Everton 3 (Coleman 10, Keane 23, Gordon 78)
Leeds United 0
That YEP Jury jinx struck again today with a vengeance! All five of the Jury once again predicted a Leeds win at Goodison, and as so often when we’ve done that, we got beat!. It was no surprise that most people felt this was a winnable game; Everton have been poor, Frank Lampard has had little time in which to work any magic he may have, and last time out the Toffees were put to the sword by another side battling to escape from the nether regions of the table. We came into the game on the back of one of our best attacking performances of the season too; we ought to have won this game; we needed to win this game.
So, what went wrong? Well, credit to Everton firstly, they came out with all guns blazing and from start to finish they pressed our game relentlessly. We actually bossed the possession to the tune of 58% but I doubt anyone realised that until they saw that statistic. We had plenty of ball but the Everton press ensured we did absolutely nothing with it! Not a single shot on target did we manage from a measly 7 attempts at goal in 90 minutes. OK, you could argue we were unlucky, or at least Rodrigo was unlucky, with two strikes that crashed against the bar but, those shots aside, you’d be hard-pressed to think of any other effort we had today.
Everton by contrast recorded 21 attempts on our goal and that is the most they have achieved in a Premier League game in more than two years! Ten hit the target too, including three that hit the back of the net. It should really have been four, and would have been, if it were not for one of the saves of the season pulled off by Illan Meslier near the end as he somehow got a strong hand to a fierce strike by Salomon Rondon; I still don’t know how he put that over the bar!
Quite how the performance today could be in such stark contrast to Wednesday night is hard to fathom, especially since it was the same starting XI – we were unchanged for a third successive game in which we’ve now lost twice and picked up just one point. As well as we played at times against Newcastle and certainly at Villa Park, that telling statistic will surely cause Marcelo to ponder whether something needs to change. I thought Adam Forshaw was needed, as I did on Wednesday when Villa cut through our midfield during that first half and I think he did make a difference when he came on at halftime today but the damage was already done by then. Maybe we were just drained by the effort from Wednesday; Raphinha in particular looked like he was running on empty as he put in one of his most anonymous games in a white shirt, but surely there must be more to it than that.
Replacing Raphinha (who I certainly think needed replacing) with Tyler Roberts is a move that I doubt many Leeds fans were happy with. I can see the logic, I think, in that Tyler is usually busy and involved which Raphinha quite clearly wasn’t today, but we were two goals down and needed someone to impact on the game. Was Tyler really the best choice with that aim in mind? Not for me.
Losing Stuart Dallas so early may have had a negative impact but Leo Hjelde did ok in his place so I don’t think that was significant, it was just that we didn’t find a way to get our game going; Everton were just too powerful for us and didn’t let up all game. Whether the Toffees can play like that every game will now be interesting to see; I doubt it.
Nil satis nisi optimum ("Nothing but the best is good enough") was the Everton moto paraded around the ground before the start but it is one that Leeds could well heed as this performance was nowhere near our best and therefore equally was not good enough.
It is hard to know what we can do now other than to shrug and, as Bielsa seemed to do after the game, just accept they were better than us on the day in all departments. It was maybe one of those off days we’ve periodically had under the great man. The worry is of course that our next three games are all against top quality sides, not sides that will necessarily press us like Everton, but sides that will pose a very different sort of a problem. Those are not games in which we can really experiment and move away from the current side, (not that there are many options anyway unless we break with Bielsa tradition and play any of the youngsters from the start) without risking a real thumping! So, I doubt we’ll see too many changes and we just have to hope we find our mojo and maybe relish playing sides that will focus more on their own game rather than pressing ours to destruction. As always, it will be fascinating to watch how these next three games go – if we lose the lot then by the time we arrive at Leicester the table may have a very worrying look to it!
Everton Leeds Utd
Possession 42% 58%
Shots 21 7
On Target 10 0
Corners 5 3
Fouls Committed 8 9