A draw was on the cards...

Everton 0 - 0 Swansea City

A draw was on the cards from the outset as, almost every time Katja (my better half) decides to attend the game, she leaves having witnessed a draw... often a goalless one.

Paul Traill 02/11/2014 15comments  |  Jump to last

A draw was on the cards from the outset as, almost every time Katja (my better half) decides to attend the game, she leaves having witnessed a draw... often a goalless one. The warning signs were there whilst we watched Liverpool stumble again this season, this time away at Newcastle United. It was fun watching them lose in The Brick, the atmosphere rocking. When the referee called time on that game, I said to Ste, "Time for us to mess this up then".

It couldn't be more true as it seems that almost every time we have the opportunity to move above our local rivals we seem to fail. I think it happened earlier in the season when we blew it against Crystal Palace and has happened previously. Somehow it's just typical Everton.

Sue asked if I was going the Wolfsburg game and I explained that I couldn't as I didn't have the holidays for the year as I've recently started a new job and had to put a few days holiday aside to go to Germany with Katja around the end of November so I couldn't make it. We checked the date of the Wolfsburg match in the match programme and it stated Thursday 27 November... I actually fly to Germany the next day. I can't believe I didn't notice this when we booked our flights. Graciously nobody really took the piss out of me for this blunder with exception to Gary: "You stupid prick," he said. Hard to disagree really... I'd best see about changing flights!

We finished our drinks and walked to the ground. I must have set my watch a little wrong upon returning from Lille as Z-Cars was playing and everybody was in a rush through the turnstile... though it was only 2:50pm on my watch. The main talking point was Romelu Lukaku dropping down to the substitutes bench with Samuel Eto'o starting the match. It was difficult to leave Eto'o out after his goals against Burnley. Barkley also started. Distin, importantly as it turned out, was not included on the substitutes bench. Ashley Williams, Jonjo Shelvey and Gylfi Sigurdsson all featured for Swansea. The 'referee' was Kevin Friend.

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Goodison Park was sold out as Everton supporters roared the team on from the start. We began quite lively as did Swansea. Eto'o had a good effort saved by Fabianski early on. Down at the other end, Bony got in behind us and, when it looked for all the world like he was going to score, he put it just wide of the post. It looked to me like Howard clipped it round the post with his outstretched foot though regardless it was a good opportunity missed for Swansea... They also should have had a definite penalty when Alcaraz clearly handled inside the penalty area to stop a Shelvey drive. We certainly got lucky with that one.

That was as good as Alcaraz's last action in the game (who knows, maybe for the season). Why Distin was not included on the bench amazes me. Obviously we're not privy to what's gone on behind the doors of Finch Farm but, as manager, Roberto Martinez has to sort this out. Distin has been an outstanding pro his entire career and hardly ever missed a match. I can't imagine whatever he's done is that heinous that you would leave him out when it's a clear detriment to the team but who knows? The reshuffle and unnecessary impact on our team was palpable. The midfield ticks over when Gareth Barry plays. Take Barry out of midfield to drop him back to centre back and replace him with Besic was not a good move and we never re-found our rhythm in midfield after that. A straight swap from Alcaraz to experienced Distin would have been a no-brainer surely.

Anyway, the game continued and it wasn't a lack of effort from Everton, more a combination of defensive excellence from Swansea, poor tactics and selection from Martinez, and erratic refereeing from Friend. They'd really done their homework on us and I don't think we managed to get behind them once.

We need to get Barkley off the wing and make it a fight between Naismith and Barkley for the position just off the striker. I know one of them needs to drop out that way but that's tough... that's competition. To be fair, it does present a quandary of who else to play on the wing as Pienaar probably hasn't got the fitness for 90 minutes anymore; Osman hasn't the legs and Atsu isn't cutting it. The sooner Oviedo and Mirallas are back, the better. On 68 minutes, Martinez did something about this and played his last cards, bringing Pienaar and Lukaku on for McGeady and Naismith.

It always makes me chuckle how players can instantly raise their game when they realize they see a substitute ready to come on. Aiden McGeady and Samuel Eto'o both seemed to step up their game a little bit... McGeady curling one just round the post before he was substituted... Eto'o spared though winged. Jonjo Shelvey was given his marching orders for a second yellow card for obstructing McCarthy (he needn't have bothered, McCarthy would never have got to the ball) though you didn't really feel we would capitalize.

The changes nearly did it. Jagielka somehow failed to make contact on a high looping ball when any sort of touch would have resulted in a goal whilst a Pienaar half-volley at goal was blocked and drifted wide in a separate opportunity. The closest we came was right at the death however when Eto'o low cross was nudged wide by Lukaku's stretching toe (though I've just seen it on Match of the Day and he was offside anyway). That would have been some goal as there were a lot of passes leading up to it. At full-time, you had to say Swansea deserved the draw... and who knows what would have happened had they have won their early penalty.

So a draw, a little disappointing... though not exactly a disaster... certainly nothing we can't put right with two wins next week against Lille and Sunderland. It could be worse... we could be playing Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Player Ratings:

Howard: Not really a lot to do when your opponents don't register a shot on goal all game. I thought he saved Bony's early shot but otherwise he had nothing to do really. 6

Baines: Nothing wrong with his performance other than his set-pieces. We won 11 corners in the game though Baines couldn't get them right and they too often failed to beat the first man. His free kicks didn't do it either. Still, not really something you can criticize Baines for regularly. 6

Jagielka: Did fine. Kept them out comfortably. That goal at Anfield seems to have done wonders for his confidence. 7

Alcaraz: Got away with one handball. I'm not sure about him as a defender. He reads the game OK and distributes it pretty well but can't seem to head the ball. It doesn't really matter anyway. Following his latest injury setback and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, I'll be surprised if we see him play for us again. 5

Coleman: Certainly not at his best. I'm not sure if he's fully fit yet. 5

Barry: Did just fine when dropping back to centre-back though should have been left in midfield. Distin really should have been on the bench. How can you not have a replacement centre -ack on the bench when you've got seven substitutes to pick from? 7

McCarthy: My Man of the Match. Covered so much ground and really has that desire to win. Easily our best player. 8

Barkley: Often over-elaborate and not one of his finer games. He was wasted out on the wing for most of the game. Certainly not at his best but needs more time to get back to full fitness. 5

McGeady: Frustrates. Sometimes remarkable, sometimes baffling. Unlucky with that effort which curled wide before he was substituted. 6

Naismith: Not at his best either. Also not a criticism you can direct at him regularly. 6

Eto'o: He was quite starved of service though got a bit more joy on the wing later on. Kept on going though like most not at his best. 6

Besic (for Alcaraz): He frustrates. He'll try crazy passes and throw himself into silly tackles... almost as if you're controlling him on Fifa. Needs to learn to be more pragmatic with his play. Hope he can learn as he seems to have the ability. 5

Pienaar (for Naismith): Lively but couldn't eaffect the game. 6

Lukaku (for McGeady): Always wanted the ball and didn't do badly with it but also couldn't influence the game. Was well shackled by Willams and Fernandez. Sure doesn't look a 28m player at the moment. 6

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Reader Comments (15)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 02/11/2014 at 18:05:48
Paul "almost every time Katja (my better half) decides to attend the game, she leaves having witnessed a draw... often a goalless one."

Are you going to tell her or do you want me to do it for you?

David Morgan
2 Posted 02/11/2014 at 18:23:15
Not sure on your marking of the players, Sky Sports gave Coleman Man on the Match on their website (not sure about that) but it shows you are way off.

McGeady is a waste of space and I give him 4 and that’s for managing to get his boots on.

And that low 6 for Besic when he was one of the most exciting things about dull draw is crazy.

Maybe let your Mrs do the player ratings next time!!!

Christopher Timmins
3 Posted 02/11/2014 at 20:33:15
Paul, I have to agree with you about the centre half, it's the last we will see of him in a blue shirt. If taken in a package then McCarthy, Kone and Alcaraz have worked out okay; however, on an individual basis, the latter two have been a disaster.

Saturday proved that we do not have what it takes to deal with a 'parked bus' scenario. However, we do not help ourselves with some of the selections.

Lukaku must play up to top;
One of Barkley, Naismith or Eto'o to play in the hole;
Pienaar plays wide left;
McGeady plays wide right until Kev returns later in the month;
Distin plays alongside Jags until Stones returns in January and or a central defender is purchased in the next window.

What is real shame at the moment is that the Everton of last year would be a top four team this year. Arsenal have gone back and Liverpool have collapsed and they finished ahead of us last year!

Stephen Brown
4 Posted 02/11/2014 at 20:48:39
Christopher (3) I couldn’t agree more about putting players in their positions. It seems we are trying to squeeze too many similar players in at the moment.
Peter Bell
5 Posted 02/11/2014 at 20:47:38
So you give Lukaku 6 and Besic 5... what game were you watching?

Lost for words...

Paul Hewitt
6 Posted 02/11/2014 at 21:24:01
Agree Peter give Lukaku 4
Ajay Timothy
7 Posted 02/11/2014 at 22:22:07
I really do not see what many of you see in McCarthy. Every time I looked for him to do something he passes, the ball 5 yards and takes the easy way out. There have been so many instances when he should look up and either shoot or try something ambitious but he never does.

I thought McGeady had a good game and worked his socks off.

Patrick Murphy
8 Posted 02/11/2014 at 22:48:51
Ajay - McCarthy covers every blade of grass and constantly wins the ball back for Everton; if he could do the other part of the job and be creative, he wouldn't be at Goodison. He's been a good player for us and perhaps when Roberto believes he can do his particular job on his own, a more creative midfield player will be put in alongside him.
Colin Glassar
9 Posted 02/11/2014 at 22:57:17
I agree, Patrick. McCarthy's job is to break up play and give the ball to a team mate. He's the best at this since Lee Carsley. Barry and Barkley are the playmakers but haven't played a lot together this season.
Harold Matthews
10 Posted 02/11/2014 at 22:56:33
Saw a report today that Pape Souare, 'the brilliant Lille defender' has snubbed Everton. Fantastic attacking left back but can't imagine him playing a CB role.
Sam Higgins
11 Posted 03/11/2014 at 19:51:49
Nice report, Paul — not a hint of pretentiousness either...
Harold Matthews
12 Posted 04/11/2014 at 02:08:59
Strange how we all look at the same action but see a different game with very different performances. Luckily, the one guy who matters has forgotten more about professional football than we will ever know.
Mike Gwyer
13 Posted 04/11/2014 at 04:38:28
Good report, Paul, and I totally agree about McCarthy. Swansea's agenda was simple; firstly, kick the shite out of Barkley; and secondly, get the ball to Bony who would then cause havoc, with or without the ball. Swansea had no intention of playing football and this theory that they are solely a passing team proves that some managers (for example, Monk) do have a Plan B.

Friend did not help us at all and was quite happy to stop and start the game, which suited Swansea. Yes okay, a pen for Swansea – yeah probably, but they should've definitely seen more cards for what they were doing during the game.

I agree about McGeady, for me he put a shift in, he seemed to have both their full backs beat but his options were way too quick for Eto'o and Naismith, sprinters they are not. A fit Lukaku, sitting up top, should always play with McGeady.

Bottom line: Swansea's defence was good & Shelvey put himself about and really, they were more than happy for us to play pass the ball (we had what, about 70 percent of the game). As we blues seem to be finding out, a lot teams are more than happy to take a point from Goodison. (If they can get a winner, well as Palace will tell you, that's a bonus!!!)

Martin Mason
14 Posted 04/11/2014 at 20:57:03
My son once said to me that he couldn't understand why people rated Makelele at Chelsea, he just does nothing. I said, apart from being the most valuable player on the planet at the time. This was of course for breaking down constructive play from the opposition, not for silky play.

Believe me, if McCarthy left Everton now, it'd be for double or treble what we paid for him because he doesn't earn his pay by being nice but by stopping the opposition looking nice. My mark for him most matches is 8-9.

James Stewart
15 Posted 04/11/2014 at 22:11:59
The problem against Swansea was we had no pace or directness. McGeady, like him or loathe him, was the only player taking his man on and causing any threat. 70% of the ball means nothing if it's just sterile possession which it was. Slow build-ups going nowhere. Rinse and repeat.

Without Mirallas, Deulofeu, Ovideo... hell even Stones steps out and beats a man on occasion, we are very predictable and easy to contain.

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