Everton gained their first victory under Carlo Ancelotti as Dominic Calvert-Lewin's late headed effort earned the hosts a 1-0 victory over Burnley at Goodison Park on Boxing Day.
The opening ten minutes were a tightly contested affair with both teams battling it out in the middle of the park in an attempt to assert midfield dominance. Everton came out on top and enjoyed the lion share of possession, but Burnley continued to push forward whenever they were gifted the chance.
There were a few clear-cut chances in the first-half, the fact that there were more fouls than shots tells the story. Djibril Sidibé had the best opportunity of the half for the hosts, drilling a fierce shot towards the bottom corner of the net, only to be denied by the outstretched boot of Nick Pope.
Chris Wood spurned a glorious chance to send the Clarets in front as he headed over the bar from six yards out following a superb in-swinging ball from Ashley Westwood on the right-hand side.
The second-half started as the first ended, with both sides battling for possession of the ball with only a few chances at either end, Jay Rodriguez helped himself to a couple of chances early on in the second half while Gylfi Sigurdsson continued to probe the Burnley goal to no avail.
With the Toffees desperate for all three points, up stepped Dominic Calvert-Lewin for his sixth goal of the Premier League season and his first under Ancelotti. Another perfectly executed header from the centre of the box after being found expertly by Sidibé down the right-hand side.
With Everton able to hang on for only their sixth league win of the season, here is 90min's breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
There was copious amounts of anticipation for instant success following the surprise appointment of former Real Madrid, Bayern Münich, Juventus and Chelsea manager and, having won the Champions League three times, it's clear to see why.
It was clear to see the improvements that Italian had instilled into his team from the off. Everton's back line were organised and disciplined, having the consciousness to clear their lines and the confidence to play out from the back under pressure. The ex PSG manager has improved the Toffees defensive shape and the desire to retain possession was palpable throughout the entire team, with special mention to Mason Holgate.
Ancelotti was able to guide his side to their first victory under his reign and will have a plethora of positives to take away from his first game in charge.
Starting XI: Pickford (5); Coleman (6), Mina (7), Holgate (7), Digne (7); Sidibe (8*), Sigurdsson (7), Delph (7), Bernard (7); Calvert-Lewin (7), Richarlison (6)
Substitutes: Kean (N/A), Davies (N/A), Walcott (N/A)
While Everton were impressive all over the park, it was Djibril Sidibé who earned the star player accolade against Burnley.
The 27-year-old was relentless in his attacking movement up and down the right flank and recorded his fourth assist of the season - finding the head of Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the 80th minute of the game.
4 - Among defenders in the @premierleague, only Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold (six) and Andy Robertson (five) have more assists in the competition this season than Everton's Djibril Sidibé (four). Provider. #EVEBUR pic.twitter.com/TSZErDyBnt— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2019
It was a stellar performance from the summer signing, who illustrated the perfect balance between attack and defence. The France international was strong in the tackle, quick across the ground to cover his teammates and also proved to be a focal point in attack, with much of Everton's creativity going forward coming from the right-wing back.
Key Talking Point
Burnley have enjoyed a strong start to the 2019/20 Premier League campaign and went into Thursday's fixture in tenth place level on points with Manchester United. Sean Dyche gained only his second away win of the season against Bournemouth on Saturday and would have hoped to record back-to-back away victories for the first time this season.
Despite some encouraging play from his side, Dyche will be hoping to add some individual quality to his squad in the January transfer window in a bid to capitalise on their chances. Dwight McNeil is a player with enough quality to change the game, while Wood and Ashley Barnes have formed a formidable relationship on the pitch when both are fit, however the 48-year-old will have to add some strength in depth if he is to push for a top-half finish.
Starting XI: Pope (7*); Bardsley (6), Tarkowski (5), Mee (5), Taylor (6); Brady (6), Westwood (6), Cork (6), McNeil (6); Wood (5), Rodriguez (5)
Substitutes: Gudmundsson (6), Barnes (5), Long (N/A)
It was another positive performance for Nick Pope, who was unlucky not to record a clean sheet against Everton on Thursday afternoon. The 27-year-old made a host of saves in the first half, including a crucial stop to deny Sidibé just before the half-hour mark.
Other than Pope there's not a single Burnley player you could say is having a good game. But they're hanging around. A point from this performance would be a point stolen. #EVEBUR— Jerrad Peters (@jerradpeters) December 26, 2019
Nick Pope is one of the best keeers in the league— Royal Dyche (@RoyalDyche) December 26, 2019
On another day, the heroics of Burnley's goalkeeper would have been enough to earn a point for the visitors, however the Claret's ageing back-line could not sustain the dynamism and energy of Everton's young front three towards the end of the game.
Following on from Thursday's game, Everton travel to St James' Park to take on Newcastle United with victory a must for Ancelotti and his players. A daunting visit to the Etihad Stadium to face Pep Guardiola's Manchester City comes soon after, with a positive performance surely the primary goal for Everton's new manager.
Meanwhile Burnley host Ole Gunnar Solsjær's Manchester United at Turf Moor whereby a victory would take the Clarets above their opponents before taking on Aston Villa at home four days later.
Source : 90min