Match Previews

Brighton vs Everton Preview – Dissecting the brilliant West Ham performance, but how more away day misery will undo last Saturday’s good work

If you asked any Everton fan at 12.29pm last Saturday if they would’ve taken a scrappy 1-0 win, you could almost be certain that 99% of Blues would’ve snapped your hand off. But what we seen from Silva’s struggling Blues was something much better and to be honest, something not many saw coming. From the first whistle until last, Everton played with a desire and a hunger that has been absent during the recent rotten run, which had left the Blues in the bottom three prior to kick-off. Magic from Bernard and a trademark Gylfi Sigurdsson stunner saw an incredibly improved Everton side run out much deserved 2-0 winners vs West Ham, but left Evertonians with one question – Where has this been all season?

It is easy to criticise a manager in football when his team isn’t performing and acquiring results. Marco Silva has felt that criticism more than ever during his sides recent barren run. But when we see a team play with such energy and purpose like we seen from Everton last Saturday, it is important Marco Silva gets his share of credit.

How Silva changed it

Silva made five changes to the starting eleven that produced that woeful display at Turf Moor before the international break. Two changes were forced, as Seamus Coleman was suspended and the much-criticised Morgan Schneiderlin missed out due to injury. Everton fans were eager, and have been for some time now if truth be told, to see Djibril Sidibe and Tom Davies get an opportunity in a side that has been so void of creativity and attacking threat for many weeks, so it was much welcomed by the majority of Evertonians when the 11.30am team news featured both names in the starting line-up. Bernard came in for the heavily scrutinised Gylfi Sigurdsson, but was utilised on the left of the three behind Richarlison who started up top, with Alex Iwobi chosen to be the man who started in the ‘hole’ – a position which the mass of Blues have felt was the main problem in Everton’s recent lack of creativity. A name which it is fair to say the majority of Blues didn’t initially want to see in the starting line-up however was Theo Walcott, but he came in for Dominic Calvert-Lewin which allowed Richarlison to start up front as I mentioned previously.

How it worked

Silva’s changes seen a performance that was what Everton fans have been craving to see since the start of the season. Everton played with an intensity, applying pressure from high up the pitch and made life incredibly difficult for West Ham. But the high energy aspect of Everton’s performance was only one part of an incredibly refreshing display. Alex Iwobi in the number 10 role provided a spark and creativity which justified Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long-awaited omission. Iwobi’s link up with Richarlison, Bernard and Theo Walcott, as well as his willingness to receive the ball in different areas of the pitch enabled Everton to play with a fluidity which we have not seen all season. What we learnt about Iwobi’s display in ‘the 10’ is that he possesses something Sigurdsson clearly doesn’t, the ability to receive the ball all over the attacking third, which opened up spaces for the other attackers to rotate and combine with each other, which took away a huge stigma that I talked about in my preview to the game – predictability. Despite substitute Sigurdsson’s stoppage time worldie to seal a much-needed win, it was clear to see his omission benefited the Blues. Also, to most Evertonians pleasant surprise, Marco Silva’s continued faith in Theo Walcott was finally justified. Theo’s willingness to run tirelessly and stretch the entire back line of West Ham aided the likes of Richarlison through his knock downs and by opening up space for the rest of the attack. The ‘attacking four’ provided the excitement to a revitalised Everton side, but the duo of Tom Davies and Andre Gomes, who produced his best performance in an Everton shirt since the Anfield derby back in December in my opinion, were pivotal in providing the attackers with the scope to create. Forward passing and an energy to get about the pitch and win the ball back – an ability which it is clear any midfield with Morgan Schneiderlin in is not capable of.

What does the performance and result mean for the trip to Brighton?

Clichéd, yes. But there is almost an unwritten rule in football to never change a winning formula. And by a ‘winning formula’ I’m talking about one win against West Ham at Goodison, but that showcases just how bad Everton’s start to the season has been. So, a side which provided a much needed lift to Everton fans through their intensity, creativity, and unpredictability (surprisingly) last weekend must not be changed. Everton may be forced into one change however as Yerry Mina has missed training sessions this week after sustaining a knock. This would be a real blow after his excellent performance last time out. One thing for certain is that Marco Silva simply cannot recall Morgan Schneiderlin to the eleven after watching his midfield duo produce a dynamic and extremely positive performance last Saturday. If he does, there will be a huge collective groan come 2pm on Saturday amongst Evertonians. Most Blues, and me included, want to see Djibril Sidibe keep his place after his impressive first Premier League start.

The performance against West Ham was what Everton were in desperate need of and the result, in my opinion, was Marco Silva’s most important victory as Everton manager yet, but it is simple – another dismal away day performance and result will see Everton and Silva undo all of last Saturday’s work, and Everton will be back to square one. It is now Marco Silva’s and his sides job to make the performance against West Ham a regular occurrence and become the norm at Everton. Consistency has been Silva’s Blues downfall during his reign this far, and Everton must rectify this now to keep the positive energy within the club and the fan base. Up The Toffees.

Follow me on Twitter – @andrewhoward187

  

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