Everton’s hopes of staying in the Premier League took a significant blow as they suffered a comfortable 3-0 defeat to Manchester City at Goodison Park on Sunday, writes the GN.
Pep Guardiola’s team took the lead through an impressive first-half goal from Ilkay Gundogan, followed by Erling Haaland doubling their advantage with a superb cross from the German midfielder. The 32-year-old maestro then scored City’s third goal and his second of the match with a delightful free-kick early in the second half. The reigning champions-elect proved too strong for Sean Dyche’s team to handle.
This loss leaves Everton with just one point and one position above the relegation zone as they head into the final two games of the 2022/23 season. With a challenging away match against Wolverhampton Wanderers coming up next Saturday, Dyche faces difficult decisions regarding his squad. However, one decision seems clear and straightforward: dropping underperforming first-team player Mason Holgate is necessary if Everton wants to avoid the embarrassment of a disastrous Premier League relegation.
In the recent match against City, the Toffees center-back made only his seventh start of the Premier League season. He replaced the injured Vitaly Mykolenko, but his previous start against Crystal Palace ended disastrously as he was shown a red card for receiving his second yellow card in the 80th minute. The Everton fans would have preferred him to be sent off again rather than witnessing another costly and ineffective performance.
According to SofaScore, the defender received the lowest average rating of any player on the pitch, with a score of 5.5 out of 10. During his 56 minutes on the field, he managed to complete only three passes, failed to win any of his duels, was dribbled past twice by Riyad Mahrez, and missed a clear chance from a corner, which could have given Everton some much-needed hope.
It was the right decision for the former Burnley boss to substitute him and switch to a five-man system, with Dwight McNeil as the left wing-back and Conor Coady in the left center-back position. As soon as Holgate was replaced, Everton’s defense looked much more solid for the rest of the game.
Dyche might consider employing a similar strategy against Wolves, especially with Mykolenko’s return from a thigh injury still uncertain. Holgate has consistently been ranked lower in the pecking order under both Frank Lampard and Dyche, with players like James Tarkowski, Connor Coady, Ben Godfrey, and lately Michael Keane being preferred in the heart of Everton’s defense.
Considering his limited playing time, lack of quality, and a history of injury problems spanning multiple seasons, it would be wise for Everton to consider a summer departure for Holgate. However, in the current tense and nerve-racking situation where Everton is barely avoiding relegation by a single point, Dyche cannot afford to make the same mistake again by starting a player who is ill-equipped to help the club in their desperate time of need.