Here’s my question does this team want European football this season or not? It seems a pertinent thing to ask again after Everton wasted a hatful of chances and are held to a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace tonight.
Going into this evening’s match Everton knew it was really important to grab all three points and put the pressure on those teams around them, in particular West Ham who were also playing.
Over the weekend Chelsea had been surprisingly thumped at home by West Brom so dropping points, while Liverpool won at Arsenal to join the Hammers on 49 points. All this gave added impetus to the match this evening.
But yet again the Toffees have flattered to deceive and have once more dropped precious points at Goodison Park with this latest frustrating home performance.
The Blues home form has been pretty awful for most of this season and it will be probably cost Everton a place in Europe, possibly even slim hopes of the Champions League.
For this match Carlo Ancelotti selected a team with three centre-backs Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina and Michael Keane between Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman in another of his formation and team changes.
In midfield there was no Allan and he wasn’t on the bench either so presumably he has picked up another knock or injury, which with Abdoulaye Doucoure also out, is not good news.
Talking of injured midfielders one significant name that was on the substitutes bench was Jean-Philippe Gbamin finally back fit and healthy and surprisingly named in the squad. Even more surprisingly he came on late too.
Also returning was Colombian forward James Rodriguez who played behind a front two of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
In the first half after their usual ponderous start the Toffees took control and started creating chances a-plenty with Rodriguez in particular pulling the strings well and looking sharp.
But despite those chances the Blues forwards had left their shooting boots in the locker room and both Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison missed a slew of great chances as the Blues peppered the Palace goal in that opening forty-five minutes.
One of the strengths of Everton this season has been their excellent conversion rate one of the best in the Premier League, but that efficiency deserted them tonight although Palace’s keeper made some fine stops too.
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At the start of the second half the visitors were on top and produced their best spell of football. It looked as though they might make the home team pay for their first-half profligacy.
But as so often football has a perverse way of working out and it was then that Everton scored. Rodriguez finished a fine move with his right foot, not his sublime left.
The Toffees were more in control after that shaky start to the half, although Palace were a threat occasionally and actually had a lot of the ball as they tried to force an equaliser.
Then Roy Hodgson brought on his super-sub Michy Batshuayi. He then promptly scored with virtually his first contribution of the night after a defensive lapse as the Toffees were sitting back on that narrow lead instead of pushing for another to kill the game.
Everton then had to go for another goal but dind’t have the players now with their two most dangerous Coleman and Rodriguez both off. But apart from Richarlison’s late chance they didn’t really look like they would get a winner and another Goodison game has gone begging.
So another chance to try and consolidate a European place has gone begging and with West Ham taking full advantage this is could turn out to be a crucial defeat in that race.