It seems an age since we were last at Goodison but whether it is short or long breaks the room of nonsense is buzzing and it’s as if you have hardly been away. Banter similar to that proffered on ToffeeWeb (without the overly negative bits) and to my eye and ear most assembled would take a win no matter what. Name your own preference of team selection, formation of play and tactics so long as three points are the reward for 96 minutes' work.
To this end the team as displayed via Twitter, etc certainly perked up fans and taught many a lesson to never take notice of what might be published in news print, websites or indeed managers' press conferences as players regarded as doubtful were named and players given a clean bill of health and raring to go were not. The chat now turned to who was fully fit or who might last beyond the hour mark, as well as who the manager was taking a chance on. I just hoped manager, medics and players had got it right.
The walk up was a touch subdued for such a large contingent but whoever you spoke to or caught a snatch of conversation nothing mattered more than getting our first win at home under our belts. The Fan-Zone was doing well and the fat van competing well against the food on offer in the Zone. Goodison Road was awash with fans and many a number taking a digital image of the great ‘HolyTrinity’ looking down from the gable of the main stand. Being ’Retro Day’ the fans had responded well in their choice of attire.
Z-Cars brought a noisy welcome for the team only to be followed by that dirge that accompanies the useless pre-match handshakes and flattens the atmosphere.
We lost the toss and defended with the sun in our eyes and at kick off I noted how those selected lined up in ‘Retro’ fashion that went back to the sixties line up of Alf Ramsey and the wingless wonders. Would it work? Well as the whistle went at the command of our man in the middle Anthony Taylor we were about to find out.
Right away spirits were lifted as Barkley with a couple of direct runs as well as two astute passes had Oohs and Aaars ringing around the ground. Although Villa had defeated those across the Park they had not won in their last four so a concerted effort may well be expected but our play was soon in the ascendancy. Still passing about at the back but with more assuredness than of late and with Coleman and McCarthy back and Baines and Naismith looking sharp. Barry was able to get to grips with his midfield role and orchestrate a quicker pace of pass from back to front. We were looking good but the crowd were edgy and only a goal or two would calm them.
Barkley was now running at their defence with purpose and some delightful touches had the crowd purring as we got into their box in better fashion than previous games.
A good first 20 minutes threatened without netting then Barkley in the area hit one with little back lift on target and the keeper did well to palm it away for a corner. Baines took it short and exchanged passes with Barry and with his right foot put in a cross that was headed home and the wild celebrations by fans had more than a touch of relief thrown in. From the congratulations of team mates and a rerun on the big screen it was clear that our scorer was the England international Jagielka. He is becoming a scoring machine for club and country!
Villa lost centre back Baker to injury but did have a couple of efforts that either just missed the target or were safely gathered by Howard who from the off looked in better shape today.
Barkley was causing more trouble as the half wore on and the rust was dropping away as his confidence built. Villa tried a couple of kicks at him but he rode them well and continued playing with a swagger that has been missing whilst he has been side-lined. Barry had a good hold of the mid-field allowing McCarthy to work box to box with lung bursting foray’s that enabled Naismith and Osman to cause concern.
Lukaku again looking like a man just not up to his swashbuckling powerhouse best but you could see he was trying and to be fair it was the Belgian who created the chance for Jags by attacking Baines cross and taking defenders with him leaving Jags just to time his diving header and net.
As half time approached Barkley was at it again when he was fed by the excellent Barry and set up Coleman with a cute pass that the Irishman took on at pace and brought a fine save from the Villa keeper.
H/T 1-0. The half time chat could be summed up in a short sentence. ‘We need another goal and a clean sheet’ such was the desire for three points.
Just a few minutes after half time Barkley again got on the ball and showed power and guile as fed in Lukaku who brushed his marker off and from inside the box hit one that seemed to lack venom but went under the keeper’s body and trundled home. The keeper at fault no doubt and I shudder to think what fans may have said had that been our Tim. However I am hopeful it can kick-start Lukaku’s season as for the rest of the half he chased and harried and sought the ball far better than in games now going back to last season.
As the half wore on we got a fright when the returning Benteke finally showed a bit of class as he won the ball shot and hit the bar and netted the rebound but thankfully our ref had spotted a foul so no goal. Phew.
Villa fans who filled their end had been in boisterous mood and questioned our support for the team amongst some other stereotyping material that opposing fans have for Scousers. Well they were now getting it back in spades as we reminded them that we only sing when we’re winning.
Naismith was again putting in a shift and a half which was not lost on those assembled and his willingness to show for the ball along with his chasing and harrying helped no end as Villa tried to press high and disrupt the passing at the back and maybe force a mistake. Osman was doing well in what could be described as a sort of roaming left sided role but his contribution was meaningful.
Just after the hour mark the manager decided that Barkley had done enough on his comeback and swapped him for Pienaar. Both players got very good receptions. Pienaar quickly got in on the act and showed good vision by threading one through for Naismith who headed for goal in his usual determined fashion and was brought down from behind, ref waved play on, most thought a pen was warranted. Lukaku then came to life again and went on a run that saw him floored on left edge of the area. He took the free kick and hit the wall. Shame that.
The Villa crowd were quiet now and the game started to peter out as their team seemed to accept their fate but late on they did rally a little and Naismith got booked for his method of halting a Villa attack and Howard did well to gather a couple of shots cleanly. Everton attacked when they could considering being mindful of a clean sheet and Lukaku tried a long diagonal for Pienaar who was in acres but alas it was to strong and went for a throw leaving Lukaku to beat the air and his head in frustration.
The clock was ticking down when the quick thinking Osman took a quick free kick that released Baines to get to the by-line , look up and cross for the inrushing Coleman to do what all the best strikers do and got across his man and netted. Scenes of jubilation took place and songs of joy resounded. That was it all over, we knew it and they knew it. Just time for Naismith to come off to a crescendo that dripped with admiration for his performance and Eto’o had a couple of minutes on the pitch.
Final whistle and ‘Grand old team’ rang out but the game ended as it started fan-wise, a bit flat, as the win was everything and from a display that just maybe suggest better things are ahead of us with a bit of better luck on the injury front.
M.O.tM -- Many contenders today, Naismith may be a popular choice but for me Barry. He orchestrated almost everything that allowed those that can to do. Even the Villa fans stopped booing him.
Overall a good day out in good company that had us wondering how the manager will approach Lille on Thursday. Not too far to travel and then Burnley next Sunday which on paper should not be difficult but I remember only too well going there the last time they were in the prem. and don’t want reminding of the result. I hear we have gone up the table after today but I have no real interest until after a meaningful amount of games have been played. My first glance will be just before Christmas as the table does not change dramatically after then.
Still onward and upward
UP THE BLUES
Reader Comments (27)
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1 Posted 19/10/2014 at 00:41:11
2 Posted 19/10/2014 at 01:39:15
ItÃ‚s quite simple Ã‚â€“ when you have your best players on the pitch, everyone plays better. When they are missing through injury, rotation etc the performances will drop.
Qualification for the Europa League was always going to be a two-edged sword and, with a squad our size, we will be affected by the unpleasant Thursday-Sunday syndrome. Planning for this will have undoubtedly affected pre-season, which has attracted most criticism.
LetÃ‚s enjoy the good results when they happen. COYB.
3 Posted 19/10/2014 at 02:38:16
4 Posted 19/10/2014 at 03:07:43
Barry is a good shout for MotM but he (and the whole team) were massively buoyed by the form of young Ross Barkley. IÃ‚ve been critical of RossÃ‚s contributions before but boy what a player the young man is... Onwards and upwards, COYB
5 Posted 19/10/2014 at 04:41:36
I know he’ll never be rated by some on here, but I remain hopeful about Lukaku. In interviews he’s given, he comes across as bright, and keen to learn and improve his game. He speaks six languages (seven if you include Scouse) and I imagine that helps his watching games from all around the world - studying strikers’ movement etc. I’ve noticed him try a few things he wouldn’t have done last season - if his feet start accurately translating instructions from his brain, we may have a 㿈m player. He seemed chuffed Barkley was back.
6 Posted 19/10/2014 at 06:37:29
Lots of negative nonsense on this site but not from your graceful pen.
Off to Lille we go with a spring in our step. Allez les bleu.
7 Posted 19/10/2014 at 06:47:07
8 Posted 19/10/2014 at 06:58:19
Lets hope this performance is a sign of the season really taking off.
9 Posted 19/10/2014 at 08:26:44
Good win, and nice report. Cheers.
10 Posted 19/10/2014 at 10:10:12
11 Posted 19/10/2014 at 10:41:14
12 Posted 19/10/2014 at 10:35:04
The appalling pre-season and early uncertainty in our defence had me looking at the fixture list after just a couple of games and I picked the Villa match as the one by which this ’overly optimistic’ manager must show us his mettle.
Well, he came through with flying colours Ã‚â€“ as did his team Ã‚â€“ and we are now entitled to look forward to a more joyful season than was expected before the International break.
One thought struck me as I left the ground last night and that was that the team on view had contained no less than three players who few of us would have had near the side at the beginning of 2014!
I’ll leave you all to fess up on the three I’m referring to but it just shows how wrong we can be!
13 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:40:24
Now the injury list is improving we have far more optimism amongst the fans. Just think, we have Stones, Distin, Kone and Mirallas to come in later in the season and our bench looked much stronger With the added fixtures it will be nice to see Oviedo and Besic get games and they will be chomping at the bit to influence Martinez.
Osman is such a clever player and his quick free kick that set up the 3rd killer goal was an illustration of his thinking. We now can rotate players according to the competitions without losing competence or impetus. COYB
14 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:11:44
15 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:25:03
16 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:31:31
17 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:50:56
I also thought we mixed it up more yesterday. We had tikki takki, we had long balls, we had Ross running at defenders. Interestingly we had goals and chances not from slow tikki takki but from quick play, quick passing, wide and around the full back or down the channel: Baines’s cross behind the defence for Jags; two quick, incisive passes starting from our own half to get Lukaku in (jammy shot but he did well to spot the pass and run into space, then pick up a ball that was behind him and fend off the defender); and again Baines (after superb quick thinking from Osman) in around the back (and what determination by Seamus).
18 Posted 19/10/2014 at 16:20:59
I totally agree with Barry as MotM closely followed by Bainesy.
I have been saying all season that I felt our problems were team selection and fitness rather than injuries where our midfield was weakened by the inclusion of too many forwards so I was really pleased to see Barkley and Osman back (although I would prefer Besic in tougher games) to beef up the midfield.
19 Posted 19/10/2014 at 17:00:27
I nearly choked on my tea when I saw Barkley was playing, he gives Lukaku confidence long may it continue.
Still think we need to add to the squad in January if we are still in Europe, but not sure about more loans.
Most of the papers are between Barry and Baines for M.O.M.
I thought they would win yesterday expect a draw on Thursday and 3 points Sunday.
On another note how jammy are LFC? If they fell in s--t they would come out smelling of roses!
20 Posted 19/10/2014 at 17:47:12
Any team that has the drive and desire of Barkley, McCarthy and Coleman returning to the fold can only have a positive effect. The need for Villa to go to Barkley and double team him made room on the wings for Coleman and Baines which created the space for a plethora of crosses.
Although Barry had a great game, these three gave him something to pass to on a very regular basis.....and now the trick is to keep it going!
21 Posted 19/10/2014 at 21:29:30
22 Posted 19/10/2014 at 22:38:04
23 Posted 19/10/2014 at 22:41:42
24 Posted 20/10/2014 at 08:20:42
25 Posted 21/10/2014 at 01:53:41
Anthony (#9), I have to agree with you, their keeper was caught in two minds because Naismith was running in for a tap-in.
26 Posted 22/10/2014 at 10:24:54
27 Posted 22/10/2014 at 20:33:03
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