This wasn’t the kind of night that will take too long in Everton’s end-of-season highlights package but, in the end, those games could turn out to be the ones that matter the most. If this season ends successfully for Carlo Ancelotti and his team in May, this miserable and rainy night in South Yorkshire will not be the most poignant memory. But that doesn’t make Gylfi Sigurdsson’s decisive blow with 10 minutes left, or its ramifications, any less significant.
Prior to that point, it was Storm Bella who felt she had the most significant influence on proceedings here, as Everton seemed poised to follow Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea in vital points drop on Boxing Day. Conditions were difficult for both parties and given the situation both are in at the moment, he felt that a point here would not have contributed to either party’s goals.
In the end, though, this felt like the most emphatic sign yet that Everton are becoming under Ancelotti a team that the Premier League elite will have at least one eye out for. On a night when chances were few and far between, the fact that Everton still walked away with the three points that took them to second place and two points from Liverpool, the leader, is noteworthy, even if great. part of this game finally wasn’t. .
“It is a victory for the team spirit,” Ancelotti said. “They play with a lot of intensity and a fighting spirit, and we knew we had to be patient and not give them opportunities. That was the plan from the beginning. “
Ancelotti and Chris Wilder had watched their sides bravely fight the elements for most of the night, which inevitably led to fewer golden opportunities. The best of those in a first half with minimal goal scorer action fell to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who, upon his return to the ground where he began his career as a teenager, controlled a long ball that spun superbly in his chest before volleying just barely. deflected. Goal by Aaron Ramsdale.
At the other end, Sheffield United’s best chance came when Oliver Burke shot wide of Jordan Pickford’s goal, but the Everton keeper was rarely called into action.
As Ancelotti pointed out, the spirit of Sheffield United is certainly not in doubt. That was evident here from the way they held up for so long, but having been so close to their third point, and first clean sheet, of the season before Sigurdsson’s winner, he suspects the odds aren’t just getting shorter in his descent: the book. has probably closed.
“It was a tight match with a lack of opportunities, but I am disappointed in us in terms of our quality,” Wilder admitted. “It’s a bit like a broken record, saying the same things, but if we had shown a little more composure and quality, it would have given us a better chance.”
If he didn’t win at Burnley on Tuesday, he would now equal the Premier League record for the longest start to a season without a win, set by QPR in 2012-13.
Wilder’s decision to walk away from the 5-3-2 formation that has been a staple of his time in the top flight seemed to be serving the Blades well for long stretches here, at least in terms of the frustration they caused Everton. on the defensive until Sigurdsson’s winner.
However, as Wilder admitted, their lack of quality is costing them dearly. Oli McBurnie felt he had a penalty appeal when he collided with Michael Keane, and John Egan launched a header over Pickford’s bar from a corner, but Everton did not have the appearance of a team in trouble.
And just when a rare spot seemed to be popping into view of the Blades, they ruthlessly removed it. The hosts were unable to clear their lines properly and Abdoulaye Doucouré’s skillful passing gave Sigurdsson just enough time to pass a sprawling Ramsdale at the corner. It wasn’t pretty, far from it, actually. But you suspect Ancelotti and Everton won’t mind one bit.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.