Rudderless Everton caught up in a downward spiral

LONDON • Everton once again failed to enjoy a fillip after sacking Ronald Koeman, while Jamie Vardy gave Claude Puel the perfect start to his Leicester reign as the Foxes returned to their counter-attacking best on Sunday.

The 2015-16 champions opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Vardy smashed in Riyad Mahrez's cross and doubled the lead 11 minutes later when Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny sliced Demarai Gray's cross into his own net.

Everton interim manager David Unsworth has now lost two straight games since taking over from Koeman last Monday, the first being a 2-1 loss at Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday.

But while he was able to leave Stamford Bridge broadly satisfied with his team's display, there were scant positives to be taken away from the King Power Stadium.

His men were ripped apart in the opening 30 minutes by Leicester, and while they were able to stop the bleeding and largely dominate proceedings in the second half, they rarely looked like getting back into the Premier League contest.

It is now nine defeats in 13 games for Everton, and as autumn moves towards winter, they find themselves stuck in 18th place and showing little sign of having the belief and talent to get out of relegation trouble.

They host seventh-placed Watford in the league on Sunday.

Other statistics are damning as well. They have scored only seven times in 10 league games, with only two players, Wayne Rooney and Oumar Niasse, contributing. Everton have also let in 20 goals, the joint-second worst tally in the top-flight.

Former 'keeper Neville Southall accurately caught the mood with his tweet after the final whistle. "This November and December may be most important time in Everton's history", he tweeted.

Unsworth had to do without defender Michael Keane, who missed the match after being hospitalised with a leg infection.

The England international suffered a gash during the League Cup win over Sunderland last month but went on to play in six games, including both of England's World Cup qualifiers.

Ireland international James McCarthy, who returned from a knee injury during the loss to Chelsea, has suffered another setback and will be out for two weeks with a hamstring problem.

For Leicester, despite a poor start to the season that cost Craig Shakespeare his job, their third win of the campaign lifts them to the relative safety of 11th in the table.

"I was impressed with my players," said Puel. "It was a very good first half and there were good combinations between the players for the first goal.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2017, with the headline 'Rudderless Everton caught up in a downward spiral'. Print Edition | Subscribe