Everton ultimately failed to hold onto their one goal lead and prevent Brighton from grabbing a point in yesterday’s game, but signs of continued progress are there to see.
In truth, the Toffees didn’t show a great deal of ambition at Goodison Park but after getting their noses in front early on through Vitalii Mykolenko, were perhaps a little unlucky to finally concede a late own goal.
On the positive side, it was good to see the Blues hold their own against a good side as Brighton are these days, and we do seem to be witnessing genuine all-round improvement in their performances.
As we have come to expect from Sean Dyche, Everton were set up to play with limited ambition, defend and counter-attack and did so well, until the final few minutes anyway.
But in the end Brighton’s persistence, patience and commitment to attacking football paid off and they found an equaliser.
I said in my match report, that with only a single goal lead, there was always the real likellihood that the visitors would find a way through and get at least one goal back and possibly more.
The Blues, under the former Burnley boss are well organised, disciplined, defend solidly and can with their best forward players in the team, offer a considerable counter-attacking threat to any opponent.
However, that strategy and tactic, while it works very well playing away from home against sides that will inevitably monopolise possession, isn’t as suited to home games with more pressure and expectation to go forward and win matches.
And most specifically, it is very dependent on the team being able to maintain a high level of concentration and play error-free football.
That is the nub of the problem. With the best will in the world players always make mistakes and so without the cushion of another goal it is ironically, sometimes a high-risk strategy.
This is especially so if those players are fatigued having played three games in six days, which looked the case yesterday. That is of course in part a consequence of the lack of depth in the squad.
As so many of us have said before, longer-term Everton must find a way to offer a more consistant goal threat thoughout a game and can’t concede so much of the ball week-in-week-out (Brighton had roughly 80% possession at Goodison).
There is another problem and that is the right-hand side of the Blues team, which is proving a potenial weakness.
Dyche started with Ashley Young at right-back with Jack Harrison in front of him.
Young is persistently preferred by the manager to Nathan Patterson, something I don’t agree with. And while he did ok defensively yesterday offers nothing going forward and is a disciplinary liability.
I have said many times before that Patterson needs the confidence of his manager and time to find his feet as he surely represents the future at the position, and not a 38-year-old free agent signing.
Meanwhile Harrison although he works hard and always makes himself available for the ball, hasn’t had much of an impact recently and in particular needs to offer more of a goal threat.
Hopefully, Dyche will give Patterson another opportunity starting with Crystal Palace away next weekend.
So then, while conceding late on and dropping two points was frustrating, the signs continue that Everton are improving and can pull themsevles away from the danger zone.