Thank you Everton for a genuinely new experience this season; being eager to write-up a match report.
Everton 3 Aston Villa 0: Barkley Return Sees Blues Glide Past Villa
It’s been a disappointing start to our league season to say the least but all that was forgotten on a day when the old Everton, the one who thrilled us last season, finally added a performance of substance and re-assurance to suggest we now have our season heading in the right direction.
Our league position demanded 3 points against Villa but what was more pleasing was a performance every bit as rewarding as thelooked 2013-14 vintage at times, Retro Day had well and truly arrived. The swagger had returned and every Evertonian can now sense we are finally on our way back.
Everton started the match welcoming (to put it mildly) Ross Barkley back into the fold. What a difference our talented midfielder made. His sheer presence alone seemed to lift the whole team as Everton recorded a comfortable victory over a lackluster Villa side to have our season facing the right way for once.
Barkley was joined off the treatment table by Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy with Antolin Alcaraz making a surprise start replacing the injured John Stones. Alcaraz’ start was a reward for looking sharper in training than Distin, who in school terms at least, continues to face the corner for the time being.
Alcaraz done his long-term prospects of starting no harm at all with a composed Columbo style performance. While all around were worried about our much maligned centre back facing the threat of Agbonlahor and Benteke, Alcaraz played like he’d been there all season and at the very least, made blues supporters take the missing posters down.
Everton with Coleman and Barkley adding purpose and drive to our attacking intent, looked a completely different side to what has gone before this season. With seemingly complete control to our play, Villa, who have seen their good start to the season disappear into thin air, thankfully after they were good enough to beat Liverpool at Anfield, were being pushed back at will by the Blues.
For me it was Ross Barkley who made all the difference, looking like he had never been away, he looked sharp and purposeful, and with his wonderful ability to glide past opponents and Zidane-esq touches on the ball, he was a joy to watch.
Barkley is a player who is the School of Science personified. When I see Ross play it puts me in mind of how the fans of the 60’s must have felt when Alan Ball and Alex Young were playing. Ross is box office, he is our X factor and long may he stay fit. His style is carved from the image of Everton Football Club. A dream to witness when he is in full flow.
He lasted 66 minutes of a hugely encouraging return to the side, drawing a well deserved standing ovation from the Goodison faithful. Barkley was simply a sight for sore Evertonian eyes on Saturday as he single-handedly restored the confidence amongst the fan base that had threatened to vanish following a gut wrenching start to the season.
Looking the part right from the word go, Barkley was clearly in the mood and following some neat footwork to create the space, he tested Guzan’s reflexes with a stinging drive from the edge of the 18 yard box.
From the resulting corner Everton took a deserved 18th minute lead through the ‘prolific’ Phil Jagielka. Satisfying his recent bloodthirsty appetite to get on the score sheet.
Leighton Baines worked a short corner with Barry and with the momentum threatening to drain out of the move, Baines twisted and turned before firing over a wicked cross to Jagielka, taking advantage of some generous Villa defending to stoop to put the blues in
Just the start we needed with the tension palpable before kick off. Everton’s dominance grew more and more with the added bonus that we were playing a team who were enjoying an off day – seemingly everybody else we have played this season has brought their collective A-games to the table.
Villa were every bit as poor as Everton were good, combining to ensure the rarest of things – a comfortable Everton victory. Let’s hope the start of a meaningful run is upon us.
Having said that, Villa came close to equalising soon after through Hutton who saw his curling left footed effort sail past the far post with Howard beaten. Hutton was soon doing his out of nowhere Cafu impression once again with a marauding run.
Drawing two Everton challenges, with Villa fans appealing for a foul, demonstrating an ability to actually watch the game instead of focussing all there efforts on chanting about us (it’s nice to be loved guys but seriously).
The ball broke to Cleverley in the 18 yard box, with Howard exposed Everton were thankful to a classic lung bursting challenge from James McCarthy. Putting the ball out for a corner with a Joe Parkinson-esq challenge. Nothing the Goodison crowd likes more than a blood and guts tackle like that.
Villa’s threat was nothing to write home about and Everton were soon looking to add to their one goal advantage. Baines feeding Barkley with a terrific in-field ball from left to centre that seems to work so well for us.
If you want to see how Ross worries the opponents, it was highlighted perfectly here. With six Villa players trying to close him down, Barkley found Coleman in space who saw his left footed drive pushed away from Guzan.
Baines’ resultant cross eluded everyone but this was the Everton that had everybody purring last season and it was great to see.
Half time arrived with the satisfaction of going in ahead but with an unease that we hadn’t built up a bigger cushion. Understandable given our penchant for throwing away leads this season.
However today was a different Everton. banishing the defensive demons with an assured commitment to defence, it was like Clarke Kent fighting the baddie in Superman 3. The blues had firmly put the defensive nightmares into the car compactor today and this was much more likeit continue.
The second half started with Everton on the front foot and with a mixture of elation and relief, we increased our lead shortly after half time. McCarthy robbing N’Zogbia in the middle of the park, releasing Barkley whose first time ball through to Lukaku was deflected but not significantly out of the young Belgian’s path.
Lukaku finally arrived at the party with his first goal in five, holding off the presence of Cleverley before unleashing a well struck left footed shot from inside the box and seeing the ball squirm under Guzan to the delight of the Gwladys Street. It was no coincidence that Lukaku without setting the world alight looked much more purposeful with Barkley back in the fold.
It is a partnership that has blues fans mouths watering without expectation. Big Rom’s goal will do him the world of good, another positive on a day of positives for us. It truly felt like a corner had been turned.
Benteke saw his effort disallowed following a push on Alcaraz after 55 minutes and that really was as good as it got for Villa. Such a poor showing from them, maybe if their fans supported their team instead of directing their entire focus on slagging off the opposition fans, the players would have tried harder.
A message to Villa fans who seem to have a problem with Evertonians every time we play them; every team’s away support is more vocal than the home. It’s not something new, it’s almost a fact of life. Your own atmosphere at Villa Park last season was flatter than Fearne Cotten’s chest, so wind it in.
Everton’s superiority was rubber stamped by a goal right out of the Roberto Martinez textbook on 76 minutes. A goal that epitomizes Everton under Roberto as Villa were caught reaching for the snooze button as Leon Osman played a quick free kick to release Baines.
One full back to another, both in the six yard box, classic Martinez tactics. Coleman, so often with a strikers instinct in front of goal, racing into the box to finish neatly from close range.
FT: Everton 3 Aston Villa 0
It was great to reach the end of the game already thinking about the next. No last-minute nerves here. It was a relief to see Everton regain control of a football match and we thoroughly deserved this victory. I believe we will now see this team kick on as we enter a prolific period of games in the run up to Christmas.
The opponents in line to face us gives hope we can start to ascend the Premier League table rapidly. Nothing ever simple in the Premier League but with Burnley, Swansea, Sunderland and West Ham up next in the league we have a run of fixtures not to be afraid of.
He has not received a mention in my report but special praise has to be reserved for Steven Naismith who I thought was outstanding once more. With a tireless work ethic his contribution was every bit as valuable as my unapologetic sickly praise of Ross Barkley.
Naismith was fantastic and long may his form and importance to our side continue.
It’s amazing how much of a better place the world is when Everton win. We now look forward to Lille in what promises to be a memorable trip to France. The time to believe in our quality and the belief needed to take this season by the scruff of the neck has come. The return to fitness of Barkley and Coleman along with McCarthy is the catalyst for us to really push on.
I also felt this result was important for Roberto. A boost just when we needed it and the equation is simple for us; keep our best players fit and we can have a great season. With the prospect of Mirallas coming back to compliment the talent a fully fit Everton XI has to offer, let’s hope the time for anxiety is over and the time for excitement is here.
It’s the small things in life that give the most pleasure and I enjoyed a chance to sit back and watch Match of the Day on Saturday night. You can always judge the success of a season by how many Match of the Day’s remain on the planner. I’m up to two Everton, more needed guys.
Next stop Lille and a chance to enhance our reputation on the European stage as well as take a stranglehold in group H. Not to mention a chance for 16,000+ blues to sample the ‘culture’ of this highly anticipated awayhope Everton make a mess of the Lille defence the same way its bars will make a mess of us.
Lille, after losing at home to bottom of the table Guingamp at the weekend, are on an indifferent run of form. We can certainly cause them as many problems as they can us and I’m confident we can pull of a Nuremberg style win to keep the feel good factor going ahead of an equally important fixture at struggling Burnley.
“We scored at the right times and we were in control, but I’m so pleased at the way we performed.” Roberto Martinez
You’re not the only one Roberto. The solid base now arrived, it’s time for Everton to build upwards