Everton hammer another nail into Villa's coffin

Everton never really got going but still beat the struggling Midlanders convincingly behind goals by Funes Mori, Lennon and Lukaku

Lyndon Lloyd 02/03/2016 40comments  |  Jump to last
Aston Villa 1 - 3 Everton

The story of Everton in 2015-16 might be one of chronic under-achievement so far but a satisfying conclusion remains within reach, thanks largely to their impressive away record, which was further improved with an oddly frustrating yet routine victory over Aston Villa.

Any fears that Remi Gardes team might prove to be an unexpected banana skin for a side that has shown a penchant for slipping up when in advantageous positions this season were largely extinguished by the half-time break, as an early goal by Ramiro Funes Mori and a second from Aaron Lennon had the Blues up and cruising by the halfway stage.

That Roberto Martinezs men didnt capitalise on the sense of mutiny and utter resignation that rattled around Villa Park and its expanses of empty seats and fill their boots in the second half was down to a curiously anaemic display overall, one punctured by enough moments of class to put their hosts to the sword without ever really getting into full flow.

Villas plight is a desperate one and, as Evertonians, we can only be thankful that when we dallied with the top flights trapdoor in the mid-1990s, we were in a position on both occasions to have a do-or-die occasion where our supporters could will us over the line on the final day of the season.

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Only a miracle looks likely to afford fans of this famous old Midlands club the same opportunity but if they are to get one, Everton made sure it wasnt to have its origins this evening. It took just five minutes for the Toffees to deepen the gloom on the Holte End Kevin Mirallas, in the team in place of Tom Cleverley who missed out through illness, swung in a peach of a corner from the left and Funes Mori rose unchallenged to head past Brad Guzan.

The Argentine has gone from raising quizzical looks when he signed for what felt like an uneasily large transfer freein late August to being perhaps the success story for Everton this season and his opening goal and assist that would follow in the second half were a reflection of and reward for a performance that was head and shoulders above his team mates on the night.

That goal, Funes Moris fourth in an Everton jersey, should have opened the floodgates but for long spells it felt like, mentally, many of Martinezs players were still by the pool in Dubai. And the home side almost capitalised. Funes Moris attempted tackle-cum-clearance on Gaby Agbonlahor almost cannoned past Joel Robles but the Spaniard was well placed to beat the ball clear.

Robles then had to get down quickly to push a shot from outside the box behind and then momentarily lost his bearings from the resulting corner, looking disturbingly suspect as the ball thankfully evaded the Villa heads hoping to equalise from the dead-ball delivery. From the corner that followed that, Micah Richards despatched an excellent volleyed shot that sailed narrowly past the post.

Everton responded in the best way possible by doubling their advantage. Ross Barkley, otherwise as anonymous and ineffective as he has been at any point this season, raced forward before sending Kevin Mirallas away down the channel and the Belgian picked out the arriving Lennon near the penalty spot where he side-footed home with aplomb. A fourth goal in six games for the former Spurs man not bad for a player who could barely get a look in a few weeks ago.

Guzan was again powerless to prevent the goal but he did deny a game-killing third a few minutes later when Mirallas, with two assists under his belt already, went for personal glory and the American keeper spilled his shot before Joleon Lescott cleared Bryan Oviedos follow-up off the line.

That third goal did eventually arrive fifteen minutes into a a hitherto uneventful second period, though not before Guzan had pulled off an excellent one-handed save to foil Lukaku. The striker had been the recipient of a pin-point cross from Lennon and looked to have done everything right with a powerful header but the keeper turned it past the post with quick reactions.

It merely delayed the inevitable, however. Guzan managed to fist clear the resulting corner but when it was worked outside to Funes Mori, he had all the time in the world to measure a hard, low centre that Lukaku converted from close range to mark his 17th League goal of the campaign.

A general lack of consistency going forward from the Blues meant that, apart from an injury-time scramble that almost yielded a second goal for Funes Mori but Guzan again denied him, they had few chances to pad the scoreline. Martinezs decision not to go for the jugular by introducing one or both of Gerard Deulofeu and Oumar Niasse earlier (the Senegal striker did eventually come with a few minutes to go) but instead throw on John Stones in place of Seamus Coleman hadnt helped the teams shape but the manager clearly felt that, with the match effectively won, it was better to hand the young defender some minutes by switching to a back three.

Evertons quest for a fifth clean sheet in six games looked to be heading for success as Phil Jagielka threw himself in the way of Ashley Westwoods powerful shot and diverted it behind for a corner but, unfortunately, with Oviedo off the field receiving treatment, substitute Rudy Gestede would plunder what proved to be merely a consolation with 11 minutes to go. A deep cross from the right caught Stones and Jagielka somewhat flat-footed in the centre and the tall striker despatched a towering header high into the net to make it 3-1.

Having seen Everton play far better than this and either end up on the losing side or throw away points with annoying draws, griping about what was a fairly uninspiring win would be a little churlish. Securing the three points and avoiding any shock by the divisions worst team was paramount and the Blues did that with room to spare.

Certainly, they will have to perform several levels better on Saturday against West Ham and again against Chelsea the following week in the FA Cup but three points that keep the club within sight of the European places represent a job done well enough.

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Reader Comments (40)

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Paul Kossoff
1 Posted 02/03/2016 at 01:05:59
Only negative was poor decisions on the substitutes again.

We were three up but still needed things changing as Villa were coming into the game. Bringing Niasse on far too late changed nothing but we still got a good win against an odds-on relegation side.

We need a different approach to West Ham on Saturday.
Mark Andersson
2 Posted 02/03/2016 at 01:23:34
Couldn't see the match so thanks for a great report. Hope Martinez is feeling the pressure from the fans who are demanding a strong finish to the season.

It’s hard to be optimistic with RM in charge as we never know what team is going to turn up. Let's just hope the players give their all for every game.

Alan Helbert
3 Posted 02/03/2016 at 01:23:40
Ross Barkley, anonymous and ineffective this season? Are you for real? His best season in a blue shirt, maturing all the time.

How many of our goals has he had a hand in?! A decent article barring that ludicrous statement!
Lyndon Lloyd
4 Posted 02/03/2016 at 01:31:46
Alan, I said he was "as ineffective and anonymous as he has been all season," which is to say this arguably matched his worst game so far. It doesn't mean he has been poor all season.

On the contrary, and if you need further persuading, by the way, I wrote this: "Blue Diamond".

Abhishek Saha
5 Posted 02/03/2016 at 02:12:46
Great report as always Lyndon. Thanks mate.

3 points from a routine day in office I would say. Yeah, the sub decisions could have been better. We needed more game time for 3 subs/more rest for 3 from playing XI, keeping the West Ham game in mind.

Apart from the 3 points, the other postive from this game was Kev Mirallas getting a decent performance against his name.

COYB!

Tommy Davis
6 Posted 02/03/2016 at 05:32:52
Thanks Lyndon for the usual outstanding report & as per normal, I find myself agreeing with you! I said the same thing about the lads ’still being in Dubai’ on Twitter, which was a fear I had before the match, thankfully that didn’t come to fruition, as Villa were not good enough, nor did they have any of the luck needed, as you invariably do in their situation!

All things considered, I suppose we should be grateful for the 3 points (deservedly so?), even though I was disappointed with our overall display! It seems if Ross is not pulling the strings in midfield, they don’t get pulled unfortunately, as there isn’t anyone (Bar Mo B?) to step into his shoes, only Ossie & Peanuts ’were’ capable, alas for us, they are in their twilight of their careers, so the timing of Farhad Moshiri buying almost 50% of stake into EFC is critical, as the promise of funds for players this summer appears to be there from him, if reports are to be believed!

We need at the very least, a top class Goalkeeper, a right sided full back, another CB if Stones decides to leave (50mill?) & a box to box midfielder, or one with skill & goals preferably, as we cannot afford the luxury of 2 attacking midfielders being caught out up field at the same time!

I’m normally very happy with any win, but for some reason, I seem to have this nagging feeling gnawing away at me last night! Was it our overall display, or a seemingly lack of urgency with a lot of the players, or perhaps something else? Had Joel & Funes Mori, not produced good displays, I dread to think what could of have happened, as we probably would have lost & no doubt I/we would have been distraught (again)!

A lot of Toffees seem to be on the same page with most games, as to what the problem/solution is, either at halftime, or midway thru the 2nd half, so it was again last night, most of us were crying out for a couple of subs to change the game, as Villa were looking kinda dangerous! Sadly, not only does RM not sub early, but the consensus was (yet again) the wrong subs, it seems like he is losing more & more fans, as the weeks go by! Will Moshiri have any influence on whom will be taking Everton FC into the promised land that lies ahead for us & if so, does he give RM more time?

Time will tell my fellow Bluenoses, it’s been a long, long time coming/waiting for this to happen (The Moshiri/Messiah coming), I just hope it happens fast, what say you?

Ernie Baywood
7 Posted 02/03/2016 at 06:06:27
I think that reads a bit better now Lyndon. I must admit I read it the same way as Alan.

Onto the point rather than the language, Ross looks like that a lot. In many ways he's similar to Lukaku.

He'll have barnstormers on occasion. Other times he'll appear quiet but produce some of the big moments in a game. Generally he's done that this season but if he doesn't add a goal or assist it's easy for him to look ineffectual. Needs to be judged over more than one game basically... and learn to influence games more (though he did contribute to the second goal).

Danny O'Neill
8 Posted 02/03/2016 at 07:09:49
Ernie, kind of agree. Players like Ross and Romelu to a degree are in the team to deliver those game-changing moments, not necessarily do magical things every time they have the ball for 90 minutes of every match, especially whilst still developing and work in progress.

Harping back to youth, I would highlight 2 examples: Sheedy for Everton and John Barnes for Liverpool. Neither renowned for their work ethic over 90 minutes and willingness to, let’s say, "get stuck in", but game changers within a 5 minute spell.

How they affect / contribute to the season is what they should judged on.

Martin Mason
9 Posted 02/03/2016 at 07:46:58
For me, Ross was ineffective last night only by the incredibly high standard he’s maintained this year. A very good performance last night under potential banana skin conditions, Villa tried hard but look too short of quality to stay up.

Everton oozed quality at times although we’re maybe 3 very good players short of being up there with the best.

Paul Ward
10 Posted 02/03/2016 at 08:20:40
In total agreement, Lyndon, especially your comment "Ross Barkley, otherwise as anonymous and ineffective as he has been at any point this season".

Barkley is one of those exciting prospects who we all wish well, and this season he has repaid some of our faith in him. The problem is, if you watch all this season's games for the whole 90 minutes, his mistakes far out-number his hero moments.

Peter Murray
12 Posted 02/03/2016 at 09:09:16
Fair comment, Lyndon.

With the match more or less won, it made sense to give Stones some playing time rather than bring on another attacker.

Derek Knox
13 Posted 02/03/2016 at 09:27:38
I did manage to watch most of the game through a link to NBC, and whilst not being a great performance, was enough to secure all three points.

Agreeing with the comments, regarding not only the lateness of Martinez’s substitutions, but the personnel selection too!

Funes Mori is proving to be a very good acquisition indeed. It would not surprise me, if he is our Player of the Season, and well merited too, I hope we hang on to him, as some of the big Foreign Guns are watching this space.

While an Everton victory is always welcome, I couldn’t but feel a bit sorry for the Villa fans and the club in general, and what has happened to them the past few seasons. A club of long standing, like Bolton, Preston, Notts County, Bury, have all too, almost disappeared from the top table.

Still, I suppose that is a sign of the times, and I just hope we continue with the good work at Goodison, with another victory against the Hammers!

COYB

Don Alexander
14 Posted 02/03/2016 at 10:47:14
Spot on with regard to Ross last night, Lyndon. There's a difference between support and sycophancy and he, at 22 now, needs to progress into what we all hope will be a fabulous player with consistency (and yes, I saw players like Bally have the odd poor game but these were very rare). It's in everyone's interests that Ross does so as soon as possible.
Jon Hirshman
15 Posted 02/03/2016 at 11:11:41
Only thing I would say about Ross Barkley was the statistic I heard I think during the cup match, that as well as being into double figures for goals this season, he has an assist rate of 1 in 3. Easily his best season and I would allow him a quiet night once in a while.

Mirallas, last night had a quiet game but still had 2 assists. As regards substitutions, I’m not a 100% convinced you always have to make them, last night being a case in point and I’m not counting last season’s away match at Southampton in that point.

Barry Pearce
16 Posted 02/03/2016 at 11:14:42
Great report as always.

Great to get the 3 points, but well below average performance, and like many couldn’t get the Stones for Coleman substitution, when winning 3-0. Surely give Niasse more game-time to see what he can or can’t do.

Garry Taylor
17 Posted 02/03/2016 at 11:19:31
We went 3-0 up on the hour mark.

Villa brought on Gestede on 66 minutes and went two up top.

On 73 minutes Stones was brought on for Coleman – Given that we have no recognised back up right back, Villa had gone two upfront and the game was won, the decision to bring Stones on for Coleman was the correct choice.

On 79 minutes Oviedo picked up a knock and subbed for Baines on 81 minutes – again the correct choice as there was no point risking further injury to Oviedo.

On 88 minutes Niasse replaced Mirallas – Mirallas was having a good game, but towards the end he was tiring, not tracking back and giving the ball away. Again a reasonable decision for him to be substituted when he was.

To those who thought the substitutions were poor and ill thought out, please enlighten me as to why and what alternative ingenious substitutions you would have made with Kone, Deulofeu and Osman also on the bench.

Graham Mockford
18 Posted 02/03/2016 at 11:32:05
Martin #9

I firmly believe Ross Barkley is a better player in a more advanced role. Last night due to Cleverley's absence he had to play in a deeper position.

I didn't think he had a poor game, he just had less opportunity to find space when he is part of a midfield three.

I suspect when Cleverley or Besic returns he will move back to the role in which he has been very effective in the last few months.

Barry Pearce
19 Posted 02/03/2016 at 11:54:12
Gary (#14), why do you think Stones for Coleman was the right choice?

Coleman wasn’t injured, we were 3-0 up did you think Gestede coming on and Villa going two up top was going to get them something out of the game, and bringing Stones on would eradicate this? Baines for Oviedo I’ve no problem with.

Declan Campbell
20 Posted 02/03/2016 at 12:17:53
Derek Knox. Funes Mori as Player of the Season over Lukaku, Barry, or Barkley... Are you having a laugh? Yeah, with Besic and Oviedo second and third for the handful of good games that gives them legendary status on here.
Ian Burns
21 Posted 02/03/2016 at 13:10:29
Great report, Lyndon. I don’t always agree 100% with your match reports but that’s the beauty of opinion. However, this one is spot on.

I look forward to your article on the new shareholder with regards to his influence on the playing staff and particularly the position of our manager, once the details have been released and his acceptance by the authorities confirmed.

Geoff Williams
22 Posted 02/03/2016 at 13:14:55
Is this report based on attendance at the match or on a TV viewing? Maybe it’s a summary of comments on TV or in the newspapers.
. ........... Just curious.

It’s a well written article but as a match report... mmmm?

Philip Yensen
23 Posted 02/03/2016 at 13:27:22
Aston Villa are a poor poor side.

We are a mid table club with a mid table manager and a mid table Board. Finally we get a couple of top 4 board members/investors. Next, top 4 manager, top 4 ground, 3 top 4 players added to our squad, all this for our Number 1 FANS.

Last night was a "must win" game. I thought Villa would be up for it, no not in the slightest. We could see from the start their heart has gone. What do we do? We play pussy foot football, once again 15 passes where 5-6 would be more effective. If this is the order of Martinez, he has got to go. If it’s the choice of the players then they have got to go, simple. A lot of our goals this season have been breathtaking, when we add pace and first time passing. When some of our players have time to think, they are fucked.

Coleman not thinking tears down the wing gets the ball, has a second or third touch, his light go out, stops turns around and passes back 20-30 yards.

Barkley, gets a kicking and is hassled hits a telling pass or shoots or is up ended. Ball at his feet runs for 20 yards 3 players to pick, either loses the ball, plays the hardest pass or picks the wrong player. Oh, by the way he stops and sulks therefore leaving a gaps that he is supposed to cover.

It was an easy game last night and had loads of possession mostly in the wrong areas, hence the fist half Lukaku was coming deeper and deeper for a pass.

Substitutions? No right back cover, against this side, could have gone to a back 3 or Lennon back bring on Deulofeu. No not Martinez, centre half to full back. One simple job for Stones to do was win a header against an average player, nope, result goal conceded. Earlier Stones set off down the right over the half way line only one player in front of him, duly turns back run 20 yards and passes backwards.

I know we won but 5,000 fans traveled down the motorway to see us put Villa to the sword, what do we do? Stick pins in them. After 10 mins we should have bombarded them from every angle.

If the likes of Barkley, Stones, Deulofeu, Lukaku, McCarthy and other young player are to improve, a new manager is required. A kick up the arse is what they need now – no more cotton wool.

Bill Griffiths
24 Posted 02/03/2016 at 14:30:02
Barry (#16), like Gary, I don’t see a problem with putting on Stones. Maybe he should have taken off Jags or Funes Mori instead of Coleman but giving Stones a run out was a good decision.

He has been out of the team for a few games now, and rightly so after his recent performances, but deserves a second chance. The game was won at that stage so it was a good chance to give him some game time.

Paul Andrews
25 Posted 02/03/2016 at 14:38:25
Fair comment, Bill.

He would not be in my starting 11, but well worth giving him a run at a time the game was safe.

Eric Holland
26 Posted 02/03/2016 at 14:57:23
I was there last night and it was starting to feel like a home match, with our away support not their usual vociferous self and quite nervous even when we where 3-0 up.

Coming away from the match, it did not feel like a good 3-1 away win. Then again, the sign of a good team is winning games while not playing at their best.

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 02/03/2016 at 15:11:45
I have no problem with Stones, he is going to be a great player, but to be honest I don’t see the point of playing him now unless it is absolutely necessary because he will not be here next season.
John Keating
28 Posted 02/03/2016 at 15:18:10
Regarding subs...

As far as I’m concerned, league wise, our season is well over. Why are we not putting a couple of our much vaunted youngsters on the bench rather than the likes of Kone and Osman?

If we have a chance to put them on even for 15 minutes give them a run out. They’ll not only enjoy it, I have no doubt they’ll learn more in that 15 minutes than half-a-dozen U21 games.

Paul Andrews
29 Posted 02/03/2016 at 15:19:01
Dave,

Given the choice of a potentially good defender or £40 million, I would take the money every time.

Ron Sear
30 Posted 02/03/2016 at 16:16:48
Not a good game, a complete inability move the ball rapidly forward into space in the second half and total exasperation at the number of misplaced passes and Everton players caught in possession. Not in our case helped by one or two supporters around us.

Why for heavens sake do some of you spend a fortune on tickets and travel then waste your time mostly piddling around with your mobiles, wander into the ground late focussed on the seriously unhealthy food that you are cramming into your gob, barely look at the match, other than to make inane and inaccurate comments about our players, and then ask me who scored the goals? You could at least sing.

John Raftery
31 Posted 02/03/2016 at 16:39:17
Ron (29) Well said mate. For some of our fans, it seems the actual game gets in the way of their night out. The same applies to our home matches. There are often hundreds in the Park End concourse eating and drinking while the match is in progress.

As for the game itself, the team did enough to win. We have harder games to play this month so I am not too worried that our players failed to exert themselves in chasing more goals once the game was won.

Mike Powell
32 Posted 02/03/2016 at 17:43:38
I still don’t get Martinez's subs – why take Coleman off for Stones? I just don’t get it.

Why spend £14 mil on a striker and leave him on the bench until the last 5 mins – it's beyond me.
Ste Traverse
33 Posted 02/03/2016 at 18:04:58
Couldn't agree John #30. The same thing happens in the Street End.

It really gets on my nerves seeing fans fuck off down to the concourses at around 35 minutes to queue up for the overpriced food or that catpiss they call Chang because flling their faces or getting the ale in is more important than the actual match, then come back up when the second half is well underway, before you hear 'excuse me' because they need to go back down for a piss.

You wonder why these types even bother coming.

Lyndon Lloyd
34 Posted 02/03/2016 at 18:13:47
Peter (11): "With the match more or less won, it made sense to give Stones some playing time rather than bring on another attacker."

I didn't like the effect it had on the performance (and the fact that Stones was the closest player to Gestede won't help his cause in the face of those who feel he is weak in the air) but I can understand the rationale.

He has a player for whom Chelsea were prepared to pay £38m last summer and who went as far as to submit a transfer request sitting on the bench. It made sense to give him some minutes and also try that back three formation again.

Not that it was all that convincing, but if you can't give it a whirl at 3-0 up, when can you?

Eric Holland
35 Posted 02/03/2016 at 18:23:00
Ron (#29) Spot on mate, my Son and I where on the end of the row of about 15 seats and you would have thought it was a main thoroughfare in a shopping center the amount of people that where going past us during the game, and coming back with pies and hot dogs, stopping to ask what had just happened!!!
Alan Bodell
36 Posted 02/03/2016 at 18:31:52
A Villa mate of mine sent me an e-mail from the ’Vital Villa’ website forum today and it was saying what a brilliant show of respect from the travelling Blues last night when they applauded the walkout and ’Villa till I die’ chanting.

It said what great supporters we had; I’d love to post it up for all to see but sadly I’m not computer savvy enough.

Dennis Ng
37 Posted 02/03/2016 at 18:54:04
By that logic (that the game is won), why was Niasse played so late? And why was Deulofeu not used? I get the injury to Oviedo forcing a change but surely we have enough quality to adjust formation-wise to cope with the changes Villa made. And we let in 1 goal with little threat in the second half.

I really don’t see how the subs are justified other than trying to cope with Villa (and not that the game is won). Surely we should prioritize getting Niasse fit more than giving the already fit Stones time to catch up.

(By the way, is Galloway back from injury? I see that he is not marked injured on TW squad list.)

Chris Scully
38 Posted 02/03/2016 at 19:20:32
Allen Bodell # 35, here is the link to the ’Vital Villa’ post...

Post number 1611710

John Codling
39 Posted 03/03/2016 at 10:59:48
This man's substitutions fucking baffle me. What is the point on putting a man on for 3 minutes to get match fit? He is taking the fucking piss out of the player and the fans. Let's hope our new investor can see this and get rid ASAP.
Alan Bodell
40 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:17:13
Thanks for that, Chris, it certainly was respected by the Villa fans according to my mate.
James Lauwervine
41 Posted 04/03/2016 at 23:50:26
I’ve seen on some threads that people are suggesting that the Villa goal was Stones’s fault. Let me tell you that is absolute shite. Watch the game on MotD and pause the replay. Jeez I can’t stand the bashing of our players who give their all!

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