The Everton Lampard wants to leave behind
This was up there with the worst performances of the Farhad Moshiri era – and that’s saying something. It was so bad. Defensively absent and toothless in attack. Without Jordan Pickford, Conor Coady and James Tarkowski – the fathers of the group – there is no backbone.
What made this defeat so surprising was that Bournemouth himself made nine changes. It was the opposition’s makeup that made this the darkest night of Frank Lampard’s tenure at Everton. He learns about these players all the time, but by spinning his entire starting squad, he made a rod for his own back.
Everton had offered free bus travel and match tickets covered for those heading to the south coast, but those returning to Merseyside in the early hours of Wednesday will feel briefly changed.
There was the return of Mason Holgate, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina, but here was further evidence as to why they want to leave Everton Lampard behind. No quality in attacking areas, individual defensive mistakes and then the petulant poor discipline and bad body language that smacks of zero accountability.
Given the timing of the World Cup, this was a very early Christmas window dressing exercise for those on the fringes before the January sale, but no one in a blue shirt jumped at the chance to impress.
On paper, this second string had more than enough to overcome a heavily rotated Bournemouth. The selected XI had a combined 127 international caps, but Everton under Moshiri has been an exercise in bursting hyper-inflated egos.
Based on this evidence, it is not clear where the current biggest problem lies; at the top, 11 goals from 14 matches is the third lowest in the Premier League. Defensively, Everton took 238 shots – the most of any club.
The worries wouldn’t abate even if we were faced with the statistically weakest top tier goalkeeper. Mark Travers got two shots on target, despite the pre-match message being clear: this man has scored 25 goals in seven Premier League games.
And so on to the FA Cup for the next chance to end Everton’s drought, entering its 28th year.
“Since 1995,” Leicester fans chanted at Goodison Park last Saturday during their 2-0 win, a tune that had strangely caught the eye of the goaders outside Anfield. That FA Cup win over Manchester United shared by the Dogs of War remains the last piece of silverware.
After six board changes this term, there is no suggestion Lampard is under direct pressure, but the latest two results have changed the mood.
He will be desperate to arrest the slide this weekend when Everton returns immediately to the Vitality Stadium. Otherwise it will be a long and restless World Cup for him and his supporters starving for success.
O’Neil going on a high?
When Gary O’Neil’s time as Bournemouth’s interim head coach is over, he will certainly have said goodbye in emphatic style.
After temporarily replacing Scott Parker at the end of August, O’Neil was the only boss with an unbeaten record in the Premier League before losing to local rivals Southampton last month – the first of four defeats in a row.
But if he replaces Luton’s Nathan Jones, who is about to be hired at St Mary’s, Tuesday’s impressive 4-1 win over Everton in the Carabao Cup will see the 39-year-old reach a peak.
When asked at his pre-match press conference if he was in charge of Bournemouth for the last time, O’Neil replied: “I treat every match as if it could be my last, that’s the nature of the interim role. “
If he leaves before Everton visit the Vitality Stadium again this weekend, his first foray into management could be considered a success. He held the ship steady when it was certain it would sink.
Brentford must solve home problems – or else
Last season, Brentford was imperious at home and teams were as scared as anyone to go to the close-knit Gtech Community Stadium.
Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all dropped points in the top tier last season and even ran into the cup from side to side. League Two Oldham was beaten 7-0 at this stage of the Carabao Cup last season by the side of Thomas Frank.
But the shocking departure to League Two Gillingham on Tuesday evening means Brentford’s reputation at home is on the wane. That’s three games without a win in all competitions at the Gtech – against Chelsea, Wolves and now the Gills. All three of those teams battled for form and goals before or after visiting the Gtech.
Frank’s frustrations go beyond failing to appease the West London home crowd. The Carabao Cup has always been a competition he took seriously, as evidenced by the Bees’ record of a semi-final and quarter-final in this competition over the past two seasons. An early exit is a serious disappointment.
But if Brentford can’t solve their home problems, it could lead to problems in their league season, given that they continue to send goals from home. Eleven of the last three to be exact, their fans last saw a road win on May 15th.
And next up is a trip to Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday.
Vardy offers hope that Leicester’s revival can be sustained
Leicester has undoubtedly turned a corner in recent weeks. Their dominant win over Everton at Goodison Park marked the turning point for Brendan Rodgers and his players to end their early season battle.
The win over Newport, which secured passage to the third round of the Carabao Cup, was marred by an injury to James Justin, an incident that could have greater consequences for Gareth Southgate and England, if as serious as first thought .
But there were more positives for Leicester to take from the performance, most notably Jamie Vardy’s continued progression. With just one goal to his name all season, his double couldn’t have come at a better time, personally and for the team.
His predatory header doubled Leicester’s lead in the second half before brazenly surrounding Newport goalkeeper Nick Townsend and putting down a defender before doubling his number with the Foxes’ third.
Newport made sure it wasn’t a vintage Leicester gig, but the sight of Vardy appearing in his best form will give Rodgers confidence that his team has the firepower to support this revival.