Everton 4 Brentford 1: Lampard gets his bounce in thumping Blues win

Everton (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

Well, that was a lot better. It felt like old times at Goodison Park again this afternoon as Everton crushed Brentford 4-1 to move into the FA Cup fith round.

Before the match and looking at the Everton team that the Frank Lampard had picked, it was clear he had reshuffled his pack, perhaps more than he’d hoped, to take account of all the injuries and the unavailability of his two midfield signings.

Lampard got a great reception from the supporters at the Grand Old Lady and there was a real buzz around the ground. The manager and his players responded showing real passion and energy thoughout the afternoon.

The new manager went with a 3-4-3 formation in which Vitalii Mykolenko and Seamus Coleman were operating as defenders who also provided an outlet and width.

Perhaps, some Evertonians would have liked to see Nathan Patterson get a game as well but he didn’t get his chance today.

One thing that was good to see was Anthony Gordon starting and he was playing in a more advanced position than he usually had under Rafa Benitez.

Gordon had a fine match, prompting and creating and continues to grow in confidence and influence on the pitch. Alongside him up front Richarlison was a good lively focal point and Demarai Gray was excellent once again.

The former Leicester City player has been a revelation this season, for me he is undoubtedly the Toffees player of the season, so far anyway.

And to buck a recent trend, Everton managed to score first for the first time in months. One of the biggest problems this team has had this season is falling behind so often in games.

Even at the beginning of the campaign when they were winning matches, too often the Blues would allow the opposition to get in front and then they had to fight their way back.

At this time, when everyone was fit and the new signings Gray and Andros Townsend were both flying, Everton usually has enough to turn the game around and win, partly because they were playing very average opposition.

But, the side’s propensity to concede first became a real problem when key players were out and they were up against stronger teams. This was compounded by the very defensive tactical mindset under Benitez.

Anyway, this afternoon there was a different feel to the team right from the off. The Toffees were much more energetic than they have been for weeks and were generally playing on the front foot all through the match.

However, just as the team was finding more self-belief and confidence and getting on top of Brentford, the injury jinx once again struck.

Ben Godfrey went down hurt and had to leave the pitch after fifteen minutes forcing Lampard to make a change he hadn’t anticipated. He left on crutches and we all have to keep our fingers crossed it’s not as serious as it looked.

Yerry Mina came on for him and Mason Holgate (who had his best game in an Everton shirt for a long time) shifted from right to left in the back three.

This did disrupt Everton’s rythym to some extent but still they were the better side and looked most likely to score. And, it was Mina who ensured they did just that heading in from a corner to put the home team into a deserved lead, which they took into halftime.

Then, almost straight after the break the Blues had a second as Richarlison took his fellow countryman Allan’s fine pass and lifted the ball over the Bees keeper.

The Toffees were in control and looking comfortable but it wouldn’t be Everton without them finding a way to potentially undermine the good work.

Jordan Pickford – who had a match that reminded me a little bit of the sort of wayward and distracted performances we used to see from him – clipped Brentford striker Ivan Toney and despite possible offside, the penalty was given.

Toney scored and it was 2-1. Now, was the potential for jitters, but the Blues didn’t fold and went on to add two more goals as Holgate scored from a further corner and then substitute Townsend fired home to put the finishing touch on a very satisfactory afternoon.

So, plenty of positives with Everton netting four times and playing in a much more energetic and progressive fashion as we hoped and expected to see from a Lampard-managed side.

There are much bigger and more important tests to come in the next week, but today was pretty much a perfect start, bar Godfrey’s injury, and the manager will hope to enjoy plenty more days like this at Goodison Park in the future.