Tricks, flicks and substitutions – Five talking points from the Palace game

One – Killer instinct the only missing ingredient.

Everton thrilled and frustrated in equal measures on Monday night. The ‘Fab four’ were all outstanding, Barry and Cleverley industrious in midfield and for most of the night the back four were quick to tidy up when Palace broke on the counter attack and then equally quick to join in with Everton’s forward play when the opportunity presented itself. Yet, for all the good and exciting football, the Blues were unable to find a way past the Palace rearguard for much of the night, although the visitors did have the Goodison woodwork to thank on three occasions.

barkley

If Everton are to threaten the top four however, they have to find a killer instinct. At times the Blues played with an over confidence and the tricks and flicks were out far too early in the evening. The great Real Madrid side which contained Zidane, Figo and the Brazilian Ronaldo would ensure they had a side well beaten before they truly entertained the crowd with the party tricks. Everton must learn to finish a team off in the opening hour if they are to fulfil the current side’s vast potential.

 

Two – Why Martinez was right not to make changes.

Many Blues were quick to criticise the manager after the game for his lack of substitutions, but with Everton playing well (albeit failing to score) Roberto Martinez remained faithful to all but one of his starting eleven.

Substitutions can lead to an uplift in performance, but all too often they can kill a side’s momentum or disjoint a team’s attacking play. With Palace dangerous on the counter, Martinez felt that he had to leave Barry and the remaining back four on the pitch. Cleverley was brilliant on the night and involved with a lot of Everton’s better attacking football on the night. Barkley and Deulofeu are Everton’s two most creative players and both were instrumental in Everton’s equalising goal. Lukaku? You would be mad to substitute the Belgium at the moment and again he added his name to the scoresheet. Which only really leaves Kone. The Ivorian remains a genuine goal threat and no one on the Everton bench links as well with Lukaku.

 

Three – Howard shows there is life in him yet.

Tim Howard has come in for a lot of criticism this season and in my opinion rightly so. But last night the American keeper demonstrated that he remains committed to the fight and determined to retain his place in the Everton goal. His first half save from Connor Wickham for point black range was outstanding and he made two good saves in the second half. Could he have done more for the goal? Possibly, yet by the time Dann got his head to the ball he was stranded and had little opportunity to react to a strong header from the Palace defender.

 

Four – Loss of composure almost cost Everton the game.

As Everton poured forward in the latter stages of the game in search of a deserved winner, the Everton backline was left exposed to the Palace counter attack and a better team would have made the Blues pay. The midfield, many of whom appeared to be unsure as to whether they should track back or wait for the next wave of attack, left the defence exposed. Stones and Funes Mori were the only two truly playing in defence in the closing 10 minutes, with Baines and Coleman pushed down each flank and it took some last gasp intervention and a generous refereeing decision to keep Palace down to one.

 

Five – Rom’s fifty is a special achievement.

Romelu Lukaku elevated himself above a number of Everton greats when he scored his 50th Everton goal in just his 100th appearance for the Blues. The record is even more impressive when you discount the 9 substitute appearances and if he remains at Everton for the length of his current contract he will certainly lift himself into the Everton hundred club (an exclusive collection of eight Everton greats).

Not since Joe Royle has an Everton player scored his 50th goal before his 100th game is out and when you consider some of the great strikers to have player for Everton since, we are extremely blessed to have the superb Romelu Lukaku.

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