Everton belatedly banked their first three points of the 2013-14 season with a hard-fought victory over highly-fancied Chelsea thanks to a goal in first-half injury time by a player who might not even have been on the pitch were it not for a training ground injury to Steven Pienaar.
Steven Naismith was on target the last time these two sides met back in May on the final day of last season and he was the only man in Blue to penetrate the Londoners' much-vaunted back line this time as well, connecting with Nikica Jelavic's impressive header to convert what proved to be the winner from close range.
Though Everton rode their luck at times and, uncharacteristically under Martinez's fledgling tenure, were forced to cede the bulk of the possession to their opponents as Jose Mourinho's men tried to make their superiority tell, a stubborn defensive performance from the home side preserved the slender advantage to the final whistle. Remarkably, another clean sheet was the Blues' seventh in succession at home, their best sequence in that regard for 25 years.
Based on the manageable list of opponents for his first three matches in charge, Martinez would surely have expected to have his first win on the board by the time Chelsea came to town but three draws – two of them frustratingly goalless affairs despite this team's league-leading dominance of possession – had led to some uneasiness among supporters who were hoping to avoid a long bedding-in period for the new manager and his methods.
And the Spaniard's task against an expensively-assembled team from the Capital looked even more daunting after Steven Pienaar – a scorer for Everton on both of Chelsea's previous visits to Goodison Park – suffered an injury in training that ruled him out, along with Arouna Kone who picked up a reported knee problem.
That meant Naismith playing on the right side of midfield and, with Romelu Lukaka ineligible to face his parent club — the Belgian was, somewhat bizarrely, paraded in front of the Goodison faithful with his permanent employers in attendance instead – Jelavic the automatic starter in attack despite his ongoing frustrations in front of goal. Gareth Barry made his debut in central midfield, however, in the slot vacated by Marouane Fellaini, while James McCarthy started on the bench.
The early going was mixed, with Everton lapsing into their now-familiar pattern of possession football across the back but, with few options ahead of him, Phil Jagielka resorting to a number of raking balls forward that cheaply handed possession to the visitors. And Chelsea's own debutant, Samuel Eto'o sounded the warning bell as early as the fifth minute when he headed Ramires's cross over the bar when he might have done better.
The Blues showed flashes of intent of their own on the first quarter of an hour, though; first, when Naismith collected Ross Barkley's inviting pass and his cross found Jelavic but, 10 yards from goal, he couldn't get enough power on his header to unduly trouble Peter Cech; and then when the Scot forced the 'keeper into batting the ball behind for a corner at his near post.
Overall, though, Everton weren't really able to find a consistent rhythm and, though Barry looked hugely impressive in his first appearance in a Blue jersey, Barkley appeared to be the more willing of the central midfielders to drop back and show for the pass from defence. Kevin Mirallas, playing wide on the left in Pienaar's absence, was once again a peripheral influence who looked wasted in Martinez's default system and his presence was seemingly limiting Leighton Baines's ability to raid forward, the left-back hardly crossing the halfway line in the first 45 minutes.
Nevertheless, it was so far, so good in the first half hour until a suicidal moment by Tim Howard nearly gifted Chelsea the lead. The American tried to find Sylvain Distin with an ill-advised pass to the left edge of the penalty area but the under-hit ball was easily intercepted by Andre Schurrle and he laid up Eto'o in the centre for what should have been a routine tap-in into the empty net. Barry came across superbly, though, and deflected the Cameroon international's shot over the crossbar.
After Naismith had knocked a first-time shot a yard wide under the attentions of David Luiz, Howard redeemed himself with an excellent two-handed save to push Ramires's goal-bound shot around the far post 10 minutes before the break. But profligacy with possession and poor decision-making in advanced areas from the likes of Leon Osman, Barkley and Naismith opened the defence up to unwanted pressure at times, Schurrle getting the chance to open the scoring when Ramires sprung the offside trap with only Baines scrambling back to hustle the Brazilian into an early shot that the German fired well over from 18 yards.
Chelsea were well in control of the game as the first half drew to a close and Everton were relieved when Branislav Ivanovic despatched a free-header from Juan Mata's free kick over the bar. The home fans were already restless when Phil Jagielka elected not to follow suit and put the ball into the box from an Everton free kick in the other half, playing it short to Barry in midfield instead. But when that attack was snuffed out by Cech, the Blues capitalised on a slip by Ramires to win the ball back and set up the move that would send them into half-time a goal to the good.
Osman and Barkley exchanged passes on the edge of the box before the former whipped the ball to the far post to Jelavic who, craning his neck, diverted it back across Cech and onto the head of Naismith who couldn't miss from a couple of yards out. A goal from a partnership forged in Glasgow and one only given fleeting opportunity to be rekindled in the Premier League on Merseyside.
Chelsea were stung into action and they began the second half in determined and even more dominant fashion. The first 10 minutes were all Mourinho's men and the visiting fans thought they had scored a quick equaliser within a minute of the restart but Schurrle's clipped shot over Howard only found the side-netting.
Howard then did well to parry Hazard's stinging drive, Eto'o scuffing the inviting rebound wide, and the former Barcelona striker was foiled by the American a few minutes later when he planted a header into his arms.
Chelsea were griniding away with plenty of possession but they found Everton increasingly difficult to break down; had it not been for some disappointing choices by Barkley and Naismith in advanced areas, the Blues might have punished the Londoners at least once on the counter attack. Barkley, in particular, elected to hold onto the ball for too long and ran into a cul-de-sac with Blue shirts better placed ahead of him on two or three occasions but every game brings more experience and his decision-making will undoubtedly improve.
Everton's attacking threat increased and the game opened up, though, following Jelavic's removal in favour of McCarthy midway through the second half, a move that pushed Mirallas up front and gave Chelsea a lot more think about at the back. The Belgian was chopped down by his compatriot Hazard outside the box with 20 minutes left, Mirallas forcing Cech to push the resulting free kick away from the base of the post, and was then dragged down cynically by David Luiz on the halfway line to prevent a potential goalscoring opportunity later on. In between, Mirallas had cut in in familiar fashion and seen a driven shot beaten away by the 'keeper as Everton started to fight fire with fire a bit more. Baines would later whip a trademark free kick off the top of the bar after Seamus Coleman had been flattened by Hazard.
Though the visitors threw Fernando Torres and Oscar on in a desperate attempt to rescue the game late on, they had seemingly run out of ideas and the Blues' defence was standing firm, allowing Martinez to run the clock down in the final minutes with a couple of late substitutions and close out his first win in the Goodison hot-seat.
With Chelsea being so highly fancied for a tilt at the title under the returning Mourinho, this was an excellent result for Everton and should serve as a terrific shot in the arm to a Martinez side that has yet to see the introduction of Lukaku who will be in the frame for the visit to West Ham next week.
Credit should go to Naismith who was as important in preserving the three points at times as he was in winning them with tenacious tracking back, while Barry allowed for a seamless transition from Fellaini as a defensive midfielder and Osman had arguably his best game of what has thus far been a slightly disappointing start from his point of view.
Importantly, it was a victory earned with the kind of patient attacking play that carved out the goal as well as the defensive and midfield doggedness forged under the old regime. Yes, there was an element of fortune that should not be casually ignored – Chelsea had twice as many shots as Everton and Howard's moment of madness would surely have been punished had it not been for Barry's presence of mind – but the points and the way in which the defence appeared to get stronger and more impervious the longer the game went on are more important in the final reckoning.
The need to be quicker and more ruthless in attack is still there... but that will hopefully come as progress continues incrementally under the new management. The key was getting the first win on the board; the next step is to build on that with the two upcoming trips to the Capital.
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969 Posted 15/09/2013 at 00:19:38
We may not be so lucky again with their forwards very wasteful, but I'm not complaining!
The best thing was seeing that the team spirit lives on and combined with a noisy crowd they wanted it enough to keep their noses in front.
979 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:03:01
My dear wife thinks I am loony in the depths of winter to rise from a warm bed at 3am just to watch a game of football.
Ah, but what a game!
982 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:13:29
Lyndons report was almost like being there.
984 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:20:28
986 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:21:48
Despite his assist, Jely's benched for the season.
987 Posted 15/09/2013 at 01:18:23
I think our gamewinner is headed back to the bench, however... Naismith's indecisiveness on the ball cost several chances, and if the injury situation hasn't changed, I would expect McCarthy to get the next starting call, perhaps with Osman or Oviedo wide left. Mirallas simply looks far more comfortable on the right.
997 Posted 15/09/2013 at 02:20:20
011 Posted 15/09/2013 at 04:38:59
012 Posted 15/09/2013 at 04:46:18
I wouldn't like to be the man picking 3 from Gibson, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley & Osman. Though perhaps Barkley might be rested sooner rather than later. I think Mirallas is far more effective in the middle. Jelavic does still have a role to play... a goal would do him the world of good. However I can't wait for next week to see Lukaku. Options!
014 Posted 15/09/2013 at 05:14:56
017 Posted 15/09/2013 at 06:21:16
018 Posted 15/09/2013 at 05:27:40
Whilst no doubt the match reports will claim we were lucky, at least we got the win we were unable to get in the first 3 games. And despite the doubters on here, Gareth Barry looks to be an inspired rather than insipid signing.
023 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:25:57
026 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:41:06
Moyes resilience was in evidence but it was great to see us looking for a second in the last fifteen. As the game closed out we seemed secure and confident.
027 Posted 15/09/2013 at 07:46:11
As far as the David Luiz incident, I didn't dwell on it because a) I never in a million years expected Webb to send him off and b) I'm not clear on the rules in his instance (I.e. does it count as denying a goalscoring chance if the player is professionally fouled in his own half - which, as Phil rightly points out, it very well might have done given Mirallas' demonstrated ability even with 2 defenders in his way against Stoke.)
031 Posted 15/09/2013 at 08:03:47
041 Posted 15/09/2013 at 08:51:57
050 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:16:50
often see. It was garbage for rubbish.
062 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:23:36
Normally I'd agree with letting a player find his form but Jelavic has had long enough and it's not happening. I feel for the guy because it's clear that he wants to do well. The last good thing he did was the John Lewis advert. Nick is right, it's bench time for him now.
It was a good game to watch. Nice to see Martinez mixing the tactics and formation up too.
063 Posted 15/09/2013 at 09:50:30
070 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:05:24
We rode our luck at times but have deserved three points a few times against Chelski and either got nothing or a point instead, so we were due a bit.
Tim Howard what were you thinking. !!! I think Barry's subsequent tackle to clear the danger convinced the players they could win and Chelsea looked increasingly desparate and frustrated after that for all their possession.
I have given Martinez til Christmas to win me over but more of this kind of performance and that will happen much sooner.
076 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:06:34
I reckon on this evening's evidence that we have the best striker on Chelsea's books in our ranks for the rest of this season. Lukaku will star for us and, if Jelavic is to be used, it must be with a partner up front. He is not a target man and is just purely and simple a goalscorer – if some other players provide him with the right ammunition. He tries manfully and always gives 100% but he just does not have the strength of a Kone or Lukaku.
Osman and Barry formed a decent midfield partnership despite the criticism Ozzie gets each week and Naismith did a job both defensively and sneaking that priceless goal just before half time. Barry rightfully earned MotM and everyone needed to put a full shift in against a very good Chelsea team.
Barkley was out of position a lot in the first half and Chelsea were allowed too much time on the ball in midfield but the lad improved in the 2nd half and grew into the game. He has strength and ability on the ball and with experience his confidence will grow so that he will not feel out of place against top teams.
I'm looking forward to seeing Lukaku as I'm sure he will be a big problem for opposing defences this season.
078 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:24:59
The team played; well as a team and showed a lot of determination, fight and skill...all of em!
080 Posted 15/09/2013 at 10:24:31
John Gee if Fellaini would have been on the pitch he would have been somewhere near the halfway line with his hands on his hips
MoTD did their usual selective recreation of the match making it look like we got battered and got a lucky goal, we did go under the cosh for chunks of the game but shite like Ivanovic's handball, Mata's pull back and Sideshow Bob's pullback show the rent boys simply had no answer to our game, at the end of the day the result stands Everton 1 Rent Boys 0
093 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:02:56
094 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:03:55
I'd imagine Chelsea sites this morning read very much like our own when we dominate a game but come away with nothing. Still it's 3 points is it not? COYB!
106 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:23:15
110 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:24:06
111 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:20:59
The turnaround was in the last 20 minutes. Our famous resilience became something more aggressive. Replacing the woeful Jelavic with Mirallas up top and McCarthy in the middle seemed to make the difference, Suddenly Barkley and Osman started to pass and attack more effectively. Hopefully with Lukaku up front we can build on the promise of that last 20 minutes.
113 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:21:44
I wondered if Barkley would ever make it. He's not there yet, but some wonderful touches and clearly not out of his depth. Well done Roberto for bringing him through.
Room has to be found for Deulofeu. He oozes class with every touch and is big enough to look after himself.
Chelsea were reduced to fouling us every time we had a break on. They missed their chances, but that was how they coped with us. We deserved the points.
115 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:38:26
Yes, they're a good team but we don't have to make out that we somehow got lucky and fluked a win. We absolutely battered them last year yet they beat us and no one mentioned that they got lucky, just that we weren't good enough to punish them.
This time, they weren't good enough to punish us and we were too good for them. Any other summary is just Mourinho's sour grapes.
116 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:38:23
1-0 up with ten minutes to go and Martinez can be seen shouting to Coleman to stay as wide as you can.(when we have the ball obviously)
Doing that meant Chelsea have to keep a man out there to stop him getting forward thereby killing a counter attack threat.
The old regime would have been screaming for the full backs to play narrow if winning 1-0 with ten minutes to go.
118 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:26:07
What really got my goat, both listening to radio reports on way home and the Sky recording, was how all the commentators/reporters believed it was Chelsea's RIGHT to win and went on interminably about how they had been robbed of a stonewall penalty.
Perhaps Everton will send the Russian's mercenaries an apology for turning up!
123 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:46:12
Talking of Ronaldo, could Barry's tackle be as season defining as Nevilles was??
128 Posted 15/09/2013 at 11:58:27
131 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:02:58
Owing to circumstances beyond my control, I only caught the last five minutes of the game yesterday, but I've read every available report and comment, here and elsewhere, and watched the MOTD highlights, and the consensus seems to be that they had most of the possession and most of the chances, but we nicked a goal and then defended superbly, with Barry MOTM.
If you want to talk luck, then it seems we were approximately as lucky to win as they were last year. If we "battered" them last year then they did the same to us this year. You can't say that we "deserved" to win because we scored one more goal than them, but then deny that they deserved to win for the same reason last year! It defies all reason.
132 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:12:50
134 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:19:33
137 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:24:57
138 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:27:52
My head hurts.
142 Posted 15/09/2013 at 12:31:08
I thought Mourinho was realistic in his post match interview. After saying that essentially they deserved to win, he added something along the lines of "On the other hand, scoring is an important part of football and we had chances but didn't score, so maybe we deserved to lose?"
Similarly, defending is a major part of the game, and we did that well, from what I've gathered. When I used to play at Sunday League level I played wide midfield or up front, but once in a while I played sweeper. When I played at the back and we didn't concede I was absolutely chuffed. It didn't matter to me how much pressure of possession the other team had, so long as they didn't score. In fact, the more pressure they had without scoring, the more I felt I'd done a good job. I would certainly have rejected the idea that the attacking team were "unlucky" not to score.
153 Posted 15/09/2013 at 13:09:45
Great to see Lukaku being introduced but wasn't sure about the Spanish dancers!!
One last thing why was Tim Howard wearing marigolds?
154 Posted 15/09/2013 at 13:18:54
Yesterday's win against a ''top'' team without certain players available was a big plus and one that get's Everton around a tricky corner. Another tie or loss could have been a psychological downer.
More kudos to RM and the lads for the performance and hopefully another 3 points next week at West Ham, a ground that Everton usually do well at.
156 Posted 15/09/2013 at 13:14:54
And let's be clear to all those misinterpreting the match stats; this was NOT a typical Moyes performance. We played without fear and we were still attacking on 70 mins whilst 1-0 up,
158 Posted 15/09/2013 at 13:31:26
172 Posted 15/09/2013 at 14:33:13
177 Posted 15/09/2013 at 14:32:15
Watching Barkley recently, I've noticed how poor he is when he hasn't got the ball. I mean, he's a million miles away. He's poor in the tackle, uncommitted in his blocking and just naive in his closing down. At the moment he can only play as a supporting forward, because he couldn't play CM. I really hope RM has identified this, and is working on it, because when he's got the ball he really looks like a player.
Sorry for that boys, but was wondering if anyone else had noticed?
223 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:05:37
The problem in this area could have been caused by the disruption resulting from the internationals to team mid-week practise. Now they have a week to get their passing game back into gear!
Great debut for Barry! We needed him against Ukraine.
227 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:18:29
As long as he has others who will do that work for him, he can worry about going forward and making goals.
Notice he's always good positions though, and he always wants the ball.
229 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:14:10
Barkley is still inconsistent with his decisions. For example, on the goal yesterday he laid the ball off to Ossie instead of trying to force a shot through the defender, and Ossie put in the critical cross. In two similar situations in the second half, Barkley turned into the defender and tried to ram his way through, and at one point we saw how Mirallas felt about it.
And you're right, he is not yet a contributor defensively.
230 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:20:13
I thought that RM had dropped Pinnear as he's not been at his best lately, he needs to give Naismith his chance now. How's he going to fit in the 2 young strikers? What a great problem to have.
Don't panic folks if you see that The Times say MU are going back for Baines. Moyes gave a long interview in the Guardian and has confirmed the deals dead. When are they going to offer Baines the new contract?
232 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:29:44
234 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:33:58
236 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:34:51
As far as MOTD showing their penalty claim but none of the decisions that went their way - what do you expect?
244 Posted 15/09/2013 at 16:48:25
I also lost count of the times he just waved a leg as a "block" or (even worse) the totally ineffective, but eye-catching slide tackle. I know those tricks 'cos I used to pull 'em myself, ha. As I've said, I've got high hopes for the kid, but he could maybe watch a few Ian Rush videos... "At the very least, make yourself a barrier."
275 Posted 15/09/2013 at 18:18:33
282 Posted 15/09/2013 at 18:36:12
284 Posted 15/09/2013 at 18:07:19
Re Barkley, yes he makes mistakes and can be naive but he carries real attacking potency and should play as an attacking midfielder. He reminds me a bit of Rooney. I think he will be excellent with Lukaku. But we do have many other options in that position so I hope we don't burn him out.
Actually, I think we could do with a modern day Jimmy Husband. We are weak in the wide positions. Mirallas is better in the centre, Pienaar seems out of form while Naismith is not a wide midfielder or winger- doesn't have the pace. I'd like to see Delboy given a run.
Barry was awesome. A real upgrade on Neville, not least because he knows how to control and pass the ball (though he is just as slow).
It wasn't a penalty. Apart from anything else, it was outside the box. And I don't think Luiz could have been given a red. Forget the half way line issue, there was another Chelsea player(Ramires?) roughly level, or near enough for there to be some doubt.
602 Posted 16/09/2013 at 13:49:51
Sorry but this has got to be the most ridiculous critique of Ross Barkley's performance yesterday.
He should have had a shot as opposed to working Osman in for the cross that led to the winning goal.
604 Posted 16/09/2013 at 14:01:21
Ross attempted to beat a player 9 times and was successful on 7 of the nine occasions.
When was the last time we had a player who could be that damaging in the final third? Yet still some say he is not yet "contributing defensively?" Honestly I despair.
606 Posted 16/09/2013 at 14:16:09
609 Posted 16/09/2013 at 14:24:33
629 Posted 16/09/2013 at 15:00:25
Remember the nutmeg on Mikel that won the freekick on the edge of the box? Class.
But does he contribute defensively?? Ho hum.
656 Posted 16/09/2013 at 14:46:07
688 Posted 16/09/2013 at 18:31:08
I think you’d be surprised if you watched the game again, with an eye on Barkley WITHOUT the ball. I’d get my arse kicked in the Walton & Kirkdale! And YES, I for one am embracing the future (without the Ginger Joker) and if we can squeeze another 5% – who knows. Hence my posts.
713 Posted 16/09/2013 at 19:31:27
Ossie has spent most of his career being played out of position, and it is greatly to his credit that he has made a decent job of it. Only when he's up around the box do we see him at his best, and his best is very good.
It might be worth remembering this when we look at Ross B. I was doubtful, but seeing him scare the shit out of those very expensive Chelski defenders cheered me up no end. Roberto seems to have faith, so we can only wait and see.
727 Posted 16/09/2013 at 20:55:47
743 Posted 16/09/2013 at 21:00:14
That's the name of the game though, its no use making chances if you cant score.
We have deserved & earned a little good fortune because at Norwich we lost 2 points when they fluked an equaliser.
The ref robbed us of a cast iron penalty at Cardiff & another 2 points, we also dominated W. Brom but couldn't put the ball in the net, so we were due some.
Its onward & upwards now, if we can keep this squad healthy we will be fighting it out at the very top of the table.
947 Posted 17/09/2013 at 22:17:01
That's not to over critical, hes only a lad, so its not surprising hes not the finished article.
No doubt, RM will be going over with him, where he could improve.
620 Posted 20/09/2013 at 22:16:27
Give the boy a chance to find his feet and develop! Stop trying to find faults in his game and just be proud that we have "again" the best English talent of his generation!!!!
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