Everton’s hopes of securing a place in Europe for next season took a huge blow on Saturday evening at Goodison Park.
The Toffees came into this clash full of confidence after defeating Arsenal last time out but they were all over the place defensively as they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Michael Keane was back from injury but only made the bench, a decision that Carlo Ancelotti was surely left ruing come full-time.
That’s because Mason Holgate was a nightmare from a defensive point of view. The young defender gave the ball away on a frequent basis and it cost the hosts the opening goal.
Holgate received the ball inside his own half with plenty of space and room to pass into. However, he inconceivably turned back towards his own goal and was then robbed of possession by Ollie Watkins.
Unsurprisingly, with the form the England international has been in this season, he duly picked up the ball and pushed it past Jordan Pickford.
It was a howler from Holgate but he wasn’t the only one to disappoint on Saturday evening.
Indeed, Andre Gomes continued his rather mediocre return to the team following injury.
He lasted just over an hour against Arsenal a week ago and he was hauled off on 70 minutes this time having put in a particularly lightweight shift.
When the Portuguese initially signed on loan from Barcelona, he oozed class in the middle of the park for Everton. However, he’s been very inadequate of late and is lacking the qualities that made them spend £22m to prise him away from Camp Nou.
Gomes did complete 85% of his passes against the Villans but he was given the run around by an energetic midfield.
The £140k-per-week earner was particularly feeble from a defensive point of view and lost a mighty 78% of the duels he competed in. That meant Gomes failed to win a single aerial duel and prevailed in only two tackles.
The 27-year-old produced one moment of quality in the first half when he played a delicious ball into the left channel for Lucas Digne but that was about as good as it got.
Gomes didn’t provide much energy and his physicality left a lot to be desired. Up against the likes of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn, you need to offer far more than was shown on Saturday evening.
It was a performance that will have left Ancelotti frustrated and disappointed. After all, Gomes is a player you should expect control and composure from.