Everton Maintain Winning Start: Things We Learned

Everton beat West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to begin their Premier League season with successive victories and top the table for the first time since a similar start in 2007.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin struck his first top-flight hat-trick, Michael Keane turned in a crucial goal and there was a pearler of a left-foot effort from the majestic James Rodriguez as Everton ultimately shook off a stubborn West Brom.

We point to some of the things we learned at Goodison Park on a day when newly-promoted West Brom grabbed a 10th-minute lead and provided a stern examination for Carlo Ancelotti's confident team.


Ancelotti's Men Have Substance And Style

West Bromwich Albion asked Everton an awful lot of questions.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side came into this game following successive victories to nil and well off for confidence.

Their opponents, though, arrived at Goodison Park to play in the manner of a team used to winning following last season’s promotion campaign.

Equally, if Everton upset a few predictions winning at Tottenham Hotspur six days ago, they were expected to win this.

Ancelotti insisted his side was ready to accept that pressure and Everton did a good job of validating their manager’s words.

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19:16 Sat 19 Sep 2020

EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS: EVERTON 5-2 WEST BROM

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They rode the early blow of going one down to Grady Diangana’s goal, feeling their way back in before turning around the scoreline through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez.

Not a lot comes easy in the Premier League, though.

Every team contains players capable of conjuring up something spectacular.

In Diangana and Matheus Pereira West Brom have two of them.

And when Pereira expertly guided in his dead ball from 25 yards immediately after the interval, Everton were rocked onto the back foot – West Brom down to 10 men or not.

The Blues’ response was as emphatic as they come.

“What a performance,” sounded Joe Cole on television.

“It was a privilege to watch”.

From Owen Hargreaves: “This Everton team is the real deal, they are going places”.

From 2-2 on 54 minutes, Everton were 5-2 up with 26 minutes remaining.

This victory was entirely different in look and feel from last week’s more prosaic, controlled win at Tottenham.

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04:03 Sat 19 Sep 2020

ANCELOTTI ON HOW EVERTON CAN GET EVEN BETTER

Boss wants more after 5-2 victory over West Brom.


Already, this Everton side looks much more than a one-dimensional unit.

They boast some fabulous footballers and, you imagine, will only become more fluid and adaptable with time.

Here, we got the first glimpse of how Everton will react in adversity.

Everything went swimmingly at Spurs, and again when Salford came to Goodison for a Carabao Cup tie in midweek, but West Brom backed their hosts into a corner more than once.

The ability to solve problems counts for as much as technical quality, One without the other can take you only so far.


DCL Everton's Man Of The Moment

The secret to becoming more ruthless in front of goal, asserted Dominic Calvert-Lewin this week, belongs in “never getting sick of hitting the back of the net”.

"Whatever the situation, in training or during a match, try to hit the target," he maintained.

So when Calvert-Lewin suspected he was offside as the ball dropped at his feet on 31 minutes the striker found a way to score regardless.

Any questions over the validity of the goal could come later.

It was a terrific finish, too, Calvert-Lewin with his back to goal applying a forceful back heel to turn the ball home.

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02:26

HAT-TRICK HERO CALVERT-LEWIN ON 'MASSIVE' WIN

Striker reflects on first treble for Everton.


The VAR got busy, checking all angles, and when it came to light defender Darnell Furlong and not Richarlison – as it appeared on first sight – nudged the ball forwards, Calvert-Lewin had his reward.

It was a goal, too, which Everton could legitimately claim they deserved.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side had overcome the shock of going behind to Grady Diangana’s excellent strike and were progressively applying the squeeze on West Brom.

It still needed someone to apply a decisive touch, though.

And, just as he did when thundering in a header to crown a period of Everton dominance at Spurs six days earlier, it was Calvert-Lewin who stepped up.

In the same interview this week, Calvert-Lewin pointed to the parallels between his own development and that of fellow 23-year-old Richarlison.

And when the two men combined for Everton’s fourth goal, Calvert-Lewin ticked over to 27 Premier League goals, one ahead of Richarlison’s Everton total.

He finished the afternoon on 28 and very much counting. Exactly half those goals have come in the past nine months, a run which began with Calvert-Lewin's double in the revitalising victory over Chelsea back in December.

On Saturday, he scored with all three of his shots on target, aiming another three efforts which didn't trouble goalkeeper Sam Johnstone – Calvert-Lewin twice came close to equalising in the minutes following West Brom's opener, putting the visitors on notice of his consistent threat.

His goal on 62 minutes was the type strikers love scoring, the hard work and subtlety in the lead up resulting in what looks to the naked eye like a routine effort.

Calvert-Lewin was on the move as soon as James Rodriguez flipped a ball over the top for Richarlison and arrived on cue to stab home his second of the game.


His hat-trick strike was the result, reckoned former Everton defender Martin Keown, of seeing James's floated corner and “wanting it more than anybody else”.

Indeed, Calvert-Lewin was relatively unchallenged as he connected six yards out to defeat Johnstone.

He has four from two appearances to begin this season at the startling rate of one every 40 minutes.

Manager Ancelotti wanted Calvert-Lewin to sharpen up in the penalty box this term and will surely be thrilled with his player’s response.


Coleman In For The Long Haul

The latest reminder of Seamus Coleman’s remarkable longevity came with Everton’s right-back reaching the milestone of 250 Premier League starts against West Brom.

Inside five minutes Coleman had embarked on one of his characteristic surges to win Everton a corner – and chased down the visitors’ Grady Diangana after giving away a yard to the rapid winger.

The 31-year-old was prominent when Everton equalised. He looked up to see Kieran Gibbs in his face after receiving possession 18 yards from goal.

Coleman burst past Gibbs and stood up the cross which eventually fell for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to convert.

Full-back Coleman publicly acknowledged following Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment that Everton’s players had a fight on their hands to figure in the new manager’s plans.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see Coleman very much part of what is steadily shaping into Ancelotti’s team after the additions of James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan.

Ancelotti had no qualms about confirming Coleman’s inclusion on the eve of this fixture.


If that was an unusual step inside the guarded gates of Premier League football, then what of Ancelotti’s insistence Coleman can go on until he is 40?

From the man who took charge of AC Milan when Paolo Maldini had not long turned 33 and kept picking the brilliant defender for the next seven-and-a-half seasons – and had Alessandro Costacurta in his Milan side until the centre-half quit aged 41 – it was a notable aside.

Coleman’s Premier League tally would be higher but for the leg injury he sustained in March 2017.

He made his 187th top-flight start when coming back with an improbably energetic performance against Leicester City the following January.

Coleman subsequently admitted quietly enjoying the challenge of returning to peak condition.

He has adopted the same bright outlook to convincing Ancelotti the Irishman is one to count on as the ex-Real Madrid boss oversees what he views as an “evolution” at Goodison Park.

If anything, Coleman’s competitive edge is sharpening in his early thirties.

The Irishman positively bristles following a poor result. In the professional satisfaction he gleans from victory, as opposed to any visible excitement, he shares a trait with countryman Roy Keane.

It is testament to how Coleman – initially predominantly recognised for his forward raiding – has matured into a fabulous defender that Ancelotti employed him in a back-three on occasion last term.


Back in his more familiar right-back role, Coleman suffocated Tottenham Hotspur’s express attacker Heung-min Son last week, employing his positional sense and strength to counter the Korean’s pace and agility.

Diangana was a comparably tricky proposition but Coleman handled the 22-year-old very well – the ex-West Ham player switched infield to score his goal.

Additionally, we saw much more from Coleman as an attacking force here after a considered approach at Spurs.

The defender's run past Gibbs and ensuing cross led to Everton's equaliser and he operated with similar ambition all afternoon.

Coleman embarked on a match-high four dribbles and sent over five crosses, the third highest total of any player on the field.


Digne Casts His Spell

Lucas Digne is widely acknowledged as one of the Premier League's best left-backs.

It is counter-intuitive, then, that a man who is among the finest at his job in this country – you could make a legitimate case to say Digne belongs in any conversation about the top group of left-backs on the planet – somewhat travels under the radar in this Everton team.

Everton's trio of new arrivals have understandably attracted most attention in this embryonic campaign, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin needing to score at an extraordinary rate to share the limelight.

It is only fair James Rodriguez and Allan in particular feature in a lot of Everton talk. The South American duo are fresh to the Premier League and immediately having a meaningful influence on Everton's football.

Frenchman Digne – who is currently fending off Benjamin Mendy and World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez for his country's number three jersey – is beginning his third season with Everton.

It is the first time he has lined up for the same club in three successive seasons.

Perhaps it is stretching matters to say we are learning anything about Digne we didn't discover in his 70 Premier League games over the past two seasons.


Rather, Digne's tremendous form is reminding us what a cracking player Everton have on their hands.

In his debut campaign after joining from Barcelona, Digne created more chances (52) than any full-back in Europe's top-five leagues. In England's top-flight no player served up more than his 280 crosses.

He was at it again last term when the 27-year-old ranked third in the division for crosses (270) and assists (seven).

Against West Brom, Digne supplied an outrageous 13 crosses, seven more than anyone else on the pitch.

His tally of 20 in the opening two games is eight more than any other Premier League player.

Indeed, keep this up and he'll deliver 760 crosses this season: massive odds against, of course, but a figure which underlines Digne's expressive start.

Digne has rapidly struck up a connection with James, surging onto the Colombian's trademark right-to-left passes.

His left-flank relationship with Richarlison – the Brazilian was terrific for the second week running – is a substantial asset for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Digne had five key passes on Saturday – next highest were three players who recorded two – to add to his assist for Calvert-Lewin at Tottenham.

Defensively he was untroubled with West Brom shut down on their right flank.

"Our left-back is magic... ," sing the Evertonians.

Lucas Digne has reached deep into his box of tricks in the opening week of this season.