Everton supporters have been in high spirits in the Transfer Tavern in recent days after seeing their side pick up their first Premier League victory of the season courtesy of a 2-1 success over Southampton on Saturday.
Marco Silva’s men began the 2018/19 campaign with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Wolves last time out to get the new era up and running, although to have twice led and not picked up all three points would have likely frustrated the Toffees boss, even if they played the entirety of the second half with ten men. Yet the Merseysiders produced the goods at Goodison Park on Saturday as goals from Theo Walcott and Richarlison set the hosts on their way to victory, and although Danny Ings got one back for the Saints, it wasn’t enough to deny Everton a first win of the season.
As such, there are many thrilled Evertonians up and down the country at present, several of whom have been heaping praise on ex-Southampton star Walcott for his efforts in scoring one and setting one up on Saturday.
And while the winger shone for Silva’s men, it was young centre back Mason Holgate, valued at £6.3 million by Transfermarkt, who was Everton’s unsung hero in victory over Mark Hughes’ side.
The 21-year-old was drafted in by Silva to replace the suspended Phil Jagielka in the heart of the Toffees backline, and given that area has been something of a problem in recent times, hence the arrival of Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma on deadline day, the pressure was certainly on for the Englishman to deliver.
And he did just that with a composed and authoritative display alongside compatriot Michael Keane, with Holgate touching the ball more times than any other Everton player over the 90 minutes (70), as well as making more passes than the rest of his teammates (62).
And while he wasn’t quite as accurate as centre back partner Keane when it came to making those passes, his ability to play out from the back and his overall composure on the ball has never really been in question, yet he combined that with genuine defensive capabilities on Saturday in helping the Toffees to all three points.
The England Under-21 international won a team-high seven aerial duels during the match, two more than Keane, while he also made four clearances over the course of the 90 minutes, the joint highest in the Toffees team alongside Keane and, somewhat surprisingly, winger Richarlison.
Thus, the arrival of messrs Mina and Zouma, and as such the pressure arising from such acquisitions, doesn’t appear to have put Holgate off too much, and while Walcott has been stealing the headlines for his efforts in the attacking third of the pitch, just as significant were those of the 21-year-old at the other end as Everton sealed their first win of the season.
Everton fans… what do you think? Let us know!