Our best performance since...?

By Paul Traill 15/01/2017  26 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Everton 4 - 0 Manchester City

I met a mate in The Winslow at the staggeringly early time of 10.30am. He had some tickets for me to collect for next weekends game at Crystal Palace, though as he'd forgotten them I needn't have bothered getting there so early and could instead have taken the later lift from Gaz. Regardless, it was nice to catch up with David and his Manchester City supporting friend Steve over a few, early, beers.

David and Steve had to head into the ground pretty early so I met with Ste, Gaz and, spontaneously, Stuart for a few in The Brick. Here we learnt of our team news. "That's pretty much the team I'd have picked" I said. Our new signings Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman both made the substitutes bench. It was good to see Everton return to three at the back with Kevin Mirallas in attack - something we should have done last weekend against Leicester City. John Stones returned for Manchester City alongside Nicolas Otamendi with Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero amongst the vast array of talent we had to compete with. We had our work cut out.

Last weekend against Leicester City the atmosphere was strangely flat. This time around everybody was bang up for the game and Goodison Park was rocking. It was heart warming to see Romelu Lukaku carry young Bradley Lowery onto the pitch before a minute's applause was observed in respect of Graham Taylor and our previous club secretary, Jim Greenwood.

We began the game brightly, this form continuing throughout with everybody doing their jobs all over the pitch and we were good money for our lead when Kevin Mirallas squared for Romelu Lukaku to smash Everton into the lead. The goal felt like it had brought the house down then, though with every preceding goal the applause felt louder and stronger such was the quality of our display. Following our opener we did have a rocky few minutes but we thankfully galvanised and led at the break 1-0.

It was nice to see young Bradley on the pitch playing football with the other kids at the break. The ground staff tried to let him score into the Gwladys Street goal but he didn't quite fancy it and ran back to his loving parents. It was bittersweet. Great to see him out there enjoying himself, but so sad given the situation. You have to admire their bravery and can only wish them nothing but the best.

Into the second half and I can seldom remember Everton coming out of the traps like that after the break with an early goal. Kevin Mirallas this time finishing low into the corner past Claudio Bravo. Everton 2-0 ahead, Manchester City rocked.

A few of the lads around us began to get twitchy as we seemed t drop back as Manchester City tried to rally, though everything was in front of us and, despite Mark Clattenburg's best efforts, we held firm and on 79 minutes we made the game safe virtue to a quite brilliant goal from young Tom Davies. His skillful turn inside was wonderful in itself but to cap it off with a dinked goal was majestic and it was a relief that he scored the goal and not Romelu Lukaku. It was quite a feeling knowing we had won the game.

Late substitute Ademola Lookman changed the afternoon from a great one to a perfect one when he slotted through the legs of Bravo following a botched John Stones clearance and that was that. Nobody could even have dreamed of such a result before the game.

As we walked back to the car we questioned when we last performed so exquisitely. Beating Arsenal 3-0 in Roberto Martinez' first season sprung to mind but this performance was even better. I'd even go as far to say it was the best we played since we beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 at Elland Road on route to Wembley in 1995. We were just awesome. Can anyone tell me when we last played this well?

Now that's the standard. That's what we can do. The key now is to reach that level consistency.

Over to you Mr. Koeman.

Player ratings:

Robles: Made good saves when he had too. A little ponderous with his distribution at times if I'm going to be critical but he played well. He certainly deserves to be in the team following his December introduction. He's generally done pretty well. 7

Baines: Did very well at wing back. 7

Funes Mori: A few hairy moments but overall he did pretty well. 7

Williams: A rock at the heart of defence. 8

Holgate: Did very well. 7

Coleman: Much more like it after his horror show last weekend. 7

Barry: Had an excellent game in the middle. 8

Davies: Man of the match. The discipline and fight he shows for a young player is quite remarkable. If he's not heading it off the line he's putting in a tackle or putting the ball in the net. A truly brilliant display. We have some player on our hands there. 9

Barkley: Did very well and got stuck in. 7

Mirallas: Had a brilliant game up front alongside Romelu Lukaku, making one and scoring one before being subbed. Surely just off the striker is his best position. 8

Lukaku: Was quite brilliant and carried the fight. 8

Substitutes:

Schneiderlin (for Mirallas): Settled in quite nicely. 6

McCarthy (for Barry): Got stuck in. 6

Lookman (for Barkley): What a dream debut for the lad. A great finish. Great to see him hit the ground running. 7

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Reader Comments (26)

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Dermot Byrne
1 Posted 16/01/2017 at 09:06:06
Still grinning. Have replayed MotD so many times!
Paul Kelly
2 Posted 16/01/2017 at 10:03:43
What's happened to Sue, Paul? Nice report anyhow.

Just watched the game again, tremendous performance. No pointing out mistakes, leave that to Ron, but thought Barkley was immense, Robles was quality.

But Davies, fuck me, got a man crush (is that legal?). I actually welled up watching his celebration, you could see how much it meant him and everyone else for that matter.

I posted on the match thread that Alan Whittle once give my arl fella a lift the match, Tom Davies (if you read this), carry on the tradition for the Palace Match... I live in Kent now. Not far from the ground.

Here's to the future (raises glass, necks rum). Happy days!

Stan Schofield
3 Posted 16/01/2017 at 10:48:00
Paul, as you say, that's what we can do, and the problem is to get consistency. Our squad is a talented one, full of very good players. We've had some good signings as well under Koeman, Gana being a great signing, but we did it without him yesterday. In fact, apart from Lookman and Schneiderlin coming on, Williams was the only Koeman signing.

So our problem is to get these very good players gelling as a team, consistently. To do that, you need a recognisable system that works, rather than the hoofball to Lukaku approach we've seen too often. Well, yesterday gave us such a display.

There's been a lot of talk on TW about the importance of transfer windows, and opinions expressed that we need a complete overhaul of players. However, the reality is that, although transfer windows are important, for us they are to strengthen an already fine squad, rather than to replace players like Barkley, Mirallas, et al, who are excellent.

The trick, surely, is to utilise the more solid defensive set up that Koeman has injected, and combine it with the attacking flair that we have so often seen (in the Martinez era) from these players. Again, I believe that's what we saw yesterday. Pressing, which Koeman has always reiterated, but pressing on the back of an effective system.

And to see Holgate and Davies performing like this, and Lookman scoring, was the icing on the cake. Using youngsters in the tradition of the best Everton teams. Fantastic.

David Ellis
4 Posted 16/01/2017 at 11:15:23
I've never been a fan of 3 at the back... It seemed to me mean 5 at the back or replacing proper wide midfielders with converted defenders. But this game opened my eyes. We seemed to have an extra man on the pitch.

It clearly works well against the stronger sides. There just seems to be more space... I think it allows Baines and Coleman – in fact the whole midfield – to move up the pitch.

If we persevere with this approach, I think Lookman will be intended as a Number 10. Suddenly, I am looking forward to the next match.

Gordon Crawford
5 Posted 16/01/2017 at 11:36:21
Barkley deserved a 9 in my opinion, he was brilliant.

Best performance since Spurs in the 1995 FA Cup Semi-Final!!!
COYB

Peter Laing
6 Posted 16/01/2017 at 11:46:04
Hard to remember such an outstanding performance but here goes:

Arsenal at home (Martinez),
Liverpool at home (Moyes 3-0),
Man Utd at home (Moyes 3-1),
Sunderland at home (Moyes 7-0).

However, yesterday topped all of those performances – in Davies, a star was born.
Thomas Lennon
7 Posted 16/01/2017 at 12:29:51
That was Tom Davies's "Remember the name" moment? He had a great game when there was nothing to play for at the end of last season but this was a completely different prospect.

I remember a performance like that a few decades ago when an all-dominant Liverpool team sank under a performance from a new Everton team that had them giving up the game long before the final whistle. I had never seen that before. Ole! Ole! Ole We won a few cups & Championships after that so fingers crossed..

Last week aside, we have been developing nicely since the Christmas period and confidence is on the rise. Those clubs that pick up form over Christmas generally do well in the Premier League so I'm looking for over 60 points this season now.

Barry Pearce
8 Posted 16/01/2017 at 12:49:20
God, you do well, Paul, to write your analysis after all those beers.

What a great weekend to be a blue.

Only joking about the beers Andy Wheeler love reading your reports.

Philip Yensen
9 Posted 16/01/2017 at 15:04:23
Tom's goal and lead-up to it was sublime. If Ronaldo or Messi scored this goal it would travel round the footballing world. His powerful break down the pitch, his jink inside even getting dumped on his arse. Up like a shot and to bink the ball over the line, Messiesque.

My MotM Gareth Barry the kingpin of our performance.
Lookman could be our new Inchie or Cottee, as soon as he is out of nappies.

Give us that performance every week; if a defeat follows, it won't be lack of effort.

Liam Reilly
10 Posted 16/01/2017 at 15:55:46
Ross was never a seven, Paul; he was immense, at least an 8 if not a 9.

Barry was excellent also, gets far too much stick on this site.

Great to see the young lads do so well and there are more diamonds in that Under-23s side still to come through.

Happy days.

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 16/01/2017 at 16:37:23
Starting to enjoy reading your threads, Paul, and have come to see you as very brave for marking each player individually!
Barry Pearce
12 Posted 16/01/2017 at 16:57:27
Sorry, Paul, don't know where Andy wheeler came from.

Poxy spellchecker no doubt. Even so that's a strange one.

Paul Traill
13 Posted 16/01/2017 at 18:17:13
Barry (#8) – yeah I wrote it a good few hours and a few cups of coffee later! Thanks.

Tony (#11) – Thank you. There's a thin line between bravery and naivety!

Brian Wilkinson
14 Posted 16/01/2017 at 19:50:35
I'm not one of Clattenburg's biggest fans but, barring the penalty incident, I thought he had a good game – tried to play advantage instead of blowing; unlike most refs he rightly booked both players, one from each team...

Overall, one of the better refs we've had. I'll probably not get many agreeing with me, but I thought he had a decent game.

Mick Davies
15 Posted 16/01/2017 at 20:41:20
Brian @ 14, even the pundits had to play it back before (a) they realised Robles had made slight contact and (b) the ball struck Baines on the hand. No ref could ever give that without the aid of replays (except Anthony 'gobshite' Taylor – the new Everton hater).
Barry Pearce
16 Posted 16/01/2017 at 21:17:17
Yes, Clattenburg went up a slight notch in my estimation, when he didn't book young Tom for jumping into the crowd; a lot would have done.

Anyway nothing would have put a dampener on Tom's and the fans' sheer joy in scoring that goal.

Ian Randles
17 Posted 16/01/2017 at 22:52:00
Well what can you say that's not already been said?

Some outstanding performances and what a refreshing sight to see the lads enjoying the day like us fans. Perhaps having the youngsters with there raw talent and enthusiasm in the squad is rubbing off on the rest of the team.

I just want to mention Robles, he has had a run of games and stepped up to the mark. For me, he needs to keep his place and have a real good run of games – he has kept 3 clean sheets out of 5 league games since he stepped in.

I can recall a similar stat under Martinez when Howard got injured and he stepped up then only to be dropped as soon as Howard recovered. A true test of Koeman's character to keep the faith in him.


Ian Pilkington
18 Posted 17/01/2017 at 00:25:42
Paul, I agree that this was the best performance since beating Spurs 4-1 in the 1995 FA Cup semi-final and better than the 3-0 win over Arsenal 3 years ago.

It certainly puts the Moyes era in perspective; with 4 minutes of added time left, Moyes would have brought on Jags instead of Lookman.

Ashley Roberts
19 Posted 17/01/2017 at 01:05:32
Paul, I must have watched a different game to you. I thought Ross was pure class and deserved at least an 8.5. Couldn't give him a 9 as this was reserved solely for the wonderful Tom Davies performance.

I am presuming you gave Mirallas and Lukaku 8 because they scored a goal? There is no way that they out-performed Ross on the day.

Daniel Lim
20 Posted 17/01/2017 at 09:21:41
Paul, I have to agree with many on here, Barkley 7 is just too mean.

Ashley @19, why can't Barkley get 9? Tom can have 9.5! Or, why not 9.8?

Philip Yensen
21 Posted 17/01/2017 at 09:55:29
Barkley got his score because the first half his passing in general was poor, kept choosing the wrong pass or too slow to see it. Second half he was playing as he should do at 23 with more energy. He also made better choices with his passing.

How often do we see a decent performance from him? With him, it's the odd great game and the rest are poor; if it was the other way round what a star, but alas...

Bob Parrington
22 Posted 17/01/2017 at 11:16:36
A few on here are of my generation – I started at 5 years old in 1953. This game reminded me of some of the games I watched from the Boys Pen in the Roy Vernon, Alex Young, Alex Scott days. Heroes all. Some of the youngsters now will remember this performance way beyond when I'm not around.

How many of us have the feeling that this is the start of something new? Even with a few setbacks along the way, we know we can do it. Not just a fortunate 1-0 but a slam-dunk!

Well done, Ronald, support group, and all of the players!

Geoff Williams
23 Posted 17/01/2017 at 13:56:42
From the kick-off, I never felt we would lose and once we'd scored I knew we'd win.

The midfield was excellent. Gareth Barry is such an intelligent player and Tom Davies was a revelation.

Barkley looked good, I would love to know how far he travelled during the game.

Mirallas made a very useful contribution to the team effort: one cracking pass to Lukaku for the opening goal and a great strike for the second.

I think, as many do, that Holgate is a player of immense talent.

Williams made some really good interventions but he so poor in the air for a centre-half.

Alasdair Mackay
24 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:00:32
Yeah - the Arsenal 3-0, Wolfsburg in Europe under Martinez. The Sunderland 7-1 under Moyes and Southampton by the same scoreline in about 1996-97 (Speed hat-trick). They would be the ones in terms of comparable performance between the '95 semi-final and today.
Brian Harrison
25 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:10:06
I think some have gone over the top in saying this was our best performance for years. We had 29% possession so, while that isn't the most important stat, it shows we didn't have much of the ball.

What we did was defend well and made the most of the chances we had, the team worked hard and on chances created deserved to win. But best performance in years??

David Tennant
26 Posted 18/01/2017 at 04:09:45
Barkley was very very good against Man City. Looked up and forward. Opened up space through running and passing as well as getting stuck in.

Yes, he lost the ball a few times in the first half but they were moments that were potentially match opening. He saw passes that others just didn't. In the second half, he ran the show. Deserved a 8.5-9.

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