Everton saw their six-game unbeaten run in the top-flight come to an end on Sunday evening, as Frank Lampard’s side were undone by Manchester United in what was an entertaining encounter at Goodison Park.
Searching for three successive Premier League wins for the first time in over a year, the Toffees took an ideal first step toward achieving that goal, with the “revitalised” Alex Iwobi – as dubbed by journalist Josh Bunting – netting a stunning curling effort early on.
The visitors would swiftly hit back, however, through former Ajax man Antony, before substitute Cristiano Ronaldo – who had only entered the fray as a result of an injury to Anthony Martial – lashed home his 700th club career goal just before the break.
Summer signing Amadou Onana notably headed wide as the home side searched for an equaliser after the interval, while James Garner also saw a curling effort clawed away by opposition stopper David De Gea, with the Red Devils having had a third goal ruled out for handball at the other end.
As it proved, despite a late rally there was to be no rescue act for Lampard’s men on the night, with the Merseysiders slipping to their first defeat in four meetings against United, having clinched a 1-0 win when the two sides met back in April.
One notable villain for the home side was that of Neal Maupay, with the £15m acquisition struggling to build on his clinical strike against West Ham United prior to the international break, having produced a wholly ineffectual performance against Erik ten Hag’s side.
The Frenchman recorded just 26 touches in his 84-minute outing – fewer than teammate Jordan Pickford (48) – having struggled to get the better of Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez, while also squandering possession 11 times as he failed to make a telling impact.
One moment, in particular, appeared to sum up his night as the 26-year-old just failed to get his head onto a delightful ball into the box from Demarai Gray early in the second half, with Liverpool Echo journalist Chris Beesley stating that the former Brighton and Hove Albion man had got ‘little reward for his efforts here as Everton appeared to be crying out for a more aerial threat.’
That aerial threat could well have come in the form of the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin, albeit with the Englishman only introduced off the bench having been unable to feature so far this term prior to that due to injury.
While Lampard may rightly be keen to ease the 25-year-old back into action, the imposing forward has proven before just what a handful he can be against United – with two goals and two assists against the Old Trafford outfit to date – with the Toffees boss potentially ruing his decision not to start the 6 foot 2 titan ahead of Maupay.
Although the latter man proved his worth against the Hammers a few weeks ago, this latest display illustrated that he may well find it hard to keep his place once the aforementioned Calvert-Lewin is back to full fitness.