Much More Like It

This was much more akin to what we became accustomed to last season – calm and unflappable in possession, potent from the fullbacks and with Lukaku feeding off Barkley up front.

Lyndon Lloyd 18/10/2014 62comments  |  Jump to last

Everton 3 - 0 Aston Villa

The last time Everton won at Goodison Park in the Premier League prior to this weekend, the Grim Reaper was taunting David Moyes from the stands behind the visitors' dug out back in April.

Even allowing for the fact that title-chasing Chelsea and perennial Champions League qualifiers Arsenal made up two of the opponents the Blues had faced at home before Aston Villa came to town, that statistic is still hard to believe given how good we were in front of our fans under Roberto Martinez last season.

Of course, our the season hasn't really gone according to hope or expectation at home or away, but the impact of three returning first-choice players this afternoon offered a hint as to why, and one in particular showed how much he has been missed with first 65 minutes' worth of action in 2014-15.

Few Evertonians expected Ross Barkley to be back in the squad so soon after suffering a medial knee ligament tear two months ago and perhaps even fewer still would have predicted he would be in the starting XI this weekend. Many thought a substitute's appearance at Burnley next weekend would the beginning of his being eased back but Martinez sprung a surprise when he named Ross along with James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman on today's team sheet.

The 20 year-old has a directness and single-minded confidence about his play that is hard to replace and it was a joy to see him slot back into the No.10 role behind Romelu Lukaku as if his season thus far hadn't been wrecked by ill-timed injury. He betrayed some ring-rustiness on a couple of occasions during his 65 minutes on the field, as you would expect, but it only took a couple of lovely flourishes to confirm that he's lost none of his prodigious touch on the ball.

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Lukaku has missed him, too; so no surprise then that the Belgian scored a goal served up by Barkley early in the second half. It owed a large debt to fortune given that on most other days a goalkeeper of Brad Guzan's calibre doesn't allow his low shot to squirm under his body in the manner that it did... but then you make your own luck and Rom perhaps needs some to help rekindle his best form.

Lukaku's third goal of the season was just one positive on an afternoon littered with them. From Antolin Alcaraz's assured display alongside Phil Jagielka in the absence of John Stones and Tim Howard's first clean sheet in a month to a pair of superb performances from the central defensive axis of McCarthy and Gareth Barry and Leighton Baines' twin assists one from either flank this was a team performance pleasingly reminiscent of the Everton of 2013-14.

They ran out comfortable 3-0 winners and yet you were still left with the feeing that the Blues held back from really taking Villa to the cleaners. Perhaps had the extra potency of Kevin Mirallas been available they might have done but it was a handsome win nonetheless.

Just as they did against Crystal Palace the last time they were on home turf almost a month ago, Martinez's side started in purposeful and dominant fashion and pressed home that dominance by taking the lead. This time, though, they maintained the intensity and composure that they lacked in that 3-2 defeat and never really allowed Villa a sniff of getting back into the contest.

They were aided by the fact that Paul Lambert's men were unable to translate their assured passing in the middle of the park into any consistent threat in the final third, although much of that was due to the near-constant tenacity of Messers McCarthy and Barry as well as tireless work from Steven Naismith in assisting Coleman to prevent any threatening balls from coming in from the Villa left. The Scot was forced to step aside from the central role in which he has been thriving in Barkley's absence but his contributions were no less important. And with more seflessness from Lukaku on a couple of occasions, he might have scored anyway.

Everton's impotence at corners under Martinez has been something of a mystery so it was heartening to see the opening goal come from a set-piece routine after Nathan Baker had put the ball behind and Baines then worked a short corner to Barkley at the edge of the box. The returning forward hammered an audacious shot towards the top corner from the angle of the box that the diving Guzan parried behind and Baines repeated the move from the second corner.

Barkley returned it to the fullback this time and with a neat body feint and knock forward giving him an extra yard to work with, Baines curled a dangerous right-footed ball across the face of the opposition goal where Jagielka, in the centre-forward's position, stooped to head it home. Added to his Exocet in the Anfield derby and a strike on international duty for England, it was his third goal in five appearances for club and country and, hopefully, a sign of more goal product coming from the centre-halves.

Naismith fired a Coleman cut-back wide, Alan Hutton went very close for Villa at the other end after Leon Osman had allowed him to glide past him and try a curling left-footer from 25 yards, and McCarthy executed a superb saving tackle on Tim Cleverley in his own area as the Blues kept the Midlanders contained and tried to break down their rigid shape again down the other end.

Coleman came closest six minutes before half time when Barkley picked out his run on the overlap into the penalty area but Guzan was equal to his attempt to bend a shot around him into the far corner and pushed it away to safety from Villa's perspective. The Blues went into the interval 1-0 up following an impressively patient and discplined first-half performance.

The second half was less than three minutes old when they struck again to make it 2-0. McCarthy started the move with a great interception midway inside the Villa half, he fed Barkley wide on the left who in turn knocked it on to Lukaku to gather, hold off his marker and fire low and hard enough that Guzan couldn't get enough on it to prevent it from spinning over the line almost in slow motion.

Not surprisingly, given the scoreline and the propensity Everton have already shown this season to sit back a little at 2-0 up, the visitors had their best spell of the half after that but they had precious little show for it. Christian Benteke would prod the ball into the net after his own header had come off the crossbar but referee Anthony Taylor, who seemed to get a high percentage of the niggly decisions wrong but most of the major ones right, chalked it off for a visible push on Alcaraz.

Naismith had a penalty claim turned down when he was muscled off the ball chasing substitute Steven Pienaar's deft ball over the top and Lukaku fired a direct free kick into the defensive wall before Everton made sure of the points with a killer third goal 14 minutes from time. Pienaar was fouled not far outside the Villa box and with the Villa defence still retreating, Osman played a quick free kick to Baines who fired a pin-point ball across the face where Coleman was lurking with striker's intent to convert from a couple of yards out.

That left the Blues to play out the remaining quarter of an hour in relative comfort. Howard was called into action once more to make a good save to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor and there was a late cameo for Samuel Eto'o where he almost served up a goal for the third sub, Darron Gibson, but his first-time shot was blocked before referee Taylor called time on three well-earned points.

There have many knee-jerk reactions to Everton's iffy start to the season but if this game is any indication of what is to follow in the next few weeks, then Martinez should have put a lid on the criticism because this was much more akin to what we became accustomed to last season calm and unflappable in possession, potent from the fullbacks and with Lukaku feeding off Barkley up front. It's only one game, of course, and they will have to prove they can do it consistently but there is no question that the Blues are looking much more like themselves with some of those key players back in the side.

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Reader Comments (62)

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Peter Z Jones
1 Posted 19/10/2014 at 06:51:35
Here. We. Go.
Colin Glassar
2 Posted 19/10/2014 at 07:56:59
The return of Barkley and Seamus is akin to the second coming and the day of judgement. Beware all you doubters, you will be consigned to eternal damnation in a rs track suit if you don’t stop yer moaning.
Paul Andrews
3 Posted 19/10/2014 at 07:29:07
Doom. And. Gloom. Gone.

What a difference a day makes.


Eugene Kearney
5 Posted 19/10/2014 at 08:53:56
I knew they’d "waken up" today!! Nice surprise to see Ross and Seamus bak at last. Our season can get going now.....hopefully injuries will not hamper us as badly again.
Onwards, upwards from here.


Geoff Evans
6 Posted 19/10/2014 at 10:46:50
Clean sheet the most pleasing aspect of a very good performance COYB
Paul Ellam
7 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:08:32
I am sure Lyndon covered it in his piece (I haven’t read it all I must confess - hangover means reading is hard for me just now!) but it is quite simple to me, the fact that some of our best players have returned from fitness means that as a team we are much better. I expect this scenario to continue as well, especially with a decent set of fixtures coming up.

Still, well done to everybody involved.

Rob Halligan
8 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:15:46
Totally agree with Colin #2. We have really missed Coleman and Barkley, two players with the pace and power to make penetrating runs deep into the opposition half and cause havoc. For both players to have a direct input into all three goals shows how much they have been missed.

The next four league are all very much winnable, although no game is easy, unless you are Sunderland!! Hopefully they will be four games where Stones and Mirallas won’t be missed as they continue their recovery.

Trevor Lynes
9 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:32:22
It was the quick thinking Osman who took that free kick and sent Baines clear for the 3rd killer goal by Coleman. Osman is still a potent force when used sparingly. I think he is the perfect substitute in midfield for Barkley and Naismith.

Pienaar also linked up well with Baines and Leighton seems to thrive when Pienaar is playing.

A really good all around team performance and very difficult to find a MotM.

Phil Walling
10 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:32:20
Have to say that if yesterday’s performance was all down to the returning players as indicated here, it only goes to show how inadequate is the squad assembled.

Injuries can – and will – strike at anytime as to assume that from now on we shall have a full roster is naïve at best.

Yesterday was truly a morale booster after what we have seen before but I still believe that £28M could have been better spent on beefing up the squad than on one luxury striker.

Brian Harrison
11 Posted 19/10/2014 at 11:44:35
A very welcome 3 points and no doubt a boost to our confidence, like many I was really surprised to see Barkley and Coleman start. There is no doubt that both were key in our victory yesterday.

I think it was a very workmanlike performance, and very pleasing to keep a clean sheet. Although I am not a fan, I thought Alcaraz had an excellent game and took care of Benteke, though I thought Benteke was well short of match practice.

The only surprise yesterday was how muted the crowd were both during and after the game. Maybe still unsure how the season might pan out might be a reason.

Robbie Muldoon
12 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:04:44
Four Things The Start of This season Has Made Clear To Me

1. Ross Barkley is the heart-beat of this side. With him out we have dropped so many points. He was greatly missed against Arsenal at home when it was clear his presence would have dismantled the Gunners when we had them on the ropes. Over the moon to have him back and watch him go on to the next level; hopefully he remains injury free. It’s crucial.

2. Baines and Coleman are the best full-back pairing to grace the club in 30 years. It is an absolute pleasure to watch these two doing what they do. It’s incredible how many times they are linking up and creating goals inside the opposition box.

3. Lukaku needs Barkley and a central role. It’s all good putting Lukaku out wide now and then as a tactical surprise, but we want to see him running through on goal and smashing them past the keeper. Something we will see much moire of with Barkley’s link-up.

4. Get rid of Distin. I admire how well the Frenchman does for his age, but I’ve always disliked his personality. Taking to Twitter to argue with fans, fronting away fans after poor performances, and that backpass at Wembley against the Redshite. If he is rocking the Martinez cruise ship, throw him overboard. John Stones is the man.

Tony Marsh
13 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:21:15
It looked as though were getting back to business yesterday with a nice win and fit-again players fighting to get back in the side. Only 4pts off 4th place in the League table having played most of the big guns and Burnley up next. Top of our Europa League group and things appearing to be back on track... Shit manager, that Martinez fella!!!
John Voigt
14 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:06:23
Phil (post #10)

I hope you have to eat your words on Lukaku not being worth £28M. Other ToffeeWeb posters have mention the £28M is really £24M with a £4M add-on if Everton make Champions League.

Right now, he’s a reliable 15-goal-a-season scorer (he’s done that both of his previous seasons). He’s signed until 2019. He’s 21 years old, his teammates like him and he’s willing to play whatever role Martinez assigns him. He’s also not a party boy and I’ve heard he doesn’t touch a drop of alcohol (I personally can’t make the same claim!). Having Eto’o to mentor him should help his progress too.

3 goals and an assist carrying a toe injury and playing much of the time wide right miles away from the 18-yard box is a decent return. I figure he would have played more in the middle, but Naismith was scoring. With Barkley back in the team Lukaku moved back to the middle and looked like more of a goal threat.

I figure one of two things will happen: If Lukaku doesn’t improve tremendously, he’ll be a reliable 15 goal and 5 assist striker for the next 4-5 seasons (which in most seasons will place him in the top 10 for scoring in the Premier League). Among the league’s top scorers the last two seasons few are on wages Everton can afford so that’s another plus.

If he becomes a 20-goal-a-season scorer, bigger clubs may come calling. It took Bale at Spurs more than a couple of years to become the player Real Madrid paid a bloody fortune for. 2-3 years from now Lukaku will be 23-24 years old with 4-5 years experience in the Premier League. He’s very marketable at that age and would command a fee premium since he counts as a homegrown player under Premier League rules.

I’ve heard the rumors that Man City is sniffing around Barkley and one of the main reasons is Man City is short on homegrown players that make their 1st team. I could see the same thing happening to Lukaku in a year or two if he improves like I think he will. If Lukaku is sold to one of the big money teams, I guarantee it will be for a lot more than £28M. The TV money is only going up and fees for premium strikers will only be going up too.

Bob Parrington
15 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:34:17
Maybe it was the level of opposition but Jags and Alcaraz seemed to do a great job in central defence.
Kunal Desai
16 Posted 19/10/2014 at 12:34:21
That’s like the old of Everton. the return of Barkley certainly settled the side down. I think both Barkley and Coleman bring a certain balance to the side. Please no more damn injuries!

I noticed a fair few times that, even with possession in the opposition’s half, we still have that tendency to play too many passes which then goes back to the defence and then to Howard.

We need to be that little bit imaginative, especially when we have the ball in the middle of the oppositions half, play balls into open channels perhaps and force Naismith and Lukaku to run into these balls as opposed to pass, pass, pass and then ball end backing to the goalkeeper.

Let’s keep the performance going at Burnley next weekend.

Eddie Dunn
17 Posted 19/10/2014 at 13:11:04
At last a performance that had me purring, full of commitment and grit, with pieces of lovely skill scattered about. Barkley was the catalyst, and Coleman’s return also very key. Alcaraz looked composed throughout, and McCarthy was a tiger in the midfield.

Lukaku improved, and scored just as I was getting fed up with his lack of awareness of teamates! The quicker tempo certainly helped his game.

The only downside was Osman ,so often pushed off the ball and often a spectator. I know it’s not his fault, but he really is much better coming on for the last half hour. In a tougher game his poor strength would have been costly.

However, an excellent performance.

Tom Bowers
18 Posted 19/10/2014 at 13:30:38
Beating the likes of Villa is what we expect and it was done well. The return of Ross and Seamus makes a world of difference and with Captain Fantastic leading the way with goals things will only get better.

Yesterday was an important test of RM’s credibility and he passed with honours. The only glitch was the selection of Osman; whilst some others may have been left out through travel fatigue, I still believe like many others, Osman is just a sub and that perhaps Pienaar should have started. Still, Osman has always had good games against Villa in the past.

One can only hope the injury problems stay away and I am sure in particular Alcaraz can get a decent run as he is a class act.

Darren Hind
19 Posted 19/10/2014 at 13:38:27
Seamus and Ross offered the perfect response to those who claim hoofball is the only alternative to brainlessly knocking the ball across the back until the hole ground starts to feel uneasy. Direct agressive running is not only exciting to watch its very difficult to defend against.

Villa are pretty crap at the moment and we couldnt have played them at a better time, but its in games like this where confidence will be restored.

Taking all things into consideration this was one of the most important results Since Martinez took over.

Made up with the performance even more made up with the result

Rob Halligan
20 Posted 19/10/2014 at 14:16:43
Phil walling #10, whatever your opinion of Lukaku, be it good or bad, and we are all entitled to our opinion, just be grateful that we didn’t sign Ballotelli. Watching him play for the RS against QPR and he is absolutely garbage. And that’s putting it mildly!!
Phil Walling
21 Posted 19/10/2014 at 14:21:41
Rob; I make a point of NEVER watching RS. But I don’t think Ballotelli was ever on Bobby’s radar. He’s far too sensible for that, I’m sure.
Rob Halligan
22 Posted 19/10/2014 at 14:25:04
Too true Phil. What Brenda saw in him God knows. City fans I work with were glad to see the back of him.
Phil Walling
23 Posted 19/10/2014 at 15:25:57
I didn’t watch it, Rob, but just heard report on SSN. What a bunch of jammy bastards they all. The match sounded bent!
Jim Hourigan
24 Posted 19/10/2014 at 15:48:58
I agree that the return of Barkley was a massive positive but I think that McCarthy was quietly far more influential in terms of the platform his energy and commitment gave Ross. I was never convinced before we bought him, but watching him cover the ground at pace, closing people down and providing the time for the likes of Ross is what we have missed in the last few games. I still think he needs to be more positive in possession but his presence and contribution allowed Ross the time to try the things he does well. I’m now a convert to his contribution, sorry it took so long!!

The only downside for me was Osman - he is a year older and a year slower and it showed. Not sharp enough to the ball when put under pressure, yes, given time he can play short passes, but too often knocked off the ball or beaten to it far too easily. As someone said earlier against better, stronger sides he will be taken apart. Play him in the early stages of Europe perhaps but keep him out of the Premiership side for all but cameo appearances - Pienaar or Osman ? no contest !

Peter Ferns
25 Posted 19/10/2014 at 17:09:50
McCarthy is so important to us. His tackle on Cleverley in the area and his winning the ball in the build up to the second goal were exceptional.
Oscar Huglin
26 Posted 19/10/2014 at 18:09:43
Robbie (#12),

That has to be the most biased description of Distin I’ve ever read. He constantly put his all in and it’s a testament to his professionalism that he can still perform at such a high level at the age of 36. Yes, he’s on a run of bad form, but in terms of "arguing with fans", he’s responded to a few Twitter ragers. Personally, I’m always happy to see players sticking up for themselves when provoked on social media.

And as for the semi final incident, I was there. He came to the fans on the final whistle and put his hands in the air to say sorry.

I think he’s one of the most passionate, professional players we have in this squad, and his experience is irreplaceable. I can’t believe how critical you are of him based on speculation and your own opinion, rather than the way he’s served our football club.

Paul Tran
27 Posted 19/10/2014 at 19:04:18
More like it, indeed. When Oviedo came on at Old Trafford he looked a man possessed by running straight at them. For 10 minutes we looked like a good team again.

Yesterday carried that on. We had players on the pitch running at them, causing problems and creating options. Keeping the ball only makes sense when you have the pace and creativity in front of you. Without that, it looks as pointless as Phil and Darren keep telling us.

Martinez has got plenty wrong this season, but missing Oviedo, Barkley, Coleman and Mirallas against good sides hasn’t helped. We’ve already scored plenty this season. With the return of our pace, directness and creativity we’ll score more.

Harold Matthews
28 Posted 19/10/2014 at 20:20:15
Wonderful result. Great to have several of the key players back and everyone putting in a full shift. More workmanlike than brilliant but we deserved the 3 points.
Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 19/10/2014 at 21:21:33
Got to agree with Oscar, that Distin is a credit to himself and I hope we haven’t seen the last of him in a blue shirt.
Chris Fisher
31 Posted 20/10/2014 at 10:34:36
Thank god Ross is back, we have missed him badly, all we need now is Mirallas back and we can finally play our strongest attacking unit of Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith and Lukaku.

I think Sunday against Burnley will see if we have indeed turned the corner; we have lost both Sunday matches after Europa League midweek games so hopefully that can be sorted out. I for one would 100% not start Ross or Rom in the Lille game.

Linda Morrison
32 Posted 20/10/2014 at 11:30:32
Got to agree with Tony and Oscar about Distin. He at least goes to the fans to apologise when the team, that is the team and not always him do bad.

I’m not on Twitter and I wish that the players were not as some people use it to be very abusive to others and no come back. Twitter accounts give fans a direct link to the players so fans can’t moan when the players reply to the abuse they no doubt receive on a regular basis.

I fully expect Martinez to use him at some point on Thursday.
With the general feeling to certainly rest Barkley on Thursday.

Tony J Williams
33 Posted 20/10/2014 at 12:20:15
Is the hatred of Osman so ingrained with some posters that their eyesight fails them when watching him? "but too often knocked off the ball" – He was pushed off the ball 3 times and each time was awarded a free kick, that’s because when you are "knocked" off the ball, it’s generally because you are being fouled.

If Osman was playing for Arsenal, Chelski etc you can pretty much guarantee that he would have a foul given every time he was "knocked" off the ball, a la Wiltshire and his diving pricky attitude.

Not his best game yesterday but people saying the "only downside/glitch" was Osman....... over an incredibly comfortable 3-0 win, absolutely fecking ridiculous.

Brian Harrison
34 Posted 20/10/2014 at 12:44:22
I agree Tony that sometimes the criticism of Ossie is over the top, I am a fan of Ossie. Yes, sometimes he gets muscled out but he has a good football brain as he showed for our third goal. He has been a regular for both Moyes and Martinez, and although both may have differing ideas of how the game should be played, they both have started Ossie when fit.

Obviously he is getting older and will need to be replaced and maybe he is not as effective over 90 minutes as he used to be. But for me he is still worth his place in the squad.

Tony J Williams
35 Posted 20/10/2014 at 12:55:59
That’s the main argument I have with the Ossie bashers in the pub after the game, Brian.

They keep on spouting how shit he is, so in essence they are saying that the managers who consistently keep picking him are obviously thick then?

Martinez used him in all 38 league games last season. If he is so evidently shite, how is still getting a game?

Tom Bowers
36 Posted 20/10/2014 at 13:17:05
The problem with Osman is he doesn’t really have a position and that’s because he doesn’t possess any great prowess, no matter where he plays. Yes, he has ball skills and a great brain but he needs time and space which is so often not allowed at this level. Had he been a stronger player on the ball or a good tackler with some turn of foot then who knows what a player he could have been especially as a midfielder.

His best days are behind him and Martinez is at fault for starting him and against Villa he got away with it but stronger teams would have exploited that weakness as they have done many times.

Max Wilson
37 Posted 20/10/2014 at 14:35:13
I prefer the cautious comments following our Lyndon’s description of events. For me there were two men of the match – Baines and McCarthy.

I was disappointed to see Eto’o languishing on the bench when we know he is one of our outstanding talents. In my opinion, playing him and Lukaku is something we must do to beat the better sides. Villa were not this and are on the slide right now.

We have a lot of making up to do after our dreadful start to this season. So many Toffees were relishing this season, their expectations raised by last. The next 3 points should come care of Burnley if RM plays a strong side. Nothing is certain in our league so resting people is something I hope he doesn’t do.

Tony J Williams
40 Posted 20/10/2014 at 16:27:21
To be fair Max, Eto'o was doing the same on the Chelsea bench.

I can well imagine him playing the Europa League games and coming on near the end of league games to give Lukaku a hand.

Tom, how is our manager "at fault" for picking a player who played his part in an extremely comfortable 3-0 win?

"stronger teams would have exploited that weakness" – They weren't and they didn't. Usual "if my auntie had bollocks, she would be my uncle" rubbish.

You pick your team according to the opposition and form, clearly Martinez is making many mistakes, as he keeps on picking him to play.

Phil Walling
41 Posted 20/10/2014 at 17:19:47
I reckon that both Chelsea and Everton gave him 'zero hours' contracts and Eto'o get's 'paid by the minute'!!!
Colin Glassar
42 Posted 20/10/2014 at 17:52:55
We are now 8/1 to finish in the top 4. I said a few weeks ago we'd end up fighting for 3rd/4th place and I haven't changed my mind. Apart from Man City and Chelsea, there ain't much out there.
Phil Walling
43 Posted 20/10/2014 at 18:29:21
Is it alright to mention 'seventhish' again now, Colin?
Tom Bowers
44 Posted 20/10/2014 at 18:54:02
The Osman debate will continue until he finally retires. He was probably only started because McGeady and Besic were involved in long distance travelling during the week but certainly not because he is a superior player. He did very little against a poor Villa team missing arguably their best midfielder this season, Delph.

Everton have won nothing with Osman in the side... much like all the barren years with Mike Lyons trying to be a centre back and continually being exposed under lousy managers like Gordon Lee.

Colin Glassar
45 Posted 20/10/2014 at 19:28:12
Seventhish plus a cup would be acceptable Phil, but I think we'll get top 4 and no silverware this season.
Linda Morrison
46 Posted 20/10/2014 at 19:32:22
Colin, I think we won't get top 4 but will get a cup

We will always have the so called top clubs sniffing around our players.

Those days are gone; we will keep them and we will win the league in a few seasons if we do.

Paul Hewitt
47 Posted 20/10/2014 at 19:47:11
We need to be more consistent to finish top four.
Kunal Desai
48 Posted 20/10/2014 at 20:16:27
Colin, I think it's important to remember that we still really don't have real strength in depth together with the severe number of injuries we seem to sustain and not forgetting suspensions. I cannot see how we can get 4th or better.

At some point, Arsenal will put together a run and they generally get stronger around February/March. I also expect Man Utd to strengthen their defence and challenge for that 4th spot. If anyone gave me a top 7/8 finish and winning the FA Cup, I would bite their hand off now.

Gavin Johnson
49 Posted 20/10/2014 at 20:48:37
Think I'd take seventh and the the FA Cup over fourth. Let's hope we can win the Europa League, then we can have the best of both... eh?!
Colin Glassar
50 Posted 20/10/2014 at 20:49:56
Kunai, Man Utd would need a new defence of world class players to get anywhere near 4th place. Aren't you watching them against the Baggies? Absolutely garbage are the Mancs. Spurs are shite and so are the RS. So I can see us and Arsenal challenging for the CL spots.
Andrew Ellams
51 Posted 20/10/2014 at 21:25:32
Anything outside the top 2 is there for the taking but won’t come easy.
Jamie Crowley
52 Posted 20/10/2014 at 21:51:40
All this 7th place malarkey...

We have a stretch of very win-able games that will see us near 4th by mid-November if we take care of business. If we can get through December and be within 4 to 6 points of 4th and our injured players return I don't see why 4th is out of the question.

There are basically 5 teams for 2 spots: Everton, Man Utd, Spurs, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Arsenal will make it in, they always do. I've seen absolutely nothing from the others that makes me think we can't pip 4th.

There's 30 games left! We seem to be moving in the right direction after a sluggish start. If we get through this current injury "crisis" we'll be up there sniffing around.

I think I should just cut and paste Colin Glassar's and Kevin Tully's posts from this point forward...

Phil Walling
53 Posted 20/10/2014 at 22:08:02
Colin; Pre-season, the best I could get for either a 6th or 7th finish was 6/4 so staked my usual £100. Did you see better odds for that or were you looking for a higher placing?
Paul Andrews
54 Posted 20/10/2014 at 22:37:51

You should definitely win on your bet there... good luck.

I am not sure how that works though, was it the same 6/4 price for both 6th and 7th position?

Colin Glassar
55 Posted 20/10/2014 at 23:12:24
Spot on Jamie, my sentiments entirely. Phil, I'm not a betting man but I'm prepared to put a tenner on a top 4 place.
Mark Frere
56 Posted 20/10/2014 at 23:17:31
A bit off topic; how the fuck has McCarthy got Player of the Month?! I know there hasn't been many stand out performers, but McCarthy has been in his worst form (Villa game excluded) since joining us!
Mark Andersson
57 Posted 21/10/2014 at 02:16:12
Top 4 is still a possible; however, we can't afford another dip in form. All the above teams mentioned can get better so it's going to be a close call. No matter where the Redshite end up, I want Everton to be a place or two above them.

Phil, as always, even when you give credit, you evoke an argument: Lukaku has a lot of improving to do for me, to justify his price tag.

As for the Ossi bashers, I'm a big fan... and the manager's knowledge of the game and players is streets ahead of your average fan.

Stephen Karnes
58 Posted 21/10/2014 at 10:37:22
First Villa game I've seen this season, but I thought Cleverly was excellent. Is he still on the radar for the summer? I can't imagine he would be, but with Osman and Pienaar getting on and him on a free...
Tony J Williams
59 Posted 21/10/2014 at 12:01:08
Couldn't have been that good, Stephen, they were completely dominated in midfield.

The only person who looked up for it in their team, in my opinion, was Hutton... in the first half at least.

Stephen Karnes
60 Posted 21/10/2014 at 13:17:36
Yeah, Tony, but it isn't one player's fault that the rest of the team was poor. Cleverly looked the only one in their midfield capable of creating anything. You're right, Hutton was decent for the first half, but I still think Cleverly looked quite good for them, certainly a class above the rest of the team.
Eddie Dunn
61 Posted 21/10/2014 at 15:18:43
Going back to Leon Osman, who I have liked as an Everton player, who has done some great things for us.
It isn't that he is being fouled, but that after half time he is as weak as a kitten, and loses the ball too often.
I don't doubt his skill in seeing clever, little, nicely weighted passes in and around the penalty area.
The problem is that after he is puffed-out, he starts to cost the side.
It's nothing personal and it doesn't deflect from the good things he's done for us, but it happens to all of us.
It should be the bench for Leon, unless we have an injury crisis.
Tony J Williams
62 Posted 21/10/2014 at 16:09:22
I don't think you would get a single poster on here doubting that Osman can give us a full, good 90 minutes now Eddie.

He is a 60 minute man from the start or a 30 minute at the end man now.

He is and always has been one of our more skilled players but he hasn't the legs and the lungs any more.

Then again, what do I know? He played that great quick free kick on 75+ minutes.

Steavey Buckley
63 Posted 21/10/2014 at 16:41:53
Everton can now have a great mid-field in Barry, Barkley, Besic, McCarthy and Naismith; and great attacking full-backs in Coleman and Baines. The more Barkley plays and gets better, Lukaku is a very happy man, who will score more goals. Osman should play when the opposition are weaker or at the weakest, because football is ultimately about power and strength.
Ajay Gopal
64 Posted 21/10/2014 at 16:53:38
I have said it before (and what Eddie & Tony are saying above) - Osman is not a 90 minutes player in the Premier League on a regular basis, but he has shown us a few times this season that he can be a super sub from around the 6-70 minute mark. He has been very unlucky not to score this season - his goal bound shots always seem to be saved by the keepers or last ditch tackling. He has another 1-2 seasons in him - as a sub, mind you, not a regular starter.
Wayne Smyth
65 Posted 21/10/2014 at 17:59:07
Ajay, I agree that Osman seems to do best as a 60-70 minute sub when the other team are knackered.

He has a good footballing brain, quick feet and decent technique. He's slow and weak however, so when the other team is fit, fresh and closing down our players he tends to suffer and is too easily bullied off the ball.

I'd much rather see Besic played from the start in attacking positions than Osman, if our backup wingers are not good enough. Besic seems to have excellent feet like Osman and a very good range of passing. He also works hard and will cover back, which is more than McGeady or Atsu often do.

I think Martinez is obviously giving Besic bits here and there. I've been disappointed we've not seen more of him to be honest as his Chelsea debut aside, he's been excellent since.

Jack Cross
66 Posted 23/10/2014 at 02:15:28
Don't get carried away! We beat a poor Villa side that had lost its last three games. There was an improvement in our play and it was down to Ross, I'd say. But he will have be more consistent over several games and not inconsistent as I've seen him in the past.

Burnley, that should be a 3-0 win no problem, in my opinion. Then maybe we can talk about pushing on.

I think we're up for doing well in Europe. Although we've been up and down so far, we have the points and are top of group. A bit of graft, a bit of skill, a bit of luck... and I think our Euro season will do just fine.

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