A few weeks on from its launch, it’s safe to say the English Premier League’s decision to put certain matches behind a £14.95 ($AU27) paywall for domestic viewers hasn’t gone down particularly well with football fans.
Saturday’s early kickoff saw Everton face Slaven Bilic’s West Brom at home. In an exciting game, the Toffees edged out the Baggies 5-2, showing their new found strength under Carlo Ancelotti.
Here are my key takeaways from the game.
West Brom start strong
The visitors controlled the first 25 minutes, looking dangerous with Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira going forward. It looked like West Brom were heading to their first win back in the Premier League, with Everton looking flat and giving the ball away too easily.
Mark Noble and Hammers fans will again be left fuming at the club’s decision to let go of 22-year-old Diangana. The youngster terrorised Everton with plenty of pace and flair going forward. He opened his Premier League account with a beautiful solo goal in the ninth minute.
The Baggies continued to push, with Everton lucky to not go two behind after Jake Livermore struck the post from a shot inside the box.
Everton take charge as West Brom implode
Everton’s hold on the game slowly began to strengthen as they dominated possession. Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman were key in Everton’s build up, with both full backs getting very far forward to whip in dangerous crosses.
The equaliser came in the 31st minute, a Seamus Coleman overlap and cross rebounded of a defender for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to back heel in.
The goal was originally disallowed for offside but VAR proved that Richarlison had not touched the ball and rather it had come off the defender.
As had happened at Leicester the previous week, West Brom heads dropped quickly after conceding. Just before halftime, James Rodriguez gave Everton the lead with a brilliant finish from outside the box.
Assisted by Richarlison, the 2014 World Cup golden boot winner showed his prolific eye for goal, taking just two touches before firing home a strong bottom corner strike.
Just a minute later and West Brom were down to ten men after a laps of judgement from former Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs resulted in red. After Gibbs had played the ball he turned and poked Rodriguez in the eye, a silly foul to give away given the situation with VAR and from such an experienced player and leader.
The resulting arguing between the away bench and the officials lead to Bilic being shown red and sent to the stands, leaving West Brom with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Calvert Lewin hat-trick pulls Everton away
Although a brilliant Pereira free-kick brought the game back to 2-2 in the 46th minute, their defensive woes continued. Everton had looked very dangerous in set piece situations, with Albion lucky to have not conceded earlier in the game.
However Everton finally broke through in the 54’ minute, with Keane tapping the ball in following a set piece, giving Everton the lead. They went two up with Calvert-Lewin’s strike in the 62’ minute following some classy play between Rodriguez and Richarlison.
The fifth goal occurred just four minutes later as the Colombian assisted a Calvert-Lewin header from a corner, putting them 5-2 up and icing the game. After a poor end to his season last year, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has now scored four from two games and his first Premier League hat-trick.
If his form continues, Gareth Southgate could have yet another talented young English striker on his books.
Everton’s new signings impress
Both Rodriguez and Allan were very impressive in Saturday’s win. Allan controlled the game at 6, giving the midfield pace and intensity as well as an important defensive presence. Rodriguez was part of everything going forward for Everton.
His creativity matched with his wand of a left foot devastated the baggies defence. A beautiful chipped ball to Richarlison set up Calvert-Lewin’s second, with the Colombian’s corner assisting Calvert-Lewin’s third.
Inspired under Carlo Ancelotti, Rodriguez’s goal looks like the first of many in the Premier League, giving Everton fans hope of seeing their team climb out of mid table obscurity.