Everton’s 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Leeds United at the weekend lifted Sean Dyche’s Blues out of the relegation zone for the first time in almost eight weeks and for perhaps the first time this season, there is a clear on-the-pitch identity.
Goals remain in short supply, and with the notable absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin up-front, they are likely to be a precious commodity at Goodison Park for the rest of the campaign.
However, clean sheets earn points and Sean Dyche’s reign as Everton boss has seen the Blues secure two 1-0 wins out of his opening three fixtures, with a packed midfield three of Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and Abdoulaye Doucoure stifling the opposition.
Dyche could rely on Onana to lead midfield
There is little doubt that Everton’s midfield was far too open under Frank Lampard, an issue that Dyche has sought to immediately rectify, and it is already paying dividends.
The industrious Gueye made six recoveries against Leeds, completing two important interceptions and winning three key tackles. Doucoure meanwhile made nine recoveries and two interceptions in the heart of Everton’s midfield.
Sean Dyche completes his midfield trio with the ‘outstanding’ Amadou Onana, whose performances since his summer arrival continue to catch the eye. With four aerial duels won, alongside four recoveries and two successful tackles, the Belgian international provides height and strength reminiscent of his countryman Marouane Fellaini.
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The trio comfortably contained the visitors, and offered support to a stunted attack, with Onana unfortunate not to open the scoring in the first half, as Idrissa Gueye found the 21-year-old in space on the edge of the box.
Doucoure meanwhile should have sealed the points late on, only to lose control of the ball as he was through on goal – a mistake I’m sure he was relieved to get away with.
The football is unlikely to be pretty, but it can ignite an impassioned Goodison to aid the team in the pursuit of Premier League survival.
The victory over Leeds may have been slender, but Everton provided value for money as Dyche’s Dogs of War offer the Toffees a renewed hope.