One – Defending at set pieces
Everton’s defending of set pieces, particularly corners, has been poor all season and during the first half at the Emirates the Blues looked particularly susceptible to every cross into the box. During the first half Everton won just one header from Arsenal set pieces and in truth Roberto Martinez’ men could have been one or two behind before Arsenal finally opened the scoring. As we witnessed against West Brom and Liverpool the marking in the box is particularly poor with runners getting ahead of the Everton defender on almost every occasion.
Matters did improve significantly after the break which suggest some harsh words were spoken at the interval. In fact the second half was in stark contrast, with an Everton head first to every ball crossed in from a dead ball situation.
Two – Time for change in goal?
Everton play Norwich on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup and if Roberto Martinez remains true to his strategy for this season then Joel Robles will take his place in goal, however following on from a disappointing few weeks for Tim Howard is it time for a permanent change between the posts? Tim Howard was arguably at fault for Danny Ings goal in the derby and against Manchester United he certainly didn’t excel, particularly when Wayne Rooney finished the game with a third United goal. With Rooney through on goal, Howard committed himself very early, gifting the former Everton striker an easy finish. On Saturday he was caught in no mans land on two occasions, stranded as first Giroud and then Koscielny headed into an unguarded goal.
It would be a big call to put faith in Joel, especially as the Spaniard looked far from at ease in his two outings this season, but as we witnessed last season the former Wigan keeper improved with games. Whatever the decision and I am fairly sure Martinez will stick with Howard for now, a change in the summer is a must. The search for a new number one should start now.
Three – The enigma that is Gerard Deulofeu
Gerard Deulofeu, brilliant one moment, frustrating the next, the Spanish u21 captain excites and frustrates in equal measure, however whatever your thoughts, there is no denying that Everton look a far more dangerous side with the former Barcelona winger in the team.
His pass to set up Ross Barkley for Everton’s goal was exquisite. The obvious pass was into the path of Romelu Lukaku, however Deulofeu found a pass that very few other would have even seen, never mind considered. The ball, played to perfection, put Barkley in acres of space and although the England international made a meal of the chance, fortune played a part in bringing Everton back into the game. On other occasions we saw the other side of Deulofeu, running at players but going down to easily, or attempting to play balls into the box but all too often hitting the first defender. He also had an excellent chance to equalise in the second half, Cech was at his best to deny him, but on reflection he should have done better.
For me, he has to stay in the side, especially with Everton facing a run of fixtures against teams likely to try and sit deep and frustrate the Blues. Deulofeu could have a huge part to play between now and Christmas.
Four – First half blues
Aside from Southampton and Chelsea, Everton’s first half performances have been poor all season. On Saturday Roberto Martinez was seen sporting a permanent scowl, obviously disappointed with how Everton had started another Premier League game. It is becoming a very familiar half time message from the manager, simply not good enough. Everton did improve after the break, as they have done through much of the season, but if we have serious ambitions for a European finish in the league we must quickly eradicate the slow start to matches which is starting to cost us vital Premier League points.
Five – Ten games in, time to kick on
The opening 10 fixtures of the season certainly looked tough on paper and after a solid if unspectacular start to the season Everton have found the last couple of fixtures tricky. But the opening weeks of the season have left the Blues in a solid league position and the fixtures from now until Christmas give Everton every opportunity to push on towards the top four of the Premier League. Everton return to Goodison to play Sunderland next Sunday, before fixtures against West Ham (a), Aston Villa (h), Bournemouth (a), Crystal Palace (h), Norwich (a), Leicester (h), Newcastle (a) and Stoke (h). Those nine matches give Everton every chance of picking up points, although West Ham, Palace and Leicester have all started the season in very impressive fashion.