Everton midfielder Tom Davies was Carlo Ancelotti’s real hero after returning to the starting line-up on Saturday and helping his side to claim a 3-3 draw at Manchester United.
Davies had only played one minute in the Toffees’ previous two Premier League games after falling to the bench following his role in last month’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City, but he took over the central position in the engine room at the expense of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Ancelotti’s decision to hand the Blues product only his eighth top-flight start of the season at Old Trafford ultimately allowed the Italian tactician to reap the rewards, with Davies delivering heaps of entry and enthusiasm to break up the Red Devils’ game plan.
Davies began to come into his own in the second period and provided a perfectly weighted through ball to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, before the England international’s shot rebounded invitingly into the feet of Abdoulaye Doucoure for Everton’s first goal.
Doucoure kept pushing forward and soon saw James Rodriguez riffle his cross into the bottom corner of David de Gea’s net to draw the Toffees level at 2-2, and would go on to be named the Everton supporters’ Man of the Match.
Yet it was Davies’ performance in midfield that saw the £25,000-per-week outcast emerge as Ancelotti’s real hero at Old Trafford, with his determination to make a game of things coming to the fore just as Ancelotti welcomes Allan back into training after a hamstring injury.
The 22-year-old’s spirit was also bringing the best out of his teammates, having ensured they would ditch the early passive approach taken to the second half as United were already two goals to the good.
And then once they were back in the game, Davies’ drive kept the match within touching distance to allow for Calvert-Lewin’s late equaliser, having been anywhere and everywhere Everton needed him to be defensively until he was taken off with a quarter of an hour left to play.
Davies exited the field with three successful tackles to his name while Doucoure had zero, while winning the ball with 100% of his attempts. The former England U21 international also made four clearances, only Michael Keane (5) registered more, per WhoScored.
He also offered two interceptions while no United player had made more than one during the first 74 minutes, and he was never dribbled past while teammate Andre Gomes was beaten four times to lay claim to a tackle success rate of just 43%.
Everton, as a team, rarely beat the Red Devils on the ground with only three successful dribbles made while Davies was on the field and he accounted for one from just one run, with Richarlison providing the other two but from a game-high five attempts.
Ancelotti will no doubt have been buoyed to see Davies thrive in such a manner on his return to the line-up, having only offered an average of 1.2 successful tackles and 0.6 clearances a game in the league this term, per SofaScore.
But with Allan almost back, his performance may have come too late to lock down a more regular role going forward.