Aston Villa Win a Stylish Step in the Right Direction for Everton

A result that represents another surefire sign that this is a young team and a young manager who have recognised their errors and are slowly starting to set them right.

Matt Jones 23/11/2015 18comments  |  Jump to last

At the conclusion of a weekend rife with remarkable results across European football, its no surprise that Evertons 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa has been a little overlooked by the mainstream media.

The Goodison Park rout wasnt as spectacular as Barcelonas 4-0 humbling of Real Madrid in their own back yard, nor as shocking as Liverpool dismantling Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Even Tottenham Hotspurs 4-1 triumph against an impressive West Ham United resonates more with the average supporter.

Everton put four past the Premier Leagues worst team at home. For a team thats blessed with one of the finest young cores in European football, that should be no great surprise. But its a win, regardless of opposition, which served up tangible signs of necessary progress for this team and for their manager, Roberto Martinez.

In the lowest ebbs of a moribund 2014-15 season, this is the kind of match Everton would have surrendered points. A team bunkering in and unwilling to traipse beyond the halfway line triggered panic in the stands, subsequent hot heads on the pitch and a string of undesirable results.

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The Toffees just didnt have an antidote for piercing sides who sought to convolute and spoil. Passes would be pinged from side to side, back and forth, allowing teams to get set, become emboldened and often, forge an unshakeable foothold in the match.

Without the probing, floating no. 10 player Martinez openly craved during the summer months, overcoming this type of opponent was always going to be the biggest of many tests for this team in 2015-16. We all know Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu are devastating when the pitch opened up in front of them, but thats a scarce luxury in the Premier League.

Its why the emphatic nature of the win against Aston Villa shouldnt be dismissed. This is a side who, despite their obvious flaws, had frustrated Manchester Citys illustrious talents a fortnight ago and from the off, had little intention of advancing beyond their own final third. For those in blue it was a familiar assignment, but one which they failed routinely during Martinezs second season in charge.

Thankfully, Everton seem to have rediscovered their poise in these kinds of contests, as there was an authoritativeness in every aspect of their play. As Sid Lowe of The Guardian expertly put it, it was like watching a match in fast forward.

John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori recycled the ball quickly, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy knitted moves together shrewdly and the aforementioned attacking trident were sharp and savvy in their attacking darts. The first and fourth goals on the day were not only testament to the raw talent of the players, but the attacking cohesion Martinez has instilled into this team.

Theres a renewed balance about Everton, who have found the firepower and finesse to blow away packed defences. West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Villa have all tried to stifle the Toffees this season, tactics which would have seen them earn a draw at least in the previous campaign; Everton have scored 13 goals in matches against these sides, all who were determined to defend.

Thats due to an adventurous swagger which will delight Martinez, as he seeks to build a squad thats adaptable to all circumstances.

Earlier in the season, Everton showed their counter-attacking prowess with a devastating display against Southampton, as theyve done against Wolfsburg, Manchester United and Arsenal previously, and the Catalan will be contented in the knowledge this is a team with all the tools to play on the break.

But its getting the better of those gnarly outfits in the Premier Leagues swollen lower reaches thatll determine just how prosperous a campaign Everton enjoy. Teams like West Brom, Sunderland, Aston Villa, who have been swatted aside; sides such as Bournemouth, Norwich City and Stoke City, wholl be tasked with nullifying this Toffees offensive forays in the weeks to come.

So while its easy to discount the significance of the win over Villa, as has been the case for a lot of Evertonians in the aftermath of the Goodison Park triumph, it represents another surefire sign that this is a young team and a young manager who have recognised their errors and are slowly starting to set them right. For one of the youngest XIs in the Premier League, the ability to appreciate these flaws and make consequential tweaks is a hugely encouraging trait.

If these positive refinements continue be made, its inevitable that plenty in the soccer stratosphere will cotton on to the talent bristling in every facet of this team. When that day does arrive, this enterprising Everton squad seem increasingly well equipped to deal with the variety of challenges which accompanies that kind of recognition.

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Reader Comments (18)

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Peter McHugh
1 Posted 23/11/2015 at 21:41:38
I really enjoyed this article. It does seem that we are on an upward curve, not that steep, but definitely upwards. If these young players turn out to be world class, then we really will have a good team.
John Keating
2 Posted 23/11/2015 at 23:45:31
Matt, I doubt you would have written this after the Watford, Utd, RS or Norwich games – all at home by the way. Admittedly the Southampton and Chelsea results and play were excellent, however, I think it might be a bit early for your post after playing the bottom team. I really hope you are right and only time will tell.

Saturday's performance should be the minimum we should expect as regards performance. Obviously we cannot guarantee 4 goals every game but passion and commitment should be expected week in, week out.
Nigel Gregson
3 Posted 24/11/2015 at 02:06:48
I agree 100%. If you look at teams from Nos 11-20, you have to acknowledge that there is 60 points there for the taking in a season, and finally we are playing like we can pick up these points consistently.
David Ellis
4 Posted 24/11/2015 at 02:55:51
I have seen a press report mentioning us as a club of a "similar stature" as Spurs and Liverpool when talking up those two clubs. All the match reports talk about our top 4 ambition and take it seriously (remember the sniggers when Martinez said it was his goal on arrival at GP?). I think we are highly respected.

I also agree that the last two home games are significant results. We were not putting away these teams last season. And are these teams soooo poor? Sunderland beat Palace away yesterday and Villa held City last time out. Beating them is not a given.

But we need to win 4 or 5 on the trot to make real progress up the league. Let’s hope we can use the new confidence and momentum to keep it going. And kudos to Martinez for making a few adjustments to the style and above all for keeping the team together. A few years ago, I did not see how we were going to replace the likes of Arteta, Pienaar and Cahill... but we’ve actually moved on and are playing at a higher level now. You can see an understanding developing between the attacking players now – it's a joy to watch.

Terence Leong
5 Posted 24/11/2015 at 04:08:32
Agreed. I believe that it’s about the team getting belief that they can:

(i) Pull themselves up when the chips are down, eg, coming back from a goal down, which they have done a few times, at least to get a draw;

(ii) Break at speed, which they too have done to devastating effect;

(iii) Break teams down when they park the bus – and the game last Saturday would have given them the belief that it’s possible.

While they passed about patiently, they broke through at the 19th minute, at the magic 20th minute mark to get themselves into the game.

Darryl Ritchie
6 Posted 24/11/2015 at 07:04:38
RM has done well in keeping the young talent in a royal blue shirt, but I also am convinced that if we don’t finish in at least the top five, there will be a few leaving next summer. I think it’s sort of a make-or-break season.

The egos that top young footballers must possess, plus pressure exerted by agents and advisers, make the chance of playing Champions League the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The chance to play for a top club, for huge money, is very hard to resist, especially for a pro with limited emotional ties to his current club. He may have ties with the manager and with his teammates, but not with the colour of the shirt.

Stones, Barkley, Deulofeu and Mirallas will probably be gone. But if we can string some results together... who knows?

Kieran Fitzgerald
7 Posted 24/11/2015 at 07:19:43
Let’s see after the next couple of fixtures. They’re Bournemouth (A), Palace (H), Norwich (A). All three teams will be tougher opposition than our previous two in terms of confidence and setup. Three wins in these games, plus a result against Middlesboro in the League Cup and I will start to believe.

For now, after 30 years of being an Evertonian, I’m still a sceptic at heart.

Trevor Lynes
8 Posted 24/11/2015 at 08:47:57
One or two swallows do not make a summer but the article has been very well written and hopefully a portent of the future.

We now have a side that has cost very little compared to our main contenders for trophy’s and if we do mount a real challenge this season it will shake a lot of clubs up who have just bought success.

To have brought through so many British youngsters is refreshing and should be lauded.We now have four players in the England manager’s plans with Stones, Jagielka, Baines and Barkley. Other top clubs are loath to bring through young players and still spend hundreds of millions on foreign, ready made stars for instant success.

Lukaku playing with Kone is a revelation and Barkley is playing better for us this season than he did last. Deulofeu has also improved out of all recognition and even though three are foreign, they have not cost the earth. We now have a strong bench for the first time in years with Mirallas, Naismith, Lennon, Gibson, Robles all waiting for a chance to show their worth. Soon Baines will be back in contention along with Besic.The remainder of this season should be contended with better than the last and optimism is raised accordingly.

I must say I was very apprehensive when I looked at the teams we had to play in the first couple of months fixture’s.But we coped much better than I thought we would and it has been a pleasant surprise so far. I just hope that we do not ’keep the money’ and let the January window pass without business as complacency has been a major drawback in the past. We are still needing a top playmaker IMO and a decent young goal keeper.

Ian Jones
9 Posted 24/11/2015 at 09:05:57
Enjoyed reading that. Arouna Kone deserves a mention as he has done well this season or lately anyway!

Ignoring all the injury woes, if we could find a way to include Gibson as well on a regular basis, that would be a bonus in my opinion. His range of passing is useful. If not, at 28, for his own benefit he should be allowed to move on. Aston Villa could be a good move for him.

Pavel Ivanov
10 Posted 24/11/2015 at 09:49:12
An interesting read; Everton seem to be finally making a blip on some radars:
Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 24/11/2015 at 14:52:52
Good article, Matt, but I need more evidence of this improvement against better teams than Villa who were dreadful and another poor team in Sunderland who – although they were bad defensively – could have scored four or more against us.

I’m delighted with the form of Deulofeu who goes forward 90% of the time and it is noticeable that, when he goes off, our game slows down.

I’m still happy with the results but think it is wise to remain cautious until they prove themselves further.

Harold Matthews
12 Posted 24/11/2015 at 15:00:32
We're not mentioned much but we're well respected. As a leading journalist said at the weekend, "Everton are a very good club to play for".

Our on-the-pitch progress has been slow but significant. The bar has been raised and the players seem to be responding. Bit early to guess where we stand with our rivals and I'm not ready to forecast anything just yet.

Andy Crooks
13 Posted 25/11/2015 at 00:23:52
An interesting article, Matt. Villa are very poor and Man City should have stuck six past them. However, we look good. I am totally bewildered by Martinez. I would have had him gone last season and, frankly, I believe we have a good squad with a coach who will waste this chance.

Yet, yet, at the back of my mind, I just wonder. Does he have a plan that is unfolding before us? Is he the quirky coach who can combine the off-field and the on-field? I just hope he is because we need a quirky genius to achieve a dream or a big Sam to keep us where we are.

I have never felt sure over the last while what Everton we will have any game. Maybe the exciting team will turn up for a while.

Robert Workman
14 Posted 25/11/2015 at 05:21:00
During the mid-80s I expected that Everton team to score within first 20 minutes during home games. They usually did. If they didn’t, chewing an Everton mint would do the trick!

Saturday’s game was the first one since those heady days when I expected the same – and they delivered.

Paul Cherrington
15 Posted 25/11/2015 at 11:36:31
I think the main differences this season are hinted at in the OP. Stones & Funes Mori offer us a lot going forward from the back in terms of starting moves off quickly. And then the return of Deulofeu & his linking up again with Rom and Ross is really special.

They're the main reasons we can blow teams away now and are looking more like we were in RM's first season.

Patrick Murphy
16 Posted 25/11/2015 at 12:49:03
As good as Saturday's performance was and the optimism that we now have a team that could deliver us that holy grail of Champions League football, history isn't in our favour as an article in the Liverpool Echo today suggests.

Liverpool and Everton both stand six points adrift of the top four after 13 Premier League games. And, since England was awarded a fourth Champions League place, no side has finished in the top four having been so far adrift at this stage of the season.

CL Possibility?

Roberto, concentrate on the Carling Cup and don't let an opportunity for silverware go begging as despite us having a good young team it would seem that the odds against CL qualification are still stacked heavily against us.

James Marshall
17 Posted 26/11/2015 at 07:02:08
All the talk, all the talk in the press, all the talk from the players, all the talk from the manager shows they have confidence, and others have confidence in us at the moment.

Personally the defining factor for me, is that I feel confident on match days, and that is something we can rarely say as Evertonians!

Harold Matthews
18 Posted 26/11/2015 at 15:21:30
So true James.

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