Another below par 2nd half ensures Blues held to third consecutive league draw
Lukaku scores in 7th consecutive game but Hoolahan levels for Canaries
Elusive ruthless streak threatening to turn sour a potentially fruitful season
Everton were held to their third consecutive Premier League draw as they were once again pegged back during a pitiful second half display at Norwich City.
Romelu Lukaku headed home a Gerard Deulofeu cross on 15 minutes to put the Blues ahead. The Belgian’s 12th league goal of the season should have been the first of many as Everton dominated proceedings.
But despite creating numerous chances, the visitors could not put a sorry Norwich side to the sword and the rejuvenated hosts equalised within minutes of the second half through Wes Hoolahan.
Chances were few and far between in the second 45 and neither team did enough to warrant all three points, although Cameron Jerome wasted the best chance from 6-yards when it was easier to score.
Toffees cannot continue to suffer 2nd half syndrome
A dominant second half featuring a glut of gilt-edges chances (only to go to waste) followed by an insipid 45 minutes of disappointment. It’s a trend becoming all too familiar to Evertonians this season.
For all their easy-on-the-eye football, and chance after chance carved out, the Everton faithful have once again had to endure a period of excellence proceeded by sloppy passing, uneasy defending and a goal-shy return.
What should worry Evertonians most is the amount of goal-scoring opportunities going a-miss. While it’s unrealistic to expect any team to control a game for an entire 90 minutes, what’s important is that opportunities are taken when they come along. Everton have relinquished leads in two of their last three games, but they’ve also come from behind five times this season to earn a point.
The second half displays seen at Bournemouth and Norwich are fast becoming a trend in Everton’s pursuit of European football and if they are to re-gain their passport to the continent they will need to ensure their excellent football is not wasted by sloppy 2nd halves.
Lukaku breaks another record but defensive stats make grim reading
Not since Bob Latchford’s run in 1975 has an Everton player scored in seven consecutive games in all competitions. But that all changed at Carrow Road, taking Romelu Lukaku just 15 minutes of the league encounter to equal Latchford’s feat.
His first half header means he’s also scored in six consecutive Premier League games, beating the record previously held by Duncan Ferguson.
He should have added to his and Everton’s tally, failing to connect with a Seamus Coleman cross and firing inches wide after cutting in from the right, but it’s hard to criticise a 22 year-old who has now scored 28 goals in all competitions in 2015.
Ruthlessness threatening to derail Everton’s season
At Lukaku’s end of the pitch things have been going as well as can be expected. It’s a shame we can’t say the same at the other end, for it’s Everton’s efforts in defence that are contributing to their recent disappointments.
The Toffees have managed just one clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League games, while set-pieces are a particular and recurring cause for concern.
Everton’s back line is flooded with talented individuals: the imperious John Stones partnered with the rough but capable Romero Funes Mori; while Coleman and Baines are as experienced in this league as anyone.
Yet failings as a back four persist, and while chances are spurned at the other end, lapses in concentration and basic errors will continue to cost Everton points. The habit of conceding from corners cannot go on if Everton have serious top 4 ambitions. Norwich, Palace, Bournemouth, Arsenal, Liverpool…how many more teams to benefit from set-piece disarray will be added to that list before the end of the season?
Considering the plethora of exuberant young talent currently setting the Premier League alight in the royal blue of Everton, it would be the worst of footballing crimes to see this potential go to waste because of an obvious distaste towards defending corners properly.
Combined with Everton’s current lack of ruthlessness, it’s hard to shake that old familiar feeling of something special going tragically to waste.