The biggest relegation six-pointer of the Premier League Season ends all square at the King Power Stadium.
Everton were on the road to play Leicester on Monday evening in what can only be called a massive moment in the toffees’ bid to beat the drop this season. Sean Dyche opted for a change in lineup following the 1-4 drubbing at home against Newcastle, bringing back in Seamus Coleman who had recovered from injury and introducing James Garner into the starting eleven in place of Amadou Onana.
Everton came firing out of the blocks similarly to the match against Newcastle, but looked far more in control of the match. The visitors kept a majority of the ball in the first 20 minutes and the play of James Garner through the middle was a massive creative influence, and continued to be throughout the duration of the match. The first massive moment of the match came through Everton’s sustained pressure in the 15th minute, when Calvert-Lewin was shoved down from behind and the blues won a penalty. DCL stepped up and smashed it in to rapturous celebration in the away end. Everton had the breakthrough.
Unfortunately, only 7 minutes later, the Everton backline would capsize once again. Harvey Barnes sent in a cross that was knocked across goal to Soyuncu, and the centerback made no mistake in finishing a right-footed strike for his first premier league goal of the season to bring the match level. And then, only 11 minutes after the equalizer, toffee hearts were broken as Leicester capitalized on a midfield giveaway. An Alex Iwobi pass was intercepted, James Maddison played a long through ball to Jamie Vardy, and the Leicester talisman burned Michael Keane and eventually beat Jordan Pickford to put the foxes ahead.
Dwight McNeil would have a great chance to equalize 10 minutes later, as Iwobi found Coleman who cut beautifully inside to find McNeil. He fired a powerful shot to the near post that was saved by Iversen in the Leicester goal, who seemingly made big stop after big stop. Then, only a minute later, perhaps the miss of the season for Everton came as DCL latched onto a ball across the box and could not find the back of the net from very close range, shooting right at the Leicester keeper.
In stoppage time of the first half, Seamus Coleman went down with what looked to be a horrid injury. The match was stopped as the medical team brought out a stretcher, with the Everton captain’s return from injury lasting only a half of football. It was a brutal blow, with the heart of the team and someone who was clearly needed while watching Ben Godfrey likely done for the season.
Trying to regroup following the injury, it seemed to be typical Everton, as right after the huge DCL miss, the toffees conceded a penalty as Michael Keane committed a handball, a far too familiar culprit throughout the match. However, Sean Dyche and company found a huge let off as Maddison’s penalty was right down the middle leading to a big save for Jordan Pickford to keep the match at 2-1 heading into the halftime locker room.
The second half started off fast once again for Everton, who jumped out to be on the front foot early. DCL had a fizzing effort saved in the 52nd minute before the blues found an equalizer. But then, Iwobi finally turned around what had been a torrid match to score a stunning equalizer. DCL did well to affect a cross in from Mykolenko, and the ball fell to Iwobi who took it on the volley and put a stunning low effort into the bottom right corner to bring the match level. The match did not lose any of its energy following the goal, with James Tarkowski saving Everton with a goal line clearance in the 59th minute.
Everton continued to pour forward looking for a winner, but were almost caught out in the 81st minute as Pickford was caught off his line. Jamie Vardy shot towards an empty net from 35-40 yards but could not curl his effort from a tough angle into the empty net. The visitors would then have one more chance in the 87th minute, as Doucoure hit a stunning low strike that Iversen somehow managed to keep out to keep the scoreline level.
The match ended 2-2, and all in all was probably a fair result on the day. A fantastic game for neutrals, and most likely a very disappointing result for supporters of both clubs. Everton benefited massively from having a true right back in the eleven, with Patterson playing well enough to solidify his spot following the injury to Seamus Coleman. James Garner had a good performance in the middle of the park, leaving Dyche with decisions ahead of Brighton. His lack of substitutions to get fresh legs on in the midfield and on the wings baffled many, as Onana and Demari Gray waited on to make their mark in a match that was wide open. The biggest negative on the day was Michael Keane, who proved once again why he should be nowhere near the starting eleven. Finally, Seamus Coleman’s injury is devastating not only to the player but to the supporters and the club. A mainstay at the club for over a decade, hhis injury might mean that we have seen his last involvement in an Everton shirt. A true blue and one of the best servants to the club anyone could ask for, I hope to see him in a coaching role at Everton in the near future should he decide to retire.
Next up, an away trip to Brighton as time continues to rapidly run out on the blues’ bid for safety.