Everton slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last night, a loss which significantly dents the Blues hopes of securing European football next season.
Despite all the improvement that the Toffees have made under Carlo Ancelotti, one problem they must solve is the inability of the team to win away at top half rivals, especially in London where the Blues record is atrocious.
Everton simply cannot keep turning in such insipid performances as this. What makes it all the more irritating is that Spurs were there for the taking and hardly looked any better than the Blues.
This frustrating defeat makes qualifying for the Europa League, which I thought was unlikely anyway, much more difficult, if not impossible to achieve.
The match also worryingly underlined just how little creativity Everton seem to possess and how much the manager needs to improve the Blues attacking quality.
Everton were lacklustre and the team managed only two shots on target, while the midfield was horrendous and the Toffees strikeforce was blunted.
Key to turning this around is tackling the manifest weaknesses in midfield, which must be the number one priority when the summer transfer window opens. I’m sure Ancelotti needs no reminding about this!
Overall, it was a very poor game between two sides that tended to cancel each other out. Both managers focus on making their teams difficult to beat and that showed, so there was little real excitement at either end.
The goal that decided it was, as usual for Everton, an unlucky one to concede; a deflected shot which cannoned into the goal off Micheal Keane’s shin on 24 minutes.
In truth though the Blues didn’t do much to deserve anything from the game, let alone to win it. This underlines the converse of Ancelotti’s commitment to defensive shape, as the team finds it difficult to transition into a more attacking approach when they have gone behind.
Obviously Ancelotti is hoping to be able to take a more positive and attacking approach, once he has the right players. Let’s really hope that’s the case when next season begins.
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The Blues boss again played a slightly strange lineup with Tom Davies playing wider again joining Andre Gomes and Gylfi Sigurdsson, something which he has done before. Why didn’t Anthony Gordon play for the start?
These decisions perplex me as I really don’t see how playing three central midfielders works for the team’s balance. Personally I would have been tempted to play Djibril Sidibe on the right to give the team more pace and another attacking outlet.
Well anyway that’s a moot point. Everton were beaten and realistically now the only goal is to finish as high up the Premier League table as possible.
Failure to secure European football though, might have a negative consequence for the Toffees’ transfer policy once the season finishes.
It could mean that some of the supposed targets on Ancelotti’s agenda, such as James Rodriguez or Thiago Silva, aren’t any longer realistic, if they ever were!. Perhaps then it might mean the Blues need to look at different, less high-profile targets, such as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. We will see.