Everton’s dismal record at Goodison Park continued with a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on Easter Monday.
After three weeks away, The Toffees returned to action with an unusual line-up, starting with a back five behind the mercurial James Rodríguez, who was back after a significant amount of time on the side-lines.
Whilst they weren’t fantastic, Everton created several great chances in the first half. The best fell to their front two of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, with both strikers squandering one-on-ones against the excellent Vicente Guaita. Often extremely clinical, the hosts’ attacking duo were toothless when presented with any sight of goal, a problem that drained their side’s confidence and certainly bolstered a timid Palace’s as the match wore on.
Half Time: Everton 0-0 Crystal Palace
Having been close on many occasions in the first forty five, The Blues finally made the breakthrough eleven minutes after the interval. Following a terrific passage of play involving Richarlison and Lucas Digne, Guaita produced a stunning save from Gylfi Sigurdsson from close range, only for the ball to be recycled back to Rodríguez, who finished with aplomb.
It was a magnificent strike through a crowded penalty area and exemplified the Colombian’s class. When fully fit and given the support and space he needs, Rodríguez is comfortably Everton’s best player and sets the benchmark for the calibre of footballer Ancelotti needs to acquire in the summer if he wishes to bridge the gap between his club and the top four next season.
After taking the lead, Everton managed the game woefully. They invited Palace to push forward, with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and substitute Jeffrey Schlupp all coming close in the last twenty minutes. The Eagles equalised through another substitute, with Michy Batshuayi, a man who has played little football for the South Londoners this season, firing past Robin Olsen to snatch his side a point with four minutes or so to go.
The quantity and quality of chances Everton created in this match was more than normal and enough to win two games, never mind one. The headline, however, reads the same- The Toffees cannot win matches at Goodison Park. Whilst much of that is down to the absence of supporters to drive the team on, this problem stems from the lack of nous and leadership amongst the playing squad and can only be rectified by another significant, smart summer of recruitment.
The glass ceiling has been reached and this group is simply not good enough to break through.
Full Time: Everton 1-1 Crystal Palace
James’ Everton Man of the Match: James Rodríguez