Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that his Everton side struggled to contain James Maddison when the Leicester City talisman came off the bench during Wednesday’s clash at Goodison Park, in quotes reported by the Mercury.
When you are two goals down and crying out for a spark of inspiration, there are certainly worse players to bring off the bench than a play-maker who has produced nine goals and assists in the Premier League this season.
And while Maddison failed to add to that impressive tally as the Foxes slumped to a 2-1 loss on Merseyside, it was his arrival into the game which pinned a previously comfortable Everton side to the ropes.
The former Norwich City talisman pressed, probed and pushed as Brendan Rodgers’ team dominated large parts of the second half, drifting between the lines and firing a host of long-range efforts towards Jordan Pickford’s goal.
In the end, Everton were just thankful to survive with their lead intact.
“That is what we wanted from this game – three points,” said Ancelotti, who has picked up seven points from a possible nine since Project Re-start got underway.
“I think the first half was good for us but then they changed their shape and we had more difficulty with Maddison. The second half was difficult.
“We were a little worried.”
Everton’s backline has had its fair share of criticism this season but, after Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson both scored within the first 15 minutes, Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Seamus Coleman stepped up to the plate and kept Leicester, including Maddison, at arm’s length.
No player in the Premier League has made more clearances (12) in a single game than Keane this season.