Everton 1 - 1 Manchester United
Our boiler broke two weeks ago and, despite two visits and parts being ordered from the boiler engineer, we are still without heat and hot water during a particularly cold time of the year. Just to ensure I had a shower today, I jogged to my parents house with Katja following in the car with my clothes and belongings for the day. Once I was showered at my parents, Ste picked me up and on we went to Goodison Park. We were in the pub with plenty of time, Liverpool already 2-0 ahead before we even arrived.
The pub swelled with supporters with most glued to the TV screens as Bournemouth launched quite an astonishing comeback against our loveable neighbours. At 3-1, you couldn't see a way back for The Cherries but fair play to them for persevering, and when they went 4-3 ahead in injury time, the pub erupted, Ste and I, like many others, jumping for joy and hugging as they grabbed the winner. A very impressive comeback indeed, ensuring we were onward to Goodison Park in good spirits.
None of us really expected a victory over Manchester United and before the game I'd personally have taken the draw. Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka and Aaron Lennon were the three to make way from our meek display at Southampton last weekend, with Ramiro Funes Mori, Kevin Mirallas and Tom Cleverley all in the team; Mirallas lining up in a more central attacking position with Tom Cleverley on the wing.
Manchester United were without the suspended Wayne Rooney, though did boast Zlatan Ibrahimovic, P aul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst their formidable line up. Michael Oliver officiated and got the game under way only after a minute's silence in respect of those who passed away during the Chapecoense plane crash.
The atmosphere was tasty early doors but was soon flattened as events on the pitch, or there lack of, ensured there was little to get too excited about as both teams seemed to cancel each other out. Martin Stekelenburg did make one good save though the flag had already been raised by the linesman against Anthony Martial.
It may even have been Ronald Koeman's game plan to contain Manchester United for a long period of the game before going for the kill later on. We'll never know I suppose as a piece of brilliance by Zlatan Ibrahimovic just three minutes before half-time ensured that Manchester United went in at the break a goal ahead.
It was a wonderful Zlatan-esque finish by the Swede though our Dutch goalkeeper was very culpable as he dashed out and presented an open goal, with Ibraimovic requiring no second invitations to loft the ball into the goal...the ball hitting the crossbar and then the post and then sneaking over the line before it was cleared by Funes Mori with the ball "millimetres over the line" according to a Manchester United fan via text message.
Though disappointing to be behind at the break you at least knew Everton would be forced to give it a go after the break. Marcus Rojo was apparantly a lucky boy to remain on the pitch for the second half after also following a two-footed lunge on Idrissa Gueye.
It took time before we clicked into gear in the second half and things could have been very different had Ander Herrera found the net rather than the bar with a presentable volley. Otherwise however, opportunities alone, particularly as we surged late in the game, would suggest we deserved our draw.
Earlier in the half, Kevin Mirallas, one of very few players out there who gave it a good go, came close when he burst into the penalty area and forced a decent save from David de Gea. The big Spaniard was forced into more action as the end closed in while Everton rallied for the equaliser. He saved from Idrissa Gueye's distance drive, from substitute Mason Holgate's looping header, and, albeit more easily, from Enner Valencia's downward header.
That was before Leighton Baines finally secured a point for Everton from the penalty spot when ex-Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, only just on the field as a substitute, clumsily fouled Idrissa Gueye. De Gea guessed right, literally, but Baines' penalty was too good and Everton were level with just a minute of normal time remaining. It was great to see Kevin Mirallas grab the ball immediately after the penalty was awarded and throw it straight to Leighton Baines.
Goodison Park was rocking again by this point and the players had their tails up. On another day we may have snatched a late, late winner in the five minutes of stoppage time. The closest we came was probably when Baines struck with a surprise shot inside the penalty area but De Gea was able to beat it away. At full-time we had to be pleased with a point given it looked so bleak earlier in the game. Hopefully that is the spark we need to re-ignite our faltering campaign. A win at Watford next weekend would be a timely opportunity to prove this.
Stekelenburg: After half a dozen games or so I was delighted with Maarten Stekelenburg but he is error-prone and maddeningly inconsistent. I wouldn't really like to rely on Joel Robles either so after an encouraging start from Maarten, I'm now, alas, of the decision that this is a problem position again and one that needs fixing. 5
Baines: He was fairly quiet for a lot of the game but, like the rest of them, seemed to kick into life as we pressed for the equaliser late on. 6
Williams: He's doing OK but doesn't quite seem to be the commanding centre back we thought we had signed. 6
Funes Mori: Though Phil Jagielka probably deserved to be dropped after a number of poor performances this season, Ramiro Funes Mori isn't the answer. Despite his best efforts, he really can't defend. 5
Coleman: Was doing OK until he was forced off injured. That'll be him out for a little while I assume. 6
Barry: It wasn't for lack of trying but this wasn't one of Barry's better games. His passing at times was particularly sloppy. Credit to him though, he never hid and kept on going. 5
Gueye: Another brilliant display by Idrissa Gueye, this one perhaps his best yet. Though he has shown his strength in tackling and breaking up the play plenty of times this season, this was certainly the most dynamic, yet combative I've seen him play for us yet. My man of the match. 8
Bolasie: Had a woeful game before coming off injured. Effort was there but he really didn't get into the game at all. 4
Cleverley: Struggled on the flank but tried. Certainly didn't deserve the ironic cheers on his departure when he was substituted. 5
Mirallas: One of only a few who showed up throughout. He was full of effort and this perhaps rubbed off on his colleagues when we finally got going late in the game. Should surely remain in the team. 7
Lukaku: He was very isolated and cut a frustrated figure up top. He was living off scraps and not a lot went for him, bur he did at least battle, perhaps more than I've seen him do so for some time. He's got to be due a goal now, hopefully he can get on the goal trail next week. 6
Deulofeu (for Cleverley): Not exactly at his best but he did cause a few problems. 6
Holgate (for Coleman): It's great to know that Mason is more than capable of coping in Coelman's absence. He did very well and won't let anyone down these next few weeks if, as expected, he is required. 7
Valencia (for Bolasie): Maybe it's time to start him in a few games? His pace and energy up front would cause most teams problems I would have thought. 7
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