Saturday 24th November 2018
Club duties return on Saturday when the Blues host lowly Cardiff City. Everton went into the break in impressive fashion, with their last outing finishing in a goalless draw, away at Stamford Bridge which saw the resilient Toffees gain a valuable point. The Bluebirds also entered the break on a positive note as they saw off Brighton, in a close home encounter which saw Neil Warnock’s men earn a much needed second victory of the campaign.
Everton left off on encouraging terms, after a pleasing performance at the Bridge saw them leave the capital with a share of the spoils. One thing that really stood out was the urgency and will to attack from the off. The newly found fearlessness of the side is something that has somewhat lacked in the club for a long while, especially away at the top six. To go to a place like Chelsea, a side still unbeaten and perform like the side did is hugely impressive.
Both halves of the game summed up qualities of the side at both ends of the pitch. The first saw some fantastic quality going forward, as the Blues looked to create that all important opening, maybe being a little unlucky to not have gotten themselves on the scoresheet. The second half, the Toffees were organised, compact and made themselves seriously difficult to break down as they grinded the result.
Loanee, Andre Gomes, has made a superb start in the Royal Blue and is certainly showcasing the quality he possesses. His ability to retain the ball and do all the simple things right have added a huge spark in the middle. The midfielder makes everything look effortless, gliding around the pitch, providing Everton with a real touch of class.
There are a few concerns regarding fitness for the Blues. Ademola Lookman’s international commitments were cut short, as the winger returned to the club early following a knock picked up before the under 21’s game with Italy and is a slight doubt. Andre Gomes is also a worry after the Portuguese midfielder suffered a knock last time out and will continue to be assessed. Gylfi Sigurdsson is expected to miss Saturdays contest after sustaining an ankle injury at Chelsea. Also expected to miss the game is Jonjoe Kenny as the right back continues his recovery.
Life has been far from straight forward for the Bluebirds on their return to the top flight, with the club collecting just eight points in 12 games and languishing in 18th. However, Cardiff have shown a fight and spirit expected of a Neil Warnock side and managed to gain their second three points of the season last time out, overcoming a stubborn Brighton side, 2 1.
The game saw the Welsh outfit fall behind early, as Lewis Dunk nodded in for the visitors on six minutes to present the hosts with an immediate uphill battle. Cardiff reacted bravely as they searched for a way back into the game and began to pin Brighton back. Just before the half an hour mark, the game was back on level terms when Callum Paterson met a Kadeem Harris cross to equalise. The game was turned on its head six minutes later when Dale Stephens was sent off for the Seagulls following a dangerous challenge. The hosts began to press forward and take advantage.
After the break, Cardiff struggled to break ten man Brighton down as they probed for the lead. The pressure finally paid off for the Bluebirds, when in the 90th minute, centre back Sol Bamba smashed in from close range to break the deadlock and seal the victory.
Cardiff do hold a few injuries heading into Saturday, as trio Sean Morrison (Blurred Vision), Kenneth Zohore (Calf) and Jazz Richards (Hamstring) are all expected to miss out.
Heading into Saturday’s clash, you have to make Everton heavy favourites. The side have really began to click in recent times and the football has been lovely. After the impressive draw at Chelsea and the upcoming dreaded Derby, this is a must win. Cardiff will be making the trip with a newly built confidence after their victory last time out and hoping they can gain yet another result as they look to exit the bottom three.
Can the Blues continue to rise or will the Bluebirds scupper the feel good Goodison mood?
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines; Gueye, Gomes; Walcott, Bernard, Richarlison; Tosun.
Cardiff: Etheridge; Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Cunningham; Gunnarsson; Harris, Camarasa, Ralls, Murphy; Ward.
Everton 4-0 Cardiff