After their dogged pursuit of John Stones over the last month of the summer transfer window and Everton's steadfast refusal to sell their prodigiously talented defender, it was deliciously fitting that the first visitors to Goodison Park following the deadline would be Chelsea.
That Jose Mourinho's side were struggling in the very areas of the pitch that the Portuguese was trying so hard to address by signing him added another dimension to an occasion that promised – and delivered – a raucous atmosphere inside Goodison Park and a stirring performance from the home side.
If there were any observers left questioning why Chelsea had ended up lodging four separate bids for a 21-year-old with just a handful of England caps to his name, Stones would have left them in no doubt after today as he rubbed Mourinho's nose in it with a majestic peformance of staggering maturity given the circumstances and the quality of the opposition.
A late booking picked up for impishly kicking the ball away may have been the only betrayal of his comparatively tender years, while a delightfully audacious Cruyff turn past Pedro inside his own area perfectly illustrated why the young lad from Barnsley has become the hottest English property in his position.
On another day, talk of Stones's performance and the response it represented to the summer's biggest transfer saga might have dominated the aftermath of this tremendous Everton victory. The headlines were deservedly stolen, however, by Steven Naismith who scored his first competitive hat-trick in Everton colours to stun the reigning Champions and deliver a vital victory to Roberto Martinez.
Like Stones, he too might not have been on the team sheet today had the Blues not dug their heels in to keep an important player on the books by rejecting a deadline-day offer from Norwich City. Furthermore, he might not have even been in a position to become the first player in the Premier League to score three times in the same game against a Chelsea team managed by Mourinho were it not for Muhamed Besic's misfortune to be struck down by Goodison's hamstring curse just minutes into the game.
The substitution enforced on Martinez in the ninth minute introduced to the contest a player who relishes the big occasion and Naismith grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring twice in five first-half minutes to put Everton 2-0 up and then finished off a fine move to deliver the hammer blow to the Londoners eight minutes from the end after Nemanja Matic's impressive strike had kept Chelsea alive during the second half.
In truth, Naismith and Stones were the headline acts of a quite brilliant Everton display, one under-pinned by excellence all over the park.
Phil Jagielka was an immovable presence alongside his younger protege in central defence, the pair of them keeping Diego Costa in their pocket throughout and largely marshalling Hazard into areas where he couldn't trouble Tim Howard in the Blues' goal. The Spanish striker had run amok in this fixture last season; a year on he was left a scowling picture of frustration with just one shot to his name.
Brendan Galloway, inconceivably still 19 years of age, turned in arguably his most comprehensive performance yet since graduating to the senior side at the end of last season in what is essentially an unfamiliar fullback role, grabbing a superb assist and adding further weight to the belief that he could soon merit comparison with Stones's stratospheric reputation.
Gareth Barry, who has betrayed signs this season that age is catching up with him and that the defensive midfield axis he forms with James McCarthy has become something of a hindrance, was a commanding presence orchestrating proceedings from in front of the back four while his partner chased and harried.
Continuing his impressive start to the new season, Ross Barkley weighed in with another mature showing and a couple of assists of his own while Arouna Kone and Romelu Lukaku, either of whom might have scored on another day, played a vital supporting role up front, acting as the decoys and distractions that allowed Naismith to plunder a memorable treble.
Despite Chelsea's sluggish start to the season and the defensive issues with which Mourinho has been wrestling, few might have predicted the magnitude of the overall performance and victory in the early going. Despite adding Gerard Deulofeu and Aaron Lennon to his squad over the summer and taking his tally of wingers to five, Martinez had strung three defensive midfielders across the centre of the park behind a forward three of Barkley, Lukaku and Kone.
As demonstrated against the so-called bigger teams in the past, the Catalan is not averse to mixing up his formations and while there some disgruntled reactions to another starting XI seemingly devoid of width, Besic's first and, sadly, only burst forward down the left flank suggested that Martinez had more enterprising ambitions than just sitting three defensively-minded players in front of his back four. Given that the Bosnian lasted just nine minutes, the majority of those under a cloud of frustration as he first received treatment and then tried to run the injury off, we'll never know and what followed from his replacement will go down in Goodison folklore.
Certainly, the Blues responded to the atmosphere inside the stadium with a purposeful and composed start to the game as they zipped the ball about confidently and established a rhythm that would result in a fine opening goal after 16 minutes. As the ball was worked neatly through the centre of midfield, Galloway stole down the left flank to collect Naismith's pass and it was his pin-point cross that met the Scot's rapier-like run between two visiting defenders where he steered a deft header into the roof of Asmir Begovic's net.
It was apparent that Everton were in one of those moods last witnessed in these parts when Manchester United were demolished 3-0 at the tail end of last season and were it not for a flying save from Begovic, it might have been 2-0 just minutes later. Kone rose to meet Seamus Coleman's cross from the right but the Bosnian 'keeper managed to paw his header past the far post.
The second goal was not long in coming, though. Great work by Lukaku on the right touchline ended with him passing infield and when Naismith found himself with space to engineer a shot from 25 yeards out he picked his spot beautifully with a crisp left footer that glided into the far corner. If there was one thing that Martinez's Everton of 2013-14 had for the most part it was confidence and the Blues' No.14 exemplified its apparent return.
They're still blighted by a propensity to leave gaps behind the fullbacks and a failure to adequately press the ball at times and while they got away with it when Cezar Azpilicueta popped up in oceans of space in the right back area vacated by Coleman and Stones recovered well to block the ball behind for a corner, they were not so fortunate in the 36th minute. With Barkley a spectator and McCarthy withdrawn to the edge of his own area, Matic had the freedom to line up a shot from 30 yards and proceeded to welly it emphatically past Tim Howard to halve Everton's lead.
A robust response from Chelsea would have been expected and it resulted rather unnervingly in the home side losing all their momentum while the visitors forced a flurry of corners and went close when John Terry headed narrowly over, Branislav Ivanovic almost turned Hazard's low shot in amongst a crowded box, and Jagielka deflected an effort from Costa behind.
Everton's defence held firm going into the break, however, and they emerged from half time in similarly resolute mood. Indeed, they succeeded in largely snuffing Chelsea's much-vaunted attack out and nearly increased their advantage when Lukaku was played in but Begovic blocked his effort from the angle and referee Andre Marriner bottled a hairy decision over what looked to be a backpass by Terry in his own six-yard box.
Desperate to score a point-proving goal against the manager who sold him, Lukaku hammered a shot into the side-netting, Barkley spurned a very promising counter-attack opportunity with a poor final ball to Kone and Lukaku forced another save from Begovic from another tight angle as the Blues remained on the offensive.
One more saving tackle from Jagielka shut down a counter from Chelsea and substitute Radamel Falcao fluffing his lines with a close-range header represented the death throes from Mourinho's men before Naismith put the icing on the cake by finishing off a brilliantly-constructed third goal.
Stones, now operating at right back after Coleman had been withdrawn with an injury of his own, was involved in a quick-fire passing move that went through substitute Aaron Lennon and James McCarthy before Barkley drove towards the box and slipped a pass in for Naismith who took two touches before firing under the goalkeeper's legs from the angle to complete his hat-trick. He was, predictably, mobbed by his teammates – including a beaming Stones – and Goodison erupted into a repertoire of songs at full volume to see out the last 10 minutes or so of action which featured an encouraging cameo from Ramiro Funes Mori.
As the likes of Arsenal, United, Lille and Wolfsburg have found to their cost over the past couple of seasons, when Martinez's Everton are firing on all cylinders, in the mood and backed by a bouncing Goodison, there's not much to do but get flattened by the juggernaut. Since assuming the role, the manager has overseen some wonderful victories and made Evertonians believe that the School of Science really is on its way back.
Today, the Toffees shrugged off the supporters disappointment with what felt like unfinished summer transfer business with the failure to add that sought-after "No.10" with an irresistable performance; the key now, as before, is to carry this result forward against the kinds of teams who will make things a good deal more difficult in the final third than Chelsea did today.
What this result will breed, however, is confidence – that precious commodity that was so instrumental in carrying Everton to a fifth-place finish in Martinez's first season in charge. Retain that, weather the injury storm and the Blues stand a good chance of coming through this difficult run of 10 matches to start the season in very good shape vis-a-vis a challenge for Europe.
Man of the Match: Steven Naismith
A tremendous atmosphere at Goodison after the exasperating Stones saga ended in the best possible way with the brilliant young centre-back staying at Everton. Time for the Blues to underline the snub with determined performance. The game was preceded by another aerial protest: YOUR FAILURES ARE YOUR LEGACY, directed at absent Chairman Bill Kenwright.
Martinez stuck with Brendan Galloway at left back, with new defender Funes Mori on the bench and gave Besic a start but that backfired when he was crunched and forced off with a leg injury after less than 5 minutes.
Lukaku did brillinatly to collect the ball under pressure, turn and play the ball forward in a manner never been seen before.
Naismith replaced Besic after 9 minutes and the substitution was to provide Everton with a tremendous boost when a good forward ball from Barkley gave the Scottsman the opportunity to play a great ball out to Galloway on the left. It was returned with interest as Naismith scampered through the Chelsea defence to plant a brilliantly simple header past Begovic off an excellent pinpoint cross from Galloway for the perfectly timed first goal.
Another great move, this time down the right and Coleman put it on a plate for Kone, Begovic pulled off a fantastic save to be denied a certain goal. From the corner, McCarthy fired in an excellent drive that Begovic stretched to turn it past the post as the Goodison Crowd revelled in some absolutely brilliant football from Everton.
And it only goty better as Nasimith lashed an unstoppable shot across begovichh into the corner of the net to make it 2-0 with 22 minutes gome. It was another exclelent mopve with the ball being moved forwad with pace and finished in superb style.
Azpilicueta got past Kone too easily as Chelsea piled on the pressure with Stones bloking brilliantly for a corner but Everton broke with great pace through Kone but somehoe his cross to Lukaku was not converted as at seemed the big man was all set to make it 3-0.
Everton seemed to be in control but had not been able to get clasoe to the Chelsea goal again with enough pace and it was Matic who was given too much space and lashed an unstoppable shot past Howard in the 36th minute.
Chelsea attacked again and Everton's defence did just enough to deflect Costa's shot behind for a corner, the first headed behind by Kone, the second corner just over by Terry.
Chelsea were pinning the Blues back as half-time approached and the brilliant passing play had desserted them, unforced errors creeping in. More corners for Chelsea, a drive from Hazard alsmost getting diverted in. The last 10 mins of the first half were almost all Chelsea.
Chelsea tried to control the game after the break and draw Everton out but the Blues were having none of it. However, the theme of Chelsea corners resumed. Naismith seemed to release Lukaku but the ball ran away and out of play. Coleman then did well to win a corner with three defenders on him but Barkely's corner was headed over weaakly. Kenedy replaced Mikel for Chelsea.
Barkley tried to dribble in through the Chelsea backline but the ball was no longer falling that well for the Blues until Barkley did get a good ball over the top for Lukaku to run onto. However, his direct shot at Begovic was a huge disappointment. In the follow-in, Terry clearly passed back to Begovic from short range under pressure from Lukaku despite some weird acorbatics to disguise it, that fooled Marriner who denied massive calls from Everton.
Lukaku got wide right in the next attack and tried to force in at the near post but the angle was too much. Everton could then break with pace through Barkley but Lukaku was too far out wide and Kone worried about offside. At least Everton were attacking, with a shot from Kone at Begovic. Barkley went over too easily and the calls for a penalty were futile.
Chelsea this time broke at pace, Galloway fouling and Chelsea winning yet another corner. At the other end, Everton pressed better and Lukaku got another shot in, this one across Begovic but the Chelsea keeper saved it. Everton got two more corners, but Barkley played it short and lost the ball, Chelsea breaking with fearsome intent, Jagielka saving the day with a brilliant block.
Lukaku got aonther excellent chance, ball played over him to run ont, but criminally overhit a cross to Kone at the far post rather than lashing a shot over Begovic from an excellent position. Kone was replaced by Lennon. Some better movement through the middle, Barkley finding Coleman but his crooss was poor. Lennon combined with Coleman and tried to pay a great pullback but it hit a Chelsea defender.
New signing Ramiro Funes Mori came on for his Everton debut to replace Coleman as another intelligent move from Stones showed his class. But Chelsea were piling on more pressure and won another corner with 12 minutes left and a slender lead that required some dogged defending.
With Chelsea very dominant, a fantastic piece of play saw Naismith turn and score his hat-trick with a difficult shot under Begovic from an almost impopssible angle after superb play and an excllent feed from Barkley following great forward movement involving Stones, Coleman and Lennon down the right. Goodison went delirious.
Barkley tried to go for glory with a free-kick from distance that was easy for Begovic. Chelsea would not roll over, though, with Willian trying to make somethiong from a free-kick after Stones was called and booked for kicking the ball away.
Funes Mori surged foward and was hacked down by Costa, with Naismth causing havoc on a bouncing ball that Begovic came out to punch away. Marriner blew the whistle to end a splendid performance and a fantastic win for Everton, just when it was most needed to underline Chelsea's poor start to the season, with Stones imperious in an excllent display.
Everton: Howard, Coleman (80' Funes Mori), Stones [Y:87'], Jagielka, Galloway [Y:64'], Barry, McCarthy, Besic (8' Naismith), Barkley, Kone (72' Lennon), Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Robles, Mirallas, Deulofeu, Osman.
Chelsea: Begovic; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Azpilicueta [Y:88']; Mikel (55' Kenedy), Matic; Pedro (70' Falcao), Fabregas (74' Willian), Hazard; Diego Costa [Y:93'].
Subs not Used: Blackman, Remy, Cahill, Loftus-Cheek.
Referee: Andre Marriner
From My Seat: Chelsea (H)
The international break was behind us so it was off to L4 for the Chelsea game. The Room of Nonsense soon filled and the talk was of how Stones would react to playing against the team that tried to steal him and how the crowd would react to Jose? The answer would be 'superbly' on both counts. The teams appeared on personal mini screens and there was much talk regarding Besic. My guess was that he was to babysit Hazard. It was pleasing to see the new lad Mori on the bench and just maybe we would get a glimpse. Time for the walk up and the rain had gone off after it being quite heavy earlier on.
It was buzzing with Blues as fans were in good spirits and ready to get behind the lads. Spellow Lane and Goodison Road were chocker yet I could find no one handing out the free fanzine that had been advertised. I have missed the paper fanzines but, alas, today I am still missing them.
In for "Z-Cars" when the Blues received a tumultuous welcome and whilst the captains were sorting out the kick off John Stones was clapping to all four sides of the ground so now, perhaps, we are all friends again.
Kick off and the Blues made a bright start with Besic showing up well and moving at some pace and he was to have a big influence on the game but not in the manner he would have wished for. From a foray down our left Besic cut in and went down in a tackle and by his reaction he was in some trouble. Medical assistance was called and after treatment both on and off the pitch he did resume but, alas, only lasted another three minutes and in the ninth minute he was replaced by Naismith.
I wonder how many of you watching did not fully agree with the manager’s choice of sub? Go on, be honest. I won’t tell. I can also tell you not many within my earshot agreed either. However, as soon as he was up and running there was a sense of urgency about his play as though determined to show what both his club and country managers were missing by leaving him out.
We were now having a good spell with joined up footy. Even Lukaku had found his touch and Ross was not afraid to shoot from outside the box. He missed but the crowd were pleased he had shot. At the other end Galloway did well in the tackle but had to give away a corner which was only half cleared but their giant of a centre-back Zouma shot and missed the target. In our next attack we scored in true joined-up fashion when Barkley fed Naismith who swept out to Galloway near our left corner flag. Naismith ran into the box and was just in time to meet Galloway’s pin point cross and head home leaving their keeper helpless. Goodison exploded in a cacophony of sound, much hugging and kissing was in evidence.
1-0 up and tails up we were cutting through them and from a Coleman cross Kone got a great header in and looked to be going in until their keeper diving full stretch to his right clawed the ball away for a corner which was cleared. But McCarthy got onto it and fired a shot of venom that, again, the keeper turned away for another corner which was cleared. Then the odious Costa was pulled up for one of his sly fouls and he was roundly booed and called some unmentionable names.
The 20-minute mark arrived and we are on the attack, Barkley found Naismith outside the box and, after a short half pirouette to set himself, he fired a corker across the keeper and ball nestled in the corner of the net. Cue even wilder celebrations and the move executed at pace and finished with aplomb was just what we have been crying out for. This got Jose into his technical area and the crowd had a little word with him. He didn’t wave.
The game now changed a little as Everton wanted to protect the lead so we went a touch defensive and looked to break quickly. With Chelsea now almost in desperate mode they did pile pressure on us but with the excellent Barry filling gaps and directing operations and John Stones showing Chelsea that they were right to identify him as a must-have as he oozed class in all that he did. Barry got Kone away with an astute pass who moved swiftly and put in a timely cross for Lukaku to knock home one-on-one but he somehow missed the far post and hung his head in his hands.
Chelsea had a good spell from the 30th minute and we were stretched a little for the first time and didn’t really threaten their goal. However, with our dogged defending and all the players showing determination Chelsea didn’t look that clever in front of goal either.
10 minutes to the break and out of the blue Chelsea got a goal back as we seemed to have thwarted another attack. The ball went out to be picked up by Obi Mikel who fed Matic who struck a peach from some 22 yards into the left hand corner of our net leaving Howard totally beaten. I have to admit I clapped that one. Hell, normally you want them to shoot from that range!
That left us 10 minutes to the break and with it now being all Chelsea I said to my mate, we need to keep this until the break; another goal conceded now could ruin all our earlier work. With nerves jangling a bit we saw Chelsea gain about four corners and we gave away a few fouls that saw crosses coming in but stood firm and on the half time whistle we gave our lads a tremendous ovation.
H/T and the chat was typical of us Blues as we fretted about a Chelsea come-back and discussed possible subs but, in truth, no-one had played badly so my ten penneth was leave well enough alone.
The second half started as it would go on. Chelsea trying to dominate possession and us ready to attack at the drop of a hat. Chelsea had a few more corners and we responded with a few of our own and from one of these Stones climbed highest but put the ball higher than the bar. Barkley was getting on the ball and trying to commit defenders to get someone free and the game settled into a close affair. Jose blinked first and on 55 minutes Obi Mikel was replaced by Kenedy. Barry was still prominent in defence and with some probing passes further forward and from one of these he got Lukaku in on the keeper but shall we say his shot was disappointing as it was at the keeper. At the other end the new man Kenedy had a shot but he missed the target.
The hour mark came and went. Lukaku missed the target again albeit from a tight angle this time from a neat ball from Kone. Naismith was still working his socks off and set up Kone but his strong shot was saved.
Chelsea now had a spell and Galloway was booked for fouling. The youngster was having a good solid game, though, and it seems to me to be growing into life with the first team. Chelsea continued to come at us and as Stones broke up one move it was worth the admission money to see the way he glided out of trouble and with an astute pass set us on our way again.
Being only a goal in front that sort of thing scares you but it just seemed second nature to him. The game now end to end as both teams gain corners. At the 70-minute mark both teams made a sub. Chelsea swapped Pedro for Falcao and Everton swapped Kone for Lennon who got a good welcome home. Just another 3 minutes elapsed before Jose went for broke bringing on his final sub Willian for Fabregas, for some reason a section of our fans booed Fabregas off?
Coleman made one of his trademark speedy runs down the right, cut in and then wellied a left-footer high and wide. Then the game was stopped as Coleman was on the deck. He resumed after treatment but lasted only 2 minutes and then had to be replaced by Funes Mori. It looked like a hammy for Coleman. We now had five centre-backs in front of Howard. Mori to the left of Jags and Stones to the right of Jags and Galloway remained as he was. Were we playing three at the back with wingbacks or indeed five at the back? A bit of both I reckon.
Up until the 80th minute it had been a bit of a stalemate with both teams attacking and defending for their lives in one Chelsea attack Jags made a terrific block that drew applause. Stones again showed his ice-cold side as he strode out of defence. Barkley was having one of his better games and always showing for the ball and trying to be constructive. I instantly liked Mori and his short cameo suggested to me we may have a good one. He showed a coolness in playing out of defence, a determination when running at their defence and a no nonsense approach to clearances into row Z when under pressure in the box. I hope I am right but time will tell.
10 minutes to go and prayer beads had been spotted but they would not be needed as Stones combined with Lennon down the right and the ball was shuttled to Barkley who fed a peach through to Naismith who from what looked like an impossible angle smashed the ball passed keeper and into the net. Pandemonium as Goodison rocked. Wow it was all over, we knew it the players knew it in fact the whole world knew it.
Oh, those last minutes were played out to a succession of fouls and a bit of poor sportsmanship from the Chelsea players but that didn’t stop the faithful basking in the glory of sinking the good ship Jose. We sang to him informing him he was being sacked in the morning as well as asking him to go away in jerky movements. The sun was shining we had won 3-1 and on the whistle ‘If yer know yer ‘Istery’ rang out loud and clear.
All told, a good day out. It was as good a display as I have witnessed for some time. It wasn’t an easy game like Southampton away but we stood toe to toe with them and in the end I believe the victory was merited. The injuries were a bit of a worry but we seem to have a decent bench and I can see the makings of a tidy team taking shape.
If we can show consistency then that will really improve us and maybe we can start to impose ourselves on the so called lesser teams who park the bus and break when we overcommit.
Swansea next and that will be a good tester. Another three points please, lads.
UP THE BLUES
It's all about the Nais!
Missing a game for a wedding is always a bitter pill to swallow, especially so when it’s for the visit of the champions. Even more so when you trounce them. Ste had to suffer this fate, Gaz the lucky beneficiary of his ticket for the game.
Gaz and I arrived at the pub in plenty of time, Sue and Gary just making it in time for a swift drink before kick off.. We were pretty surprised by the team news in the pub with Martinez electing to play without any out-and-out wingers much to our bemusement. “Let’s see how they line up before we completely slag them off” I whimpered amongst much scorn.
Onto Goodison Park and we all knew the atmosphere would be rocking for this one given the summer goings on with Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. He certainly came in for some stick from the crowd throughout the afternoon.
We attacked towards the Park End in the first half with both teams busy from the off, albeit without any real openings. Besic made a great surge forward before he was eventually tackled inside the Chelsea penalty area. Unfortunately, for Besic at least, he got himself injured in doing so and was replaced by Naismith. None of us were convinced this was the best idea though took great delight in being wrong. Nobody could have foreseen the impact he was to make on the game. He helped set the tone almost straight away by putting in a good tackle on Pedro as Everton, backed by our vociferous crowd, got about Chelsea. The first of his three goals was a delight when he headed in superbly from Brendan Galloway’s cross. I was just as made up for Galloway that he was able to make such an important contribution. It was well deserved given his performance.
Everton were unfortunate not to go further ahead when first Kone and then McCarthy were thwarted by terrific Begovic saves, however we were not to wait long for our second goal when Naismith took range from distance with his left foot, the ball cutting across Begovic and into the corner of the net. Cue hysterics throughout the ground. What a feeling. What a noise.
You knew Chelsea were going to retaliate strongly and once Matic struck his wonder goal they really had us pinned back pretty much in just our own penalty area as we defended a seemingly endless succession of corners. Only John Terry will know how he missed his free header, though thankfully we survived, making it to the break 2-1 ahead after quite a breathtaking first half.
The preceding second period was no less intense. The crowd immense and the players performing pretty much to perfection and they could have added the third goal long before Naismith completed his perfect hat-trick. Lukaku was thwarted on a couple of occasions as was Kone. How Andre Marriner failed to award us an indirect free kick following a quite blatant John Terry back pass to Begovic I will never know, but that mattered not when Naismith finished smartly to wrap the game up.
An amazing performance from Everton and a richly deserved win. This was surely Roberto Martinez’ finest hour as Everton manager. The key now is to sustain it of course. We need to come back with points from our next two away games in the league and make progress in the Capital One Cup at Reading. Following that we need to beat Liverpool. It’s as simple as that. It’s been far too long since we enjoyed derby success and if we play anything like as well as we did today, and Liverpool play anything like as badly as I’ve just seen them play at Manchester United, victory is very attainable in that fixture.
Should all that come to fruition, then who knows what the limit could be with this squad. A glance at the quality available from the substitutes bench and the injured list suggests that we might just be able to stick around nearer the top summit of the Premier League.
Well done Everton. That was just fantastic.
Howard: Jose Mourinho will feel he was criminally under-worked as two shots on target, one of which powderpuff, all game is poor for the champions. Regardless, I feel there were times when he could have shown more, or at least some, command of his penalty area. 6
Galloway: For a young lad learning his game, he was quite fantastic, particularly given that left back isn’t quite his position. He put in a great ball for Naismith’s first goal, and was solid and dependable throughout. Excellent. 8
Stones: Also excellent. His composure on the ball and ability to play a forward pass is quite exceptional. He’s really coming of age now. 8
Jagielka: Skippered us superbly and took no stick from Diego Costa. A brilliant effort. 9
Coleman: Has started the season very positively and had another stormer of a game today. Hopefully his injury isn’t too serious as he will be missed. 8
Barry: Outstanding. Always available for a pass and marshalled the midfield superbly. One of the best players out there today. 9
McCarthy: Busy if not always effective. 7
Besic: Not on long enough to judge.
Barkley: I thought that at times in the game he was a luxury we could scarcely afford in a fixture like this, though once we had made all our substitutions he seemed to pick his game up and take more responsibility. Regardless, the Ross Barkley of this season is practically unrecognisable from the confidence-shot player of the last campaign. Long may it continue. 6
Kone: Maddening at times but can be effective. I still feel Mirallas offers a better option than he, though Lukaku appears to be benefiting from the added support in attack so lets hope this continues. 7
Lukaku: Had a very impressive game and it’s only a shame that he didn’t cap it off with a goal. He got the better of Zouma and Terry on several occasions throughout. An excellent effort. 8
Naismith (for Besic): What a performance from Naismith. Not just his goals but his team effort was infectious and rubbed off on some of the others. A perfect hat-trick as a substitute. It doesn’t get better than that. 10
Lennon (for Kone): His pace and work rate will often unsettle teams and he was quite the nuisance from when he got on the pitch. Nice little return pass which ultimately led to Naismith’s third goal also. 7
Funes Mori (for Coleman): I was a little worried when he took to the field as it seemed a very difficult circumstance to throw a debutant into a game like that. He seemed unnerved however and I enjoyed his charge forward towards the end before he was taken down by Costa. Wasn’t on long and it’s impossible to tell if he’ll be a good player or not at this stage, but he does look composed which is a good trait to have. We might find out more soon if Coleman’s injury is a serious one. 7
With the preoccupation with and distraction of the transfer window now out of the way and the first international break behind them, Everton resume Premier League action in the televised lunchtime kick-off against Chelsea on Saturday hoping to add to Jose Mourinho's early-season problems.
While Manchester City, the club they deposed as Champions in May, are off to a perfect start with four wins in four, the Londoners sit in 13th place coming into the weekend having won just once so far, that a 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion three weeks ago. While they will have had a fortnight to mull over their home defeat to Crystal Palace in their last outing, Roberto Martinez will be hoping to prey on any lingering doubts and instability within the Chelsea camp.
The visit of the current title holders to Goodison Park for the first time since that dramatic 6-3 goalfest in August last year will, of course, be added extra spice by the John Stones affair, a dimension to the contest that will be impossible to ignore given Mourinho's relentless but ultimately futile pursuit of Everton's young defender. Goodison Park will be vibrating to the strains of a certain Beatles adaptation – one Martinez jokingly said he sings in the shower in his pre-match press conference – and BT Sport's presenters, pundits and commentators will surely make hay of a saga that will almost certainly resume closer to the opening of the January window.
Obiviously, the importance from the Blues' perspective is that Stones himself is able to maintain his focus in the manner in which he has largely been able to so far, particularly since news broke that he handed in a transfer request prior to the cup tie at Barnsley. The 21-year-old will likely need all of his precocious composure to rise above it all and keep his attention on the task at hand.
Martinez, meanwhile, will hopefully have spent the last two weeks formulating his plan to beat Chelsea for the second time since he took the Goodison hot seat. His hard-earned 1-0 triumph over Mourinho's men almost two years ago to the day marked his first win as Everton boss and there is no question that he would welcome a repeat of that result after losing home and away to them last season.
The Catalan's challenge will be to draw a more enterprising performance from his players than was the case against City on 23rd August. The creative attacking midfield presence that Blues fans were pining for before the transfer deadline never materliased so it will be up to the manager to experiment with his flair players to find the right ingredients in forward areas to create chances and score goals. In their last two Premier League games, Everton have managed just four shots on target and, predictably, scored no goals.
As the team's second-highest goalscorer last season and one of the standout performers in pre-season, Kevin Mirallas is seen by supporters as the obvious foil for Romelu Lukaku but he has made just one League start so far, with Arouna Kone getting the nod as a withdrawn second striker following his important contributions against Watford and Southampton in the first two games. Gerard Deulofeu, meanwhile, has only been given 11 minutes of action in the Premier League since he signed permanently over the summer but, like Mirallas, he showed how effective he can be in the 5-3 win at Barnsley in the Capital One Cup last month.
Martinez has shown a propensity for conservatism since his record-breaking first season in charge of Everton, though, and the presence of Aaron Lennon offers him an option that may be a compromise when it comes to creativity and star quality but combines width with industry. Though he lacks match sharpness he has been in full training since the start of pre-season and it would not be a surprise to see the deadline-day signing from Spurs named in the starting XI this weekend, perhaps with Kone switching to the left to replace the injured Tom Cleverley.
In midfield, James McCarthy is expected to be fit despite carrying a minor knee injury when he linked up with the Republic of Ireland for their two Euro2016 qualifiers. The 24-year-old played against Georgia this week and, like Seamus Coleman, should be cleared for selection to face Chelsea.
Bryan Oviedo is a bigger doubt, however, with the player set to undergo a late fitness test on his own knee complaint. Galloway has been sidelined since being forced off just before half time against Manchester City, while Oviedo played both games at left back in his absence but then withdrew from Costa Rica's squad over the international break. Martinez says that Oviedo will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness for Saturday but with Galloway fully fit he might not need to call on Ramiro Funes Mori who is on stand-by to make his debut if needed.
By his new manager's own admission, the Argentine will need some time to adapt to the physicality and pace of the Premier League which would make his selection against Chelsea something of a risk and there is something to be said for deploying the vastly more experienced Gareth Barry as an emergency left back instead.
As was the case before the City match, this is the kind of fixture in which Everton need to start making a statement if they have ambitions of challenging in the top five or six places this season. The game against Manuel Pellegrini's side was disconcertingly lacking in passion and fire and it's hoped that the edge to proceedings that the Stones situation will bring from the home crowd will create the kind of "bear pit" atmosphere which has helped carry the Blues to stirring victories over teams like this in the past.
With Thibault Courtois likely to be absent again through injury and Chelsea looking suspect at the back so far this season, there are vulnerabilities to exploit in the Champions' back line. If Martinez can inspire some energy, drive and attacking intent into his charges, the opportunity is there to achieve an important, morale-boosting victory.
Kick off: 12.45pm
Referee: Andre Marriner
Predicted Line-up: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Lennon, Barkley, Kone, Lukaku