton a point from Tottenham’s visit.
Accordingly, Tosun’s wait for a start in Everton’s team finished here on the south coast, halting three days short of the six months since that game at Spurs last week.
His first contribution actually came in Everton’s penalty box.
James Ward-Prowse rifled one of his devilish set pieces into the box and Tosun stood tall to clear the ball a good distance upfield.
Tosun earns his crust at the other end, though. His stated intention is simple enough: to provide goals and assists which help my team.
He’d had two shots and provided one key pass before the interval.
Tosun was squeezed out by Cedric Soares after the striker’s forward run was picked out by Theo Walcott.
In Everton’s next attack, Tosun delicately rolled the ball off the outside of his boot for Walcott, fastening onto the floated return but heading off target.
Everton had been hauled back to 1-1 when Walcott and Tosun combined again, the latter peeling away to the right to receive a pass and fire marginally wide of Alex McCarthy’s right post.
Tosun was the man on the end of a Lucas Digne corer 120 seconds later to test McCarthy with a goalbound header.
Marco Silva talks of Tosun being a striker who comes alive in the box, a poacher who smells the goal.
Tosun showed in his 71 minutes on the field what his manager is getting at.
Chances are he won’t have to ‘wait’ too long for another go.