When the Blues cheer you up, they really cheer you up!

By Paul Traill 02/01/2017  11 Comments  [Jump to last]
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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.

Player ratings:

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

Substitutes:

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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Reader Comments (11)

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Chris Williams
1 Posted 03/01/2017 at 07:58:12
Thanks Paul. I was feeling much the same as you and by the sound of it for much the same reason.

This was a fine detox session, like a colonic irrigation for the emotions.

Jim Harrison
2 Posted 03/01/2017 at 12:03:15
I thought ROM looked grumpy after his goal! Reckon he was pissed off with the poor service up until the latter stages

We really need to play to his strengths more. He is far better when the ball is played for him to run on to or to turn with the pace of the ball.

Anto Byrne
4 Posted 03/01/2017 at 12:23:58
Rewind 12 months and I dare say there is some improvement.
Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 03/01/2017 at 12:33:01
Good story, Paul. I have been feeling the very same way about going to Goodison, for a while now, except I haven't even been sick. But like most blues, I live in hope, and it's usually around this time of the year that I tip us for the Cup!

It's frustrating because I think we all feel that this team has a lot more to give, if it's played in the right way and, once he gets a partner, Lukaku turns into a proper player.

Keep going, and keep posting, Paul, and hopefully we will see much more lively performances once the manager gets it right.

Danny Broderick
6 Posted 03/01/2017 at 12:39:09
They must have cheered you up Paul, you've given the players higher marks than normal! Good report mate.
Antonio Michaels
7 Posted 03/01/2017 at 12:44:55
Excellent day out to Goodison and a great three points, good write up as ever.
Peter Anthony
8 Posted 03/01/2017 at 16:40:48
Thanks for the report, great to read of a win and signs of improvement. Happy new year.

Too many hopes crashed and burned over the years to be genuinely optimistic, but here's hoping anyway New Dockside Stadium befitting status as true footballing aristocracy, plus on field team performances to be really proud of.

Dare I dream? Of course. I never learn. COYB.

Andy Crooks
9 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:23:18
Super stuff, Paul. As a supporter who rarely gets to games, this is the report I enjoy most. Well done.

I don't want to put you on the spot but... what is the view of you and your mates of Koeman?

Paul Traill
10 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:48:37
Andy (#10). Thank you, mate.

On Koeman, I think like most, we're a bit torn on him. He without doubt needs time and a few transfer windows to get the team he wants, you have to understand that. But, on the other hand, I look at the performances and results against a few of the poorer teams in the league and you have to be disappointed.

The poor performances against Swansea, Hull, Watford and Southampton (away) have really cost us and the team should have enough to beat them. You can't use the "it isn't his team" for them fixtures. That said, I'd have certainly have taken 7th at the start of 2017 had it have been offered at the start of the season.

In short - he's doing okay but there's room for improvement.

Dave Ganley
11 Posted 03/01/2017 at 21:57:47
I totally agree with your comments there, Paul. Koeman does need time but you do have to wonder about some of the games you mentioned and how lethargic we looked.

It has been a really strange season so far, poor football at times and the team looking like they only met minutes before a game yet somehow we are 7th. It makes you wonder what we may achieve if it all clicks consistently.

It may well be that the tough love that Ross has been receiving from Koeman will work on him. He is no longer guaranteed his place so will have to work for it. His header against Hull was excellent and he played his part again on Saturday.

I still think playing deeper is his better position rather than the no 10 position but so long as I see progress then all is good. He is a work in progress and hopefully with time Koeman can finally realise his potential.

I am finding going to Goodison a much better experience than the last couple of seasons but it is still hard work at times. However, as I say, somehow we are 7th without playing particularly well, so onward and upwards. Looking forward to the cup on Saturday.

Brent Stephens
12 Posted 03/01/2017 at 22:04:35
Enjoyed your report again, Paul.

"Baines's tackle fell invitingly to Davies." – I wondered if he'd dropped a bollock and I'd missed it!

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