“Everton 3-1 Southampton | My reflections on the game”

Great to get off to a good start to the season, with a win and a fightback win at that. Rafa Benitez got a good reception and set up his side to take the three points, whilst bedding in two new players and employing a new blend of build up play and direct football.

Benitez was forced to choose a centre back pairing in Keane and Holgate that have shown in the past that they can at times lack communication and decisiveness. Godfrey unavailable and Mina easing himself back after Copa America, hopefully they will be back in contention start in the coming games.

The game at home against Spurs last season comes to mind and this is surely something the manager has to nip in the bud.

Both players seem to need a leader like Yerry Mina next to them to impose authority in the pairing.

After a bright start by Everton Keane’s misjudgement led to Southampton’s goal the type of error that happened far too often last season and that the home side seldom came back from last season.

Thankfully, the manager and the crowd combined to drive the team on to recover and win the game in the second half.

I thought the two new players Gray and Townsend did well. They contributed pace and width. Townsend also greatly helps Coleman with his willingness to track back and experience.

A lot of Southampton’s attacking play did seem to target our veteran right back and Captain. I think this will happen a lot thid season and yesterday Coleman assisted by Townsend did well down the right flank. Though it is glaring that we need more options at right back.

It was nice to see early in the game the huge smile on Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s face when Demarai Gray got to the by-line and delivered a beautiful cross.

I am sure DCL will be relishing the thought of what his goal tally can be this season with the added supply lines Gray and Townsend will provide.

Jordan Pickford – 7

Could do little about the goal left totally exposed by the mistake in front of him. Roasted his back four on occasion and it seems he has grown over the summer. Good distribution in general, was up to task to deal  with balls delivered by James Ward-Prowse, which were a constant threat.

Seamus Coleman – 6

Coleman had an OK game. Some nice interplay with Andros Townsend and showed some attacking intent. However, he was targetted, with Moussa Djenepo given instruction to use his pace against Seamus and gave him a torrid afternoon. Seamus will have sterner tests this season.

Mason Holgate – 6

A difficult first half with the Southampton forwards exploiting his lack of cohesion with Keane. Recovered and more composed in the second-half and seemed more comfortable with the ball, helping Everton tie the match up by growing into the game.

Michael Keane – 5

Second-half performance was better from Keane and ironed out some of  problems of the first-half with Holgate prevented any further mishaps. His horrendous error in the first half put his side in a difficult position.

Lucas Digne – 6

Two different halves for the left-back, who had to defend resolutely at times and kept Walcott wrapped up. Got forward as the game progressed, some decent crosses in the second half.

Allan – 7

Another industrious display from Allan, who showed good composure and distribution. Worked away in the centre of the pitch trying to progress the play for his team. A decent effort on goal from distance was a sign he may be more of a goal threat this season. Went off the boil for a period in the first half.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 8

Doucoure has reportedly been given a new remit to get forward and support the attack at every opportunity. My Man of the Match Abdoulaye seemed to never stop and dictated the tempo and popped up in the box to pirouette and smash the ball into the top right bin… sublime.

Andros Townsend – 7

Townsend made a solid debut. Some of his crosses into the box showed great promise and Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin will surely benefit from Andros’s supply. Some fine passes in the second half and provided a very clever deft headed assist for Richarlison’s equaliser.

Demarai Gray – 7

Given the No.10 role at the kick off Gray had the freedom to drift wide and whipped in some nice crosses. Benitez switched Gray and Richarlison later in the game. Gray had  a good debut especially when operating from the left side, a real threat.

Richarlison – 8

Loved the reaction when Richie heard tge siren in the tunnel he was fired up and his energetic performance truly amazing given the amount of football he has played over the summer. Ran his heart out got his goal and provided a brilliant first time cross assist for Calvert-Lewin. An excellent all-around performance from a phenomenal footballer.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 7

Calvert-Lewin did not look at his 100% fittest. Looked to fully enjoy the contributions of his new teammates. Dominic’s goal was a diving header to convert an excellent cross from Richarlison. Another opening day goal,  consecutive seasons now for the striker who hopefully will have another great season.

Substitutes

Alex Iwobi – 7

Immediate impact when introduced feeding the ball to  Doucoure, who went on to score superbly. A lively performance and hopefully a new chapter in his Everton career.

Yerry Mina – 6

Came on and bossed the defence to see the game out.

Anthony Gordon – N/A

Too little time on the pitch to assess.

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