At half time my report would’ve used words like slow, dross, slow, slack, disjointed and slow. Especially slow. So very very slow.
Everton were by the far the better side, quicker in passing and movement, assured in defence and confident in their roles. We were the opposite, thrown together, unfit looking, narrow and (have I mentioned this before?) slow. That the Toffees didn’t capitalise on their superiority was almost certainly down to their lack of a proven forward and the difference at the end of ninety minutes, after a much-improved performance from us and a much more even second half, was our possession of one.
If Lloris’s reflexes and Osman’s finishing saved us in the first half it was Adebayor’s brilliance that won it for us in the second. His control of the ball coming over his head, his beating off of Coleman and then left foot drive inside Howard’s near post caught nearly everyone by surprise and it was a superb piece of alert and positive play. Kyle Walker deserves a huge amount of credit for his speed of thought (not something you hear every day) in taking the quick free kick and its fine execution. It’s not been a vintage year but the two players who combined for the winning goal here are my probable front-runners for player of the season thus far.
Games against Everton are rarely pretty ones no matter who their manager is. We’re generally closely matched and it normally shows in mostly attritional football, as was the case here. Hopefully Sherwood won’t use the result to hide what was a very disappointing show for most of the game. Their organisation was better and their work rate much higher. Osman could have had won it for them in the first seven minutes. Possibly.
As feared the sudden glut of midfielders at the manager’s disposal has left him with the same problems as AVB faced in terms of how to fit together so many similar players. The choice of Dembele to play nearer Adebayor than either Eriksen or Paulinho was a bit of strange one given his preference for five touches rather than one. I’d have thought the sprightlier and more one-touch inclined Brazilian would’ve been more likely to find and utilise space. His decision to take off Lennon at the end and play Bentaleb on the right when he brought Defoe on was also a head scratcher. The youngster is still learning his trade in the middle; he was lost on the right.
Still, moan moan moan.
It’s an excellent three points against a good Everton side. The Geordies next, COYS.
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