There was a Spanish flag adorned with the Everton crest in the away contingent as the fans' infectious, new, Anglo-French* victory chant rang around Villa Park while it emptied of demoralised home supporters, but the inspiration for an important away victory was all English.
At the age of 32, Leon Osman's capacity to influence a game for 90 minutes may have diminished but he proved how decisive he can be coming off the substitute's bench with a game-changing intervention that helped lift the Blues over Villa and continue Roberto Martinez's impressive start to life at the Everton helm.
Initially providing the experience and level-headed influence to help check the momentum Villa had been building since half time, Osman then served up the goal that broke the deadlock between these two historic adversaries and, finally, sealed the three points with a lovely placed finish with 10 minutes to go.
The result marked Everton's first clean sheet in 11 years in a fixture that has, in recent seasons, become something of a back-and-forth battle often ending with numerous goals but honours even. It was also important in the context of the Blues' bid to crack the top four this season – Tottenham Hotspur, next weekend's visitors to Goodison, had won here last weekend by the same scoreline and if a Champions League berth is going to be even a possibility for Martinez' side this term, it's games like these that need to be won.
Though the scoreline was convincing, it was made possible by heroic work from Tim Howard in keeping the score goalless at half time. The American had a huge game in goal, foiling both Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann in one-on-one situations in the first 25 minutes as Everton's defence buckled under Villa's direct and fleet-footed approach.
Howard's best moment, however, came after just eight minutes when Seamus Coleman, who did not enjoy one of his better afternoons, clipped the heels of Benteke as the striker cut across him in the penalty area and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. While the intent from the Irishman had been missing, the official had little option than to award a penalty but Howard came up big against Benteke, palming his well-struck shot behind in world-class fashion.
Paul Lambert's men were happy to cede the bulk of possession to Everton in the opening 45 minutes and try to find Benteke with balls launched forward from the back or hit the visitiors on the quick counter-attack with men flooding forward through midfield. The Blues, meanwhile, struggled to get their possession-based game into second gear, with Kevin Mirallas hugging the right touchline and largely on the fringe of the action and Romelu Lukaku receiving little service beyond the first-minute cross from his Belgian teammate that he couldn't steer goalwards.
Things started to click a little more as the half progressed, though, and a rare attacking foray on the overlap by Coleman in the 26th minute ended with the Irishman whipping a cross to Lukaku but his header was thwarted by a reflex stop from Guzan. It was Everton's best move of the game thus far and was followed almost immediately by a wonderful shot by Ross Barkley but a slight a deflection saw it bounce agonisingly off the top of the crossbar.
Lukaku then embarked on a now-typical rampaging run but the ball got caught under his feet a little at the crucial moment and a clear chance evaporated, while Mirallas ended a quick break by twisting and turning past his marker and firing goalwards, only for his shot to deflect behind.
If the Blues appeared to be building up a head of steam going into the half-time interval, it appeared to have dissipated to a large degree as the second half started. What purpose they had going forward was wasted somewhat by a poor final ball, both from the wide areas and from set-pieces.
Giving up more and more possession to the home side and generally unable to match their hosts' quick-fire passing exchanges down the centre of the field, the Blues were looking a little ragged in the first quarter of an hour after the restart. Barkley's initial threat had subsided as some questionable decision-making crept into his play, not least when he ignored the better placed Mirallas to his right in the 51st minute and went for an ambitious shot from the angle that he blazed into the stands behind Guzan's goal.
Martinez responded, though, by replacing the youngester with Osman on the hour mark and Everton looked a lot more settled in attacking midfield as a result of the veteran's more considered distribution. With Gareth Barry and James McCarthy carrying out their typically industrious and unsung duties of breaking things up in central midfield and Benteke tiring up front for Villa, the Blues now had the platform on which to go and win the game.
The crucial first goal arrived eight minutes after Osman's introduction. A well-worked move against the left touchline saw Leighton Baines find his fellow England international with a first-time pass infield and Osman knocked on into the penalty area to meet Lukaku's run where the Belgian striker swept the ball past the 'keeper before charging over to the massed ranks of celebrating Evertonians.
Lukaku almost earned Everton a penalty of their own just two minutes later, referee Taylor ignoring calls for handball on Ron Vlaar, but an unconvincing close-range snap-shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 75th minute that, thankfully, ended up in Howard's arms was the last whimper from a Villa side whose belief had visibly been choked out of them by the goal. It had come at a time when Lambert's men were in the ascendency and, conversely, it gave Martinez's men the shot in the arm they needed to take decisive control of the game.
It was fitting, therefore, that Osman was the one to deliver the hammer blow in the 81st minute. Mirallas played a corner short to Baines who, his inexplicable shackles off, was causing all sorts of problems on Villa's right and he fed it back to Barry in an ocean of space in the penalty area. He had time to play it back to the beckoning Osman on the edge of the box and he stroked the ball inside the post with aplomb.
With the home fans heading for the exits, Everton had chances to pour more misery on Villa but Steven Naismith, on as a substitute for Pienaar, just missed finding the same spot as had Osman with a good effort from 18 yards and Baines raked an effort of his own wide from a similar distance in injury time.
In the final reckoning, a terrific three points from precisely the kind of game Everton should be winning, although Martinez will feel indebted to his goalkeeper for a fine game between the sticks. Ultimately, the Blues found the quality they needed in the final third when it mattered and they were good value for the three points on the whole.
Furthermore, though he somehow failed to book Tomev for a late, high-footed tackle on Baines in the first half but then correctly yellow-carded McCarthy for an ugly challenge on Westwood in the second, it was nice not to have to talk about controversial referee Taylor, though Lambert will no doubt feel as though some of the marginal decisions went Everton's way.
Most importantly, this Everton side looks like it knows how to win games and then close them out at the moment and Martinez has made two match-turning substitutions in the last two games that are a credit to his reading of his side's performances. That makes five Premier League wins in the last six matches; now to make a statement against rivals Spurs back at Goodison on Sunday...
* Reference amended (see discussion below)
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092 Posted 27/10/2013 at 01:21:57
102 Posted 27/10/2013 at 01:28:55
Great seeing Baines and Coleman up the flanks more today. With Barry and McCarthy doing the yeoman work, our threat up front, would love to see more and more Baines/Coleman involvement in the attack. Let's really give opponents something to worry about.
And that thru-ball Howard came out to smother at the top of the box, how was that fellow on-side? He looked to be a couple yards past the last man when the ball was played to him.
103 Posted 27/10/2013 at 02:32:10
Only frustration for Saturday was seeing Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton and Man U (another come-from-behind victory for them at that) all win. Bollocks.
104 Posted 27/10/2013 at 02:44:55
107 Posted 27/10/2013 at 03:24:36
Also, well noted that "the Blues were looking a little ragged in the first quarter of an hour after the restart." That seems to be happening in just about every game.
116 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:25:45
Look at the recent "Talking Points" for example: "Do we need a new goalie"? I suspect RM has told Tim to check out that particular thread. He has, and by God it worked for us today.
No doubt he has had Leon Osman perusing the site lately. "The lads don't think you can cut it for 90 minutes any more, Leon. From now on, you're an impact sub." Seems to me it worked today!
Also, Roberto seems to have taken the hint that young Ross might be getting a little complacent. Well, he dealt with that today.
Now that it is obvious we have Roberto's ear, I think we should take advantage, So, RM, get Duffy back after Christmas and start slowly building the partnership with Stones that is our future defence.
If any one else has any ideas for RM let's hear them while we are on a roll!
117 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:25:01
Whether it's "allez allez allez au" or "allez allez allez oh", it's clearly a chant that starts in French and finishes in English, hence "Franco-English"... or Anglo-French, if you prefer.
As far as I know, the song started with Eintracht Frankfurt, was co-opted by Hibernian fans and has now been embraced by us with our version so no Spanish connection there.
118 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:02:13
120 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:56:17
I think it must have been your mention of the Spanish flag that steered Scott Robinson off-course towards the late Generalissimo.
What steered me off-course was two glasses of excellent rum... my only excuse for this nonsensical post.
121 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:21:18
122 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:04:16
Traditionally a Liverpool rhyme sung by school kids in Liverpool since the turn of the century, that's 1900s btw. Although its original reference is unclear, there is debate as to whether it's a reference to the Manchester Ship Canal, or as my mum, god bless her cotton socks, used to sing it to me referring the song to the Atlantic Ocean during the war. Either way, it's a stronger case for plagiarism than George Harrison ripping off My Sweet Lord..
123 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:57:46
Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
We're Everton F.C
Roberto's Blue Army!
Great report L:yndon. The thing that is really impressing me is how we are shutting out games at the end, keeping the ball well and generally not giving the opposition any chances. Great use of the substitutes by Martinez again and oh to have Lukaku here permanently, he's only going to get better.
124 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:34:58
I think two things are interesting. Villa failed to register an effort on goal after 75 minutes when at 1-0. This a recurring theme.
And Villa complained their side â€œAll too often our passes seem lazy, uncoordinated and nervousâ€. Again other non moneyed clubs are going to look at our place with a bit of envy.
This possession thing seems to be working. We are not merely hanging on at the moment like previously, whilst we seem to have the legs to hunt down if the ball is lost. Both are key to where we are.
The one thing that hasn't happened yet, is that we haven't put a team to the sword in the last 10 minutes, which I can see happening as the weaker sides clock up suspension, injury and fatigue.
127 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:30:52
Any association with the fascist oppressor General Franco who starved, murdered and terrorised in the region banning the catalan language to boot is akin to describing the Irish via Oliver Cromwell and the butchery of Drogheda!
Nonetheless great report, great win.
174 Posted 27/10/2013 at 12:30:06
181 Posted 27/10/2013 at 13:13:42
184 Posted 27/10/2013 at 13:31:21
192 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:05:47
Wasn't the Spanish Inquisition where they actually gave people notice that they would be "calling"? I thought I read that somewhere.
196 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:25:35
200 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:32:38
202 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:35:51
204 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:38:08
205 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:42:21
232 Posted 27/10/2013 at 15:33:04
Yes, loved Monty P and the Spanish Inquisition But my post was serious - i.e. that I did read (I think) that a "suspect" would be given a period of notice (now that is pythonesque!).
ps: I work all day and I sleep all night but I don't wear high heels (well on a weekday).
321 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:15:49
Allez allez allez oh
Allez allez allez ee
Can't wait to see
Roberto's Blue Army
327 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:50:11
329 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:34:08
Villa ran out of ideas despite lots of the ball, then Bobby waved his magic wand. Perfection. Bish bosh bash and the game turned on its head.
Turning games like this around is surely a sign of a maturing manager? The team look like they're pulling for each other. I'm loving our ability to play football when we go ahead. I admired our former manager, but I'm starting to love waht Bobby is trying to do.
409 Posted 27/10/2013 at 23:04:14
We are obviously going to lose games with this philosophy but it's more exciting and hopefully more successful than just waiting for something to happen. That's what Roberto's all about, his three main weapons are surprise and lack of fear.
411 Posted 27/10/2013 at 21:38:31
415 Posted 27/10/2013 at 23:46:00
What's the third Weapon?? 1. Surprise; 2. Lack of Fear; 3. ??
I'll add it for you: Structure.
417 Posted 28/10/2013 at 00:13:14
Martinez keeps going on about getting to know players and partnerships and his canny substitutions appear to back this up. Whatever weaknesses we spot, he will be well ahead of us in seeking to put things right.
The good ship sails on the alle alle ho.
The alle alle oh, the alle alle oh,
The good ship sails on the alle alle oh,
With Roberto's royal blue army.
Takes me back a bit.
561 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:10:12
567 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:16:42
582 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:43:25
So is our favourite Catalan as good at using his forces as we hope? The Pienaar example was just too good to be true, but the Ossie injection looked astute - I was happy to see him come on, in a forward position, couldn't do any harm at least. The rest we all know.
Spain - Catalunya? Yes, a definite difference, think England - Scotland. La Senyera, the Catalan flag, has four red stripes (fingers of blood) running down a gold background. But look out for la Estralada, same flag with a blue, yes blue, triangle containing a white star. Its the independence movement's banner.
And Mick@409 - thanks, got it.
586 Posted 28/10/2013 at 18:52:48
594 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:01:11
595 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:25:10
596 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:26:32
190 Posted 31/10/2013 at 14:28:09
455 Posted 01/11/2013 at 23:45:18
In my opinion, he only made two "legitimate" saves in the game, but isn't this his job? When we were successful in the 80s we had the worlds best keeper; as was the case with Man Utd in the 90s. Great keepers don't get noticed if they have nothing to do so the proof is, successful teams need a good keeper, not a lucky one. Howard is a good shot stopper but other parts of his game leave room for improvement; with his new coach, I hope he can work on his weaknesses and overcome his aversion to crosses.
I have faith in the manager and the team and hope that – with or without luck – we can achieve something this season, and build on it.
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