In Focus: Pickford primed to keep Everton’s survival hopes alive
Jordan Pickford produced a sensational display in Everton’s clash with Chelsea last weekend that saw his side run out as 1-0 winners, earning them a vital three points to keep their survival hopes alive.
England’s No1 goalkeeper has been criticised for his inconsistency at times between the sticks, but must be praised for his ability to step up in big occasions for club and country.
Ahead of Everton’s showdown against Leicester at the King Power on Sunday, we take a look at how Pickford can save the Toffees from dreaded relegation.
Five finals remain
The Toffees find themselves in a sticky situation with only five games remaining, sitting 18th on 32 points, two points from safety with a game in hand over Leeds and Burnley hovering just above.
Everton have won as many games (nine) as Southampton in 15th position and eight points ahead, however they have simply struggled to see out games and have 19 losses to their name.
The Merseysiders must carry their resilience shown against Chelsea last week into what is a do or die ending to their season.
Frank Lampard’s outfit have fought well in their last four, earning victories over Manchester United and Chelsea, a draw to Leicester and a 2-0 loss to title-chasers and local rivals Liverpool.
If their form is anything to go by and judging by their fixture list, there is no reason why the Goodison faithful will feel they cannot pull off survival.
Everton next face away trips to Leicester and relegated Watford before they welcome Brentford and Crystal Palace to Goodison Park and travel to Arsenal on the final day.
Jordan Pickford’s brilliant goalkeeping displays recently, most notably in Everton’s victories against United and Chelsea, provided glimpses of the form he regularly maintains when playing for England.
England reached their first final since 1966 in Euro 2020 with Pickford pulling off some remarkable saves throughout the tournament, including two during the penalty shootout in the final against Italy.
The 28-year-old shot stopper has performed consistently well for his nation, but can occasionally display rashness in domestic games — however the ability of the two defences he plays behind must also be taken into account.
His performances in Everton’s last four games have demonstrated what he is capable of, most emphatically exemplified in his sensational save against Chelsea.
Pickford arguably produced the save of the season when he flew across to Mason Mount’s shot that smashed the inside of the right post, before denying Cesar Azpilicueta at the rebound with his world-class heroics.
The three goals that Everton have conceded in their last four matches have all been within point-blank range, with little Pickford could do about them.
With the levels that he has set in his last few appearances, Evertonians will be reassured that his capability of producing the spectacular and keeping them in games can help the club stay afloat.
As a result of his performances in the last year, Pickford has attracted interest from fellow Premier League clubs Tottenham and Newcastle ahead of the summer transfer window.
Everton are prepared to listen to offers for the 28-year-old even if they manage to stay up, with the keeper likely to push for a move if the club is relegated in order to maintain his no1 status for the Three Lions.
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham were linked with his services during the January transfer window, as they search for either a long-term replacement for Hugo Lloris or a new number two.
Back-up goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini has failed to impress in his few appearances in his loan spell at the North London club, however it is unlikely that Pickford will want to be sitting on the bench.
It remains to be seen where he will end up, but whatever happens, he will be remembered fondly at Goodison Park — particularly if he helps save the Toffees from the frightful prospect of playing Championship football next season.