Chelsea 1-0 Everton: Promise grows but top four will have to wait
By Mark Ellis
[quote]It’s clear a striker was needed in January. Jelavic was ineffective for a long time and rightly sold but to not have a replacement fit and ready to make an impact was naive at best. Roberto isn’t immune from criticism. If he thought we had enough then this has proven short sighted. [/quote]
Everton slumped to an undeserved 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday as once again we showed how much promise there is in this team; if only we had a striker who knew where the goal was.
Being forced to admit this is a season of transition frustrates me. Nothing transitional about the way we played before Christmas, but, despite the standard of play remaining consistently high, the results have dropped off. Damaging defeats at Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea have cost us big time in the race for Champions league football.
The players simply have to make sure we don’t let this season drift away. It is important for Martinez and his long term strategy that we end this season confidently. Ideally with a cup win. A scenario I have no doubt shall give us a huge boost as we look to challenge the top 4 next season.
We have a fully fit squad and with seven home games and just four away, we have a great chance to end this season positively. It would simply be criminal to fade into seventh after a season that had promised much.
The reality is we are in transition. However this season is no less painful than last. Watching fourth slip away as the inevitable problems of having a thin squad come home to roost is gut wrenching. We were in a great position at Christmas, I fully realise a sense of perspective is needed but not adding a striker or two in the January transfer window has ultimately cost us a chance to make a huge leap forward.
This was in evidence yet again at Chelsea. Playing confidently with an element of swagger but without creating many chances, Everton’s control of the game over a team fighting for the title was impressive. With McCarthy and Barry enjoying there best games for a while.
There was a sharpness to Everton’s play. The crisp passing and movement was a delight to watch at times. This is were Everton’s football has advanced so much under Martinez. We are controlling large periods of games against top quality opposition, however we need to learn to punish these teams. The foundations of a very good side are being laid.
We were punished for our lack of cutting-edge with a goal conceded in the 93rd minute. John Terry pouncing to win it for Chelsea from a free kick that should never have been given. The crushing feeling had returned; our ambitions of champions league football finally over.
It’s clear a striker was needed in January. Jelavic was ineffective for a long time and rightly sold but to not have a replacement fit and ready to make an impact was naive at best. Roberto isn’t immune from criticism; if he thought we had enough then this has proven short sighted.
You will have to excuse the Kenwright agenda. 14 years of lies from this man fills me with cynicism that the money wasn’t available. I am happy to be proved wrong in the summer but the chance was there in January and for whatever reason, we didn’t take it
The lack of a proven goalscorer has cost us vital points at Chelsea and Spurs.
The team has made huge steps forward this season, this may not be reflected in the points tally but to say no progress has been made is madness. The football we are playing and the control of games were exacting on our opponents has been there all season. Virtually no-one save Liverpool away and City away have outplayed us.
With three home games out of four against West Ham, Cardiff and Swansea and the crucial Arsenal FA cup quarter final sandwiched in the middle, we still have a massive opportunity to make a hugely positive impact on our season.
We need a fit and angry Lukaku to be at his snarling best. Deulofeu to show us his quality and the return to form of Barkley.
We must be allowed to progress. I’m not going on another Kenwright rant, everyone knows my feelings on him and his board but this summer they have to finally deliver. We have loans going back we’ll need to replace them and strengthen the squad to push on next year. The manager deserves that after making a fantastic impact since being appointed.
More importantly, the fans deserve it too.
The club is changing and has made significant progress. The appointment of Big Dunc as first team coach another brilliant move from Martinez.
I have absolutely loved Martinez looking to the future with one eye on the past. He knows what has made this club great and believes those values will be key to us moving forward. The mosaic of Alan Ball in the changing rooms and other images of past Everton glories around Finch Farm have really galvanized the fan base.
We can win most of our remaining games and end this season with a cup win and a 5th placed finish. At the start of the season that would have been classed as a good one. Roberto did say he wanted Champions League but we didn’t end the window stronger in January and the usual dose of injuries has depressingly put paid to our fourth placed ambitions this season.
A lack of investment in the summer is not an option. The board has to deliver. The cash is there and with more TV money coming through, we have to make an impact on the transfer market this summer. We simply have to.
Champions League has gone now but we must focus on winning the FA Cup and finishing 5th. The season has held far too much promise for us to drift away tamely. A return of the swagger is needed, we still have a chance to make it a memorable season. Three points v West Ham are a must before we head down to the Emirates.
The Evertonians will be at there best at Arsenal I know. I genuinely believe the supporters can push us on for victory at the Emirates. Providing Arsenal let more than 5 of us in!
A win I believe will open the door for our 6th FA cup win. Arsenal have a habit of losing key games in a cluster and we have shown in the league game we have the quality to control the game against Arsenal. Our players have to add a ruthlessness to that quality to send Arsenal out of the cup.
It has been gutting watching our Champions League hopes fade away but maybe fate has decided we need the springboard of an FA Cup win before we entertain Europe’s finest. I have held the belief that this season is the 1983/84 Re-incarnated; we are learning to walk under our ambitious manager and I have no doubt we will soon be running to a memorable future.
We simply need the board to share that belief. We have needed investment for years and next summer we will need it more than ever.
Follow Mark Ellis on Twitter @Markthablue