Gaz couldn't make this one so it was up to me to drive and after picking up Ste we joined the others in the pub with plenty of time until kick off.

We saw the team news in the pub and whilst disappointed to see James McCarthy hadn't made the team we were all pleased to see Steven Naismith return and plunged straight back into the first team. With Gareth Barry suspended, Ross Barkley was given an opportunity to play in central midfield alongside Muhamed Besic. QPR featured ex-Blue Richard Dunne and Evertonian Joey Barton. I was encouraged by the sight of QPR's substitutes bench as it was filled with has been's. Rio Ferdinand, Clint Hill, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Niki Kranjcar, Karl Henry and Bobby Zamora the six outfield players on the bench.

Elder statesmen Samuel Eto'o, Stephen Pienaar, Antolin Alcaraz and Arouna Kone were included on our bench, as were the more youthful Luke Garbutt and John Stones. We made the short walk up to Goodison Park, just evading the rain. Through the turnstiles (naturally we chose the one with the biggest queue and with one turnstile shut!) and we were into our seats in time for kick off. Neil Swarbrick got the game under way, Everton attacking towards the Park End in the first half.

QPR began with intent and got into our penalty area a few times though Everton were resilient enough at the back. Muhamed Besic did well in the midfield to break up their rhythm whilst Steven Naismith's running kept them busy at the back.

We had created a few openings though weren't exactly on top of the game. We were getting up the pitch too slowly. Ross Barkley had enough of that and followed up a surge up the pitch with a rocket of a shot which flew into the top corner of the Park End net giving Rob Green no chance. Gary swears it took a little knick off the defender on the way through though it seemed a clean strike from my view. Anyway, we were one ahead and whichever way you look at it that Barkley ran at them direct and had a go was the reason we scored the goal.

This directness rubbed off on Kevin Mirallas who ran at the defence himself and just cleared the crossbar by about a foot with a drive from the edge of the penalty box. QPR were on the ropes a little bit by this point and with a free kick Kevin Mirallas tried again. This one definitely deflected and wrong-footed Rob Green and the ball ended up in the back of the net. 2-0 and though it was hardly a classic Everton performance we had grown into the game and scored goals with a bit more directness to our play. That's not to say we still weren't wasteful with the ball on some occasions. More than once we had a free kick inside the opposition half and ended up cluelessly passing the ball back to Howard.

I'm all for playing the ball from the back and building attacks though not just so we can then get a certain distance into the opposition half and then go back again. Thankfully we were more direct at times and I want to see more of that from Everton. I want us to mix it up a bit more and make us unpredictable to play against. I suppose, in a way, that teams seemed to have sussed us out now is making us unpredictable and our pacey players like Barkley, Mirallas and Naismith are starting to take players on a lot more. Lesson headed by Roberto Martinez one hopes.

Having been subjected to some bazaar dance on the pitch at half time it was a relief to see Everton finish the game off with a goalscoring return to action from fans favourite Steven Naismith. Aiden McGeady, who had a pretty good match, managed to beat the full back and get his cross into the box for Naismith to nod home. 3-0, and we could begin to dream of seeing Arouna Kone!

Off the pitch and there was some strange activity in the Upper Bullens Road stand when some bloke decided to start cheering on Everton stripped down to his blue underpants. This brought smiles all around the ground. At 3-0 Everton relaxed a little and QPR had a bit more of the ball. McGeady and Lukaku were given a bit of a rest to give Pienaar and Eto'o some game time, however it was substitute Bobby Zamora who scored the final goal of the game, tapping home after Mutch's effort was saved to grab a consolation for QPR.

There was still time for a massive disappointment and that was the injury to Kevin Mirallas. It was a bad tackle by Mutch and it was disappointing that he did not even go and check on Kevin when he was obviously in some distress. However I didn't really blame him an awful lot for going through Mirallas as had our Belgian have just passed the ball (which he had a lot of time and options to do) he would have been fine. Instead he was pratting around on the ball and goading the player into the tackle, so it probably wasn't that surprising Mutch went through him...even if, as I say, it was a bad tackle.

Kone was introduced and made a reasonable impact. He had a hand in Samuel Eto'o hitting the post with the ball bouncing back off Rob Green and somehow not going into the goal. A ball across the box, I think from Eto'o was also just missed by Kone. What a return to action that would have been for him.

Full time swiftly followed and, unlike out last home game versus Hull City, Everton were cheered off the pitch. Lets try and kick on now at Southampton and lets all hope Kevin Mirallas' injury isn't too bad.

I'm not going to St. Mary's so have a great Christmas Day one and all. See you on Boxing Day.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Not great kicking and a few hazardous punches rather than catches but otherwise fine. 6
Baines: Not quite at his best. Maybe I'm being too hasty but with the promise of Luke Garbutt and the threat of his contract running down would now maybe represent a good opportunity to cash in on Leighton Baines whilst he still has market value? 6
Distin: Excellent. Very solid. 7
Jagielka: Also excellent. 7
Coleman: Like Baines, is struggling for form. Will get back to his best sooner or later. 6
Besic: My man of the match. He did a few dumb things, I think he always will, but he made several tackles and was busy throughout. Still rough at the edges though is certainly improving game by game. Certainly his best game yet tonight. 7
Barkley: Had a splendid game and capped it off with a great goal. A bit in and out at times but his use of the ball and ability to run at players really keeps us ticking. I would like to see him play more in that position. He's learnt to stay on his feet a lot more also. 7
Mirallas: Had a good game but why, oh why could he not have just avoided injury and played that pass to Baines? We could really do without him being injured this time of year as he really does make an impact for us. 7
McGeady: Had a good game. Showed quick feet and got himself into good attacking positions. May be needed at Southampton if, as expected, Mirallas doesn't make it. 7
Naismith: Great to see him back. Not the most gifted player but boy does he work and he gets his rewards. Always a goal threat. 7
Lukaku: A little disappointing really. Didn't put himself about as well as he can do. 6

Substitutes:
Pienaar (for McGeady): His flicks didn't quite work out unfortunately. 6
Eto'o (for Lukaku): Unlucky not to score at the end. 6
Kone (for Mirallas): Ran at the defenders and made a bit of a splash. Could be key for the remainder of the season yet. 6

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Reader Comments (10)

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Sam Higgins
1 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:16:30
Good report as per usual, Paul; however, my local ale house 11 could give QPR a good match and I didnÂ’t see anything last night that got my hopes up for the rest of the season. We just seem so off the pace compared to last term when we were blasting teams away with our energy and movement. It all just seems so lethargic. Fucking free kicks ending up back at HowardÂ’s feet for Christ sake...

Look, the 3 pts is vital and in that respect it was a good win but going forward we need to really get ourselves up to last seasonÂ’s standards. And Lukaku – Goddamnit, 㿈m and he isnÂ’t anywhere near what he was last season.

We should be buzzing – we’ve even been handed a dream Europa draw compared to the other PL teams...

John Zapa
2 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:26:39
I though the first 30 mins was piss poor. The score masks a poor performance. The players look clueless when we have any type of set-piece, lots of boos when the freekicks in QPR’s half ended up with Howard. Martinez is taking the club backwards.
James Stewart
3 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:20:58
Bizarre ratings. Distin and Jagielka were terrible at times. Both were tackled after fannying around with it in their own half. Distin especially looked really poor. Baines turned back or inside every chance he got. Not once did he take on his man. Coleman at least got forward and was our best defender by far.
Anthony Lamb
4 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:29:07
"QPR blown away" and "McGeady had a pretty good match" somewhat invalidates much of the presentation!
Xavier Spencer
5 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:32:51
Paul, I thought we were crap. No pace. No penetration. No movement. Neither full back getting behind opposition defenders. Service to Lukaku non-existent. It was painful to watch. Only Naismith stood out for me. I see you gave McGeady seven? He was utter shite. Okay, he set up the third goal but his decision making and use of the ball is atrocious.

If QPR had scored first (admittedly a big IF) we would have gone to pieces. Last season's optimism is fast disappearing. We are a mid table team at best. The football we are playing is aimless and so fucking boring to watch.

I like Roberto but his positive takes on every match and every performance is beginning to drive me mad.

Bill Gall
6 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:05:11
Everton at home playing against a bottom club, not having won away from home, tipped for relegation, and our MotM is a defensive midfielder... sums up Everton's performance.
Mike Childs
7 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:44:24
Thank James Stewart #3 Finally someone who saw the same game out of Coleman that I did. I thought his best game yet especially defensively.

He got better as the game went on which should be great for future matches.

Paul Ferry
8 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:54:00
"QPR Blown Away"!

What game were you watching mate? Was it windy?

When Howard in his most telling moment of the match patted the ball out for QPR to score, my immediate thought – and others on the forum – was "Oh no! Not again, surely". Not because of any jerking knees but because we had not played well at all.

Energy? Speed? Intensity? Urgency? Pushing up?

IÂ’m made up, we won 3-1, utterly chuffed to bits, still smiling, but just like Wolfsburg 4-1 this result was somewhat flattering.

Among a number of concerns that I have the "full-back issue" is quickly climbing to the top. What on earth has happened to Coleman and Baines defending and going forward? It’s no longer just set pieces with Leighton now – sadly – and he needs to be dropped for Garbutt. And if the argument against this is great servant, England international, look what he has done for us, boss fella, well I know all of that but quite frankly the present interests me more than anything else and I’m watching someone who is fast becoming a shadow of his former self. It’s Catch-22: it’s a question of confidence to some extent and that is hardly helped if you bench someone. Anyway Bobby has a worrying often-misplaced commitment to senior players and he will not drop Leighton.

Unfortunate, in my opinion, but that’s Bobby’s call alone. Yet again a goal leaked through poor central defending and poor keeping. The time for Jags/Distin (Happy 37th Birthday today) is nearing an end and for some is past its sell-by date. It has to be Jags plus one other for the rest of the season for me. If John Stones – not rushed back please – is not picked when fully fit to partner Jags then that might just be the point at which I start to seriously question the gaffer whose lack of flexibility vis-à-vis tactics, set-ups, and selections is already a worry for me at any rate.

Much to look forward to though: Besic, Barkley (canÂ’t play deep can he when Macca gets back?), rediscovered form of Macca, Stones, & Jags (not great yesterday though), Garbutt, Seamus back being Seamus. Mirallas (we have to hold onto him), and a fella up front who whatever anyone might say to have a pop at him will bang in 20-ish goals for us.

Returning to the point of my concern about Bobby and senior players the time has come to ditch the following next January/Summer: Howard, Distin, Pienaar, McGeady, and, sharp intake of breath anticipating arrows, maybe Baines too – at left back at any rate (we have top-notch cover/replacements for this part of the pitch and there is surely a limit to how long we can keep Garbutt waiting in the wings?).

Your ratings continue to baffle me mate! Besic is your MotM and gets the same rating as Distin, Barkley, Mirallas, McGeady (what?), and Naismith. Utterly baffling! There are other numbers from 0-10 other than 6 and 7!

Howard 5 – Coleman 5 – Jags 6 – Distin 5 – Baines 4 – Besic 8 (agree MOM) – Barkley 7 – McGeady 4 – Mirallas 7 – Naismith 6 – Lukaku 4

Kunal Desai
9 Posted 17/12/2014 at 06:39:14
"However I didn't really blame him an awful lot for going through Mirallas as had our Belgian have just passed the ball (which he had a lot of time and options to do) he would have been fine". Thats a pretty pathetic comment to make. Just because Mirallas didn't pass you think it was understandable why an opposition player would chop an Everton player down and injuring him. Potentially keeping him out of the side for a while?? Thats a shocking comment.
Barry Thompson
10 Posted 17/12/2014 at 07:33:07
Mr Ferrys' ratings closer to the mark for me.
McGeady rated the same as Besic, never in a million from what I watched. McGeady was gash imo and will Lukaku ever win a header as I can't remember him winning a single one on Monday.

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