AS Roma loanee Robin Olsen was Carlo Ancelotti’s true match-winner as Everton beat Leeds United 2-1 on Wednesday night.
The Swedish goalkeeper was drafted into the Toffees’ starting line-up in the absence of regular first-choice option Jordan Pickford, with the 26-year-old sidelined with a rib injury that Ancelotti hopes will not prevent his involvement at Manchester United on Saturday.
Olsen has now started three Premier League fixtures for the Goodison Park natives since moving to Merseyside on a one-season loan deal last summer, having not featured in the top-flight since recording his sole clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Leicester City in December.
Olsen’s lack of match action was far from clear at Elland Road as Everton won their midweek clash through goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, to move up to sixth in the table and to within four points of Liverpool in the last of the Champions League places.
The Toffees continue to hold two games in hand over their Stanley Park neighbours and the four further sides above them in the standings, and can move inside the top-four with wins.
Ezgjan Alioski came close to equalising after Sigurdsson broke the deadlock when his volley rattled the post, before Olsen acrobatically tipped Pascal Struijk’s header over the bar and did well to deny Mateusz Klich.
A rapid triple save in second half later ensured Calvert-Lewin’s 12th goal of the Premier League season would secure all three points, as the £20,000-per-week ‘keeper did superbly to palm away a deflected effort and make himself big to thwart Raphinha’s follow-up and a 20-yard hit from Jack Harrison.
It was a performance from Olsen that perfectly justified Ancelotti’s intent to retain the AS Roma goalkeeper beyond his loan spell, with the Everton boss recently confirming his hopes of signing the 31-year-old permanently in the summer after discussions over a deal failed to result in an agreement during the winter market.
“No news but the idea is the same to keep him permanent,” Ancelotti said, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo, when asked for an update on Everton’s pursuit in January. “In the next few months, we are going to talk with Roma about this.”
Olsen was called into making six saves in total against Leeds, per SofaScore, to help ensure Everton won their first match at Elland Road since 2002 having lost on their previous two visits to the West Yorkshire outfit.
Four of the £4.5m-rated shot-stopper’s saves were made from efforts taken inside the Toffees’ penalty area. He also collected one cross and completed 11 of his 24 long passes to help toward a 59% pass success rating.
Only Burnley’s Nick Pope (9.6) averages near to as many accurate long passes a game among goalkeepers to have featured more than three times in the league this term, per SofaScore.
Evidently, Olsen was clearly kept busy at Leeds but he more than stood up to the task of deputising for Pickford to emerge as Everton and Ancelotti’s true match-winner, despite defender Ben Godfrey earning vast praise from supporters for his efforts at Elland Road.