Football Features

Leicester move to ‘six not out’ and push Marco Silva closer to the edge

By Chris Smith

Published: 18:37, 1 December 2019

Marco Silva edged closer to the trapdoor as his Everton side threw away the lead to lose 2-1 away at Leicester City on Sunday.

The Toffees took a half-time lead through Richarlison but were unable to hold out, finally conceding to Jamie Vardy in the 68th minute.

Kelechi Iheanacho was the provider there and completed a brilliance substitute’s performance by firing home the winner in stoppage time. The linesman initially flagged for offside, but VAR was able to show there was no offence.

Here are five things we learned from a cruel, damaging defeat for Silva’s Everton.

1. VAR stings Everton again

VAR has had a tough start to life in the Premier League and few teams have felt more aggrieved at the technology than Everton after the penalty that was given against them during their 3-2 defeat at Brighton in October – especially given that the mistake was admitted to in the weeks after the game.

Initially, Sunday actually brought a little bit of good fortune their way, with the video assistants finding that there was no contact between Mason Holgate and Ben Chilwell after referee Graham Scott had pointed to the spot during the first half.

Make no mistake, Holgate was lucky – the 23-year-old miscontrolled the ball then took a wild swipe at clearing it when Chilwell had beaten him to it. Still, there was no contact between the two players and whether Chilwell was simply jumping out of the way or looking for the penalty, the correct decision was made.

But Everton’s troubles with technology surfaced once again as, deep into added time, Iheanacho twisted, turned and fired home to make it 2-1. An offside was given, but a VAR review showed that the former Man City striker was, in fact, onside. A cruel defeat for Everton, but by the letter of the law, a fair one.

2. No luck for Silva despite positive performance

Ahead of Sunday’s game, Silva would likely have snatched your hand off for a point at the King Power Stadium – Everton had won just four of their 13 Premier League games prior to kick-off and their defeat to Norwich last time out was a perfect representation of just how wretched they’ve been.

But rather than rolling over and allowing Leicester to keep in touch with the old enemy Liverpool, Silva lined Everton up with a back five and they were excellent for large stretches of the game. The Toffees counter-attacked at pace, were slick on the ball and hounded Leicester deep in enemy territory in what was a complete turnaround when compared to their recent performances.

The problem is, this is 2019/20 Everton – there’s always a sting in the tail.

Despite taking the lead through Richarlison, finding fortune with VAR and taking Leicester to task all game, Everton just couldn’t hold out and Vardy popping up at the back post to level the score wasn’t a surprise, even if it came against the run of play. Iheanacho grabbing the winner at the end was always going to happen, wasn’t it?

Under normal circumstances, the performance alone might even be enough to make the Everton hierarchy back their man for a little bit longer. But we all know just how toxic the atmosphere is around Goodison Park right now. This defeat could be seriously damaging and perhaps the curtains will soon  be drawn.

3. Leicester keep pace

Liverpool’s win over Brighton on Saturday opened up an 11-point gap at the top of the Premier League table, leaving Leicester in no doubt about what they needed against Everton.

Coming from behind to grab the points so late in what was a poor performance will please Brendan Rodgers no end, while it also puts the Foxes back to within eight points of Liverpool and ensures the Reds must keep looking over their shoulders at this relentless Leicester side.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have shown incredible defensive resilience, attacking brilliance and are absolutely ruthlessness in gobbling up points – it would take a brave (or stupid) man to bet against them finally ending that wait for a title now.

That said, Leicester just keep on going. Could lightning strike twice?

4. Richarlison rediscovering his mojo

With 14 goals in all competitions, Richarlison was Everton’s joint-highest scorer last season, going a long way toward silencing those criticising the fee the Toffees paid for him.

This season, along with his teammates in general, the Brazil international has struggled for form, with Richarlison firing a blank in 10 of his first 11 games – his brace against Wolves in September representing his only Premier League goals during that time.

However, the 22-year-old did brilliantly to get himself on the end of Djibril Sidibe’s cross in the 23rd minute, heading Everton into a shock lead.

Richarlison was poor against Norwich last time out, but that’s two in two on the road now – an achievement he has not managed since his Watford days back in 2017.

If Silva or any other potential Everton manager is to bring success to the blue half of Merseyside, Richarlison is one of the key players who must flourish.

5. Six and going strong for Vardy

Even by his lofty standards, Vardy’s run of form over the course of Rodgers’ time at Leicester has been remarkable – the former England international has scored 23 Premier League goals during that time, more than any other player in the league.

On Sunday, after an unusually anonymous first half, Vardy raced in at the back post to fire home an Iheanacho cross and make it 1-1 largely against the run of play.

That’s now six Premier League games in a row where Vardy has found the net, scoring eight goals during that time and proving that even as he advances into his twilight years, that pace and killer instinct are going nowhere fast.

Is there a more natural goalscorer in the Premier League?

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