Saturday 10 August 15:00 , Selhurst Park , Attendance:
 
0
0
 
HT: 0 - 0
  • KO
    • Yellow Card!
      Max Meyer
    38'
    46'
    • Substitution
      Gomes
      Gbamin
  • HT
    52'
    • Yellow Card!
      Bernard
    54'
    • Yellow Card!
      Morgan Schneiderlin
    • Yellow Card!
      Luka Milivojevic
    55'
    • Substitution
      Ayew
      Zaha
    65'
    69'
    • Substitution
      Calvert-Lewin
      Kean
    76'
    • Second Yellow!
      Morgan Schneiderlin
    79'
    • Substitution
      Sigurdsson
      Davies
    • Substitution
      Benteke
      Wickham
    83'
  • FT

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Everton banked a point from their Premier League opening day trip to Crystal Palace.

Marco Silva’s side played the final 14 minutes with 10 men after Morgan Schneidelrin was dismissed after being shown his second yellow card.

Even a player down, though, it was the Blues making most of the running in a bid to convert one point into three.

This was a game Marco Silva’s side controlled for vast periods – a replica of last season’s match at the same ground in fact.

Manager Silva’s team had 65 per cent of the ball and 10 shots - nearly twice as many as their hosts.

Everton would have led at the break but for an excellent reflex stop from Vicente Guaita.

Seamus Coleman was the player to take aim, the Irishman advantageously positioned when Lucas Digne’s shot ricocheted off Martin Kelly and across the box.

Guaita did splendidly to divert Coleman’s goalbound effort off target – and then scramble across to punch the ball out to his right.

No respite for Palace, though. Bernard arrived quick as a flash and stood up a cross which Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed past the far post.

This episode was by no means an outlier, Everton the superior team and spending huge chunks of the opening half in Palace territory.

Guaita was defeated for the first time not long after half-time – the Spaniard a relieved man to turn round to the sight of Patrick van Aanholt clearing off the line from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s improvised effort with his thigh following a cross from Digne.

Indeed, it took Palace until four minutes before half-time to out any pressure on the visitors’ goal.

Max Meyer ran onto Andros Townsend’s chip into the penalty area but saw his strike deflected over after cutting onto his favoured right foot.

Everton were then required to weather a series of Palace corners, the best of those for the home side calling on Schneiderlin to divert a powerful Scott Dann header.

Christian Benteke had used that part of his anatomy to help out his side on 14 minutes. Richarlison’s rising shot after connecting with Sigurdsson’s cute left-wing corner was poised to trouble Guaita until the Palace striker intervened.

Midfielder Sigurdsson actually had a good look at goal of his own inside two minutes. Frenchman Digne, starting this season exactly how he finished the last one, sent in a delivery from the left.

Centre-back Kelly’s near-post clearance averted the immediate threat – but in practice, directed the ball invitingly into the advancing Sigurdsson’s path.

He opted for the subtle approach but side-footed wide of Guaita’s left post.

Kelly was a very busy man in the opening half hour. No sooner had he intercepted crucially with Calvert-Lewin poised to meet Coleman’s wedge cross, than Kelly was turning out a drilled ball from Bernard – the same Everton striker waiting to convert.

Dann was fully extended to turn behind another cross from Coleman, this one teasingly arced round Palace’s backline.

Andre Gomes came off worst from a collision with James McArthur not long before the interval and had to be replaced by Jean Philippe Gbamin, making his Everton debut eight days after joining form Mainz.

Kelly was back on duty to block Richarlison’s 25-yard blast shortly after Van Aanholt’s goalline rescue act.

Then it was over to Pickford. Palace roused from their attacking slumber to mount a succession of forays over halfway.

Jordan Ayew looked very likely to make capital on the first of those raids. The forward streaked through but was denied by Everton goalkeeper Pickford, making the sort of one-on-one save – standing tall for as long as possible before flinging out a hand – which is becoming his trademark.

He found it slightly easier to keep out Meyer’s strike at the near post – but that was another very good stop nonetheless.

Richarlison zipped a first-time strike a couple of yards off target after the ball was inadvertently toe-poked in the Brazilian’s direction by Luka Milivojevic.

That piece of action was followed immediately by Moise Kean’s introduction as an Everton player, the Italian on for Calvert-Lewin.

Kean would have been relived he can count Digne as a teammate late in the piece. Van Aanholt appeared to have put the ball on a plate for Benteke, only for Digne to emerge from nowhere and direct the ball wide of his own goal - before taking issue with his teammates for allowing the cross.

Schneiderlin saw red with 14 minutes remaining. The Frenchman’s midfield challenge on home captain Milivojevic was deemed worthy of a booking by referee Jon Moss, who had already cautioned Schneiderlin for fouling Ayew.

There were a couple of heart in mouth moments late on – Mina and Michael Keane both defending expertly close to their own goal.

A Palace goal, though, would have been very difficult to stomach for the away team.

Everton deserved one point. Minimum.


Press Gangs

Pressing is something of an en vogue football term.

That doesn’t make it any less relevant, however, when analysing this contest.

Both sides had something of the coiled spring about them when their opponents alighted on possession in defensive areas.
Everton were all over the hosts’ centre-backs Scott Dann and Martin Kelly, suffocating the experienced pair whenever they wanted a moment to breathe.

Dann forced to give up cheap possession by Richarlison, descending on his man at a rate of knots and persuading the former Birmingham City player his safest option was to boot the ball the length of the pitch to Jordan Pickford.

Kelly was similarly hurried on a few occasions up to the 20th minute, at which point he turned away from the swarm of white shirts to pass back to his own ‘keeper, Vicente Gauita – a decision which had the natives up in arms.

Equally, Palace clearly had scenarios in mind to act as triggers to get after Everton.

The visitors, though, were assured in passing around the closing Palace attackers.

Indeed, Everton’s passing was fairly accomplished and always progressive, Andre Gomes and Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield very good at stitching together the Blues’ play.

Palace’s chasing and closing always felt hurried, as if they were one false move from being unzipped. Everton on the other hand remained compact behind the press, eliminating any risk from the tactic.

The whole process requires everyone working form the same page. When Schneiderlin ruffled Christian Benteke seven minutes before half-time, Gomes was instantly on the scene to help out and pass to Sigurdsson for a shot on goal.

Gomes’s distribution was fantastic. One pass thudded left for Lucas Digne was as good as it gets.

The Portuguese has the underrated ability to stand in precisely the space where a loose ball is about to ping.

Gomes is one of those who seems to have an eternity on the ball – regardless of how many opponents are legging it in his direction.

It was a hammer blow, then, to lose him on the cusp of halt-time.

And opportunity for Jean-Philippe Gbamin, though, to show he’s pretty useful, too. It talked to Gbamin's football intelligence and the quality of players around him that the Ivorian did not miss a trick in his time of the field. 

Gbamin was composed on the ball and entriely undisturbed by the hurly-burly of Premier League football.


Captain Coleman

That the official announcement of Seamus Coleman claiming the Everton captaincy would have been greeted by very little surprise.

Universal acclaim, too.

Both responses say an awful lot about the Irishman.

He is vocal on the field. But more than anything Coleman leads by example, in terms of both application and attitude.

The 30-year-old’s industry and bravery come as a given.

When Max Meyer swiped a first-half shot on goal it was Coleman putting his body in the line of the ball.

He confessed in advance of the season that the job of Premier League defender is harder than ever.

The calibre of attackers boasted by every team, insisted Coleman, is richer than he’s known.

It is nevertheless a rare thing indeed for Coleman to be outfoxed one-on-one His reading of the game is of the highest order.

Going the other way. Coleman’s reputation precedes him. He had contributed directly to 53 goals for Everton in 289 appearances before today – scoring 26 – some going for a defender who isn’t on any set-pieces.

He was a typically reliable outlet at Selhurst Park.

One Yerry Mina pass travelled 40 yards onto Coleman’s boot high up the pitch.

When he advanced into the box on another occasion, Coleman tied Meyer in knots. The German was nowhere to be seen by the time Coleman floated in a cross which Martin Kelly took off Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s head.

There was more guile about Coleman’s next delivery, the defender sweeping in a low ball bent round Palace’s rearguard, save for Scott Dann stretching desperately to toe the ball to safety.

Plus ca Change

There was a familiar look to Everton’s team here, with last season’s loan Andre Gomes alone among this summer’s signings to start at Selhurst Park.

The need for Marco Silva’s other five outfield recruits to find their feet before playing a full part would have influenced the manager’s call.

But there is something in the adage which suggests you stick with a winning team.

These were the men in situ as Everton rattled off a succession of excellent results at the back end of the season.

It was only right, then, they be allowed to pick up where they left off. To make it hard for the manager – who confessed his close-season trading was carried out with a mind to driving up competition for places – to take the shirts from their backs.

Manager Silva will surely have liked what he saw with respect to his side’s application and shape.

This is a solid team with a precise understanding of Silva’s tactical approach following one season working with their boss.

The players perhaps most keen to launch the season on a good footing would have been Yerry Mina.

Injuries limited Colombian defender Mina to 10 Premier League starts in his first Everton campaign last season.

He was generally solid and and unruffled – his first two starts against Chelsea and Cardiff City both ended with Everton shutting out their opponents.

This, though, is Mina’s chance to put his stamp on the middle of Everton’s defence.

He wasn’t tested a huge deal aerially, Palace probably reluctant to play to Mina’s strengths even if in Benteke they boast an excellent header of the ball.

Twice, though, Mina showed his prowess on the ground, Andros Townsend the fall guy on both occasion.

The Everton player was quickly into his long stride in the first half to bolt the door on Townsend, Mina then coolly turning to opening up the pitch and pass to Lucas Digne.

Townsend went directly at Mina in the penalty box after half-time. Mina watched, waited and, when the time was right, pounced, whipping the ball off the Englishman’s toes.

And for a bloke who spent a deal of his summer playing international football, Mina looked razor sharp and very fit. He was tested mentally and physically as Palace tried to generate a head of steam to capitalise on their man advantage. 

Whatever questions the hosts asked, though, Mina had the answers.

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