Leeds United 1-2 Everton
Up to sixth in the Premier League, the Carlo Ancelotti effect at Everton is clear for all to see.
Yes, there have been ups and downs, peaks and troughs, but nearly 14 months in, there is clear evidence of progress for the Toffees who can move up into fourth spot if they win their two games in hand.
Two first-half Premier League 2021 highlights at Elland Road were enough to seal a 2-1 success in this one and avenge their loss in the reverse fixture against the Yorkshire club earlier in the season.
Highlights of the game
Leeds United, playing at home for only the second time in seven matches in all competitions, made just one change from the side that defeated Leicester 3-1 on Sunday as Mateusz Klich came in and Spanish international Rodrigo missed out altogether.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was absent for Everton after sustaining a rib injury in the 2-0 home loss to Newcastle on Saturday so Robin Olsen, on loan from Roma, was selected for only his third appearance in the Premier League.
There was surprise for this SBOTOP observer elsewhere as Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane and James Rodriguez dropped to the bench, — perhaps with a weekend trip to Old Trafford in mind — as Mason Holgate, Ben Godfrey and Andre Gomes all started.
Fabian Delph returned for the first time in two months to take a place on the bench where he was joined by striker Joshua King, signed on a deal until the end of the season from Bournemouth on transfer deadline day.
The Premier League betting 2021 odds saw these two sides as evenly matched.
Leeds were looking to complete a league double over Everton for the first time since 1990-91, when they were a newly-promoted side. The visitors, meanwhile, were looking to win here for the first time since 2002 when a young teenager by the name of Wayne Rooney netted the only goal just five minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Indeed, after winning just one of their past 37 top-flight trips to Elland Road, they must have been delighted by their start as they led just nine minutes in.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was left unmarked and the Icelandic international steered in the opener from Lucas Digne’s pinpoint low cross.
Ezgjan Alioski volleyed against the post and Olsen had to acrobatically tip over a Pascal Struijk header as the home side chased an immediate response but it was Everton who struck again just before the break.
One of the most improved players in the top-flight this year, Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed his 12th Premier League goal of the campaign with a close-range diving header after Godfrey had flicked on Sigurdsson’s left-wing corner.
To their credit, the home side remained determined and were rewarded within three minutes of the restart as Raphinha – who scored the winner at Goodison Park in November – finished coolly from a Patrick Bamford pass.
After that, Olsen took centre stage as the Swedish international saved from Klich and Struijk and then breathed a sigh of relief as a long-range volley from Alioski struck the post.
Not that it was all one way as Illan Meslier had to be alert to prevent Calvert-Lewin from adding his second of the night after a quick counter-attack. For Leeds then some plaudits; for Everton, far more importantly, the points.
This was the 100th top-flight fixture between the sides. The Toffees have now won four consecutive away league games for the first time since December 1985. In total, Everton have recorded seven victories from 10 away fixtures in the league so far this term.
Calvert-Lewin has scored nine headed goals in the Premier League since the start of last season; the only player in Europe’s top five leagues with more over this period is Robert Lewandowski (12).
Digne has six assists in the Premier League this term, the most of any defender. Leeds have conceded 17 goals via set-pieces in the Premier League this season (including penalties), the most of any side.
They have also lost five of their 10 league matches at Elland Road this season (won three, drew two) – a Marcelo Bielsa side last lost more home league matches in a single campaign in 2012-13 with Athletic Bilbao in La Liga (eight).
Despite that, the Whites have already surpassed their total of eight victories in their previous Premier League season in 2003-04.
Leeds are next in action at home to Crystal Palace on Monday (Feb 8) before a trip to Arsenal on February 14.
Meanwhile, a visit to Old Trafford awaits the Merseysiders on Saturday night (February 6) who then host Spurs in the fifth round of the FA Cup a week tonight.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.