On the whole, Everton were flat-footed and off the pace against Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday night, but Seamus Coleman stole the show for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
The game lacked heaps of real quality from either team, yet the Seagulls dominated for much of the encounter and arguably deserved to win.
Missed chances from Neal Maupay, Jakub Moder and Adam Lallana ultimately came back to haunt Graham Potter’s men, who could only force one significant save from Rob Olsen when he denied Lewis Dunk.
Everton were fortunate that Brighton’s lack of a clinical presence meant they could leave the south coast with a point, having offered no real attacking threat of their own with top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin sidelined with an abductor problem.
Ancelotti was still able to call on James Rodriguez, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison to lead the Toffees’ charge, but neither of the trio left the Amex Stadium with anything to write home about having either been too passive or packaged out of the game by Brighton.
With little of what Sigurdsson or Rodriguez tried paying off, Richarlison particularly spent much of the game chasing the ball as Brighton sought a breakthrough.
Ben Godfrey played a key role in Potter’s men having to settle for a draw after magnificently blocking Danny Welbeck’s effort with a quarter of an hour still to play, while already proving the bane of the former England international by preventing him from reaching Maupay’s clever pass earlier in the half.
It was a performance from the £20m summer signing from Norwich City that Everton fans will have come to expect, with Godfrey – who was praised by some as the only highlight of the night – often lauded for his efforts even in defeats.
But it was rather Coleman who stole the show, by doing what Rodriguez or Sigurdsson could not and providing Everton with a creative force, while still offering his defensive support.
Everton struck eight attempts on Robert Sanchez’s goal on Monday night, but only one attempt required the 23-year-old to take action when Rodriguez forced a save from the Spaniard in the 71st-minute, per WhoScored.
Part of the problem for the Toffees was a lack of vision from their key playmakers with Sigurdsson and Richarlison failing to create a single chance for themselves or a teammate, and Rodriguez coupling his two shots with one key pass.
Brighton managed to fashion 15 goalscoring chances and took 23 shots as a team to Everton’s respective four and eight. And of the Blues’ key passes, Coleman provided three – a joint game-high with Maupay and Lallana.
Coleman is not usually one of Everton’s more creative players with the 32-year-old only averaging 0.7 key balls a game in the Premier League this term for his side’s sixth-most, yet frequently surged up the right-hand channel to offer an attacking outlet.
It did not come as a hindrance to the Toffees’ defence, either, with the Republic of Ireland international – who Ancelotti calls “fantastic” – registering a game-high three interceptions, snatching the ball off Welbeck’s toes in the box and providing a crucial block to deny Lallana.
Godfrey may have stood out to some supporters as the only highlight, but Coleman stole the show for Everton by impressing at both ends of the field while some failed to impress at either.
AND in other news, Everton have been tipped to sign a £25m star once dubbed “a freak of a talent”…