Nice day to forget my shades

So three wins on the bounce in the Premier League and with the gap between us and Manchester United now down to just five points we find ourselves very much looking up rather than down. Things feel really positive. Let's just keep it going.

Paul Traill 22/01/2017 19comments  |  Jump to last
Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Everton

There's something of an unmistakable buzz about waiting at a deserted bus stop at 6.30am when you're on route to see Everton away. It's also nice to get to Lime Street station and see plenty of your Everton family making the journey, and so it was. Plenty of Evertonians on the 7.44am to London Euston.

As I've some friends and family in London I tend to coincide a London game with a visit and so first had to drop my bag off at my mates flat. Jim and Hannah used to live more centrally in the capital but have now selfishly moved to Walthamstow village which is at the end of the Victoria line. After a quick catch up with the guys I was headed back the way I came, before changing at Highbury & Islington to take the lengthy overground journey to Norwood Junction.

My adventure didn't end there. I had to meet a mate by the ground to collect a couple of tickets before finally catching up with Ian and Lesley in the pleasant Pawsons Arms. That's a cracking little away pub by the way.I never used to really have an opinion on Crystal Palace but having now done a few away trips to Selhurst Park I've gotten to think quite fondly of the club. The fans are a good bunch and always seem friendly and helpful, even the match day stewards make a point of saying hello.

Anyhow, at the pub I thought we'd hit lucky seeing Swansea City holding Liverpool to 0-0 at the break. Little did I know of course of the delight that was forthcoming. We had to be respectful with our celebrating of course given Swansea City are relegation rivals of Crystal Palace. At 2-2 we were convinced we would witness a Liverpool comeback of which we would never hear the end of. Similarly so at 3-2 in fact. What a result for Swansea City. Nobody saw that one coming.

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During this we got chatting to a lovely couple who'd also travelled up for the game. I love that special bond you can somehow extend to Evertonians at away games. Complete strangers you can have a chat too as if you go back years. Many you never see again. The lady had an incredibly encyclopediac knowledge of all things Everton...and all things bad about Liverpool! Whether it be detailed information on the charity work overseen by Duncan Ferguson over the years, or details of the time Steven Gerrard beat up the DJ of a club, whatever it was she seemed to know everything. It was quite remarkable.

We were having a blast in the pub and left it a tiny bit too late to walk up the hill to Selhurst Park but we made it just in time for kick off, Everton unchanged and looking mighty smart in yellow and blue. I'm a bit of an obsessive when it comes to bringing my shades with me. If there's even a hint that we might get some sun I like to have them ready. It was with great annoyance then that I neglected to bring them along this time. I didn't even forget I just figured I wouldn't need them. This turned out to be very misguided of course as we had to use our hands as caps throughout the first half. We spent the first half complaining about the brightness of the sun, and the second half missing the sun as it certainly got very cold when it was gone.

Loic Remy headed against the crossbar fairly early in the game for the Eagles but we otherwise kept Crystal Palace at arms length throughout the half, with Ramiro Funes Mori particularly impressive at the back. Going forward we did very well and I can genuinely say that I always felt the goal would come. Ross Barkley was exceptional in the first half. He controlled the game and having our young inspiration Tom Davies alongside him has lifted his game no end.

We threatened several times throughout the first half and on another day could have been a couple ahead at the break. Wayne Hennessey was in fine form between the sticks and made some great saves in the first half, the most impressive perhaps coming from a powerfully struck Ramiro Funes Mori drive from a corner kick.

For all our dominance you worried a little with some of the set-piece opportunities we afforded Crystal Palace but as we chatted to more great Toffee strangers during our half time tipple we were all in confident mood we could get the three points.In the second half didn't quite showcase the glut of chances which came our way in the first and we needed to be patient for the opportunity to come. We created a few half chances which didn't quite go in but we were in control of the game. All the play was with us.

The maddeningly inconsistent Kevin Mirallas was replaced by Ademola Lookman, and Gareth Barry by Morgan Schneiderlin as we searched for the three points. The opportunity came with the game closing out. With just three minutes on the clock Jeffrey Schlupp went down with cramp off the field by our goal and then rolled back on it to try to get the game stopped. That's one of my pet hates and though Anthony Taylor gave us little throughout, I have to give him credit for letting play go on. It wasn't that he just didn't notice either. He had a look and evaluated that this was not a head injury, nor was the player in critical need of treatment, and the incident literally couldn't have been further away from the play. Indeed it would actually have been folly to halt play to give the player treatment...for cramp. CRAMP!!!

Credit to our boys for being professional whist Crystal Palace lost focus and it was Tom Davies who created the opportunity for Seamus Coleman who had charged upfield. Our Irish gem composed himself before thrashing the ball past Wayne Hennessey. We went berserk. What a feeling.

We still had a classic Big Sam onslaught to defend, for another eight minutes all in all, but the boys did well, Joel Robles in particular made one very key save and bravely came and caught everything. EVERYTHING! He's grown on me that lad. If he could polish his distribution he really could become a top goalkeeper for us.

So three wins on the bounce in the Premier League and with the gap between us and Manchester United now down to just five points we find ourselves very much looking up rather than down. Sure, our meek surrender in the FA cup still rankles but it's enjoyable being a blue at the moment. Things feel really positive. Let's just keep it going.

Player Ratings

Robles: Amidst a run of games when Tim Howard was injured in January 2015, Roberto Martinez reserved special praise for Joel Robles for his stellar display in goal at Crystal Palace. He was, perhaps unfairly, dropped again as soon as Tim Howard was fit again but though unconvinced, you could see a glimmer of potential in Joel. Two years on and back at Selhurst Park and the lad finally seems to have made it. If ever there was a game when he's come of age it was this one. He was magnificent. He's had to do it the hard way, playing in a struggling team with a Roberto Martinez defence last season, but I believe our goalkeeping problems could well now be solved. Here's your chance Joel. Take it, quite literally, with both hands. My man of the match. 9

Baines: Did well. He's playing with consistency and seems to be back to somewhere approaching his best. 7

Funes Mori: If you're anything like me, if there's a player you're not keen on, you ready scrutinize his weaknesses. Ste has done this over the years with Darron Gibson, and I've certainly done it a lot with Ramiro Funes Mori. Well Ramiro, if you can defend and play as well as you did at Selhurst Park yesterday I'll have no cause to complain. He was excellent, almost man of the match in fact. His best appearance yet for Everton in my opinion. Well done. Build on it. 8

Williams: Seems to be at his best when a) he is in a back three, and, b) when he doesn't play alongside Phil Jagielka. Was quite comfortable throughout. 7

Holgate: Shows great composure for a young lad. He's got a bright future ahead of him. It's a good thing that's going to be with us. 7

Coleman: Was a constant menace to Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon throughout and showed great determination to get up in support for the goal. What a finish as well. £60,000. Surely the bargain of all bargains. 8

Barry: Did well. Replaced for fresher legs but his quality, experience and professionalism suggests he has a lot to give in a blue shirt yet. 7

Davies and Barkley: Isn't it great to see two young local products of our youth system come through and perform so well. The two of them were excellent and could well be the heartbeat of our midfield for many, many years to come. Well done to both of them, and a massive congratulations to Kevin Sheedy, David Unsworth and, perhaps more formatively, Ray Hall. They must be so proud. Both get an 8.

Mirallas: It wasn't for lack of trying but he wasn't quite on his game today. 6

Lukaku: He worked quite hard and did a good job of occupying their centre backs. You might not always see the little things but he did quite a selfless job for the team I thought. 7


Schneiderlin (for Barry): Did ok. Still finding his feet. 6

Lookman (for Mirallas): Almost instantly he got involved, took a few players on and sprayed a lovely ball across the pitch. That tells me straight away that he's got the talent. He needs looking after and protecting, but my initial prognosis would be that we have another very talented young player on our hands there. Well done Everton for securing him. 6

Jagielka (for Barkley): Brought on to batten down the hatches during Big Sam's onslaught. At his age Phil Jagielka will probably think he should be playing. We were saying at half time that with opportunities limited, it might be as well to let him go and help David Moyes out at Sunderland and promote Tyias Browning or Matthew Pennington instead. 6

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Reader Comments (19)

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Anthony Dwyer
1 Posted 23/01/2017 at 01:54:19
Wouldn't argue with them ratings, I'm sure we could all choose to move them around by a point or so but in general is say that's a fair shout Paul.

Good to read you speak Barry up in your comments, he's took a bit of stick on Twitter about his performance, but I thought he looked good against Palace.

Robles deserved a lot of credit, you rightfully gave him it.

Mori is another who is often scrutinized by many of our fans, but I really think both Funes Mori and Robles need to be cut some slack and be made regular first team starters, imo they are both the best we have at what they do.

Mori in particular deserves much more credit and respect from a lot of our supporters. I honestly believe he would get in most Premier League sides, and he should be the main man for us to build around at the back.

It's good of the fa to give us this weekend off, hopefully we can reap the benefits of it a week Tuesday.

David Ellis
2 Posted 23/01/2017 at 02:34:38
Great report. Agree totally Anthony about Robles and Funes Mori. Both seem to have come of age. We need defenders who can distribute and Funes Mori and Holgate both seem capable of this. Jagielka and Williams... not so much.
David Chait
3 Posted 23/01/2017 at 06:30:19
Good report.. enjoyed reading it...

I'm also a Mori sceptic since his first "straight to the opposition" clearance.. agreed he had a better game.. but long way to go for him.

With Barkley, Davies and Holgate all doing a great job we must be one of if not "the" club of choice for talented kids..

James Morgan
4 Posted 23/01/2017 at 08:01:27
Good report, Paul.

It's great to see these young lads flourishing for us. There isn't a club in the Premier League that gives more opportunities to young players than us, they might not always end up as regulars for our first eleven but they will be given a chance.

I believe Dortmund have a policy where they look to produce three players every year, one that will get in their squad/team, one that will go on to make a career in the Bundesliga and one that will just have a professional career in football.

Sounds like something we do to a degree. Holgate and Lookman just prove that there are some great potential players out there.

Liam Reilly
5 Posted 23/01/2017 at 08:07:14
Will be interesting when Gana comes back as to who will fill that midfield diamond 3; because right now it would be difficult to take any of them out.

The litmus test for Robles will be when he next drops a clanger and if the faithful allow him some slack.

Paul Kelly
6 Posted 23/01/2017 at 08:52:12
Like the title Paul. Asked the steward did we get free shades with the seat as he pointed out where it was.

I can see Barry being dropped for Gana. But the way we're playing he'll have to fight for his place like everyone else.

Xavier Spencer
7 Posted 23/01/2017 at 09:44:46
Good report, Paul, and glad to see Robles is beginning to impose himself. But I had to laugh at your description of Walthamstow as a village. I lived there in the 1980s and it was a bit of a shithole. The estate agents have obviously rebranded it!
Martin Nicholls
8 Posted 23/01/2017 at 10:39:34
Good report Paul and I agree in particular about Robles - let's hope he makes the shirt his own over the remainder of the season. Don't wear shades myself but typically and for once, I forgot my cap! Had almost forgotten that "blinding" first half in the euphoria of the win!
Mark Murphy
9 Posted 23/01/2017 at 11:25:38
Hey Paul you must have left the Pawson same time as me - great little pub although I was in the same pub before last seasons fixture (evening kick off) and it wasn't so friendly that time. I got some abuse when the locals heard my accent when ordering..) due to traffic me and my mate only got in there this time at 2:30 so it was a quick one before the sloshy jog to the ground!

We had seats (never sat down once) right at the back and the sun could be avoided by using the stands roof structures so had a good view of the whole game.

I don't know why some people are having a pop at Lukaku as I thought he played the target man role exceptionally well. My only criticism would be that he needs to get closer to the keeper in case of spills. It was obvious from the start that their keeper couldn't hold the shots and if Kevin de Bruyne had played for us he would have had a hat trick.

I'd be happy with that team selection in every game but I'm relaxed now that we have Barry's replacement in Schneiderlin and I expect that will happen sooner rather than later!

But my new favourite player is Seamus!! Sixty grand!!!

Eric Paul
10 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:05:12
If Rom reacted to Ross's crosses, goals through-balls and shots instead of holding his arms out in front of him, he would have had two tap-ins. That said, I thought he had a good game.
Brian Furey
11 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:11:34
Thanks Paul. Good report and probably like many other oversea Toffees, I do like reading a personal report like this as it makes you feel you are actually there in person as opposed to the more official reports.

I only saw the highlights on BBC so it's hard to make good judgements on players. It's nice to read that Davies is maintaining his good form and is helping bring out the best of Ross. Mirallas certainly is a dilemma as one week he can be great and work hard and then go back into his shell and not seem to care as much.

I too fall into the category of scrutinizing Mori too much and always waiting for him to make the mistake that we all like to say "is in him". Lots of defenders make mistakes every week but we tend to only highlight the ones that we want to prove to ourselves "yes he is a liability".

I think he forget this is only his 2nd season and it's a very different style of play between playing in Argentina than in the Premier League. He's only 25 and has 18 caps for his country. Most of time playing at Everton he has been in an ever changing back 4 (or 5) and so it's only lately he's getting a settled run with those around him. I wonder how do Koeman rate him.

It's a pity that great goal chance he had didn't go in as it would have really boosted his confidence. He got 5 goals in 37 games last year but none so far in 19.

However, 60 Grand moves onto 4 goals for the season joint 2nd best with Ross. Hopefully playing a back 3 will lead to more chances for Seamus but I'd like to see Baines getting more shots in as well. I miss his great free-kicks and there is no reason why he doesn't be bombing forward more and getting in more shots.

10 days to our next game v Stoke so hopefully we get at least another player in before then.

Phil Walling
12 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:25:00
Good report on a cracking game, Paul. Particularly agree with your comments on Robles who I wrote off as useless when Daft Roberto landed him on us !

Our fortunes seem to have changed for the better since I returned to Cyprus after the Leicester debacle and my mate Ossie has rung to say ToffeeWeb is hearing a lot less of me these days.

But what's there to moan about ?

Brent Stephens
13 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:39:13
"Our fortunes seem to have changed for the better since I returned to Cyprus after the Leicester debacle and my mate Ossie has rung to say ToffeeWeb is hearing a lot less of me these days."

Phil, how long are you staying in Cyprus?!

Phil Walling
14 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:53:50
Nice one, Brent !
Dave Rusk
15 Posted 23/01/2017 at 13:01:21
Slightly off topic (and sorry if this has been mentioned on other threads) but I have looked back at the last dozen or so games over the last 2 months and, if my memory serves me correctly, we have scored 11 goals in the last 10 minutes of those games, giving us 7 extra points. This is in marked contrast to last season where, off the top of my head, we conceded late goals and points at Bournemouth and Chelsea and at Goodison to Stoke and Leicester at about this time of the year.

In part this must be due to improved fitness levels but also due to stronger characters and enhanced ability to close games out. I didn't think Saturday could get any better until, on the up escalator at Euston, we spied the hordes of London based RS coming down. Boy did we give them some stick!

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 23/01/2017 at 13:21:13
Enjoy your posts, Phil, even if I see them as the teensiest bit negative at times. Sunshine works wonders.
Tim Wardrop
17 Posted 23/01/2017 at 15:15:42
Lovely stuff, as always, Paul.

Just got to quibble with one thing:

"before changing at Highbury & Islington to take the lengthy overground journey to Norwood Junction"

Next time, I'd recommend continuing on the Victoria line to Victoria station and taking a national rail service from there. Much quicker!

Andy Crooks
18 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:51:25
Top report, Paul. I doubt there is, a fan report like it.Really enjoyable engaging stuff.
Jack Convery
19 Posted 25/01/2017 at 14:00:21
Koeman now has a system – a system I've been advocating playing for a while now: 3 at the back brings the best out of Williams and imo does the same for Funes Mori. Holgate is a very classy defender and be it a 3 or a 4 he will adapt perfectly. Playing Coleman and Baines as wing backs gives us the width and defensive security you need in the Premier League – ask Conte.

The players are finally settling down to what Koeman wants and the results are coming.

The second half of the season should be very interesting indeed. A couple more in and maybe Jags out will see us through til the summer.

If Jags does go I wish him all the best and thank him for 9 years great service – just a pity he never got to raise a trophy as Captain.

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