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.
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
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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