Steven Naismith: Will be assessed along with James McCarthy and Darron Gibson before the match
With 10 days' rest and no Europa League hangover to disrupt preparations, Everton have another chance to restart their sputtering Premier League campaign with a fixture against Queens Park Rangers in the Monday night game at Goodison Park.
Like the Blues' previous visitors, Hull City, Harry Redknapp's Rangers come to Merseyside sitting in the relegation zone and — "Everton's Law" klaxon — as the only team in the top flight yet to record an away point so far this season. The ideal opposition, you would think, for Roberto Martinez's side to get back to winning ways after the frustrations of the 1-1 draw against the Tigers and the narorow defeat at Manchester City, Andre Marriner and all.
Both Everton peforrmances were laden with ponderous build-up play and a worrying lack of tempo and attacking punch. Having given the majority of his first team the evening off for the dead rubber against Krasnodar on Thursday evening, the hope is that Martinez's regular senior players will come into this one refreshed and inspired.
They will need to be, because while the Blues have been dropping important points — 10 from the last 15 available have been spurned — the teams above them have been pulling away in ominous fashion. Having less than half of the League leaders' points tally before Çhristmas is galling enough but the top four is 10 points away; we're eight short of the minimum Europa League slot currently occupied by Southampton on goal difference from Arsenal.
How close to the manager's first-choice XI he will be able to field remains to be seen. Martinez has walked back some of his comments regarding John Stones since suggesting on Friday that he could be in contention for the visit of QPR. He has since revised his prediction for the 20 year-old's return, suggesting that next weekend's trip to Southampton is more likely.
Stones has only just recovered from surgery to repair the ankle ligaments he damaged at the beginning of October so some patience in bringing him back into the side is prudent. Both James McCarthy and Steven Naismith have been subject to just such pragmatism in recent matches as they work through their respective hamstring issues and both will be undergo assessments prior to the game to see if they can play a part.
Both players' energy has been missed over the last three weeks — Naismith's movement and running has been the grease in Everton's attacking machine for much of the past year while McCarthy's tenacity and ceaseless workrate makes him invaluable sitting as protection in front of the back four.
Of the players that started against Krasnodar, only Antolin Alcaraz is likely to be in the team from the start this time. Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines are all likely to return to the back line, while Muhamed Besic is set to slot back into central midfield. Due to Gareth Barry's one-game ban, it will either be alongside someone McCarthy, Darron Gibson if he is passed fit, or a deputy like Leon Osman who performed well in a more defensive midfield role when called upon recently.
Further forward, with Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas almost certain to start and Christian Atsu out with a hamstring injury, it's case of perming two from Samuel Eto'o, Ross Barkley, Aiden McGeady, Arouna Kone, Naismith and Steven Pienaar.
QPR, for their part, will also be missing a key player through suspension with top scorer, Charlie Austing serving a ban. Since Everton tightened up at the back, they now have the joint-worst defensive record in the division with Leicester City as well, so if the Blues have any pretensions about qualifying for Europa via the League this season, there will be no excuses if come Monday evening they haven't booked three points ahead of the trip to Southampton next weekend.
A win would put Everton back into the top half of the table at the expense of Liverpool and back to within three points of the top seven which should be the first target as Martinez looks to put a run of results together over the busy period between now and the end of the year.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Kick Off: 8pm
Quotes sourced from ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (83)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 15/12/2014 at 07:24:00
2 Posted 15/12/2014 at 07:13:17
With Barry not available and assuming Stones, McCarthy, Naismith will get a few extra days to regain fitness, if it was up to me (4-4-2):
Coleman Jagielka Alcaraz Garbutt
Mirallas Besic Barkley Baines
SUBS: Joel, Browning, Hibbert, Oviedo, Pienaar, Osman, Kone
3 Posted 15/12/2014 at 08:02:38
Injuries on the way back,we can start to move up the table
4 Posted 15/12/2014 at 08:34:48
No experiments with Baines in midfield, please Roberto, just allow him to take ’proper’ corners and free-kicks. Oh, and think twice before trying to shoehorn Barkley into the side because he’s a ’wonder kid’ (man, now ).
5 Posted 15/12/2014 at 08:44:01
Watch him get a couple tonight.
6 Posted 15/12/2014 at 08:41:32
7 Posted 15/12/2014 at 08:39:23
My team would realistically be..
Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
Besic Mirallas McGeady Barkley
In the second half depending on how it’s going I would introduce Kone and give him at the very least half an hour, most probably in place of Eto’o.
This for me should be the team, but no doubt Roberto will again play it safe and go five across the middle as usual with Osman, Besic and Barkley, to me though that just invites too many passes. It’s all possession without any end result.
I heard two things over the last week that have made a lot of sense and given food for thought...
First during the highlights show of Champions League, Arsenal’s win in Galatasaray, Gordon Strachan made a very good point that Lukas Podolski takes away three or four passes from every Arsenal move and is more willing to just shoot, resulting sometimes in goals rather than just chances.
Then Stan Collymore on Talksport about Chelsea, and the most successful sides of the day, being able to have "at least four or five ways of playing" not just one gameplan.
To me, both of these hit home to me how predictable in both formations and style of play that we have become. We very rarely vary from 4-5-1 even at home to clearly struggling inferior sides, the last home match against Hull the perfect example.
Tonight with injury and suspensions dictating this should be the perfect girl for 4-4-2 but we know what we are probably going to do and we never learn, it will be another battle of possession in midfield, isolating Lukaku against a brick wall of two banks of four.
8 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:13:12
GK Â– Howard: Robles is not an option at present.
RB Â– Coleman: we should be attacking more often than defending.
CB Â– Jagielka: Our best defender this season
CB Â– Alcaraz: Superior distribution and likelihood of scoring from set piece
LB Â– Baines: To be hooked for Garbutt if he fails to clear first man more than twice from set pieces
DMC Â– Besic: Only natural player available in the position
DMC Â– Osman: In a game in which we have the ball lots, he is a good creative option at the base
MR Â– Mirallas: Our one player who can make things happen from nothing.
AMC Â– Eto’o: a better option than Barkley against a packed defense with little room.
ML Â– Pienaar: A marginally better option than McGeady and returning Oviedo. This is a position we really need to improve on.
ST Â– Lukaku: Should be rested and raring to go. I’d like to see Kone get 30 mins too.
Coleman Jagielka Alcaraz Baines
Mirallas Eto’o Pienaar
That team with the likes of Kone, Barkley, Oviedo and Garbutt off the bench should really have enough to beat a very poor QPR shorn of their best player. But yet I don’t feel that confident....
9 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:23:37
10 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:24:21
Phil, "No experiments with Baines in midfield, please Roberto, just allow him to take ’proper’ corners and free-kicks."
Firstly, Baines hasn’t taken a proper corner now for weeks and his free kicks are almost as bad. Garbutt appears to be able to take a good corner and is just as attack minded as Baines, and as Baines apparently plays centre mid during training matches and Martinez has said he sees that as Baines future, it might be the time to try Garbutt from the start. Giving him game time would surely help him see he might have a future at Goodison and help him make his mind up to sign a new contract.
11 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:32:18
12 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:40:37
I hope Naismith and McCarthy are fit and raring to go. Looking forward to this tonight. We’ve had a nice rest so no excuses for looking our usual tired selves.
Goals from Mirallas and Lukaku assisted by Baines and Coleman should storm me to the top of my fantasy Betfred league. Happy days. Easy this management lark.
13 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:36:07
The season has reached a critical stage where we need to start picking up points; we’ve got a lot of lost ground to make up and if we don’t get our shit together pronto, the damage is going to be irreversible and mid-table mediocrity will be where we are heading.
If Martinez is serious about playing Baines in midfield then surely this is the game to put it into practice as Barry is suspended, McCarthy not fit enough to start and Gibson crocked as usual.
I would play:
Coleman Jagielka Distin Garbutt
Mirallas Eto’o Pienaar
Hopefully, Kone, Naismith and Barkley can play some part in the game.
14 Posted 15/12/2014 at 09:52:32
15 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:23:30
16 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:41:46
17 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:46:40
I do agree though, this 4-5-1 has almost become a religious belief amongst the Everton management over the last decade, as though we shall not try no other formations for fear of losing too much possession. But hey, I mean we haven’t exactly monopolized the ball that much this season have we?
Seems to me the more we have of the ball the more we self destruct with it in dangerous areas of the pitch (dangerous for us, that is).
18 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:54:31
20 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:54:04
4-5-1 suits us and is the modern way. Howard is one of the best keepers in the league. End of story.
We’ll win tonight. Zamora will do fuck all.
21 Posted 15/12/2014 at 10:53:01
Let’s hope the movement is a bit faster than it has been, lets go for goals give the fans something to shout about.
23 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:24:26
1) Stop fannying about on the edge of our own box. If you are under pressure, get rid.
2) Don’t play the ball into Lukaku’s feet with his back to goal. He has no first touch so let him run on to the ball instead.
Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
McGeady, Mirallas, Pienaar
24 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:30:09
Praying for a win.
25 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:25:03
It’s the Everton way and it’s what happens when a team has not won away for yonks and has a misfiring striker who couldn’t hit a pigs arse with a banjo.
I’ve come to expect nothing when it comes to us, years of getting twatted when it matters have taken it’s toll on my psyche.
It’s the hope that kills you...
26 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:28:13
Have you seen Everton play well this season with 4-5-1???
Because I haven’t mate, all I have seen is pass pass pass pass, sideways backwards pass pass breaks down, Lukaku isolated, Barkley running down blind alleys, Baines hitting the first man with crosses or having to go backwards because Lukaku is out on the wing with him.
Tonight will be the same...
Three central midfielders all passing the ball about in pretty ten yard circles and two wide players, one who can make things happen when he actually gets given the ball early (Mirallas) and the other? We’ll probably McGeady who doesn’t make things happen when given the ball early or late.
Partner Lukaku with Eto’o or Kone and it instantly gives QPR more to worry about.
Have loads of possession, slow passing with five midfielders 40 yards from their goal certainly won’t have them shitting themselves. Like Hull a few weeks ago, they will be in for a rather comfortable night.
27 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:37:24
28 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:41:07
Assuming it’s too early for Stones I would go with the usual back five of Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jags and Distin.
Midfield is the key for us and with Barry suspended, I would bring Osman into central midfield to speed up our ball movement. Hopefully McCarthy and Naismith are fit and join him in central midfield with Pienaar and Mirallas out wide.
Lukaku up front and that’s not far our full strength team.
29 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:49:20
The way we piss about at the back with central defenders who are not up to the task infuriates me, because their only outlet is Howard who then hoofs the ball up towards Lukaku from where it comes straight back... an outfield player should be able to find his own player with more accuracy than Howard does.
30 Posted 15/12/2014 at 11:55:16
RM will appear after the humiliating defeat with the same excuses spouting how unlucky we were as we "dominated play" and that Ross should never have been carded for another elaborate dive because Cahill wasnÂt sent off on Saturday.
Then the bloke who canÂt read or write will come on saying that he invented the game plan on the bus on the way down and he always knew that 8-1-1 was the new 4-4-2 against a team of crabs.
31 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:14:11
32 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:08:09
I really hope I’m wrong but I have been an Everton fan long enough to have seen this many times before.
33 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:09:39
34 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:16:26
36 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:50:36
37 Posted 15/12/2014 at 12:57:56
I no longer give a fuck about the "project", it means fuck-all if we can’t beat teams at the bottom at home. Start with basics/a foundation (eg a few results) then implement a more ambitious plan. We lack foundation at the minute.
38 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:09:51
39 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:01:51
Mirallas on right, Pienear left and I don’t really mind if it is Naismith, Barkley or Eto’o behind Lukaku.
40 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:12:55
Barry’s suspension and McCarthy absence might force a formation change which should be okay if players are played in their proper position, and attack with tempo and intent.
41 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:12:15
Well as Garbutt has played in the two games, Baines has 9 assists from crosses plus three goals this season which is more than a third of all our goals this year.
He’s been below par the last few games but we need him doing what he does best, that is Everton’s most potent attacking option from left back. It would be daft to replace him with a young kid with two starts and play him in a position he has never played a competitive match.
42 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:14:53
This game is a must win a draw or perish the thought a defeat would really set us back and not far off the bottom 3. So please Roberto let them off the leash tell them to attack at every opportunity and lets look to improve our goal difference.
43 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:23:54
Garbutt will not replace him for a while yet, that’s why he might do one in the summer.
44 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:18:58
In the same note, Kone deserves match time after his efforts the other night. Lukaku can watch a player go about leading the line using "STRENGTH" "CONTROL" "WORKRATE".... something we don’t see from Rom. Kone could be the ideal partner for Rom, he held up the ball really well the other night and I feel it will allow Barkley and Mirallas to commit forward more readily.
I expect to see a greater tempo played and for me we need Besic to run the midfield.
45 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:21:11
Not fussed about team selection, formation or tactics, just get the win!
46 Posted 15/12/2014 at 13:33:21
I really cannot see us being as poor as the last few weeks. Thankfully, Mr. Baines was saying he understood how frustrated the fans were, and the boos that rang out after the Hull game were justified. Let’s hope the manager and the players have got the message. No Evertonians will settle for less than 100% effort - we need to tear into these from the off.
We need to do some pressing of our own when we haven’t got the ball, something that’s been sadly lacking from our play. You watch any decent side, they go after the ball with two or three men sometimes, that’s what I want to see from every player in a blue shirt tonight.
We want to see a high tempo passing game, players making runs off the ball, and full commitment to the cause. They owe us a standout performance, it just hasn’t been good enough so far.
47 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:16:34
No repeat of the dross served up when we played Hull.
48 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:23:10
It should not be difficult. They have been stuffed by everyone away from home.
We need the team, manager and crowd all up for it. Let’s make it the night our fortunes started to turn.
49 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:27:22
I think the very last word that should be said to them before they step onto the park is ’concentration’ (or if you prefer ’concenfuckintration!’)
If we could get each player to have this foremost in their minds AND APPLIED, I think (just about) everything else would fall into place.
A sloppy pass (giving the ball way) is not concentrating.
Not tracking back is lack of concentration.
Giving daft fouls away, continually finding yourself offside, not shouting FUCKING MAN ON!!!!!! - all just lack of concentration.
I haven’t really been concerned about lack of effort (in that ’YOU LAZY TWAT!!’ way) since Walter, but feel we need to be mentally tougher at the moment.
Against Hull (at times) it appeared a hypnotist had said ’when I click my fingers, you will lose all concentration’ - CLICK!
Anyway, hopefully we’ll apply the right level of concentration tonight and give them a whupping.
Up the Toffees!
50 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:53:51
51 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:55:13
52 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:06:04
Last year is last year though!
Lots of things might have worked last year but don’t this year.
It’s okay saying nobody plays 4-4-2 anymore but we haven’t got the midfield variety to actually make 5 across the midfield look anything but stifling. We don’t posses blistering pace and as a result we look to go sideways and backwards.
Two strikers didn’t do Liverpool much harm last season when but for Gerrard’s Bambi impression they might have won the League.
53 Posted 15/12/2014 at 14:52:10
Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Garbutt
Mirallas, Barkley, Oviedo
Subs: Robles, Kone, Osman, McGeady, Eto’o, Hibbert, Alcaraz
I would definitely bring Kone on at some point, it may be a bit soon for him to start a Premier League game. If Martinez fancies playing Baines in CM, then QPR at home is as good a game as any to start, especially with three of our four CDMs out. Naismith should sit this one out to make sure he’s 100% ready for Southampton next weekend. That team certainly has balance with three left footers playing on the left side.
I think however that Martinez will stick with Baines at LB and play Ossie in CDM next to Besic and have Naismith on the bench with no Garbutt in the squad.
54 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:14:32
QPR have won on three of their six Premier League visits to Goodison Park, including a 5-3 victory in April 1993 when Les Ferdinand scored a 13-minute hat-trick.
The Toffees have managed just three wins in their 12 Premier League meetings with QPR.
Everton have won just six points from their last six Premier League matches (W1 D3 L2).
The Toffees have won only two of their last eight Premier League games at Goodison Park (W2 D3 L3).
According to Opta, Everton have made more errors leading directly to goals than any other team in the Premier League this season (eight).
QPR have won two of their last three games.
55 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:16:15
No excuse against the side with the worst away record in the top league. We simply have to win.
57 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:39:40
You can turn it around and say that QPR this season have lost every one of their 7 away games and only managed 2 goals on the road, both by Austin who’s injured. In fact they’ve conceded more than 1 goal in 6 of those 7 away defeats. Scored 2 and conceded 17 on the road so far.
Going by those stats, you’d think this would be an easy game for us but this is Everton and we gave Soldado his first goal in god knows how long, so we’ll see how it pans out.
Personally if we don’t win, I will really start questioning whether Martinez is the right manager for us. That may sound a bit dramatic but this league season has been a real let down so far, regardless of the injuries. No EL for 2 monhts so now’s the time to grind out results in the league.
The boos at home to Hull will be nothing compared to what will happen if we don’t win tonight. Just hope for the players sake that we can get an early goal to take the tension out of the crowd.
58 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:48:35
It’s one match after a third of the season... relegation....fecks sake!
59 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:48:15
60 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:53:34
Strongest team available tonight.
I don’t care how they do it.
Pretty passing triangles.
3 points please.
61 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:54:41
And when you think that we threw points away at Leicester (a), Arsenal (h) Palace (h) and Spurs (a), all games where we allowed the opposition to get back at us it doesn’t exactly fill ME with confidence. Dropping points tonight will certainly turn the spotlight on Martinez.
In my opinion.
63 Posted 15/12/2014 at 15:13:16
64 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:15:07
If you look up the records for when Carlisle were in the top flight, you’ll see they did the double over us!
When QPR were in the Prem in the 90s we were pretty piss poor and, er, they had Les Ferdinand up front. The goalposts have shifted somewhat since then.
Just as I wouldn’t be shitting myself if we drew Carlisle in the Cup, I expect us to be favourite for the three points tonight.
65 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:14:26
66 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:22:01
67 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:27:03
68 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:47:46
Probably not too long ago, James, because Baines, Distin, Lukaku and Barry are all left-footers.
69 Posted 15/12/2014 at 16:58:07
I would go for 3 up front. Lukaku, Mirallas and 1 other. I would go for Naismith or Kone. Kone impressed me the other night and for me Eto’o isn’t doing enough. Midfield 3 of Besic, Osman and Barkley.
Let’s go for it for a change and if we get at them early the result will come!
70 Posted 15/12/2014 at 17:08:34
Just heard Roberto on the radio and he stated we will be firing on all cylinders in February? I can’t wait that long personally.
Will someone please tell him the season starts in September.
71 Posted 15/12/2014 at 17:38:13
72 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:23:08
73 Posted 15/12/2014 at 17:58:47
Possession football is a great game if it is played with quick passing and moving the ball foreward either down the wings or through the middle but this passing between the back 4 means to me the other team has 10 players marking your other 6.
The players have like other people have said have to take responsability and concentrate on moving into space, pass to unmarked players and test the keeper with shots instead of trying to walk it in.
We are blaming the defence a lot and at times justifiably so but it is about time the attack stepped up and starting scoring more than 1 goal against these lower teams and get some confidence back in the team.
74 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:31:20
76 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:31:45
Those talking about hoofing the ball clear are wasting their time. Roberto will do it his way and team need to just replicate the performances of last year to get the desired results.
All this rubbish about teams working us out and changing systems is irrelevant. Tonight we need our passing to be crisp, with intensity and better movement up front.
I hope the fans stay with the team as QPR will be coming to frustrate and get the crowd on the players backs.
77 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:43:09
KO is only just over an hour away...
78 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:54:27
Stop pissing about and get rid (a la John Smiths advert)!
79 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:52:54
80 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:47:16
I havenÂt checked but I would bet my mortgage that Tony is referring to one Andy Walker.
81 Posted 15/12/2014 at 18:59:26
82 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:00:55
83 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:01:44
84 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:01:07
85 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:01:46
Hope the players are a bit more confident than him. IÂve got the night off tonight and I want to be celebrating after the game.
86 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:09:47
Darren, itÂs called getting your excuses in early. Maybe heÂs exasperated at his own inability to get the players going quicker than snailÂs pace.
The players have to take responsibility tonight and gamble a bit more. I donÂt care if anyone thinks itÂs because/despite of Martinez, I just want them to bloody do it.
87 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:10:46
All hypothetical of course and I expect we will win, but nothing less will be acceptable bearing in mind the last few weeksÂ resultsÂ i.e. loosing tonight canÂt be passed off as a one off, instead it will be a trend.
I just hope he puts an attack minded team out with players in their best positions.
88 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:18:43
Or, it could be Roberto is trying to avert complacency in the team?
89 Posted 15/12/2014 at 19:32:45
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.