How Jordan Pickford’s bottle helped Everton’s survival bid

With time running out and the unrelenting threat of Premier League relegation looming large for both sides, Leicester City and Everton met in a crucial, bottom-of-the-table battle at the King Power Stadium on Monday.

Mired in the bottom three at kick-off, the two teams played out a predictably frenetic, fragmented game that eventually ended in a 2-2 draw. For the Foxes, the single point earned was enough to hoist them out of the drop zone on goal difference. Meanwhile, Everton remain down in 19th, without a win in their last seven games.

However, things could have been worse for Sean Dyche’s beleaguered side had goalkeeper Jordan Pickford failed to do his homework before facing a penalty from James Maddison deep into first-half injury time.

Already leading 2-1, Leicester were afforded the chance to go in at the break even further ahead only for Pickford to thwart England teammate Maddison from the spot, holding his nerve to parry a spot kick that was sent straight down the middle.

The camera then revealed that Pickford had a graphic attached to his water bottle detailing Maddison’s penalty technique, including a statistical breakdown of where the midfielder tends to aim from the spot.

Closer inspection revealed the chart suggested that Maddison went down the middle with 60% of his penalty kicks and included an instructional reminder to Pickford that he should “stay centre.”

Sure enough, as Maddison began his run up, the Everton goalkeeper quickly shuffled both ways along his line before returning to the centre of the goal to make the save.

“Madders needs to learn his lesson; don’t play poker!” Pickford joked after the game. “I do my homework. He expects me to dive so I double-bluffed him and got one up on him.”

With hope restored, the Toffees fought back to grab an equaliser just after the restart as a smart half-volley from Alex Iwobi on 54 minutes secured only their second point in five Premier League games.

Dyche and his squad still require a minor miracle if Everton are to avoid their first-evert top-flight relegation but, thanks in part to the goalkeeper’s diligent penalty prep, they still have a fighting chance of wriggling free.