SHEFFIELD UNITED 0-1 EVERTON
Carlo Ancelotti’s men ended a run of 4 games without a win with a deserved victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The hosts have been excellent this season and obliterated predictions of a struggling season back in the Premier League by getting to the penultimate game and still being in contention for European football.
Chris Wilder and his team have been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League this season, the competition lives off the ridiculous notion that it is the best league in the world. It is also guilty of ‘big club bias’ borne out of it’s own self-proclamation of the ‘big 6’ which equates to the clubs that get them and the broadcasters the ‘clicks’. Sheffield United will probably never be considered for this private club, but I suspect nor would they want to be. A very hard-working side but a side that had brushed aside Tottenham, Wolves and Chelsea in their last 3 home games.
Everton meanwhile have continued to under-perform this season and that was evidenced in their previous 4 games that had brought about 2 defeats and 2 draws. There has been a big improvement in results since Marco Silva was replaced, initially by Duncan Ferguson and then Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian’s ability to get results based on tactics saw Everton move clearly away from any danger before Covid-19 interfered with the season. Since ‘lockdown’ Everton’s form has been okay but their performances have been below standard and this will be something Ancelotti will be looking to address.
In this one, Everton started with a change of formation opting for a 4231 with Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the lone striker. They looked more compact than they have done in recent matches and matched that with a work rate that hadn’t been evidenced since beating Leicester City 4 games previous.
The hosts for once couldn’t muster any opportunities as they found Everton very disciplined and matching them for commitment. The best opportunity for United was a cross which Jordan Pickford pushed away from Chris Basham, that was the closest they come to a shot on target in the first half.
The visitors sat in and then looked to counter-attack, that tactic looked to have worked when they got Theo Walcott in round the back, but his cross-shot was saved by Dean Henderson.
A couple of minutes before the break the visitors should have gone in front. Henderson flapped at a Gylfi Sigurddsson corner and Walcott returned the ball to the far post. Former Blade Calvert-Lewin rose and headed against the post when he possibly should have done better.
The second half started in the same vein with Everton on the front foot and they took the lead in the 46th minute from Brazilian striker Richarlison.
Everton were awarded a free-kick on the right hand side. A Sigurdsson took the kick from about 30 yards out and Richarlison got in front of Enda Stevens and flicked a superb header into the bottom corner. Although it was a brilliant header Henderson may feel he could have done better after getting a hand on the ball. Sigurdsson’s celebrations suggested that finding Richarlison had been his intention all along.
Once Everton had the lead they were the team that looked the more likely to add to scoreline. Gomes flashed a shot just wide from 25 yards and then Henderson saved well from Calvert-Lewin. And Theo Walcott should have provided the second goal for his side after doing really well he failed to find 3 players in the 6-yard box by cutting the ball back to the edge of the box when well placed.
At the other end 18 year old Jarrad Branthwaite was exceptional alongside another impressive Michael Keane performance as Everton’s defence ensured that United did not muster a single attempt on target.
Right at the death teenager Anthony Gordon could have put the cherry on the cake for Everton but after turning his defender brilliantly, he chose the wrong option by attempting to square the ball instead of shooting and the chance passed.
Final Score: Sheffield United 0-1 Everton
How They Lined Up: