Everton 2 - 3 Crystal Palace
One match into our Europa League adventure and the debate over its merits and Roberto Martinez's response to it is already underway. Can we afford the so-called European hangover when we're supposed to chasing a place in the top four? Should the manager favour continuity over squad rotation through a congested part of the fixture list? And do Everton have a truly deep or strong enough squad for an effective player-rotation strategy anyway?
For the first half an hour of this contest against a Crystal Palace side that was winless to this point in the season and bottom of the Premier League table at the start of play, there really was little to debate. Everton were in control, a goal to the good thanks to Romelu Lukaku's goal, and simply in need of some greater intensity to drive home their advantage and score the goals that would make sure of the points.
One awful misjudgement from Tim Howard later, however, and the whole character of Everton's performance changed. The American ploughed into James McArthur as Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka dithered over who should take control of a long punt forward by Julian Speroni and left referee Michael Oliver with little option than to point to the spot and allow Mile Jedinak to plant a penalty into the top corner to make it 1-1.
Edginess in a crowd for whom April's defeat to the same team was all too fresh in the memory, matched that which suddenly pervaded the blue shirts on the pitch and the Blues lapsed into a more cagey, disjointed unit suddenly less sure of itself.
Lukaku's goal, served up by Leon Osman's terrific through-ball as the Belgian rolled out from position on the shoulder of his marker, was an excellent example of how Everton could slice through Palace with the right movement and ideas. But it was an afternoon characterised by a general lack of imagination – at least until Kevin Mirallas came off the bench in the second half – as is so often the case against teams that dig in with discipline behind the ball and look to take you out on the counter-attack.
Atsu flitted about with occasional intent as the right side of what looked to be a three-man forward line with Samuel Eto'o on the left and Lukaku on the right but the two strikers interchanged during the game and generally weren't providing enough options for the midfield, particularly in the second half.
Palace, meanwhile, were finding joy through Yannick Bolasie down their left, and, just as he did in this fixture last season, he rattled the woodwork and Evertonian hearts, although this time it was via a deflection of John Stones' out-stretched leg and it looped onto the angle of crossbar and post and out to safety. That chance came as a result of Atsu's poor giveaway and the unheeded lesson would be repeated in the second half.
Palace ratcheted up the increasing frustrating among the Goodison crowd by going ahead eight minutes into the second half when Frazier Campbell appeared to be the only player near Martin Kelly's deep cross and he easily out-jumped Tim Howard to loop a header into the empty net.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Martinez's attempt to salvage the match by bringing on Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith was scuppered when Osman picked up Leighton Baines' infield pass but dallied on the ball outside his own box and was robbed before he'd had time to react to the cries of "man on!" from the stands. Palace quickly worked the ball out to Bolasie and fired past Howard to make it 3-1.
The Blues looked better once two of their form players had been introduced but they were chasing a game they shouldn't have been losing by that stage and, as such, were right where Palace wanted them – frustratedly trying to break down an entrenched defence and vulnerable to the counter-attack.
Nevertheless, the increasing pressure told when James McCarthy – now playing right back following Stones' withdrawal with Atsu – was chopped down by Scott Dann in the area and Baines the referee awarded the penalty. Baines stepped up and does what he always does from 12 yards: buried it.
The third goal never came, though, despite some late pressure that didn't reach "kitchen sink" proportions when it probably should have done. Lukaku almost scored twice but Dann managed to get a head on his goalbound effort and steer it over and he steered a later shot agonisingly over the bar from close range after more good work from Mirallas.
Six minutes of injury time yielded nothing more for the home side but Palace could, and should, have compounded their misery with a fourth when AdlĂ¨ne GuĂ©dioura was sent clear with just Howard to beat but he screwed his shot across goal. The final whistle blew shortly afterwards, the Gwladys Street booed, and that was that. Deja-friggin'-vu.
The term "European hangover" usually applies to teams labouring under the effects of having travelled to the Continent and then turned out a poor performance in their next League match and it really shouldn't apply to Everton today. Coming off a home game and theoretically buoyed by a great win against Wolfsburg, there should have been little hangover for those players that played.
Criticism has also been levelled at Martinez for attempting to start rotating players to cope with the demands of the extra games from the Europa League and Capital One Cup but there is squad depth there and that team is not only good enough to have won but probably would have done were it not for those annoyingly destructive individual errors. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough like-for-like replacements for players like Mirallas and Coleman (who is, let's face it, almost irreplaceable) and Martinez paid the price for moving Stones out of his best position to accommodate Sylvain Distin as cover. Meanwhile, the likes of Atsu and Besic who are there to provide that depth have had very little opportunity to bed in.
Should both in-form players in the shape of Mirallas and Naismith been rested at the same time? Would Eto'o, with his superior touch and movement, have been more effective down the middle than the frequently pedestrian Lukaku? Probably, because Everton were disconcertingly impotent for long periods of this game. They're all questions worth pondering but this came down to costly mistakes for which a manager cannot leglisate.
What was almost a given is that having won so handsomely on Thursday (against a team that leathered Bayer Leverkeusen 4-1 today for their first Bundesliga win of the season) and then seen Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea all drop points, you just knew we were going to lose today. Everton, that...
Reader Comments (53)
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1 Posted 22/09/2014 at 00:00:22
"It’s the hope I can’t stand".
2 Posted 22/09/2014 at 00:15:31
Howard while a good shot stopper is a liability with his poor decision making and all the good work Moyes did defensively has now completely eroded.
Martinez’s obsession with possession is infuriating. Far too slow build up with players like Distin who shit themselves whenever they get the ball under pressure looking totally misused
3 Posted 22/09/2014 at 00:28:53
For most of the game I was cursing our useless, negative, brain dead, boring, joined up shite. It should not require every available player and dozens of passes merely to move the ball across the half way line. On view last night was an example of what brought about the downfall of Wigan.
Osman in the team did little to boost my hopes and more so because after an earlier game Roberto had said one thing he learned was, ’Leon cannot last for more than 60 minutes’. That being the case why in hells name was he on the field?
Roberto must quickly sort out our extremely slow transition from defence to attack or we face another slaughter at Mordor.
4 Posted 22/09/2014 at 00:26:26
I haven’t seen the game yet so can’t comment on that but my other point is I’m not comfortable at all with that huge mural of Martinez with the ’solo le mejor’ quote up on the side of the main stand, unwise decision if you ask me. He’s been manager for just one season, yes it was a good season but FFS did we ever do the same for Howard Kendall? Don’t get me wrong I’m a big Martinez fan but that did not need to happen especially if things go tits up.
5 Posted 22/09/2014 at 01:56:14
Just look at the last 10 minutes to see how we should have been moving the ball forward quicker and penetrating their defence. We should be doing that for the whole of the first half and then sittng back and relaxing when weĂ‚ve got 3 on the score board.
6 Posted 22/09/2014 at 02:27:13
Roberto, talks about us as if were Barcelona, I just canĂ‚t fathom what he is watching on the pitch. What is he seeing that were not?
The German game good result but in the second half they pounded us. 15 attempts on our goal, apart from 3 daft free kicks down to Naismith. That meant they penetrated our defence 12 times (the ball got through to Howard). I know that is what he is there for as our last line of defence, but isnĂ‚t it worrying that he had to cope with so much, without defensive support?
7 Posted 22/09/2014 at 05:52:02
8 Posted 22/09/2014 at 08:31:05
One thing's for sure, it had better be a more direct & controlled team than the eleven who wore the Blue shirt yesterday, let's sort out that 20 passes to get over the halfway line.
Last season's performance away resembled yesterday's in decision making. Roberto needs to wise up, & the players certainly do. But I won't hold my breath.
9 Posted 22/09/2014 at 08:54:19
This game is really simple to analyse unless you think Howard and Osman should not have started.
I welcome the fans' high standards they expect of Martinez but where was this level of criticism when Moyes was in charge?
10 Posted 22/09/2014 at 08:58:59
Would like to see Besic in the team at Anfield.
11 Posted 22/09/2014 at 09:13:51
12 Posted 22/09/2014 at 09:39:03
13 Posted 22/09/2014 at 09:49:08
14 Posted 22/09/2014 at 09:19:20
Tim Howard and Osman must take much of the responsibility for a yesterday's descent in to a fiasco! But one thing you can be guaranteed as an Evertonian: when your team is given an opportunity to step up to the plate - such as defeating a team like Crystal Paalce to go 5th and above Liverpool - they will invariably let you down!
After getting back from the game yesterday I sought some solace in watching Leicester beat Man U. One thing that was evident was that they did it by always passing forward and hardy ever sideways and never backwards!
Roberto needs to absorb for him a new concept Ă‚â€“ it's goals that win games, not possession! I can even live with the frustratingly pedantic passing around at the back and in midfield for so much of the game but what is driving me mad is that we then attack with the same lethargic pace.
If we're keeping possession with the intention to probe for an attacking opportunity surely when the time come to go forward Roberto needs to instil in the team that we have to to do so with speed (and precision). Instead we carry the same pedantic possession-keeping tempo in to attack which means teams are given the time to get organised in defence.
If we don't up our game in this respect we can expect nothing this season.
15 Posted 22/09/2014 at 10:03:29
Week-in & week-out, we are handing games on a plate to opponents. Palace didnĂ‚t beat Everton Ă‚â€“ we beat ourselves. We are in a period when, every time we make a mistake, itĂ‚s punished. ItĂ‚s now getting to a point were we need to score 3 or more goals a game to get a sniff of a win.
ItĂ‚s time to shed the nice guy approach as well. We donĂ‚t have any nasty bastards in the squad. We lack leadership on the field because all the players are good guys.
Baines cost us a win against Arsenal last month because he stayed on his feet in the box when twice clipped. We were 2-0 up at the time and a penalty at that moment wouldĂ‚ve sealed the deal. As it was, Arsenal got away with it and snatched a 2-2 draw. Too nice and too honest... How many Arsenal players wouldĂ‚ve stayed on their feet after being tripped in the box? None Ă‚â€“ thatĂ‚s how many.
I donĂ‚t get all this slagging of Martinez for the shambolic on-field mistakes players are making. It wasnĂ‚t Roberto telling Tim Howard to do his best Superman impression for one of the Palace goals, was it? Did Bobby instruct Leon Osman to fuck about with the ball on the edge of his own box?Where have the legendary quick feet gone, Leon?
ItĂ‚s not going to be pretty next Saturday at Anfield. I am dreading it. I am not going and I am not watching either. I canĂ‚t take any more. After all these years, I have given up the fight were derby matches are concerned.
When we get battered at the weekend, which we will do, please donĂ‚t blame Roberto Martinez as it has happened throughout my entire life. Even during the Kendall era, we got twatted by them when it mattered.
Only one man ever really believed we could beat the Shite every time we played them. Can we get Joe Royle back just for derby games? I think Big Joe was unbeaten in derbies as Everton manager including a win over at their place. JoeĂ‚s teams were the only ones I can remember who were never scared of those twats...
16 Posted 22/09/2014 at 13:42:04
17 Posted 22/09/2014 at 14:09:14
We aren’t cohesive, the players look unsure of their jobs. There is doubt and hesitation everywhere.
This isn’t a defensive blip its a systemic malaise and our established senior pro’s are going to take this awful defensive record plus their mental scarring to Anfield.
I thought we were awful in the second half against in midweek and the scoreline was no reflection on the game.
We are all over the place. Its not a blip, we have not lost our "defensive intensity".
We are a shambles. We are badly organised, ill disciplined, too open, too gung ho and playing without responsibilty.
The players love playing for him, but thats because we don’t do any dirty work anymore.
We have good players in the outfield back 6. Currently whatever we are doing it isn’t working. Team shape has gone, defensively we are embarrassing.
18 Posted 22/09/2014 at 14:06:48
I agree that the amount of crab passing in the first and second third of the pitch is wasteful (at best) and oftentimes downright dangerous when we play against a team that presses up on the back 4. Not looking to revert to the hoofball of days gone by but we should be able to adjust and become more direct when the situation calls for it. Best defense is good offence and all that.
19 Posted 22/09/2014 at 15:01:27
20 Posted 22/09/2014 at 14:49:46
21 Posted 22/09/2014 at 15:09:16
Granted palace didn't play midweek but our players still had 3 days to recover from the EL game so I don't subscribe to that as any sort of excuse, (Arsenal travelled to Dortmund midweek but still stuffed Villa away 3-0 with pretty much the same side that played midweek, and they had to travel to Germany).
Reviewing the game, we seemed to be comfortable for the first half an hour until Howard gave the penalty away, running out miles from his goal when there were already two defenders dealing with the threat. Then came his clanger for the second and we were chasing the game from then on. The third was a really terrible bit of play from Osman - I'd be annoyed but would allow a youngster to make a mistake like that, but for a pro with 10+ years of top flight experience to get caught out like that near the box is unforgivable.
However, even at 3-1 we almost came back. Not sure how you can blame the manager for the errors really, other than he needs to think about changing the personel. It's been said umpteen times on TW but Osman should not be starting anymore - he just doesn't have the engine. Was impressed with the pace of Atsu though, he's a bit raw but there's a lot of potential there.
Really really hope Coleman will be back for the Derby as Stones is not a RB and I'm not confident Hibbo will be able to do a job given his lack of pace. Stones needs to be given a run at CB now imo, whether its Jags or Distin next to him I'm really not too fussed. The Stones/Distin pairing did quite well last year when Jags was injured, however cannot see RM dropping Jags given he's skipper.
Gibbo and Besic need to be given more minutes at some point, would probably start both of them against Swansea and keep Barry and McCarthy fresh. Baines also needs to be rested against Swansea - give Garbut a run out (maybe Oviedo might be fit enough for the bench - which would be a big boost).
Keep the faith blues, its only 5 games in and no one is leaving us behind (yet) so we still have all to play for.
(Think RB is our issue area at the moment, if Coleman's out we're really weak there.)
22 Posted 22/09/2014 at 15:46:48
When he first came in the defence was not the priority, he focused on the midfield and attack and has since brought in no less than 3 senior strikers and 4 midfielders on permanent contracts, getting rid of a lot of deadwood in the process.
Other than a true creative no.10, I think we're fine in midfield and attack. He'll now be able to focus on improving the defence in the next coupld of windows and this will hopefully include getting a decent RB as cover for Coleman and a new (decent) CB to go in front of Distin and Alcaraz in the pecking order - here's hoping anyway..
23 Posted 22/09/2014 at 15:54:45
That said, this Palace result had a lot to do with our general defensive trend this season, which was just as apparent on Thursday, but went unpunished. We simply cannot give away so much at the back. It's something I feared last season, as I felt that in many games we had the look of conceding but didn't. (I wrongly expected us to concede more than we did last season.)
At the start of the season, I stated I had a real fear about Martinez: his ability to set up teams defensively. I have no doubt about his ability to get teams attacking, but will him, and his coaching staff, manage to maintain our defensive game? Martinez's defence was poor at Wigan, as were his defensive acquisitions, and I personally feel that last season's defensive performances were a legacy of the Moyes era. We've got good defenders, and they have no excuses for conceding 13 goals in 5 Premier League games (3 of those at home).
Few managers manage to combine effective defensive and attacking play. If we are going to be successful under Martinez, we must get the defence right, especially because we have so many gifted defenders and two superb defensive-minded midfielders.
24 Posted 22/09/2014 at 15:57:55
25 Posted 22/09/2014 at 16:08:24
But hang on....
How about some of his piss-poor substitutions this season? Who is to blame for them?
How about the system where the defenders are encouraged to piss around at the back which leads to mistakes? Who told them to do this?
How about the fact that he picks Osman and refuses to bring him off (something you used to give the last fella dog's abuse for)? Is he forced to select him?
How about his inability to adopt the system in games even when it is clearly failing? Is this beyond a man paid millions of pounds a year?
How about him making too many changes to the starting line up yesterday? Was someone else forcing him to do this?
27 Posted 22/09/2014 at 16:19:49
Where I would criticise Martinez is the general vulnerability around the team, the lack of genuine strong characters, the lack of leadership and most of all, the lack of cohesion in the team. Most of the time, these players are good enough to beat most teams in this league, but we'll need to toughen up if we're going to make progress.
I'll echo my summer plea for a good keeper and centre back to partner Stones.
28 Posted 22/09/2014 at 16:51:52
29 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:00:48
Moyes did it so many times in cup matches and we'd get beaten and we would all say that the team should have been good enough to beat x, y and z.
However, I would wager a decent wedge that the team that played Thursday WOULD have beaten Palace. Impossible to prove, I know, but I feel they would have been too much and there wouldn't have been such a difference in play up top.
30 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:02:04
31 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:02:58
32 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:42:39
Saying that - his players are letting him down as individuals, so he has to be ruthless enough to sell them, or replace them with other squad members. Simple enough for me.
Read a good one today; We are a carnival up front, and a circus at the back. True.
33 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:53:50
1: Why do you insist on playing the passing game out from the back when teams press us high up and our players are prone to making a total hash when this happens?
2: Why put back together a defensive partnership that has now conceded 13 goals when Stones and Jags where playing so well as a unit?
3: Why is there such a need for rotation, especially in the Premier League? I can understand doing it for the FA Cup and the League Cup but never the Premier League.
We as fans have not played at the highest level or got Uefa badges BUT we have watched football for decades between us and we collectively know when a side is not happy with or technically good enough to play a certain way Ă‚â€” and this team can’t play well when we are pressed high up the field, especially the defence.
34 Posted 22/09/2014 at 17:19:31
Yes, you guessed it. McCarthy stepped up for the freekick.......and belted it 25 yards backwards to Jagielka who was in our own half.
Understandable if we were !-0 up with 5 minutes to go, but to do it in the first 15 minutes at home is a total disgrace. What's going on?
35 Posted 22/09/2014 at 18:31:34
Pass it short and then ultimately lose the ball. Not one cross in the box from a free kick close to the box all season
36 Posted 22/09/2014 at 18:35:07
You used to slaughter Moyes for even considering playing Osman.
So by the same token Martinez is as culpable or maybe worse seeing as he (Osman) is 12 months older and therefore 12 months shitter.
37 Posted 22/09/2014 at 18:50:48
38 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:04:17
There's something rotten in Denmark, or Goodison park, and I hope it's sorted out soon or we'll be out of the running by November.
39 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:18:43
40 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:31:04
I acknowledge that Wolfsburg are a good team but, thus far, we are not able to control and shutdown a game. I was there for the Arsenal game and as soon as they scored the first you knew that a second was coming; at the end, the final whistle was a relief.
In my opinion, suddenly we are playing far too deep and rely on hitting teams on the break, which is okay away from home to the bigger teams, but I donĂ‚t think that we should be adopting this approach at home.
41 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:32:35
Now we have a manager who persists with players who are making errors on a regular basis . . .yet according to some it isn't his fault.
So who's fault is it ? if the defenders are good enough, what sort of coaching is making us a laughing stock and if they are not good enough why are they still playing ? Martinez's contribution to our defence is to sign a crock from wigan and a goalkeeper who nobody trusts.
You are right, No manager sends his players out to make stupid mistakes, but if they keep making them, does it not become a "stupid mistake" to keep sending them out ?
42 Posted 22/09/2014 at 19:43:25
The defence is absolutely shocking, Jags, Distin and Howard trying to play Barcelona style football from the back is going to give me a heart attack one of these days, I love wee Bobby's positivity but now the honeymoon is over and we need to get into the muck and bullets at the back, we've loved the Bobby's brown shoes, now he needs to use them brown shoes to kick some backsides and get this lot "back to basics".
Anyone willing to pay 㿞 to sit at Anfield and potentially see another defensive calamity inspired drubbing needs awarding a medal for bravery alone. This one has me worried, very worried. Again Liverpool will be there for the taking but watch us roll over (as always) for them and take a bad hammering again.
Just can't believe they've went and frigging well put this derby on during the Ryder Cup weekend, at least there's that to turn over to if it gets like the last visit to that place.
It's so frustrating waiting to see an Everton team turn over a less than inspiring Liverpool side at Anfield, Christ we don't even kick them about like we used to, frig the respect and just get into them and harry / rough them up like they do to us.
Once a big fan of Roberto, now becoming disillusioned, as Tony said, this lot we've got aren't up to the Barcelona style of football. I wouldn't drive a Ford Mondeo around like a Formula 1 car, it's about knowing your limits and getting the best out of what you've got.
We're not world beaters so we need to be organised, disciplined, fit and determined before it even starts on the pitch. Show them a few videos of the Dogs of War suring Joe Royle's time to show them how it was done.
43 Posted 22/09/2014 at 20:03:55
I would argue that he is sending players out to make mistakes, Tony, because by trying to play a tika-taka system at the back with players like Howard, Distin and Jags... well, that is going to end only one way!
44 Posted 22/09/2014 at 20:14:33
45 Posted 22/09/2014 at 21:25:44
46 Posted 22/09/2014 at 21:12:25
Those fuckers can wait because IĂ‚m sure we will have our day with them soon enough. But, however derby matches make you feel please donĂ‚t give up on The Toffees!
47 Posted 22/09/2014 at 21:12:26
Three away games await that will shape the entire season. Lose all and I genuinely think playing massive catch up until January will condemn us to a disappointing season. Win all three and who knows. But honestly I can't see it happening unless Martinez makes a bold decision to start his very best 11 available every game and look to sub three earlier than usual to combat tiredness, though why I'm saying that in September has more to do with a stupidly mismanaged pre season and dire fitness levels than squad rotation issues.
Decide on the best team, stick with it, and frankly if we can beat Swansea and grab two draws after that I will be a happy guy and steadying things now will pay off later. Still, it was great that we didn't need to strengthen the defence before the window closed !
48 Posted 22/09/2014 at 21:56:03
49 Posted 22/09/2014 at 22:38:55
That is appaling and should have the manager scurrying for solutions.
Instead its getting worse.
50 Posted 22/09/2014 at 23:12:47
Dead right... We might not have our badges but itĂ‚s not to say we the people/supporters canĂ‚t see the woods from the trees.
51 Posted 22/09/2014 at 23:13:07
52 Posted 23/09/2014 at 19:10:40
Agree with that about Barry, compounded by playing Osman in midfield also. Particularly 2nd half we just wern’t covering the ground and lacked pace. If Barry is too slow and lacks the pace now, what will he be like in 2 yrs. We’ve invested 㾷M in him, rediculous at nearly 34 yrs age.
53 Posted 24/09/2014 at 11:26:46
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