One. Attacking formation actually pushed Everton back. Roberto Martinez’ team selection certainly looked positive on paper. The four at the back included Aaron Lennon with a midfield consisting of McCarthy, Osman Barkley and Deulofeu certainly suggested Everton would be positive, especially with Kone and Lukaku in attack. However the Blues found themselves under pressure for much of the first half with Reading taking advantage of uncertainty and holes in the Everton backline to repeatedly test Joel Robles in the Toffees goal.
Two. Martinez the tinker man. A criticism often thrown in the direction of Roberto Martinez is a reluctance to forgo his managerial principals and adopt a different tactical approach. Martinez has always passionately denied this and on Tuesday evening he demonstrated his tactical flexibility. With options limited he surprised everyone by naming Lennon at right back, a move few would have considered or expected, but a move which provided the Blues with pace and a genuine attacking threat from right full back. At half time and with the game slipping away from Everton he reacted by bringing Barry into the midfield in place of Kone, releasing Barkley as a more attacking threat. With this Everton switched to a more familiar 4,2,3,1 formation and the difference was considerable. In truth Everton were far from their fluent best, however brilliant strikes from Barkley and Deulofeu lifted the Blues into the 4th round and a home tie against Norwich City.
Three. Deulofeu adds work rate to his flair. Gerard Deulofeu is an exceptional talent. He excites supporters when he receives the ball and gets bums off seats with his electric pace. However there has always been a criticism over his willingness to work for the team, an issue that kept him out of the Seville side for the majority of the second half of the La Liga season. This season there has been a noticeable change in the attitude of the former Barcelona man. It was evident in his cameo performance against Swansea, where he demonstrated a desire to track back and support his full back. This was also evident on Tuesday, when time and time again he demanded the ball and looked to commit his marker. It didn’t always work for him but he continued to probe and his free kick goal was richly deserved.
Four. Lukaku looked devoid of confidence. After starting the season in good form Romelu Lukaku looked like he was carrying the world on his shoulders on Tuesday. The Belgium striker struggled all night to hold the ball up and bring his fellow players into the game and when presented with a one on one situation with the goalkeeper, with Everton looking to close out the game, he was unable to settle the supporters nerves, Al Habsi getting a hand to the ball as Lukaku tried to round him. The missed chance followed two very good chances against Swansea at the weekend and he appeared to carry that disappointment into Tuesday’s game.
Five. Only 4 wins from glory. The trophy that has avoided Everton’s grasp throughout the clubs history is just 4 victories away. The League Cup presents a realistic opportunity for silverware and although Norwich will provide a stern test in the next round, the Blues will be hopeful that home advantage will see them through into the quarter finals. From there anything is possible with Roberto Martinez’ side already proving this season that they are capable of beating the very best the Premier League has to offer. If Everton are to finally end their League Cup hoodoo, it will be earned the hard way with all the Premier Leagues top sides and Liverpool still in the competition.