If Carlo Ancelotti can take any positives from Everton’s 0-0 draw with Aston Villa on Thursday evening, it’s that they didn’t lose.
The Toffees tasted defeat against Dean Smith’s men in the reverse fixture less than a fortnight ago, so they were already behind when it came to the mental battle.
That said, Everton really should have won the game yesterday. They created numerous chances to score but were met with the brick wall of Emi Martinez. The Argentine has been inspired this term and made five saves to deny Ancelotti’s attack in midweek.
The biggest positive, however, will be a successive clean sheet. Everton were lacking Yerry Mina due to injury but stood firm with a three-man backline again.
However, Seamus Coleman didn’t cover himself in too much glory at right wing-back. The Irishman has been a fantastic servant to Goodison Park but it’s evident that his time on Merseyside is starting to wind down.
You can never fault the defender’s attitude and commitment but his final ball and passing let him down during an average display from the skipper.
The tone was set in the very first minute of the game. Hounded by former team-mate Ross Barkley, Coleman gifted the opposition a corner instead of attempting to clear the ball upfield.
He had a particularly nervy opening ten minutes at Villa Park, bringing down Matt Targett when Everton could have won a set piece themselves before lifting a cross straight into the arms of Martinez.
Coleman completed just 50% of his crosses and was successful with only 71% of his passes. He was disappointing in possession, completing just ten passes in the entire game and taking fewer touches (28) than Jordan Pickford (37).
The defender may have won 50% of his defensive duels but he wasn’t entirely competent when it came to dealing with Anwar El Ghazi and Targett. The latter raced past him as though he wasn’t even there on the stroke of half time but fortunately Villa spurned the opportunity to score.
It was no surprise that Coleman was eventually substituted with more than 15 minutes left to play. He exited Villa Park having lost possession every 2.8 touches; a woeful tally for a player who usually brings a calming nature to Ancelotti’s side.
This was a night to forget for him and the Toffees’ attackers.