Everton conceded a late goal as Burnley condemned them to their second defeat of the season.
Scott Arfield’s half volley in the 90th minute gave the home side all three points at Turf Moor, after Everton failed to translate their dominance into a lead.
The Toffees fell behind minutes before half-time when their double penalty-saving ‘keeper from last week spilled Arfield’s shot, with Sam Vokes on hand to tap in.
Yannick Bolasie had levelled on 58 minutes with a superb low finish, but despite 65% of possession Everton lacked the killer instinct to add to their tally, leaving Burnley to snatch a late victory.
A lot can happen in a week
There was nothing Maarten Stekelenburg could do wrong last week, after a super-human performance including two penalty saves earned Everton a point at the Etihad Stadium.
But a lot can change in seven days in the football world and the Dutchman will find his name making headlines for the wrong reasons this weekend. A tame Arfield effort minutes before half time was parried by Stekelenburg into the path of Vokes to give the Clarets the lead.
Admittedly a slight deflection altered the ball’s course, but Stekelenburg will know he should have dealt with the situation much better. Everton would of course get themselves back on level terms but you can’t help but feel -much like last week but in polar circumstances- that the gaffe changed the tone for the rest of the match, with Everton never looking entirely convincing.
Koeman might have to win ugly to end poor run
After a joint best start to the season for Ronald Komean (after eight games), Evertonians can’t help but feel deflated after a run of five games without a win.
When the final whistle sounded just before 5pm at Goodison Park on 17th September, the immediate future looked very rosy indeed. A 3-1 win and second place in the Premier League had given the Blues a fantastic platform for the rest of the season. Yet one month and 4 league games later, the picture is less optimistic.
Defeats to Bournemouth and Burnley, and a home draw with Crystal Palace mean the point gained last week at Man City looks all the more valuable. It barely needs mentioning that a return of two points from those four games is a disappointing return, and for a team with ambitions of a European spot, simply not good enough.
Everton’s performances and some of their wins so far haven’t been pretty, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that this season may see a lot more ugly performances until Koeman has the personnel for the style of play he wants. Winning ugly in the meantime might be the only way forward.
Does Martinez’s ghost still need exorcising?
After coming behind to win against West Brom and then Middlesbrough, it seemed as though Everton had banished the awful trait from Roberto Martinez’s reign of struggling to overturn deficits.
But watching the late sucker-punch at Turf Moor, there was more than a hint of Martinez-inevitability about conceding. Everton have indeed been better defensively, demonstrating more nous and better shape with the arrival of Ashley Williams and Koeman’s increased emphasis in this area.
But I wonder whether the players still bear the mental scars of an entire season of conceding late goals, and relinquishing leads. Might this have come screaming back to them as the minutes ticked away? Let’s hope it was nothing more than a flashback, and that Koeman is still working to exorcising those Martinez demons.
Lack of attacking fluency should concern Koeman
Goals conceded aside, Everton’s defensive shape was mainly sound and their back four were rarely threatened by a Burnley side with the attacking ambition of a Buddhist monk. But Everton struggled to create meaningful chances, and when things aren’t going right at the other end of the pitch, the pressure can build quickly on defenders.
Despite the obvious talents of their forward line, Everton’s attacking players looked too much like strangers. There was a lack of fluency in the final third, with the starting trio of Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Bolasie not doing enough to support Lukaku in the first half.
Gerard Deulofeu too when he arrived was too hesitant in his delivery, letting good opportunities fizzle into nothing. Bolasie was Everton’s best player in the second half, with a well taken goal and some excellent crosses; in fact no other partnership in the league has yielded more goals (4) than Bolasie and Lukaku. But on the whole Koeman will be concerned that his other creative players are not quite clicking with each other. It could be a long wait till January unless Barkley, Mirallas or Deulofeu can convince him they’re up to the task.
Moshiri’s vision has raised expectations – but Blues must be patient
It’s easy to get carried away in football, and Everton fans will know this more than most. Between Farhad Moshiri’s takeover, the appointments of Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh, the promise of cash in the transfer window and the move towards a shiny new stadium, you can’t blame Blues for getting excited.
But in a league of week-to-week over-analysis, where raw emotion and ill-thought-out reaction is demanded within minutes of a convincing win or a last-gasp defeat, its important to step back.
It’s easy to declare a return to greatness after a string of good results just as it’s tempting to condemn the club when points are scarce. Drawing conclusions on a season-long basis is the only fair way to judge a new regime and we should be looking for consistency across the calendar rather than getting too hung up on pockets of poor results.