With just one home win in the Premier League all season and no clean sheets since April, Everton's home faithful hadn't had much to celebrate prior to this match. Fortress Goodison it certainly hasn't been, but while Tim Howard's goal would be breached on two more occasions this afternoon, the Grand Old Lady was at least treated to a feast of attacking football.
This was a game that had a bit of everything Everton under Roberto Martinez – lightning counter-attacks, defensive naĂŻvete, a hamstring injury, a header conceded in the six-yard box, sublime forward play, a lead thrown away, Goodison seething... you name it.
What you don't normally associate with Everton, though, are Arouna Kona goals. Before today, the Ivorian had three to his name in two-and-a-half years, – his role in the team more as a foil for Romelu Lukaku than being the main man. But against a hapless Sunderland defense the Ivorian took centre stage, the man-of-the-match champagne and the match ball. He even threw in an assist to boot, one which appeared to have put Martinez's side on course for an easy afternoon.
Kone's superbly-weighted ball over the top of the Black Cats' defence sent the marauding Gerard Deulofeu clear to drive towards Costel Pantilimon, turn inside the last man and tuck his shot through the goalkeeper's legs put the Blues a goal up after 19 minutes.
That goal had helped confirm the shift in momentum in Everton's favour following Sunderland's unexpectedly dangerous start. Twice in the first quarter of an hour the ball had come back off Tim Howard's right-hand post: first when Steven Fletcher cut the ball back for Patrick van Aanholt and the Dutchman swept a shot onto the "woodwork"; then when Sunderland countered off Ross Barkley's poorly-placed pass, Howard denied Jermaine Defoe with an out-stretched leg and Adam Johnson bounced a shot off the frame of the goal.
Barely disrupted by a hamstring injury to the unfortunate Bryan Oviedo and the consequent introduction of Brendan Galloway, the Blues began to assert themselves further as the first half progressed and, after Seamus Coleman's drive had been beaten away by Pantilimon, Kone doubled the lead by finishing off a wonderful passing move outside the visitors' penalty area.
Gareth Barry fed Barkley who, in turn, found Kone and when he picked up Lukaku's return pass the chance appeared to have got away from him but he struck a superb left-foot shot high into Pantilimon's net to make it 2-0. The striker's all-round link play had been excellent up to that point, justifying his inclusion in the starting XI for a League game for the first time since the goalless draw at Swansea in September, and better was to come in the second half.
Everton would throw away the comfortable two-goal advantage they had established by the fifth minute of the second half, though, bringing an increasingly expectant Goodison back down to earth as a veil of gloom and deja vu descended – briefly – over the stands. A speculative ball forward by Sebastian Coates in the third minute of first-half stoppage time looked to be a routine assignment for John Stones to deal with but instead of coming across Defoe, he gambled on the bounce and lost as the striker toed it past him, set himself and then cracked a shot goalwards that took a decisive nick off the defender's toe and over Howard.
Perhaps it was because the middle of the field had been so open in the early stages that there had been little need to but Sunderland had not made much attempt to test Everton's now infamous vulnerability to aerial balls in the first period. The first time they did, though, they struck gold. Coleman was left without sufficient assistance from Deulofeu in dealing with two Sunderland attackers and Van Aanholt profited from the time afforded him to whip in a right-foot cross that Fletcher rose to meet and plant into the corner of the goal with a header.
The Toffees' response was to simply resume testing the Black Cats' porous defence by attacking with pace and direct balls and, after Deulofeu had picked up a booking for another embarrassing dive in the box and Kone had dragged a shot wide, they restored their lead in the 55th minute. Deulofeu was again the provider of a wicked ball into the Sunderland box that looked destined to be headed home by the stooping Lukaku until Coates' boot did the job for him, steering it into his own goal.
Five minutes after that, the two-goal lead was restored thanks to an absolutely sublime forward pass from Deulofeu that sent Lukaku away into a one-on-one with Pantilimon that he completed with aplomb, rounding the Romanian keeper and sliding the ball into the empty net.
And two minutes later, Kone extended the lead to three, finishing off a rapier-like Everton counter attack that had James McCarthy bursting forward ahead of Barkley, collecting the 21-year-old's layoff and then putting the Ivorian in past the defence with a neat reverse pass where he fired in from the angle. It capped off a devastating seven-minute surge of irressistable attacking football from Everton and it allowed Martinez to pause, withdraw Deulofeu and throw Kevn Mirallas into the action in a bid to get him firing again and, perhaps, back among the goals.
The Belgian almost managed it, rounding the 'keepern in the 73rd minute in a similar fashion to Lukaku but finding his path to goal blocked by two Sunderland defenders and then curling a shot inches past the post a couple of minutes from the end. In between, though, Kone had ensured that he would grab the headlines by completing his first Everton hat-trick, thanks to a world-class assist from Lukaku.
The Everton No.10 collected the ball in space just outside the box, looked up and spotted his strike partner before bending a pin-point cross with the outside of his boot that Kone rose to head deftly inside the post to make it 6-2 with 13 minutes left.
Sunderland were spared further bloodshed as the Blues eased off the pedal a bit in the final 10 minutes and Duncan Watmore, a thorn in Everton U21s' side over the last couple of years, set about trying to earn a consolation for the visitors with some energetic attacking in front at the Park End and forcing Howard to paw away his lobbed attempt when clean through a minute from time. Howard also had to parry away fierce drives from Defoe and Yann M'Vila in stoppage time but there would be no further goals for the Black Cats.
Everton's defensive fallibility continues to be a concern and will continue to be exploited by better or more organised sides –&8211; that susceptibility to high balls into the box is likely to be tested sternly at Upton Park next weekend, for example. And as the more experienced head at centre half in Phil Jagielka's absence, Stones's occasional lapses in judgement and propensity to allow opposition forwards too much space could become more of a concern if it becomes a trend rather than temporary evidence of a continuing learning curve. It's particularly important given Funes Mori's desire to get forward and the fact that Deulofeu cannot always be relied upon to track back and perform his defensive duties.
It's hard not to simply brush those aside for a moment, though, and just enjoy some truly excellent forward play from Martinez's men. Orchestrated magnificently in midfield by skipper Gareth Barry – on any other day he would have been a shoo-in for player of the match – aided by the greater license to get afforded to McCarthy and then executed by a forward line of Deulofeu, Kone and Lukaku that was simply irresistable at times, it was an attacking exhibition to savour. It demonstrated the potential that lies in this Everton team when they play at speed and just how deadly they can be in the final third when that pace and directness creates havoc in opposition defences.
Everton thrashed Sunderland in the lunchtime televised kickoff at Goodison Park.
Deulofeu was the first to strike after being released by a great ball from Kone, who then finished with an excellent strike after a nice one-two with Lukaku. Defoe pulled one back on the stroke of half-time. Sunderland got level off a crossed header that Howard failed to move for, but Deulofeu forced an own-goal to restore the Everton lead, soon followed by Lukaku then two more from Kone to complete his hat-trick and a stunning 6-2 scoreline.
Everton started with Howard in goal, as promised by manager Roberto Martinez, despite his recent howlers on high crosses. It was his 400th appearance in his 10th season with Everton. Barry returned after a one-game ban for picking up a second yellow card at the end of the Arsenal game and took the captain's armband in place of the injured Jagielka, while Bryan Oviedo was given a rare (and as it turns out foolhardy) start in place of Brendan Galloway. Coleman was declared fit enough to start after illness.
Everton kicked off but it was Sunderland who were more inventive with Van Aanholt hitting the post in the 4th minute, applause then breaking out in the memory of Howard Kendall. A free kick lofted in high saw the rare sight of Howard venturing out of his goal area to claim the Sunderland set piece.
Lukaku had the first Everton shot on goal, if it can be called that as it was rather feeble. A promising move down the left ended with a poor touch from Lukaku and Sunderland attacked again. Barkley was then able to run at the Sunderland defence, who backed off but his shot flew wide.
More slow build-up and a poor cross-ball by Barkley and Van Aanolt was off to the races, Howard making a good stop with his feet before Sunderland hit the post again through Johnson and the ball was finally cleared. The next Everton attack ended in a corner that was very poor from Barkley, leading to another Sunderland attack.
Defoe was booked for blocking a free-kick illegally after climbing all over Barry. Kone then released Deulofeu whose scuffed shot deflected off a Sunderland defender and then rolled in off Pantilimon's leg to give Everton a very welcome if rare first goal. /p>
Barry played an identical ball to Deulofeu but he had to cross this time and the move ended with a shot wide. Everton looked to have finally woken up but things proved too strenuous for Oviedo who pulled up with a hamstring injury and Galloway replaced him.
A dreadful spell of tippy-tappy saw Barkley repeated play pointless one-touch return balls rather than taking command and the ball eventually ended up back with Howard! But better passing and a great one-two with Lukaku saw a superb left-foot strike from Arouna Kone that flew over Pantilimon for a very classy second goal of the game.
Jack Rodwell replaced the injured Cattermole to a warm round of applause from a Goodison crowd now in generous mood, although Lukaku too generous with his passing, straight to a Sunderland player to breakdown a promising Everton move.
Kone was fouled wide left and Barkley badly overplayed the short pass to Deulofeu. Lukaku then got space to strike hard but straight at Pantilimon. Everton were comfortable and passing the ball quite well, trying to make the opening, with Sunderland defending manfully.
Before the break, Fletcher drove his shot at Howard who had been solid until Defoe got a bouncing ball ahead of Stones that he clipped across the Everton keeper and into the top corner of the Gwladys Street goal with the benefit of a slight defection off Stones to put Sunderland right back in the game.
Barkley tried to set things going forward after the break but his forward pass was too strong for Deulofeu. Barkley then got himself offside in a promising move down the left.
Then, the catastrophe that had been so widely predicted: A cross from Van Aanolt into the 6-yard box, Howard stayed planted on his line as Funes Mori challenged for the cross but Fletcher headed it down and inside corner of the net, Howard ball-watching, flat-footed and gobsmacked.
Deulofeu shamefully pulled another one of his dreadful late dives in a vain attempt to con Marriner and rightly saw the yellow card for it, a pathetic piece of play-acting. He made amends within minutes, a nice early ball in for Lukaku to head home but the ball actually went in off the boot of Coates to put Everton back in the lead.
Played out of defence, a lovely early ball from Deulofeu was finished off with aplomb by Lukaku who went around Pantilimon in style to slot home.
Another Sunderland attack broke down on the edge of Howard's area and Everton surged forward with pace and it was soon 5-2, an excellent finish from Kone after Barkley had picked out McCarthy who played him in nicely for another great left-footed strike from a sharp angle.
Mirallas replaced Deulofeu and it was Ole keep-ball then with a sequence of 45 paces that took the ball all around the pitch until Mirallas could not find anyone with his cutback from the byeline. Everton and the Goodison crowd were loving this, with 20 minutes left to play, as they tried numerous times to play in Kone for his hat-trick.
Mirallas was determined to get on the scoreline, and tried to round Pantilimon but failed to shoot as the defenders gathered to block his path. Everton were in swashbuckling form as Lukaku put in a fine cross with the outside of his left foot for Aruona Kone to power home a splendid header to complete a great hat-trick: 6-2.
Osman replaced Lukaku as the final Everton substitution. Stones was skinned by the impressive Watmore who almost set up a third for Sunderland before Stones returned the compliment with an excellent tackle to give Sunderland their first corner of the game.
Mirallas, desperate for a goal, did brilliantly to create space for a powerful shot that curled just beyond the far post. He looked all set to score from the same spot in the next move but was offside and Watmore got another chance but Howard patted away the chip.
Howard had to make two more good saves as the game entered added time. Watmore continued to cause havoc but could not penetrate the Everton defence and the Blues celebrated a massive win.
Scorers: Deulofeu (19'), Kone (31' 62', 76'), Coates (og:47'), Lukaku (60'); Defoe (45+4'), Fletcher (50').
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Oviedo (25' Galloway [Y:88']), Stones [Y:53'], Funes Mori, McCarthy, Barry (c), Kone, Barkley, Deulofeu [Y:54'] (65' Mirallas), Lukaku (78' Osman).
Subs not Used: Robles, Gibson, Lennon, Naismith.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Yedlin (64' Larsson), Jones, Brown, Coates, Cattermole (38' Rodwell [Y]), M'Vila, Van Aanholt, Johnson, Fletcher (75' Watmore) , Defoe [Y].
Subs not Used: Gomez, Lens, Graham, Mannone.
Referee: Andre Marriner
From My Seat: Sunderland (H)
A misty morning in L4 saw us assemble and chew over Tuesday's game and the outcome of that was that Robles could be unlucky to lose his place today. Also the fact that eight changes were made to the team we did well to sneak into the next round via good fortune and good penalty taking. A win is a win and into the next round we go.
The team was beamed to electronic devices and we noted that Howard had been relieved of some pressure by Barry being named captain. Oviedo was including in the starting line-up and many were surprised that after his stint on Tuesday he wasn’t a sub to allow for gradual integration considering the severity and length of his injury time out. As it turned out the Room of Nonsense members had a point. We then joined 36,000 odd on the walk up and as usual the route was awash with Blue and white with just a hint of Red and White stripes.
The sound of Z-Cars heralded the gladiators who received a great ovation, so no fan hangover from Tuesday. A minute's silence was observed as part of the club's ‘Everton Remembers’ for those with Everton connections who fell in WW1. There is a good article on this by Pete Jones of the EFC heritage society in today’s match day magazine (Proey) I must say it was observed faultlessly.
We kicked off toward the Park End and the early sparring was taking place when we got quite a shock and some good luck when on just 4 minutes Sunderland broke and with some good football got the right wingback into our box and his shot hit the post and came out to be cleared in scrambled fashion. I was really glad that didn’t go in as the timing coincided with the minute that was set aside to have applause for our dear departed hero who began his great career with the blues in that No4 shirt. It was thunderous and the players just seemed to knock the ball about until is subsided.
On with the action and Sunderland get a free kick that was put in high and Howard ran out to catch and receive plenty of cheers. We were playing some neat one touch quick stuff but anywhere near the business end a poor touch seemed to allow the visitors to intercept and break. Barkley tried to alter this by running at them with the ball and they did back off him but as got a sight of goal his shot was wayward. He was next involved when he tried a crossfield ball that only found their wingback and he set off like a robbers dog directly at our ‘keeper who proved his shot stopping abilities by deflecting the ball away with his feet but within minutes Adam Johnson was in our box, shot and hit the same post in almost the same place but we cleared the rebound. I turned to my mate and said sometimes it’s not you day and by the look of it this is not Sunderland’s. They could have been at least 2 or maybe 3 up.
On 20 minutes we rubbed salt into their wounds when Kone who had started brightly with pace and purpose got one over the top for Deulofeu to run on to and into their area. He drew the keeper sashayed inside him and as two tackles came in rolled the ball home and received hero worship such were the celebrations. It wasn’t a super finish but they all count and it was the Blues in the lead. Barry had now got a grip of the midfield and along with the engine that is McCarthy were pulling strings. Barry repeated the Kone ball over the top for Deulofeu to run onto but this time defenders were quicker to get near him so he crossed bur a resultant shot was wide.
With Barry leading by example we were gaining the upper hand when, wouldn’t you know it, another ‘Hammy’ came along and it just had to be that man Oviedo who copped it, as if that man has not had enough. As he was led away and Galloway readied my mind went back to the room of nonsense when we pondered whether his return was a little too soon after Tuesdays long stint.
We were bemoaning some tippy-tappy at the back leading nowhere when the half was up and suddenly a super session of joined up footy took place at some controlled pace at the end of which Kone did a ‘one two’ with Lukaku on edge of box and the big Ivorian thundered a left foot shot that left the keeper wondering where it had gone, we knew, it was the net. Oh the joy, the chants and the songs. 2-0 up and seemingly coasting. More good luck for us and bad luck for them was when we saw Cattermole coming off injured and before he had chance to leave any of our lads ‘Cattermoled’ He was replaced by Jack Rodwell who got a great reception from the faithful.
With Barry in dominant mood and McCarthy covering every blade of grass they were allowing expansive short and long passing to break out trying to open them up for another goal but always just breaking down either to a wayward pass or scuffed shot at the end of moves. It all looked too easy but just before the break Fletcher got clear and hit one luckily straight at Howard but it made me think ’for god’s sake don’t let them get anything before half time’ but hell, right on 45 minutes Mori dived in where he shouldn’t and allowed a bouncing ball to come across toward Stones but that evergreen predator Defoe reacted twice as quickly as our rookie centre back and found the top corner. We only had time to tap the ball from the centre spot when our Ref Mr Marriner blew up. A bit of a downer that.
H/T 2-1 from a half we started half asleep and ended well on top until that 45th minute. During the break we had a junior age group presented showing us the trophy they had one in a prestigious completion. Unfortunately they were chased off by a water sprinkler that seemed to have a mind of its own. Next we had a presentation of flowers to the family of Howard Kendall and as you can imagine the reception they got was of the royal true blue variety.
We started the second half with purpose suggesting things had been said in the dressing room. Barkley got on the ball, spotted a killer pass for Deulofeu to run onto but he put too much boot into his pass leaving the jet heeled one with no chance of catching it. It was a shame that as just five minutes in the inevitable happened when from being 2-0 up and looking good we are pegged back to 2-2 and to make things worse it was from a cross that was no more than regulation across the box but Howard stayed rooted to the spot and Fletcher was in front of Mori and he headed down passed a flat footed Howard. It was another of those crosses that he seems unable to deal with but I was mightily pleased when no booing or catcalling was loud enough to be heard as that can only make him worse and if Roberto is intent on playing him no matter what then we don’t want him any worse.
We now had to start all over again and our first dangerous effort was when Deulofeu got himself clear of his marker and headed for the box. His shirt was pulled a bit but he got away but instead of going on goal and maybe shooting he threw himself to the ground, the ref just signalled get up but instead he waved his arms about like a petulant child then sprang up and gave the lino a mouthful, the lino told the ref and Deulofeu got a yellow card. What a plonker! However within minutes he started to make amends when on the 55min mark he got a cross in that allowed Lukaku to stoop and conquer. Well I thought he had anyway and so did the game announcer but since I have learned it was an own goal but no matter still we lead 3-2.
Just 5 minutes later and Lukaku gets a legit one. Deulofeu again the provider when a measured ball put Lukaku on his way and the big man took it up to the keeper went passed him as if he was not there and rolled home. Cue pandemonium and the Rom song well sung as the beaming Belgian took the plaudits. Just two minutes later and from a Sunderland attack Barkley gets on the ball and feeds McCarthy who sped forward to the edge of their box fed Kone who with a shimmy to his left hammered home another left footer. 5-2 Hell that was 3goals in about five minutes. Were we that good or were they that bad—who cares?
It was party time now. On 65 minutes Mirallas replaces Deulofeu who comes of quite slowly milking all the adulation he was getting as it spilled down from the stands. Mirallas started as he meant to go on, where he was a little below par in effort and thought on Tuesday he was full of vim and vigour today. If only he could be consistent as I think he is one of our most dangerous forwards when in the mood. With an unassailable lead we put on a show of joined up footy with series of passing movements each containing many passes The crowd were lapping it up as Mirallas got to the by-line with a fine run but his cross had no takers. We were now spending time in trying to get Kone in to enable him to take the ball home. In between Mirallas was certainly wanting a goal and the nearest he came was when he just failed to round the keeper before being crowded out.
Would we see a hat trick? Well the clock was ticking and we just could not get the Ivorian in. Then with 15 minutes to go Lukaku got on the ball midway between half way and goal. He used his power, strength and determination to shrug off all-comers and on reaching the box produced the king of a cross with the outside of his trusty left boot and there was Aruona with the perfect powerful header that left the keeper with little to do but find the ball in the net and fish it out. 6-2 I will type that again 6-2 I never knew our scoreboard went beyond 3. What a feeling, what a celebration with mates or strangers. There is something about being in Goodison on these occasions, something that will draw you back as you will want to feel it again even if it takes time and at times looks impossible.
Before the end Osman came on for Lukaku who took the slow walk off to take in the adulation shown toward him. Sunderland put a sub on for Fletcher in Watmore who looked more than handy when he tuned Stones inside out but before Watmore could perform a set up the Chelsea target got back and slid the ball out for a corner. I do believe that was there first corner. At the other end Mirallas had come over to the right and twisting and turning at pace made room for a shot which he hit sweetly with right hand side but it curled a gnat’s whisker the wrong side of the post. Just as we were winding down Watmore had a shot cum chip that Howard dealt with. With Barry calming things down the added time was spent and whistle blew 6-2 will do. If ‘yer know yer ‘Istery was belted out and it was a treat to wait just a little while and watch Arouna walk off with the ball. There walks one proud man I thought.
MotM – Arouna Kone
After Tuesday this was a much better performance and although there were some excellent bits other bits need working on especially in the back four. It was a good job we had Barry and McCarthy to help out both physically and verbally. The big plus for me today was to see two big lads in Lukaku and Kone getting to grips with the hard stuff and producing a display of understanding between the two of them that has not been there before. If they can both keep fit and well what a bonus for us and a nightmare for opponents.
West Ham next and no reason to fear them, however I would hope that Roberto knows they have Andy Carrol and might put a bit more emphasis on the defending of set pieces down Finch Farm way this coming week in their training sessions. Bilic will have had us watched today.
UP THE BLUES
One for the boss upstairs
The day after Halloween and the day began for me rising from what felt like the dead on a mates couch in Crosby. Following a friends Halloween party I was unable to get a taxi home and so stayed over, awaking at 8am still dressed as a zombie and getting a taxi back home for a few hours of precious sleep. Ste arrived at 11.30am, picking me up aand driving over to Goodison Park.
It was just Ste and I in the pub with Gaz unable to make this game and Gary only just about making kick off and meeting us at our seats. It was good to catch up with Ste over a beer or two and we were pretty happy with the team news with Coleman and Oviedo returning to form a more settled defence and Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone both featuring. Jack Rodwell featured from the substitutes bench.
I bought a match programme along Goodison Road which featured a really nice tribute to the late, great Howard Kendall. A minutes' applause was asked for on the fourth minute of the match in respect of Howard, and this was wonderfully observed by both sets of supporters. We could have been a goal down by then of course when Van Aanholt's drive came back off the inside of the post in the opening exchanges. Everton were struggling to get a handle on the game and Sunderland again struck the post a little later on, this time from Adam Johnson's strike following a Tim Howard save from Jermain Defoe.
We also survived a penalty scare when Gareth Barry, filling in at left back with Bryan Oviedo unfortunately heading down the tunnel with another injury, got in the way of a shot by Stephen Fletcher. The shot hit Barry's hands though Andre Marriner couldn't be certain if it was ball to hand or handball. What was certain however was that Everton were struggling and should have been behind with only really a powderpuf Lukaku shot and a wayward Barkley drive efforts from memory.
This all changed when Gerard Deulofeu was released by an excellent through ball from Arouna Kone. The Spaniard did well to cut inside his defender onto his left foot and stroke the ball into the net through the legs of Pantilimon. Everton ahead though it was scarcely deserved.
The goal did ignite us however. We found our spark and doubled our lead when Arouna Kone found space and took aim with his left foot from the left edge of the penalty area. It was a great shot though I felt Pantilimon may have done a little better with it. Nevertheless we found ourselves two goals ahead.
Sunderland appeared deflated and had we turned the screw a little more we could have gone in at the break three goals ahead. As it turned out we went in at half time just the one goal ahead when Jermain Defoe hit a superb half volley past Tim Howard following a poor mistake from John Stones. I could not take the grimace off my face and was dreading the second half at the break, during which, members of Howard Kendall's family were welcomed onto the pitch in what was a nice moment.
My worst nightmares came to fruition, albeit temporarily, early in the second half when Stephen Fletcher headed Sunderland level from a Van Aanholt centre. I'd have to see it again to identify if anybody was at fault for the goal. I couldn't tell from the Lower Gwladys if it was a cross Howard should have claimed or one Funes Mori should have headed out but it was a good header by Fletcher and Everton looked to have blown it.
Thankfully there was still plenty of time left on the clock and Everton made the most of it to rack up another four goals to make for quite an incredible scoreline. Our third came when Deulofeu's cross was turned into his own net by ex-Liverpudlian Sebastian Coates. Sunderland then prowled forward for another equaliser and this is when Everton really clicked into gear with exquisite counter attacking. Gerard Deulofeu played an incisive defence splitting ball into Romelu Lukaku who rounded Pantilimon to slot home for our fourth goal; and, just two minutes later Arouna Kone made it 5-2, finishing calmly, this time with his right foot, after an excellent flowing move which also involved Ross Barkley and James McCarthy. It was nice to see Kevin Miralas, who was warming up at the time, join in the celebrations also.
It was now party time as Everton were pinging passes around. One move contained what would surely have been a record-breaking number of passes leading to a Premier League goal had the final ball been a better one once we got behind Sunderland. That would have been something special, though it was Kone's special day. Celebrating a new contract to tie him to Everton until 2017, he completed the perfect hat-trick when he headed in a brilliant left footed cross from Lukaku to make it 6-2 to Everton.
Lukaku was substituted to give Leon Osman a run out as we eased off the gas. You feel we could actually have scored more had we kept on firing at Sunderland but we'd done more than enough.
So despite a dreadful opening 20 minutes or so the match really entertained and we were treated to some excellent goals. Lets make no mistake, Sunderland were very poor defensively and it won't be that easy every week but with the run of games we now have until the new year we can go into them with the confidence that we can beat a lot of the teams coming up.
More than anything else, I'd like to think that the game was won for Howard Kendall and that he was watching down with a big smile on his face.
RIP Howard Kendall.
Howard: Following the Arsenal game I've finally begun to agree with what seems like the majority and call for Howard to be dropped. I recall a brief time under the David Moyes regime when he came under some scrutiny and his performance improved. I felt his performance was improved today also. Maybe we should criticise him ore often! 7
Oviedo: Was doing fine until he limped off injured. A real shame for Bryan and you wonder if he will ever be able to get himself fully match fit again. Luckily Leighton Baines appears to be on the way back soon however. 6
Funes Mori: After a rather nervy start when he lost a few headers he seemed to compose himself and improved, particularly in the second half. 6
Stones: Made an awful error for Sunderland's first goal but like Funes Mori, improved for the second half. 6
Coleman: Not as influential as he can be but did OK. 6
Barry: I was pleased to see him captain the side. He had a pretty average game generally, some good things, some bad. 6
McCarthy: Was very dominant in midfield and ran all day. Nice to see him get up the pitch with an assist also. 7
Deulofeu: Worked hard and did a lot of running, scoring a goal and creating two assists. Nice to see him starting to settle. Could have a big impact in these next nine games prior to Christmas. 8
Barkley: After a bright start to the season he seems to again be struggling a little and not quite imposing himself on games as he can. Hopefully it's just a blip and he can get back to his best. 6
Kone: My man of the match. His best performance in a blue shirt by far which included a perfect hat-trick. Hopefully he can maintain this level of performance. 9
Lukaku: If you play someone up there with him you get so much more from Romelu Lukaku. A goal and two assists. Not a bad afternoon at all. 8
Galloway (for Oviedo): Coped fine and stayed solid defensively. 6
Mirallas (for Deulofeu): Got involved and almost got in on the act with a drive which curled just past the post. 7
Osman (for Lukaku): Nice to see him playing. Not at his best but got involved. 6
Does the season start now?
Everton's 10-match start to the 2015-16 season was viewed with a mixture of trepidation and sense of opportunity by Evertonians and while the Blues' return from a stretch of fixtures that pit them against all of last season's top eight sides hasn't been as awful as many feared, it hasn't matched the hopes held by others either.
Roberto Martinez's side have won a couple they might not have expected to win in the form of the excellent victories over Southampton and Chelsea, failed to take three points where they probably deserved to at Spurs and Swansea, and fared disappointingly against the remaining four of the "Sky five" by gaining just the one point in the Merseyside derby and losing to all three of Manchester City, United and Arsenal. With three of those games coming at home, it's hardly been the stirring stuff of 2013-14 when the Catalan's confident outfit were capable of "going eye to eye" with all comers.
On paper, at least in the context of the how things were perceived before the season started, things should start to ease up now, with Everton not scheduled to play any of those eight clubs again until January. But the trip to West Ham next weekend looks an altogether trickier proposition than it ordinarily might given the start Slaven Bilic has made to life at the Boleyn Ground and the date this Sunday with Sunderland has taken on a different complexion in the wake of Sam Allardyce's appointment and the Black Cats' latest win over their northeast rivals, Newcastle.
The new boss at the Stadium of Light is probably relishing the challenge of bringing his side to Goodison Park, too. Media and supporter scrutiny of Tim Howard and the Blues' increasingly suspect defence has been mounting in the wake of successive Premier League defeats and a brush with elimination from the Capital One Cup against Norwich last Tuesday. And captain Phil Jagielka will be absent from the back four because of the medial knee ligament injury he picked up at the Emirates last Saturday.
Not the ideal conditions for taking on an Allardyce team which, knowing the canny and results-driven Midlander, will surely be under instruction to exploit those obvious weaknesses in Martinez's rearguard when it comes to crosses and set-pieces. Let's hope that there has been some focus on defending those situations at Finch Farm this past week...
Jagielka's absence gives another chance for Ramiro Funes Mori to further demonstrate how quickly he has adpated to life in the Premier League and eased concerns in that regard among fans who were uneasy about this relatively unknown import from Argentina. Like Marcos Rojo before him and Nicolas Otamendi after him, Funes Mori has shown himself to be well-suited to the English game and, being naturally left-sided, he compliments John Stones nicely in the centre of defence. His prodigious leap also belies his height that is a shade under the usual for a centre half in the Premier League.
Martinez has a concern at right back, however, where Seamus Coleman looks very likely to miss out following his bout with a stomach bug this past week that has claimed a fair amount of his weight and strength. Tyias Browning has deputised in that position this season but with varying effectiveness and it may be that the manager deploys someone like James McCarthy or John Stones there, perhaps with Gareth Barry dropping back to centre half and Darron Gibson playing in central midfield as he did against Norwich in the cup.
Further forward, the usual conundrum presents itself in which four to perm from Arouna Kone, Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu, Aaron Lennon and, perhaps, Tom Cleverley to play around Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku. Mirallas's inability to truly stake a claim against the Canaries could see him start on the bench, while Deulofeu's effectiveness despite his inconsistency could get him the nod against a suspect visiting defence. Cleverley's absence from the team in midweek raises question marks over his readiness but if he is deemed fit to start, he would be a good bet for the left-midfield role.
Allardyce may only have overseen two games since assuming the hotseat at Sunderland but his methods and ethos are usually simple enough that they won't take much bedding in. In that sense, the Blues can expect a hard-fought, physical encounter with plenty of dierct play and an examination of the defence in the air. By the same token, though, Everton will hopefully know how best to get at an opposition defence that has shipped 19 goals and a team that has won just once in the League all season.
Kick off: 1:30pm
Referee: Andre Marriner
Predicted Line-up: Howard, Browning, Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Deulofeu, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku