Wednesday 24 July 19:45 , DW Stadium , Attendance:
 
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Fabian Delph played his first football for Everton as Marco Silva's side played out a scoreless draw with Wigan Athletic.

Midfielder Delph produced an encouraging display in a first half short on chances before being one of nine players replaced at half time.

Everton had chances to pinch a victory after the break but Kevin Mirallas saw a low shot blocked and Fraser Hornby headed over from 10 yards.

Jordan Pickford was the only goalkeeper stretched to any extent in the opening half – and just once at that.

Josh Windass had the effort for Wigan, taking aim with a left-foot blast from 12 yards on 24 minutes but denied by Pickford, down to his left and turning the ball over one-handed.

Windass’s strike arrived in the midst of a Wigan flurry. Moments earlier Yerry Mina, starting his first pre-season game two days after reporting back from his summer break, slid to prevent Lee Evans’ low cross from the left reaching Windass.

Indeed, former Rangers player Windass was having a frustrating time of it. Another left-sided delivery, this one supplied by Antonee Robinson, flashed across the face of goal and eluded Windass’s back-post lunge.

Everton’s threat was primarily being delivered down the flanks, specifically by full-back duo Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman.

Coleman’s tireless running carried him into a series of dangerous positions. He would have escaped on goal just before half-time but for Robinson being perfectly positioned to intercept Theo Walcott’s pass.

Coleman was routinely rushing Wigan players out of possession high up the pitch. When he took it upon himself to have a pop at goal, the Irishman cut inside and sent a left foot strike over the target.

On the opposite wing, Digne and Bernard were busy rekindling the relationship which wreaked so much havoc last term.

Lewis Macleod scythed down Digne as the Frenchman moved to latch onto a silky return pass from his partner-in-crime.

When Bernard’s equally skilful distribution released Digne into the box, centre-half Cedric Kipre was rapidly on the cover to bail out his side.

Bernard took a different route soon after. The Brazilian lifted a ball for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose knock down was intended for Digne but too close to the alert Kipre.

Pickford was able to stand idle by this point, memories of a very easy stop from Morsy’s bouncing strike inside the opening quarter hour fading fast.

Michael Keane received a hefty blow to the face from Evans – booked for his misdemeanour - and  was replaced by Mason Holgate 10 minutes before the break.

 

Chances are, Holgate was ready to go anyway, given Everton changed almost the entire face of their side for the second half.

Pickford remained from the starting XI, Holgate the only other to return for the restart.

The new boys scarcely allowed Wigan out their own half for an extended period. Everton were fairly accomplished in possession. If they did err, Silva’s side retrieved the ball in sharp fashion, either in the tackle or by suffocating their opponents.

James McCarthy’s meaty challenge on Evans was the pick – and did nothing to surprise the locals who gave their returning midfielder a decent reception.

Tom Davies and Anthony Gordon, meanwhile, were injecting the purpose into Everton’s football.

Davies’s pirouette to escape two markers drew a roar from the Evertonians congregated behind him.

He played it straight after being picked out by Gordon following one of a number of direct surges from the 18-year-old.

Davies fed Mirallas, arriving fast from his auxiliary right-back position but seeing his low strike blocked by Kipre.

When Wigan re-emerged as an attacking force – around the hour mark – substitute Michael Jacobs went down in the box under a challenge from Morgan Schneiderlin.

The penalty appeals were half-hearted – and ignored.

Jonas Lossl was on for Pickford now, completing the set of 11 changes. It was indicative of Davies's confidence that he was prepared to shoot from 25 yards - Gordon the provider again - albeit the midfielder's radar was off beam.

So too that of Mirallas from a free-kick, only narrowly, though. The Belgian was inches over from range after Gordon drew Nathan Byrne into a lunging tackle.

Goalkeeper Jamie Jones avoided embarrassment when he cleared in the nick of time with the industrious Davies closing far quicker than the home number one initially appreciated.

Scotland Under-21 international Hornby, the earlier recipient of a heavy tackle from Byrne, had a presentable opportunity to break the deadlock with five minutes remaining.

Matthew Foulds darted forward from left-back to receive a pass from Gordon and hang up a cross for the powerful Hornby.

The striker met it well enough but without being able to keep it low enough to trouble Jones.

 
Fab 45

Fabian Delph spoke on Tuesday of being taken aback by the intensity of training at his new club.

The England player had plenty in his tank, nevertheless, to demonstrate here the dynamism he’ll bring to Everton’s midfield.

There was a nice bite to the tackle which hurried Josh Windass out of possession early in the contest.

Delph had already got after Sam Morsy by this stage, forcing the Wigan midfielder back towards his own goal when all he wanted was to pass forwards.

There were pointers to an embryonic understanding with Andre Gomes, too, the pair neatly swapping possession in the opening minutes – and Delph the man available when Gomes needed a passing option after winning the ball deep in his own territory.

Delph is an ambitious footballer, used to dictating play and, crucially, being on the winning team. His passing reflects that purposeful and confident outlook, one switch right falling marginally short of Seamus Coleman, another sixty seconds later landed on the toe of Lucas Digne.

Full-backs Digne and Coleman were in rampant mood, in fact, and another raid from the left sider was picked out by Delph’s sprayed delivery just past the quarter hour.

Later on, Delph fizzed a ball which remained two-foot from the ground for the duration of its journey to the overlapping Digne.

When he received that earlier pass from Gomes, Delph raised his head and arrowed the ball 15 yards upfield for Bernard.

If Delph is ambitious, then he’s responsible, too. More often than not, Everton’s new signing was the man plugging the gap vacated by Coleman when the Irishman bombed on.

Delph's defensive instincts, good since he brust on the sceene as a 17-year-old at Leeds United, have been further sharpened by an extended period playing left-back for his most recent employers.

Delph’s versatility creates some debate over his strongest position, right down to the nuances of which midfield remit best suits him.

On this evidence, those who favour him in an old-fashioned box-to-box role might be on to something.

Delph rarely stops for breath. He runs with intent and intelligence, though, prepared to rush beyond his forwards. He was flagged offside after one such surge late in the first half. It was a marginal call.

 

Everton [First Half]: Pickford; Coleman (c), Keane [Holgate, 35], Mina, Digne; Delph, Gomes; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin.

Everton [Second Half]: Pickford [Lossl, 60]; Mirallas, Holgate, Gibson, Foulds; Schneiderlin, McCarthy; Broadhead, Davies, Gordon; Hornby.

 

 

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