In plenty of time pre-kick off we were in the pub and settled into a little spot to watch Chelsea vs Leicester City. It was great to catch up with everyone on the first match back at Goodison Park for the season and what a way to start back at Goodison Park with the visit of FA Cup Winners and serial-Champions League qualifiers Arsenal...wearing yellow and blue for some reason rather than their traditional Red and White.
Kevin Friend got the game under way, the crowd brimming with excitement. Everton attacked towards the Park End in the first half. Everton's two changes from the disappointing draw at Leicester City being Kevin Mirallas in for Aiden McGeady and Seamus Coleman replacing John Stones.
We started brightly. Very brightly in fact. We overcome the early set-back of Stephen Pienaar limping off injured and continued on the front foot, getting our rewards with a well worked goal culminating in Coleman heading the ball past Szczesny from a delicious Gareth Barry cross. Everton ahead and fully deserved.
Arsenal pressed for an equaliser but Everton continued in true Martinez-fashion Everton continued their game and carried on causing Arsenal problems, grabbing our second goal on the stroke of half time after superb work from Romalu Lukaku. Our record signing out-strengthed Per Metes who screamed in vain at the referee for a free kick. He then flew past Chambers, ran at goal and slipped in Steven Naismith with a lively little pass for the Scott to nip the ball past Szczesny. Naismith was offside actually but when it goes for you, you just don't care. Don't you just love it when Lukaku sprints at goal like that? You always sense a goal is on the way. 2-0 at half time and Everton in total control. Arsenal with it all to do.
At the break 'The Holy Trinity' were introduced onto the pitch with Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and grandchildren of the late, great Alan Ball taking to the pitch to great applause from the supporters. What a nice touch that was.
Arsene Winger changed it at the break by replacing Sanchez with Giroud, the Frenchman nearly scoring straight away with a volley which he thrashed over the crossbar. A let off for Everton. Arsenal grew into the game as they pressed further and Everton got sucked deeper and deeper. We had a few moments which could have turned out differently. Leighton Baines, who had a terrific game, rampaged into the penalty area and cut the ball back though unfortunately nobody could stroke it home. Lukaku also had two surges towards the penalty area but could only shoot at Mertesacker with one, the move broke down with the other opportunity.
On 74 minutes Wenger played his last card and introduced Cazorla and Campbell to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere. Everton couldn't really cope and dropped deeper and deeper. Lukaku couldn't continue and was replaced by Aiden McGeady on 76 minutes. The lack of replacement striker seriously cost Everton as we had no outlet at all. Arsenal seized the opportunity and Ramsey tucked in from a Cazorla cross to make it 2-1...and then on 89 minutes Giroud stunned Everton with a header again from a cross from our right hand side. This time from a cross from the otherwise useless Monreal. 2-2 and you had that gutting feeling. Everton couldn't respond after that, the last few minutes were so painful in fact I was actually a little relieved when Kevin Friend blew up for full time.
Gary, who has a good sense for goals, was worried for quite a long time in the second half about our propensity to sit deeper and deeper. Repeatedly he said "We're gonna blow this here". I tried my best to ignore this concept but when he says this I have to pay attention as he's been right far too many times not too. Alas he was correct again this time.
Leaving the match the discussion was about how Martinez in our first two games has gone more insular to protect leads in games rather than the free-flowing football which was his marker for last season. Where has that positivity gone? In both games this season now we have begun with excellence, only to drop off and concede soft goals late in the game...mainly due to sitting on the lead rather than letting the opposition worry about us. Much more David Moyes-like than Roberto-Martinez-esque. "It's the ghost of David Moyes" joked Gary as we walked away down Goodison Road.
That may be one factor though it's the puzzling lack of strikers which spooks me. We've spent everything on one striker and seem to have no back up. Will Kone ever be fit? If he does come back how long will he take to get up to speed? Even so, is just two target men enough? We had nothing when Lukaku had to come off yesterday. Keeping Anichebe instead of buying Kone would have left us with an excellent option to bring on yesterday. He would have held the ball up late on and given us a physical presence...and don't get me started on selling Jelavic.
Criticising Martinez is something I don't do comfortably. He won me over no end last season and he is, unquestionably, the man for us, though I can't help but worry about our lack of options in attack with Europa League and Capital One Cup games set to come thick and fast. I certainly hope to see another attacker join us before the deadline in a weeks time.
One thing is certain though...thank God for Steven Naismith. What a player he has become!
Howard: If I'm going to be harsh perhaps he might have pounced on the ball before Ramsey poked it home, though he was left helpless for the second one. He made one decent save in the second half and was otherwise fine. 6
Baines: Excellent performance from Baines. He was terrific all day both in attack and defence. Really stood out for me. 9
Distin: Did OK. Both he and Jagielka at fault for the equaliser however. 6
Jagielka: I remember saying to Ste that three players in particular stood out for me, them being Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith. Jagielka was excellent defensively. He was brave and emptied a lot of balls from our penalty area... though then of course blotted his copybook by mis-judging his header for the equaliser and getting under the ball. A real shame as he was otherwise excellent. It goes to show the fine margins. Had he have headed that ball out Everton might well have won this one. 7
Coleman: Has Coleman ever scored for us with a header? He made some rash mistakes in defence though was useful going forward. 6
Barry: Marshaled the defensive midfield very well. Put in a lovely ball for Coleman's goal also. 7
McCarthy: Busy. Not the most productive on the ball but put his usual shift in. 6
Pienaar: Started lively and effective until he got that knee in his back and couldn't continue. Luckily it seems the sort of injury which won't keep him out for long. Should be back on Saturday. If not then surely after the international break. 6
Mirallas: Had a decent chance to score in the first half but dragged it just wide. Also came close with a free kick. He's always a threat Mirallas but I'm always left with that feeling that he could do more. 6
Lukaku: Much, much improved on last week. Played a big role in the second goal of course and was always a presence. The lack of options when he is not available really worries me. 7
Naismith: Fantastic, tireless display from Naismith. What a transformation he's had at Everton under Martinez. From a low-confidence winger to a buzzing attacker who is always good for a goal. Great to hear the Lower Gwladys singing his name. My man of the match. 9
Osman (for Pienaar): Did well. Straight into the game and was involved throughout. 6
McGeady (for Lukaku): Poor really. It wasn't the time for his box of tricks. 4
Atsu (for Mirallas): Well I can't be too critical given it was his first game but he made my eyes roll with one or two things...like running into the box with all the time in the world and just passing it to an Arsenal player. Lets see how he develops though. 5
Reader Comments (42)
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1 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:45:54
The fact that Naismith has been rightly lauded for his performances of late is both a tribute to him and a sleight on the others in the forward positions.
2 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:07:10
3 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:13:58
I'd give Stones the nod next week and let Phil watch from the sidelines.
4 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:16:52
"Martinez in our first two games has gone more insular to protect leads in games rather than the free-flowing football which was his marker for last season." I didn't see the substitutions yesterday as as trying to protect the lead, if by that is meant strengthening the defensive side of our game; on the contrary, McGeady and Atsu coming on said Roberto wanted to attack still.
OK, you can argue that attack is the best means of defence Â– but it was clear not long into the second half that our defence was under the cosh, that the more they stayed under the cosh, the more likely we were to concede, and that Barry and McCarthy, for all their efforts, were numerically overrun. Ergo Â– BESIC.
5 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:15:19
How about this;
Howard 6 - Coleman 7 - Jags 4 - Distin 3 - Baines 6 - Barry 7 - McCarthy 8 - Pienaar (not on long enough) - Osman 3 - Mirallas 7 - Naismith 7 - Lukaku 5
6 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:03:05
A 3 rating is an awful performance, in my opinion, and Distin was not terrible. He made a mistake in not anticipating that Jagielka wouldn't get anything on Monreal's cross and allowing Giroud to get in front of him, the blatant tug on his shirt by the Arsenal striker notwithstanding, but the rest of the time he was fine.
Naismith and McCarthy were head-and-shoulders better than any other player in Blue on the day and are therefore worthy of praise. If they'd all performed to that level, we'd have won.
7 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:49:34
MotM - Naismith.
Jags was awful.
8 Posted 24/08/2014 at 20:22:26
He really is starting for the first time to look like he is seriously lacking pace. His Âjoint readingÂ of the game and Âjoint sense of positioningÂ with Jags can be utterly appalling and can lead to us conceding crucial goals: that 2nd Arsenal goal was utterly unforgivable; the attempted clearance for LeicesterÂs 1st was more comical than anything else; and criminally for LeicesterÂs 2nd the entire defence is leaning to the left forgetting about the right, Distin is tracking back, Jags loses his man yet again Â– how often do we see attackers losing Jags and/or Distin as space opens up for them in between them?
To be fair, he will be 37 this season and even for a central defender that is pushing the boat out. To be fair, also, he is playing alongside Jags and a partnership that actually statically does not look at all fraught on paper Â– goals conceded (although there are other reasons for that, I suppose) is, in my view, and I see in the view of many others, one of the weakest links in the team.
That partnership has to be broken up in my opinion and it will not be the skipper who drops to the bench. Jags is a lucky fecker! Lucky to be playing for England at a time when there is a dearth of top-class central defenders (he would not have started in Brazil IMO if Terry had not retired).
He will not be dropped so the question for 2014-15 for me is who will play alongside Jags: Stones? Alcaraz? Duffy? Besic (he played at centre-half)? An unknown other who might join us before 2 September (far too much wishful thinking)?
Whatever happens, we have to break up the Jags/Distin pairing for our own sake!
9 Posted 24/08/2014 at 20:51:21
Distin 2 - Baines 7 - Barry 7 -
McCarthy 9 - Osman 3 - Mirallas 4
Naismith 9 - Lukaku 4
10 Posted 24/08/2014 at 21:05:18
11 Posted 24/08/2014 at 21:44:40
12 Posted 24/08/2014 at 22:10:54
They are both terrible in the air, whether that be defending or attacking in set pieces or making header clearances in open play. So many balls are lightly glanced out of the box any which way or missed entirely. I'm getting nervous just thinking about it now...
Neither has quality distribution skills. I'd say 80% of their pings end up easily getting cut out by the opposition, particularly when Jags plays that ridiculous cross-field ball that never works. You know exactly what ball I mean. And of course there is comfort on the ball or lack thereof. They are absolutely frantic with the ball at their feet in close quarters when a little bit of composure would go a long way.
John Stones happens to be good at all the things our current pair lacks (with the exception of being dominant in the air), which seemed to be evident when we ripped off 7 wins in a row late last season. Martinez often talks about how players form partnerships and need to complement each other with different skills. While a Stones + Distin/Jags partnership isn't optimal either because of the weakness in the air, Stones's composure on the ball and distribution still brings a little more balance to the side.
As for the centre-half we need to command the air alongside him, I suppose we'll just have to wait awhile for that. It could be Shane Duffy, Brendan Galloway, or someone we've never heard of potentially.
13 Posted 24/08/2014 at 23:26:50
ps: McCarthy bossed the midfield for the majority of yesterday. There is no way he was a 6.
14 Posted 25/08/2014 at 01:55:54
He didn't exactly offer much when he was on.
15 Posted 25/08/2014 at 02:35:03
Arsenal replacing a speedy forward with a lump up front playing their 'B plan' shows how much far ahead they are in squad strength and tactically flexibility. All we did was play the same plan as last year, Lukaku and Mirallas out wide, and you would think Wenger would've countered that already.
Our offense is scoring so that's comforting. Shore up the defense. Our centrebacks are too nice so to speak. Buy a ugly fouled-mouthed nasty mutha at centerback and we should be fine. Does Ratcliffe have any relatives plying the trade?
17 Posted 25/08/2014 at 06:02:57
18 Posted 25/08/2014 at 06:31:51
Leicester more than held their own against Chelsea, despite the score line on Saturday. Arsenal were supposed to kick on this season. In both games so far, they have been poor. We were the better team against both.
While we are not picking up the points that we need to from the start of the season onwards for CL qualification, I think we have shown enough for a top six finish.
19 Posted 25/08/2014 at 06:36:09
Not sure how Coleman rates so highly as it was due to his backing off which resulted in their first goal. That cross should never have gotten as far as it did. We had 2 players to stop it. They just stood there.
Jags and Distin are a bit of a worry. They looked dodgy throughout.
We do look short on quality and depth. Chucking all our eggs into one basket with Lukaku may come back to bite us, but you can see why he did it. But we really do need another striker and a creative midfielder. Possibly a central defender too.
20 Posted 25/08/2014 at 06:52:44
21 Posted 25/08/2014 at 07:18:58
22 Posted 25/08/2014 at 08:03:19
Distin, Jags, Osman, Pienaar will need to be replaced shortly, preferably very shortly. Stones will fill in for Distin, but at the moment he's a bigger risk than either of the centre halves, he's made some right rickets lately.
Besic looks to have the quality, but I wonder why he didn't get on the field yesterday, I have a hunch that things have gone on behind the scenes that Roberto has took exception to.
If we cant find the money, we will have to blood some of the young players, the results may go downhill somewhat, but its a risk we may have to take at some point.
Paul's assessment of the players I agree with, apart from McCarthy who I would give a 7, he's not flashy but he runs himself into the ground every game.
23 Posted 25/08/2014 at 09:57:20
1. Full respect to you for your opinion Paul, but putting Ossie and McCarthy on the same score? I just really don't know what game you might have been watching - perhaps you were confused because McCarthy had to do the majority of Osman's midfield work for him as well as his own? Collectively I guess they could have a 12 (with 8/9 for James and 3/4 for Leon), but basically Osman was a total liability.
2. I also think the criticism of Mirallas was unmerited. He could/should have found the net maybe, but he was creating the chances and giving us forward impetus through his running and passing exchanges. He also tackled back and generally looked willing and dangerous - in stark comparison to McGeady who was sadly also a liability when he came on - some awful passes, not enough tackling back and started to act petulantly after just 4-5 minutes on.
3. Lukaku may not have scored today or shone, but he did a hugely important job for us whilst carrying an injury. For the first 60-70 minutes he was a threat that kept at least 2 defenders and often a midfielder occupied (smart move by Martinez to play him out wide), he was a good get-out target for direct balls and held up the play well enough or headed on. Generally his presence was crucial to keeping Arsenal under control and it's no coincidence that we fell apart and were defending deeper and deeper once he went off. Plus he totally made the second goal with his power and pace.
4. Most controversial this one, but I actually thought Distin was pretty solid for much of the match and provides a good basis coming forward with the ball having passing and pace (unlike Jagielka who has 2 settings: 5 yard sideways pass or hoof), but he seemed to get found out by aerial balls and looked far less comfortable against Giroud.
The problem also was that in the last 20 there was far less protection from midfield and far more attacks to weather as we seemed to abandon our possession football.
What we needed was not another direct attacking outlet but rather another body to help win and retain possession. We had at least 2 players that could've done that job on the bench - Besic was my favourite, but arguably Stones could've done a fair job too, hell even Alcaraz would've been a better option than what we went with.
Generally I think the majority of the players performed pretty well for most of the game (barring Osman and McGeady who were both liabilities) and they deserved the points.
The real sub-par score for me has to go to the manager - the first half and team setup was an 8 at least (only Osman sub brought it down), but 2nd half it's hard to give him more more than 2, ironically the number of points we have now because of his decisions and the way the team didn't seem either fit enough or clearly briefed enough to follow the plan - terrible subs, not consistent playing style (surely 2-0 up is EXACTLY the time for tiki-taka possession football, not direct hoofing to pacy wingers) and no obvious good plan B.
24 Posted 25/08/2014 at 10:33:45
I just wish all our players had the same attitude and commitment of Naismith and McCarthy.
25 Posted 25/08/2014 at 10:40:06
We are not an amateur team who have to make do and mend with whoever turns up; we are a top professional football club who should be able to rely on all of our players to give 100% at all times if they can't do that then get rid. Sometimes I think Everton are far too cosy a club and being a family club is nice but is it the way to win things?
26 Posted 25/08/2014 at 10:53:54
On a positive note, one thing I've noticed we're doing differently is having Naismith and Lukaku come back from the front line to get balls or ping them back instead of sitting waiting to break through. This is where many of our chances are coming from, the movement unsettling defences and creating spaces. Last year we didn't know how to do this, leading to overplaying it in the final third.
27 Posted 25/08/2014 at 11:49:28
When Disitn was with another defender he could concentrate more on his own game.
In today's paper Coleman has stated that the problem is not stamina Â– it's poor defending. Answer in a nutshell.
I really hope Roberto does not buy Eto'o, he's older than Kone and a money grabber.
Roberto needs to be brave on Saturday and drop Jags and play Besic instead of Osman.
28 Posted 25/08/2014 at 12:17:06
Centre back is a real worry for me. Jagielka and Distin are in decline I would rather we signed a CB than a forward to play with Stones.
29 Posted 25/08/2014 at 13:33:29
Whilst I was sick - mentally and physically.
Two good performances for 80 minutes - and then calamity. This weekÂs worse than last weekÂs. I felt relaxed at 79 minutes for GawdÂs sake. Unheard of.
NB Chelsea 1-0 last season got us going after 3 draws. Chelsea 1-0 this weekend will get us going again this year after 2 disappointments.
30 Posted 25/08/2014 at 14:53:32
People occasionally getting antsy with you about your player ratings but please don't ever stop doing them. Even if you've missed the good a player has done in a match (so miss-rated them), you're encouraging posters to talk about it anyway and give their rating of that player (even people who have ironically said you shouldn't give ratings!), so a 'true' average is reached anyway by people such as myself who can't see the games.
Thank you again
32 Posted 25/08/2014 at 15:26:28
33 Posted 25/08/2014 at 15:40:37
And Paul, I recall Coleman scoring on diving header against Tottenham a few seasons ago. A long shot from Saha was saved high, but Seamus timed his dive perfectly to flash into the box, and get on the end of it before the goalie or his defender knew what happened. Think we won 2:1.
34 Posted 25/08/2014 at 15:18:55
Unfortunately, I was not aware of the Lukaku toe problem which looked pretty serious. Let's hope the recovery is swift or we'll find ourselves up the creek without a paddle.
The lack of awareness and low concentration levels of Distin and both fullbacks was real Sunday league stuff which needs to be sorted before the Chelski match.
35 Posted 25/08/2014 at 16:23:40
36 Posted 25/08/2014 at 17:26:43
At one itme they were the strongest part of our team but now we have moved on and that department has not moved with us. they have the best full back sin the league beside them. they have two of the top holding mids in front of them, and they play in a team that more often or not has the ball. despite this they're still shipping close to two goals a game from very few shots on target. This is a ridiculous state of affairs that should not be allowed to go on any longer. Stones came into the side last season and we went 7 wins on a row - no coincidence at all.
Its not a bad idea to defend a lead, it wasnt a Moyes disease, Mourinho does it all the time, Martinez likes to do it, it doesn't work however if your centrebacks can't keep the door shut and flap under pressure. Arsenal had no pace left on the pitch. If we'd just squeezed up there'd have been no room for their creative players, Giroud would have been isolated miles from goal and there would have been no legs in behind. Instead Jags and Distin go deeper and deeper Cazorla and Ozil got all the space they needed as the gap McCarthy had to cover got bigger and bigger and Giroud came into play in the 6 yard box rather than on the halfway line were we should have kept him. Embarrassing centreback play for a partnership of their experience, a partnership that should be dissolved quickly before more points are dropped. I have been calling for that since the end of the 2011-12 season. 2012-13 was the limit for me seeing them cost us a European spot with so many draws after we held the lead, now I just have my head in my hands when the pair are together and its past 80 mins.
37 Posted 25/08/2014 at 18:02:56
Anyway, from what you are saying, we have a big problem at the back. Dropping deep against a side who wanted us to drop deep was plain stupid. To them, this massive Arsenal striker was invisible. He could and should have scored a hat-trick. Strange stuff indeed.
38 Posted 25/08/2014 at 20:09:43
39 Posted 25/08/2014 at 20:13:51
40 Posted 26/08/2014 at 13:50:00
41 Posted 26/08/2014 at 21:29:55
The problem was too much positivity.
We surrendered a two goal lead when a bit of negativity might have saved the day.
We should have been parking the bus yet Roberto brought on 2 extra strikers making for 3 up front.
Frankly, I am amazed that hardly anyone has picked up on that mistake.
42 Posted 27/08/2014 at 12:05:02
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