A weekend, ironically, in London, meant I missed the game, so once more my view is obstructed this week by Sky coverage, and not my trusty pillar. I watched the game ‘as live’ without even a hint of either the score or the manner of the performance, and so imagine my astonishment when watching MOTD2 highlights – I can only assume the editing suite’s view was obstructed too – probably by something called ‘bias’.
I am so proud to support Everton at the best of times, and the worst of times, but after this match, my chest is just bursting. We out-Arsenaled Arsenal on their own patch for large portions of the game, and we looked like we did on Wednesday as I reflected after that game, a Champion’s League team. If that had been a top club from Spain or Germany playing, the media would have been purring about it, and Sky would probably say Arsenal “snatched a draw” rather than them saying the same thing about us. We passed and moved, passed and moved, and only (sadly quite an important only) our final ball in and around their area was lacking. It was a telling stat that for all his excellence, Ross Barkley lost possession 17 times, and he was by no means alone, with Pienaar and Mirallas also guilty.
But hey, let’s not be picky. That was a magnificent performance. If you’d have said to me that we’d get 4 points from 6, away at MU and Arsenal, I might have believed you, but I wouldn’t have thought it would be in the way we got those points. Fluidity was key, long gone the statues in front of the passing defenders, we wait until the moment is right and play the ball forward, often to Ross or Steven dropping off from up top to take the ball, turn and run at the opposition. Let’s face it, Arsenal were rattled big time for the first 40 minutes, and we rattled them again a few times in the second half too.
Arsenal were worth a point, just, but they won’t play a harder game at home against a real footballing team all season in the EPL and maybe not in Europe either. Barkley has had all the plaudits for his MOtM performance, but once again McCarthy and Barry were immense, the full backs attacked and defended as if there were two of them (er, two on each side, as in 4, not just two…oh never mind, keep up), Jags and Buzz solid yet again, Tim showed no sign of losing his strength after losing the beard (a good move), and Lukaku ran his socks off. And Gerard. Oh my goodness, Gerard. What a shot. I bet if he’d have missed, Seamus would have given him a mouthful, but he didn’t and the keeper hardly had time to flap his arms expansively. Messi would have been proud of scoring one like that. Just imagine the opposition’s panic when he plays or comes on as a sub in the future – we haven’t had a player like that in ages.
The hard work starts here. We now have to beat Fulham, and we need the team that turned up today, and on Wednesday, and against Stoke, and not the old Everton that thinks it’s got 3 points just by going on the pitch. We will have a change with no McCarthy, we may even rest one or two others, but only because we can (or have to in McCarthy’s case) and the side remains strong if we do. Gerard may get a complete run out
I’m not sure Messrs Sidwell and Parker would fancy that much