Gylfi Sigurdsson, Idrissa Gueye earn top marks as Everton thrash Fulham
Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson headlined his team's 3-0 win against Fulham on Saturday after responding to his penalty miss with two goals to help the home side return to winning ways after successive defeats.
Whatever manager Marco Silva said at half-time seemed to work as Everton played with greater urgency and much-needed composure after a ponderous first half. Such composure saw substitute Bernard patiently assist the third goal by waiting for support before releasing the onrushing Sigurdsson to fire home his second.
This efficiency in the final third will have pleased Silva every bit as much as a first clean sheet of the season at the other end of the pitch. Silva could also take comfort from how his players responded to the penalty miss to still claim three points.
Cenk Tosun is unlikely to score many easier goals than the header from a few yards out that ended his goal drought and gave the hosts a two-goal cushion in the second half. There was palpable mixture of delight and relief on the pitch and in the stands when Tosun scored and this goal could be just tonic after recent struggles. Everton need a genuine goal threat in the centre-forward position and an in-form Tosun remains the most viable option at this stage.
The way Fulham scythed through the Everton midfield in the build-up to Ryan Sessegnon hitting the crossbar in the first half should concern Silva. While central midfield pair Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye are at home pressing the ball and chasing down other teams, their ball-hawking tendencies can leave a gaping hole in midfield if opponents beat the press. This pairing offers an energetic approach but leaves the defence vulnerable and Silva is still searching for the right blend in central midfield.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Silva acted quickly after the missed penalty to change things after an unchanged starting XI stumbled through the first half.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 7 -- No Fulham shots on target meant Pickford enjoyed a straightforward afternoon. On the one occasion the Everton goalkeeper needed to act, Pickford raced superbly from his line to snuff out a Fulham attack in the second half.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 7 -- Solid in defence and willing to support his teammates in attack when possible. One such foray typified his endeavour as Kenny successfully scrambled to keep alive the move leading to the opening goal.
DF Michael Keane, 7 -- Another impressive performance as Keane played a key role in helping Everton to their first clean sheet of the season. Timely interception in the second half with Everton stretched at the back capped his display.
DF Kurt Zouma, 7 -- Relished the physical battle with Aleksandar Mitrovic and limited the in-form Fulham striker to one speculative effort from distance in the first half. This was a welcome return to form after a couple of shaky performances in the two previous matches.
DF Lucas Digne, 8 -- The summer recruit excelled in most aspects and has adapted well to his new surroundings, quickly cementing his place as first choice left-back in recent weeks.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 8 -- Tireless effort saw Gueye lead the team in both tackles and interceptions. There are few better in the league at regaining the ball and disrupting opponents in possession than Gueye in this form.
MF Tom Davies, 5 -- A passenger at times as the match threatened to take place around him. Faultless effort but often lightweight as Fulham caused problems, especially in the latter stages of the first half.
MF Theo Walcott, 6 -- On the periphery for periods of the match but there was a timely contribution for the second goal as his wonderfully weighted cross found Tosun unmarked at the far post.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 8 -- In a backwards kind of way, the penalty miss kick-started his performance. His two goals showed the finesse and accuracy lacking when his wayward penalty crashed against the crossbar.
MF Richarlison, 6 -- Received special attention with the visitors frequently doubling up on the Everton winger. There were flashes of quality, but the extra attention and some robust tackling limited his influence.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- Started for the second successive match but struggled throughout this 55-minute outing. Clumsy control punctuated a difficult afternoon for the young striker.
FW Cenk Tosun, 6 -- Tosun ended his goal drought with a simple header and will hope to progress after this.
MF Bernard, N/R -- Touch of class to assist the third goal will only enhance calls for the Brazilian to play a more prominent role in matches.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, N/R -- Bolstered midfield in the final few minutes.