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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Connor O'Neill

Abdoulaye Doucoure responds as a star is born at Everton

Ben Crawford - A star is born

What a moment for Ellis Simms and what a moment for Everton.

Every point is crucial at this stage of the season and the one gained on Saturday evening could prove to be vital in Everton’s bid to avoid relegation. After another positive albeit almost fruitless performance in the capital, it took a magical first goal to send the travelling Blues into raptures.

The touch and finish by Simms were both superb, but what was more impressive was that a man mountain such as the experienced Kalidou Koulibaly was left scrambling after being barged out of the way by a determined striker desperate for his first Everton goal.

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Sean Dyche continues to win plaudits again as his never-say-die Everton side seems to be finding ways to stay in games. No game seems truly over until the final whistle and Dyche’s mentality seems to be taking effect at just the right time of the season.

Luke Davies - Everton finally have a backbone

After having time to consume the weekend's events, and specifically the hard fought 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, I am feeling a lot more positive as an Evertonian.

A draw, which felt more like a win, has sent plenty of positivity through the Goodison Park faithful. The mood is starting the lift and results are starting to come.

It has also been great to see a revitalised Abdoulaye Doucoure, a player frozen out by Frank Lampard, now seems a mainstay in the midfield. Doucoure’s fellow midfielder Amadou Onana has performed steadily but could still offer more, in my opinion, particularly going forward. A player of his stature should use his strength and height, particularly from set-pieces.

Evertonians are still by no means under the illusion that the Blues are safe, and by no means should they be. However, this team is beginning to show some character, an asset many teams before them did not possess.

Coming from behind in the way they did was refreshing to see, and hopefully a sign of things to come. Everton teams of late would normally throw one in and essentially give up at big away grounds, but you can see the improvements in this team week-by-week.

Everton look well drilled and tactically astute as a direct result of Sean Dyche. Last weekend, results didn’t particularly go Everton’s way, with Leeds United picking up three points at Wolves and Southampton playing out a draw at home to Spurs.

However, on a positive note, Nottingham Forest lost as did Crystal Palace with Leicester City only gaining one point at Brentford.

Paul McParlan - A New Hope?

Since he arrived at Everton, Sean Dyche has made it clear that the club’s fortunes do not necessarily depend on having a striker to score.

He has consistently hammered home the point that other players need to put the ball in the net to help the team move up the table. One man has clearly given the manager the response he wanted – Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Playing in a more advanced role, the midfielder has responded to his manager’s challenge. Against Chelsea on Saturday, he notched a goal for the second away game in succession, in addition to providing the 89th minute assist for the Ellis Simms equaliser.

His pace and aerial threat are proving highly effective and only serve to underline Dyche’s insistence that anybody in the team can add their name to the scoresheet. Perhaps, the 'Ginger Mourinho' had realised that the lack of a striker was proving to be a ready-made excuse for too many players in an underperforming squad.

At times under Frank Lampard, there seemed to be an acceptance with the team and the fans that if only Dominic Calvert Lewin was fit then everything would be better. To his credit, the new manager has consistently made light of the forward’s absence and this approach is working.

Everton’s last seven goals have come from six different players. Nevertheless, at Stamford Bridge a new hope emerged; a striker who could score! Ellis Simms has been unfairly written off in some quarters after struggling to make an impression in the recent Merseyside derby, but he has always found the net at whatever level he has played.

While out on loan, Simms has regularly scored for Blackpool in League One, for Hearts in the Scottish Premiership and for Sunderland in the Championship. He knows how to hit the target. Bringing him back in January is one of the few decisions that the club has got right recently.

When Dyche was looking to make a substitution in the 79th minute, most Blues were probably praying 'please don’t let it be Maupay'. Fortunately, it was Simms who entered the arena and ten minutes later he brushed aside the challenge of the experienced defender Kalidou Koulibaly to fire home his first ever Premier League goal.

For those who have followed his career this came as no surprise. Ellis Simms apparently asked his boss what he needed to do to feature in the team. His performance at Chelsea answered that question and may have given his manager another striking option.

He has now shown the ability to deliver at this level and perhaps he deserves an extended run in the team? Who knows, but maybe the answer to our striking problem was here all along, waiting for the chance to show what he could do? Over to you, Ellis!


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