Everton find no substitute for Lady Luck

Sixth place and a berth just two points behind the top five beckoned if the Blues could fashion a win. Instead, frowned upon by Lady Luck up front, they found themselves forced to chase a game again after falling behind.

Lyndon Lloyd 08/12/2015 46comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1-1 Crystal Palace

There was an annoying air of inevitability about this result, not least because we were playing one of our bogey sides at Goodison Park in the form of Crystal Palace, a team we haven't beaten at home since 2005 and who have made a habit of preying on our weaknesses in this fixture over the past couple of seasons.

There was also the as-sure-as-night-follows-day predictability of Everton passing up an opportunity to take advantage of a number of favourable results above them over the course of the weekend by failing to win the kind of match that they just have to if they are to have a realistic shot at Champions League qualification this season. If the wins over Aston Villa and Sunderland pointed towards a team coalescing nicely into the kind of outfit capable of sneaking into the top four while other, better-financed teams struggle for consistency then the last two draws in the Premier League serve as a reminder that until this Blues side finds a way to grind out maximum points from winnable matches, they are destined to fall short yet again.

Sixth place and a berth just two points behind the top five beckoned if the Blues could fashion a win. Instead, they found themselves forced to chase a game again after falling behind; the requisite urgency prompted by Scott Dann's 76th-minute opener leading to a more direct approach that had hitherto been all too erratic in the final third and an equaliser within five minutes through Romelu Lukaku.

And yet, despite their propensity to over-elaborate in the final third, to try and walk the ball through an entrenched defence, and their unwillingness at times to "play the percentages" and shoot when the defence opened up in front of them, with a more favourable look from Lady Luck Everton would have earned the victory that, on balance, they deserved. Wayne Hennessey pulled off a quite brilliant save to tip Tom Cleverley's blistering volley over midway through the second half and even when their 'keeper was beaten, Palace were saved by favourable bounces off the frame of the goal. Twice Lukaku rattled the woodwork with well-struck efforts while Conor Wickham almost did the Blues' job for them when he back-headed Ross Barkley's free kick onto his own bar.

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Some of the football from Everton was sublime a delicious backheel here, a deft flick-on or one-two interchange there and it felt for long periods that all they (in essence, "they" meant Deulofeu, such was the faith in and reliance on the Spaniard's trickery and delivery) had to do was get the final ball right and they would grind out the win.

They had started well, with the kind of energy and purpose that buoyed the 35,000+ crowd into thinking that a home Premier League win was on the cards after the disappointment at Bournemouth last weekend, and it took just seven minutes for Ross Barkley and Lukaku to exchange passes on the edge of the Palace box and the former to curl an audacious shot just wide of the far post.

Their initial fire was quelled, though, as the visitors looked to get forward down the flanks and test their hosts' notorious susceptibility to crosses and when Yannick Bolasie neatly side-stepped Ramiro Funes Mori on the touchline and whipped a cross to the near post, Tim Howard had to make a point-blank block with his chest to deny Wickham with a quarter of an hour gone.

Everton coped well enough with the aerial threat, though, and, after resuming their control of the contest, they came within an inch or two of taking the lead. Lukaku spun smartly on a loose ball just outside the Palace penalty area and unleashed a low drive that cannoned off the inside of the post and flew agonisingly across the face of Hennessey's goal and out towards the corner flag.

The Belgian then put his foil and strike partner Arouna Kone in with a neat flick but the Ivorian blazed wide with his weaker foot, Barkley almost got in on the end of a Deulofeu cross to the near post, and Galloway almost teed Lukaku up in front of goal from John Stones's cross after the centre half had taken Pape Souaré out of the picture completely with a superb cut-back bear the byline.

Then, as half-time approached, Seamus Coleman, having one of his best games all season, unloaded with an accurate left-foot shot that would likely have tested the goalkeeper sternly had not deflected off a defender's head and behind for a corner.

Though they had been held goalless in the first 45 minutes for the first time since mid-October, there was plenty about which Martinez could be encouraged from his side's display in the first period. Cleverley was banishing impressively concerns that the loss of James McCarthy would leave Everton vulnerable in their own half with a robust and enterprising display and though Deulofeu was clearly still finding his range, the law of averages suggested that sooner or later one of his deliveries would open up the opposition back line.

Funes Mori was looking uncharacteristically shaky at centre back he would deteriorate as the evening went on and he was fortunate that eagle-eyed referee Craig Pawson saw no contact on an ill-advised slide tackle late in the second half that could have ended with a penalty and red card with a less observant official but Palace were not showing much desire to mount sustained attacks so they were mostly restricted to balls in from wide areas.

That left the Blues to continue with the pattern established in the first half after the restart but they found Palace's defence difficult to break down, with shots and crosses ending with a succession of corners 13 in all over the course of the match that, despite three different set-piece takers, failed to make a dent. Still, Kone side-footed over when he might have done better with Lukaku's layoff and Barkley ended another quick counter-attack following the Ivorian's interception inside his own half by heading narrowly wide of the near post.

The Londoners, now exploiting the space behind Leighton Baines as the second-half substitute tried to open up attacking avenues down the much-ignored left flank, almost profited with a break-away of their own but although Bolasie accelerated away from Stones, Howard anticipated the danger well and saved the Congolese winger's shot with an out-stretched foot. After Cleverley's lovely strike had been turned over by Hennessey at one end, the Everton keeper would be called upon again at the other when Yohan Cabaye's run into the box was ended by Stones' last-ditch challenge and the ball broke to Jason Puncheon but Howard parried his shot away for a corner.

That proved to be one set-piece too many and it was all so "Everton, that" when, after 76 minutes of patient probing by the Blues in one direction, they should concede another soft goal from a corner and find themselves chasing the game in the final quarter of an hour. Neither Kone nor Gareth Barry tracked Dann as the ball was floated in from the Palace right and the defender powered an easy header down the centre of the goal with Howard distracted by the obstruction by Wickham in front of him.

The response from Everton and Lukaku in particular was almost immediate and spectacular. The striker knocked Barry's forward pass to the side, rolled off his marker and despatched a ripping left-footed half-volley that had Hennessey beaten all ends up but the ball ricocheted defiantly off the underside of the crossbar and back into play.

Lukaku would not be denied a few minutes later, though, when Deulofeu picked by Barkley's slide-rule pass, danced his way along the byline and when one of his low centres finally made its way across goal, albeit via a nick off Barry's leg, it fell invitingly for the Belgian who couldn't miss in front of goal to notch his 50th goal for Everton in his 100th appearance for the club.

Having wrested the initiative back with 10 minutes to go, the stage appeared set perhaps for some fresh legs and ideas off the bench Kone, for example, had been an excellent foil for Lukaku for much of the game but he again looked like he was running in treacle by the closing stages in an effort to win it but, mystifyingly, Martinez elected to leave the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon on the sidelines. Unfortunately, those he left on the field couldn't fashion the clear-cut opening that would have delivered all three points, although a couple of inviations to shoot to Deulofeu and Lukaku in the final minutes were spurned and promising openings went begging as the game fizzled out.

There is much buzz about Martinez's excting young side and there is still a feeling that they are still learning and improving, but there is an inescapable sense that Everton are in a race against time when it comes to keeping the group wholly intact. Lukaku, in particular, is in the kind of irresistible form that will make it impossible to keep him from the covetous attentions of clubs that are able to offer him a seat at European football's top table or to persuade him that he should spend another year at Goodison if we're not playing in Europe.

Stones, meanwhile, demonstrated precisely why he is being talked about as a potential long-term replacement for Gerard Pique at Barcelona with some wonderful moments in both halves of the field. And if Barkley and Deulofeu weren't quite at the top of their game, they are no longer strangers to observers of the English game.

Everton are teetering on the cusp of something here thanks to the mix of youthful talent and more tried experience that Martinez has assembled but it remains tantalisingly out of reach at the moment. Few would have thought that we would see such opportunity in a wide open race for the top four so soon after Manchester United's quick reovery from their post-Sir Alex decline of two seasons ago but the Toffees' mere five wins and their failure to beat any of the top 10 so far this season are illustrative of a continuing lack of ruthlessness, single-mindedness and defensive solidity that are hallmarks of successful, winning teams.

The nature of the top half of the league is such that it's not too late if Martinez can find the answers not only in terms of his team's collective menatality but also his own game management over what is a vital period over the next month then the potential to "achieve", in the manager's words, is still there.

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Reader Comments (46)

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John Keating
1 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:00:44
Unless we sort ourselves out defensively, we will never achieve top 4/5.

Arsenal had a period where they were shipping in goals and Wenger had to bite the bullet and bring in a defensive coach in Boulder and things improved significantly for them. Martinez should consider this as a priority or waste the chance of finishing high in a very poor and open season.

With his insistence on concentrating on goals from open play rather than set-pieces as statistics predominate and his apparent indifference to practise set-pieces, we show not only naivety but at times suicide.

Yes, we could have scored a few last night – but so could have Palace.

The recruitment of Jack Butland, if not in January then the summer, should be a priority.

Ian Bonnette
2 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:01:39
Lukaku was gutted after the game, his face was like thunder. You can see the points dropped in the last 2 games really hurt him as he’s doing his job whilst others can’t defend at the back.

Yes, Lady Luck deserted us last night and good old hard graft got us back into the game. A game we should've won. If we can’t get into Europe, he will deffo go and what a shame that will be.

Our lack of defending at corners and set pieces is the difference between this season being a good season and a great season.... Over to you, Roberto, to earn your your defensive badges.

Derek Knox
3 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:08:10
As you reminded us in your summation of the match Lyndon, they are a bit of a bogey side for us, but with the domination we had, coupled with the bad luck, I was surprised we managed to score at all.

It was one of those nights, when we could have had 5 or 6 and not been accused of the scoreline flattering us at all. Luck deserted us again at the Old Lady.

I didn’t actually go to the match, but I think Craig Bellamy (as Sky Sports commentator) summed it up by saying that they came with the whole intention of defending at all costs, and then as the game progressed, hitting us on the break.

While Tim Howard didn’t have an awful lot to do, I felt he had a mixture of some good, mixed with the bad again. I think we should be looking to strengthen in that department, sooner, rather than later, but until then, why not give Joel a chance to prove himself? (Although I have been a critic of him in the past.)

I still feel that we missed an opportunity to cement a base from which to climb even higher, as January poses a few hard games.

Max Murphy
4 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:36:26
On other threads it was suggested that Howard had a good game. In the first half, he spilt a standard low shot, and was lucky there was no CP player nearby to put the ball in the net. In the second, he flapped at a cross, in a pathetic attempt to punch the ball. There was a foul in the area but there was no conviction in his play.

For the goal, he was not dominant or challenging. If any opposition player stands next to him, he goes to pieces. I believe he is the main cause for our defensive frailties – especially from set pieces. Because of his lack of authority in the box, our defence are uncertain of his decision-making, which causes confusion.

Robles may not be the answer, but he is certainly a better proposition than Howard. He holds onto to the ball and you will be guaranteed more clean sheets.

As for the rest of the game – some good build up play, but then the intricate stuff let us down. We carried on, with no Plan B. Players should have been shooting more – as Cleverly did. It’s another 2 points lost to a team that are above us.

The manager’s use of the bench was atrocious. We were crying out for a change in the last 20 minutes – Mirallas or even Naismith for Kone. The manager will not change his selection policy and, for that reason, we will be mid-table again. Martinez must go – and take that clown Howard with him!

Philip Yensen
5 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:45:01
Why bring Baines on?
Why leave Kone on?
Why don't we bring Ruddy back to Goodison?

Most of our play last night was great: fast purposeful and forward-thinking football, only just too many little flicks and backheels. We need somebody on the left, otherwise a lot better.

I was disappointed with the draw but our play was faster and we could have had 5 goals. Don’t go back to the dull passing game, RM.

Steve Guy
6 Posted 08/12/2015 at 09:31:19
We played some great football at times but the fact remains that we aren’t ruthless enough; two points from the last six when we should have had them all. Poor defending is costing us and it’s crosses in particular that we just can’t seem to cope with. What do they do in training?!

We are rapidly using up all those "winnable" games and still mid-table. A cup win is our best route into Europe but I can’t see a Europa League campaign convincing Lukaku et al to stay.

Barry Pearce
7 Posted 08/12/2015 at 10:12:07
We still don’t have a commanding centre back who will win the ball from set-pieces. Stones and Funes Mori don’t win enough defensive headers. Until we address this issue we will always be vulnerable from set-pieces.
Paul Thompson
8 Posted 08/12/2015 at 10:24:56
We’ve drawn way too many games this season and under Martinez more generally. We’ve also given away far too many goals from similar situations.

However, this was not a repeat of past patterns. This was a dynamic, exciting display over two halves and showed a real improvement and against a very good, well organised side. It was a good game to watch as the comments on the BBC website showed (and we got a lot of positive comments on the quality of our football this season). So, I’m heartened rather than disheartened.

Now if Martinez and the coaching staff could just put a bit more effort into those set-pieces at either end!!!!

Liam Reilly
9 Posted 08/12/2015 at 10:33:12
Winning teams are built on solidity at the back. The stats on Howard from Sky over the last two seasons don’t lie and the defense clearly don’t have confidence in him when defending.

He may not have been directly at fault for the goal but if he comes clearing everything in front of him to get to that ball; even if he fails he’ll most likely win a free kick.

We need a new keeper; but, with RM talking about him as a core member of the team after the match, we can all forget about that dream.

Jim Bennings
10 Posted 08/12/2015 at 10:50:23

We have always drawn too many games, not just under Martinez but Moyes's last season too was addled with frustrating draws.

There are good draws and bad draws and last night’s, plus the Bournemouth one, felt more like losses.

Yes, it was partly down to bad fortune, you can’t do anything about that, but we would have still won that game last night despite the bad luck, if we cut out our schoolboy defending from any type of high ball into the box.

It’s getting beyond a joke really now, our ineptitude in coping with crosses, set-pieces.

I believe we are a good team that sadly lacks a truly domineering commanding central defender next to the ball playing John Stones.
Neither Stones, Funes Mori or even Jagielka when he’s played have so far shown themselves capable meeting enough headers.

A solid central defender and a more consistent braver keeper and we just might go somewhere.

Mike Oates
11 Posted 08/12/2015 at 11:56:12
I think we all have to admit, it was a scintillating performance, virtually total domination other than 10-15 mins in the 1st half. We were basically just unlucky in front of goal.

I thought Barry, Cleverley and Barkley dominated midfield and Lukaku was immense. Slightly behind was Deulofeu who didn’t quite deliver the goodies. Coleman was just majestic, snuffing out Bolasie, Puncheon and anyone else who came down his side, whilst also finding the time to get forward.

Stones is returning to his early season form and, to be fair, he needed to last night as Funes Mori had his worst game since he arrived – poor passing, bullied and lucky not to be dismissed.

We’ll never attain a Top 4 position with the mission of us scoring more than the other side; there will be games when one goal is all we’ll get and we need to be able to defend that slender advantage.

We have two major weaknesses to be addressed: the obvious is how to defend set-pieces – we’re not the tallest team, with only Stones, Funes Mori, Barry and Kone competing against some giants (for some reason, Martinez keeps Lukaku up the pitch at corners), and Stones is not great in the air. I dread the day we play Stoke!

The second weakness is that we need a left-sided attacker who’ll get us 6-10 goals a season and will make chances for Lukaku. Kone is not the answer and Martinez has obviously given up on Mirallas. I don’t think we have an out-and-out attacker in the squad and the best we can hope for is someday to get Baines & Pienaar together again.

Oh sorry, our third weakness will be the day when Lukaku gets injured!!

Ben Jones
12 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:32:35
I don't understand the Howard criticism for this game.

He made three really good saves. And he couldn't have done anything for the goal.

The defence justifies criticism, we dealt with the dangerous Bolasie in the crosses in the first half, but gutted because their goal was soft and could have been avoided.

Attacking wise I thought we were excellent. It was just a mixture of bad luck and good Palace defending we didn't win. Barkley improved remarkably and I was impressed with Cleverley in the second half where he does go forward more, and doesn't loose the ball very often. We'll beat lots of teams like that, even in the top 4, but Palace proved they're a good side.

Funes Mori has been good so far, but I so wish we were in for Scott Dann.

Peter Roberts
13 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:40:09
I watched the game on Sky and want to make two points:

Their goal wasn’t half as badly defended as people think. Barry tracked Dann all the way but his only crime was not jumping for the ball and allowing the Kopite to get his header in.

Secondly, I think we looked worse and even more one-dimensional when Baines came ON. Galloway tracked back more than Leighton and was getting more space in behind on the left, partly due to his better pace, of which I think Baines has lost a yard. Everything in the last half-hour came through the right-hand channel where Deulofeu was giving Soare the run around.

I’d maybe look at putting Baines left wing with Galloway supporting and overlapping at left back as this would give us more balance while still having Baines’s threat from set-pieces on the field.

Liam Reilly
14 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:48:35
Howard did OK last night, Ben, but he consistently fails to command his area for crosses. It’s evident that other coaches are playing on this with Wickham clearly under orders to become a nuisance right in front of him at corners. It nearly paid dividends in the first half also.

He needs to grow some balls and start clearing out everything in front of him at set-pieces or win the fouls if he gets blocked; but standing rooted to his line is costing us dearly.

The stats don’t lie; almost 1 in 2 shots inside the area are goals. Worst in the league.

Graham Mockford
15 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:51:09

You should read that second paragraph back. ’His only crime was not jumping for the ball and allowing the Kopite to get his header in.’

That feels like a fairly substantial part of defending a corner to me. Barry has been very good this season; however, I can’t believe he won’t have come off last night and thought he could've done better in that situation.

As for Baines having ’lost a yard’. He’s returning after two serious injuries, give him a chance. I think he has earned better than to be judged after two sub appearances.

Graham Mockford
16 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:52:51

'1 in 2 shots in the area are goals'

Where's that stat from?

Eugene Ruane
17 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:59:59
Ben (12) - ’I don’t understand the Howard criticism for this game. He made three really good saves. And he couldn’t have done anything for the goal.’

Yes they were good saves, but couldn’t have done anything for the goal?

How about coming off his line, jumping and punching the fucking ball?

Seriously, how many of these goals do we have to watch before some realise there is a problem?

Crosses into the box (unless they’re right on the edge of the box, miles from the keeper) should be about 70/30 in favour of the defending team as you should have the ball being attacked by your centre-halves and/or keeper.

Now with us, with soft ollies in goal, it seems more like 50/50.

If I was a coach at any other club and looking at tapes to find the best way to get goals against Everton, I undoubtedly would be saying ’let’s get plenty of crosses in as their keeper is rooted to his goal-line.’

Dominic Tonge
18 Posted 08/12/2015 at 13:04:13
We played well overall last night, and in patches we looked really good. A lack of end product cost us, along with not having a little luck.

I am not Tim Howard’s biggest fan, but he made some saves last night and I felt that the goal was down to an awful bit of marking, or lack of, from Gaz Baz.

I also felt that ,for the second game running, Kone tired and left us exposed at times. Mirallas being brought on seemed the obvious call, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Brian Harrison
19 Posted 08/12/2015 at 13:32:43
Well, a really frustrating last night. Despite putting in an excellent all-round performance, our nemesis of not being able to defend crosses cost us again. They nearly scored off another cross, when Howard saved from Wickham.

I know a lot of managers use this zonal system, but for me it's a get-out for poor defending. Also, with zonal, the defenders are standing still in one particular area they have been given to defend, while the attacker has a run on the defender. But surely either Stones or Funes Mori should have been marking their most prolific header from corners.

But despite all that, I have to say, for most parts, it was a pleasure to watch; some of the football was really great. You can see the link-up play between the forwards is getting better and better as the weeks go by.

But you have to wonder if these two consecutive draws will cost us dearly come the end of the season. Not only where we finish but in keeping hold of our crop of youngsters. Who may decide that, if we can't get top 4 with Chelsea having a nightmare season, then will we ever be able to challenge for a top 4 place?

Maybe getting into the top 6 may convince them to give it one more season? I sincerely hope so, as with these youngsters they can only get better.

Brent Stephens
20 Posted 08/12/2015 at 14:05:10
Frustrating in the result (and therefore league position) and the manner of the conceded goal. But lots of positives in terms of individual and collective performances.

I guess we are 7th-ish material still.

James Stewart
21 Posted 08/12/2015 at 14:36:44
Good accurate report. Was too angry to post after the game so thought I’d take the night to simmer down. In isolation it was not a bad result, we were incredibly unlucky with hitting the woodwork and a point against Palace is not the end of the world. However, on the back of the Bournemouth surrender it is hard to take, twice in a row now we have been by far the better side and failed to win.

Lukaku has every right to be frustrated he is on fire and could have easily had a hat trick on another night. Defensive frailties continue to undermine all the good attacking play. The more I see of Funes Mori the more concerned I am: he lacks concentration, dives in, and was lucky not to lose us the game and get himself sent off.

Mirallas should have been brought on. Kone’s shooting was wild and reckless; had Mirallas been in those positions, he would at least be hitting the target. We rely too much on Lukaku for goals, no-one else scores regularly; at least Mirallas would help in that area.

These are the games we were supposed to be picking up 3 points from, yet so far have failed twice now in the most frustrating way.

Liam Reilly
23 Posted 08/12/2015 at 15:18:47
Graham # 16
Its on Sky


"Howard's save percentage inside the box dipped as low as 50.65 per cent; again, the lowest in his position and a ratio that meant, alarmingly, opponents were scoring from one in two shots on target inside the Toffees' area"

That's just criminal and he should not be starting.

Jim Bennings
24 Posted 08/12/2015 at 15:22:47
For the people making Gareth Barry culpable for losing the header for the goal really need to ask why was it left to him to be the one responsible for marking Crystal Palace’s most dangerous aerial threat?

As I posted earlier, where were our two centre-backs? Who made the decision for neither Stones nor Funes Mori to not attempt to pick up Scott Dann? It wasn’t a particularly brilliantly whipped in corner, it was just standard delivery, but still not one of our two central defender’s bothered trying to meet the header.

I’ve said for a while, we need a powerhouse next to John Stones. Stones is simply outstanding with anything that’s along the ground but aerially he isn’t the best and so far, although it’s early days, Funes Mori has yet to convince me he’s that great at commanding aerial duels, since the short time he’s been here he’s been out-jumped by a number of opponents.

Looking back maybe the result wasn’t so awful, Palace are no mugs, in fact away from home they are one of the league's better teams – so says the table.

I think the frustration came from yet another draw for us and yet another sloppy goal, the type we keep conceding way too often, and it’s starting to feel like it is seriously going to hold us back again this season.

Graham Mockford
25 Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:03:09
Thanks Liam

Read the article, obviously the stats relate to last season, which were undoubtedly poor. Even the author ( an Evertonian) concedes that the stats have improved this year but doesn't quote them because they don't support his argument.

Instead he talks about crosses not claimed where he is one worse than Petr Cech and then uses team stats about crosses made and headers allowed and scored to try to keep making his point. It's hard to blame a goalkeeper for the number of crosses made, not sure he can massively affect this though of course the accusation is teams are crossing the ball more because he is not comfortable.

The guy is obviously not popular with many, fair enough you pays your money. But in my view some of the criticism is just way over the top. I saw someone criticising him for Bournemouth's first last week saying it was not hit with any 'velocity'. Didn't seem to stop it being voted Goal of the Month though.

I've even seen normally sensible and reasoned contributors claiming he

A) should have come out and punched the corner away last night. Really?

B) made a comfortable save from the resultant header.

As I've said I guess we all see it different ways but I thought he had a very good game last night and actually on a different night could have been 3-0 down before the goal.

I also think that he is a strong minded individual, which is probably good job considering some of the dogs he got last night.

Raymond Fox
26 Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:12:48
Last night’s game showed how much small margins can decide games. We were the better team without a doubt but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

As far as the defending was concerned, they're all international players but, perhaps with the exception of Funes Mori, none of them inspire you when the ball is in the air.

We can argue the merits of zonal or man marking, I’d prefer man marking because it seems nowadays that you can get away with wrestling attackers in the box, we don’t do enough of it.

Another tactic that all/most teams do is to put one or more players in front of the goalie to prevent them from coming out for the crosses. I’m not sure what the answer is to that one, perhaps Howard should knock hell out of the blocker or at the very least make the ref more aware that he’s being impeded.

Eric Myles
27 Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:34:48
The main problem I saw last night in our attack was that we were playing balls to feet in a box crowded with their defenders so the receiver of the ball was immediately surrounded and had no room to move.

Not to mention the poor forward passing that was all too often cut out and the crosses into empty space.

Ray Roche
28 Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:42:03
Graham (#25),

True, Howard didn’t have a poor game last night and I agree, he can do nothing to stop crosses coming in. He can venture off his line occasionally, though. His area hasn’t been mined by the Taliban.

The real problem is allowing the opposition to get crosses in. Galloway is frequently left marking two men and is constantly getting dragged inside, and, as a centre-back, this is probably where he drifts to anyway. It MUST be addressed by Martinez. I mentioned a couple of days ago that only Spurs have drawn more games than us.

When you think of two points dropped against Watford, Bournemouth, Swansea, Spurs, the RS, and last night, just turning four of those draws into wins and we’d be third. And we SHOULD have won at least four of those games.

Graham Mockford
29 Posted 08/12/2015 at 17:00:49
Ray #28

Agree with all of that. It would be interesting to see what proportion of crosses are coming right and left. My suspicion is we are seeing more crosses from Galloway’s side because despite his admirable efforts he is not the full back Seamus is and he doesn’t have a natural wide player in front of him most of the time.

However it is our ability to deal with the crosses that is worrying and Howard is not absolved of responsibility for this. Arsenal being a classic example.

We have now conceded three goals directly from corners and the defence has to work better as a unit to stop this. In all three cases, a free header was allowed.

Ray Roche
30 Posted 08/12/2015 at 17:40:08
Graham, it said on Radio Merseyside that we'd conceded 6 goals in all comps this season from corners. I can't find stats to prove/ disprove this but, if true...

Last night, v the Rs, two headers v Arsenal,...all headers. It felt like Bournemouth to me last night, just like a defeat, a game we should have won.

Barry Pearce
31 Posted 08/12/2015 at 17:57:35
I believe the majority of people who post on here think Mirallas should come on at some stage during the game. He is without doubt a goal scoring threat, so there must be something deep rooted with himself, and Martinez as to why he doesn't choose to give him some game time, or for that fact to even start the game.
Joe Green
32 Posted 08/12/2015 at 19:29:46
Ray, Graham,

I can recall goals against us direct from corners against RS, WBA and last night. Maybe there’s been others. It’s for sure that opposition managers know this exactly. Interesting that we now have gone from all back for corners to two up (Rom and Geri).

I enjoyed the game last night. We played very good football against a packed defence that deserved to win. But we work sooooooo hard for our beautiful goals that to give away one to a simple free header from a corner is insane and dispiriting. Martinez will not keep the side together if we don’t win more games.

Eddie Dunn
33 Posted 08/12/2015 at 20:08:47
Phillip (#5). Ruddy has been dropped by Norwich, for a series of errors. We need to give Robles a run of games or spend big on Butland or Schmeichel.
Andy Crooks
34 Posted 08/12/2015 at 21:14:08
I seem to have taken a reverse approach to this match. My normal response to defeat is to apportion blame in an instant burst of outrage, then, next day, take a more reasoned view.

This time my gut feeling was we were just downright unlucky and I posted as such. However, today I feel angry.

We have turned too many wins into draws and, after reading the admirable Paul Trail, I agree that the performance of the coach with regard to subs was indeed poor.

Ray Roche
35 Posted 08/12/2015 at 21:18:25
Eddie, we have as much chance of prising Schmeichel away from Leicester as I have of Copping off with Katy Perry.

So, that’s just less than evens...

Peter Mills
37 Posted 08/12/2015 at 21:46:04
Graham (#15), yes, you are right, of course, we must allow Leighton all the time he needs to recover from his injury. He’s a great player. But he looked like he was towing a trailer last night, and something looked very wrong with his movement.

I think this will take a while, and patience.

Paul Commons
40 Posted 08/12/2015 at 22:10:04
A run of seven straight wins will see us up there with the coveted top four. The only thing is that it is a long time since we have had such a run so the odds of pulling it off are very much against us.

I hate to say it but Everton are fragile in defence – particularly at corners. Our centre-backs are flashy rather than commanding and Howard has been trusted for a season too long.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed the stuff the team have dished up this season and will settle for the inevitable 7th/8th place it will result in. Martinez is looking very much 'a one-eyed' manager who sees nothing but good in his favourites whilst ignoring the alternative talent at his disposal. But he's an improvement on Moyes who never dished up an attacking display like last night.

Guess we'll just have to learn to be grateful for 'best of the rest' status!

Graham Hammond
41 Posted 08/12/2015 at 23:53:11
I was pleasantly surprised last night by the work rate and energy of Tom Cleverley given his recent absence. A few horrible passes notwithstanding, I thought his work rate off the ball puts James McCarthy in the shade.

He shows for the ball when we have possession so much better than McCarthy, links better, opens his body better for a pass and has a better engine; all-in-all a more motivated player to my eyes.

Kone has had a good season so far in my opinion but should have made way for Kevin Mirallas to come on last night, the game was a 6-pointer really and we again fell short of executing.

Michael McCarthy
42 Posted 08/12/2015 at 23:55:04
Corners for and against, why are we so poor? Is it zonal marking or man marking?

It looks like a bit of nothing to me. Stand around and hope for the best... Something has to be done.

Nicholas Ryan
43 Posted 08/12/2015 at 00:07:56
What is Roberto’s favourite record? .... Well, it certainly isn’t "Substitute" by The Who!!!
Trevor Peers
44 Posted 09/12/2015 at 00:19:27
I can only imagine there’s been a serious falling out between Roberto and KM, paving the way for his removal in January.

Last night's game was crying out for some impact from the left flank; if Mirallas couldn’t get some game time last night then he never will.

If that is the case, hopefully it will be swiftly resolved and Roberto will invest the money in a suitable replacement. Having bought so successfully with Deulofeu, we can have confidence he would find a good addition.

Laurie Hartley
45 Posted 09/12/2015 at 02:07:07
I think Palace are a pretty good football team that can handle the physical side of the game. Sakho and Zaha were out last night also, so they have a bit of depth. From what I saw last night, they are one of 5 teams (ourselves included) that could tip Man Utd out of the 4th spot.

I have never been a Pardew fan but he has won my admiration for backing himself last season and taking the Palace job when they were really struggling. Since then, he has put together a good squad who are really playing for him.

No wonder Lukaku was so disappointed at the end – he was very unlucky – on another night he would have had a hat-trick.

I thought he had a great game and is really starting to look like a £29m striker. I love eating humble pie served by an Everton player.

I thought we played well and were a bit unlucky but the signs are encouraging. We look like we will always score, and we have also learnt how to come from behind.

On their goal, Barry did track him but Dan prevented him from jumping by putting his left hand on Barry’s right shoulder – old fashioned but effective when the referee (who I thought had a good game) doesn’t spot it.

I would love to see Mirallas in front of Galloway but it is not going to happen so I will file that one.

All-in-all, a disappointing result but not completely indigestible – we should have beaten a very good side.

If only we could defend corners... we would could go all the way.

Paul Ward
47 Posted 09/12/2015 at 03:02:59
Everton take the field every game disadvantaged. The great football and entertainment we witnessed was all in vain, due to our vulnerability to corners.

Then we are further disadvantaged by the ineptness of Martinez’s substitutions or lack of them.

These problems have occurred the entirety of his tenure and will never change so why are fans surprised.

Bob Parrington
48 Posted 09/12/2015 at 03:51:51
It was just one of those nights! Three hits on the framework and one scintillating save from their keeper.

The team played well for most of the game and was unlucky to not come away with the 3 points. Why are so many being (dare I say it?) so critical?

Darryl Ritchie
49 Posted 09/12/2015 at 06:19:25
I've got a question. Who officially gets credit for the assist; Deulofeu or Barry? Geri's cross, but Gareth touched it on the way by. I've seen it reported both ways.
Kjetil Moen
50 Posted 09/12/2015 at 08:42:56
Just feel like commenting on the sense I get on here that our team is all about Lukaku and that the other players are inferior to him or something.

Ian (#2) says Lukaku's doing his job only to see our defence ruining it for him. That’s just not right, is it? Lukaku got one goal on Monday, a real poacher's goal he couldn’t miss if he tried! But he should’ve and could’ve added a couple more.

Our defence was stable and robust throughout, except for that corner, which is a goal you’re always gonna concede, really. That goal from Dann doesn’t really mean much, other than that OF COURSE our boys are gonna lose some duels and some 50-50s. All teams do. Bayern Munich and Barcelona are conceding goals, too!

Anyway, cracking game. The second half, the whole match probably, is the best football I’ve seen from Everton in a lot of years. I felt we were in total control, and played around their box like hockey players, swinging it from side to side. I loved that second half!


Nicholas Ryan
51 Posted 11/12/2015 at 10:38:33
Kjetil 50 ..... At last ... someone who saw the same game that I did !!

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