Everton clinched three vital points against Crystal Palace to ease their relegation fears with a convincing 3-1 win at Goodison Park.
Gylfi Sigurdsson opened the scoring with a deflected effort from outside the box before Oumar Niasse put The Toffees in control with a close range header.
Tom Davies netted first goal of the season to cap an energetic display before Ashley Williams was judged to have handled inside the area, allowing Luka Milivojevic to convert from the spot.
But it wasn’t enough to stop Everton cruising to victory, and in doing so securing back-to-back wins at home in the Premier League for just the second time this season.
“Are you not entertained?”
It was a vital win for Everton, not just for their points tally but for morale both within and without the dressing room. The capitulation at The Emirates last week had to be put to bed at the first attempt, and having survived a rocky first 45 minutes, the goals flowed in the second half in what was eventually a comfortable win.
Confidence restored for both players and fans; everyone can look up the table instead of over their shoulders. At least for the next fortnight.
In a season over-flowing with disappointment, it’s a shame to have to pick out the negatives from a rare victory. Yet Sam Allardyce’s post-match comments on the subject of “entertainment” cannot go unnoticed. “We are getting it right, entertaining the fans and getting the result”, Allardyce boasted about his home record as Everton manager.
“Getting it right…getting the result”. Allardyce has been in charge for seven home Premier League games as Everton boss, winning four, drawing twice and losing once. Getting it right more often that not: okay, fair enough.
“Entertaining the fans”. This is where I’ll have to stop you Sam. Getting the right result is one thing; most Evertonians won’t mind what you do as long as you’re winning games. But don’t try and pass your brand of dull, ugly and expressionless football as “entertainment”. You’ll be in for a hell of a surprise during the Corrie ads on Wednesday night when you switch over to Sky Sports for Real Madrid vs PSG.
Clearly Rooney & Sigurdsson can play together
In his bid to deny Evertonians of any kind of pleasure, Allardyce announced that it was difficult to play Rooney and Sigurdsson in the same team. That they play in similar positions is obvious, and of course it should go without saying that no two players can be shoe-horned into the same position in the same game. Thanks for that insight Sam.
But good players usually find a way of complementing each other for the benefit of the team (Gerrard and Lampard the exception of course). As intelligent footballers, Rooney and his Icelandic teammate have – contrary to Allardyce’s statement – managed to find ways to contribute to their team. The pair have started 19 of 36 games, with a record of W8 D4 L7. Rooney’s netted 11 times this season; Sigurdsson on six occasions. The former has chipped in with two assists, the latter 5. Together they have scored 39% of Everton’s goals this season, with their combined goals and assists contributing to 54% of the 44 scored by The Toffees.
Against Palace, Sigurdsson had a hand in all three goals. Not content with bagging the first, it was his tireless work stopping the ball going out of play which ultimately ended up with Cuco Martina’s cross for Niasse, and he was the first to pounce when Wayne Hennessey spilled the ball; the ricochet of which allowed Davies to tap home the third. Rooney pulled the strings from a deeper position, controlling play and keeping his side in possession.
Rooney and Sigurdsson may well be similar players, but Allardyce seems intent on ignoring the fact that he has two very talented, smart and versatile footballers in his ranks, both of whom have proved invaluable in earning Everton points this season.
Goal no less than Davies deserves
After an impressive breakthrough season last year, Davies has fallen foul of the dreaded second season syndrome that almost all young players seem to go through.
Being a bit-part player in a struggling team which has been under the stewardship of three different managers this season, it’s been tough for Davies to demonstrate any consistency in his game. Derided by some sections of the Everton support, criticism of the 19 year old beggars belief for a teenager with barely a year of senior football under his belt. Yet an energetic display and his first goal of the season capped a positive performance which will keep the naysayers quiet for at least another fortnight.
Let’s not forget that a certain Wayne Rooney had a second season to forget, but it didn’t stop him becoming Manchester United’s and England’s all-time record goalscorer
Niasse to see you, to see you
Sigurdsson wasn’t the only player to make a contribution to all three of Everton’s goals on Saturday afternoon. Niasse’s relentless, selfish running and his deft touch put the ball into the path of the Icelander for the opening goal. As well as netting his seventh goal in just his eighth Premier League start, his shot in the 75th minute was spilled by Hennessey allowing Davies to net from the rebound.
While it may be head-scratching for most to see a £20m January recruit in the form of Cenk Tosun sit out again, it’s heart-warming to see a man who most fans had given up on (myself included) make such a big impact.
Boo for who, exactly?
The smattering of boos for the 80th minute substitution was a disappointing end to what should have been an enjoyable final 10 minutes of the game for the Everton players and fans.
3-nil up and cruising to a much-needed three points, Morgan Schneiderlin was introduced to boos from some section of Goodison Park. Some on social media have claimed it was directed at the Frenchman for a series of abject performances this season; others say it signalled dissatisfaction at the excellent Idrissa Gueye’s withdrawal; while others claim it was for leaving Tosun clicking his heels on the bench.
Either way, it was a sad way to end the game and with Palace pulling one back with seven minutes to go, perhaps the negativity heightened the players anxiety in those final minutes. Far from me to tell fans what they can or cannot do, booing very rarely helps the team play better football and at 3-nil up in an important game it was simply counter-productive.