In a struggling early afternoon of football, Leicester beat Everton 0-1 at Goodison Park.

Leicester record the first win of 2019 thanks to Jamie Vardy capitalising on a defensive error. The win lifts Leicester up to 7th spot in the Premier League table as they start their year in great form. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy isn’t having his best season, notching just seven times so far this season. He should reach double figures but is unlikely to hit the 20 goal mark that he will have set out as an expectation for himself every season. Although if he played Everton every week he might get there!

This goal marked Vardy’s fifth goal in his last six appearances against Everton. He nearly always melts the Toffees when he faces them, but today they would have felt they had him under control. He was basically a spectator in the first half, showing no signs of hurting them. Then an error let him in and Ricardo Pereira’s pass was precise and Vardy showed that old instincts die hard. You never felt he was going to miss as he ran in on goal and slotted home with his left foot to seal victory for Leicester.

Loser: Michael Keane

When a harmless hoof from Kasper Schmeichel was bizarrely headed back into his own half by Theo Walcott, it should have been a simple job for Michael Keane to step up and either clear or control the ball. Except Keane showed all the grace of a drunk newborn deer on rollerskates and prodded the ball straight to Ricardo who fed Jamie Vardy into the space Keane had vacated and, well, goal. Keane even should have given away a penalty late on with some careless arm-flailing.

What made the first mistake so costly for Keane personally, obviously it cost Everton at least one point and possibly three, is that Everton have actually got three starting quality centre-backs and it could be argued that Keane is the worst of the three. Yerry Mina is a towering presence and Kurt Zouma has world-class ability, so Keane’s errors could see him demoted to the bench.

Winner: Yerry Mina

When Everton got smashed 2-6 at Goodison Park by Spurs, Yerry Mina was on the bench the whole time. Then, on Boxing Day, Everton rebounded by battering Burnley 1-5. Yerry Mina started that game, scored the opening goal and just generally created mayhem in the Brighton box. It was clear that Everton are better when the Colombian plays.

So, of course, he didn’t end up featuring against Leicester. And Everton were terrible as a result. Not only did they make a few defensive mistakes that you have to wonder if they’d have made with Mina around, but their impact from attacking set-pieces was enormously impacted by the absence of Everton’s no. 13. Whilst his side’s loss will frustrate him, his own personal reputation continues to grow.

Loser: Watford and Wolves

The “best of the rest” race in the Premier League is hotly contested between a handful of teams, and with this win Leicester leapfrogged Wolves and moved away from Watford up to 7th in the table. The Foxes now sit three points ahead of Watford with a superior goal difference. Now, Wolves are only two points back but the pressure is now on them to win their game against Crystal Palace or they will begin new year looking up a Leicester as they take an impressive step in their case to be the best of the rest.

Loser: Marco Silva

Marco Silva is obviously an ambitious coach with great ideas, but he seems to have issues with carrying on early season momentum. Just like his time at Watford, it appears early season euphoria and adoration over his style of play and side’s performances is giving way to frustrations with regards to the side’s lack of consistency.

Defeat today means The Toffees have now lost five of the last eight games, having one just once since December began. It’s been a horrific run for Everton and it reflects so badly on Marco Silva, could another big dip be on its way? If the mood of the Everton fans is anything to go by, then unless the Toffees have a sharp upturn of form in early 2019 then things could get ugly for the Portuguese.

Loser: The viewers

Regardless of Vardy’s goal, this was not a good game to watch. Two sides playing dysfunctional football, clattering into each other with precious little guile or creativity, waiting in hope that one of the defenders makes a mistake in order to let them through. Michael Keane obliged (more than once, in honesty!) and that decided the game.

Everton’s response was only lively in comparison to how turgid their performance had been to that point, because it wasn’t like Kasper Schmeichel was defending the wall at Helm’s Deep or anything. He was just sort of having to do his job and that was honestly enough even though Everton had more of the game. Not a good start to 2019!

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