Jags, I’m sorry, can you ever forgive me…… What a goal!
Jagielka’s Rocket Has Blues Eyeing Explosive Future
A goal I have watched 16 million times, the sweetness of that strike and the sweetness of the time he hit it, all but made up for a classic Anfield Everton performance.
There are moments that change seasons, there are moments that can change a club’s fortunes and such was the rarity of what happened in the 91st minute in front of a gobsmacked and hysterically upset Kop End on Saturday, it may just be the catalyst for this talented Everton side to go on and fulfill its potential this season.
At the moment this sounds like an ambitious and frankly ridiculous statement given our form this season, but we needed a moment to stop the negativity around our league form.
That moment may have arrived from the right boot of our much maligned captain Phil Jagielka, who seemingly vented all of his season frustrations into one glorious 25 yard thunderbolt that rescued a point for Everton when all seemed lost.
What a hit. This was Ronnie Radford, Tony Yeboah, and Roy of the Rovers rolled into one. Mignolet, who saw it all the way and at full stretch could not even smell it. It was a strike, quite simply from heaven.
It’s almost a shame to return to the reality of a performance which once again flattered to deceive in a game we should have been looking to express ourselves more in. Admittedly this wasn’t helped by an injury to our fast becoming talisman Kevin Mirallas who suffered a hamstring injury on the half hour mark.
This majorly hampered our attacking threat with the team seemly lacking any confidence they may have had in attacking Liverpool. Although even with Mirallas on the field, we were struggling to make an impact. The old Anfield mentality rearing its ugly head for the umpteenth time.
A few early penalty shouts were the main talking points of a frenetic opening, Lukaku being brought down by Moreno only for Atkinson, no stranger to robbing Everton, maintaining his own consistency by rejecting the claim.
Liverpool will argue they should have had a penalty for Barry’s handball at the other end and it’s hard to disagree, but then you think how many penalties this lot have had, be it Uruguayan, Spanish or otherwise, maybe Karma struck a blow for fairness with Atkinson surprisingly turning down Liverpool’s one millionth appeal thislove a free kick from 12 yards our neighbours.
Liverpool showing without Sturridge they will struggle to score anywhere near the amount of goals they plundered last season saw Lallana go close with a header from Gerrard’s corner. Howard reacting smartly to keep it at 0-0. Howard was further pressed into action with stops to keep out Henderson and Stirling. If only his reflexes had been as sharp in the 65th minute.
The sense that Liverpool were going to find a way past our much improved back line was growing and our fate was seemingly sealed when Gerrard, like a fart trapped in a lift, struck yet again. All the more galling considering Gerrard’s poor form this season, his 20 yard free kick curled over the wall and past Howard, who for my money, should have done better to keep it out.
For every step Howard takes forward he consistently, this season at least, has taken 10 back. Yes he’s made some great saves and he’s clearly our number one but costly mistakes have dogged him and us this season. Let’s hope what happened in that unbelievable last-minute inspires the team and individuals such as Howard onto better things for the remainder of the season.
Balotelli, whose sulking and general simulation, falling to the floor more often than a stack of Jenga, was borderline disgusting. Also befitting of the guy he replaced at Anfield. Liverpool may well see talent when they sign these players but no question they find the controversy that surrounds them irresistible.
Balotelli should have scored but contrived to hit the bar from Sterling’s cross and after seeing another effort go wide, Everton entered the last quarter of the game still with hope if not the performance.
Let’s be honest, our performance was awful. We managed to keep Liverpool at arm’s length but offered nothing in attack. Naismith was far too quiet – his standards have been so high this season an ordinary game will now stand out – it would be harsh to criticise, Naismith has enjoyed a great start to the season, and long may it continue.
Seemingly ambling to defeat, again with that ‘happy to get out of here alive’ look to our play that truly should not be happening under Roberto, we withdrawn from our shell to attack the Liverpool back line and surprise surprise we found joy. The impressive Tyas Browning dug a terrific cross out from the right, McGeady retrieved, and his cross was headed out by Lovren…….
Phil Jagielka met it on the run to smash an Exocet into the top right hand corner of Mignolet’s net. Two goalkeepers wouldn’t have stopped it. A sight for sore Evertonian eyes with our red neighbours about to lord it over us once
We almost had the cheek to win it right at the death with Barry going close with a near post flick from Baines’ free kick but a draw it was to be.
Maybe this was our Kevin Brock moment, maybe this is now finally what gets us going. Let’s hope the blue touch-paper on our ambitions this season has now been lit.
I love Roberto, I’m convinced he will have us on fire this season but for me he has to start playing Lukaku down the middle. That’s where we wanted the improvement and that’s why we paid £28m. We have players who can play on the right and we need to knock the tactics that swept Arsenal aside so brutally last season on the head for now. Teams are working us out.
This isn’t going to be helped with Mirallas out but we have to change it. Our mood swings as a team are swaying from defensive woes to attacking worries. A happy balance has to be reached but there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
Last season we looked like teenagers going out on the ale, all excited and buzzing, this season were resembling a married man on the brink of divorce up to his eye balls in debt. We need to rediscover the fun that made us such a threat last season.
The defensive issues that have bugged us all season have rained us in although there are signs it may be coming to an end. Stones and Jags are now the standout partnership at centre back and with the returning Gibson back to strengthen our core and the added plus of Besic’s composed debut, we are ticking a few boxes needed for us to get back to where we once were.
Another word on John Stones who I thought was magnificent at Anfield. When the proverbial faeces has hit the fan, he has stood up to be counted. He looks like he’s doing the mentoring back there and at just 20 years of age his potential is frightening.
A few pieces of skill, bringing the ball out of the air like it was magnetised to his foot along with a terrific slide challenge on Sterling were the highlights. He is looking for all the world like a future Everton captain in waiting.
We played poorly but got a result at a ground that is never kind to us. So Everton, this is what’s called catching a break and we have to go from here and show our class.
We travel to Krasnodor away, which will test the true depth of our squad, before we go to top heavy Man Utd next week. They may well worry us defensively but Big Rom has got to come to the party soon and where better than at Old Trafford?
Maybe sharing a pitch with Falcao, Van Persie and Di Maria will prick his ego sufficiently to get a goal laden performance from our recordneeds it and we need and whats more, we’re capable of repeating the dose from last season.
The performance level is a worry but all we can do is move on. We have been fortunate here and must take advantage of this result starting in Russia on Thursday.
“In terms of what we got today it was the most pleasing result we’ve had this season. In many ways it’s going to help us towards the future.” Roberto Martinez
Let’s hope Jagielka’s thunderbolt has us forgetting about the past. Everton’s potentially huge season starts now.