Everton In Derby Draw: Things We Learned

Everton stretched their unbeaten Premier League start to a fifth match with a Merseyside derby draw on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti's team equalised twice, through Michael Keane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, adding another point to their tally to remain top of the table.

We review some of the things we learned from a frenetic 237th edition of the all-Merseyside fixture.

Calvert-Lewin Rewriting Expectations

Anyone watching Dominic Calvert-Lewin bracing himself to meet Lucas Digne’s 81st-minute cross had no right to expect the ball to finish in the net.

The eventual outcome is what most observers would have predicted nonetheless.

Equally, had Calvert-Lewin completed 90 minutes without scoring, it would have been worthy of mention.

This is the orbit in which Everton’s number 9 now exists.

He is the first Everton player in 82 years to score in his opening five games of a season.

There are no caveats either; no explanations which could dampen Calvert-Lewin’s achievement.

Everton have 13 points and Calvert-Lewin’s goals are directly responsible for seven of them.

For the purposes of this piece we are setting aside the League Cup hat-trick against West Ham United which booked Everton’s quarter-final spot – and the 23-year-old's goalscoring England debut.


Calvert-Lewin has 11 goals in all this season.

His seven from five Premier League games is an identical return to that of Tommy Lawton’s top-flight start in 1938.

Lawton ended the season with 38 goals from 43 matches.

None of Calvert-Lewin’s six previous Premier League goals this term can have felt as good as this.

His astonishingly athletic leap and precise finish provided in microcosm exactly what Carlo Ancelotti is urging from the forward.

Calvert-Lewin was stationed between the whites of the posts – Ancelotti wants his gun striker hovering where he can do maximum damage, not running his legs off on the periphery – and a la Filippo Inzaghi, the dead-eyed Italian who excelled for Ancelotti at AC Milan, needed only one touch to defeat goalkeeper Adrian.

The cross was provided, just as it was when Calvert-Lewin opened his account at Tottenham Hotspur five weeks ago, by the metronomic Lucas Digne.

Digne’s delivery was tremendous but still required an awful lot of work from Calvert-Lewin.

He timed his jump perfectly, generating direction and power to squeeze the ball between Adrian’s dive and his right post.

Calvert-Lewin’s soaring confidence was illustrated by his five shots in the match, three of them on target.

His control following a long pass from Michael Keane in the opening half, after pulling off the back of Joe Gomez, was exceptional – and instantly conjured memories of a replica touch before scoring against West Ham.

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02:17 Sat 17 Oct 2020

'DISAPPOINTED' DCL SAYS EVERTON CAN TAKE POSITIVES

Striker reflects on 2-2 draw in 237th Merseyside derby.


Calvert-Lewin shot at the keeper this time, causing Adrian more concern minutes later with a blast at the near-post.

The Spaniard turned that one behind only for Keane to score from the resulting corner.

Calvert-Lewin will perhaps rue one that got away when he failed to land a decent connection on another Digne cross soon after half-time.

A prodigious leap to head over after being supplied by the same source in the opening half would prove a warning of what was to come.

The clock was ticking on Everton’s unbeaten start to the campaign when Digne hung up his centre nine minutes from the end.

Calvert-Lewin’s timing, then, in every respect, was immaculate.

Ben Breezes Into The Fray

Ben Godfrey had three days to get to know his new teammates before joining an Everton matchday squad for the first time.

Which would have felt like a luxury compared to the time Godfrey had to prepare for his debut.

Seamus Coleman pulled up – not looking in a huge amount of pain, more thoroughly fed up because he knew whatever he felt wouldn’t allow him to continue – and Carlo Ancelotti duly barked for Godfrey to get stripped.

The player was immediately confronted with multiple challenges, primarily occupying a right-back position he’d filled twice in his professional career.

He was arriving cold into a Merseyside derby which had been running a temperature since Sadio Mane’s third-minute opening goal.

The elusive, relentless Mane was Godfrey’s direct opponent – although the Englishman’s first task was to get enough of his lower leg on a placed Mohamed Salah shot to send the ball squirming past the post.

When Thiago Alcantara took a more rudimentary approach, Godfrey positioned his body between goal and the Spaniard’s meaty volley.

The 22-year-old is a centre-half by trade and played all 30 of his Premier League games for Norwich in that position.

Godfrey, then, was entering unfamiliar territory when he charged forward with the ball at his feet five minutes before half-time.

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03:44 Sat 17 Oct 2020

ANCELOTTI PRAISES EVERTON'S DERBY SPIRIT

Boss "really satisfied" with way Blues competed against Premier League champions.


As he would prove on his 59-minute debut, Godfrey adapts quickly. He’d attracted four defensive bodies before shoving the ball to a consequently unmarked Richarlison, given time to spin and shoot.

Ancelotti this week called Godfrey a player for Everton’s future – but was keen to stress he’s one for the here and now, too.

Everton went into the market for bespoke talent this summer and here – following the immediate impacts of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure – was another example of why.

Godfrey professed himself ready to be called on, questioning why he’d be named on the bench otherwise.

When he conducted a round of post-match interviews, there was certainly no sense of Godfrey feeling he’d surprised himself, only satisfaction at the way he navigated a daunting set of circumstances to make an assured start to his Everton career.

James’s Latest Trick

There were signs of Everton steadily clearing their heads following the early blow of a Liverpool goal in the minutes leading up to Michael Keane’s equaliser.

Richarlison embarked on a trademark dribble and Lucas Digne released himself from shackling Mohamed Salah to gallop forwards.

In midfield, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan were beginning to suffocate Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara.

James Rodriguez reads the rhythms of a match. He has the ability to twist the action to his will and the Colombian scented his moment.

There was a pass which narrowly missed Richarlison’s unencumbered run into the penalty box.

Moments later, James turned the screw with an eye-of-the-needle ball to send through Dominic Calvert-Lewin – who moments earlier had headed over following Digne’s raid and cross.

Adrian turned behind Calvert-Lewin’s thrashed effort, creating another opportunity for James to show why Carlo Ancelotti labelled him the assists man.

James’ corner was on the money, drilled with whip and pace into the middle of a congested six-yard box.

This was gold-plated service and precisely what Keane would have ordered.


The defender took charge, climbing highest and arcing his neck to generate maximum power.

Adrian got plenty on the ball but couldn’t resist Keane’s header, merely helping the ball into the roof of the net.

James was in the game. This contribution moved him to three assists for the season, matching the forward’s goal tally in five Premier League games.

He was close to adding to both totals, Adrian keeping out one bending effort destined for the left corner and Richarlison clattering the post with a header from James’ inswung right-wing delivery.

The 29-year-old made three key passes, joint-highest in the game with the two teams’ marauding left-backs Digne and Andrew Robertson.

James sent over six crosses and his six accurate long passes was second only to the seven struck by teammate Keane.

"The Wee Magician," Duncan Ferguson called James this week, and here the 29-year-old delved into his box of tricks to haul Everton back into the game.

Defensive Pillars Shine

Everton have scored 26 goals in eight games across two competitions this season.

The two they struck against Liverpool represented their smallest return from five home matches this season after Salford City, West Bromwich Albion. West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion were hit for three, five, four and four respectively.

Inevitably, then, focus on Everton tends to train on the front end of the pitch, where Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to tear it up and James Rodriguez weaves his spells.

Where Richarlison slogs his guts out.

Or we marvel at the impact of Everton’s new signings, injecting the team with renewed quality and a notable charge in self-belief.

Indeed, here we have singled out Calvert-Lewin, James Rodriguez and debutant Ben Godfrey.

Michael Keane and Lucas Digne, two cornerstones of Everton’s back four, are equally deserving of praise.

Seemingly emboldened by the faith of Carlo Ancelotti, Keane is Everton’s sole ever present this term and has been consistently magnificent.

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03:03 Fri 16 Oct 2020

CALVERT-LEWIN ON IMPORTANCE OF CHALLENGING RACISM

Everton striker supports No Room For Racism campaign.


It is tempting to say he’s not put a foot wrong but that assessment would underplay Keane’s hand.

He’s proactively contributing to Everton’s purposeful and decisive and winning football.

Aerially Keane is as good as it gets in the Premier League and against Liverpool was characteristically authoritative.

Barry Fry once claimed his old Birmingham City centre-half Liam Daish would happily head a jumbo jet out of his team’s penalty area and Keane is cut from similar cloth.

Liverpool, though, lift balls into the box sparingly, meaning this was a test for Keane’s agility, positioning and concentration.

When the country went into lockdown Keane devoted a portion of time to quickening his feet and the hard work is paying off.

He won’t face many more nifty opponents than Mohamed Salah but the Egyptian forward struggled to dodge Keane.

Everton’s 27-year-old centre-back defended on the front foot, winning the ball a distance from his own goal.

When forced to retreat he was strong and composed.

It is a sure sign Keane is on top of his game when his passing is firing.

His raking ball to connect with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the opening half was one of seven accurate long passes, the most of any outfield player in the game.


Keane’s accuracy over a long distance enables Calvert-Lewin to stretch defences with runs behind when the ball is 60 yards away.

Digne and Calvert-Lewin inevitably claim most plaudits for Everton’s equaliser.

But none of it would have been possible without Keane punching a pass through a narrow channel for James to release Digne.

Keane’s goal, meanwhile, was his third of the season. What a boon when your central defenders regularly chip in.

It would be easy, meanwhile, to begin taking left-back Digne for granted.

Italian Ancelotti talks of football as a “simple” game and it is as if Digne is trying to prove the Everton manager’s point with his regular surges and pinpoint deliveries.

He sizes up his target in the box and invariably locates it with what looks like a degree of ease.

The supply line from Digne since he joined Everton in the summer of 2018 has been consistently excellent – but this term he’s added another string to his bow.

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02:28 Sat 17 Oct 2020

KEANE SALUTES 'UNBELIEVABLE' CALVERT-LEWIN

Defender hails in-form teammate's aerial prowess after he nets 10th goal of the campaign.


Digne is crossing first time more often, catching defences on the hop and providing his teammate – usually Calvert-Lewin – a telling extra second to get the jump on his man.

The former Barcelona player volleyed an outrageous cross for Kylian Mbappe to win a game for France in midweek.

He took the quick option to set up Calvert-Lewin for an opportunity shortly after half-time on Saturday and his assist was the product of a first-time delivery.

Digne marries his attacking verve with stout defending. Against Liverpool, the slight 27-year-old won five aerial duels, made four recoveries and completed seven clearances.

He posted a tweet after the game declaring he’d missed Evertonians on derby day. Suffice to say, they’re missing watching their exceptional full-back in action, too.

Staying Top

Carlo Ancelotti’s team is breathing rarefied air at the Premier League's summit.

Even this early in the campaign, there was a reminder on Saturday of how oxygen is in short supply when you're at the top to be shot at.

This was a breathless derby in which Everton had to overcome a series of setbacks to emerge unscathed.

Carlo Ancelotti reflected on the contest as one which could prove vital in his carefully-managed Goodison Park evolution.

Everton had shown a welcome resolve countless times already this term, recovering to win after falling behind against West Bromwich Albion and on four separate occasions summoning a second wind to earn victories following equalisers for their opponents. 

They withstood pressure, too, to see through wins in the capital against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace.


Every win and every goal-laden performance draws more attention and, with it, expectation.

Everton were under the microscope in a Merseyside derby in a way which was alien from recent seasons.

Conceding early in these circumstances was hurtful but Everton could mentally refer to their very recent history for encouragement.

Equally, when Ancelotti's side fell behind a second time, the task was to repeat what they'd done once already.

There was still the setback of a red card for Richarlison to negotiate, while Jordan Pickford produced tremendous stops either side of Dominic Calvert-Lewin's equaliser.

Character, attitude and spirit have been the watchwords of Everton's season, so far.

Their refusal to buckle epitomised those qualities.

That Everton were aiming for eight straight victories for the first time in 35 years was a measure of the strides this team is making under Ancelotti.

The spine of the team which won eight on the spin in April and May 1985 constituted Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Reid and Graeme Sharp.

Two of those victories were major semi-finals – against Bayern Munich and Luton Town in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and FA Cup respectively.

Those points serve to further indicate the scale of what Ancelotti’s current class is achieving.

This was always going to be Everton's sternest home examination of this nascent season and required the Blues to tighten the open football which blitzed both West Brom and Brighton.

Ancelotti reckons the Premier League is unique in serving up different challenges every week and next up for Everton is a visit to a Southampton team which hit back to draw 3-3 at Chelsea on Saturday.

Every chance that could be another frantic tussle against Ralph Hasenhuttl's hard-running team but it is one this Everton side, searching for a fourth successive Premier League away win, will meet head on.