On their opening game of the 2017/18 season, Everton narrowly beat Stoke City as Wayne Rooney stole the headlines on his second Toffees debut.
The game started as a very tight and scrappy affair. Stoke were pressing Everton high and forcing ‘keeper Jordan Pickford to kick long. However with Stoke’s tall defence a lot of these high balls only lost possesion.
Everton kept more of the ball but struggled to put passes together. Mainly due to Stoke’s sturdy new midfield pairing of Joe Allen and Darren Fletcher. Stoke’s main attacking threat was Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri had a few attempts at spectacular long passes, only to be narrowly dealt with by the Everton defence.
Rooney debut goal
But the opening goal of the game came in stoppage time of the first half. The first real move of conviction by Everton had some good passing and culminated in the ball coming out to Calvert-Lewin on the right. He whipped in an excellent cross and Wayne Rooney arrived late into the box to guide the header into the back of the net.
The first half had been a story of two teams with an abundance of defensive players in midfield. Everton’s Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye broke up play very well. Stoke’s midfield pairing of Allen and Fletcher did a very similar job, keeping the game very cagey. But Everton went in at half time 1-0 ahead.
Stoke appeared more positive at the start of the second half. Their first act of the half was to burst down the left wing and ultimately Berahino got a shot away. The shot aiming to curl in at the far post never troubled Pickford, but seemed a sign of intent from Stoke.
However, the reality of the second half was more control for Everton. The half time change to bring on Martina for Williams game Everton much more stability. It also allowed Calvert-Lewin to burst forward on many an occasion and it took the stellar interventions of loanee Kurt Zouma to stop him.
End to End
The game began to open up with 15 minutes to go and Stoke threw on veteran Peter Crouch and new acquisition Choupo-Moting. Both looked promising and caused Everton problems but Pickford was barely tested.
Stoke’s biggest chance came in the 89th minute as Shaqiri broke free of the Everton midfield and drove forward. He let fly with a powerful shot from 25 yards out but the shot was met with a spectacular save from young Jordan Pickford. It just wasn’t Stoke’s day.
All in all, it could be argued this game was cagey enough to merit a 0-0. But if any team was going to win it would be Everton. Stoke looked much better defensively but another new attacking threat in this transfer window wouldn’t go amiss.
Everton: Pickford 8, Calvert-Lewin 6, Keane 7, Williams 6, Jagielka 5, Baines 6, Gueye 7, Schneiderlin 7, Klassen 5, Rooney 9, Sandro 6
Subs: Martina 6, Davies 6, Mirallas 5
Stoke: Butland 6, Diouf 6, Zouma 8, Shawcross 6, Cameron 7, Pieters 6, Allen 6, Fletcher 6, Shaqiri 7, Bojan 6, Berahino 6
Subs: Crouch 5, Choupo-Moting 6