Win relief

By Paul Traill 01/02/2018 28comments  |  Jump to last

In the middle of a sluggish week, I couldn’t get out of work quick enough come 5.30pm and was grateful for the lift to the game from Gaz. We picked up Dan and Ste on the way, congregating in the pub on what promised to be a chilly old night at Goodison Park. It was good fun in the pub, as we put the world to rights on all things wrong with deadline day and modern football.

The team news surprised us all with Seamus Coleman beginning at right back following 10 months out with his horrific injury. Though we all felt it was too soon a return, we were all delighted to see the Irishman back in the team. Elsewhere Oumar Niasse, also surprisingly, began alone up front, with Wayne Rooney playing in midfield alongside Idrissa Gueye and Tom Davies seemingly the link between midfield and attack. With three right banks in the squad, I was disappointed not to see Luke Garbutt not included in the XI.

As we headed on towards Goodison Park in the cold, Dan broke the news that Ademola Lookman had been loaned out to Red Bull Leipzig for the remainder of the season. Safe to say nobody saw that one coming. Also safe to say that nobody was impressed with this.

Attentions were soon drawn towards the pitch and we were soon wondering how long a night this might be as we started sluggishly as ever and the alarm bells were really ringing when Wilfred Ndidi hit the crossbar with his header from a corner kick. We really needed to get going and other than a speculative Theo Walcott effort that was well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Off the pitch, at this stage, I was disappointed in the Everton stewards who removed one or two supporters for standing. Where we are situated in the Lower Gwladys we are just on the cusp of a section where people tend to stand. Stand or sit, I take it or leave it. If people ahead of me stand, I’ll get up on my feet, sit down ahead of me, and I’ll also sit. It’s been like that for some time where we are placed, so I was surprised to see the stewards take this action now, especially as the end result was everyone standing up anyway in some sort of protest.

After a poor start we began to get into our stride, get up the pitch and get into the opposition a little bit more. As happens, and its a wonder Big Sam hasn’t enforced this intensity so far, if the team get into the opposition, the crowd react and get behind the team. It’s a two way thing and now, for sudden, the crowd and team seemed as one, and until the 71st minute at least, it felt there was no looking back. From defending a corner kick Cuco Martina broke forward down his favoured right side. I forget how, but the ball was won back off Ben Chilwell by Cuco, and he fed the supporting Gylfi Sigurdsson who looked up and fed Theo Walcott who had made a good run at the back post and finished well. Everton ahead and huge relief all round.

We really took the game to Leicester City from here and Oumar Niasse will have been the most relieved man in the stadium when Theo Walcott volleyed in his second goal, given he had just missed a golden opportunity to double our money when he thrashed wide from six yards out. Thankfully we didn’t stay at just 1-0 for long, but had Oumar not have touched the ball so far ahead of himself when he robbed Harry Maguire from the restart, 2-0 could easily well have become 3-0. Still, come the break, we had to be pleased. We had a two goal lead and had grown into the game.

Up until Jamie Vardy’s penalty at least, the second half was as well as we have played this season and when Leicester City got their penalty they were barely in the game. It’s a shame we couldn’t convert our dominance into another goal, but when Wayne Rooney apparently fouled Wilfred Ndidi in the penalty area, and Vardy converted, you just knew this was going to be a nailbitter from here on in. Even the weather then changed to even fiercer winds and hail.

Though very entertaining, it was as nervy as it gets, none more so than when substitute Kelechi Iheanacho twice hit the woodwork in quick succession following a needlessly conceded corner from Rooney. Sam Allardyce’s substitutions bought us some time but the heart attack threat continued. Cuco Martina cleared one away inside his six yard box which looked goalbound from the Gwladys Street at least, and Jordan Pickford dealt with the incoming crosses. At the other end Seamus Coleman, almost as if he hadn’t been out injured for so long, kept getting himself forward, and Theo Walcott had one cleared not far from the goal by Aleksandar Dragovic.

Eventually we were able to see the game out and claim a vital, and ultimately deserved three points. Though we were up against it in the final 20 minutes, for the best part of an hour of this game we were the better team. It’s a relief to win again, particularly with Saturday’s trip to the Emirates.

I may just have dried off by then. At full time, for some reason as we normally hang around for a little while at least, we shot off quickly, only to wait on the island for Dan to make his way down from the Top Balcony. We all got soaked right through.

You laugh these things off when you win.

Player ratings:

Pickford: Helpless with the goal but dealt with the rest competently. 6

Martina: Did very well and will keep on giving his all as long as he has to play there. He had a big hand in our first goal and seemed to grow in confidence with that, and also made some important defensive contributions throughout. Did well. 7

Jagielka: He and Michael Keane at the back at least offer two calm heads and he helped lead us through the game, particularly when under intense pressure in the closing stages. A good effort. 7

Keane: I thought he was impressive, and feel there is a lot more to come from Michael Keane. 7

Coleman: What a contribution from Seamus. Over the years I’ve seen several players come back from a long-term injury and none have come back as impressively as Seamus. It was as if he’d never been away. Mikel Artera, Phil Jagielka, Yakubu and more recently Yannick Bolasie to name a few off the top of my head, have returned and needed plenty of games to get rid of that rustiness, but you have to be very impressed with Seamus, and he really showed what we’ve been missing. We could be on to a great partnership there between he and Theo Walcott as well. Well done Seamus. You’ve got to be proud of the lad. 8

Gueye: Quietly effective. Chipped in with a lot of tackles and kept things ticking over nicely. Had a good game. 7

Rooney: Very Jekyll & Hyde. On the one hand he’s the brightest player out there, and sees things that others don’t. On the other, he does plenty of misplaced passes, somehow gave away a penalty and gave away an insane corner kick which so nearly lead to a Leicester City equaliser. Still we’re better with him in the team than without. 6

Sigurdsson: A good contribution for our first goal but like last week, he started well then faded badly in the second half. 5

Walcott: He’s made a much quicker impact than I expected and offers excellent discipline with his tracking of players and does a good honest job for the team. That aside, his contribution in the final third so far has been terrific. Two goals and an assist in two games. If he can keep up this form, and build a partnerhsip with Seamus, we will all be happy. Well done Theo. A great start. My man of the match. 8

Davies: Worked hard. I’m still mystified on how a young player completing his first full season can get so much grief from some of the guys near me but what can you do? The lad tries hard and is learning all the time. A good effort. 6

Niasse: Should have scored at least one of his two opportunities but he spurned them both. Regardless, he put in quite the shift and gave them something to worry about throughout. If I was to rate him on effort alone, he’d be 10 out of 10. 6

Schneiderlin (for Rooney): Got stuck in. 6

Calvert-Lewin (for Sigurdsson): We were all a bit surprised as we thought this would be a straight swap for Niasse, but he made enough of a nuisance of himself on the wing. 6

Williams (for Niasse): Not on long, can’t judge.

Reader Comments (28)

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Dave Speed
1 Posted 01/02/2018 at 07:37:17
Never been first to post before so here goes! There are comprehensive analyses on the other thread about the match but a couple of things occurred to me. We have, since our initial 12 point 'bromance; with Big Sam ended, been total rubbish and almost pointless.

So, to see the display last night and the result is nothing short of miraculous, coming after such a poor run. Yes, we started slow, but for goodness sake it was a new system trying to play the expansive football we have been crying out for. This comes with mistakes and people not 100% sure in certain situations, especially when these situations have been crafted by the opposition coach, a knowledgeable coach who has transformed Leicester from a "park the bus and hit Vardy with a long ball" team to one that plays well structured football.

And what about Ndidi? This big strong man who kept his feet under pressure and is able to knock other strong men about all over the park, suddenly gets struck down with a kryptonite substance when Rooney tries a bit of gentle male bonding in the penalty area. Like a shaven Samson (from the Bible), all his strength leaves him and he falls to the ground, his legs no longer able to support him. I think Leicester's medical team need to give him a good check up. OR, the dodgy diver's committee need to have a look, preferably the 3 men who labelled Niasse a cheat against Palace.

I finish with optimism and pragmatism. We have enough non-top six games left to get the points we need to just scrape 7th. We will probably not get anything against the Arse on Saturday.

David Midgley
2 Posted 01/02/2018 at 07:54:25
David, what other Samson is there ?
Dave Speed
3 Posted 01/02/2018 at 08:02:12
You'd be surprised how many have thought I was referring to Kenny Samson when I have used the reference in the past!
Dave Speed
4 Posted 01/02/2018 at 08:33:22
Yes, I know it's Sansom not Samson. Again, you'd be surprised...
Jim Bennings
5 Posted 01/02/2018 at 08:33:53
To be fair last night at least first half it was much better .

You are seeing with Walcott what a proven Premier League player gives you, he was quality and along with Coleman was a level above everything else we had.

Jonjo Kenny has filled in well but Seamus Coleman is he is not and we saw last night what Seamus Coleman is all about, the right side looks like our most powerful area all of a sudden.

I still feel we need a touch of class in the central midfield area, Rooney isn't lasting forever and Sigurdsson remains wasted on the left as shown by his set up for Walcotts first goal.

Davies is young but it's just a shame he wasn't that little touch quicker at times, he battled well last night but every game is probably too much for him at his age hence why he's been taken out the side more recently.

Keane was impressive and I think we really need to keep this fella in defence now and let him grow and play his way into consistency.

My slight concern is maybe the rumours I'd heard regarding Tosun not being very impressive in training, can't think why he never even got on as sub last night, just paid big money for a striker and already he's out of the team !?
Niasse worked hard but he's a substitute really isn't he?

We really need Tosun to hit the ground running .

All in all a good hard fought win though against a good side, first time we have beaten a team above us for ages???

Liam Reilly
6 Posted 01/02/2018 at 08:54:40
Tosun will take time to adapt and Niasse has earned a start (even though he's better as an impact sub).
I'd imagine if we'd been chasing the game then we'd have seen Tosun but CL was introduced on the wing and not as a striker replacement.

I suspect we'll see him on Saturday though.

Great to see Seamus back; should be Captain

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 01/02/2018 at 09:13:15
That's it though Liam isn't it?

With what's happened with Sandro and Klaassen we didn't need another of these “will take time to adapt “ strikers.

Patience will be in short supply with Tosun, if we get to May and he's started looking more and more like Sandro in his situation then I believe he'll go in summer too.

I'd personally give Walcott the striking role but the only thing that holds me back with that is the partnership he struck up with Coleman looks like it has something there.

Walcott for me already looked on a different level to our other attacking options, blistering pace, good control, a football brain, knows where the goal is.

John Barnes
8 Posted 01/02/2018 at 11:38:42
I think the midfield looks better with Gueye only in a 'sitting' role. It seems less cluttered without Schneiderlin (not picking on him but any other pure defensive midfielder). This allows Gueye to hunt the ball down on his own for others in space to play forward passes.

Good outlets too in Coleman and Walcott but we need something more like that on the other side which ain't going to happen with Sigurdsson and Martina. Maybe Bolasie? Baines or his eventual replacement?

Franny Porter
9 Posted 01/02/2018 at 12:58:52
I'd like to see Baines and Bolasie try to form a partnership. Baines must be more badly injured than we thought though, seems to have been out for ages and no nearer fitness.
Anthony Hawkins
11 Posted 01/02/2018 at 13:16:25
@Jim #11 - no way should we mess with Walcott's position. He has to stay on the right wing. We don't have anyone else to play there. Iif he can create and score from there then he stays put!!

The team that played last night should be the baseline team we rotate players into.

Let's go with that same fundamental team for the next game and see how they get on.

Steve Ferns
12 Posted 01/02/2018 at 13:21:26
I'd like to see Walcott and Calvert-Lewin. I think they could form a good partnership together. Of course, keep Walcott on the wing, but Calvert-Lewin's hold up play, aerial ability and lay offs are by far the best of our forwards, and if Walcott can learn where to run, then coming off the wing and getting past Calvert-Lewin, he could score a lot of goals.
Danny Baily
13 Posted 01/02/2018 at 13:24:42
What a relief! Walcott looked a class above and Seamus managed 90 minutes.

Maximum points in our three remaining winnable home games (Palace, Brighton and Newcastle) and we'll stay up. Would love to be surprised with a solid performance on Saturday and perhaps something to show for it.

John Raftery
14 Posted 01/02/2018 at 14:08:15
On any other night I would have agreed Walcott was man of the match. Last night however belonged to Seamus not only for the quality of his individual output but also the impact his return had on those around him and our often sleepy crowd. He brought everybody to life with those surging runs which turn defence into attack. It felt as though we had regained the services of two players.

The only cautionary note must be that adrenalin often helps players returning from a long term injury to get through the first game or two. Then the lack of match practice catches up with them and their form suffers a dip. I trust fans will be patient if that happens to Seamus and patient with the manager if he rests him during the coming weeks.

A word also in support of Martina. Derided by many he is proving to be a decent utility defender offering better value for money than many of our highly expensive imports.

Steven Jones
15 Posted 01/02/2018 at 15:46:18

Good call on Martina – his pressing in the right inside forward position created the first goal. He also had a good block off the line second half.

My MotM was Theo – he has singlehandedly changed the way we play . (little exaggeration) as it is the first time we have players running beyond the opposition and stretching them – he has always done this and it is rubbing off on the others probably in training but certainly in the match – Sigi could be found running in behind on the right hand side Coleman, Rooney, Sigi all showed this side last night .

Think we may have found the beginnings of a style of play! Shush! it may only be a blip .

Steven Jones
16 Posted 01/02/2018 at 15:57:04
Steve Ferns (#12) – Really good call on Calvert-Lewin. I feel when he gets through his little rest period and we move towards the end of the season this combination as you say can get a chance to gel – and especially in pre-season this could be worked on and be a real feature next season.

Calvert-Lewin needs someone with him and to run beyond him. This will also allow Sigurdsson to link up and get behind defences as well.

Jay Harris
17 Posted 01/02/2018 at 16:07:19
The thing that impressed me most last night besides Seamus and Theo was the running off the ball.

The movement of Davies, Siggy and Gana opened up space for the others.

My only concern is Rooney who no longer seems up to the pace of the Premiership with misplaced passes and unnecessary fouls.

Tony Waring
18 Posted 01/02/2018 at 17:57:20
Sorry Jay. Whilst Rooney makes some errors, he still has more soccer skill in his big toe than most players. Some of his passes are sublime and he should have been awarded a penalty last night when he was pulled down in the box second half.
John Charles
19 Posted 01/02/2018 at 18:39:40
From my seat, I thought Rooney was far better and more influential than Sigurdsson. Until his brain freeze for the penalty, then he lost his way. Siggy and young Tom had at best indifferent games, imo.
John G Davies
20 Posted 01/02/2018 at 19:37:26
We are 4 points off 7th position in what many call the "worst season they can remember", " the worst Everton side I have ever seen" –
and so on.
Bill Gienapp
21 Posted 01/02/2018 at 19:38:36
For all the flak Martina receives on here, he's really only had two nightmarish performances this season – both of which happened to come against Tottenham.

Persisting with him at left-back obviously isn't optimal, but those acting like he's one of the worst defenders to ever don an Everton shirt are spouting major hyperbole.

Terry Underwood
22 Posted 01/02/2018 at 19:47:20
Gana deffo better as a single defensive midfielder, knows what needs to be done and does it without worrying about where his partner is.

Walcott looks the dogs danglies to me... onwards and upwards.

Andrew James
23 Posted 01/02/2018 at 21:16:18
Good review Paul thanks.

I hope Allardyce learns from this. We've needed outlets all season to get up the pitch and not be under constant pressure.

Niasse – the ball sticks up with him and he presses them up, clumsy yes but he's a pain for them
Davies – out ball through the middle either as a runner or passing
Walcott – pace down the flanks

There's the making of a team in there somewhere, I just hope he doesn't go to the Emirates and defer back to Schneiderlin next to Gana.

Andy Meighan
24 Posted 01/02/2018 at 21:29:58
I've got to agree with Terry (#22) – Gana looked like he did when he first came last season, without that crab Schneiderlin cramping his style.

Although I thought Davies was poor last night, at least he does try and drive forward when he receives the ball. It never happened for him but I'm sure it'll come...

The biggest disappointment for me was Sigurdsson – 㿙 million for a player who lacks pace lacks energy and is meant to be a dead-ball specialist? Is that some sort of wind-up? Another poor game.

And before his acolytes berate me for saying it... Yes, I know he was out wide again but for a player of his so-called quality he should be able to play anywhere along the line.

An absolute howler of a signing. and to think that clown Koeman spent all summer pursuing him Dreadful business. I've actually seen milk turn quicker than the Icelander.

Not expecting anything on Saturday, but we 'll beat Palace, Southampton and Brighton to ensure the points needed.

James Hill
26 Posted 02/02/2018 at 08:39:28
Steve Ferns, Calvert-Lewin's hold-up play is atrocious. He works and puts people under pressure. Physically at the moment he is not there and his finishing also needs work. I like the lad but to say "put him in the team for his hold-up play" is quite simply farcical.
Rob Young
27 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:00:35
So, John (#20), you are saying you are reasonably pleased with what you have seen this season?

We're 11 points off 6th and a massive 19 points of 4th and our football is awful.

John G Davies
28 Posted 02/02/2018 at 09:09:48
Rob, 27

Am I?

Thanks for letting me know
I hadn't realised that.

Jack Convery
29 Posted 02/02/2018 at 23:10:26
Rhe last time I saw a full back and a wide right player link up like that was Steven and Stevens - real praise believe me. Kanchelkis could destroy teams down the right on his own. Prefer the combo effect myself. Seamus was immense and Theo pro active throughout - now go get Wenger we owe him one at the Emirates.
Rob Hooton
30 Posted 03/02/2018 at 08:30:08
Great report Paul, thanks as always. Agree with your ratings too, Seamus was fantastic and put a big smile on my face.
Promising but one swallow and all that

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