Everton maintained their impressive perfect start to the new Premier League season with a resounding 4-2 win against Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park.
Carlo Ancelotti‘s early pacesetters were at their ruthless best with marquee signing James Rodríguez pulling the strings. In-form striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin filled his boots with the visitors only profiting from another Jordan Pickford error.
Yves Bissouma halved the deficit in stoppage time with a stunning effort deep but ultimately the Seagulls’ eight-game unbeaten run on the road came to an end.
With the dust beginning to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter…
1. Calvert-Lewin, History man
It’s been nothing short of a spectacular beginning to 2020/21 as far as Dominic Calvert-Lewin is concerned. He entered Saturday’s meeting with Brighton having already scored eight goals (including two hat-tricks) across five matches in all competitions which earned him a well-deserved England call-up for their upcoming international matches.
So, he’s riding the crest of a wave, and the Seagulls knew it when Mat Ryan was forced into action with only two minutes played to deny Everton‘s no.9.
🙌 | You know where this header ends up…
— Everton (@Everton) October 3, 2020
If the Australian shot-stopper felt a respite was forthcoming he was sadly mistaken; the inevitable happened just after the 15-minute mark when Calvert-Lewin nodded home a Gylfi Sigurdsson cross. It was his seventh headed goal since the start of last season (more than any Premier League player during this period), also placing the Sheffield-born marksman into the history books.
Calvert-Lewin is the first Everton player since Tommy Lawton, all the way back in 1938/39, to score in each of their opening four games to a top-flight season. Lawton’s stretch lasted six games and given his electric form you’d be hard-pressed against ‘DCL’ surpassing this feat.
2. Maupay stepping up
Everton‘s lead seemed to be secure but the form of much-maligned ‘keeper Jordan Pickford unfortunately had other ideas. He again made an embarrassing howler unbefitting of England‘s first choice. A tame Leandro Trossard effort should have been comfortably dealt with, but the ex-Sunderland man failed to keep hold and subsequently teed-up Neal Maupay for the simplest of equalisers. Another unforced error for Pickford which is going to lead to more uncomfortable questions about his status for club and country.
Neal Maupay has now scored four goals in his last three Premier League matches.
On course for a goal-a-game season. pic.twitter.com/LAXHaneRdu
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 3, 2020
As for the Frenchman who benefited, it was a fourth strike of this young campaign which only leaves him behind the aforementioned Calvert-Lewin (6) and Jamie Vardy (5) in the Golden Doot standings. Maupay’s goals last season (10) played an instrumental role in Brighton staying up and again Graham Potter‘s side will look to him when the going gets tough.
Now acclimatised in England‘s top division we can surely expect Maupay reaching a higher plateau which could potentially lead to courtship from club’s regularly playing European football.
3. Rodriguez is adjusting nicely
— Everton (@Everton) October 3, 2020
Everton have been here before, making notable signings heading into a season thus increasing expectations, before going belly up. Sleeping giant is a perfect description given their history, and while few are expecting silverware this season, the presence of James Rodríguez could change that. His acquisition was nothing short of remarkable; considering his background and the Merseysiders recent stature, this afternoon Real Madrid’s former no.10 was in a truly inspired mood.
He first set up compatriot Yerry Mina to restore Everton‘s lead (the first time two Colombians combined for a Premier League goal) which happened to be his second league assist, both coming at Goodison Park. He then went on to register a second and third goal of the campaign, again exclusively at home. It’s a shame these early signs of Rodríguez’s genius occurred in the presence of no supporters. Although, with the way things are going, when crowds are eventually let in those fans could be witnessing their side on the cusp of greatness.
4. Campione, olé?
This is unquestionably a pinch yourself moment for Evertonians who have never experienced such a start in the Premier League era. And we are not being hyperbolic, as you have to go back several decades for a similar beginning. It was the 1969/70 campaign; led by Harry Catterick, the Toffees dispatched Arsenal (1-0), Man Utd (2-0), Crystal Palace (2-1) and Man Utd again (3-0) en route to notching up a seven-match unbeaten run with Man City (1-1) ending their winning streak on matchday five.
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 3, 2020
A springboard this emphatic would pay dividends as they’d go on to clinch a seventh championship. It’s too early to get carried away, but no one can deny something really special in brewing at Goodison. If they can maintain this form, as Leicester City have previously shown, it could end in something beautiful. The ultimate test, however, comes immediately after the international break. For a long time Everton have played in the shadow of city rivals Liverpool, but if ever there was an opportunity to put one over the champions, it’s now.
5. In exalted company
Having a manager of Ancelotti‘s experience and pedigree could ultimately prove to be the difference. A champion in Italy, France, Germany and England, the veteran Italian coach shouldn’t be underestimated, but there’s a calmness emanating from him, and he’s pragmatic as they come. Restoring a sense of pride and re-establishing Everton among English football’s elite, before any championship talk, is surely part of his remit.
He seldom takes credit and hogs the spotlight but this victory was special in more ways than one. Today’s meeting with Brighton was his 100th Premier League game and 60th win overall. Only Jose Mourinho (73), Pep Guardiola (73), Manuel Pellegrini (65), Alex Ferguson (62) and Roberto Mancini (62) have won more of their first 100 in the competition than Ancelotti. Not bad at all