Robin Olsen shows Jordan Pickford truth but Everton find their real signing of the season – Liverpool Echo

Robin Olsen shows Jordan Pickford truth but Everton find their real signing of the season – Liverpool Echo

Leeds United had 16 attempts on goal.

They scored with one of them, the excellent Robin Olsen saved six and it felt as though Ben Godfrey blocked the rest.

He didn’t, of course, but when reflecting on this all-action, gung-ho game of football you’d be forgiven for believing you had seen him repel just about everything Leeds had to throw at Everton.

Everton were indebted to a quadruple save, in the blink of a second-half eye, from Olsen to keep the slender lead intact but Godfrey was the real difference here.

Nobody on the pitch was better. Nobody was as quick, as dominant in the air or on the ground and nobody blocked and stopped like he did.

And after one first-half charge up field, you may even be able argue that nobody carried the ball as well as Godfrey did in this game.

Without question, he is unique in this Everton squad. A special player. One who performs a multitude of roles and who can play in more positions than anyone else and take to each like it’s been his preferred one for years and years.

It’s remarkable when you remember that this is only his second season in the top flight

Here, he started at centre-half but was moved to left-back as Everton brought on Michael Keane to help steady the ship in the final 10 minutes.

But Godfrey is no mere utility player. He is too good to be labelled as a jack of all trades, master of none. Godfrey has played at centre-back, right-back, left-back and as part of a back three and wherever Carlo Ancelotti plays him, he has produced.

A difficult afternoon at Southampton aside, the summer signing has been excellent and, it might be said, he is the signing of the season at Everton?

James Rodriguez might have something to say about that, of course. Abdoulaye Doucoure, too, but neither would deny the impact of the player brought in from the Championship.

This was his best display yet, in a growing body of impressive work and he is, quite simply, undroppable. Unstoppable and undroppable. The team now is Godfrey and 10 others. It has to be.

Ancelotti blamed a mentality problem for a lazy Everton display against Newcastle United at the weekend. We’ve spoken of how Allan would have made a difference but the other notable absence was, without question, Godfrey who sat on the bench.

It was a game, and lethargic performance, crying out for what the £20m man brings. Again, to talk glowingly about his athleticism, his power and pace, is not some kind of a backhanded compliment because he has clear ability as a footballer, but his athleticism, his power and his pace are so impressive it’s impossible not to talk about them. You cannot ignore those qualities.

Ancelotti, in repeating his assertion that he is “surprised” with how well Godfrey has done, also highlighted his intelligence. He reads the game well and when combined with all of those physical attributes, he is a defensive machine.

There were a telling, and fitting, couple of moments late on here as Leeds turned the screw in search of an equaliser. First, in the final minute of the game, Godfrey sent a dangerous, in-swinging free-kick back from where it came with a commanding, bullet header.

The other came deep into time added-on when Leeds had worked space in the box Luke Ayling fired in a low cross. Godfrey, playing at left-back at this stage, blocked it. Of course he did. He’d blocked everything else in this game and wasn’t about to stop now.

At full-time, as the Blues’ players, Ancelotti and his staff toasted a return to winning ways and form, Godfrey grimaced in delight, clenching his fists and turning to his goalkeeper, in a celebration of their combined defiance.

Olsen’s four saves in the space of 15 seconds were incredible, and he is more than just a back-up for Jordan Pickford, he is putting some serious pressure on his place.

But Godfrey was better. He left the pitch having knocked back all that Leeds could throw at him, and also flicking on Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner into the path of Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score Everton’s second.

Ten out of 10 performances can only be handed out in exceptional circumstances, in the really big games, but Godfrey was as good a nine out of 10 as you’ll see in the Premier League all season.

When Leeds had pulled a goal back soon after the break, and most of the players around him were wobbling, it was noticeable that Godfrey’s standards had not dropped and that it was he, even with older, more seasoned players around him, who was calling for calm.

It is, of course, difficult to keep such a level head about Godfrey and his potential. Everton chiefs, when deciding to loosen the purse strings and pursue his purchase, rather than go after Fikayo Tomori on loan, in October were confident that Godfrey’s ‘profile’ was really suited to Everton. Nobody could have believed the fit would be this perfect, though.

When Ancelotti keeps talking of his surprise at just how good Godfrey continues, it’s fair to say that the Everton manager speaks for many of us with that assessment. But if he continues on this trajectory, soon we will stop being surprised and just become accustomed.

He’s here, there, he’s everywhere, it’s Ben Godfrey. Who knows in which position Ancelotti will play him against Manchester United on Saturday, but he has to find a place. He’s not played in midfield yet but would do an excellent job, you’d bet.

Everton’s signing of the season? Performances like this say he is.

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