All Everton fans will be elated this morning as Everton recorded yet another away victory, beating Leeds United 1 – 2.
This is a very peculiar season and the roller coaster ride continues. A totally awful display at the weekend against Newcastle that lacked any passion and described by the manager as lazy.
Followed by this performance were it is difficult to single out any one of the starting eleven for man of the match, as they all played their part superbly in this far from lazy team display.
In goal Robin Olsen had an fine game commanding his area and making a number of match winning saves in the process.
This for me was Olsen’s best performance for Everton to date and although he lacks Jordan Pickord’s assuredness in distribution. He cuts an overall more assured and calm figure behind the back four.
Olsen has shown in the away wins against Leicester and Leeds that he can be counted upon and trusted in the Everton goal.
There must be a strong case now for Olsen to be given a run to prove himself in the side.
Ancelotti and Brands have now addressed the need for real competition in the goal keeping position.
Pickford and Olsen now pushing each other to the peak of their games for the first team slot.
Marcel Brands spoke at the last AGM of reducing the squad and wanting real competition in every position.
Mason Holgate returned last night at right-back. Holgate’s qualities were missed on Saturday against Newcastle.
Seamus Coleman had a less than average performance in the Newcastle game and we missed the energy, tenacity and grit that Holgate displayed in this victory against Leeds.
Everton’s manner of defending recently when Holgate and Godfrey are in the side has an “Italian” influence to me.
I saw things in Holgate’s game last night that smacked of Italian sides of the past, teams who knew how to mangage and see out a game to secure a win in difficult circumstances.
Holgate is a centre-back, but at the moment he has to start at right-back in front of Coleman given recent performances.
Many fans will be surprised that Ancelotti rested Michael Keane in favour of Ben Godfrey for last night’s game.
All I can say is that Godfrey’s position in the team, in any position must be first on the team-sheet and his standing with the fan-base is rising exponentially.
What he brings to the team is just what Everton fans have yearned for, speed, strength, height, drive, aggression and a real feeling of playing for the club and not his agent. I see a future Everton captain in the making.
Ben Godfrey is proving a must start in any position across the back four and possibly in midfield.
It is going to be so interesting to see what Carlo Ancelotti makes from this diamond in the rough, young with so many facets to his game. Marcel Brands has brought two exceptional young defenders to the club in Ben Godfrey and Jarrad Branthwaite.
Godfrey and Mina were an amazing dual presence on the pitch last night. They managed the defence so well especially during the second-half of the game when Leeds attacked relentlessly.
The Leeds goal early in the second-half was possibly due to the new pairing and a slight indecision of who should have dealt with a ball that should never have been allowed to bounce in such a dangerous area. They will iron that out.
But over the 90 minutes the duo proved with Keane coming on late that at centre-back Everton have an abundance of riches in Mina, Keane, Godfrey, Holgate, Braithwaite and even Lewis Gibson. The latter two out on loan and showing great promise.
Maybe Everton can cash in on two of these in the summer market.
Lucas Digne took another step in his return from injury last night. A much improved performance on saturday’s game.
Digne playing himself back to full match fitness and seemed to enjoy having Ben Godfrey’s speed and strength mopping up behind him against a Leeds team that just did not stop running for 90 minutes.
Another great cross, assist from Digne for Sigurdsson’s goal.
Was good to see Nkounkou back on the bench as we have a fine trio of options in the left-back position. Again all down to the astute planning of Marcel Brands.
So onto our midfield. Here Ancelotti changed things by playing Iwobi, Doucouré, Gomes and Richarlison. All played very well in the first half, especially Gomes who read the game superbly and delivered a telling pre-assist pass for Sigurdsson’s goal.
Things became far more difficult in the second-half were Iwobi faded, Gomes and Richarlison had decreasing influence but still had good games.
However, Doucouré was stellar throughout the entire 90 minutes.
Fantastic performance from Doucouré. Just edged it for man of the match in my opinion over Gomes and Olsen.
Gomes showed a return to form making a real impact in midfield. A return to his form prior to his horrendous injury.
Sigurdsson started ahead of James against Leeds in that role behind Calvert-Lewin tight on Kalvin Phillips cutting off his supply.
It makes sense to rotate James and Sigurdsson in this role as we go into an hectic schedule of games.
One thing stands out starkly.
Sigurdsson is far better were he played against Leeds than the deeper role he played against Newcastle.
Gylfi is a number 10 not a 6, he disappears in that deeper position. His goal last night was reward for a fine creative shift.
Nothing lazy about last night’s performance, from the Iceland international.
Calvert-Lewin also put in a great shift and poached his goal at the back post, which was pleasing to see.
A little disappointing in one or two moments were his decision making and finishing denied Everton a more comfortable win.
Though both Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will have taken note athow eager Josh King was to get on the pitch late on in the game to make his debut.
A great win for Everton last night and a spirited performance with competition for places throughout the team.
We go onto the weekend game against Manchester United and rest of the season still in a challenging position for Europe and Ancelotti slowing building something special at Everton FC.