Yerry Mina was Carlo Ancelotti’s only true positive as Everton lost 1-0 to West Ham United on Friday night.
Ancelotti partnered Mina with Mason Holgate for the visit of David Moyes’ Irons to Goodison Park as he sought to afford Michael Keane a rare break, having called on the England international to play all bar 24 minutes over the opening 15 games of the season.
It was the first time since the Toffees lost 3-2 at Arsenal in February that Holgate and Mina started a Premier League fixture together at centre-half, but worked well beside one another for most of the game.
Yet despite Holgate’s vocal presence, occasional mishaps when in possession allowed West Ham to fashion chances even with Mina providing a dominating presence up against 6 ft 2 Sebastien Haller.
The Irons striker was rarely afforded opportunities to threaten Jordan Pickford when challenged by Mina, who was unlucky to see the visitors snatch the win through Tomas Soucek four minutes from time when Aaron Cresswell’s shot deflected off the Colombian.
Everton were rarely threatening a win over their former head coach before Soucek tapped home the decisive strike in the dying moments, though saw their performance reach a new level following the introduction of Andre Gomes midway through the second half.
Gomes instantly looked to create chances for a Blues side desperately in need of creativity, but failed to find the vital pass that would have returned the rewards for Mina’s defensive showcase.
Ancelotti had called for Mina to improve earlier in the season, claiming “he could be more aggressive and do more with the ball”, and is now seeing the result of his plea.
Mina won six of his eight aerial contests against West Ham on Friday night, while being successful in all three of his ground duels, never committing a foul and only losing possession five times, per SofaScore.
He additionally kept possession wonderfully with a game-high 78 accurate passes from 83 attempts, including playing a key pass and finding teammates with two of five long balls, resulting in the best pass accuracy rating (94%) of any player who started for either side.
Only Holgate (99) took more touches than Mina (94), whose six successful aerial duels were also a game-high tally, while the duo led Everton for clearances with five each – only Irons ace Angelo Ogbonna (7) recorded more.
Ancelotti will be delighted to see Mina continue to contribute at a high level following his cautious words earlier in the season, even if the £18m-rated titan could not keep his fifth Premier League clean sheet of the campaign.