And so to Everton then and a fixture with a Test Rating of ‘Stiff’.
The Toffees will be pleased with their start to life under Martinez, one league defeat after nine games and only one point behind the fourth place club. That’s us by the way so expect overuse of the word ‘leapfrog’ should we be on the wrong end of the scoreline come half three on Sunday. Whoops, better make that twenty to four given the events of last year in this fixture when we looked to be heading towards an impressive three points when the ref started lifting the final whistle to his lips only to find that we’d lost by the time the third long peeeeeep emerged.
Everton’s early success has been built on the back of some cunning business done at the end of the transfer window when Barry and McCarthy arrived to beef up a midfield looking wan after the departure of Fellaini, and Lukaku was drafted in from Chelsea after Mourinho decided he didn’t need a big, strong, willing goal scorer and maker when he had Torres, Ba and Eto’o. Hm. Add the experience of Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Osman and Pienaar to the promise of Barkley and the guile of Mirallas and you have a potent mixture.
After Sunday and Wednesday’s struggles against the plucky Tigers and the unhelpful pronouncements of Villas-Boas we have a reputation as a goal-shy team followed by mice to either embrace or disavow. The second one’s easy to refute, especially away from home and whilst we’d be foolish to be open from the off at Goodison our set up and tempo is more suited to away fixtures than home and it wouldn’t surprise me if we were able to create more chances than the last few games put together.
AVB will, I suspect, go for a team very similar to the ones that featured against Villa and Hull, the fitness of Townsend permitting. I personally would give long and serious consideration to giving Kaboul a start given the presence of Lukaku and also the knowledge that he made a mess of our defence when he came on for West Brom at WHL last season. Lovely player as Chiriches is, if he gets isolated against the big Belgian there’s only one winner. Up front, Soldado looked to me last week that he was getting more involved, Lennon’s fitness can only improve if he plays and if Sigurdsson come in in place of Townsend then that’ll help Vertonghen if nothing else. Holtby will probably start instead of Eriksen. It’s very puzzling that the Dane hasn’t taken to the Premiership yet, it’s only time I’m sure but given that he was supposedly the creative link we needed between the rough and tough midfield and the artisans up front, it’s annoying that he’s not up to speed.
We’re set for a tough afternoon, nothing we’re not good enough to face up to though.
Kevin Friend is down to referee. COYS.
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