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Another late slump gifts the Gunners a point

by | 23/08/2014  Comments (130)  jump
Everton 2 - 2 Arsenal
Everton let another two points slip as they allowed Arsenal to grab a draw that had looked well beyond them at the halfway stage of this, the first home game of the new season at Goodison Park.

The Blues were 2-0 up and cruising at the interval and looked on course for a similarly dominant scoreline as the one by which they crushed the Gunners in this fixture in April but, just as they did against Leicester, Roberto Martinez's side paid the price for an apparent lack of fitness and for easing off the opposition with a late equaliser.

Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas had both returned to a starting line-up that included Romelu Lukaku playing in the wide-right role in which he was so effective in Everton's 3-0 win over Arsenal the last time the two sides met.

And it was Coleman who marked his 100th Premier League start with the opening goal, a smart far-post header to convert Gareth Barry's floated cross in the 19th minute.

Mirallas came very close to doubling the lead shortly afterwards but couldn't steer the ball past Szczesny with just the goalkeeper to beat but Steven Naismith scored right before half time for the second week running to make it 2-0.

Lukaku led a counter attack down the right flank, skipping over Callum Chambers' desperate lunge before dissecting the remainder of the Gunners' defence with a superb pass that his Scottish strike partner slotted neatly through the 'keeper's legs.

Arsenal, who had failed to register a shot on target in the first 45 minutes, made changes in the second half, first bringing on Olivier Giroud and then Santi Cazorla and both substitutes would make telling contributions as Arsene Wenger's side capitalised on a limp close by the home side to score twice.

Cazorla's trickery down the left side of the Everton box ended with a low cross that eluded each of the Blue shirts in front of Tim Howard allowing Aaron Ramsey to slide the ball home from close range.

And then, with the game ticking towards added time, Monreal chased down an overhit cross and swung the ball back towards the six-yard box where Giroud beat Distin to the header and buried it past Howard.

The draw represented more frustration for Martinez's men who looked short on energy as the match wore on and seemed unable to maintain the pressure needed to contain Arsenal as the Londoners grew in confidence.

Lukaku was forced off with 20 minutes to go with the toe inury that may have been at the root of rumours on Thursday that he would be doubtful for this game and was replaced by Aiden McGeady but neither he nor Christian Atsu, who also came on in the closing stages, could engineer a third goal that would have killed the game.

Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Reports

Reader Comments (130)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:42:50
I am so fucking mad with Roberto that I'm going to repost a post from another thread which has now closed...

Sorry, Roberto, but you fucked up BIG time today. You can take the credit for the two goal lead. But 2 up, and under the cosh for a long time in the second half, Barry and McCarthy needed help in protecting a very dodgy defence. It HAD TO BE BESIC for Osman! It Just HAD to be.

Moyes too defensive when we needed to attack. Roberto too cavalier when we need to bolster our defending.

I am so fucking mad at that.

Lee Gray
2 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:48:32
Starting to defend like Wigan......
Stephen Brown
3 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:48:19
I feel ill after that ! Had an hour or so to digest it and I'm feeling no better. Oh how our team could do with Dave Watson right now ! Trying to remain positive - beat Chelsea ( unlikely I know) and its a good start to the season. Gutted and spoilt my weekend !
Trevor Thompson
4 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:49:56
We're not good enough. End of. Even without the subs Jags missing that header for Giroud to score was criminal. I never thought I'd say this but Jags is shit. There -- I've said it and it feels good. I think we'll do OK and finish 7th but very frustrating that we shoot ourselves in the foot and ruin our chances of actually breaking into the top 4.
Dan McKie
5 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:56:02
Is it me, or do our substitutions look like they are decided pre game, rather than during it? Why do only like for like wide players get refreshed? Just what did Atsu for Mirralas do for our game? It was the same last week, the central players all running through treacle, yet would have to drop dead before changes are made. Lack of fitness after a disgraceful pre season schedule, along with baffling in game 'changes' have cost us 4 points from 6.

Martinez still seems to be above criticism though.

Jimmy-Ã…ge Sørheim
6 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:55:24
Basicly the lack of match fitness has killed our start of the season as we all feared.

I think Martinez has a lot to learn to be a real top manager.

His positive attitude alone is not enough.

I missed Moyes defensive grit in the second half.
Martinez should have put Besic on for Osman in the second half but totally blew it with the subs and we lost another 2 points.

Shane Corcoran
7 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:58:02
Brent, I understand your rage but that RobertoÂ’s way. If weÂ’d won itÂ’d be grand. If heÂ’d made your sub and we still drew thereÂ’d be plenty on saying he should have made an attacking sub.

Overalll I thought it was a fair result. Our second goal was a complete joke; foul by Lukaku and offside. We must remember that when Everton are allegedly being screwed over by the officials.

ItÂ’s another game under the belt for many players in need of it but it feels bad after the way we let it slip.

Nick Entwistle
8 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:58:28
Their first goal hurt more than the second. It all just had this inevitable feel about it. I can see Martinez was trying to stretch the Arsenal back line with attacking subs on the counter, but we didn't need to sit back and do that.

It would be tempting to list the positives, (like the possession football that meant sitting back wasn't necessary) but all I'm thinking now is that these dropped points like so many other seasons are the difference between success and another season falling short.

Every team will drop points but this is just becoming par for course, dammit.

Gavin Johnson
9 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:55:51
I agree Brett.. I put on the last post that I thought the substitution should have been Besic for Osman all day long! It was so obvious.. Perhaps Roberto didn't want to hurt Osmans feelings by subbing a sub, but we should have consolidated the play in midfield, something we were doing in the first half by a country mile.

Brian Hennessy
10 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:58:02
Feels like a defeat that does.

If Arsenal had lots of chances and scored off one of them I would maybe blame Roberto for the substitutions, but it could easily have ended up 3-1 and bringing on Besic would have done nothing to stop Jagielka missing that header.

Naismith continues to impress me while Lukaku still useless in the air for his size but did well for the second goal.

Peter Bell
11 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:05:54
Why did he bring Osman on after 8 minutes when he knows he only has the legs for 60?
Jim Bennings
12 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:59:15
The problem with Jagielka, and Heitinga used to get destroyed for this...he is too small at centre half.

The guy has been a good servant but he is not a commander of a defender, like the mentioned Dave Watson and more modern, John Terry, Ron Vlaar etc.

The amount of headers we have conceded over the last three year's,even to players who shouldn't ever win a header against us like Daniel Sturridge,.

I'm sorry but Jagielka was found out quite grossly at the World Cup when Suarez as per usual done him up like a steaming kipper.

I have noticed the problem with our defenders for a while but was regularly shouted down with "oh Jags and Distin are like a rock"

No guy's they are not.

The buck has to stop at the defence when you, week in week out cannot defend corners and setpieces properly, concedes so many headers and goals from crosses.

We can't blame McCarthy or Barry as defensive midfielders, McCarthy was fucking outstanding again today offering maximum protection.

No as soon as Arsenal started applying the slightest bit of pressure just like last weekend, we cracked, we can't handle pressure.

The annoying thong is that Arsenal were shite and looked a beaten side with 15 minutes left, we shoot ourselves in the foot on too regular basis to be seriously considered as Champions League hopefuls.

Tony Twist
13 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:51:12
I'm repeating what I have already said in a different thread but any money we have left needs to stay in the bank and Martinez needs to take a good, long hard look at himself and his methods. These methods have had some positive effects but there are too many glaring faults as well.

Set pieces for, set pieces against, defending generally, playing a certain way above all things are Martinez's weaknesses and he is blinkered like Moyes and seems unable to be flexible. He needs to change or we will be in trouble.

After all that has happened to Arsenal on their travels to Merseyside over the past year, they should have been buried today, we thrashed them last year and RS hammered them.

Those results stay with a team and there shouldn't have been any way back with a 2-0 lead. Get back on the training pitch and back to the basics, solid defending and incisive attacking with pace.

Brent Stephens
14 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:04:05
Shane, I take your point, sort of, about complaining if we had have brought on Besic and still drawn. But that would have meant we had conceded 2 goals with Besic alongside Barry and McCarthy, and for all it's guesswork on my part I just can't see those 2 goals having been scored, because I think we'd have shut Arsenal down more as they tried to come forward. Just my feeling.
Peter Cummings
15 Posted 23/08/2014 at 20:48:10
This was inexcusable but not unusual as, yet again, we adopted a Â’what we have we holdÂ’ attitude, with the end result most Evertonians have now come to expect once we take the lead

I thought Luke looked way off the pace and faulted Howard for the first goal after not having a save to make for most of the game, it disappointed to see both Arsenal goals coming from left wing crosses with Coleman AWOL although he was one of the better performers on the day. It is extremely annoying when we dominated without just reward and it looks like my pre-season view that we would do well to take six points from the first three games is coming to pass.

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:11:04
Brian #10, my point would be that Jags / Distin would not have been exposed to so much pressure if Besic had been on, because a defensive trio of him and Barry / McCarthy would not have allowed Arsenal get to all those balls into the box – I think. And that is in no way a criticism of Barry and McCarthy – they needed support that Osman couldn't give. I know I'm going on about this but I'm frigging hopping.
Jim Bennings
17 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:09:06

I am starting to worry a bit too that you might just be right about Martinez being blinkered to the major problem of setpieces, at both ends of the pitch.

I love Roberto but for me our general lack of ariel dominance has been a big problem even in the latter Moyes years, perhaps since the departure of Cahill who knows but it's something that should have been worked on during the summer but clearly hasn't.

Distin and Jagielka are both ok at reading the game and intercepting but in the English league where so many goals are scored from high balks they are getting completely smashed almost on a gamely basis now and as I said it's something that has crept up quietly but alarmingly because even our manager hadn't really cottoned on to it yet by the looks of it.

Brent Stephens
18 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:16:00
Peter, "we adopted a 'what we have we hold' attitude".

I just didn't see that as a 'what we have we hold' attitude but one of we're 2 up and we'll still keep emphasising attack (hence McGeady and Atsu).

Jim Bennings
20 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:17:07

That's not about getting protected, that goal Giroud scored wad because Jagielka has been done in the air again and for a central defender that's not something that you want to be proud of.

The reality of it is its happening too often with Jags and Sylvain nowadays, the Merseyside Derby last season, three setpieces in one game???

Too many more to mention, even when Moyes was here towards the end.

You ask a John Terry or a Jamie Carragher or Vidic if he'd have been happy with conceding that equaliser today.

Buck has to stop with the defence mate, first nit stopping the crosses and then inexplicably losing too many headed duels.

Clarence Yurcan
22 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:24:32
It's all over, ho hope left at all in the league. We will not even finish top 10. The main goal now must be to put all effort into winning the Europa League, and merely not being relegated in the Prem. 15th place in the league and EL title is what we must now shoot for. So depressed... so alone...
Andrew Clare
23 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:21:45
I can't believe some of the comments on here and on the live forum earlier. It's the second game of the season for god's sake. Get a grip.

Yes, the pre-season was a joke; yes, our players aren't prepared properly; yes, our central defenders are past their sell-by date, but really I know we will do well and Roberto will sort things out. It' gonna be OK.

Brent Stephens
24 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:24:32
Jim, I don't disagree with the criticism of the defensive pair. I think all I'm saying is the probs were two-fold – a dodgy CB pairing AND no protection for them.
Rick Tarleton
25 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:28:18
Mirallas and Lukaku should not have been replaced by two "wingers". Tactically that lacked nous and is the weakness that Everton have a naïvety and lack the ability to close games down that we should win.
Brian Wilkinson
26 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:18:45
All I can say is unbelievable some of the posts on here, absolute second rate defending cost us two goals, I watched Osman closely today and I am sorry but the stick the guy gets on here is beyond a joke.

Every team has a scapegoat, I may not be Ossie's biggest fan but Jesus Christ the guy gets slated for today's draw by some. It's not Ossie's fault Martinez chose to put him on but by all means have a rant; I'm fuming we threw it away.

Giroud did not even leave the floor for his header, I notice not one single comment about Coleman playing the ball straight to an Arsenal player early on that nearly put us a goal down, thank heavens it was not Osman.

Osman is past his best but, like Naismith, he will give his all, no our defence cost us a win, Not Osman, not Martinez, but schoolboy defending.

Colin Glassar
27 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:30:18
I'm too miserable to even comment. Another Saturday ruined by EFC. Thanks lads.
Jim Bennings
28 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:30:00
I kind of do agree with you Brent, I was a tad surprised by Martinez's changes today, the Osman for Pienaar on was particularly strange, It could have been McGeady but then again when he came on he did absolutely zilch.

Besic should have been on at 2-0 true but I think long term we are going to need to look at the defensive situation.

It's clearly not good and it's clearly going to remain a problem this season with us regularly shipping stupid cheap goals from hopeful crosses or corners.

It's down to Martinez and his men to suss out how to stop this happening so often... it's a clear Achilles Heel for us.

Andy Finigan
29 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:33:47
Oh cheer up, Colin. If you're down, what hope have the rest got?
Kunal Desai
30 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:34:35
I noticed Darron Gibson was again missing from the squad. Surely he must be on his way out before the window closes?
Brent Stephens
31 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:37:06
Agree, Jim. And while I'm banging on about shoring up the defensive mid, that can happen just by Roberto making the decision. However, not so easy to keep protecting Jags / Distin from everything. You're right, that is the real worry. And I don't see a solution to that soon. Not Alcaraz, not Duffy, not Stones (great going forward but defensively dodgy). Poo.
Andy Finigan
32 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:40:30
Has Jagielka been the same player since his injury last season? Will he ever get back to were he was?
Gerry Western
33 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:09:02
I'm a huge fan of Martinez but sadly today he kept faith with players who are well past their sell-by date. Distin may well be super fit physically for his age but regrettably his thought processes lag far behind. Giroud had already picked out his spot and hit the back of the net before Distin had even realised the cross was coming in.

I have to take issue with those criticising Jags for the second goal. If his neck had been a yard longer, he still wouldn't have got anywhere near that cross. He was merely attempting to distract Giroud but in doing so only succeeded in highlighting the deficiencies of Distin.

The game, however, hinged on one crucial decision and that was to bring on Osman. Wenger had clearly had a word with his players and highlighted the fact that they'd allowed us to bully them first half but they got got stuck in to us in the second period and we appeared to have only ten men on the park. Osman was nowhere to be seen, Barry and McCarthy were working their nuts off but simply couldn't keep it up, whilst Osman was simply being dispossessed with consummate ease and allowed the opposition to breeze past him.

Yet we had on our bench a young man who'd looked fitter than anyone else pre-season, is as hard as nails, and who possesses great technical ability. The end result was they were able to continually get the ball out to their wide men and we were always on the back foot.

Really disappointed to hear Roberto's after-match commentary that we'd simply ran out of steam. Why on earth did he then allow Osman of all people to remain on the park when he had the option of Besic on the bench? To be honest, I'm dumbfounded.

Sam Hoare
34 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:45:26
Worth pointing out that a TW goldenboy, Coleman, failed to stop both crosses coming in for their goals. In fact, a lot of crosses came in from his side and he was not at his best defensively.
John Malone
35 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:20:20
Martinez should take the rap for that today in both terms, credit for tactics first half to get the lead but naïve again to let a lead slip; so, so, disappointing.

I know hindsight is a great thing but it seemed obvious to me and everyone around me that the back six were tired and needed extra bodies to help out defensively.

Why on earth go like for like and keep the same shape and tactics when McCarthy was on his knees covering the space Lukaku was leaving as well as doing his own job? It was crying out for Besic to come on and play two banks of four just to see the game out after it went 2-1.

I just hope he now learns his lesson and doesn't let it happen again — it really does feel like a loss, sickening.

John Moore
36 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:30:31
The way I saw it today was we were the better team and outplayed Arsenal for 60 mins, Howard wasn't troubled once in the first half. Then we tired badly.

I think the fuckers are unfit, Martinez's idea of pre-season is a few games of five-a-side and working on passing it around for an hour then off to the cafe for some tapas and a nice bottle of Riocca to build team moral.

You've got to be super fit in this league and play for 95 mins or you'll get suckered in the closing stages of games like we're seeing all too often with us throwing winning opportunities away all the time.

Get the fuckers fit first and the play your football.

Tahir Abdullah
37 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:59:13
Sam @34, noted and nice one :)....
Tommy Coleman
38 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:02:27
This was all about running out of gas in the last 10 mins. Not tactics etc, we can't question the manager on that but we can question him on why the pre-season was poor.
Stephen Brown
39 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:57:14
John Moore (36) has pretty much nailed it. Fitness has to improve.
Sam Hoare
40 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:08:34
Tommy, yes and we can also question him on why he didn't make subs before their goal (which was clearly coming) to inject some fresher legs. Besic for Osman for example or maybe even Stones for Coleman who was looking a little fatigued.
Danny Broderick
41 Posted 23/08/2014 at 21:38:48
By the way, Jags didn't miss the header. The ball went over him. He was in a good position at the near post, but couldn't reach it. That does happen.

Distin gave Giroud half a yard and that was all he needed to steer his header in the net. If anyone is at fault, it was Distin. Distin should have been tight enough to at least put him off and stop him putting it where he wanted. That 2nd goal was not down to Jagielka.

Chris Atherton
42 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:11:52
Shows how much we've come on. Two years ago we'd have been over the moon with a draw against Arsenal. Feels like we lost today tho.
Sam Hoare
43 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:15:06
Another thing that galls me is that Ramsey had the desire and energy (despite playing midweek in Turkey) to get past Osman and both centre backs for their first goal. I bet if Besic had been on him he wouldn't have let him get there so easy.

I like Leon and have stood up for him countless times but he was not the player for the last 25 mins of that match. Needed some blood and guts out there especially as McCarthy, who I thought was brilliant for 75 mind, was running out.

Jamie Barlow
44 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:04:59
It was tactics too Tommy. If he didn't tell the players to sit back and invite pressure on our 18 yard box, why didn't Martinez tell them to push up and defend further up the pitch. The last 20 minutes was like a training ground set up. Bad day at the office for Bobby.

Hopefully, and on the evidence of the first half, this is just a fitness thing. We shouldn't forget that some of the football in the first half looked great. If we could keep it up for 90 minutes then I'd be happy. McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas and Naismith were all over the pitch first half, especially McCarthy and it showed in the last 25.

I'm confident we'll be okay. Just hope the defence sorts itself out. These lads aren't as bad as they are playing.

Tom Bowers
45 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:17:19
RM has to get this mess sorted before the Chelsea game. Changes are due. I had a feeling Giroud was going to cause problems today and it was surprising they didn’t start him.

As everyone seems to agree, the centre of the defence seems to be losing it in the later stages. Maybe Gibson can replace Barry next week if he is fully fit. The older guys cannot play 90 minutes so I was shocked to see Osman come on after only 8 minutes.

Early days yet but warning signs to heed.

Darren Robinson-Cooke
46 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:19:25
The game was crying out for Besic in the midfield today, not Osman. I get the impression Roberto doesn't yet trust Besic for whatever reason, maybe he is seeing something (lack of discipline maybe to control his aggressive tackling on the pitch) hence the reason he never used him. It baffles me because he has everything we lacked today: energy, pace, aggression and willing to tackle and close the opposition down... so why was he not used???
Kieran Kinsella
47 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:42:21
It's about survival and the future now. Cancel the contracts of Gibson, Kone and Alcaraz because they're finished and maybe we can get some insurance money. Sell Jags and Distin before the window closes and maybe we can raise a couple of million to payoff Hibbert and Osmans contracts. Fire the fitness coach, get in a good defensive coach to mold the youngsters into decent players. Cross your fingers we are not relegated and hope we have a decent team in a few years.
Jamie Barlow
48 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:46:10
It's a good job no one is overreacting on here, eh Kieran.
Steavey Buckley
49 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:41:04
Everton needed to stiffen the midfield in the last 15 minutes, it was being over run, with Osman looking sorely out of place and out of sorts. Perfect opportunity to bring Besic on, you might have thought.

No; Atsu and McGeady come on instead. And the game ended 2:2. One might think, like Moyes before, there is a fixation about Osman having to stay on the pitch, even when he should not be.

John Malone
50 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:51:00
Sounds like you need a nice cold pint of Stella, Kieran!
Raymond Fox
51 Posted 23/08/2014 at 22:26:24
Playing a match of football is similar to running a race: a marathon runner, any sort of runner, if he goes too fast early he will fade towards the end.

It's the same with players: we used up a lot of energy while we attacked Arsenal and gained the 2-goal lead; our full backs were up and down the field continuously, Naismith pulled his guts out, McCarthy was non-stop as usual.

All our players used up a lot of energy, so, however fit they are, you could expect that they would tire to some degree.

Maybe their not 100% fit; I doubt many players in the Prem are yet. It might be that the manager has them well undercooked, we don't really know, but I suppose he has to decide pre-season, does he risk his best players in a lot of friendlies and possibly get them crocked? Barkley's out even because of a training injury. Our squad hasn't a lot of strength in depth to cope with many injuries.

I thought their 1st goal should have been cut out; how it got to Ramsey I don't know. Their 2nd just cleared Jagielka's head but dropped perfect for Giroud, if you look at the stills, Giroud has hold of the front of Distin's shirt.

For those that say the defence is defending like Wigan, they didn't last year and don't forget the defenders are all Moyes players! They're all very experienced defenders, surely they shouldn't need to be told how to defend!

Tony Dove
52 Posted 23/08/2014 at 23:39:17
I thought both teams were pretty average and unless signings are made before the deadline neither will trouble the top teams. The petty refereering was also a big disappointment after the the World Cup. Lukaku is one hell of a gamble and please God Ross is back before too long. Once the Europa League starts its all downhill.
Aman Kanji
53 Posted 23/08/2014 at 23:58:40
We urgently need to speed up our succession plans for Distin and Jagielka. Neither can defend a cross, especially Jags. He's great at last-ditch tackles but anything to the front or side and who knows...

Bad day, but at least we didn't loose it... We'll make up the points. We drew first three games last season and ended up with 70+ points... Keep the faith... We'll beet Chelski - Safe journey, all...

Tim Locke
54 Posted 24/08/2014 at 00:10:26
I leave the house to attend a 30th birthday. In walks my friend, big smile on this face. I asked what was going on and he said "Have you seen the score? I said I checked 10 mins ago, we are 2-0 up, points in the bag. He said you might want to check again. So at a dinner party table I carefully get my phone out and see 2-2, on the screen. What happened, second week in a row, just throwing points away.

I walked home with the misses and she was saying let's see what the season brings. But I feel robbed, I feel like the hope, the excitement of 3 point has been stolen from me.

I don't want to spend a season thinking "If only..." Last year was a slow start and the defence did look a little poor and that was against worse opponents, Norwich, West Brom and Cardiff were all very poor. One can forgive Leicester, new side at home always going to be hard, but tonight, especially after last season was 3 points. A very disappointed toffee is going to bed, let's hope we get 72 points again this year with a similar start.

Mike Keating
55 Posted 24/08/2014 at 00:27:38
4 points dropped already.
Luckily they didn't have Giroud on from the start.
Can't believe RM would have told them to defend a 2-0 lead - I think the players bottled it.
CD appalling for both goals.
Mark Wilson
56 Posted 24/08/2014 at 00:11:22
I thought the debate might be about how we have spent up on one good player who should get us 15 or more goals and – great though it is to see us spending 㿈M – the truth is we have left an already small squad desperately short... again. But no, amazingly we are discussing "fitness" or rather lack of it. It is beyond belief that, in the most competitive league in the world, we are starting a season clearly struggling for match fitness... how can that be?

Martinez is nothing if jot professional. I love his style, his swagger, his positivity and his club and community ethos. But he's screwed up the pre-season good style and laid to rest the argument that pre-season doesn't matter. We've drifted into this campaign with too few decent competitive-ish games and too many behind closed door friendlies... and too little time on Ainsdale Beach slogging up and down the dunes, instead we've had a bit too much bonding on rope walks in Austria or wherever we went.

The team isn't fit, end of. It's not football fans squabbling on Twitter or even here... you can see it before your very eyes: We played for 65 minutes then looked like those bloody rabbits with batteries winding down. Same at Leicester. Today, McCarthy was sensational, he ran himself into the ground but lots around him blew up even earlier.

Martinez often delights with his sub policy but again he left it too late to replace tired legs and how on earth McGeady appeared rather than Besic is beyond me... for pity's sake it was screaming "bite and energy" – not intermittent wing play.

Okay... time to cool down. It's just two games in and four points thrown away and a season of high expectation awaits us. But I'll tell you this: if we don't stretch and acquire two and preferably three more additions (two forwards and one experienced but fit centre back) we are in trouble... and for heavens sake forget the day off and spend it in the gym and running round Finch Farm like crazy things...

Derek Thomas
57 Posted 24/08/2014 at 00:41:09
Groundhog Day; just cut and paste most of last weeks comments (maybe add a touch more desperation anger and vitriol) and it's job done on all match-related threads.

Derek Thomas
59 Posted 24/08/2014 at 00:50:06
Jeez Kieran 47 that's Marsh-esque in it's essence, love it. TW at it's finest... Roberto, have a word with yerself will ya!

Andy Crooks
60 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:15:36
Yes, stuck record, I know, but, Duffy needs a run in the side. Believe me.
Tony J Williams
61 Posted 24/08/2014 at 02:06:37
Why oh why can't we just put the fucking ball into the box. That whole match turned on us dicking about with the ball when we had a free kick just near their penalty area.

Cue a couple of shitty passes then lose possession for them to go right up the other end and score. Our first came from a cross so why are they so scared of putting the ball in the box?

Jim Knightley
62 Posted 24/08/2014 at 02:27:26
We drew today because of fitness problems. As I argued to death before the season, and as anyone with eyes and half a footballing brain could see, pre-season illustrated that we were not ready for the season. We just were not fit enough, and that has translated into tired below-par second half displays. We were dead on our feet today, especially Lukaku, who looked tired during the first half. Martinez started seasons slowly at Wigan, we started last season slowly, and now we starting this season slowly.

As I predicted before a ball was kicked, I think we will come sixth or seventh this season. That said, this was a key match to lay down a marker for a top four finish against a fellow top contender: and we wasted it. We should have beaten Arsenal because: 1) They've had a lot of players returning late from the World Cup; 2) We are at home; 3) They played away in Turkey in mid-week and have a massive game next week to think of. But we failed to, because we got tired. It's not just individual defensive errors etc.. it's defensive errors which were enabled because of tiring legs.

On the plus side, we sparked at points, and the first half demonstrated that we can match last season's performances. Mirallas looked dangerous, and him, Lukaku, Coleman and Baines will be central to our attacking threat this season. We need to find another striker though, even if it's for six months, as we must replace Lukaku when he is tired and we can't rely on an unfit Kone to do it regularly.

We are short because of Barkley, and Europa League will put even more pressure on our numbers. It's important that we don't get dejected though, because we had arguably more disappointing results in our first 2 matches last season, and recorded a record points tally. We should be realistic though, and forget about top four football unless we are there or thereabouts in the spring.

Bob Parrington
63 Posted 24/08/2014 at 02:29:47
No excuses. Just bad management and team play, not being able to play out to FT. Once again pussy-like defensive attempt to head the crossed ball by Distin. When will we learn that we need CDs who can attack a cross? Giroud should never have got to that ball. 4 points just chucked away in the first 2 fixtures.
Harold Matthews
64 Posted 24/08/2014 at 02:41:36
It shouldn't have happened but Giroud had a fistful of Distin's shirt and pinned him to the ground. Strong and clever.

George Graham used to bring wingers on to keep the opposing fullbacks from coming forward. Guess it didn't work too well for us. Also, why do Coleman and McCarthy stand like mesmerized statues instead of closing down? Something Besic would have done, by the way.

We are a very unfit team who ball-watch when defending...

Ian Hollingworth
65 Posted 24/08/2014 at 07:36:06
Fitness and tactics were our undoing again. To be so lacking in match fitness is criminal for the management team. We should not be losing a 2-0 lead with 7 mins to go

Bad tactical substitutions and poor defending. Naismith and McCarthy outstanding today. Lots of mistakes from the back 4.

However, the main point is again that, to improve as a team, any team, you have to bring in players who are better than what you currently have. Signing existing loan players etc is great but you still need to secure additional quality and as yet we have not,

Derek Knox
66 Posted 24/08/2014 at 07:53:02
From what I have seen in pre-season and the first two games, it is not only fitness, that is a worry.

There were players on the field that are so evidently, just not good enough any more. They have been good servants over the years, but surely it's time to think about making way.

I still can't see why Ossie was brought on when Pienaar was injured when it was crying out for Mo Besic to be blooded into the Prem. Jags and Distin for the last 20 minutes or so were woeful from a positional perspective. I also feel it was highlighted later in the game, when Arsenal started to push for something, but they were guilty earlier in the game too, but got away with it.

I am equally worried over Tim's performances at times. Here is a player that quite rightly was being hailed a hero at the World Cup, and has had to pick the ball out of the net 4 times in two games.

Now by my arithmetic, we have only scored 4, which doesn't auger well for the next game at least.

Jim Bennings
67 Posted 24/08/2014 at 08:08:18
Just watching the game again on TV, their goals look even worse.

The total switch-off allowing Cazorla to pick a good ball for 2-1 was rank amateur. Then Ramsey overhits a cross that should be closed down on the left before the eventual cross in for Giroud, it's exactly why I was screaming all second half for us to stop the crosses because we cannot deal with high balls.

We can't complain about Giroud holding Distin's shirt, basically he's the centre half, he should be big and strong, as a centre half you need every trick in the book, I hate the Redshite defenders but over the year's they have always been crafty cunts holding, pulling, anything to stop your team conceding.

Our entire defence is too nice guy, too honest, even Baines when he ran into the box, was clearly clipped and pushed, he should have went down and then had our skipper roaring in the referee's face. Honesty in football gets you nowhere.

I agree with the 'give Duffy a go' shout. If he isn't up to it, then why keep him at Everton? He's 6'-4" so he should be more dominant in the air than Jagielka.

Eddie Dunn
68 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:13:19
A home draw against Arsenal is no disgrace, but we really should be on 6 points now, not 2. This is why we will finish outside of the top 4 once again.

In the second half, we had a free kick in an advanced position, and opted not to stick it in their box. Earlier we had a corner, and put only a couple of players up for it.

Coleman seems to have gone backwards in time, to the poor positional play of 18 months ago. he made numerous mistakes, thank god McCarthy was around to tidy things up.

I watched Jags in the tunnel – he looked nervous and lacking in confidence. The cross that sailed over his head reminded me of Suarez's cross in the World Cup (he was not tall enough) and Distin was unsighted because of Jagielka's jump. Distin was near to Giroud, but seemed stuck to the ground.

Martinez got things wrong again, poor subs etc. All is not rosy in his garden, he needs to do some pruning, put some old perennials in the compost bin and give a bit of room to some of the young plants... Besic, Stones and Duffy. When is Duffy going to get a run? If he is not up to it, then why have we still got him?

Liam Reilly
69 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:56:01
Unfit. They don't have 90 minutes in them and the gap in fitness was evident after 80 minutes.

Also to win a free kick at 2-1 on 88 minutes and try to play the tippy-tappy keep-ball shit against a team of that quality was criminal. Your not going to keep the ball for 6 or 7 minutes ffs. They should've tried to kill the game.

Al Reddish
70 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:29:22
A few of us got shot down for saying pre-season was shit. People reasoned it's only about fitness. Well, two games in and we can't last 90 minutes, and that's Bobby's own words.

We have players like Osman and McGeady who can't even last 45 minutes. Thank god for Naismith. We will get better but we have dropped 4 points already. That could be very costly.

Sam Bull
71 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:40:36
Another game of panic, 6-year-old defending, swing foot at ball and hope for the best from Jags and Distin.

Osman did nothing all game, yes he was out of position. Besic should’ve been bought on at the 60-70 min mark, why has he not got on the pitch yet? He looks exactly what we need – someone to get the ball, and not just lump it.

Steve Jenkins
72 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:26:40
I couldn't post after the match I was so ....... off.

I work out in Dubai, so have Keys & Grey for every match regardless of the channel its on in the UK.

Pullis was a guest and he said the defending in the Premier League is poor, he criticised us for not really going for a third and instead just trying to play keep ball.

Mcateer (the other guest) Keys & Grey all agreed with both comments. I thought we played well for most of the match but once Arsenal had that period where they were piling on the pressure we needed a change.

Our defence is our concern particularly 2 CB's. The third goal Jags completely mistimes his jump and therefore the ball, and Distin doesn't attack it like a Terry but lets Giroud outmuscle him and gets in front of him.

It's going to be a least next summer before we can address getting a commanding leader of a CB, which we desperately need. I'd argue in the meantime we need go go with a 3 CB's and bring Stones in.

A few people have mentioned Dave Watson, what I'd give to bring him back right now. Not a great ball player but he knew how to defend. We need to sort the defence out, perhaps a coach to purely concentrate on this on the training ground? What's Dave Watson up to?

We're going in the right direction – we're disappointed after a draw at home against Arsenal, a much stronger Arsenal, than the one we played last year.

We're scoring goals minus Barkley, Kone etc, have a host of potential youngsters to strengthen the squad over the coming 2/3 years.

We're really lack in depth upfront - hence I thought Arsenal came on stronger once Rom came off and we had no striker with genuine threat to replace him.

I really worry if we were to get concurrent injuries to Rom and Kone. Bringing a striker is a an absolute must.

I also agree about fitness – the games should address this but we shouldn't be in that position in the first place.

Sam Bull
73 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:44:10
Giroud had hold of Distin's shirt for the second goal:

But our second goal was offside.

Patrick Murphy
74 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:54:18
To be one goal up and concede an equaliser can happen to any team but to be two goals to the good and concede two goals is criminal. I wasn't happy with much of the second period and, the longer the game continued, the more likely it appeared that Arsenal would get a life-line. Watching any Blues team defending on the edge of their own 18-yard line is tortuous at the best of times but when the likes of Distin et al are just hoofing the ball away aimlessly, it is not what I thought I would be watching at this stage in the manager's tenure.

What happened to the intelligent passing and possession-based game in the last 20 minutes? Playing six defensive minded players if you count Baines and Coleman as defenders should be enough to repel any danger but if they all begin to get the jitters the opponents smell blood and hope where there should have been none.

Do we need two defensive mid-fielders at all times? I'm not sure because it stunts the team's ability to get forward and put the opposition on the back foot. Everton are and have always been particularly poor at rearguard actions and it has always been the case that Everton are far more likely to win matches if they constantly look to get forward.

Fitness is a concern but that can be overcome as the season wears on but the lack of belief and individual mistakes are something that we will all have to hope can be addressed by the coaching staff. Roberto has got to ensure that his players carry out his methods before it's too late.

I do hope that the choice of cover for the match-day magazine for the Arsenal game is not a portent of things to come as that season (70-71) was a shadow of the previous one and began a long period of poor results for the club. It's still early enough to make this season a memorable one for all the right reasons but there are serious issues that need addressing and hopefully Roberto and the team will do that in the coming weeks and months.

Steve Alderson
75 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:07:56
Andy.32. Jagielka hasn't been the same player since he did his knee in against City at Goodison. Like any player, the injury cost him pace and now he is costing us goals. He is always a second too late from sliding in or jumping etc... The question now is when will Roberto wake up to the fact that his two centre backs are over the hill?
Steve Jenkins
76 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:17:00
Shane Duffy, isn't he 6'-6" and a get stuck in no nonsense defender?

I have seen very little of him to form an opinion and I heard that he is lacking pace.

Is he one for the future and should he be given a chance to become Dave Watson, or is he a squad player that will be moved on?

Norman Merrill
77 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:40:49
I understand all the frustration on here, but it's down to one man; he has been taking many accolades from fans, but starting next Saturday v Chelsea he had better get the squad working for each other, for 90 mins, because Mourinho will have them fired up, it's still fresh in his mind us beating them last season.

So Roberto, if it is tiredness, then get it sorted, there is one or two players who haven't kicked a ball in anger yet. Next Saturday, a top performance please.

David Heaton
78 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:48:08
I know it's all been said before but we draw that game because of Osman. He is so weak, it's like watching men play against boys. A stronger player should and would have cleared that ball for their first goal and the second goal went back to Osman losing the ball in midfield.

I've heard all about what a great guy he is but, if he's costing us games, it is time for him to start coaching or doing something else, as long has he's not on the pitch.

Moyes picked Hibbert & Osman because they were his favourites; looks like Roberto is falling into the same trap.

Jim Bennings
79 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:26:31
Robert Huth anyone?

Again not a great ball player but a blood and guts type central defender that meets headers full on rather than wait for the ball to reach the striker.

I would even have Shawcross, ok a dirty bastard but that's exactly what you need in this game, a fella who gets the job done next to the more Rio Ferdinand like ball playing John Stones.

Other than that...

James Tomkins at West Ham?

Chico Flores?

Andrew Hawes
80 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:49:24
I was gutted with yesterdayÂ’s display. What a brilliant opportunity to lay down a real marker!

Let’s be honest – our defending was woeful and if I’m honest it has been since David Moyes left. At 2-1, with minutes left, there was only one place their equaliser was coming from... Giroud.

Of course we donÂ’t like to admit it but why didnÂ’t Jagielka or Distin leave him in a heap even at the expense of a yellow card at least once?? Just to show him that he wasnÂ’t going to run the show in the last 10 minutes??

All this fair play and the right character nonsense is okay but sometimes time wasting and getting in an opponents face is needed to secure 3 points!!

I agree with an earlier post about a need for a defensive coach, as has been proved not only in his short time at the club but also his previous clubs. He has transformed a back 4 which was our strong point to our weakest point.

Mike Powell
81 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:02:38
Martinez has to take the blame for those subs. Osman should've been taken off after 10 mins of coming on – he, Jags and Distin were woeful. I'm afraid for us with the central defence: Distin is finished, we need a centre-half badly. I'm well and truly pissed off with them already .
Steve Jenkins
82 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:44:55
I just re-watched the two goals we conceded and defensively they are shocking.

The first is much worse than the second. Coleman backs off – we then have two players looking to stop the cross from coming in and another including Howard – five in the box surrounding Ramsey, that's seven players in total.

The two stopping the cross, particularly Coleman's positioning, is poor as is his half-effort to stop it; however, Osman doesn't track Ramsey's run but more concerning, as Pulis (who knows a thing or two about defending) points out, our two centre-backs aren't in line with the ball when it's crossed (Defending 101) so how can they block it???

Somehow, Ramsey gets amongst five blue shirts to score. Clearly we need major focusing on defence we all know it – we don't have a leader balling out positional orders organising the defence.

Pulis said defence needs to be organised through repeated drills all the time on the training ground; this clearly doesn't appear to be the case here.

For the time being, seeing as we don't have Bruce/Waston/Terry, I'd swap one of the DM's for another CB (Stones) bring in Besic as a midfielder as he'll give us much more all around, but will also track back when we don't have the ball.

As I said in an earlier post, great managers/leaders are ones that recognise their weaknesses and bring in excellent people around them. Defence and organisation aren't Martinez's strong points – he should identify a coach that is strong in this area and bring them in to solely concentrate on drilling our defence as a unit.

Paul Dark
83 Posted 24/08/2014 at 13:43:07
A few random observations:

Osman and McGeady are utter liabilities; RM must suspend his favouritism and exercise judgement here. They both give the ball away ceaselessly and are not good enough. Perhaps McGeady will improve... but – until that time – he shouldn't play. Both players put enormous pressure on the defence.

Tim needs to leave his line more, as we all know. He can be a bit static and is a much better shot-stopper (like Big Nev) than a commander of the box. (Big Nev was in a different league from them all, including Tim, of course.)

Coleman played very narrow yesterday when defending, giving the Arsenal wingers/overlappers lots of time and space. Why? He looked rusty despite the (excellent) goal.

Our MotMs were: Baines, Naismith and Barry.

Pienaar is an important part of the team (not just squad), in my view. Very strange substitutions yesterday, very odd. RM says it's early in season (re fitness, sharpness etc.), but it's no different for the other teams.

As for central defence, I've always liked Duffy (though I haven't seen him play for a bit). He never gets a chance. And, yes, we need cover for Rom. I'd like to see Besic start, I must say. He can pass better than Barry or McCarthy.

We need a leader, a proper captain. Jags is too much of an introvert. First point: repeat for emphasis.

Harold Matthews
84 Posted 24/08/2014 at 14:41:26
After reading this thread, I think I'll go for Pullis.
Jamie Crowley
85 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:03:49
I just watched the replay of Arsenal's second goal.

How Jags let that ball fly over his head is a mystery, and a crime.

It's time for Jags to play behind Distin and Stones on the depth chart. He's not the same player since his injury.

I'm sick to the teeth watching Jags lump a long diagonal ball from the back right forward up to left side only to give possession to the opposition.

He's played shit lately. If he wasn't England's starting CB and our Captain he'd be getting splinters in his ass.

Kevin Tully
86 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:04:22
I know this may be an unpopular view, but maybe our two central defenders are out of form? There is no way our captain will ever be dropped, so forget about replacing Jagielka with Stones. I think Jagielka has been poor for a few months now, at the back end of last season, and he had a stinker of a World Cup.

It's not as if they have been caught out of position, or most of the team were in the opposition half looking to score. We had plenty of bodies back for both of their goals, so let's call it how it happened.

That brings us back to the two we conceded against Leicester, scuffed clearances that both fell to opposing players. Or am I wrong? How do you train defenders so that doesn't happen?

Some of you need to get a grip. Watched MotD before and Alan Sheearer said, "Everton were absolutely brilliant for 75 minutes." We weren't beating Arsenal by defending, we were playing them off the park – again! Do some of you remember how we used to approach these games? Let me remind you, we used to play against sides like Arsenal how a team 3 divisions lower would play against them. One lone striker, balls down the channels and long hoofs for the likes of Saha to chase, just so we could try to keep them out of our own half.

Our defence will find their feet, and we will score plenty of goals, no matter who we are playing. Commentators and pundits love watching us now, doesn't that tell you something? As far as fitness issues go, just get yourselves to Finch Farm, and tell the players to run ten miles every day for training. That will soon have them ready.

Think about this: even without Martinez, or fitness coaches, these are elite professional sportsmen at their very peak. They have been preparing for the start of the season for many, many years. Don't you think they know how to do their jobs by now? Are they all down the ale house and just jogging around a field? The fitness issues we are witnessing are nothing to do with poor training techniques, or an unprofessional attitude, and those saying any different don't have a clue, I'm afraid.

Paul Dark
87 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:37:24
Shearer is wrong. The second half was almost all Arsenal. Giroud battered us – though the second goal should not have been given for a foul.
Paul Dark
88 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:40:48
ps: Shearer is VERY thick.
Dean Adams
89 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:38:59
Kevin (#87),

Stop being so sensible will you. This is ToffeeWeb where we all like to over-react. That's what makes it so much fun. Oh, I agree with your assessment though.

Sam Hoare
90 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:41:36
Kevin Tully (#87), are you trying to honestly tell me that you think our players are as fit as their opposition for the first two games?

If so, then better get to specsavers, mate, because we were clearly lacking in stamina and knackered come the 70-min mark.

Peter Laing
91 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:00:17
Jagielka and Distin are looking very shaky at the heart of our defence and I can see the merit in people commenting about the viability of our other defensive options being given the opportunity to prove themselves. Stones and Duffy should be blooded in the Capital One Cup as a partnership and given more opportunities as the season progresses.
Kevin Tully
92 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:53:25
Sam - quite simply, I don't believe ANY professional football club (and that includes non-league sides who still get paid a wage) don't know how to prepare in for the beginning of a season. To believe a Premier League club, who spend fortunes behind the scenes are somehow unprepared, just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Think about it.

I may be wrong, of course; what do you think? Have the staff at Everton been unprofessional? Have the players? Someone please tell me.

Steve Jenkins
93 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:55:35
Even Martinez himself has said in the post match interview that the players were fatigued, which is baffling; simply, they should not be. Arsenal has a mid-week European game away from home, where most of the same players played, yet they weren't fatigued.

I'm a big Martinez fan & believe long-term he'll do a great job and has done so far, it is still very much a transitional period & it'll be another 2/3 years before we see close to the best of the team/squad.

However, defence is a worry & needs proactive addressing by the management & coaches, set pieces as we all know for a while have been an issue. Burying their heads & saying it'll all come together on its own, won't do anybody any good.

There also isn't an excuse for being less fit than other teams and there is a good case for arguing it has cost us 4 points so far, as other sides have come on strong and we have conceded 3 goals in 2 matches from 83 mins onwards.

Stephen Brown
94 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:53:33
After a day's reflection and walking round in a mood, there are lots of things to consider IMO.

Positives: Naismith deserves massive praise and is turning into a very useful player. No 9, No 10, impact player from the bench etc – he fully deserves the praise he is getting!

Baines appears to be in decent form.

McCarthy is a quality midfielder.

We have come a long way when we are devastated to draw with Arsenal! I know the manor of the draw was a disaster! Roberto is an intelligent man and will surely rectify some of the problems identified by us 'experts' on TW.

Negatives: Central defence is an issue. Are they out of form or over the hill? Either way, I believe Duffy should be given a run of games to see if he can be the Dave Watson style defender we need; otherwise, what's the point in having him on the payroll? Not sure they are worth throwing on the scrap heap yet though.

Fitness is obviously an issue thanks to a poor pre-season schedule, this can be rectified quickly.

Dead ball situations with and without the ball are a problem. Be aggressive!!!

I'm not sure Osman, McGeady are capable of affecting games versus good opposition? I've got a terrible feeling Lukaku might go on a bit of a drought! (I hope I'm wrong!)

Please don't sign a 33-year-old mercenary in Eto'o! As with Duffy, what would be the point of Long and McAleny being on the books!?!

Is Besic as good as we have built him up to be after two friendlies? Why hasn't he been trusted?

Whatever the answers, TW does allow me some therapy as I can read posts from people all over the world who felt as bad as I did yesterday! Remember, beat Chelsea and you could call it a decent start!

Sam Hoare
95 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:07:10
Kevin, I think there are different approaches taken in pre-season and it would appear that Martinez prefers to do a lot of ball work and build up conditioning slowly. As opposed perhaps to Moyes who was famous for gruelling physical training.

I'm not suggesting that they were sat around chugging beers but to my eye the balance or timing was not quite right as the majority of our team have struggled to compete at the end of our first two matches. Perhaps it is a long term strategy and our players will be fresher and sharper later in the season but right now it looks like they have misjudged it as we have conceded 3 late goals and lost 4 crucial points.

Si Cooper
96 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:00:01
Sam (91) - I don't think that sticks across the board. Some of their players looked as tired as some of ours.

The point is that we are heavily reliant on more older players than plenty of our rivals. Their experience counts for most of the game but the final quarter is increasingly going to really test them. Lukaku was carrying an injury and also unlikely to last the game.

That is why the use of substitutions was key yesterday, and why the manager's failure to use all his remaining substitutions, and replace Ossie with 20 minutes to go and two goals up, is so baffling.

Kevin Tully
97 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:15:35
You may well be right, Sam; after all the hamstring injuries we suffered last season, they could possibly have changed our build-up towards peak fitness levels. For anyone to say we are unfit because of lack of effort, or some pre-historic training regime, is just plain daft though.
Peter Laing
98 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:26:25
Would anyone else take a punt on Agger? He is a left-sided centre-half and appears to be surplus to requirements across the Park.
Sam Hoare
99 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:25:12
Si, true. Older players is a factor although I still feel on the whole Arsenal and in particular Leicester were better conditioned teams than us. And that played a big part in us having 2 points rather than 4 or 6.
Ray Roche
100 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:30:39
Agger is another sick note... and Rodwell has just equalised for Sunderland.
Kevin Tully
101 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:30:07
I thought the goals we conceded were down to poor defending. Both of the Arsenal goals saw an attacker get in-between two Everton players. No excuse.
Patrick Murphy
102 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:32:00
As horrible a bloke as he is, Shawcross would stiffen up our defence.

Not popular, perhaps... but he would be effective.

Drew O'Neall
103 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:26:49
I'm not having this "tired/not yet fit" excuse. That was schoolboy defending by Osman and Baines first and the two centre halves second.

Osman gave up on his runner instead of getting goal side at the line and Baines being oblivious to the only danger in the box – neither the position or the space can tap that cross in.

Jags was guilty of misjudging the cross, as he is prone to do (perhaps he shouldn't have even jumped if he wasn't in position to do because it made it look worse than it was) but Distin had assumed he was going to clear it, like Baines when there was only one danger... He had to make sure instead of trying to wrestle Giroud, from that close to goal, that he was in a position to win the ball.

You don't have to be fit to concentrate on your job and both of those goals were gifts.

Matt Muzi
104 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:18:05
My view, and from chats with other blues as I left the ground yesterday, was this:

1. Pienaar getting injured & the condition of Mirallas & Lukaku was a significant factor.

2. Why was Osman brought on? Does RM have concerns over Besic? Personally, I think if we're going to use Osman he needs to come on in the latter stages of a game, not after 9 minutes.

3. Fitness was clearly an issue yesterday.

4. Our central defence is a concern; both of them looked out of sorts, especially in the latter stages of the game.

5. We desperately need another striker, if we're not going to consider Long & McAleny.

6. We waited too long to bring Atsu on & I question whether we should've brought him on or Besic, but that may be down to something in the contract with Chelski, we could all see what was going to happen as soon as they got their first.

7. At the end of the day, we were playing against a team that brought Giroud, an established International striker, on at half time, then brought Cazorla & Joel Campbell on in the second half. Before anyone makes the point, yes, McGeady & Atsu are Internationals, but who would you rather be able to bring off the bench?

Stephen Brown
105 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:40:12
Shawcross is a good shout but, as he's English, he would cost more than Di Maria!
Jim Bennings
106 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:36:15
There's also another reason why we need to start trying alternative defenders because, let's be honest, Distin at 37 and Jagielka at 32 aren't going to last forever anyway. As I say, great servants but sometimes you can begin to be too loyal to players. We did it with Campbell and Big Dunc.You need to know when to let go and make them nothing more than squad players; same has to go for Osman.

If we aren't going to look to sign a new centre back, then what we need to do is gradually start getting Duffy in the fold. Next weekend against Chelsea it should be Stones and Distin and then, in Europe and the Capital One, get Duffy next to Stones, blood him back in. It's okay saying he's a shit distributor of the ball but hey, isn't Jags??

Personally I'd like to see a new defender coming in here before September 1st... Any money left, I don't know if it's being saved for a striker, but I would certainly be looking for a strong defender.

Ray Roche
107 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:43:04
Drew, I don't know how you can claim that fitness doesn't make a difference. Being fit makes you sharper mentally as well as physically. Maybe you've never been fit and don't know the difference...
Linda Morrison
108 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:31:00
I think there is a general concencus as to where the issues lie that need addressing.

We have a Captain that has never achieved his earlier form, no doubt due to his many injuries. Jags is at least 10% slower than he was. In addition, Distin and the two midfielders do at times need to correct his errors. Martinez needs to do to him what Man City did to Hart and drop him for Stones or Chelsea will run through them. Defence is the area that requires addressing for me at least.

I don't understand all this about lack of fitness — don't they have regular training sessions, for god's sake?

Roberto needs to put Besic or Gibson on against Chelsea to replace Barkley.

On a more positive note, I truly believe once we get the defence sorted we will be OK.

Dave Williams
109 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:37:41
We are crying out for a CB who attacks the ball in both boxes. Jags and Distin are covering players and Jags hasnÂ’t been the same since his knee injury in 2009. Hopefully Duffy will be given a try but quite why Besic hasnÂ’t appeared yet is beyond me though echoes here of last season when McCarthy was on the bench for his first few games.

Both goals were poor and the crosses should have been cut out. I donÂ’t agree that our squad is too small – Gibson appears to be fit now which gives plenty of cover in CM and we have cover everywhere apart from striker. Naismith is a tremendous bonus as he is now looking like a 㾻m player to me and deserves the recognition he is now getting – what a reward for a guy who works his socks off and a great example to the likes of Long and McAleny not to mention George Green – application is essential to succeed and Naismith is showing these youngsters the way to go.

No need to panic – the fitness issue is disappointing but has shades of Sir Alex preparing Man Utd to come on strong in the second half of the season. We need to wait and see what transpires – we may eventually be hailing a masterstroke even if at the moment it is hard to accept.

Tahir Abdullah
110 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:04:05
Drew @105; spot on and well said. For RM to even raise the fitness aspect was not only embarrassing for him and the club, but a copout on his part for the poor defensive organization that we've seen over the past two weeks...
Ray Roche
111 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:09:05
Tahir, correct, it WAS embarrassing to admit what all observers could plainly see, that we are not fit enough. In addition to poor defensive organisation.
Sam Hoare
112 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:48:16
Jim, maybe that new defender may be Browning? Fast and strong, him and Stones could be our CB pairing in a few years time.
Ray Roche
113 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:13:26
Tahir, sorry, pressed the wrong button there, before I'd finished....anyway, if you heard Radio Merseyside phone in after the game, Ronny Goodlass highlighted the poor choice of opposition and lack of fitness in the Everton players.
Jim Bennings
114 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:22:14

You never know, where does Browning play though? Isn't he a left back?

I guess if he's that good then he will get his chance this year at some point, we have seen many young Academy defenders with lots of promise over the years though and for whatever reason they never quite make it, I remember a lad who played against BATE Borisov called Jake Bidwell, there was a lot of rave for him about 5 years ago, think he's gone on to Brentford or somewhere.

It does make me wonder what the story is with Duffy. He has been around for a good 4 or 5 years now and played a bit-part role from about 2009-2012 but as he's got older instead of becoming more prominent, as you'd think would the normal thing, he has drifted further away from the first team than any time in his career. It does beg the question why and also when is the time he either gets opportunities or he leaves us?

Paul Dark
115 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:53:09
Shawcross is horrible, simply horrible - NOT an Everton player.
Kunal Desai
116 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:20:49
If the players are only fit enough for 75-80 minutes then the responsibility clearly lies with the management team. I really don't see how our players are tired after the World Cup, it's not like any of them played all the way to the finals. Lukaku and Mirallas didn't start all the games and they only got to the quarters. So my question is: Why were they not recalled a lot sooner for pre-season training?

Howard got to the last 16. Baines and Jagielka only played two games before being booted out of the group stages. I really do not see any excuses for our players to be tired.

Rather than fucking about on ESPN right until the end, Martinez should have got the side in a lot quicker for pre-season. He needs to lose this nicey nicey personality a bit and get stuck into these players and instead should have been ensuring each and every player was working his bollocks off in pre-season and not easing players back in.

Al Reddish
117 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:31:58
A lot of people are slagging down Jags and Distin but letting Coleman off scot free. He failed to cut out the crosses in the first place, and was badly out of position for the second (which wouldn't have got that far if Osman hadn't lost the ball from our set piece at the other end).

To be honest, as soon as I saw Rom swapped for McGeady I turned to my mate and said "Arsenal will get something out of this game now." The first time he lost the ball, he just stood there and did not attempt to track back and help out his defence.

This is where we miss a player like Pienaar. He isn't as good as he used to be, but he always covers for Baines. Let's hope Atsu gets a start soon if Pienaar is out for a bit.

There is absolutely no way Osman and McGeady should EVER be on the pitch at the same time, unless we are 5-0 up at Huddersfield in the cup with 5 minutes to go.

By the way, I agree with the calls to give Duffy a run out, even if it's just the last 10 minutes of games. He should understudy Distin and likewise Stones with Jags, and not come on as part of a back 3, which always confuses our players and guarantees a fuck up.

Jim Bennings
118 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:42:31

That's the type of defender you need.

We are too Mr Niceguy and frankly it's gets you nowhere.

Are you quite happy to see us get absolutely battered to fuck at Anfield again because our defence hadn't got a clue how to beat The Arse?

Dave Watson was blood and guts, that's what you need to win a trophy, or be successful, look at Vidic at Man Utd? John Terry? Blood and guts.

I'm not saying Shawcross is as good as them but he is big and strong and we would get more success on corners in both areas with that kind of personality.

Kevin Tully
119 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:42:35
This is some meltdown after a couple of draws – wholesale changes required throughout the squad according to some!

It'll be fun on here when we actually lose a game.

Patrick Murphy
120 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:51:37
Kevin - If the sign of a good side is to pick up points from bad performances, what does it tell you when a team drops points in good performances? Somehow Everton have to try and match the steel from previous seasons with the good football from more recent times. We always knew there would be ups and downs and that some results would test our patience – but that shouldn't stop us pointing out the more obvious deficiencies in the team.

It might not mean that wholesale changes are required but, if those who have failed to live up to their abilities so far do not show a more positive attitude, then we need to look at replacing them. That should be the challenge laid down to any player at Goodison.

We haven't lost but, then again, we haven't won either, and our goals against column in the last half-a-dozen Premier League matches is not pretty either. But, having just watched Man Utd, I still have hope we can achieve things this season.

Jamie Crowley
121 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:34:41
Linda -

Hear! Hear! So well said.

Jags has definitely been poor. I'm sorry he has.

He may be our Captain but if the Captain plays shit how long do you let him continue??

I do not understand the "he's our captain and England CB he won't get dropped so forget about it.". NONSENSE! I don't care if he's the friggin Pope!

It take a big pair to make the big decisions. That's what we pay Martinez to do, and it's time he made. big decision, demote Jags, make him work for his spot in the lineup, partner Stones with Distin, and give the armband to Seamus Coleman.

Raymond Fox
122 Posted 24/08/2014 at 18:16:08
When you re-watch their two goals, you have to say that their first was a cracker of a final pass that split our defence wide open and I can't blame the defenders near the goal too much for not stopping it, you can say that their player that made the pass was given too much time though.

The second was fortunate in so much that the cross was made after collecting a very wayward pass or cross, but again they were given time to make another attempt at a cross. Unfortunately for us, it was inch-perfect for Giroud. It wasn't like we were not in position in the middle to deal with it, both Jags and Distin were there, okay, but could not get to the ball: Jags couldn't jump high enough and Distin had Giroud sandwiched between them.

So, watching it again, I have to say I'm not as critical now of the central defenders as I was with first impressions of their goals.

The main criticism is that they were given too much space to make the crosses.

Chris Wilson
123 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:05:27
I'm with Ray on the fitness issue. And frankly there are two primary problems that we have. 1. Depth at certain key positions-particularly at striker and the attacking midfield "Ross Barkley" position. And 2, the fitness of this team is the worst I've seen in 10 years.

As someone had mentioned after the game; once Lukaku went off, it seemed like players such as Monreal started to bomb forward on the attack because we didn't bring on anyone that their backline was truly concerned about. They were especially successful on our right flank where a fresh Cazorla and Monreal really pressured Coleman, and that's unfortunately where they found success.

In midfield; boy was this a game where Ross Barkley really would have made a difference (we'd have two wins if he was available to be honest). But we didn't have that player that would fearlessly run at them, hold the ball, and keep possession. The Pienaar injury messed up our plans. Based on RM's previous sub patterns, Pienaar was probably going give us an hour or so, and then sub on Osman or Atsu depending on the need.

I can't fault Roberto for bringing on Osman for Pienaar; I think it was good for the midfield cohesion, and I thought Leon did alright – he always made himself available, he largely kept Ramsey quiet, and he even sent Mirallas off on a couple of dangerous runs. Unfortunately, Leon, like all of our team, ran out of gas, and I don't think RM was willing to pull the trigger on subbing a sub. No manager really wants to ever consider doing that, but the Pienaar injury killed one of Roberto's substitute options and might have forced him to keep a sub in his pocket longer than he wanted to in case of another injury.

2. There is absolutely no excuse for the poor fitness level of this team. This team MIGHT be at 75% fitness, and that is ridiculous. I understand the World Cup participants required a specified amount of recovery time, but why are Distin, Barry, McCarthy, Osman etc not fit and sharp? Naismith looks like the only player ready to go. For me, the fitness is the primary problem with this team. Look what happened for 60 min; we were by far the superior team. But as the game wore on, players were starting to lose contact with their defensive responsibilities, we were second to every ball, we lost our midfield intensity, we were resorting to long balls to spring breakaways – we didn't have the energy to generate any buildup play.

When Arsenal scored, we were playing very deep and the players looked like they were running in quicksand. Fit players are sharp, their reaction times are quick, their heads are up, and their legs have energy – everything that we didn't have. Plus, unfit players expose themselves to injuries and this has an effect on the game strategy and substitution options that evolve during the course of a match.

For all of Moyes's faults with his subs and style of play, his teams were fit and ready from day one. Unfortunately this didn't lead to a lot of early results because all his teams did in pre-season was run with little ball work. But now we seem to do much more ball work and less running. There has to be a happy medium.

The fitness will come with time and that will alleviate a lot our performance issues, especially on the defensive side. But, with regards to our depth, I would be surprised to see any significant additions as Roberto will wait to see the status of his injured players. We could have a crowded locker room if all of our injured guys recovered, and new players coming on board will want to play.

This leads to another question: is Roberto being TOO cautious with some of the those players, or do they legitimately need more time? Why is Gibson not available? When is Oviedo back? Kone? I feel like Roberto is always saying, "Well we want to be sure that ______ is ready to go and not experience any setbacks, so we expect him to be ready in December" or something like that. Is he going to be overly protective of Ross when he has recovered? Can we afford to wait for these guys? And if they do recover, will they offer the quality?

Damn, I didn't expect to write so much. Anyway this team is not ready to play, but the good news is that we can see what this team can do when we are match fit and ready; so I would expect this team to really surge by late September. But it could be a struggle until then as we get in better shape, and get some of our wounded back. I have doubts that Roberto will make too much noise before the transfer window closes, because he seems very invested in Kone and Gibson. We'll see what happens.

Colin Glassar
124 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:04:57
We need a bloody plumber to fix the leaks in our defence. Some of the defending was shambolic, to say the least, and at times we looked like the Keystone Cops running into each other, scuffing the ball, panicking at the sight of the Gooner players. It was awful, and painful, to watch at times.

Baines was the only defender to come out unscathed as Seamus, Jags and Distin were very poor defending yesterday.

Derek Knox
125 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:22:58
Colin# 126

Where can you get a decent fucking plumber?

Christ, he'd have to be good to sort that shit out.

While you're at it you might as well get Dyno-Rod.

Clean all the crap, in one foul swoop.

Drew O'Neall
126 Posted 24/08/2014 at 20:45:46
Ray (#109,) I think it's a cop out.

I played a decent amount of football (both fit and unfit and in most positions over my glittering career) and there's no excuse for the centre-halves. If they aren't fit enough to run back and forth to the halfway line then they've no right to call themselves professional footballers.

Accepting your argument that fitness affects concentration, and that centre-mid and full-back positions are demanding of high stamina, I still think it's a cop-out for the manager to blame fitness for that scoreline on so many levels not least that professionals have nothing but football to think about morning, noon and night. And let's be honest, this isn't the first time we've seen this from Baines, Osman, Jags or Distin... They've all got a rick in them.

John McCamley
127 Posted 24/08/2014 at 21:26:33
Concurring with earlier comments, I found it astounding that RM brought on 2 candyfloss substitutes when it was apparent that our flagging midfield and defence needed robust reinforcements.

Is it me??

Ray Roche
128 Posted 24/08/2014 at 22:55:15
Drew, you're making my point, fitness makes an average player good, and a good player better. By saying "I'm not having this "tired/not yet fit" excuse" is placing the blame elsewhere. The manager or fitness coach or whoever is responsible for our pathetic pre-season, in both quality of opposition and state of readiness for Premier League action, is the person to point the finger at.

It's too easy to say this or that player is to blame, the manager picks the team and is ultimately responsible for the condition of that team. You say you've played a decent amount of football; so have I, and we both know some players will take any opportunity to dodge the hard work in training and it's the manager's job to ensure that doesn't happen.

In this case I think the training has been either too easy or too late starting. Talk to any ex-pro and they'll concede that some players will use the excuses that we're hearing from Martinez re fitness to explain their poor performance.

Drew O'Neall
130 Posted 24/08/2014 at 23:11:51
Don't get me wrong... I do think the players appear unfit, and I don't think the manager would be highlighting a drop off in energy levels if there wasn't an issue because he has nothing to gain.

My point is though, taken in isolation, the defending was poor – lack of duty, judgement and understanding of where the danger is.

I just heard Michael Dawson, 30, is on his way to Hull. The sort of player who would sort out our frailties from crosses.

Ray Roche
131 Posted 24/08/2014 at 23:26:43
OK Drew, we'll just have to agree, I suppose.
Chris Jones
132 Posted 24/08/2014 at 23:36:36
Still fuming. Can't understand why a player who put Messi under wraps for 80-odd minutes in a World Cup game wasn't brought on to do a job on Carzola and add to the shield in front of a tiring, and therefore panicking, back four.
Max Wilson
133 Posted 26/08/2014 at 09:41:27
Dont know if you guys were there, my mate Chris and I had made the trip and were in the Park End with a good view. We have never seen a defeat at Goodison but when the last good shot at ninety two minutes missed ,we were very relieved. I agree with all those who have criticised the choice of subs. It was obvious what what was going to happen, Giroud and Campbell made a big difference to them and we needed to bolster our defence not piss about with untried new faces. (Who look useless !).Yes the defence lads were knackered by the last ten minutes and if this is going to keep happening Roberto had better think carefully. Like most of you, we see four points lost as a summary of our seasons start. With Chelski to come this Saturday!
Ian McDowell
134 Posted 27/08/2014 at 11:51:19
Anyone notice that Wigan under Martinez where often slow starters? Then they picked up massively in the second half of the season.

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