Everton 0 Burnley 1
Ronald Koeman said it would take four consecutive home wins for him to enter the international break with a smile. He goes into it with a grimace, under pressure and no closer to a solution for Everton's regression after a summer investment of almost €160 million. Burnley, for a fraction of the cost, move forward.
Jeff Hendrick’s fine first-half goal brought Sean Dyche’s team their latest impressive away result as the problems mounted for the Everton manager. Burnley have now won at Goodison Park and Stamford Bridge this season while drawing at Tottenham’s temporary Wembley home and Anfield. Their problems on the road last season seem a lifetime ago. The same could be said of when Everton last played as an effective, settled unit.
Wayne Rooney was dropped to the bench for the first time in the Premier League this season but it was only after his introduction that Everton showed any quality. But that was insufficient against a supremely well-organised Burnley side.
Everton started encouragingly until Hendrick's classy opener. Koeman had argued his team's poor form stemmed from a lack of confidence - an assessment Rooney publicly disagreed with following the draw against Apollon Limassol on Thursday - when a lack of pace, width and balance have been this season's glaring faults. At Rooney's expense the Everton manager finally addressed some problems by starting Nikola Vlasic and Oumar Niasse alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin in attack, although persisting with Gylfi Sigurdsson on the left did little for the balance of the side.
It is also a strange use of the €50 million record signing’s talents but Sigurdsson did have licence to drift inside and should have given Everton the lead as a result. The Iceland international twice had sight of Nick Pope’s goal, from balls across the penalty area by Vlasic and Niasse, but failed to connect cleanly on both occasions. They would prove to be Everton’s best chances and costly misses.
Burnley showed the composure that eluded Everton in the final third when they took the lead with an exquisite goal, one that Dyche may well refer to the next time someone applies the 'long ball' label to his team. Robbie Brady instigated the breakthrough with a superb crossfield pass to Stephen Ward overlapping on the left. Chris Wood headed Ward's first time cross to Hendrick, who found Scott Arfield before drifting into the box. Arfield released Ward and when the defender cut the ball back for the Republic of Ireland international he dummied Morgan Schneiderlin before placing a measured finish beyond Jordan Pickford.
Everton's defence was static and badly organised, with Ashley Williams playing Ward onside and Schneiderlin weak in the challenge, but that did not detract from an outstanding team goal.
Koeman's team offered little in response until the introduction of Rooney in the second half and the move to a midfield diamond improved their distribution. Burnley absorbed the pressure comfortably with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski once again showing that Michael Keane's £30m departure for Goodison has not had the disruptive effect many had feared. The visitors were almost presented with a second when Williams's clearance cannoned off a claret shirt into the path of Arfield but the attacking midfielder went to ground too easily when he connected with the defender's attempted recovery and was booked for diving.
Aimless shots from distance aside, Everton rarely threatened an equaliser and did not force Pope into a save until Calvert-Lewin shot straight at the keeper in the 87th minute. They should, however, have had a penalty when Rooney's header from a Sigurdsson cross struck the raised arm of Matthew Lowton. Jon Moss awarded a corner instead and then rubbed salt into Rooney's wounds by penalising Williams for an identical handball offence.
Moss dismissed a second handball claim against Lowton when Williams headed goalwards in stoppage time, rightly so on that occasion. Guardian Service.