I woke up in a right sulk. Having ate a lot or rubbish and drunk plenty of ale over the festive period, I shouldn't have been surprised to get the lurgy these last couple of days. Though not surprised to feel under the weather, it didn't stop me from being in a man-sulk for most of the morning, my mood exacerbated by the fact that the milk had gone off and I couldn't even get my morning coffee. Talk about first world problems! I even considered wallowing in my own pity and not going the game, though on my way back from my milk run to the shop I soon snapped out of my mood. I thought about the army of Toffeewebbers worldwide who are unable to get the game who would have loved to be in my position on a matchday at Goodison Park. Knowing I would soon be at the place I probably loved the most, Lemsip-aided, I soon perked up.
Ste was gracious enough to do the taxiing and we were all a bit surprised to find The Brick wasn't too busy and we were able to slip into a nice little spot. Carl, who only ever makes a few games a season these days, also joined us with his Dad, and we were all soon in good spirits as a few beers flowed. I wondered to myself why I had began the day in such a foul mood.
Everybody was rather encouraged by the starting line up with the youth of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies entrusted with opportunities. It was therefore unfortunate that Dominic limped out of the game after only 12 minutes having sustained an injury. He was replaced by Kevin Mirallas in what was a flat first half, particularly from Everton's point of view. Southampton looked the more likely to score and came closest to doing so when Rodriguez stormed through but put his shot narrowly over the crossbar. Nathan Redmond also headed narrowly over the crossbar with a fairly difficult opportunity.
It wasn't so much on chances created that was disappointing in the first half it was more our sluggishness around the pitch. We struggled to get going and it was Southampton who were the more impressive. "It's like we're the away team" I said to Ste whilst Southampton again poured forward and just like an away team on the counter-attack, we quickly went down the other end of the field and were thwarted when Lukaku's drive from a Barkley pass was saved by Forster. That was as close as we came all half and we needed to improve after the break.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half at least the game continued in similar fashion. Redmond was thwarted by Robles as Southampton continued to look the more likely. Ronald Koeman had to change something and it was Aaron Lennon that was hooked to be replaced by Enner Valencia. It is fair to say this was a game changing substitution with Everton getting at Southampton more, particularly down our right hand side, the goal coming when Coleman's cross was headed at goal by Lukaku but saved by Forster. The ball broke loose for Valencia to slot home for his first Everton goal to the delight of the crowd.
I think it was still 1-0 when Joel Robles made another good save to keep us ahead. On 81 minutes we had doubled our lead and all but sealed the win when I think Valencia was sent tumbling in the penalty area. After a bit of deliberation between Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines, it was Leighton who stepped up to score, sending Fraser Forster the opposite direction. Strangely Romelu Lukaku didn't celebrate with the team, he instead trudged off alone.
Our Belgian striker wasn't left off the scoresheet however and it was brilliant that he was set up by the lively Tom Davies to put some flattering gloss on the scoresheet. Baines' tackle fell invitingly to Davies who poked a lovely first time pass through to Romelu Lukaku, who smashed the ball first time into the top corner of the net.
So a flattering 3-0 victory finalises a good Christmas period. Though our draw at Hull City was disappointing, the seven points haul out of the available nine is not to be sniffed at. Just as an aside, it was nice to see Fraser Forster present his goalkeeper gloves to a young fan in the Lower Gwladys after the game.
Now time to progress in the FA Cup next weekend.
Robles: A few poor moments with distribution and a punch instead of a catch aside, he did pretty well and made some important saves. 7
Baines: Did well both in attack and defence. Nice to see he seems to be our regular penalty taker again. 7
Funes Mori: Did pretty well. 7
Williams: Some games he's very good, others he's all over the place. Today was a good day. Let's hope he can find that consistency in his play as he could become a big player for us. 7
Coleman: Bombed forward very well. 7
Gueye: Did very well and was combative as always. Shall be missed now at the African Nations Cup. 7
Davies: Very lively and confident throughout, it was a joy to see him set one up at the end. Not everything worked for him but it doesn't get him down and he just keeps on going. If managed right, he could become a big player for us for a long time. 7
Lennon: Started OK before fading and was then substituted. 6
Calvert-Lewin: Was busy in the short time he was on the field. 6
Barkley: My man of the match. A very good display. There's certainly been some encouraging signs from Ross these last few days. 8
Lukaku: A bit in and out of the game but proved, as usual, that he can turn it on when he has to. A great finish at the end to seal the game. 7
Mirallas (for Calvert-Lewin): Often Kevin Mirallas begins games and fades, though this time, although he began from the substitutes bench, Mirallas seemed to excel as the game went on. A good performance. 7
Valencia (for Lennon): Did very well and grabbed a goal pretty quickly. Is doing a good job of making it difficult for Ronald Koeman to leave him out. 7
Barry (for Barkley): Did well in helping us see the game out. 6
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