The final month of 2018, a year most Evertonians will probably be glad to see the back of was, the Boxing Day win at Burnley apart, not far short of a disaster. Just five points gained from a possible 21 is a tally nobody was expecting after the signs of improvement seen in October and November.
Seven games saw four losses, two disappointing home draws and just that one spectacular win. And for three of those losses, it wasn’t just the result so much as the manner in which we lost.
Losing across Stanley Park is, sadly, hardly a new experience to Evertonians but having played so well and competed to then, quite literally, hand ‘them’ victory on a plate was absolutely soul destroying. And dare we suggest it’s not too far fetched to suggest the nature of that added-on time goal proved a mental dagger through the heart of the squad for much of the month that followed.
The loss to Manchester City can’t be excused just because they’re the defending champions and were playing at the height of their powers but on the day, their finishing was clinical and an abject lesson Everton need to learn from and look to emulate. The Spurs loss may, just may, have been different had DCL not been adjudged to have pushed Sanchez and we’d taken a two-nil lead… the less said about the nature of the Spurs equaliser, the better.
But the loss away at Brighton was the one that really hit the disappointment nail squarely on the head. No disrespect to Brighton, they’ve become a respectable, solid and well organised, if unspectacular outfit and they’ve made the Amex a difficult stadium to visit, but on the back of the thrashing of Burnley, we don’t think it’s asking too much for an Everton team to truly compete. The clubs 4500th top-flight game, another first, is not one that will live long in the memory.
At home, we came up against a Newcastle side desperate for points and playing more confidently away from their St.James’ Park home while Watford proved equally as awkward particularly in the second half and we were grateful for that peach of a free kick from Lucas Digne to rescue a hard-earned point.
All of this meant the only true bright spot of the month was the Boxing Day rout of Burnley at Turf Moor with Yerry Mina bagging the opener that saw Everton the first club in any of the major European leagues to reach 7000 top-flight goals. Lucas Digne smote a superb free kick and added a smashing second in the second half as Everton ran up their biggest victory of the year.
The seven games saw a total of just eighteen players don the kit with nine appearing in every game but only two, Jordan Pickford and Lucas Digne, playing every minute.
When it comes to the individual Man of the Match winners, the voting produced five different winners – Andre Gomes and Lucas Digne with two apiece and one win each for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kurt Zouma.
In terms of the voting numbers, the ‘derby’ poll drew the most votes in fact, the biggest poll of the season to date and a runaway, hands-down, victory of Andre Gomes, while the Brighton loss, not surprisingly saw the smallest vote of the month.
As we’ve done for the past two seasons, we do our utmost to post match reports and MotM polls as quickly as possible after each game, and we encourage all our forum members and readers to support the effort and vote.
And if you’re reading this via LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media platform and you’re not a GOT member but want to vote each game, simply register to join the Forum – http://www.grandoldteam.com/forum/ – and cast your vote every game… and join in the myriad of discussions on the biggest and best Everton Forum on the internet.
With another shameless, promotional advert for GOT, the forum and polls out of the way, let’s get down to business and on with the announcement…
In third place was Jordan Pickford…
In second place and by a wide margin was Lucas Digne…
and the congratulations go, with just under 30% of the total votes cast, to the GOT Player of the Month for December and the second month running…