A performance all about getting the job done and a clean sheet almost as welcome as the two goals from Lukaku and Mirallas
WBA 0 – 2 Everton : Belgians Take The Boing Boing Out Of The Baggies
That was better blues. While we are still ironing out the persistent defensive creases that have dogged us since the running joke that was pre-season, we kept our first clean sheet at The Hawthornes in a victory allowing us to quickly put to bed the horror show against Chelsea two long weeks ago.
This was a performance all about getting the job done and a clean sheet almost as welcome as the two goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas that secured a much-needed victory to get our season up and running. Just like last season in the 4th fixture.
Due to Sylvain Distin’s injury the game saw the return of John Stones to the starting line up. A lot of fans were calling for Phil Jagielka to be dropped but Distin’s dead leg might just prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Jags and Stones together, without being watertight, certainly looked better than what had gone before thissheer commitment to keep hold of a clean sheet was impressive with Stones in particular looking a class apart on more than one occasion.
The goal laden frustrating start to the season had led to an increased sense of purpose for the trip to West Brom who lay one place below Everton in the table. And it was a perfect start for us.
Barely 2 minutes on the clock and the glorious sight of Romelu Lukaku scoring his first goal of the season was upon us. Curling a beautiful 20 yard effort past the despairing Foster after Olsson’s poor clearance from Baines cross found the Belgian on the edge of the box.
An extra special moment for Evertonian’s as this was Lukaku’s first goal as our player. No more elation with the underlying dread that he wasn’t ours to keep, this was like your dream girl moving in with you and bringing a Chinese with her. Lukaku has a place to call home now and let’s hope the takeaways have only just begun.
Lukaku’s muted celebration showed the class of the man but as a fan it would have been great to see the emotion pour out of Rom that such a terrific goal deserved. Who cares though, the blues were in control.
Following the goal, understandably given our defensive record this season, the focus became more about defence than attack as Everton struggled to get forward. There seemed an acceptance around this, such was the importance for us to get some defensive confidence back.
This was never going to be a free-flowing attack obsessed Everton performance and the fact we got what we came for at West Brom will give us huge belief going into a challenging but ultimately exciting period in the run up to Christmas.
The team has to improve the defensive intensity whilst maintaining our attacking threat and its a balance Roberto has to get right if we are to have a successful season.
West Brom, with no great quality, were doing enough to keep us camped in our own half although I believe our eagerness to keep a clean sheet detracted from our attacking play. Despite Roberto’s post match comments we frankly looked nervous.
It was like the Fonz without his leather jacket on at times. It’s going to be small steps getting our swagger back but this result will go a longplatform for our season, while 3 weeks late, has finally arrived.
The Baggies continued to huff and puff and as the ball dropped to Saido Barahino, Everton were thankful to John Stones who, outstanding on the day, showed his class with a well-timed challenge to prevent a much worse consequence than a corner to West Brom.
Our passing wasn’t great and at times sloppy, this coupled with our collective edginess gave the all to familiar scene this season of encouraging the opposition onto us.
Baines’ clearance, almost Olsson esq in its effectiveness, fell to Chris Brunt who raised false hopes to half of the home support with a drive that smashed into the side netting and not the back of the net.
Everton improved as half time approached and some neat approach play from Lukaku and Mirallas, resulting in Mirallas unable to get his shot away. Lukaku then used his strength to brush past Gardner, unleashing a curling effort that deserved better than to fly just wide of Fosters right hand post.
The second half, while patchy and by no means classic Everton, was the real positive for me. We looked hungrier and much more like ourselves and should really have made it 2-0 on 50 minutes through Naismith. A real surprise to see him blaze over from 5 yards after Lukaku’s powerful run and drive had not been dealt with by Foster.
Naismith’s assassins eye for goal at the start of this season made the miss all the moreAngell would have fancied this one but Naisy is forgiven. Such has been his level of performance this season.
West Brom flirted with the idea of getting back into the game and Tim Howard, who has demonstrated an irritating tendency to remain glued to his line this season, came out to push away a dangerous cross from Wisdom with Brown Ideye looking to pounce.
The nagging doubt that we could throw away yet more points at the start of this season was put to bed in the 66th minute courtesy of a shocker from Ben Foster. The England keeper letting Kevin Mirallas low drive squirm beneath him to send the magnificent travelling Everton support into orbit.
Unlike Arsenal and Leicester, there was no reason for anxiety here. Everton’s defence while nowhere near perfect was suitably up to the task of seeing the game out and as a result Everton went in search of another.
West Brom were largely being kept at arms length although John Stones’ perfectly timed challenge on Berahino deserved better than ill-judged claims from the crowd for a penalty.
Stones had demonstrated his class while the Baggies fans were demonstrating their desperation.
Mirallas and Osman went close as Everton’s new-found defensive confidence coupled with a two goal cushion allowed more freedom for our attacking and the class began to come out in our play. The School of Science was in evidence was Osman ran onto Mirallas’ delightful back-heel only to see his low drive well saved by Foster.
It was a flowing move that evoking memories of Osman’s stunner against Larissa. Everton’s play deserved better in what would have been a classic away goal in front of the portable Gwladys Street we take with us to every away day.
I think its safe to assume the Daily Mirror hate filled campaign against Everton has no room in its columns to mention the numbers that follow Everton all around the country, week in week out.
The away end at The Hawthornes, just like the other 17 Premier league away sections is a genuine reflection of Everton’s outrageously consistent travelling support.
Not a pathetic vague attempt to sensationalize the lack of numbers for an expensive official club tour to deepest darkest Russia in the middle of a conflict, Everton have the best travelling support in the business and they are a credit to our club.
And yes Daily Mirror, you will see this support in Russia.
It wouldn’t be Everton however without a defensive gift. Thankfully, after Berahino had latched onto McCarthy’s stray pass, he would see his goal-bound effort blocked by the on-rushing Tim Howard. The American then recovered to keep out Samaras’ follow-up. I know it was nothing special but Howard looked much more like his old self in an encouraging display.
FT: WBA 0 – 2 Everton
So a great result, and chance to look forward to match of the day and football first. It was very pleasing to see us win a must win game.
It may sound stupid just four games in but we badly needed this. Let’s hope our defensive confidence is back and we can push on in an attacking sense. We are sure to be boosted with the returning Eto’o and the even more more mouth-watering Barkley.
This result was perfect preparation for our Europa League opener against Wolfsburg. I’ve never looked forward to a competition such as this one. It means the world to our fans to see us back in Europe and no-one will fancy playing us.
With Wolfsburg now en route it is sure to be a great occasion under the lights at Goodison Park. Simply, this is what football is all about. So let’s raise the roof Blues and believe in our quality. This is a competition I am convinced we can win.
We have the quality to hurt any team but have to keep improving as a defensive unit. This game demonstrated in giant neon lettering that the equation is simple; tighten up as a unit and let our talented attackers do themany teams will be able to resist us.
A busy period awaits with Wolfsburg and Palace visiting Goodison in the next week. You can’t beat a deluge of games, particularly after the international break snoozefest. Lots of opportunities for us to build momentum and confidence with a bigger and better Everton emerging to grab our season by the scruff of the neck.
It’s time to take control of our own destiny. A result that may look mundane from the outside can provide us with the springboard we need to cash in on a hugely promising season.
One which hopefully ends up with the trophy cabinet welcoming a new addition.
“It was vital today that we had that side of our performance(Defence) and then on top of that we didn’t lose what we are good at and what we are.
“I thought we showed both sides really well in our performance.” Roberto Martinez
Let’s hope a happy compromise has been reached so that others can now suffer. Starting with the Germans at Goodison!