Samuel Eto'o faces a late fitness test on a groin complaint
Coming just three matches in, the first international break of a new season is usually an ill-timed frustration but with Everton's disappointing start to the campaign and Romelu Lukaku's niggling toe injury, this month's interlude for tournament qualifiers and friendlies has afforded the Blues a fortnight for recuperation and regrouping.
Though many of the first team were in action for their country and therefore not at Finch Farm for some collective focus on putting right some of the ills that have dogged the first three weeks of the campaign, those players who did travel enjoyed either some fine individual performances, some good results, or both.
That will hopefully stand Roberto Martinez in good stead as he prepares the team for the first congested portion of the fixture calendar, one that will span three competitions and involve four games in the space of 10 days.
The good news is that Lukaku appears to have recovered sufficiently from that toe complaint that there is little doubt he will start this weekend as Everton travel to the Midlands to face Alan Irvine's West Bromwich Albion. Steven Pienaar returned to full training after missing almost all of the last two matches through injury and Arouna Kone is, according to his manager, "very close" to making his long-awaited return to action.
There are slight doubts over the fitness of Samuel Eto'o and Leon Osman, though, with the Cameroon star picking up a minor groin strain against Chelsea and the stalwart midfielder suffering a knock in the friendly match against Stoke City last week. Both will undergo late checks on their availability before Martinez finalises his squad.
West Brom have an almost identical record to the Blues coming into this one, with the two clubs sitting alongside each other in 17th and 18th place with just two points from nine so far. The Baggies were beaten heavily by Swansea on their last outing, though, and struggled to see off lowly Oxford United in the League four days earlier suggesting that Irvine is still finding his feet in his new role.
His new signings are also bedding in, including record singing Brown Ideye who will likely start on Saturday in place of former Blue, Victor Anichebe, who is struggling with a hernia problem that forced him to sit out of training this week. In their absence of goals from those two players, Saido Berahino has carried the main threat for Irvine and will likely be the one to watch for Everton's back line.
And it is how that defence performs that will be in particular focus on Saturday given how porous it has been so far this season. Martinez is unlikely to ring any changes to the back four so the onus will be on the central defensive pairing of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka and the defensive midfield axis of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry to rediscover the organisation, tenacity and focus that helped the team to such an impressive defensive record last season.
On the evidence so far, if they can tighten things up significantly at the back, this could yet be an excellent season for Everton because they have shown that they can score goals... just not more than the opposition so far.
Kick off: 3pm
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (70)
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1 Posted 12/09/2014 at 06:55:54
2 Posted 12/09/2014 at 07:11:48
3 Posted 12/09/2014 at 07:12:39
Hate to sound like your old English Teacher, but there were a lot of 'if's' in your post mate.
The biggest thing that most of us find iffy is the defence, and furthermore our failure to land at least another recruit in that department, before the window shut. Still, we are stuck with that now, and will just have to get on with it.
It does cause some concern though.
4 Posted 12/09/2014 at 07:31:36
5 Posted 12/09/2014 at 07:34:37
I just hope we can sort out the defensive problems and get Lukaku back on track. COYB
6 Posted 12/09/2014 at 07:38:59
Having said that, we have some excellent players and Martinez had 'a good window'. He now has to show he can make the most of what looks a strong squad although I suspect we will need to have patience extending well into next month before it all comes together.
Not to say we can't comment whilst we wait.
7 Posted 12/09/2014 at 08:01:01
8 Posted 12/09/2014 at 08:03:40
9 Posted 12/09/2014 at 08:36:21
10 Posted 12/09/2014 at 08:57:56
If we hit the 70 point mark again it will be amazing. Win the next four and we get onto that 2 points a game mark; this weekend seems the best place to start this.
11 Posted 12/09/2014 at 09:17:54
12 Posted 12/09/2014 at 09:25:38
We need to see an impregnable defence back in place again, not the shambles it’s been recently, and after all these millions spent, Lukaku doing his stuff. Will we also see Eto’o? It seems not, but Etu probably. Our midfield will look good Â– Pienaar is back I’m told. COYB!
13 Posted 12/09/2014 at 10:41:20
14 Posted 12/09/2014 at 10:38:31
Failure to win at least one of the next two, then two weekends on the spin see us visit Anfield and Old Trafford, which in our heart’s we can win but in our heads we know the way we have been defending we will be eaten alive.
We failed to beat West Brom and Crystal Palace home and away last season, not good enough for a team chasing that elusive 4th place.
If we fail to beat them again over the next two weeks and as is expected we don’t yield a win from the Kop or Mancs then no wins by tbd middle of October means 4th will already be all but gone this season. It may not happen but then again, I know we are looking at a possible worst case scenario here, it just could happen.
It begins to get hard winning matches when your confidence is low, just as winning matches looks easy when your confidence is high and confidence comes only from winning football matches. Please just don’t concede anymore stupid schoolboy goals tomorrow, Blues.
[I’m getting sick of saying that every weekend.]
16 Posted 12/09/2014 at 11:57:10
17 Posted 12/09/2014 at 11:55:37
In todayÂs game, thereÂs no such thing as a banker, as MK Dons proved earlier, even we have beaten the odds a few times in the past and won when a loss was predicted, so letÂs not count our chickens just yet, boys.
IÂm just wondering how long the ÂslightÂ groin strain to EtoÂo will take to clear up, or will he be out for weeks with it?
18 Posted 12/09/2014 at 11:22:25
19 Posted 12/09/2014 at 12:44:06
20 Posted 12/09/2014 at 12:55:00
McGeady, McCarthy, McLukaku, McMirallas and McDistin to score for us and Anichebe and Lescott to score for them.
21 Posted 12/09/2014 at 12:59:27
22 Posted 12/09/2014 at 13:00:54
I’m beginning to have a mistrust of the reporting from our medical department.
Anyway, I want to see Eto’o play, but I guess we have plenty of games for him to be involved in.
23 Posted 12/09/2014 at 12:59:18
Where has Evertonian courage gone, people?This is by far the best squad in 20 years. The best manger in... well, ever! And on the back of a couple of poor games you want to throw it all away???
Courage... Heart... Bravery. You want the players to show it. How about us fans show some? Lukaku must score or heÂs a waste of money? McCarthy anonymous? Our captain who has been brilliant for years has to dropped?
Good grief, grow some stones, people.
26 Posted 12/09/2014 at 13:41:22
Coleman Jagielka Alcaraz Baines
McGeady Naismith Mirallas
Subs: Robles, Stones, Distin, Gibson, Besic, Kone/Long, Atsu
(Assuming Pienaar, Oviedo, Barkley, Eto’o, Osman are unavailable)
Atsu for McGeady after 70’; Kone/Long for Lukaku after 80’; Gibson for Barry after 80’.
A nervy 2-0 for us.
27 Posted 12/09/2014 at 14:05:09
28 Posted 12/09/2014 at 14:06:37
29 Posted 12/09/2014 at 14:51:12
WBA will try and play a short passing games as Irvine likes his teams to play this way. They will be dangerous from set pieces which is our weak link.
We will win 2-0 with Mirallas and McGeady continuing their good recent form. Coyb.
30 Posted 12/09/2014 at 14:52:18
31 Posted 12/09/2014 at 15:06:19
32 Posted 12/09/2014 at 15:35:39
Last season, we beat Arsenal and Chelsea so we are FIVE points worse off than last year, game for game, assuming Leicester take the place of Norwich.
That five points will be hard to claw back as this season will be a lot tougher than last season due to inadequate squad reinforcing for the Europa and other top teams strengthening with quality players.
I do have a feeling, however, that we are due a win at West Brom and would be disappointed with anything else.
33 Posted 12/09/2014 at 15:43:04
At the end of the day, we should have 6 points but in reality we have 2; we will turn this around... have faith. COYB!!!!
34 Posted 12/09/2014 at 16:11:13
35 Posted 12/09/2014 at 16:34:20
Maybe because you’re missing out two key words before ’last year’? Those being ’this time’.
Pretty simple really. Three games gone and two points acquired this season vs three games gone and three points acquired at the same stage last season.
Does it really matter who the opposition was?
Bearing in mind Everton only drew at The Hawthorns last season and got turned over by Palace at Goodison, if we win our next two games are we then back on level footing in the ’how we did head to head last season’ league?
Five points ’clawed back’ pretty swiftly if it turns out so.
37 Posted 12/09/2014 at 16:18:06
Phil I don’t think that we were unintentionally short of fitness as Roberto is planning for a long hard season and neither of the Leicester or Chelsea games were points dropped due to fitness. After every World Cup come some poor seasons by fatigued players and increased injury risk, so Roberto has clearly intentionally factored that in to his pre-season this time around. Let’s judge him at the end of the season not after three games.
Jay, we cannot predict where our points will come from so we are one point behind last year and we have already played two of the best three teams in the league. Anybody questioning the manager’s position after three games of the season having been treated to the brand of football last year should hang their heads in shame.
I’m 35 and I’ve never been so proud to be an Evertonian and anyone doubting our brilliant boss should just look at the Cleverly situation where the Mancs are so afraid of us that they would only sell him but not loan him to us. They did not worry about giving us Neville or Gibson.
38 Posted 12/09/2014 at 17:03:19
39 Posted 12/09/2014 at 17:20:29
Some silverware and a top four finish are the markers for me; any less and it’s the same as Davey Moyes, the nearly man.
40 Posted 12/09/2014 at 17:34:28
41 Posted 12/09/2014 at 18:18:11
42 Posted 12/09/2014 at 20:26:22
46 Posted 12/09/2014 at 21:13:55
All that and I’ve never even been to England, not once, nevermind the city of Liverpool or Goodison Park. How do you all do it!?!??!
The plan is to hang out in the Live Forum for a while to BS with you dudes and then go dark and check the score after to see if it’s worth watching later. I might have serious problems.
WBA has been bogie for us and tomorrow’s match is suddenly very important with what’s coming up. Thursday-Sunday-Tuesday next week!?!? Is that even allowed? Hibbo will have to play at some point. Robles at striker. God help us all. Please win tomorrow!!
48 Posted 12/09/2014 at 21:46:11
The way weÂve leaked goals is depressing. I think Martinez will keep the same back line but, if we do concede 2 or 3, heÂs got to change it. To me, itÂs a tough one to predict... so, er, I wonÂt.
49 Posted 12/09/2014 at 22:15:31
IÂm also in the "glass half-full" camp as at times we have played some excellent stuff already this season against two top teams, I believe weÂll stuff these on Saturday.
50 Posted 12/09/2014 at 23:01:40
51 Posted 12/09/2014 at 23:20:24
52 Posted 12/09/2014 at 23:18:23
53 Posted 12/09/2014 at 23:27:30
I find you hilarious.
Upcoming fixtures are going to be akin to 10 pounds of shit stuffed into a 5 pound diaper.
But enjoy the fact we can watch the Mighty Blues so often.
WeÂll win. IÂve a good feeling about this one. The day we didnÂt play: a promoted sideÂs opener at their place, or one of the other "big" teams.
ItÂs time for a "proper" stuffing.
Pray the back line is up to the task.
54 Posted 12/09/2014 at 23:39:22
McGeady and Naismith each bagging two and a rip roaring week for my fantasy football team.
Baines with 4 assists.
55 Posted 13/09/2014 at 00:16:23
Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; Besic, McCarthy; McGeady, Astu; Naismith; Lukaku.
Should be looking to replace Lukaku with Kone or Eto and McGeady with Mirallas early second half to keep the momentum going. ItÂs time for Jags and Besic to right the wrongs of last week.
56 Posted 13/09/2014 at 00:22:22
57 Posted 13/09/2014 at 00:44:37
The international break may have really worked in our favour this time Â– some good confidence-boosting performances and a chance for those with minor injuries to rest and recuperate. I hope to see more than just a couple of minutes of Atsu to see how he is settling in.
I hanÂt see it being anything near a 0-0, I just hope we are doling out a thrashing.
58 Posted 13/09/2014 at 01:17:30
Stones Jagielka Distin
Coleman McCarthy Barry Baines
Lukaku Naismith Mirallas
I think weÂre likely to see something of the sort. 3-1 to the Blues.
59 Posted 13/09/2014 at 02:52:30
Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines
McGeady, Naismith, Pienaar,
Subs: Robles, Alcaraz, Distin, Osman, Barry, Mirallas, EtoÂo
EtoÂo for Lukaku 60Â, Mirallas for McGeady 75Â, Barry for Besic 80Â
2-1 Lukaku early and McGeady 50Â.
60 Posted 13/09/2014 at 01:43:42
Mike Green #58, I appreciate the gracious invite! I am in New Jersey and believe me the Goodison experience is front and center on my to do list. Right now I have two lovely little ladies at home (4 and 1Â½) so my travels have been limited recently and will remain so for a few more years.
But I am pro-most things England and can handle myself with aplomb in a pub so I feel I am ready. By the time we are regular Champions League representatives in 3 years time, IÂll coast in and soak up the vibes!
But for tomorrow... Maybe itÂs the wine tonite but I am feeling more confident now than when I posted earlier at work. 2-1 to the Blues. Coleman and Lukaku first half then Sessegnon to customarily make the last 10-20 minutes unbearable.... OYYYYYY!
61 Posted 13/09/2014 at 06:18:48
62 Posted 13/09/2014 at 06:27:36
He would be powder puff for months... then, out of the blue, he would give us all a fleeting glimpse of what he could, possibly should, have been... then heÂd vanish for another couple of months.
Enough pace and power to trouble the best, fantastic at rolling defenders, could finish too Â– as proved on those rare occasions he could find the drive to actually get into the box.
If there was ever a youngster who proved you really do need to be the full package, it was Vic. If you havenÂt got it in your head and heart, you havenÂt got it.
I met him once and he was absolutely charming, so I wish him well... but I hope he doesnÂt play today.
63 Posted 13/09/2014 at 06:52:04
64 Posted 13/09/2014 at 07:01:26
65 Posted 13/09/2014 at 07:15:43
67 Posted 13/09/2014 at 07:16:44
Michael and Lyndon, sorry if this breaks any rules, please delete if so.
68 Posted 13/09/2014 at 07:35:51
69 Posted 13/09/2014 at 07:46:47
Now that international shit is out they way, letÂs get cracking on with some real football.
70 Posted 13/09/2014 at 08:12:47
71 Posted 13/09/2014 at 08:41:21
72 Posted 13/09/2014 at 08:47:38
73 Posted 13/09/2014 at 09:10:43
And hopefully back to winning ways.
74 Posted 13/09/2014 at 09:55:20
Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, McGeady, Naismith, Mirallas, Lukaku.
Subs: Robles, Stones, Alcaraz, Osman, Besic, Eto, Pienaar.
Sneaky feeling we will win but will be tough and we will still concede too many goals: 3-2 to us.
75 Posted 13/09/2014 at 11:13:02
76 Posted 13/09/2014 at 11:38:24
77 Posted 13/09/2014 at 12:19:22
It will be as difficult as the previous 3 already played and grinding out that first win will require even further belief as well as greater mental and physical strength than already shown. Let's hope the team havenÂt had energy sapped out of them this early in the season.
78 Posted 13/09/2014 at 12:58:41
We came back strongly in the second half and it could so easily have been 5-4 and not 6-3, when Mirallas finished off a great move. Their Goalkeeper pulled off a great save and prevented what would have been a contender for "goal of the month" and then Besic gives them a freebie, which IÂm sure heÂll have nightmares about and, hopefully, wont try such a daft trick again. When EtoÂo came on, it was Chelsea playing for time for the last 15 mins, not us.
I know full well that the scoreline doesnÂt lie but that didnÂt reflect on the game as a whole. It was the other England Centre Half lying on the deck feigning injury and who dragged himself off as though he had lead boots.
My view was that our two central defenders were not protected as much as when Pienaar is playing and certainly not as much as when Ross is playing.
I think teams have fathomed out that if you by pass the midfield and get at Jagielka and Distin, they are prone to make mistakes, usually fatal. When we have McGeady and Mirallas playing, their natural tendency is to go for goal and defence isnÂt their greatest strongpoint.
When you look at our season, we have let teams back into a game and we let a team score goals which should never have been scored.
The fact that Arsenal were bouncing round like theyÂd won the Cup, after getting a draw and the fact that Chelsea were so confident that they did all they could to see out the last 15 mins with feigned injuries and whatever. Those two teams are very likely to be in the top four.
So yes, the defence needs tightening up. But as Howard Kendall said in last weeks Echo, "The defence starts from the front."
79 Posted 13/09/2014 at 14:02:27
Hope EtoÂs fit as you always feel capable of getting a goal off the bench with that kind of quality around.
McGeadyÂs in great form and really showing what his ability & talent is capable of - hope that continues today.
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