Warrior Coleman returns in style as Everton edge past Leicester
Everton grabbed a 2-1 win and three much-needed points against Leicester on Wednesday night thanks to the returning Seamus Coleman and new signing Theo Walcott.
The endeavours of those two and a much-improved team display had the hosts cruising to victory before a needless penalty offered Leicester an unlikely lifeline. The spot kick lifted an away side that previously lacked ideas without Riyad Mahrez, but Everton eventually ground out the win.
As Coleman shone on his return, Walcott scored twice and added a touch of class that has been absent in the attacking third for much of this season. This classy right-sided pairing helped the home side claim a first win in eight matches and beat one of the team above them in the league for the first time this season.
Leadership has been a longstanding issue for Everton. But if there was doubt about who should lead this team in the future, Coleman ended the debate on his return from injury. Leading by example from first whistle to last, this was everything supporters expect from those in royal blue.
Coleman also improved matters through his overlapping ability from full-back. Everton heavily favour the right flank -- only Huddersfield have a higher percentage of attacks down that side of the pitch -- but the productivity has not matched up. That changed here as Coleman overlapped constantly, creating space for Walcott and others while dragging opposing players out of position.
Everton spent much of the first quarter of the match watching Leicester move the ball around under minimal pressure. At home, Everton should be imposing their game on opponents from the first whistle, not letting visiting teams settle down and dictate tempo. Thankfully, the home side reaped the rewards once they began to press the ball and force mistakes.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Manager Sam Allardyce boldly threw Coleman straight back into the starting XI but needed to act earlier with his substitutions as Leicester took control after their penalty reprieve.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- A spectator until the Leicester penalty sparked an onslaught, Pickford made up for a few flapped crosses with a telling touch to divert one effort onto the crossbar.
DF Seamus Coleman, 9 -- Still going strong in the 94th minute, rampaging forward down the right as the clock ticked down, this was a remarkable comeback performance in his first competitive outing after 10 months out with a double leg break.
DF Phil Jagielka, 6 -- Hopeless distribution and tendency to panic in possession caused alarm at times among the back line, though the Everton captain fared better in his defensive duties.
DF Michael Keane, 8 -- A game-high seven interceptions underlined a more assertive performance. For the first time in a long while, Keane looked like the £25 million centre-back Everton signed in the summer.
DF Cuco Martina, 7 -- At fault when Leicester hit the bar early on, but the makeshift left-back played a key role thereafter, regaining possession for the opening goal and later clearing a shot off the line.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 8 -- Incredible to think he was an unused substitute in the drab West Brom draw last time out. A game-high six tackles won showed what he brings to this team as he tirelessly worked to help his teammates in defence.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- Undid some good early work with a senseless tackle for the Leicester penalty. Rooney also needlessly conceded the corner from which the visitors twice hit the woodwork and needs to be far more disciplined than this when in a deeper role.
MF Tom Davies, 6 -- The young midfielder did well to last the distance after limited involvement of late. Not his finest display but deserves a chance to stake his claim beyond this one match.
MF Theo Walcott, 9 -- At the heart of most of the good things the home side did in possession. Two well-taken goals take his tally to two goals and one assist in his first two appearances. All four Everton shots on target on the night came from the former Arsenal player.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 -- Back out on the left flank the midfielder struggled to affect the game, though his one successful cross in the match created the opening goal. Industrious throughout but not at his sharpest in possession.
FW Oumar Niasse, 6 -- Tireless as ever but hapless in front of goal, particularly in the first half, screwing one effort wide with the goal gaping while a heavy touch spoiled another one-on-one opportunity.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, N/R -- Added some fresh legs in central midfield.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, N/R -- Helped run down the clock as Everton toughed it out.
DF Ashley Williams, N/R -- Customary centre-back cameo as Allardyce closed out the game.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.