A slight move to the left on my part, positionally not politically, meant my favourite pillar in the Upper Gwladys was only able to obstruct a small square meter in front of one corner flag this week. But given that all five goals were scored at the Park End, that hardly mattered. It must be a rare event indeed for that many goals to go in without a single one in front of the either ecstatic or disgruntled Gwladys regulars!
So, we are unbeaten, we are 4th, and we are equal third highest scorers in the Prem, and those are three facts I didn’t expect to be writing after 6 games of the season. It says something, that as we get used to playing in a different way, and accommodate new players, that we are where we are. I must admit I expected a step backwards to go two forward, but this is a start we can be proud and pleased of, and now we can pit our wits against Citeh with the confidence that as a top 4 club, we should expect something against a team in 7th!
Let’s enjoy what we have, and revel in our performance last night, and yet try not to get carried away. I don’t expect City to be as accommodating as The Bar Codes were last night, and let’s be honest, if we play like we did for large periods of the second half, City will take us apart. But if we play like we did in the first half, then I’m not sure that any team in the league could contain us. We had guile, we had skill, we had movement, and as usual we had true blue qualities of graft and fight, closing down, and the support of a great crowd. There were times when GP was quite quiet, even in that first half – were we just admiring the beauty in front of us, or is it a reality that you can’t get excited and roar when you’re passing it around in your own half, and you need the passing to work in the opposition half to get the juices flowing? Perhaps we are still not used to the new style ourselves, and there is that collective intake of breath as we wait for an Everton cock-up, or was that the old Everton?
Positives from last night? First and foremost, we won, and second and right up there too, was that we played exceptionally beautifully for large periods. Individuals of note have already been applauded in many a forum, but I’ll add my own.
Lukaku had to be MoM for his two goals and an assist, plus two disallowed goals as well. His work rate was excellent, his touch pretty good on the whole, and of course his very presence unsettles defenders. I’m not sure what he was doing when he appeared as a guest right back on a couple of occasions. That is not where we want you sunshine, love the team ethos, but that’s what we pay Seamus for, so do your bit for our opponents corners and then get back up top where you’ll hurt them most of all. And in particular, if you ever are at right back, give the ball to someone like Ginger Jim or Barry.
Seamus was immense, for the second home game in a row. Not only is he attacking well, but he’s defending really well too. Before the game, I said Ben Arfa was a threat especially if he got the ball with time to run at our back line. He couldn’t run anywhere last night because he was in Coleman’s pocket all game, an outstanding performance. We may have sung to Moyes’ departure last night, but the guy deserves praise for how he has brought Seamus on as a wing back and as a defender, and now Roberto is polishing the gem to be one of the best RBs in the game today.
McCarthy, our very own Ginger Jim (I feel able to use his hair colour as a distinguishing feature given my own – fast fading – gingerness), was a real delight to watch. He did a lot of the ball fetching and carrying, working well with Barry in that regard, and because they both went unnoticed for large periods it’s a sign of how well they did. It will be a measure of his stature in the game if McCarthy performs as well against City, keeping his shape and discipline and not always following the many runners we will see on Saturday. Who he will partner we have yet to see, be it a returning Gibbo, or maybe Heitinga.
Osman probably played his best game of the season, but he didn’t have much previous to beat. Keep going Os….
Mirallas played well fleetingly, and I’d love to see him against City’s full backs, therefore I hope his ankle injury doesn’t keep him out. If it does, Deulofeu showed enough in his 20 minute cameo to suggest he is capable of beating most defenders ahead of him. He is likely to compete with the harder working but less gifted Naismith for a starting position.
Ross Barkley, a close second to Lukaku as MoM for me, once again showing his strength and passion for the game, which belies his youth and relative inexperience at this level. He obviously likes to play a certain way, driving at defences, and all he has to do for me, is realise that the opposition are now slightly better than the normal defences or midfields he witnessed in U21 games, and decide when to play the pass and when to try the trickery. But what a talent! Wrap him in cotton wool before Saturday, and make sure he doesn’t cross roads unaided, or try to get off the bus too quickly. I assume he travels on the bus….yeah, right (I let his Range Rover cross in front of my path before last night’s game!!)
I can’t wait for Saturday. Lots of hope, as usual and lots of expectation, which is less usual. Can we? Yes, of course we can. Will we? Depends which Everton we get – last night’s first or second half team, and whether we get City as they were against United or as they were against Villa. Let’s hope they’re mentally knackered after taking on the might of Bayern.