OK so who saw that coming? Less than 2 months after possibly our worst performance of the season on the south coast we comfortably beat the same opposition 3-0.
Let’s get the goals out of the way first before we go into more detail on the match.
Enner Valancia got his first goal in over 2 years (I believe) reacting quickest after the ball came back off the ‘keeper following a good turn and shot by the impressive Lukaku.
Valencia was involved in the second, he was fouled in the box following a good flowing passing move. After some initial confusion Leighton Baines stepped up coolly to do what he does best. Some stats came out after the game that he holds the record for a Premier League defender involved in goals, impressive.
The third was about the most straightforward goal you will see in your life, Lukaku was on the last man and was found with a pinpoint through ball by Davies, Rom took it in his stride and thumped the ball into the top corner.
A 3-0 Performance?
Let’s be honest with ourselves this game looked like it would be a draw until the last 20 minutes. That’s not to say it was dire, just that for the few chances each team created, none really looked clear cut. Then Ronald Koeman brought on Valencia for the woeful Lennon and the game changed almost immediately.
We’ve often said here that Valencia is a bit like Dirk Kuyt, or Phil Neville in that they are generally not very good at football, but what they offer is running and hard work, and sometimes that is exactly what a team needs. Whether he is good enough to remain at Everton after his loan spell is another question, but he certainly changed the game yesterday.
Another two players who had good games were local lads Ross Barkley and Tom Davies. Ross has been wrongly lambasted in recent weeks, but his stats match up to Dele Alli apart from goals. Ross loves this club and you can see he takes it personally when we lose, and as such always goes looking for the ball, to try and improve the play. More often than not when he gets the ball though he has his back to goal, and the rest of the team is static. Last night with Davies and Guaye we had a more mobile central unit and the movement and legs of Davies in particular seemed to match Barkley’s style of play very well. Early days yet but two local lads as the core of our midfield sounds good.
One player who gets a special mention and for all the wrong reasons is Aaron Lennon. Lennon was woeful yesterday. He lacked sharpness, a willingness to track back and any sort of threat going forward. Now he’s been decent recently, so maybe this was just one game too many for the diminutive winger and every player gets away with one of these every so often. He was rightly replaced in the second half and the substitution changed the game.
Robles, 6 – Seemed to be trying to slow the game down from the very start and was shaky with his kicking. Still a clean sheet.
Coleman, 6 – Average game from Seamus, offered little protection from Lennon so limited in attacking play.
Williams, 7 – Nothing really to do except one excellent clearance over his own bar.
Mori, 8 – Another solid game from Funes, on another day would have got MOTM.
Baines, 7 – Solid performance, scored great penalty.
Lennon, 4 – Weak tired performance.
Davies, 8 – Good performance, be interesting to see him alongside Barry now Guaye is off to AFCON.
Guaye, 6 – Been off colour for a few games, but still solid. Maybe had one eye on AFCON?
Barkley, 9 – Another excellent performance. Controlled everything in midfield and was instrumental in the build up to the penalty. MOTM.
Calvert-Lewin, 6 – Looked bright before picking up a knock that meant he had to be replaced early on. Replaced by Mirallas.
(Mirallas, 7 – Was lively and full of running. Solid.)
Lukaku, 8 – A good, goal scoring performance but also his teamwork and hold up play was better.
Subs: Valencia – 8, Mirallas – 7 (above), Barry – 6