SEASON REVIEW: Flattered to deceive? Or a good Everton season?
We review an Everton season that promised a lot early on and included some real highs but ultimately saw them finish in mid-table.
Everton started really well and were always in consideration for European football but in the end they fell short of even the Europa Conference League by 3 points and three places.
Reflecting on the season after a 5-0 defeat to champions Manchester City on Sunday saw them finish 10th and miss out on European football, manager Carlo Ancelotti said he still believes Everton ‘are on the right way to fight and compete for the first positions in the Premier League.’
He said, “We were really more and more competitive at the beginning of the season. this season confirmed the fact that we were really competitive, above all against the strongest teams in the competition, against United, Liverpool , Chelsea.
“We got results from those games and that gave confidence to me and to the club for the future. The team has improved, and I am sure of this: the team will be more competitive.”
There were certainly some brilliant highs but also some frustrating lows and we look at the timeline of a progressive Everton season.
Ancelotti made some shrewd signings in the summer transfer window, bolstering the Everton midfield with Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and James Rodriguez. The latter in particular drew a lot of attention, having been the stand-out player in the 2014 World Cup.
13th September: The new-look Everton opened the season as huge underdogs at Tottenham but they performed brilliantly to win 1-0. The signings all stood out but Rodriguez was man of the match, creating more chances on debut than anyone since 2014.
3rd October: Having hit five past West Brom and won at Crystal Palace, Everton made it four wins from four by beating Brighton 4-2 at Goodison Park. Rodriguez was again the star man with two goals and an assist as Everton went top of the table.
Thin squad begins to show
25th October: Everton’s unbeaten start comes to an end at St Mary’s as Southampton beat them 2-0. Ancelotti was forced into changes due to injuries to Richarlison and Seamus Coleman and he was rarely able to pick the same team that went unbeaten in the first 5 league games again.
28th November: Continuing injury problems forced Ancelotti into a change of formation and defeats by Newcastle and Manchester United were followed by a 1-0 reverse at home to Leeds. Both sides missed a hatful of chances and Everton slipped to 6th in the table.
12th December: Ancelotti’s comments about being more competitive against so-called bigger teams was true and in front of 2000 fans, the Toffees saw off Chelsea thanks to a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty.
19th December: Having taken three points away at a strong Leicester City, Everton made it three wins in a row by beating Arsenal 2-1 thanks to two goals from set-pieces. Only West Ham and Southampton scored more goals from set-plays this season. A 1-0 win at Sheffield United would follow to put Everton second in the table.
New Year Blues
30th January: An indifferent January concluded with a home game against Newcastle that Everton was strong favourites to win but they never really looked like scoring and were then done on the counter-attack by a Callum Wilson brace. Everton fell to 7th in the table.
Big game bonus
6th February: Everton continued to rub shoulders with those they had previously had an inferior complex with as they came back twice to draw 3-3 with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had an outstanding campaign, scored in the 95th minute.
20th February: Frustratingly, Everton had followed that up with two home defeats but they then travelled to Anfield where they had not won since 1999. Their last visit had been most painful, having lost to a youthful Liverpool team in the FA Cup. However, this year was different as Richarlison scored early and Sigurdsson scored late to give Everton a very deserved 2-0 victory. It re-ignited hopes of Champions League football as they climbed to 7th, three points off 4th with a game in hand.
Damaging home form
13th March: Having climbed to fifth after successive wins over Southampton and West Brom, Everton were left to rue yet another frustrating home defeat when Burnley struck twice in the first 24 minutes to eventually run out 2-1 winners.
5th April: Everton were dominant at home to Crystal Palace and took the lead through the returning Rodriguez but they couldn’t see the game out and Michy Batshuayi scored a late leveller for Palace to leave Everton in 8th place.
23rd April: Ancelotti says Everton ‘are back’ after they produce a performance similar to their opening day win at Spurs to see off Arsenal. Richarlison’s cross was put into his own net by Arsenal goalkeeper Berndt Leno
1st May: Probably the most damaging of all the home defeats to date was this one against Aston Villa. A mistake allowed Ollie Watkins to give Villa the lead. Calvert-Lewin quickly equalised but ten minutes from time Anwar El-Ghazi gave the visitors a 2-1 victory. Ancelotti said Everton ‘lost a big opportunity to stay in the fight’ as they fall to 8th.
9th May: Hope was back as Everton travelled to West Ham, who were also in contention for Europe, and showed solid resistance on the road once more as a Calvert-Lewin strike was enough to give them a 1-0 win.
16th May: Even worse than the Villa defeat was this one at home to already-relegated Sheffield United. 17 year-old debutant Daniel Jebbison bagged the winning goal meaning Everton could now only finish as high as 6th.
19th May: Everton welcomed back 6,500 fans with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolves which kept them 8th and in contention for 7th and a Europa Conference League place but West Ham’s win at West Brom now meant 6th was unlikely.
23rd May: A disastrous last day as champions Manchester City run riot and win 5-0, sending Everton down to 10th.
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