Last season, when Everton went into their third league game of the season with the prospect of a championship win, they missed that chance.
Football works in strange ways, doesn’t it?
Everton rose to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park through goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
But today, as the same carrot dangled in front of Everton, Coleman came back into the room on the right, and once again he pulled the ball back for Calvert-Lewin to provide a similar opportunity, only this time the striker’s effort pushed through the goalkeeper’s arms and Everton went up 1-0.
Everton could not recover from the miss and the criticism that followed was fierce.
On a balmy night in Villa Park, Seamus Coleman marauded down the right side, pulled back the ball and Dominic Calvert-Lewin shot directly at the goalkeeper, his attempt was blocked and he had to waste a glorious opportunity.
He has now scored five goals in three league games, is Everton’s established No. 9 and leads the Premier League charts. Just like his team.
Everton would be pushed back here, but they now have the confidence to see this as a temporary disappointment rather than a fatal blow.
Richarlison was the happy recipient after a handball was awarded against Joel Ward when Lucas Digne headed the ball into the penalty area, and he rebuilt Everton’s lead after Crystal Palace’s equalizer – an advantage they were unwilling to give up.
And where last season it looked like the Blues couldn’t buy a positive decision from VAR either for love or money, the new rules of the game and the technology behind them worked in their favor.
But although Roy Hodgson, who was overwhelmed by the new handball laws, may disagree, Everton was unlucky at Selhurst Park, and they didn’t make it to the top of the table by chance – but what do people say?
And every successful team needs the rub of the green. Every single team that has helped Carlo Ancelotti to fame has had it somewhere along the way. He will be the first to tell you.
When you play well, you feel good. When you’re out of shape, you’re not.
It’s the bounce of the ball, the shot that pinches instead of blocking, and the decision that is made for you from time to time that helps to oil the wheels of the swing.
And this super-safe Everton team scored their goals based on the quality of the construction, not on the mistakes of the opposing goalkeeper or referee who made a bad decision. And they defended their lead because they stood their ground and showed determination. This had nothing to do with luck. They could only do that themselves.
But then you make your own luck, right?
At the same time last season they didn’t do that.
It can’t and won’t always be as convincing as it was with the Spurs or finish with glamour and style as it was against West Brom, and that’s why sometimes this season, if Everton is to qualify for Europe, there will be games like this.
Some of what happened around the goals and solid defense was not to Ancelotti’s taste, and the technical flaws he saw today will be a topic of discussion this week at Finch Farm, but in the end Everton played well enough to win, and so Everton played well enough to move to the top of the table.