A valuable lesson learned for Marco Silva’s Everton side as they were left frustrated by a Huddersfield Town side that spoiled, disrupted and ultimately defended what they had at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.
But what can we take away from the 1-1 draw at the Grand Old Lady? Well, there was the character to come back instantly after conceding – the second time in a matter of days – and the performance of the goalscorer, Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Here we look at those and three other aspects from the Blues’ latest Premier League performance.
Dom Shows His Versatility Again
Remember when Dominic Calvert-Lewin played as a right-wing back? Seems a long time ago doesn’t it? But that’s where the youngster began the 2017-18 campaign when Everton kicked off their season against Stoke City.
Calvert-Lewin actually laid on Wayne Rooney’s goal from that position with a wonderful cross and while he has never played there since, the experiment showed that a) he has the tools to play out wide, and b) that he is game enough to try it out.
But it is the first point that holds relevance here. After leading the line against Rotherham United on Wednesday – where he scored two goals – Calvert-Lewin was switched to wide on the left for Saturday’s clash with the Terriers due to the absence of Brazilian duo Bernard and Richarlison.
And he had the most shots – with three – than any of his teammates, while also contributing defensively with four clearances, two tackles and an interception.
The stats also show that Everton actually favoured their left flank, with 41.9% of their attacks coming down that side. That figure is a round 50% in the second half alone. And the left flank was also where Lucas Digne, like he did against the Millers in midweek, sent over a perfect cross for Calvert-Lewin to nod home the equaliser.
Marco Silva has plenty of options within his squad, but his young forward has impressed in a couple of roles already.
Youngsters Hold Their Own
By the time the final whistle went on Saturday, Everton had six players aged 24 or under out on the pitch. Kieran Dowell and Jonjoe Kenny – aged 20 and 21 respectively were unused substitutes, as was Tyias Browning.
We have highlighted the performance of Calvert-Lewin above but Tom Davies completed 89.7% of his 58 passes, bettered only by Ademola Lookman and midfield compatriot Morgan Schneiderlin, in another assured performance.
After captaining the side in midweek in the League Cup, Davies was again handed the chance to impress with Idrissa Gana Gueye missing through injury. And he kept Everton moving through the gears while also carrying out his defensive duties.
Lookman’s impact off the bench added fresh impetus to the Toffees’ attack – not to mention lifting the crowd who gave him a warm welcome back - and his teasing late cross almost brought the winner. Kurt Zouma, 23, adds clear presence to the Everton rearguard.
But it was the performance of Zouma’s centre back partner Mason Holgate that really caught the eye. He made no less than 14 clearances – the most of any Premier League player across the seven games on Saturday.
His 88.7% pass completion rate from 62 passes shows that he was measured in his defensive duties, looking to reclaim possession from Huddersfield attacks if possible.
The 21-year-old may have wondered just how much football he was going to play after Everton captured Yerry Mina and Zouma on deadline day but after Saturday – and in midweek against Rotherham – he’s showing why he deserves his place.
Character Comes Through Again
On Wednesday night, late Rotherham pressure yielded a goal from Will Vaulks that made it 2-1 on the night and set the scene for a potentially nervy finish. Cue an immediate response from Everton. A minute later, it was 3-1 thanks to a stunning strike from Calvert-Lewin.
The Blues were at it again on Saturday. Against the run of play, Town went in front as Philip Billing nodded in on 34 minutes. Just 84 seconds later, Everton were level, Calvert-Lewin to the rescue once more.
All week, first team players have been waxing lyrical about the positive atmosphere around USM Finch Farm, with Silva himself referencing it in his press conference ahead of Saturday’s fixture.
But the proof is in the pudding and in four days, we have seen plenty of character in this Everton team. There will be tougher tests ahead of course, but a knack of replying instantly to set-backs will come in handy.
Tosun Making His Own Luck
A fifth game without a goal for Cenk Tosun – but that is the only thing missing from his game so far this season.
His workrate against Huddersfield was akin to that he has shown in all five of his appearances to date – relentless.
He has two assists to his name already – against Wolves and Bournemouth – and on another day would have had another one or two. His understanding with fellow forwards Gylfi Sigurdsson and particularly Theo Walcott are coming on nicely and with a bit more luck, he would have played them both in inside the first 18 minutes.
His awareness and willingness to knit things together as the focal point of Everton’s attack was perfectly encapsulated by one particular moment when his back-heel set Seamus Coleman bursting into the box, a move only stopped by referee Stuart Attwell frustratingly blowing up for half time, much to Tosun’s disgust.
A exceptionally venomous strike from the corner of the 18-yard box showed there is plenty of confidence underpinning the Turkey striker’s good work linking the play. You sense the goals are coming.
Picking The Lock
To be fair to Huddersfield, they had done their homework on Tosun, limiting him to just 24 touches in the game.
It was part of a concerted effort to stifle, contain and frustrate the hosts, with Terriers boss David Wagner picking a back five and leaving little space for the likes of Walcott, Sigurdsson and the rest of the Blues attack to operate.
You do wonder how the likes of Richarlison, Bernard and Andre Gomes would have faired but that only whets the appetite of their impending returns.
Silva spoke in his post-match press conference of the Terriers showing Everton “respect” by deploying such tactics. “They have seen how we are playing, and they came here to put everyone back in their box, just waiting for us to make a mistake,” he said. “Of course you have to play in a different way to disorganize them.
“They showed big respect for our team but you have to be aware that can happen. You have to play faster to create chances.”
It is only against Huddersfield in which the Toffees have yet to score two or more goals against this season. Silva’s attacking tactics have so far yielded 10 goals from Everton’s first five games, with five different goalscorers. It’s safe to say the Blues will come up against equally defensive-minded systems again.
Speed, says Silva, is the key. “We expected Huddersfield to come here and put nine, 10 players behind the ball every time and close their box.
“And in that moment, you have to play faster to disorganise your opponent and not give them time. To do that we have to play quicker and take the right decisions. We tried, it’s true. But in some moments we were too slow.”
Frustrating yes, but another building block put in place for Silva’s Everton.