Everton midfielder Tom Davies badly let Carlo Ancelotti down in Saturday’s Premier League win over Arsenal in the absence of Allan.
Ancelotti confirmed ahead of the Gunners’ trip to Goodison Park that Allan would play no part after sustaining a hamstring injury in the midweek win over Leicester City, and opted to name Davies alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure in a dual-axis holding duo.
The decision to pair Doucoure with Davies appeared well-thought-out in the opening stages when the duo forced Mikel Arteta’s side to drop deep, allowing for Mason Holgate to overlap Alex Iwobi and create space for the Nigerian to deliver the cross for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s deflected header which beat Bernd Leno to open the scoring.
But Davies’ promising start lasted just over 10 minutes before his afternoon took a sour turn when his clumsy attempt to clear the ball saw Arsenal awarded a penalty, with the £14.4million-rated Toffees product unaware of Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ presence on his blind side.
Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp was disgusted by Davies’ lack of awareness and was adamant the 22-year-old had to do better during what was only his third start of the Premier League season.
“When you’re the defensive midfield player, you have a responsibility to react,” Redknapp said during Sky Sports’ half-time coverage (19/12, 18:23). “Arsenal get it wrong, but work at it again.
“Maitland-Niles gets the cross in and just follows it in. Davies has got to react, you can see he’s just on his heels, he doesn’t sense there’s danger, he doesn’t realise he’s coming in behind him.
“He’s got to react quicker, Maitland-Niles gets there before him and it’s a definite penalty. He knows what he’s doing. It’s not a great header by Yerry Mina, but Davies has got to do better.”
Mina restored Everton’s lead on the brink of first-half stoppage-time when the Colombian headed home Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner, but Davies was unable to restore his performance to a higher regard after the break.
Davies saw out the entire 90 minutes, yet ended the match having recorded fewer touches (35) than Jordan Pickford (36), per SofaScore. He also registered the same aerial duel success rate as the Blues’ shot-stopper, having each attempted and won a single contest.
Davies further let Ancelotti down with success in just two of six ground duels, committed three fouls, made only two successful tackles, was dribbled past once, never successfully intercepted the ball and misplaced three of his four long passes.
He was poor positionally, too, often dropping to within touching distance of defenders Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane to leave acres of space for Arsenal to control possession in the Toffees’ territory in search of a second equalising goal that never came.
No doubt Ancelotti will be fuming with Davies for his calamitous foul which gifted Arsenal a route back into the tie, and must now be questioning whether or not the £25,000-per-week outcast can cover for Allan when Everton play Manchester United in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night.