After more running around than planned first thing in the morning, I managed to make my bus, and then my subsequent train from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston. As I got off the train, there were plenty of day-tripper head-to-toe in red Liverpudlians boarding the train back from whence I came.
From there I darted to East Croydon to meet David in a pub called the Porter & Sorter. Leslie, Ian and a few other Crystal Palace supporters who'd jetted in from Switzerland that day also joined us.
I hoped to catch a bit of the North London derby in the pub but they didn't have the match on in there... They did instead show BBC Parliament though! We'd originally planned to go to the Pawson's Arms, nearer the stadium, but as we got into a few rounds in, the pub time got away from us and, with the drizzle descending, we jumped in a taxi straight to the ground. Through the turnstiles, we were in place just time for kick off. I do like Selhurst Park. Like Goodison Park, one of the last bastions of old-school Premier League football.
I was surprised to see Oumar Niasse lead the line in attack as I didn't fancy his chances of holding the ball up and relieving pressure but, credit to him, he ran selflessly and did a good job. I was also disappointed that Beni Baningime was not included in the starting line-up but it gave Morgan Schneiderlin an opportunity to show why he should be involved – albeit one that he didn't take given he was hooked at the interval.
We couldn't have got off to a worse start. Crystal Palace attacked quickly and we just weren't set at all. Somehow, though so early into the game, you could see the goal coming and come it did when James McArthur pounced to put the Eagles ahead inside one minute.
At least we then had to have a go and it wasn't long before we were level. Oumar Niasse went down ever so tamely but it was enough for Anthony Taylor to point to the spot. Leighton Baines dispatched and Everton were level.
You hoped we would then seize the initiative in the game but we just don't have the confidence currently. I believe the players are good enough but it'll take a bit longer yet until we get any sort of swagger back. Players just don't look for the ball enough. Too many hide and there's a real lack of responsibility on the field. Crystal Palace have similar issues but they did manage to counter attack us well when Joel Ward's low cross from the left was tucked in by Wilfred Zaha.
I was disappointed with how we were performing and couldn't see another goal in us and so with a few minutes remaining before the break I made the unusual decision to nip down for a half-time beer. As I did so, I of course missed our second equaliser. I originally mistook a loud cheer for another Crystal Palace goal, though it of course turned out to be ours.
I haven't seen it yet but apparently Oumar Niasse did ever so well to make something out of nothing. They say God loves a trier, and though limited with natural ability, Oumar certainly has an abundance of tenacity. With that we went in at the break somewhat buoyant and hopeful for a rousing second half.
Credit to David Unsworth for at least trying to do something about it at the break. On he sent Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies at the expense of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman. It didn't quite work out but there did seem to be more cohesion and structure about our team in the second half and defensively we were also more solid.
Neither side did enough to win the game in the second half but, despite four less goals, no goals even, it was more aesthetically pleasing to watch. I felt football lost in the first half. The second half wasn't exactly pretty, and we've a long way to go but it was better. A well-earned point in the end you'd have to say.
Strangely I'm now somewhat looking forward to the Atalanta game on Thursday. You'd like to think that those not in the team must be itching for an opportunity to show why they should be. Ashley Williams, Mason Holgate, Cuco Martina, Muhamed Besic, Nikola Vlasic, Davey Klaassen, Kevin Mirallas, Sandro Ramirez and Ademola Lookman must surely get opportunities, and we may be able to afford game time to some of the youth, such as Beni Baningime and perhaps even David Henen. (Is it possible to add young players to Europa League squads given the game means diddly squat? If so I'd like Luke Garbutt to get some game time also). You have to assume the game is too soon for Yannick Bolasie.
We're getting there, Blues. Very, very slowly... but we're on the right track.
Pickford: Made some good saves. It must drive you mad as a goalkeeper looking up to play a ball out and nobody wants the thing. That was the case first half though his teammates improved after the break. 7
Baines: Able if not spectacular. Needs to regain his confidence but at least he's got his mojo from the penalty spot. 6
Jagielka: Did okay. Seems more comfortable alongside Michael Keane than Ashley Williams. 6
Keane: Is certainly more comfortable alongside Phil Jagielka than Ashley Williams. 6
Kenny: After a frankly awful display in Lyon, he's really stood up to be counted in the last few fixtures against Watford and Crystal Palace and has pretty much made the position his own. Good on him. 7
Lookman: Never really got going and was substituted at the break. 6
Schneiderlin: Wasn't really doing a lot wrong but it was a positive change from David Unsworth to replace him at half time. 6
Gueye: The effort was there but he is also suffering a bit of a confidence crisis of late. Keep him in there though. He'll shake it off. 6
Lennon: Excellent. I can't praise him highly enough. I scoffed at the signing of what I perceived as a player past his best, but credit to Roberto Martinez as at £3m it was very good business to bring him in. He works ever so hard and this must be a dream for Jonjoe Kenny having a player like that ahead of him. At one point in the first half, he tracked back the whole length of the pitch to win the ball back and buy us a free kick. This didn't go unnoticed by the travelling supporters and they sung his name for his efforts, and again when he was substituted with 15 minutes to play. That must be music to his ears given his struggles with mental health. Well done Aaron. A fabulous effort. 8
Sigurdsson: Technically he's outstanding and he's got a good football brain. I'm just waiting for him to click and I believe he will. He reads the game well, but always seems to 'almost' get to the ball, or 'almost' intercept that pass. Nice assist for the goal apparently. He'll get there. 6
Niasse: My man of the match. Full of selfless running. He was absolutely spent in the last 10 minutes as he had given everything. Good on him for getting himself into the team. Keep it up, Oumar. Fantastic. 8
Davies (for Schneiderlin): Got involved and did pretty well. His booking means he's now suspended for the trip to Southampton so we might as well give him a game against Atalanta. 6
Calvert-Lewin (for Lookman): Was brought on to offer support to Oumar Niasse and that he did, albeit without much cutting edge. 6
Sandro (for Lennon): He will have been pleased to get the opportunity and he wasn't miles away from scoring with his late header. Ian is a massive fan. I haven't seen enough of him to judge but with a Barcelona education and a stand-up goal record in La Liga I'd like to think he must have some qualities he can offer. 6
Reader Comments (20)
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1 Posted 19/11/2017 at 22:00:16
IMO Schneiderlin's latest sleepwalking display deserved no better than a 3, Lookman's struggles rate a 4, Keane and Jags 5 at best. And Davies' recklessness and resulting suspension get a 4 from me as well.
But I heartily agree with your recognition of Niasse, Kenny (his best game ever) and Lennon, whose display was extra-gratifying given what he has been through. He is special.
2 Posted 19/11/2017 at 22:11:10
3 Posted 19/11/2017 at 22:15:44
Now that the dust has settled, I still can't believe that we conceded a goal after 50 seconds. Having 11 behind the ball from the kick off, no professional team should be opened up that quickly.
The manager (Unsworth or his replacement) must tackle our soft centre. We need more of a ‘thou shalt not pass' mentality, especially away from home. We need a proper leader to shout and cajole people into position during the games. Our experienced players (Baines, Jags) are steady eddies who look after their own games. This is a big worry for me.
Gareth Barry could do this he would take a booking for the team and lead by example. I honestly don't see the leadership when I look at our team. Can Coleman do it when he comes back? It'll be a big ask for him to get back, never mind be captain. We desperately need a striker and a leader. Both are not easy to find...
4 Posted 19/11/2017 at 22:38:07
I agree that Niasse (thank god for him) played well, also Lennon had a good game; both should start every game for us. At least you are guaranteed two triers.
On the goalkeeper front, can they not catch a ball nowadays? It does appear that now it's believed that punching the ball is a safer option. I can't say it looks a good idea to me, especially when a shot is not particularly fierce.
5 Posted 19/11/2017 at 22:42:12
Schneiderlin was awful and was constantly putting the defence in trouble. He deserved no more than a 3 and was rightly hooked at half-time. I really do hope it's the last we see of him.
Keane was shaky throughout and a better team would have punished us with at least 2 goals directly from his mistakes. 4
Like the previous time he started, Lookman was anonymous, failing to hold up the ball and to bring others into play. 4
I completely agree about Lennon and I mentioned your very point about him chasing back on another thread. Kenny prospers with Lennon in front of him.
All our wins and draws have had an element of luck about them; Stoke, Man City, Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and now Palace. Extremely worrying.
6 Posted 19/11/2017 at 23:02:31
Yet again, Pickford made a save only for the ball to come straight back to an opposing forward for an easy tap-in. Also, he too often creates problems for us with his hasty long kicks when we need him to slow things down and allow our players to move up the pitch.
As for Keane, he was embarrassed by Loftus-Cheek in the build-up to the first goal while again he was generally slow of thought and feet, confirming his vulnerability against pace and skill.
I thought Sigurdsson had his best game for us so far although still nowhere near worth the £45m transfer fee. That Rooney was overlooked even as a late substitute was quite telling, suggesting he can be no more than a bit-part player from now on.
I was disappointed Unsworth repeated Koeman's mistake of playing Schneiderlin and Gueye as a midfield duo. It has never worked, will never work, and needs to be abandoned forthwith. Schneiderlin is the problem, possessing neither the strength nor pace required for this level. Davies is not on top form, especially with his passing, but he is a more effective option in our current team.
7 Posted 19/11/2017 at 23:04:01
What were our scouts doing when Watford got this lad out of the Brazil U20s side?
8 Posted 19/11/2017 at 23:04:09
9 Posted 19/11/2017 at 23:09:03
If Niasse had agreed terms with Palace, dare I say we might have been bottom of the league?
Funny old game.
10 Posted 19/11/2017 at 23:38:18
But Everton really went downhill when Koeman took over, who wasted a fortune on inferior players, and for one reason or another, those 5 or 6 players have been transferred or not available or not wanted in Niasse's situation.
11 Posted 20/11/2017 at 02:04:19
I wouldn't give the rest more than a 5 as I don't think Schneiderlin was the only lightweight.
How we have got to this is less important than what we are doing about it. I don't think Unsy has enough experience at this level to deal with what is a mammoth task for anyone and I personally see Silva as another Martinez who won't sort our defensive problems out.
I originally wanted Tuchel or Ancelotti but, after the last couple of games, I think we need Dyche to get some structure and organisation into this team before we sink like the Titanic.
12 Posted 20/11/2017 at 06:43:58
If we didn't at least interview him then why the fuck not? And if we did, what have Sunderland got that we haven't?
I like the guy a lot. At least he cares.
13 Posted 20/11/2017 at 07:00:32
He got an ageing team to punch above their weight in the euros whilst most of the major teams where in transition for the upcoming world cup, and then failed to qualify for said world cup?
Everton have paid out too much compo to be looking at journeymen managers like him!!!!
14 Posted 20/11/2017 at 07:02:56
We are in it a lot deeper than some imagine and only a bucket load of money in January will get us out cheers, Koeman!!!!
15 Posted 20/11/2017 at 07:06:13
On Thursday I would like to see Sandro and Vlasic start. I think both players have heart and work rate. Get them ready for the league game at the weekend.
The more players on the pitch who will work and commit themselves the better.
16 Posted 20/11/2017 at 07:29:20
17 Posted 20/11/2017 at 09:26:51
The team were better in the second half, it was impossible to be any worse than they were in the first. We are in a huge mess and every player who will graft has to be utilised. Davies would be one of them, but he needs it stressed to him he has to calm down, not go rushing into crazy tackles, lay off a bit and make the opposition slow down as well.
Sandro is a player well worth keeping and playing in the squad, he has a football brain and will prove his worth. No-one knows how the rest of the season will pan out but at the moment I'm down to prayers.
18 Posted 20/11/2017 at 09:45:25
I have to agree that it will be nice to see his long list of players in mid-article. For him he wants to see them in action but for me (and most others, I suspect) it will be nice to see their lazy arses disappearing from our club.
Crisis of confidence? More like a crisis of competence. All through this hapless club.
19 Posted 20/11/2017 at 19:15:52
Thats a bit harsh on Jonjoe Kenny, who had a cracking game against Zaha..
20 Posted 21/11/2017 at 07:33:38
We need to plug the space left behind by Baines with a fast centre-back and Jagielka can't do it anymore.
Holgate is the man for me.
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