Everton 4 Brentford 1: Three key takeaways from Toffees win over Bees

Everton (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /
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Yesterday Everton achieved a 4-1 win over Brentford in the FA Cup Fourth round in Frank Lampard’s first game as manager.

It was a record winning margin for a new Everton manager in his first match in charge. So, what were the key takeaways to come out of this win?

1. Everton can play a modern type of football

One of the things I (and I think many others) have been pushing for over a long period of time is that the Blues must start playing a more modern, up-to-date style of football.

For far too long the Toffees have been producing slow, defensive or counter-attacking football that concedes possession, initiative and momentum to their opponents.

It also seemed to undermine the self-confidence of the players and further inhibited them making unforced errors and mistakes more likely. There were times when the players even seemed unable to pass the ball to each other with any certainty.

This was particularly true of the last few months as Everton got caught in a spiral of bad results, the team became more cautious and defensive under Rafa Benitez as he reverted to his default pattern, which then in turn led to further defeats and so the process continued.

In contrast, when you look at most of the competitive and successful sides in the Premier League, they almost all play an energetic, high-tempo, pressing and possession-orientated approach.

These teams pressure opponents very effectively, defend from the front rather than sitting deep and inviting others to attack them, and can win games by starting very quickly and scoring early goals that often are enough to win matches within the first half an hour or so. This enables them to play this way regularly despite the demands that sort of football places on players.

Against Brentford yesterday, the Blues, after a slowish start, played a similar and much more front-foot type of football, pressing consistently and pinning the Bees in their own half for much of the game, especially in the second half.

The Toffees also kept possession much better than they have for a long time and you could see the confidence returning to players like Allan and Andre Gomes who have been so inhibited for so long as the ball was played though them rather than just being pumped long or out wide.

The whole thing was epitomised perhaps most of all by Anthony Gordon’s performance.

At one point in the second half with Brentford having pulled a goal back through Ivan Toney’s penalty, Gordon pressed the ball, won it from the Bees’ left-back deep in their half, and put a cross into the box which led to a deflected shot behind for a corner. Then, from that corner Everton scored their third goal which effectively sealed the game.

I wasn’t sure this set of players could play this type of game and of course it was only one match and one match doesn’t make a season, so to speak.

But, there was enough to suggest that this team can keep playing much more progressive and up-to-date, energetic, attacking and pressing football.

And, with players like Abdoulaye Doucoure, Donny van de Beek and Dele Alli (all of whom will be ideally suited to this approach) to come into the team, it should continue to develop. I think this will surely bring better results and allow the club to build at last.