Garth Crooks has named Everton duo Jordan Pickford and Conor Coady in his Team of the Week, writes the LiverpoolEcho.
Frank Lampard ‘s side picked up a spirited 2-1 victory at Southampton on Saturday afternoon to take them level on points in the table with rivals Liverpool. Coady opened the scoring for Everton to put them back on level terms after Joe Aribo put the hosts in front shortly after the break.
Dwight McNeil then sealed the victory just moments later but with over half an hour left to play, Crooks has praised the Blues’ defence for riding out the late onslaught from Southampton and ensuring they walked away with all three points.
On Pickford ‘s contributions, Crooks told BBC Sport : “The save from Adam Armstrong midway through the second half was a game changer. England’s number one then stood up and parried a stinging shot from Kyle Walker-Peters without the slightest hint of any heroics.
“Something has happened to Jordan Pickford’s game since the arrival of Lampard at Goodison Park. The goalkeeper has not only been in good form but has instilled a real confidence in his defence. Everton were in desperate need of this victory at Southampton and it puts them on the same number of points as Liverpool, which rather says as much about their neighbours as it does about them.”
Coady, for whom it was his first goal for the club since his arrival on loan from Wolves in the summer, was also a stand-out performer for Crooks and the pundit has likened his movement to a striker. He added: “Apart from the fact that Coady is a very good defender, his movement in the opposition penalty area is reminiscent of a striker. You can tell when a player loves scoring goals because they go hunting for them.
“Everton are still some way from becoming a top-six side but anything less will see Lampard fighting to retain his job. Talk of the Everton manager taking over from England boss Gareth Southgate at the end of the World Cup may not be without foundation but is premature. Lampard is hugely likable but widely inexperienced.”
Lampard led the Blues to Premier League survival last season and while all concerned hope his side will be well clear of the bottom three come the end of this season, Crooks’ suggestion that he could be ‘fighting to retain his job’ if he doesn’t achieve a top-six finish seems wide of the mark.