A first half double from Theo Walcott and a superb return to first team action for Seamus Coleman were the highlights of an entertaining and much needed return to winning ways.
The Goodison crowd received a huge boost before kick off with the news that Seamus Coleman was fit and had been selected to start. With the January transfer window expiring with a couple of hours, Everton went into tonight’s game against Leicester with no more additions to the squad since the arrivals of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott. Sam Allardyce, coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny from the Goodison crowd, opted for a starting eleven of: Pickford, Martina, Keane Jagielka (c), Coleman, Gueye, Davies, Rooney, Walcott, Sigurdsson and Niasse.
Fresh from a 5-1 romp against Peterborough in the FA Cup, Leicester were left reeling yesterday afternoon with the transfer request submitted, not for the first time, by Riyad Mahrez. Brushing the story off as, “just rumours and noise,” Claude Puel selected his side: Schmeichel (c), Amartey, Dragovic, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, James, Gray, Okazaki, Albrighton and Vardy.
Referee on a cool and blustery evening for just his eleventh Premier League game and second at Goodison was Chris Kavanagh.
The first saw a real mixture of football from the Blues as they started with a number of long balls aimed towards the ever willing Niasse before eventually playing the ball around with some confidence on the deck with Walcott and Coleman linking well and Rooney influential in a deep lying midfield role.
Theo Walcott tested Schmeichel in the visitors goal with a low shot that was turned away for a corner, but it was Leicester who had the first dangerous moment in the ninth minute as a short corner from Albrighton was lifted to the back post by Chilwell and the header from Ndidi thankfully came back off the crossbar.
From the quarter hour mark, Everton began to play more football and a nice move involving Gueye and Walcott saw the overlapping Coleman win a corner. Walcott and Coleman combined again two minutes later to win another corner.
The opening goal came on 24 minutes as a move started by Martina on the right and played through Niasse saw Sigurdsson pressure Chilwell to win the ball for a nice cut back to the six yard area where Theo Walcott opened his Everton account with an easy finish.
Everton should have gone two goals ahead on 36 minutes when a Sigurdsson free kick was only partially cleared and Walcott and Sigurdsson worked another cutback for Niasse who incredibly put his shot wide when it looked easier to score.
The Blues were now on top and playing as confidently as they had at any point of the season to date, and duly doubled the lead two minutes later when a Rooney cross to the back post was met by Keane, his header back across goal finding Walcott in space and he coolly slotted home his second of the game.
Half Time: 2-0
Everton started the second half confidently, passing the ball around with Walcott at the heart of just about everything.
Leicester brought Diabate on for Okazaki on 57 minutes ahead of a rampaging right wing raid by Coleman that earned a corner and a rousing rendition of his sixty grand song.
Another good move saw Coleman feed Walcott and his cross come shot to the back post was just too strong for Niasse to get on the end of.
Everton were playing some decent stuff and Schmeichel had to be at his best to cut out another cross from the right this time by Coleman after more good work from Rooney and Walcott.
Leicester got back into the game on 70 minutes as Rooney was adjudged to have pulled a shirt and Vardy buried the resulting penalty.
Fuchs for Amartey and Iheanacho for Gray were 74th minute changes for the visitors and two minutes later an Albrighton corner pin balled around the Everton area, the ball hitting both crossbar and post.
Martina with a goal line clearance denied Diabate and Everton sent Schneiderlin on for Rooney and DCL for Sigurdsson to close out the final ten minutes.
It was helter shelter stuff with both sides throwing everything forward in an exciting finale but the Blues held on and got a well deserved ovation at the final whistle with Theo Walcott and Seamus Coleman getting extra special applause for their superb contributions.