Everton may well have suffered a 1-0 defeat in the Mersyeside derby on Sunday afternoon but there was plenty of evidence to suggest that a priceless Anfield victory is looming on the horizon.
Everton’s long-standing hoodoo goes on. The history books will tell you to scan back to 1999 to find the last time the Toffees won a Merseyside derby on the road, but it’s surely now a matter of time before that particular run comes to an end.
Liverpool edged the game in terms of the creation of clear-cut chances but Everton looked the more fluid of the two sides throughout.
The midfield pairing of Idrissa Gueye and Andre Gomes continued to cement the foundations of a blossoming partnership, with the latter impressing once again with his ice-cold composure and natural play-making instinct.
It was another outstanding performance from the Portugal international, and his contribution was duly noted by Guardian journalist Nick Ames in his post-match verdict.
‘Marco Silva’s insistence on a positive approach has plenty to do with that and so does the outstanding form of André Gomes, who ran the midfield at times and looks exactly the kind of player Everton require to compete with the top sides regularly.
‘He should have scored in the first half but Gomes has picked up the Premier League tempo perfectly since making his debut last month and has been a huge factor in Everton’s push for the top six.’
Gomes has really set the bar high this season. Out of the three players to arrive at Goodson Park from Barcelona in the summer Gomes, 25, is the one who most accurately mirrors the philosophy which the Catalan giants are universally renowned for.
His failure to settle at the Nou Camp and command the affection of arguably the most demanding supporters in world football was complicated and perhaps not a fair reflection on the true extent of his ability, and the manner in which he has excelled at Everton this season suggests that he is undoubtedly an exceptional footballer.
On paper, he is perfect for the Barcelona model: Gomes is calmness personified in possession, an avid exponent of the passing game, and aesthetically pleasing to watch without sacrificing effectiveness for vanity.
But what works on paper does not automatically work in reality, as Gomes discovered at Barcelona, and Everton are now reaping the rewards of his unsuccessful time with the club.
Had Gomes not been so underwhelming with Barcelona it is likely that top-six clubs would have expressed a greater interest in signing him, especially considering he was available on loan, but Silva was willing to take a chance and it’s one which he is already beginning to reap the rewards of.
If Everton are going to break into the top-six they will need to act like a top-six club, and making a signing of Gomes’ calibre is exactly the type of decision which will enable them to topple the established order.
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