5pm. 4 changes, Branthwaite we all probably expected, but Gylfi back in, Walcott back in & Coleman ‘rested’.
A very quiet first half, I was worried the Amazon curse would continue. But there were only 4 events worth talking about.
1. The kick off - 4-4-2 on every caption & also the club published team sheet, quickly became 4-2-3-1. Nobody expected that, surely it was going to be Gylfi off the left again in a 4–4-2? No, he was playing 10, with Richarlison off the left.
2. 18mins A very slick passing move from front to back saw Gylfi thread the ball on the edge of the area through to Walcott coming in from the right & his excellent cross went begging. Positive, quick, incisive passing!!
3. Tom Davies getting booked. Why is this key? He went through the back of a player & took him clean out. No Everton midfielder has done that for months. MONTHS!!
4. DCL miss controls a wonderful Gomes pass from the right which would have put him through 1 on 1 with Henderson. He did hit the post on 43 mins with a battling header from a great Walcott cross, but his out of luck at the moment & he’s shattered. It’ll change, he works too hard for it not to.
HT 0-0 Sheff Utd had not laid a glove on Everton, but for one cross shot Pickford turned over. In commentary Ally McCoist continued the narrative of Richarlison ‘going down a bit easy’. 6ft 3” Sander Berge & 6ft 2” Oli McBurnie were doing their best David Price impressions of getting knocked down every time they were touched, not a mention...
No changes at halftime, the muscle memory of reverting back to a more similar formation seemed to give the players more energy & confidence. The huge gaps in midfield had gone & Gomes was Gomes again..
46mins and we get a free kick about 10yrds into Sheff Utd territory, Richarlison is diagonally in a straight line with Gylfi, but the flight of the ball curled outside to in & the technique Richarlison put on the header to not only direct it into the corner of the goal, but also to keep the power of the cross was sensational!! 0-1.
The energy of the team from the first half continued throughout the second half, willing runners & players getting up in support of DCL, it was a joyful to watch as it was surprising. Another slick passing move saw DCL, back heel to Gylfi who back heeled it to Walcott who’s cross across the 6yrd box was just a metre in front of everyone. DCL fashioned a chance of his own by taking the ball on his chest on the half-turn & driving into the box only to see his shot deflect off the boot of the defender & spin up for Henderson to make the save. Again, unlucky!
At the back Keane & Branthwaite were rarely troubled, what work they did have to do was carried out with both competence & confidence, if lines need to be cleared, they are cleared. Branthwaite for all of his 2 & half games has been tremendous & Keane deserves immense credit for mentoring him through these games.
Gylfi off Gordon on, Walcott off Coleman on, Everton saw the game out, Gomes coming close with a 30yrd effort that looked on target as he hit it but then faded to the right of the goal. And, if only Gordon had a bit more confidence in himself after a superb run into the box, he could have shot rather than square to empty space.
Inevitably there was a concerted effort by the home team to try & equalise, the ref did his best to help them playing nearly 6mins of 4mins of added time. FT 0-1. Fantastic & deserved.
Michael doesn’t talk that much, he’s the kind of player that when he does have something to say it’s worth listening to. A large majority of Evertonian’s (me included) initially under Koeman thought he was awful. Plain awful. Taken out of the Burnley bubble he’d been exposed to life outside defending for your life & route one, but then we found out he’d had cut on his foot that was so deep he had to play with a boot 2 sizes too big just to get on the pitch, whilst pumped full on pain killers. Credit to Michael Keane, he got on with it, he did his job, the then manager showed complete disregard for players safety or reputation. Keane didn’t complain publicly, the truth of the situation came out once Koeman had gone.
He did an interview last week & he said that the players know that they’re playing for their futures, for many it’s far too little far too late, for others it may be the realisation that the ‘project’ under the best manager this club had had for 25yrs will start to gain traction & they want to be part of it. Who knows?, only the players being truly honest with themselves can answer that. If it was Coleman saying it, I’d just brush it off as lip service, but for me, this sounds quite genuine. As I said, for some it likely to be too late.
Now we have a chance to relegate Bournemouth on Sunday, & I’d love to see us be bastards & do it, show no mercy & show the right attitude. We owe them nothing.