Everton have picked up a much-needed victory at Goodison Park this afternoon in their Premier League clash with Brentford and Sean Dyche will be thrilled with the resilience his team showed throughout the performance.
The Toffees are now 15th in the league table after climbing out of the relegation zone following their 1-0 victory over the Bees, however, they are only two points clear of the bottom three and must continue to fight for more crucial points to secure safety over their remaining 11 fixtures.
Despite having far less possession of the ball (33%), Everton had more shots on target (6 v 4), more tackles won (25 v 10) and more clearances completed (26 v 11) – a testament to the outstanding defensive display that was perfectly executed to seal their sixth victory of the season.
It was a strike from Dwight McNeil in the opening minute of the clash that ultimately won the Merseysiders their first game in four, a player who has seen his game-time increase since the arrival of his former Burnley boss in January.
It has been a common theme throughout the team with another one of Dyche’s former players reprising their role as Michael Keane was once again deployed this afternoon in the back-line alongside James Tarkowski instead of Conor Coady.
However, not all the players at Goodison have been lucky enough to become one of the first names on the team sheet with Demarai Gray seemingly snubbed by the Everton boss upon his appointment.
How did Demarai Gray perform against Brentford?
Gray had been benched for two and made three appearances of under half an hour in each of the first five outings under Dyche but has finally been given the opportunity to prove himself in the latest two fixtures and has now rightfully earned his spot in front of goal.
The 26-year-old winger has been deployed in the most advanced position of Dyche’s 4-5-1 formation that saw the side draw with Nottingham Forest last week and win against Brentford today, proving his ability to adapt to a more central role in the final third.
Over his 86-minute performance, Gray – once hailed as ‘electric’ by BBC journalist Garth Crooks – won a whopping nine duels, created one big chance, made two key passes, and completed 100% of his dribble attempts, as well as winning three tackles, offering two shots on target and having a goal disallowed in the 43rd minute.
The wizard was a constant threat at the top end of the pitch and caused plenty of problems for the Bees defence to deal with, which allowed Everton’s defenders a breather whilst he was causing chaos in the opposition half.
It is clear the Everton star is shining in his new role, offering both a huge presence and lots of creativity to the attacking threat and could now be Dyche’s secret weapon in securing survival after failing to select Gray over the majority of his short tenure so far.
With that being said, it would be a no-brainer to continue to deploy Gray, and gives the Everton manager a real dilemma as to how Dominic Calvert-Lewin will fit into the team when he returns from injury, especially if the team continue to thrive.
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