Everton finally picked up their first win of the 2023/24 season with an impressive display in West London, beating Brentford 3-1. Goals from Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Tarkowski and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were enough to see Everton pick up the three points.
There was an awful lot of noise surrounding Everton, as there has been for a few years, with most being obviously negative. Particularly after a dismal display against Arsenal the week before, and only having a point going into Saturday’s match. The big criticism from the Arsenal match, despite being defensively sound, was being undone by a set piece.
The Toffees offered next to nothing going forward and the 1-0 score was certainly flattering.
Everton have created a bulk of chances in their opening games, particularly against Fulham and Wolves at home where they should have won the games but were undone by their own poor finishing.
The reaction of the team news pre-game was one of worry particularly on Twitter as Danjuma was dropped to the bench and James Garner playing on the right of midfield – where he has previously struggled. One thing to note from the team news, was for the first time in a long time Everton had options to come off the bench, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danjuma having to settle for that place.
Everton’s start against Brentford was not too dissimilar to watching some of Everton’s games so far this season; making chances, getting players in the box – the only difference was the Toffees actually took one of the early chances, Abdoulaye Doucoure firing home early doors following a knock down from James Tarkowski.
Early goals are so important for just easing any pre-match negativity and shutting the crowd up which Everton managed to do. Following that it seemed to be the same old story, Everton not capitalising on chances following the goal, to be more comfortable. Doucoure could have had another, but he rattled the bar. Beto also had a chance to score his first Premier League goal which he squandered.
Everton were thoroughly on top, but they shot themselves in the foot when Mathias Jensen scored just before half-time for The Bees. The fans all had the same thought – here we go again.
A game in which Everton thoroughly dominated is going to be snatched out of their hands and they will only have themselves to blame. Brentford nearly hit the ultimate sucker punch before half time, as a ball across Jordan Pickford’s six-yard box somehow wasn’t tapped home. Everton got some much-needed luck and the first half ended 1-1. This gave Sean Dyche a chance to regroup, get the players going again and remind them that they had been the better team.
Everton came out for the second half as well as they have for a while away from home, the midfield energy was superb with Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gana Gueye bullying Brentford’s highly talented midfield. James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite’s partnership showed more promise as they complemented each other brilliantly – both in with shouts for Player of the Match.
Dwight McNeil looked fit again, and as he showed towards the back end of 2022/23, he will be vital for the Toffees and their chances of staying adrift of relegation with his energy and creativity. It was his corner which was headed in by James Tarkowski to give Everton a much-deserved lead.
A sight that is rare for Everton, particularly away from home, is regaining leads after setbacks but Dyche’s men managed it as in previous seasons some heads would have dropped, they did not do it this time and it was refreshing to see.
The depth off the bench, as mentioned earlier, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Arnaut Danjuma coming on to get some minutes, was crucial. Again, avoiding a huge drop-off with a substitution is something that has been rare for Everton in recent years. It was Dominic Calvert-Lewin who sealed the win with an excellent goal in a lot of respects.
The aggression and desire from James Garner to win the ball back off Nathan Collins, and the composure to just slide Calvert-Lewin reminded the Premier League just what he can do by slotting home beautifully, a man who has a horrid couple of years with injuries gets a much-needed goal, his first since May.
The Gtech Community Stadium is not an easy place to go and win, Brentford had only lost one of the previous eighteen home games going into Saturday’s match as they have proven how strong they are at home, beating Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United at home last season. Everton did a good job on Brentford, something not a lot of Evertonians saw coming.
The refreshing part for Evertonians was it was a convincing away win at a hard place to go to. Everton were not hanging on at any stage in the second half, it was very comfortable for their defenders who were excellent all game – along with the whole team.
An extra boost followed in midweek as Everton also secured a very impressive midweek victory away to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup, winning 2-1, making it two impressive away victories in a week for the Toffees.
James Garner and Dominic Calvert-Lewin goals either side of half-time gave Everton the victory and they progressed to the fourth round. Similarly to Brentford the victory ended an impressive home record as Villa went into Wednesday's match with ten home wins in a row.
Similar traits to Everton’s victory at Brentford were evident despite a change in system and personnel, as Dyche referred to a three at the back in midweek. All the aggression, clinical finishing and defensive quality were on display again. Quite the contrast to Everton’s last trip to Villa Park, where they were taken apart 4-0 in mid-August.
Hopefully for Evertonians it is the start of a good run of form for the Toffees as they go into the weekend's game against Luton Town confident.
The two victories just give everyone a much-needed boost, with Everton’s next two league games being Luton Town and Bournemouth at home the fans will be hoping for a repeat of Brentford – in terms of aggression, goals and of course; the result. Everton are yet to score or pick up a point at home, but they have two huge opportunities to do so in the coming weeks.
Dyche’s men cannot afford to drop off; they must take this positivity forward into the coming weeks and keep the smile on fans’ faces, starting with Luton this weekend.
It is amazing what a couple of wins can do.