You can’t beat that Friday feeling. Three goals, three Points and a convincing display vs Lille ensured the snooze fest against Swansea was forgotten in a display every bit as vibrant as it was sleepy against the Welshmen last weekend.
Lille Hammered: Everton 3 Lille 0
I promise this every time and with no success but, purely from my point of view, the pre-match dummy spitting at team selection has got to stop.
I thought this was the most convincing display of the season from a resurgent Everton.
Roberto clearly knows what he is doing and despite the pre-match meltdowns – and not just from me – over the inclusion of Hibbert and Osman our Catalan maestro called it spot on.
Against Sunderland I will not offer any reaction to the team sheet. Martinez is a guy who clearly sees not just the bigger picture but the whole canvass as what looked a weakened Everton side put on a terrific performance to have all Evertonians purring once more. So many positives to draw from a convincing win to put us in command of group H with two games to play.
This was a display that offered further proof we’re truly starting to click. None more so represented in Lukaku’s performance who for me looked a different player. Big Rom looked right at it from the word go, running the channels and holding the ball up, where did he find that from? He looked transformed and whatever work he is doing behind the scenes it’s clearly starting to pay off.
With Lukaku proving an excellent focal point for our attacks, we began to see a more fluid Everton. What a difference a player who can hold the ball up makes. Lukaku quite simply playing like the striker we all want him to be.
Everton started brightly and on the front foot with Lukaku, showing his intent and setting the tone for his performance, going close after only 30 seconds. After a lovely worked move from Baines, in-field to Naismith who fed Lukaku with a sublime lay off with the Belgian turning and shooting instinctively. Enyeama reacted sharply to turn Lukaku’s goal bound effort round the post for a blues corner.
It was a promising start with the blues looking dangerous every time we attacked but some lax passing followed and Lille’s general malaise contributed to an indifferent opening however, Everton slowly re-gained the momentum.
Lille, confirming my belief from the game in France that they are a poor side, posed no threat at all to a yet again reshuffled Everton defence. Jagielka and Distin will have had few easier nights than this and once Everton took the lead the game was as good as won.
Humble pie time for myself and a few others came in the 27th minute as James McCarthy, whose performance was sensational, typified by non stop energy and drive, went on a lung bursting run following a lovely flick form Lukaku before feeding McGeady whose teasing cross evaded the onrushing McCarthy to find Osman.
Such a divisive figure amongst the fan base, Osman controlled the ball expertly and found the net with an unerring finish past the despairing dive of Enyeama. Gone was the fickleness as Osman showing terrific technique before his clinical
My pre-match meltdown of Leon starting was promptly rammed back down my throat in gloriousOsman can do this every week then I wont raise any more objections to his one year extension of his contract. I promise.
The goal was just what the blues needed. Having dominated from the start it was important the goal arrived when it did. The whole team took on a new level of confidence.
Lille pressed with seven dwarf lookalike Balmont’s cross drawing a headed clearance from Hibbert on the edge of his six yard. Once the corner was cleared, the blues went on the hunt for more.
McGeady, who I thought gave a much improved if unspectacular performance, whipped in a great cross just begging to be buried but Lukaku could only watch his header drift tamely wide when well placed.
The overwhelming sense of things clicking into place for us came in the 42nd minute as Evertonians celebrated a goal from a corner. So often a source of disinterest given our desperate lack of threat from corner kicks.
It was with amazement that Jagielka carried on his recent happy knack of scoring with a one-for-the-cameras, 80’s style diving header from McGeady’s quality delivery to send Evertonians off for their half time Bovrils
A freezing night was warmed up by Everton’s convincing first half display. As professional as it comes, the blues showed great maturity and quality that saw the game virtually ended as a contest with 45 minutes still left play.
Lille looked like they wanted to be back home. One win in ten, tells its own story and they certainly showed nothing here to suggest their dip in form was ending anytime soon.
Everton started the second half with the same level of control they had in finishing the first half. Lukaku going close in the 54th minute with a well struck left footed free kick that needed Enyeama at full stretch to keep the score at 2-0. This didn’t last long with the blues growing confidence personified with a glorious goal in the 61st minute.
Getting carried away I’d say it was school of science stuff from the blues. Lukaku looking a totally different beast from what has gone before this season, received the ball, turned and fed the overlapping Baines who in turn found Naismith with a delicious cut back.
Naismith took a touch to draw the defender before unleashing a ferocious left footed Exocet into the roof of the Gwladys street before Enyeama could even smell
A goal of great movement, incisive play and with it the overwhelming sense that this Everton team is growing in prominence as the shaky start to the season is slowly becoming a distant memory.
Victory at Sunderland, a must now, and with players such as Barkey and Coleman coming back with the experience of Eto’o, things are looking promising and exciting in equal measure. The defence registering their 4th clean sheet in 5 games is more reason for optimism. All the boxes are slowly being ticked as the blues look to surpass last seasons 5th placed finish.
Leighton Baines assist for Naismith’s goal was his 9th, added to his 2 goals, in the past 12 games. He has been on fire for us and long may it continue. There isn’t a better left-wing back in European football.
These are statistics most attacking players can only dream off. Players who cost a lot and get paid a lot more than our talented left back.
Baines and Coleman combined for me are the modern-day Limpar and Kanchelskis. Two heroes of mine growing up but our current wing backs are a class apart. Granted Coleman didn’t feature against Lille but with so much threat, pace and quality in the final third, we will always score goals with these guys in the team. One of many reasons why we can have a great season once more this time around.
A special word of praise for Lukaku who was excellent. Yes he was only doing what was expected but the transformation in his play was striking. He looked hungry, had confidence on the ball, made runs. All simple stuff, but aspects of his game that have tended to go missing this season returned in a hugely promising display.
It made such a difference to our play. Big Rom was unlucky to see his second half effort ruled out for offside and showing in both offside goals there is certainly nothing wrong with his finishing.
So yet more encouragement as the blues head into a hectic schedule in the run up to Christmas. Momentum is a huge thing in football and we now have that. This result allows us to put to bed the disappointment of the Swansea game and instead focus on a run that has seen us yield three wins and two draws from the past five games.
With the prospect of Barkley, Coleman and Mirallas coming back into the first team it’s hard not to feel dizzy at just what this team could achieve this season.
Lille were poor but Everton made a defence who had only conceded two goals in their opening eight Ligue 1 games look like our defence of the first eight games. It’s great to see and we shouldn’t be afraid of going to Wolfsburg who are showing their quality in an ominous run of form.
Following a 5-1 thumping of Krasnodor the Germans have won 9 of their 11 league and cup games following the blues 4-1 win at Goodison lastimprovement will be severely tested at the Volkswagen Arena,but so will theirs.
European football seems to suit us with the extra time and space to play with. Momentum in the team is growing and our best players are reaching the performance levels of last season.
We have every chance of winning this competition, killing two birds with one stone with a much-needed trophy and a Champions League birth in one fell swoop. With some strengthening in the right areas in January, winning this competition is a reality more than a fantasy.
Onwards to Sunderland and we have to be wary following the black cats excellent win at Palace last Monday. We do though have the quality to gain the points our league campaign demands. We are keeping teams out and with the fluidity returning in our play, we can travel to the North East confident of victory.
Thursday’s win has added credence to the feeling we are becoming a force again and with key players set to return at the weekend we should be looking to win well at the Stadium of Light.
“We played with maturity that suggested we had been playing in Europe for years. We were very strong defensively against a strong attack. Then going forward we always looked a threat.” Roberto Martinez.
With our defending and attacking now both facing the right way, European nights like this are the tip of the iceberg for the fast emerging School of Science.