Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Everton
The evolution of Everton under Ronald Koeman continues, as does football's tendency to demonstrate how quickly things can change. Despondency at the Blues' prospects for the remainder of the Dutchman's first season in charge was pervasive after the defeats against Watford last month and Leicester just a couple of weeks ago and there were more than a few doubting his ability to fulfill the huge expectations that greeted his appointment in June.
Now, while Evertonians shouldn't get ahead of themselves, it's hard not to feel optimistic again as a clear path to progress has been revealed following a victory at Selhurst Park that showed the continued emergence of a different Everton. An Everton that can marry the silkier, more possession-based approach aspired to by Roberto Martinez with the defiant, obdurate and robust one favoured by his successor.
It’s hard to imagine the Blues side of last season winning this game. Where last week was all about absorbing pressure and ruthlessly capitalising on opportunities, this was a match where Everton had to take the game to an opposition low on confidence and committed to defending as a first resort and it will have pleased supporters and manager alike how effective they were at times.
This was a much better performance than Everton will get credit for and one that probably deserved a bigger margin of victory than the slender 1-0 advantage that proved to be enough in the end. For all their troubles this season, Crystal Palace can be a dangerous side, particularly at home, and with Loic Remy providing the mobile foil for Christian Benteke’s aerial prowess, the Blues might have felt they were in for a more difficult afternoon than was ultimately the case. It certainly seemed that way early on when the Belgian headed onto the crossbar from James McArthur’s cross.
It was by no means easy, though, despite the fact that Palace were restricted to just one effort on target in the 90 minutes, a Scott Dann header in the 79th minute that looked for a few heart-stopping seconds as though it would punish Everton for not pressing home their dominance with goals on the one hand and conceding silly fouls in dangerous areas outside their box on the other.
Had Joel Robles not made a fine save to palm the centre-half’s powerful header aside for a corner, few among the 3,000 travelling Evertonians would have been surprised; it would have been so “Everton, that.” But this version of Everton under Koeman is morphing into an altogether more robust unit, adding a possession and passing game to its identity that was wholly absent in another away game of this physical nature at Burnley in October.
That day, the Blues were the better side in terms of chances but they had a suicidal inability to keep the ball and they were beaten by a last-minute goal that, coming at the of a stretch of five games without a win, served to starkly illustrate the amount of work Koeman had ahead of him after a misleadingly positive start to his tenure at Goodison Park.
With three impressive league victories on the bounce and as many clean sheets, that work looks to be bearing fruit and Everton are once again looking up the table rather than down.
Sensibly, Koeman kept faith with the line-up that had started the 4-0 demolition of Manchester City last Sunday, which meant Robles justifiably keeping his place in goal, Gareth Barry lining up alongside the star of last weekend, Tom Davies, and Morgan Schneiderlin named among the substitutes. It also retained the three man central defensive unit that has emerged as the foundation behind Everton’s recent revival and solidity at the back, one that was also wise given the physical threat posed by Sam Allardyce’s Palace.
Just as important was that the Blues looked like a proper footballing outfit for long periods of this game, passing and probing, looking for space and opportunities between the lines in a way that fans were crying out for earlier this season.
They had to be patient in the early going as Palace retreated into their half but by the quarter hour mark, they were starting to cause the home side problems in their penalty area, Kevin Mirallas picking up Romelu Luaku’s layoff but finding himself crowded out before Ross Barkley went on an excellent jinking run but flashed a deflected shot past Wayne Hennessey’s right-hand post.
The resulting corner was taken short but ended with Mirallas taking a cross down on his chest and volleying goal-wards but it was at a decent height for the ‘keeper to parry it away. And Hennessey was on hand to palm another Barkley effort over the bar before making his best save of the afternoon to deny a tremendous effort by Ramiro Funes Mori. The Argentine defender brought down Ashley Williams’s flick on from a corner, out-foxing his marker in the process, and fired right-footed towards the top corner but Hennessey got a hand to it to divert it behind again.
A few minutes before that, Lukaku, who led the line impressively throughout with strong hold-up play, had gone as close as Everton would come to breaking the deadlock before the break when he scuffed a shot off the post, Barkley denied a goal by the offside flag as he put the ball into the empty net.
With matters goalless at the break, you felt that it was developing into the sort of game where Everton needed to score when they were on top or they were going to be undone by a stupid foul and a set-piece. Koeman’s men had dealt with Allardyce’s aerial weapons off free kicks and corners well in the first 45 minutes, however, and as long as that continued in the second period, there was also the sense that a goal for the visitors would eventually come. It did, of course, but it arrived late in the match.
In between, the Blues continued their pattern of territorial superiority after half time and had two quick opportunities when Mirallas bobbled a mis-hit volley at Hennessey and Barkley smashed the ball across the face of the Welsh international’s goal after being sent away by a brilliant raking pass over the top by Davies.
The teenager continues to look completely at home in Everton’s midfield and with Barkley dictating the rhythm and tempo in midfield with perhaps his best display of the season from a slightly deeper role than normal, Koeman’s men looked impressive going forward. The 23-year-old himself epitomised that in the 56th minute when he surged into space in the box but, unfortunately, dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Three minutes later, Coleman collected the ball at the end of an excellent run by Mason Holgate, again looking every inch a top Premier League defender, and picked out Lukaku with a cross from the right but the striker headed narrowly over the crossbar.
Barry’s race was run with an hour gone and he was replaced by Schneiderlin and after Hennessey had made another stop to parry Barkley’s strong shot from 20 yards, Ademola Lookman came on to replace Mirallas. The teenager was involved immediately, latching onto a knock inside by Lukaku but shooting straight at the ‘keeper.
Still level with 15 minutes still to play, it was understandable that Palace began to sense an opportunity and their efforts to press forward more coincided with a loss of momentum on Everton’s part. When Baines bundled McArthur over in the right back position, handing the home side another free in a dangerous area, Allardyce’s side were presented with their best chance of the half. Thankfully, Robles was equal to it.
And when the Blues resumed the offensive in the closing minutes, they finally got their reward for a laudable all-round display, even if the circumstances surrounding it left Palace fans and their manager bleating. Playing on and sustaining pressure outside the home area with the permission of referee Anthony Taylor while Jeffrey Schlupp stayed down at the other end with what looked like cramp, Everton eventually made inroads when Hennessey spilled Holgate’s deflected low cross.
The ball was hacked clear by Joe Ledly only as far as Davies and he sprung the offside trap by playing in Coleman who had peeled into space off Damian Delaney. The Irishman took two touches, lashed the ball past Hennessey and sped off in celebration in front of the contingent of away fans to his right.
Again, it was no more than Koeman’s men deserved and they would earn the points with a defensive stand over the remaining six minutes as Palace pumped the ball into the box hoping something would break. Robles’s supreme command of his box and tip over the bar from Benteke’s header would ensure it would remain Everton’s day, though, as he helped preserve three vital points. It felt like a big result; now for another at Stoke.
Reader Comments (55)
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1 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:41:12
2 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:46:06
So he was still talking rubbish.
3 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:47:49
On Joel, could it be that after 6-7 years of OFM's coaching staff, he's finally being professionally coached and trained by Lodwewijks?
Knew nothing about the guy, other than he came with Koeman. But Robles looks so much more improved; commanding even. Yes, it's up to any player to improve, Joel no different. I'm thinking that being around a professional coaching staff has a part in it.
On Funes Mori, perhaps his rough edges are being coached off. Third year in the league, for sure now a regular starter, it looks like he's growing into a fine defender.
4 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:54:39
James. Robles was a Martinez signing.
5 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:56:28
Maybe the soft Everton of a few weeks back kick that ball out, but with Rons new blue men (not blue boys), maybe this is another sign that we are getting the mentality he's after.
I could see us doing it, kicking the ball out and moaning at the ref as there player rolls around, our keeper being the closest player to him pushing his toes back to get him up, waiting for him to jog back into position.
This Everton side almost all had a kick while the Palace crowd all screamed for the ball yo be put out, none of them did it, none of them bat an eye!
We deserved to win, but you don't always get what you deserve in this league, but today we had the bottle to take what we deserved.
One of the things I liked was that we had the bottle to stick it out, we continued to keep playing the same way, we didn't change the formation as it was clear it was working, we just needed a little bit of luck.
13 points from the last 15 available, we can go places with a record like that, long may it continue.
6 Posted 21/01/2017 at 23:56:30
7 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:03:17
Just re read the post and your right.
Apologies for the misinterpretation James, I'm in the middle of a night shift and the old brains gone to mush...
8 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:20:18
9 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:24:33
And Coleman wasn't offside, having had the benefit of watching it in stop/go and freeze frame on MotD it's clear to see the furthest away defender was playing him on.
10 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:26:35
It is a position/artform which Guardiola does not appreciate, hence their league position, but one so necessary to a successful team. Well played, Joel.
11 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:50:45
He was cheating, pure and simple and when the ref ignored his cheating, he sat there with a titty lip, holding his toe.
He was 100% wrong
And Sam's response?
To slag the ref.
Desperate stuff from a fat narked wool with a head like an Easter Island statue.
Up the Toffees!
12 Posted 22/01/2017 at 00:53:54
You are correct sir! Well done.
13 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:03:51
14 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:08:32
Officials aren't though. He's put a (illegitimate) chip down so in the next game he can use it to build on Palace being wronged and maybe - just maybe - once all those chips have been built up at a crucial moment with two games to go an official might think 'let it go, I'm not going to get called out on MOTD for that and besides it was borderline - if that '
Allaydyce works on percentages, strategies and formulas - and this is just part of the process. He will have completely forgotten us - he's got 16 more games with the officials.
15 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:10:26
16 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:20:06
Palace 0 Everton 1
17 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:23:58
Above all, though, we look for the first time in a long while like an emergent force. 2013-14 was very good but this side is starting to look a proper one. 12 months from now will be interesting.
The test though is to keep going week in, week out, again and again and again until we win something; and then to start all over, year after year after year. That's what we have to aim to establish: the hard habit of winning.
18 Posted 22/01/2017 at 01:45:23
And in other news; Well done Agent Rooney, job done. Come on loan until the end of the season while we get a sponsor sorted to pay you.
20 Posted 22/01/2017 at 02:13:57
I think your right,an emerging force is taking shape with this group of players & coaching staff. I was in no doubt today that we would eventually win, this 11 has a certain nounce about it,the weakness Martinez instilled may have finally been drained out of most of the squad,thank god.
Anyone who was willing to listen to me in the past two weeks, friends, workmates, family etc was that the Leicester game was the "watershed moment". Koeman drew a line in the sand & challenged every board member to match his ambitions or he will get to fuck at the end of the season, or the end of January.
With a summer transfer window bringing more investment into the squad, I believe we can challenge Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs & Man Utd next season.
We are only 5 points behind Man Utd now after a major transitional season!
Onwards & upwards Blue boys.
21 Posted 22/01/2017 at 02:46:19
22 Posted 22/01/2017 at 03:00:33
Kids and veterans are blending into a pretty good side.
Bring on Stoke!
23 Posted 22/01/2017 at 03:52:04
24 Posted 22/01/2017 at 04:31:29
25 Posted 22/01/2017 at 04:51:34
Knew that but typed three anyway. Whoops.
26 Posted 22/01/2017 at 05:38:48
27 Posted 22/01/2017 at 05:49:45
'...with a head like an Easter Island statue.'
28 Posted 22/01/2017 at 07:47:25
Davies has added a level of energy and released Barkley from some of the defensive duties with exciting results.
Really pleased and feeling for a change a tad optimistic.
29 Posted 22/01/2017 at 07:57:09
30 Posted 22/01/2017 at 08:44:14
Davies and Holgate have a few errors in their game, (I guess a reflection of their slight over-confidence) but they certainly add an attacking dimension that you don't get from say McCarthy. Love to see Davies running straight at the other side's defense - they have less chance to double on Barkley.
31 Posted 22/01/2017 at 09:39:18
Both Schneiderlin and Gueye shouldn't expect to walk into the team. It may take some time to find the best combination from Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Barry, and even McCarthy.
32 Posted 22/01/2017 at 09:53:16
If we do, I will start to believe. Meanwhile I will wait. Palace were shocking, Stoke will be a different challenge.
33 Posted 22/01/2017 at 10:16:10
One more addition between now and the close of the window would be nice and we probably need to consider moving on a central midfielder, most likely McCarthy or Besic.
34 Posted 22/01/2017 at 10:35:24
So what does Gueye do ? I really like him and have no doubt he would work hard - especially on his passing and shooting. So when it is his time again, he is better and we improve again..
Whilst I am chuntering on, yesterday, just after he came on, Schneiderlin tried a through ball between their centre halves. It didn't go out wide but in his mind it was a chance to go straight through their back line. Cannot remember who it was to and it didn't quite work but it really pleased me. A defensive midfielder with an eye for attack and opportunity.
So he can do that. Davies can do that. McCarthy was even showing signs of looking forward before injury. And Ross can run straight at a defence.
Maybe, just maybe, we can stop talking about defensive midfielders" soon and talk about our midfield. A midfield that can defend and attack by playing it out wide or through the middle.
Now then it gets really exciting.
35 Posted 22/01/2017 at 11:26:26
I'm especially pleased that all those calling for Koeman to be sacked just a few weeks ago can go back in their boxes. We may go on a shite run sometime in the future which would justify a sacking but how anyone can call for a manager to be sacked after less than half a season and one transfer window is beyond me, especially when we were 7th!
He needed/needs time to get his message across and more importantly to bring in quality players and get rid of the numerous crap buys Martinez left us with. We have a world renowned name as manager (first time in decades) and this kudos will bring in bigger names.
Times are looking up (finally) after the decade of Moyes and debacle of Martinez. Better players, tactics and a new stadium on the horizon - what's not to like.
I really think we've got a chance of top 6, if not better. Take out Zlatan, de Gea and Pogba and manu are a very very average side. City can't defend (still pissing myself they paid £47.5m for Stones. I remember a lot of people here thought that was cheap!). We won't finish ahead of Chelsea, Arsenal and probably spurs. RS is a lottery as they blow hot and cold and Klopp is a class manager. I think we'll finish above one of city, manu or the RS.
(We'll just have to ignore the dodgy Russian money. If you can't beat'em, join'em.)
36 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:23:56
37 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:33:12
38 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:52:12
I am pro Koeman but everybody on this site is entitled to an opinion and that's what makes ToffeeWeb and Everton unique.
Please don't take this as criticism. I think we all know how frustrating Everton can be.
39 Posted 22/01/2017 at 12:57:55
40 Posted 22/01/2017 at 13:02:53
41 Posted 22/01/2017 at 13:03:03
On Allardyce, the ref played to the rules; why do people still insist it's right to kick the ball out just because a player is down? That went seasons ago. Also they tried to con the ref so we're effectively cheating. Check out the pictures on BBC; the player was off the pitch initially so out of play. Looks like they moved him on the pitch to stop the game. Honourable Sam, just honourable.
42 Posted 22/01/2017 at 13:21:56
For me, the trick is to be cautiously optimistic when there's evidence to be so. The last two games have, finally, revealed effective organisation and tactics, which has (IMO) enabled the 'pressing' game (that Koeman wants) to be apparent. And of course finally giving the younger players their chance to shine enables their energy to contribute to the pressing game.
So long as momentum is maintained, then there will be increasing confidence that Koeman is getting it right, that we can compete consistently at a decent level.
43 Posted 22/01/2017 at 13:22:38
What has he done of late to justify this tag?
He finished 7th in his last season with Dortmund and 8th last season with the shite. He has lost the last 5 finals he has managed in.
I can't stand the way that he is eulogised as some sort of genius and everyone fauns around over his theatrics on the sidelines. I could tell that the shite needed to sort out their defence but he has done nothing about it.
44 Posted 22/01/2017 at 15:11:54
I believe our squad has at least as much quality as Liverpool's, in fact more in my view. I always held the view that WE DO have an unusually talented squad when you look over the last two or so decades, and could never take seriously the 'ship them out, we need a complete overhaul' mantra. Finally, it looks, with the evidence of the last two games, that Koeman is managing to get good stuff from a decent squad made stronger with his signings.
So I have every reason to think that getting a top-4 position is readily achievable, so long as we take one game at a time, and aim to win every game, never to draw, always to win. We have the talent, just need to sustain the organisation of it, plus the commitment and belief that we can beat anybody.
45 Posted 22/01/2017 at 17:17:34
Many on here would have loved it if we had brought him in as manager and a lot, myself included, were gutted he went to the other side. I'm pretty sure had he joined any other club in the UK, there would not be the same level of animosity shown by some here. Just because he's the Liverpool manager doesn't mean he's not a good manager.
All opinions but his medals speak for themselves.
46 Posted 22/01/2017 at 17:44:40
Koeman deserves a lot of praise for this, because for so long it looked as if Barkley's talent was available only on the drip, but with Davies linking with him, so effectively, the tap has been opened, not quite to perfection, just yet, but boy does it have promise.
Of course as Evertonians, we won't get too carried away after years of endless disappointments, we know better, but there is a wave of optimism washing over us, so let's enjoy every minute of it.
47 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:08:42
I can't stand the media love-in with him where they deify him as a super-coach when he isn't. It is linked to the same media love-in of Liverpool and the insistence that they are still a top club when again they aren't.
So, maybe if he wasn't at Liverpool, I'd have more time for him but the two things are inter-linked. However, I go back to my point that I can see that their defence needs over-hauling, why can't he?
48 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:08:44
The second half against Sevilla was a prime example. They took the ball and ran circles around them. A game the media has conveniently forgotten.
I also can't stand the cameramans obsession with this clown and his touch line antics. They spend more time focussing on him than the game.
49 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:23:24
50 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:30:19
51 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:47:38
52 Posted 22/01/2017 at 18:51:39
That aside,what a great start to 2017 for the Blues. I can't help thinking there's bigger things on the way. For the first time in decades, there is a real buzz around.
53 Posted 22/01/2017 at 19:05:08
56 Posted 22/01/2017 at 20:28:46
I totally agree with both assessments of Klopp. Me & our kid call it the "wankfest" he receives on a daily basis off the media.
The bias shown to both club & manager is quite toe curling, especially from BT sport were they happen to be live on a weekly basis.
I don't mind the bloke at all but the way he is portrayed by the media & RS fans as some kind of messiah,makes me want to throw up!
57 Posted 23/01/2017 at 16:13:20
I thought Robles was excellent in both City and Palace games, and I think Stek would be very fortunate to dislodge Robles now.
Robles only weakness this season has been that his distribution is a bit suspect at times. He deserves his chance now, and I'd rather see us ensure that we have another attacking option in midfield and critically another top level centre-back (or two).
After many years of great service, Jags is done at Everton as a starter, and Funes Mori, although improved against Palace - mainly by not trying to be a playmaker! - still gives me the jitters and I still haven't forgotten that embarrassing / horrific tackle against the RS; we don't need that at Everton, ultimately it loses games and titles. Maybe FM can fix his adventurous spirit and his suspect temperament. Williams is a good two-year solution, then he will need to be replaced / become a sub.
We also need a long-term solution to replace Baines, not just yet mind, but preferably by next season. Maybe some of the young guns can fill these roles and save us some money, and we'd all love to see some of Galloway, Browning, Pennington and Kenny or even Garbutt or others TBD start to play an important role.
On Sunday, I ended up going (unplanned) to the Chelsea vs. Hull game, with a mate who is a 30+ year season ticket holder who's cousin could not go. I wanted to see what a modern title challenger looks like; frankly we're only a couple of players short of team to challenge for top four and if we can get there, we'll need to kick on again from there to think about winning important things.
Chelsea's little spaniard was fantastic when he came on, we could use someone like that as an alternative / complement to Barkley. Having said that, Barkley was the most influential I have seen him against Palace, and I hope he can continue what appears to be strong development lately under Koeman.
In contrast, Niasse was pretty bad when he came on for Chelsea, and one shot was truly embarrassing for any professional footballer, never mind a striker. I would add the that the left sided #5 Maguire was excellent for Hull - he really caught the eye of me and my Chelsea mates; if Maguire could do that every week he might be worth sniffing around if Hull get relegated (or even if they don't). He's almost 24.
I return to the states on Friday, happy with what I saw and yet a little sad to not be able to keep going to the match: back to 6.30am & 9.00am kick offs - better than for our fans in Oz , I know - and trying not to wake the wife and kids WHEN we score. The future is bright, the future is blue (not orange ...). Maybe I should do a Kickstarter for me to keep coming over for the games more often ;-)
58 Posted 24/01/2017 at 02:27:09
Julian Wait (#57): "Niasse was pretty bad when he came on for Chelsea, and one shot was truly embarrassing for any professional footballer, never mind a striker."
Conte sees something in Niasse. Add him to the embarrasingly long list of ones we let go away.
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