REPORT | Everton 1-4 Brighton & Hove Albion
Everton taken to the sword at Goodison Park as Frank Lampard’s tenure comes into question
After a massive 1-1 draw at the Etihad against Manchester City it seemed as if the blues were ready to build momentum heading into the new year. Lampard’s toffees played a resilient five at the back and earned a hard fought point thanks to a Demari Gray wonder goal that sent the traveling Evertonians into an uproar. So coming back to Goodison only days later, it seemed as if Everton was ready to capitalize and capture a huge three points. Lampard reverted Everton to a back four, with Godfrey and Onana being left out of the starting eleven, one perhaps due to fitness with the other a 5 yellow card suspension. Dwight McNeil was back in the starting lineup to partner alongside Gray and Calvert-Lewin up top, while Davies completed a midfield three of himself, Gueye and Iwobi.
It was a strong start to the match for the hosts, keeping possession and looking to trouble Brighton early. Everton had a penalty shout in the 6th minute as Davies was bundled over in the box before Iwobi eventually fired at goal forcing a great save out of Sanchez in goal. However, the good start would dissipate and Brighton would score in the 14th minute, as Mitoma beat Nathan Patterson on the wing, cut inside the box, and fired past Pickford to put Goodison on edge and Brighton ahead. Six minutes later, it was nearly two as Mitoma once again dribbled craftily into the box, he found Ferguson who fired at goal and was denied by the post.
There was not much to write home about for Everton for the remainder of the first half, as Brighton controlled the game leading to some boo birds flying at the halftime whistle. However, the second half would see the blues dismantled early, as they conceded 3 goals in only a seven minute window. Ferguson would open the scoring from close range after some more horrid defending from the hosts, three minutes later Solly March would plant Tarkowski before beating Pickford from outside the box, and finally three minutes later a horrid back pass from Gueye would be seized on by Pascal Gross who chipped Pickford to put the game firmly to bed at 4-0 in the 57th minute.
The boos flew from the stands as McNeil and Davies were taken off only a minute later, and Maupay and Coleman would replace Gueye and an injured Patterson in the 64th minute. Brighton continued to control the game, with the only moments of note the introductions of Isaac Price and Ellis Simms into the match at differing points in the second half. Demari Gray would score a late penalty after Iwobi won a penalty, but it would not be close to enough for the blues as the boos cascaded down at the full time whistle. Sack the board chants, a lifeless manager on the touchline, and a despondent home performance from Everton who have now lost four of their last five at Goodison Park. For the second campaign in a row it seems the toffees will have to contend with a relegation battle, a midseason manager swap, and a squad that cannot score goals or keep them out when it matters most.