Following Wednesday’s defeat to Crystal Palace, I was nervous as to how we would respond against Manchester United……
Arsenal had done us no favours by beating both of their opponents since they played us, so we had to win to keep the pressure on them for 4th spot.
Everton 2 Manchester United 0
Baines 28′ (pen), Mirallas 43.’
It was surprising to see goal keeper Tim Howard named captain. While he has been a constant outstanding player for us this season and deserves an accolade of that proportion, I think it is difficult to have a goal keeper in that role, when he is bound to the goal area, as often the captain needs to step in and be near the centre of the action.
There was an incident early on that meant Distin ended up having to step in and have a word with the ref, whereas as captain, it should have been Howard.
In the opening stages of the first half, I think it was pretty even, United had a lot of the possession, but didn’t find a way through our defence. Our midfield however seemed to have big gaps, they needed to push up a lot more.
There is a fine line between midfielders keeping a defensive role and pushing forward to play in the shots to attacking players and I think we weren’t quite getting it right to begin with.
I was astounded to see Clattenburg give us a penalty! Never thought I’d see that happen! Deservedly so however, as we had quite a few penalty shouts leading up to the one which was given, and it gave us the break through we needed.
Leighton Baines was as always, calm in the face of goal, and netted the penalty, carrying on his 100% record.
Our second goal came just before half time on 43 minutes. Seamus Coleman had been causing the United defence all sorts of problems all half and he continued to do so leading up to the second goal, when his swinging ball found the feet of Kevin Mirallas to knock the ball home.
At the end of the half, we noticed Sylvain Distin clutching his hamstring, not a good sign, he had been incredible in the first half and the thought of him being substituted with Alcaraz was making us all rather nervous. This was confirmed when we saw him warming up during half time.
However my somewhat negative opinions of him were shattered within minutes. He, in my opinion, was amazing. Tall and strong, he won the headers, cleared the ball calmly and even played a pivotal role upfront and came close to scoring on a number of occasions. He’s got a mean left foot on him too!
Lukaku did well in the game, he seemed to be winning more and more headers, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why – his new coach? None other than Duncan Ferguson! So he must be sharing some of his tricks! I felt bad for the Rom, he really deserved a goal, and had so many opportunities to score but it just wasn’t his day.
Ross Barkley seemed to struggle playing on the left, he was replaced by Leon Osman with 20 minutes to go. He made a careless foul leading up to his replacement, earning him a yellow card. There was a shirt pull and no need for it, I think it shows while he is an outstanding talent who will go far, he still has a lot to learn in certain aspects of his game.
The closing stages of the game were nervy, United were pressing a lot, but the whole team were back and kept out any threat of goal! It was a great performance and Martinez got it bang on again.
The atmosphere was electric throughout and I know I certainly went home with a sore throat, but a happy heart!!
The race for 4th spot may no longer be in our hands, but we’re certainly not going without a fight!
Until next time Blues…