Well, the game at Goodison Park served up a humdinger for the neutral. In a game where both teams led within ten minutes of the game, it was the home side whose quality on the day shown through and managed a 4-2 win.
Frantic opening spell set the pace of the game
Everton began the scoring with their 18-year old starlet Tom Davies who duly took the advantage played on by referee Bobby Madley when Kevin Mirallas was fouled by Daniel Amartey allowing Davies to slot home after just 30 seconds. This didn’t stop Leicester from continuing their superb form under new boss Craig Shakespeare who had guided them to a 6- game winning spree.
They were soon ahead ten minutes later with counter-attacking goals which was symbolic of their title win last year. First, it was Demarai Gray who put Islam Slimani through and the striker coolly put it through Joel Robles’ legs and then it was the keeper’s inability to judge the flight of a Marc Albrighton free-kick.
But the hosts, unbeaten at home since the turn of the year would level it all up courtesy of Ross Barkley’s pinpoint cross for the league’s leading marksman Romelu Lukaku to head home. Ronald Koeman’s men weren’t done and went ahead just before the break when veteran Phil Jagielka rose highest to head home a Kevin Mirallas corner. Lukaku then added some gloss to the scoreline with his 23rd of the season in the second half.
Leicester line-up for the visit to the Calderon on the back of Shakespeare’s mind
Having made five changes for the visit to Merseyside, it was always going to be an uphill task to face a rampant Everton side who had won seven out of seven at home in the calendar year 2017. Riyad Mahrez, Wilfried Ndidi, Danny Simpson, Christian Fuchs all were rested and will be expected to slot back in when they face Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital in the midweek.
Although Riyad Mahrez was brought on for a few minutes, he didn’t do much to change the course of the game. Substitute Leo Ulloa almost got on the scoresheet seconds after being introduced, but his close range header hit Idrissa Gueye in the face and then saw another effort saved by Robles. It was the first loss under manager Craig Shakespeare, but he will be hoping this will be forgotten by mid-week when they go to the Vincente Calderon for the club’s first ever quarter-final tie in the UEFA Champions League.
Ronald Koeman has a good thing going here, especially at home
Top scorer Romelu Lukaku bagged another brace in front of the buoyant Goodison crowd who have become used to seeing the Belgian bulging the back of the net. He takes his Premier League tally to 23 this year, just 2 behind last year’s highest of 25 scored by Harry Kane. Lukaku has a lot of time left to get to the 30 mark. Everton have cemented seventh place and look set for Europa league football next season. They closed the gap on Arsenal and are only behind on goal difference with the Gunners yet to play Crystal Palace tonight.
Koeman has managed to integrate the likes of Tom Davies, Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Matthew Pennington, with all getting good game time while keeping the balance of the team by fielding veterans like Gareth Barry, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. Morgan Schneiderlin has been a shrewd January signing, helping in controlling the pace of the game. Koeman has done a great job in getting talented but streaky players like Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas. This bodes well for the upcoming season and Everton would do well to keep their major stars