One clear positive emerges for Everton despite Wolves loss

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The Everton defender made a good impression on his first start of the season.

Everton may have suffered another disappointing defeat, but there was certainly a strong performance from Jarrad Branthwaite on his first start of the season.

The 21-year-old centre-back enjoyed a strong spell on loan at PSV last season, gaining vital experience in the Eredivise and in the Europa League, and he returned to Goodison Park this summer.

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He may have already been in the Everton side if it wasn’t a delayed pre-season, a delay which only occurred due to the fact he was part of the England U21 squad that won the European Championships.

Sean Dyche said it himself during last week’s press conference prior to the Fulham game and, as a result, he wasn’t able to start in either of the opening two Premier League games.

He replaced Michael Keane in the starting line-up at the weekend - who has struggled for form at the start of this season - and, for the most part, Branthwaite produced an assured performance and was a threat in both boxes.

Across his performance he managed two clearances, one blocked shot, two interceptions, one tackle and won all three of his aerial duels and won two of his three ground duels.

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There were a few nervy moments in the opening exchanges but once he settled down, he enjoyed some strong moments and even threatened a few chances from set-pieces, showing he can be an added threat that is clearly much-needed for Dyche.

His presence in the side would allow James Tarkowski to be alongside Nathan Patterson to help shore up that area of their defence, while Branthwaite can help to add cover to Ashley Young or Vitalii Mykolenko on that left-hand side.

Also, being left-footed helps to balance out the Everton backline, and his tall and athletic build allowed him to win headers, challenges and compete well with the Wolves frontline.

Of course, there are areas to improve on; he managed just three of his 10 long balls and he was reluctant to carry the ball forward, but it’s clear he is still adapting to his new side in what was his first Premier League apperance since starting in the 5-1 loss to Arsenal on the final day of the 2021/22 season.

There are reports of potentially another centre-back coming into the club, but it’s clear that Branthwaite is a fresh option that should be a starter, alongside Tarkowski going forward.

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