Everton recorded a seventh successive home win to inflict 4-2 defeat on resurgent Leicester on Sunday. This enjoyably frantic match saw the Blues score three or more for the sixth time in this impressive sequence at Goodison Park.
In a match mixing enterprising football with inept defending, two much-changed defences swapped four goals within 23 minutes before familiar attacking prowess swung the match toward the hosts. Manager Ronald Koeman has seen his team score 26 home goals in 2017.
Midfield housed the standout performers for the home side. Alongside the tireless Idrissa Gueye and an improved Tom Davies, Ross Barkley, the returning Morgan Schneiderlin and Kevin Mirallas were especially impressive.
The sight of Mirallas squaring up to Robert Huth pointed to a pleasing aggression and determination underpinning a second strong display in as many matches for the Belgian. Schneiderlin marked his return from injury with the type of serene performance suggesting the outcome of games against Manchester United and Liverpool might have differed had the January signing been fit to play, while Barkley provided the assist of the match with a sublime cross for the second Everton goal.
Inexperience is a mitigating factor for a defence short on options due to injuries and suspension, but the failings in the early stages of this match underlined the need for defensive reinforcements in the summer.
A lack of pace at the heart of the defence stood out as Leicester equalised with ease from a swift counter, while the role of goalkeeper Joel Robles for the Leicester second added to nagging doubts about his long-term suitability for the No. 1 position.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Koeman picked arguably his strongest available team. There was a case for more than one substitution as the match wore on, but the result was never under any serious threat.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Joel Robles, 5 -- Embarrassed as an over-hit free kick intended as a cross dipped over his head and inside the far post. Unconvincing on one or two other occasions, though a good late save from close range prevented a nervy finish.
DF Mason Holgate, 6 -- A more experienced player might have halted the build-up to the first Leicester goal with a calculated foul. Improved along with his fellow defenders as the match progressed, but the youngster has to be braver and more committed in the tackle.
DF Matthew Pennington, 6 -- An avoidable error led to the free kick that gave the visitors a temporary first-half lead. More assured after the interval after some well-timed interventions toward the end of the first half.
DF Phil Jagielka, 7 -- A second goal in the space of six days was a bonus amid another commanding defensive display, aside from an unconvincing part in the first Leicester goal.
DF Leighton Baines, 7 -- On the receiving end of several poor refereeing decisions, a bright display in defence and attack continued throughout despite the threat of a second yellow card.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 7 -- One stray pass in the first half troubled supporters more than the opposition, but his tackling, breaking up of play and incredible industry proved vital in establishing control after a chaotic opening.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 8 -- Each performance makes his failure at Manchester United all the more mystifying. Sorely missed when injured in the previous two matches, the French midfielder has added another dimension to the midfield since his arrival.
MF Ross Barkley, 8 -- Superb assist for Romelu Lukaku capped a welcome return to form after two trying away matches. Dictated the play in the second half and left more than one opposing player chasing shadows with sharp turns and footwork, although should have scored in the first half.
MF Tom Davies, 7 -- A well-taken finish within 30 seconds set the tone for an improved showing as the 18-year-old marked his new five-year deal with his second goal for the club. Work rate matched by greater influence with the ball.
MF Kevin Mirallas, 9 -- Hinting at the consistency absent too often in recent times, this was an excellent attacking effort. With game-high returns on dribbling and chances created, the Belgian winger threatened the visiting defence whenever in possession. Set pieces a constant threat and contributed to two of the four goals.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 8 -- Remarkable run at Goodison continued in style, scoring for the eighth successive home game in all competitions to move to 15 goals in 15 home league games this season.
DF Gareth Barry, N/R -- Unfortunate to miss out after midweek heroics at Old Trafford, the veteran midfielder slotted into a deeper role in central defence as the home side closed out the match.