Imagine the disappointment Everton have caused

Imagine the disappointment in corporate football right now. When Everton's trip to Luton Town was rearranged for next Friday night, the thought process was clear. There was no consideration for travelling fans and the days that would have to be booked off from work or the clogged Friday afternoon motorways and late arrivals home.

It was because of the simple desire to put a struggling giant and a plucky overachiever together in front of the cameras so money could be made as the world watched in amusement as they tore strips from each other in a relegation dogfight. Everton have now had the last laugh. Against the Premier League that called for crippling punishments in unprecedented arguments behind closed doors.

And against anyone who believed this was a club too scarred for another battle after recent torrid campaigns. Luton may still be fighting. But three wins in a glorious week of Gwladys Street flags and Goodison hostility mean the Blues will be able to sleep soundly in May for the first time in three years.

Let me repeat that. There will be no sleepless night for Everton in the final month of the campaign. LIVE: Everton vs Brentford score and analysis[2]

As recently as last Sunday the pressure on this club, its players and its fans was as crushing as it had been during the springs of the last two years. First under Frank Lampard, then Sean Dyche, survival fights were taken to the dying embers of the season. This one will not.

That was pretty much the case after the momentous Merseyside derby win on Wednesday followed the crucial three points taken from Nottingham Forest on the same hallowed part of L4 days earlier. It is definitely the case after Idrissa Gueye sealed a third victory in six days that will not be forgotten in a long time. In less than a week Everton have landed a devastating blow on one relegation rival, banished the demons of derbies past by ending Liverpool's title hopes and then, on Saturday evening, digging deep into the energy reserves to pull out a result they needed more than already-safe Brentford.

That this came after the humiliation at Chelsea makes the comeback even more impressive. This was not a classic. Of the memories created this week, none from this match will linger.

But the impact of another three points will. There will be a party in the away stands at Kenilworth Road next week. No more fingernails bitten raw or football watched from behind the sofa.

The party started on the hour mark at Goodison. A round of penalty box pinball ended with Gueye thumping the ball into the net and, after a long VAR check for a potential offside, the stadium erupted on referee Darren England's confirmation the goal stood. It was fitting that Gueye should get the goal to finish a job he started.

The 34-year-old kickstarted this week of vital wins with his long-range effort against Forest. Against Liverpool he was the best player on the pitch, snapping, snarling, blocking and charging through the heart of an illustrious midfield that lost its shine on the turf of its biggest foe. Gueye's goal came during a second half in which this match came alive.

The first was a tame affair of blocked shots and long balls being glanced back to goalkeepers by the defenders in front of them. The urgency and intensity of Everton's victories this week and the recent thrashing of Luton that confirmed Brentford's own safety was gone. No-one could blame either set of players.

Still, for Everton there remained a job to do and after Jordan Pickford did well to smother a back post Ivan Toney shot - at that point the best chance of the game - the Blues found an extra gear. Dwight McNeil, whose left foot has come alive this week, struck the crossbar so hard it is probably still shaking as you read these words. Gueye's strike and the outpouring of relief came moments later.

When he was taken off 15 minutes later he deserved his second standing ovation in four days. Brentford showed some fight but the contest ended with Gueye's goal. Youssef Chermiti, who made his first Premier League start in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, fought hard all game and came close to doubling the lead with an audacious chip of Mark Flekken - only for his shot to drop just wide of the post.

James Garner rattled the same crossbar as McNeil with a stoppage time free kick that would have removed the nerves when Kevin Schade then tested Pickford from distance. When the final whistle sounded on Wednesday, it was met with elation. This time the reaction was one of relief.

The only threat to Everton is now outside interference. Maybe that is not as outlandish as it sounds for a team already eight points short of the tally earned on the pitch. The Premier League tweeted just before this game kicked off that Sheffield United - now 20 points and 52 goals worse off than Everton with just three games to spare - had been relegated "pending Everton and Nott'm Forest's points-deduction appeals".

Whether that was a warning, a joke or a technicality is not clear. But Everton provided the perfect response with this latest win. Now 11 points clear of third-bottom Luton, who have just nine available to them and a far worse goal difference, Everton are safe.

Perhaps regretting its earlier post, even the Premier League wrote that it is now the case on social media - no asterisks or caveats included. It was fitting Everton forced the Premier League into backtracking online. It is a club that has fought the odds, including that organisation, during a bitter season.

That fight, on the pitch, is now over. After everything thrown at this group of players and fanbase, that is a remarkable achievement. There will be no dogfight for the cameras at Luton.

There will be sleep this May.

Everton have had the last laugh.


  1. ^ Everton player ratings as Idrissa Gueye colossal and three superb in Brentford win (
  2. ^ Everton vs Brentford score and analysis (