Monday morning. I have had a day to let the dust settle after a rather scathing review of the previous game, and now I look forward to Stoke, Newcastle and Hull City. For me Martinez needs to make some bold decisions in the coming games, as teams seem to know how to play, and win, against us.

We have a few returning players that should be available to us that will make some of these decisions easier, such as Kevin Mirallas, John Stones & James McCarthey, but I am sure there are a few other players worried about their places in the starting line up too. I am looking at people like Eto’o, Lukaku, the whole of the back five.

The Defence

The defence has been shocking all season, proven by the fact that we are the 7th most prolific team in terms of goals scored this season and have a goal difference of 0. Only two teams have conceded more goals than us this term (QPR and Leicester) and something needs to change. Unfortunately that is not going to be in goal.

Goalkeeper is the one position that we have zero cover, as on present viewing Joel Robles is nowhere near ready to challenge for the position, so we need to look to strengthen in front of Howard and stop him being under pressure from so many crosses.

I spoke in the last post about Baines and Coleman getting no protection when we play three number 10’s across the attacking midfield positions so perhaps it’s a little harsh to blame them but Baines in particular needs to improve as he has two very able understudies in Ovideo and particularly Garbutt.

In every game on TV or in highlights we hear about how great Leighton Baines is a dead ball deliveries. Anyone who has watched us this season will know that’s complete rubbish though. I heard a stat that we are the only team not to have scored from a corner all season. I am not surprised as that would require getting the ball past the first man.

In the couple of games Garbutt has played this year he has shown that he is a level above Baines on set piece delivery and crossing, and also seems to be more mobile getting up the wing. I feel it’s time to give Luke his chance and take Baines out of the spotlight for a while.

John Stones is a certainty to come in for Distin along side Phil Jagielka and Coleman should retain his place too, although Tyias Browning also looks a strong challenger.

The Midfield

In midfield the return of James McCarthey will hopefully see Gareth Barry drop to the bench so Besic can continue his good form. Having both McCarthey and Besic with good pace and a fierce challenge will free up the attacking 4 so much more, as well as providing much-needed cover for the back 4.

In front of the two rottweilers Mirallas will come back in on the wing. Naismith will probably continue wide and Barkley should get his coveted number 10 position back. This should give us much more balance, allowing Coleman and Baines/Garbutt to get forward with greater frequency.

The Attack

In my opinion Lukaku should drop to the bench. In the game vs Krasnador, despite playing almost 100% reserve team/academy players Kone looked full of energy, pace and athleticism all things which Romelu is lacking at present. It’s been a hellish start to his Everton career for Aroune but what a confidence boost it would be for him to start on Boxing day. I feel that the impotence/lack of energy of Lukaku at present tied in with his good performance in Europe have earned him the opportunity to show Evertonians what he is all about.

My Team vs Stoke

Howard, Coleman, Garbutt, Stones, Jagielka, McCarthey, Besic, Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith, Kone

Subs: Robles, Browning, Barry, Lukaku, Eto’o, Baines, Osman

You tell me that is not a good, attacking, balanced team with great options from the bench (if we ever make a sub).

COYB

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Dan, the owner of this site, has supported Everton all of his life and has been attending games for the past 20 years on and off. A season ticket holder for many of the attending years, Dan has seen the ups and downs of Everton from Kendall, Walker, Royle, Smith, Moyes and now Martinez.

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