Everton have a new £17m secret weapon as Sean Dyche talk proving true. Everton analysis from Chris Beesley after the dramatic 3-2 Premier League victory at Crystal Palace.
A reborn man
Vitalii Mykolenko tends to score goals like busses, as evidenced by the fact that he already has two in as many games, both in the most peculiar ways, following an 18-month drought during which he failed to double his Everton total.
Mykolenko felt comfortable enough to take a stab at goal with his weaker foot seconds into the match, following his right peg goal against Brighton & Hove Albion a week earlier. Although he was unsuccessful this time, the ball found its way back to him through Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Jack Harrison, and he stayed composed in the center of the field to nod his team ahead with a header that any former Everton number nine would have been proud of.
Not satisfied with that, Mykolenko, who played his “day job” as a defender with resolve in an unexpectedly open match, then had enough skill to catch a second-half volley shot perfectly, only for it to ricochet off the foot of the post and rebound into Doucoure’s path, restoring the visitors’ lead.
Mykolenko’s notable improvement in fortunes this season under Sean Dyche’s coaching and his team’s support cannot be undervalued, considering his early struggles in English football, both on and off the field. After being handed the difficult task of replacing Lucas Digne, he struggled for a long time to live up to his huge £17 million price tag. However, he is now consistently hitting the heights and appearing like an accomplished performer.
Replays seemed to suggest that if there was any contact it was minimal so hope remained that VAR might still overturn the decision and preserve Everton’s bright start. But after a reprieve from Stockley Park a week ago when Lewis Dunk’s leveller for Brighton & Hove Albion was chalked off, there were no favours being dished out on this occasion from Anthony Taylor back in the studio.
Branthwaite repeated the trick soon after when he took another lunge at Eze but this time rookie referee Sam Barrott, who only took charge of his first Premier League game last month, had seen another and booked the Palace man for simulation after he flung himself to the turf.
The Blues continued to get bodies on the line as the Eagles surged forward and Tarkowski was as brave as anyone when it came to sticking his head in where it hurt – including getting a kick there for his troubles from Jefferson Lerma – but it looked like his resistance might be broken through a momentary lapse of concentration.
What should have been a routine ball over the top for a defender of his calibre to deal with was misjudged and Odsonne Edouard nipped in to restore parity again. It was cruel but thankfully not costly because of Idrissa Gueye‘s winner.
In his pre-match press conference for this game, Dyche spoke about how difficult it is for Ben Godfrey to get into the team right now because despite his impressive displays in training, those centre-halves in front of him are playing so well. That remains the case despite such lapses here.
Another crazy 3-2
Back on April 22 when these two sides last met at Selhurst Park, they played out a tame goalless stalemate but here it was another topsy-turvy 3-2 akin to the high drama on the night that Everton defeated Crystal Palace by the same scoreline to preserve their Premier League status in their final home game of the 2021/22 season.
Thankfully the Blues didn’t have to recover from 2-0 down to triumph on this occasion having got themselves out of the blocks quickly with Mykolenko’s first-minute opener. But their record of never having lost after going ahead under Dyche looked to be in significant danger here after they gifted the hosts as second equaliser.
The Blues boss – quite rightly – keeps talking about the need to win Premier League matches in different ways and after a ‘typical’ 1-0 success at West Ham United a fortnight ago on their previous away day in London, Everton had to dig deep to secure the three points here, showing bucket loads of resilience, a trait too often lamentably lacking in recent years.
There have been times – notably the first trio of home games this term – when Dyche’s men have performed well but not taken their chances at key moments. But as we head into another international break, they appear to be turning a corner.
If it wasn’t for an inexplicable refereeing decision at Anfield then Everton might well have finished this segment of the season unbeaten. But even if others are threatening to control their Premier League destiny, this team finally looks equipped with dealing with the adversity thrown at it.