Krasnodar 1 Everton 1: Concerns Remain As Blues Take Control

Everton took command of Group H with a valuable point in Krasnodar thanks to a late Samuel Eto’o equalizer in a game in which we were yet again second best for long periods

Krasnodar 1 Everton 1

Krasnodar 1 Everton 1: Concerns Remain As Blues Take Control

By @Markthablue

Frankly it was undeserved. I sincerely hope this result, independent of the performance, does more than paper over the cracks with Falcao and company waiting in the wings on Sunday lunchtime.

We got the result everyone wanted but the satisfaction, just like at Anfield, is yet again tempered with a nagging worry – the showing was once again poor. A performance hiding behind the score-line that at least, on the face of it, helped our ambitions of progressing in the Europa League.

Nine games in and performance issues are still a massive concern for us. It’s not stretching it to suggest we haven’t played well all season. Yes Wolfsburg was a great result and much more like last season’s Everton but from day one our approach to defending as a unit has been ridiculous.

It simply can’t continue but shows no signs of getting any better.

Martinez’ tactics appeared to limit us to soaking up pressure and hitting the Russians on the break. With our defensive frailties now firmly with their feet under the Goodison table, I’m not sure this was the best way to go. Once again we were unconvincing at suppressing attacks as the Russians poured forward. Serving to evoke memories of the nightmare in Bucharest 9 years ago, yes we looked that poor in Krasnodar.

Attack is the only creditable defence we have currently and it seemed a shame to limit our prospects attacking wise.

The exception to the rule is John Stones who once again was excellent. For the magnificent travelling support and those of us watching it on Itv4  there were  precious few positives, but yet again and with more experienced teammates flattering to deceive around him, Stones stood up once more. Put simply, John Stones is our captain in waiting.

Everton’s magnificent travelling support.

The shining light of Everton’s season, Stones looks like the veteran back there. On more than one occasion personifying the iconic Bobby Moore with his excellent slide challenges and overall reading off the game. It’s frightening to imagine that Stones’ best years are light years ahead of him. Such class.

We seem to be at the mercy of everyone we play lately. Teams are creating far too many chances against us and we should have been put to bed long before Eto’o rescued us a point.

We’re just not imposing ourselves on the opposition like we used to. Krasnodor are no Bayern Munich, and with no real intricate level of play, it was the straight running and percentage passing we couldn’t cope with it.

We are not being helped by the injury situation at the club. The team is missing Coleman, Barkley, Mirallas and Pienaar who are a huge part of Roberto’s vision but even with these players in the side this season, we have not played consistently for 90 minutes.

Whatever has changed since last season Roberto, please change it back.

Unable to deal with the Russians fearless pressing and up-and-at-’em approach, Barry and Gibson had an ineffective day in the middle of the park. We looked about five yards off the pace with stray passes and ridiculous risk taking at the back and through the midfield, a feature of the opening period. In turn giving Krasnodar all the confidence to go at us at will.

I’m no stranger to positivity and credit is due to Aiden McGeady’s performance in the first half. I though he was excellent. Pace, trickery and no shortage of quality, he was unlucky to see his right footed effort tipped wide from Dykan as it was heading into the bottom corner.

McGeady’s intent and purpose on the ball was impressive but was not matched by his teammates.

We were on the end of a flurry of attacks in the first 20 minutes. Miles off the pace with an embarrassing Keystone Cop approach to shielding our back line from Gibson and Barry – apologies if I’ve got this wrong but they looked like they hadn’t got out of bed in the first half – the midfield engine had seemingly run out of petrol.

It is all the more surprising when the back four and the continued presence of Barry in the middle had not changed from Anfield. You would think continuity would breed understanding but we looked on our knees at times with last-ditch defending seemingly the first line of defence.

We have got to do better and become better at protecting Howard who is having to work overtime every shift he clocks in for.

Krasnodar’s attacks saw Izmailov go close twice, first with a flicked effort from close range that landed on top of Howard’s net followed by a stinging drive from 20 yards with Howard reacting sharply to palm away and out of the danger zone.

We looked like we had weathered the storm and went close with Stones header almost looping in before sailing past the post. The sucker punch arrived on the cusp of half time and to add to the frustration it was another defensive gift. This time from Jagielka.

Odil Ahmedov’s hopeful pass had our defence looking like they were trying to figure out a Rubik’s Cube and Jags’ ill-timed flick put in Ari who slotted a composed finish past the onrushing Howard.

Nothing genius in the build up, this goal was as preventable as the rest. We are the gift that keeps on giving and badly need to turn Scrooge like in our defensive approach if we are to progress this season.

McGeady aside, who looked like he was enjoying his first appearance back in Russia since he left Spartak, attacking wise we seem to have lost our way too. We can’t afford to be failing in both departments on Sunday. Let’s hope Lukaku builds on a better last 10-15 minutes here and shows Old Trafford just how dangerous he can be.

Everton went in a goal down and it’s all we deserved after a lackluster first half. The ‘unconvincing‘ tag continues to dog us. The biggest loss is arguably Barkley for me. He is our X factor, a player the opposition have to cater for and his presence back in the side cannot come soon enough.

Time for a short and predictable rant on Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert. Hibbert performed as he always does but the game seems to have moved so far ahead of him its unreal. Unfortunately his presence completely disables our attacking threat down the right hand side.

We had lots of opportunities to make progress but players such as Eto’o seemed reluctant to play him in. Instead drawing the play infield to a ridiculously congested area. A fully fit Coleman would have seen us impress upon the Russians much more than we did.

Leon Osman is a player I have lots of respect for. He has been a servant to the club but he has never been a favorite of mine. I don’t think it’s unfair to say I have no idea what he contributes to the team anymore. Except for adding to the lethargy and sloppiness of team.

Everton fans made the long journey to Krasnodar.

He seemingly set up more attacks for Krasnodar than he did for Everton. I feel a Phil-Neville-Wigan-style-nadir approaching for Leon Nobody wants that so Roberto, please look to the future in your midfield selections. It’s surely time.

Ryan Ledson is a player we need to be looking at and this would have been the perfect game for him. If we were able to risk an ageing and ineffective Osman then we could have risked Ledson. A player who represents our future compared to Osman’s past.

The second half saw the arrival of Lukaku on for the disappointing Atsu. I’m sure our on loan winger will come good but he did not have a good first half here. Almost constantly giving the ball away in dangerous areas and leaving Hibbert exposed time and time again at right back.

Atsu clearly has a lot to offer but a lot to learn also.

Big Rom’s presence did nothing initially to stem the tidal wave of Krasnodor attacks. The Russians looking as sharp as Everton were looking inebriated. The highlight of their attacks seeing sub Wanderson embark on a jinking run, turning the blues defence inside and out before seeing his hooked effort hit the bar.

2-0 Averted and Krasnodar’s all action approach was clearly beginning to take its toll on them. The bursts forward dried up with the Russians retreating back to see the game out. To our credit – yes I’m being positive – we seemed to grow stronger as the game wore on with Lukaku and Baines becoming more influential.

We are resilient if nothing else currently. Having looked like we were treading water in the first half it was pleasing to see the team finish the stronger of the two. Pinning Krasnodor back in a last 10 minutes that at least resembled the Everton of old.

The first 80+ minutes was the irritating modern Everton.

We grabbed the all important equalizer our overall performance frankly didn’t deserve when Baines’ inviting cross from the right, following more excellent work from Stones, allowed the predator in Eto’o to come to life as the Cameroonian reacted quickest, bucking the trend of his performance, to stab Baines’ cross home.

A goal to grab Everton the most unlikeliest of points. Anfield deja vu had returned.

And, just like in the Derby, we almost had the cheek to win it. As Dykan was pressed into action to keep out Lukaku’s goal-bound header on the stroke of full-time. The final whistle blew soon after and we had got an invaluable result.

FT: Krasnodar 1 Everton 1

Sadly the performance is what continues to worry. I’m not sure what is going on but we are well below our best. Not one 90 minute performance do we have to call upon this season. We do have injuries but we haven’t been right since the Carry On movie that was pre-season.

The fans are worried because it shows no sign of abating. Our players looked like they had been sedated before kick off but surprisingly ended the game stronger. The search for the happy balance goes on.

On to Man Utd who are top-heavy but frequently leave the back door open. I’d love to see Besic and McCarthy deployed in the centre of midfield. We need energy and quality and I think Besic can complement McCarthy perfectly.

The Bosnian’s style of play reminds me of Dacourt, silk and steel in equal measure. United’s midfield and defence is something we can potentially get after.

We have simply got to match Krasnodar’s desire shown here. Take responsibility blues and get our league form pointing the right way before Monday morning hits. Let’s just hope our defence holds up its end of the bargain as we seek to repeat last season’s never to be forgotten victory at Old Trafford.

“Maybe a draw is a fair result, but Krasnodar did have a lot of chances they couldn’t take and it could have been a different story.” Roberto Martinez

We got lucky Roberto, simple as. Time we took matters into our own hands, time to show the team quality that has deserted us this season and add a conviction to our play that was so evident last season.

Starting where it shone brightest of all……In Manchester.

Sin Miedo

Mark Ellis

 

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Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter

Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.

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