Everton claimed a huge three points with victory against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park today, a win that has put the Blues back in the top seven and right in the mix for a European place next season.
This was a big win for Everton with a run of big games coming up. Next up come games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, before the Blues face leaders Liverpool in the Goodison derby.
Given that and the frustrating draw against Newcastle in the Toffees last home match, it was really important the Blues got all three points today.
Carlo Ancelotti selected a team with several changes, including restoring Seamus Coleman at right-back in place of Djibril Sidibe. In addition Ancelotti selected Micheal Keane to play alongside Yerry Mina in central defence.
Coleman did pretty well against Wilfried Zaha and Keane’s reinstatement was a clever move that paid dividends as Crystal Palace piled on the pressure during the second half. Keane and Mina stood up well winning plenty of balls against the dangerous Christian Benteke.
In midfield Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schniderlin started and while that combination has seldom been very effective until now this season, both had good, solid, consistent games.
Everton started the match reasonably well and scored an excellent goal after a fine opening twenty minutes. Bernard it was who slotted home a superb volley after a cross from the lively Theo Walcott.
This is not the first time that Pickford has made an error leading to a goal, although he might have caught his footing when he went to make the save. While many things have improved under Ancelotti there is still a worrying tendency for players to make these unforced errors.
To be fair to Pickford he did make one outstanding save later on to keep Everton on top as Palace pressed to get back into the match.
For a while then, the Blues struggled and lost their way as Palace dominated. This was partly because the excellent Walcott had to be substituted due to yet another injury to a Toffees player.
With the game in the balance, came a brilliant solo goal from the outstanding Richarlison, which turned the match around. The Brazilian picked up the ball and went on a jinking run and from an acute angle slotted in a superb strike to make it 2-1.
The Toffees were back on top and then went on to score a third as Dominic Calvert-Lewin found the back of the net after Richarlison’s header bounced off the crossbar, to continue his terrific run in front of goal of late.
The young English striker could have netted again, and should have really done so, but Everton held on comfortably and there was no repeat of the dramatic collapse against Newcastle.
So a solid and ultimately comfortable home win then. And with a two-week break for the players to recover and prepare for Arsenal away and the prospect of Andre Gomes returning perhaps for that game, there is increasing reason for Evertonians to be optimistic going forward.