Everton 2 - 3 Crystal Palace

For I think the first time in 12+ years of going to the match with Gary he didn't make the pub pre-match... too hungover. It was entertaining in the pub, mainly because of the quite insane match between Leicester City and Manchester United which somehow finished 5-3 to the hosts. We were in the pub well in time for the match so had one or two beers more than usual in what was a fun pre-match pub atmosphere. Oh and some smackhead tried to sell me a razor before minesweeping half a pint on his way out of the pub.

We'd seen the team news in the pub and were all baffled. I expected a couple of changes but did not expect to see Atsu start the match, let alone Eto'o AND Lukaku. Stones switching to right back wasn't exactly ideal either given how well he's performed at centre-half these last couple of games... Safe to say we weren't best pleased with the line-up.

Still it all began well enough when after only nine minutes Lukaku finished well having been played through by Leon Osman to nudge Everton ahead after a bright start, thereby silencing the Crystal Palace supporters. They seem a zany bunch them lot. I remember seeing them jumping up and down for most of the match away at Selhurst Park last season despite a goalless draw which was beyond drab in a cold November... and this time they 'taunted' us with "Can you hear the Scousers sing". What a riot!

Everton didn't let up from the goal and almost made it two when Osman drove at goal from inside the penalty area though shot too close to Julian Speroni. It was all going well however. Jagielka was emptying everything defensively and it was quite comfortable until Tim Howard rushed out in a moment of madness and felled James McArthur giving Michael Oliver little choice but to point to the penalty spot...which was duly dispatched by the Australian-skipper Mile Jedinak. 1-1 and Howard's mistake changed EVERYTHING...

Nothing went right after that. Actually it wasn't long at all before Crystal Palace went within a whisker of taking the lead when the excellent Bolasie drove from distance... the ball deflecting wickedly and coming back off the crossbar. Fraizer Campbell might even have tapped in the follow up if he wasn't so busy sticking his hands in the air celebrating the non-goal when the ball came back to him. Fortunately Leighton Baines was able to clear. We went into half time pretty frustrated we had let Crystal Palace back in, yet still confident of the three points. My gripe at the break was that we had nothing down the left side to support Baines. Atsu was making a few in-roads down the right but the whole shape of the team was a bit of a mess...this was to get a lot worse however in the second half...

We didn't really come out of the blocks after the interval. You have to give Crystal Palace credit. They stifled us in midfield brilliantly and would have been delighted with a point, make no mistake about that, but they really stopped us playing and we struggled to break them down...doubly so once they were ahead...and what about how they went ahead? That was some clanger of epic proportions by Howard. From hero to villain in less than three days. The American horribly mis-judged a cross into the box and allowed Fraizer Campbell to head into the vacant net despite Jagielka's best desperate efforts to clear.

So from looking ever so comfortable to playing turgid and trailing due to a couple of Howard howlers. It was hard to believe what you were seeing and it didn't get any better. Something needed changing and the sight of Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith readying themselves for action lifted everyone...however the choice of substitutions baffled. Atsu (presumably because he realized he was being substituted) really began to impose himself on the game down the right flank though was then taken off. Elsewhere Stones was sacrificed. Neither made a great deal of sense to me.

Leon Osman was having a struggle and seemed a more obvious candidate. The shape of the team was a real mess and from the Gwladys Street it was rather difficult to assess who was playing where. Does anyone know who played on the left? At various times I saw Eto'o, Lukaku, Osman, Barry and Mirallas all feature there but Baines had a mountain to climb out there on his own... whereas we had a left-footed player on the right wing for most of the match. It was little wonder Crystal Palace shut us out. They even managed to rub salt into our wounds by adding a third. Leon Osman taking the flak this time for losing possession outside our own penalty area though it's harsh to blame it all on him.

A fair bit happened between then and the goal and it was a good finish by Bolasie and deserved also as he was the best player on the pitch. Three goals from three shots on target. Incredible really. Nobody pulls the rug from under you quite like Everton.

Still there were 20 minutes left on the clock and credit to the players - they did keep going. McCarthy, who by now was playing right back, had enough of what was (or what wasn't) going on ahead of him and stormed upfield with the ball. He somehow found himself on our left, collected a pass and ran into the box only to be upended by Scott Dann. Somehow Ste and I both felt Baines would miss from the spot though he slotted home cool as ever and with seven minutes left plus injury time there was still time on the clock. Que another baffling substitution, this time Gibson on to replace Distin...the mind boggles. Needless to say we couldn't force the equalizer even with six minutes of stoppage time. What disappointment.

So how did it happen? I believe the game truly hinged on Tim Howard giving away the penalty. At that stage of the game we were comfortable. Even at 1-1 who knows how it would have gone if not for Tim Howard's second howler. Individual errors will happen and obviously played a huge factor.

However Roberto Martinez' selection has to be taken into account. We've been conceding goals for fun this season and with Distin injured Stones and Jagielka had just seemed to forge a partnership and seemed to be making some headway. Why rip them apart then? Stones seems half the player at right back. What of Tony Hibbert? Is he injured or does Martinez just not rate him whatsoever? He is a specialist right back after all and has only played 319 times for the club. Does this not count for anything? He wouldn't have offered anything less than Stones going forward that's for sure.

Why 'rest' Naismith? He's tireless. He could have gotten through the game no problem and has been our best player this season with an excellent goal return. Just rest him at Swansea and there's a whole week off before the derby next week. Ditto Mirallas. He's shown excellent form these last couple of games. Why take him out of this one? Rest him at Swansea. It seems generally accepted that nobody cares for the League Cup this season. Lukaku and Eto'o could then have managed the game between them (i.e. give Lukaku an hour and then replace with Eto'o or vice versa) if he really had to rest somebody. If we'd have had our best team out there the individual mistakes may still have happened, but we would have had more on the pitch to account for them. Even then the substitutions were so bazaar it failed to rectify the problems.

Just one win in five league games and with our next two fixtures at Anfield and Old Trafford things could get a lot worse before they get better. It doesn't seem to matter how bad Liverpool are they always turn up against us at Anfield and I don't see it being any different next weekend...

It would be a delight to be wrong of course.

Player Ratings:
Howard: He let in 100% of shots at him and messed up spectacularly twice. It doesn't really get any worse than that. Rather he does it this weekend than next I suppose. 2
Baines: A gallant effort as always but he had nobody to work with and precious little support. Nice spot kick. 6
Distin: Didn't do a lot wrong I suppose but nothing spectacular. 6
Jagielka: My man of the match as the pick of a bad bunch. Had a good first half and can't be blamed for the goals. At least showed a bit more character than most. 6
Stones: Got caught out a few times in the first half. Certainly not his natural position. I still can't understand why he couldn't stay at centre-back. 5
Barry: Didn't effect the game...not in a positive way anyway. 5
McCarthy: Showed a bit more character than most and slotted in well at right back. Good work to win our penalty. 6
Osman: I still can't understand what his role was supposed to be or what position he played. He put in a great ball for Lukaku's goal but chalked that off with his contribution for Crystal Palace's third goal. Otherwise he was rather lost. To his credit he did at least keep going. 5
Atsu: He gave the ball away a lot but was at least causing them a few problems...not least just before he was substituted. I can see him making a reasonable impact this season. 6
Eto'o: I also found it difficult to understand what his role was supposed to be. Was he up front? Right wing? Second striker? I struggled to tell and he didn't electrify Goodison Park as he did in his two previous substitute outings. 5
Lukaku: 28m? You must be joking. Took his goal well. Did some things well and other things badly but for 28m you want much, much more than that. Needs to up his game big time. 6

Substitutes:
Naismith (for Atsu): Couldn't impact on the game unfortunately. Should have been on from the start. 5
Mirallas (for Stones): Had a bit more of an impact than Naismith but couldn't quite force anything over the line. Should have been on from the start. 6
Gibson (for Distin): Couldn't impact on the game unfortunately. 5

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Reader Comments (22)

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Jamie Sweet
1 Posted 21/09/2014 at 23:57:46
I don't think I've seen a more dominant, controlled first 15 minutes. Was it 81% possession and 1-0 from a beautifully worked goal.

How the fucking fuck did we fuck this one up?

Unbelievable!

Ian Tunstead
2 Posted 22/09/2014 at 00:20:35
When you forget that the aim of the game isnÂ’t who can make the most passes, but who can score the most goals....
Ant Dwyer
3 Posted 22/09/2014 at 01:03:51
Spot on, Jamie! A breeze of a game this one was shaping up as until Howard lost the plot. But in saying that we had enough experienced players in the team (so called leaders) to be able to bounce back but instead we bottled it. EtoÂ’o, Jags, Ossie, Distin, Howard,Barry all over 30 years of age and all so-called leaders on the pitch. For what ever reason though we could t re gain our momentum.

I feel that although we were in control until the penalty we almost invite teams to come back into the game with this slow keep ball style play. I want us to play football and I like to keep the ball too but at home to Palace (and similarly placed sides) we need to be much more positive in going forward as apposed to side to side all the time.

I thought Rom and EtoÂ’o would work well together but that never materialised, in fact they both wanted to come towards the ball and play in front of the defence which made it easy for the Palace defenders.

I think when playing these two up top they need reminding (especially EtoÂ’o) that they are firstly out an out finishers and not play makers as they seem to think they are. Too many times we had none of them in the box, and I canÂ’t recall having them both in there at all. STRIKERS !

Stones is our best CB an heÂ’s again sacrificed to FB with Coleman being injured but arenÂ’t there other FBÂ’s who have recently been signed up to deals in Hibbo and young Tyias Browning? Stones at CB with another and a choice of the above two would have shown better intent by Martinez and also served as a platform for Stones to be a fixture in the heart of our defence.

Another shocking worry is MartinezÂ’s plan B. Either he does not have one or it is a bad one! Drag off ya best CB and put our 2 CM into the defence, put a 33 year old predator on the wing and play a 33 year old 3 goal a season player off ya striker (Ossie off Rom).

Massive questions to answer this season and it begins next week to a poor Liverpool side who are under pressure themselves ! ItÂ’s almost a must-win already as Man U, Spurs and Liverpool will not slip up every week and wait for us. Massive opportunity missed me thinks.

Craig Fletcher
4 Posted 22/09/2014 at 01:42:26
I think you’re being overly generous giving Timmy Howard a 2 there, Paul. What do you have to do to get a 1? I suppose he at least turned up (in body, at least).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen us blow a game quite as spectacularly as that since, er, the Arsenal game a few weeks back.

Life goes on on the Everton rollercoaster

Dick Fearon
5 Posted 22/09/2014 at 01:42:56
Paul do you remember that Spurs game when we desperately needed goals and the stick Moyes got when he brought on Hibbert.
It was Deja Vu when Martinez faced with a similar situation brought on defensive midfielder Gibson when he had McGeady on the bench.
Derek Thomas
6 Posted 22/09/2014 at 01:38:46

When your MotM only gets 6/10... Now I like Roberto and his aims, I'm all for no fear footy, but no fear doesn't mean it's OK to play with fire...well actually that's just what we need, we NEED to play with fire, with a bit of Intensity and yes, it pains me to say it, a bit of Moyes Pragmatism, nobody's saying pour a whole packet in the mix, just a spoonful here and there to firm up recipe, the batter...or all we'll get is more Batterings

David Chait
7 Posted 22/09/2014 at 07:03:27
Distin Jags partnership... Even when it might not directly be heir fault the doubt they create in the defensive unit might explain Howard's mishaps... RM has made a hash of the season so far
Steavey Buckley
8 Posted 22/09/2014 at 18:25:17
I have never witnessed a season go so badly when doing so well only for Everton to let goals fly in.
Les Fitzpatrick
9 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:19:53
I’m beginning to worry about where Martinez is taking us. I know it’s not the done thing on here to criticise him, however he comes across as being tactically naïve. He does not appear to learn from his previous errors, and has an arrogant disregard for what happened to Wigan under his management.

Howard appears to let a bit of praise he got for his Wolfsburg display go to his head and thinks he is better than he is... He and Martinez need a kick up the ass, before itÂ’s too late.

Clive Rogers
10 Posted 22/09/2014 at 20:22:06
Martinex made a complete hash of this game on several counts. Moving Stones from the central pairing was a blunder. Also picking Barry and Osman together in midfield left us lacking pace badly, especially 2nd half when they both looked shattered. Barry looks a bad bet for lasting this season, let alone 3. A bit early to write off Eto’o but he was shocking yesterday. We have invested 㿁 million in these two, and most of it could be down the drain.
Christopher Arellano
14 Posted 23/09/2014 at 03:04:09
The only good thing out of that match was this report.

Thanks again for your coverage of the Blues.

Conn Prosser
15 Posted 23/09/2014 at 12:18:40
Cracking report Paul.

After the dust has settled, I lay the blame squarely at Martinez' feet. He gets 3/10 from me.

Howard didn't get sent off - that would have scored a 'one'. On reflection, they might have shit 'emselves and found some steel if he had been sent off, so Howard gets a one.

Tony J Williams
16 Posted 23/09/2014 at 13:06:49
Can't lay the blame squarely at Martinez's feet Conn.

What's he going to do, drop Howard after Thursdays performance?

He is to blame for too many changes and crap subs but ultimately the first two goals were caused by Howard being a fuckwit.

Paul Smith
17 Posted 23/09/2014 at 13:13:37
I to blame Roberto for the majority of this debacle mistakes by individuals are not his fault. The set up of the team was very strange to start Eto'o out wide left which when he came inside invariably left Baines isolated and unable to overlap anybody. If he wanted to play that personnel he could of put Osman on the left and play 2 up top for a change or at least put Eto'o behind Lukaku in a more natural position for him.
The opening 70 minutes or so were played at testimonial pace and it wasn't until we went 3 - 1 down that we upped the tempo and had them in trouble. Teams are getting used to how we play now and we need to have different formations to try and outwit teams but we seem to play the same way irrespective of personnel.
This fad that we always dominate possession is offset by a lot of it is in our own half with our center backs and defensive midfielder. That's another issue as much as I like McCarthy he needs to now take more responsibility and pass the ball forward and take more chances if he wants to improve to effect the game more.
The 2nd season was always going to be harder but when Roberto came I was expecting to be more flexible in our systems but he has stuck rigidly to the same system which makes it easier for the opposition. My biggest fear is the pace of our play as it takes us so long going from side to side the opposition tend not to get out of position. On the occasions we move the ball quicker we invariably create more chances and I wouldn't mind getting the ball forward quicker and sacrificing a bit of possession in trying to hurt teams more.
Conn Prosser
18 Posted 23/09/2014 at 16:27:42
Tony of course Howard had a howler, but there were so many odd decisions made before and during the game by RM. I'm not letting Tim off the hook, but to change a shaky defence that was beginning to find confidence can't fail to disturb the 'keeper.
Tony J Williams
19 Posted 23/09/2014 at 17:00:16
I agree that Martinez has to shoulder his share of the blame with a poor line up and equally poor subs, but I cannot see how this defeat is all down to him when the outstanding fuckwit award of the week goes to Howard.
Brent Stephens
20 Posted 23/09/2014 at 17:21:45
Derek #6 "Now I like Roberto and his aims, I'm all for no fear footy, but no fear doesn't mean it's OK to play with fire...well actually that's just what we need, we NEED to play with fire."

Yes, we've been playing as if we have too much "miedo", fearing giving the ball away at any time.

Ant Dwyer
21 Posted 24/09/2014 at 00:26:59
Clive Rodgers 10 ; exactly what I’m thinking about Roberto: naive and arrogant towards his mistakes. He is to blame for so many missed points this season it’s untrue. If he is not arrogant he is simply stupid which is much more worrying.

He needs to realise we are not Barcelona and never will be, he also needs to realise we are not playing in La Liga, this is the EPL and in this league you have to change up your tactics to suit opposition.

Maybe take a leaf out of Mourinho’s book as he is at it all the time an he does have the best team in our league. Horses for courses and not my way or no way.

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