Oumar Niasse's resurgence continues as Everton steal a point at Palace
A scarcely deserved 2-2 draw at bottom of the table Crystal Palace demonstrated the many issues afflicting Everton and helped explain how this team has gone 10 months and 14 games without a Premier League away win.
Everton managed to concede from their kickoff within 51 seconds and spent much of the remaining 90 minutes making the home side look like world-beaters. Only thanks to Oumar Niasse, favourable refereeing and a Palace defence as porous as their own did the visitors salvage a point.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford attempting the most passes is an apt footnote for one of the worst team passing performances in recent years. Problems in possession stacked extra pressure on a sieve-like defence as Everton continue to struggle across the pitch.
There have at least been signs of some fighting spirit within the players in the past two matches as the away side recovered from a losing position to avoid defeat for the second match in succession.
Being unable to last 60 seconds before the worst attack in the league sliced them open tells its own story. Failure to strengthen the defence is overtaking the striker issue as the defining summer transfer mishap. A join-league high 24 goals against in 12 games leaves Everton with the worst defence in the league after Saturday's matches. Everton have conceded two or more goals in all five games under caretaker manager David Unsworth.
There remains a lack of organisation and clarity without the ball, as tactics seem confusing and contradictory. Unsworth wants his team to press, but with a four-man defence seemingly terrified to move far from their own penalty area, there are huge gaps for opponents to exploit. Escape the initial press and opposing teams can easily target an isolated and one-paced defence that is not receiving nearly enough protection.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Any game plan had gone out the window after just 50 seconds. Unsworth has to shore up the defence so Everton do not need to score three to have a chance of winning.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 5 -- Tendency to parry shots rather than try to hold them backfired for the Palace opener, though there were a couple of timely saves late on that helped Everton cling to their point.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 7 -- Repaying his manager's faith with a battling display, the young right-back snapped into tackles throughout and his ability to stand up to pace proved vital.
DF Michael Keane, 5 -- Beaten too easily in the build-up to the first goal and spent much of the match looking cumbersome. Fine form earlier in the campaign has evaporated in recent weeks.
DF Phil Jagielka, 5 -- Rash decisions and moments of panic capped a second poor display in as many matches, and the club captain lost track of Wilfried Zaha for the second Palace goal.
DF Leighton Baines, 5 -- Converted his penalty with aplomb but emerged a distant second in his defensive battle against Ruben Loftus-Cheek and played a less than impressive role in both Palace goals.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 4 -- From a standout player last season to a comparative passenger this term, the midfielder delivered his latest anonymous performance before injury curtailed his afternoon at half-time.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 6 -- Won an impressive 10 tackles in midfield, one of which led to the second Everton equaliser, but the midfielder continues to drift in and out of matches as support is sorely lacking around him.
MF Aaron Lennon, 7 -- Most of his better moments came in a defensive capacity, such as a 60-yard sprint to snuff out a Palace counter, but the midfielder could teach teammates a thing or two about work rate and application.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 -- Often too deep in the first half before being forced out of position in the second, this was a frustrating display punctuated by occasional flashes of quality, namely the assist for Niasse and a later chance created for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
MF Ademola Lookman, 4 -- On the periphery aside from a couple of shots, his first league start since February lasted just 45 minutes and the young winger also lost his man for the second Palace goal.
FW Oumar Niasse, 8 -- Five goals in seven league games speaks for itself. Usual blend of clumsy industry matched with telling contributions, winning the penalty for the first and scoring a well-taken second.
MF Tom Davies, 5 -- A number of well-intentioned but poorly timed tackles and mistakes in possession summed up his afternoon.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- The 20-year-old squandered a presentable chance minutes after his introduction and never quite imposed himself on the match.
FW Sandro Ramirez, NR -- Some promising moments amid a surprise recall from the wilderness.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.