In his programme notes for this, Everton’s first home game of 2020, Carlo Ancelotti announced the beginning of a”new” period for Everton. It was a game that followed that the Italian’s first complete week together with his players around the training ground –“a chance to draw breath,” in his words — but it was also the first because one of the worst outcomes in the club’s history along with the Blues’ boss had some uplifting words to the Goodison faithful. Ancelotti acknowledged the depth of pain felt by Evertonians in the aftermath of the embarrassment at Anfield last Sunday, that”it takes time to wash away the disappointment,” but pledged that he and his players should “work… hard to make sure it is not repeated.” It had been in that spirit of atonement and a reset of types he sent out his team from Brighton this day and while the resulting display was far from transcendent, it produced three vital points nonetheless and ensured that Ancelotti has taken nine points out of 12 to begin his tenure as the Toffees’ boss. Importantly, he got a response from his players and, for its first two-thirds of the contest at least an accomplished display that provided plenty of hints at what might be to come if he can quietly start getting the best out of the individual elements of his group. Today, his two stars shone — one while some other impressed with work-rate and his conducting both sides of an impressively-taken goal that turned out to be the winner dazzled for the majority of his 72 moments on the area. Injured at the warm-up at City on New Year’s Day and just introduced late at Anfield by which time Everton had emotionally conquered themselves, Bernard lit up the first half against the Seagulls, driving from deep, probing through the people’ lines and demonstrating flashes of wonderful ability. Typically, he had been involved at the build-up to the goal, putting the ball off to Lucas Digne — the Frenchman appeared much improved together with his very best spouse on the left leaning right back in the side — to center in which Richarlison produced what was a precious moment of quality. The group as a whole did the remainder. HoHoldingrighton at bay –only! — to return to winning ways and keep themselves in touching distance of the six. Maybe representing his faith in the squad he inherited his ability to sort their heads out and get them playing, or both, Ancelotti’s starting XI did not signify a significant reshuffle or any intent to make a good illustration of a lot of those accountable for the debacle against Liverpool’s children from the FA Cup.
Seamus Coleman and Morgan Schneiderlin fell back to the bench and could have used the remainder. In their stead, Bernard, Tom Davies and Michael Keane were reinstated and turned in great performances. Somewhat astonishingly, Gylfi Sigurdsson not only retained his location but was named captain, although Digne played a trying week personally (that appears, by a post to Instagram, to have involved his own grandfather) and his own apparent signs of exhaustion in recent matches. The team selection looked warranted a, in the first half which Everton controlled at Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks in which they had been lauded for their possession of the ball and passing game. This day, it was the home side who transported all the danger in the first half and might have gone ahead as early as the fourth minute after Theo Walcott, latching onto Richarlison’s sumptuous ball following Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s smart back-heel and burnt Lewis Dunk for speed, was dragged back by the shoulder from the defender but neither David Coote nor Video Assistant Referee, Michael Oliver, deemed it worthy of a penalty. Finding a surprising quantity of space to play Brighton’s traces in midfield, Bernard often accepted the invitation to attack and it was his disguised pass that place Calvert-Lewin in close to the goal but he ended up needing to shoot from a very tight angle and Mat Ryan blocked it. Calvert-Lewin went close in the 25th minute when his attempted cross curled inches beyond the far post, Bernard engineered space for a shot which was blocked by Adam Webster and Richarlison’s early shot from 18 metres driven a one-handed stop from the keeper as the Blues continued to press their case heading into the last ten minutes before half-time. The goal arrived in the 38th minute. Sigurdsson picked up the ball near the halfway point and found Richarlison using a pass, he, in turn, it off to Bernard who then moved it on to Digne on the overlap down the left. Richarlison knocked the Frenchman’s low centre off the toe of Shane Duffy with his first touch, ceased the ball and then dragged it back to evade Webster along with his second, and eventually picked a place off the far post with a superb finish to put Everton 1-0 up.A crucial glancing touch with Duffy on a Sigurdsson free-kick a few minutes later prevented Keane from using a clear opportunity to double the advantage as the Blues completed the first-half in the ascendancy to Brighton had really only had wayward Alireza Jahanbakhsh volley that flew over Jordan Pickford’s bar to show for their efforts to there.
Graham Potter’s side emerged from and they came close to levelling the competition. Leandro Trossard jinked past his mark and flashed a shot wide. Davies was robbed of the ball in a place outside his own area and Neal Maupay’s pass discovered Trossard broad open but offside and the flag has been raised before the Belgian could slot Pickford. Next, following the impressive Mason Holgate had been barged at the back by Martin Montoya and Duffy had gone Calvert-Lewin together with his elbow, neither of which challenge leading to penalties, Trossard rattled the crossbar with a curling effort after he was left too much space on the Seagulls’ left flank. The pendulum swung back into the Toffees favour as Duffy deflected a shot from Richarlison behind and Ryan refused Calvert-Lewin from point-blank range after good work near the byline from Bernard before Everton’s young striker galloped on a ball over the top however, under pressure from Dunk, fired too near Ryan who conquer his effort off. Richarlison could have a chance when he raced onto Davies ball but after Holgate had almost diverted a Trossard cross into his own 36, Dunk got back to deflect his campaign behind.It was at that point that Ancelotti began scaling back the attacking posture of his side by withdrawing Bernard for Fabian Delph (the former Manchester City midfielder took to the field amid a smattering of boos from the home fans) and then Walcott in favour of Coleman. It felt a little premature and the result was Everton sitting further and farther, apparently inviting more pressure from the people but not until Calvert-Lewin seemed to have put the game with 13 minutes left beyond them. Keane led the corner of Digne off the underside of the bar, Calvert-Lewin pounded onto it on the goal-line however replays would show he’d utilized his upper arm and it had been chalked off after the check by VAR. Potter’s very own change that was second-half made the difference. It was Glenn Murray, on for Dale Stephens with 18 minutes to go, who joined with a header with Trossard’s cross however Pickford made a one-handed save at full stretch.
Then, with only a few minutes of this law 90 staying and after Mina had been introduced at the 85th minute for Digne as the previous action of shoring up the backline, Maupay put the equaliser on a gilded platter for Murray when his prod forward deflected fortuitously to the veteran but lifted the ball wide of Pickford’s left-hand post to the relief of the home faithful. So, three additional points which keep Everton within four factors of Sheffield United in position and more hints of the settling and confidence-inspiring impact that Ancelotti is bringing to the group. In fact, had Murray grabbed a stage for Brighton the conversation might be revolving around the Italian substitutions. As it is, Ancelotti can reflect positively on his game management and a third win in four last month since taking the reins. With each victory, the chances for salvaging something out of this otherwise chaotic season is going to be enhanced but for now it is 1 game at a time while the recruiting team perhaps looks for a rabbit to pull from the transfer hat prior to the end of the month to add to the options in midfield.