The League Cup wait goes on

By Paul Traill 20/09/2016  11 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Everton 0 - 2 Norwich City

Gaz generously picked me up from work and picking up Ste on-route, we were around Goodison Park in comfortable time to get some food and wash it down with a few drinks in The Brick. We needed a cold drink in there just to cool off such was the heat in the pub.

Whilst the changes to the team were many, there was certainly a strong enough team out there to get the result against Norwich City though looking at their team there was plenty to hurt us with John Ruddy, Steven Whittaker, Sebastien Bassong, Robbie Brady, Youssouf Mulumbu, Ryan Bennett and, of course, Steven Naismith all in the team. Even Kyle Lafferty came off the substitutes bench as if to highlight we were up against a pretty strong team though the player who caught my eye the most for the Canaries was Alex Pritchard, a young midfielder signed from Tottenham Hotspurs. With Romalu Lukaku out of this one, our new loan signing Enner Valencia led the line in attack. Gareth Barry and Leighton Baines were also experienced absentees with Mason Holgate and Ramiro Funes Mori notable deputies.

The first half was largely a none entity though had Aaron Lennon struck the goal rather than Steven Whittaker early on, we may have found ourselves a goal up early doors. This wasn't to be, however, and you had to give Norwich City credit for being disciplined and organised and making it difficult for Everton. They were fairly comfortable in the dismal first half and seized their opportunity with a sizeable chunk of fortune when our ex-attacker, Steven Naismith, slipped as he hit the ball and, with everybody around me, myself included, expecting the ball to whizz into the stands, it somehow looped into the net. Norwich City with a half-time lead and Steven Naismith afforded a generous applause from the Gwladys Street. Everton with work to do at the break.

Ross Barkley was having a nightmare and I expected him to be hooked along with perhaps Ramiro Funes Mori; however, Ronald Koeman, unusually for him, resisted the urge to change things early and kept faith with what he had on the pitch. On another day, it may have paid off. Gerard Deulofeu missed two great opportunities (one particularly presentable) and Ramiro Funes Mori drove into the side-netting.

Though we had plenty of the play after the break, the goal never really felt like coming with the XI which began the game. I felt an introduction of Arouna Kone (yes, I know, it comes to something when you're screaming for Kone to get onto the pitch) to replace Valencia; and taking Ross Barkley off and allowing Gerard Deulofeu to play off Arouna Kone with Kevin Mirallas on the wing instead would have heralded better results.

Ronald Koeman felt otherwise, however and simply switched his two wingers – Lennon and Deulofeu replaced by Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas. Despite my reservations, the impact was almost immediate when first Mirallas forced a save out of Ruddy from a free kick, from which Valencia's drive was blocked on the line by Pritchard.

Norwich City were proving resilient as Everton toiled for momentum and further opportunities, and the difficulty of our task was doubled when Josh Murphy scored for the visitors with a quite brilliant solo goal which even had many in Goodison Park applauding. "It's not often both goals from an away team get applauded by the home team" said Ste.

With nothing now to lose in the game, we were shocked by how long it took for Koeman to bring on Kone, but in truth it made little difference and, though we rallied in the closing stages, the goal never really felt like coming; once again, we found ourselves out meekly in the early rounds of the League Cup... a cup it seems we're never going to win. Let's hope we can take the early cup exit as a kick up the backside and help us to carry on our good form in the Premier League.

The defeat would feel much worse had we not have started the season so brightly. Let's be a little pragmatic also. Though Norwich City deserved their win, on another day, it may not have come. They got lucky with their first half chance and we missed ours, plus we had the chances to get back into the game but just didn't take them. On another day, it could have been different.

Just as an aside, though his goal was a fluke, the tenacity, work rate and his ability in front of goal suggests to me we might have done well to have kept Steven Naismith, at least given since he left we signed Oumar Niasse whom it is generous to even call a flop, and now had to settle for a last-minute deadline-day loan deal for Enner Valencia who, on tonight at least, really doesn't look the part. We'd have been better off keeping hold of Naismith in my opinion.

Player ratings:

Stekelenburg: Beaten twice though helpless twice with Norwich City's two only shots on target. 6

Funes Mori: Had a poor game at left back. I don't rate Funes Mori but I think it's a little unfair playing him at left back when it's not his position. I don't rate him either, but if he really didn't want to field Leighton Baines, then maybe he should have played Bryan Oviedo who is at least a left back. 4

Holgate: Struggled a bit in this one which is a tad disappointing given his early season Premier League form but I'm sure it's just a blip. 5

Williams: Did a little better than Holgate at centre back. 6

Coleman: Captained Everton for the first time and didn't let us down. One of few to leave the field with credit actually. 7

Gueye: A typically combative display. We might as well give him Player of the Season now as his consistency levels, work rate and ability are all outstanding. My Man of the Match. 8

Cleverley: He did okay first half but I remember very little of him after the break. 5

Deulofeu: Caused problems but didn't make the most of his opportunities. 5

Lennon: One of the better ones out there which is why I was surprised he was substituted. 7

Barkley: After a promising display at the weekend, you hoped he would crack on this evening but he never got going sadly and it was a frustrating performance from Ross. Let's hope for better at Bournemouth. 4

Valencia: Was pretty anonymous for most of the game and you can only hope he is able to improve with games. Certainly unconvincing on tonight's showing. 4

Substitutes:

Bolasie (for Lennon): Worked the wings and put in some crosses, albeit to no avail. 7

Mirallas (for Deulofeu): Put a shift in and was lively. 7

Kone (for Holgate): Should have been introduced sooner but I'm not sure it actually would have made a big difference. 5

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