That was one hell of a derby, wasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but my head’s still spinning. I’ve reflected on the games many times in the past week, as have you all, and it seems we’ve slotted into three distinct trains of thought. I’m one of those who is still delighted with the derby, despite the other lot sticking one in at the death. They’re the sh*te, it’s what they do. It was only a draw, but it was more than just competitive – we dominated, kept the ball, looked dangerous and made them nervous when we approached their third of the pitch. And that’s what they have been doing to us for years.
Of course, there are still the nay-sayers that continually point out our defensive lapses and the fact that Romelu Lukaku didn’t turn up for the first hour except to beat the defenders and sh*t himself upon seeing Simon Mignolet’s shovel hands. And, as usual, there’s the “could’ve been better, could’ve been worse” crowd. The type with incredibly neutral faces who spend their lives flitting between work and Tesco, because there’s probably not much worth seeing out there.
But the one point we have found consensus on is that Everton played some boss football on Saturday. Kevin Mirallas gave Jon Flanagan the roasting of a lifetime, despite the media seeing it as Captain Hook shimmying past Peter Pan at every opportunity. Plus sticking a boot into Suarez has made him a Goodison icon for all eternity, which helps. Ross Barkley ran the show in the same manner as Steven Gerrard, absent until the 90th minute apart from sticking an elbow into Gareth Barry, used to every time. Steven Pienaar hasn’t had a better game for us since returning from his ill-fated stint at White Hart Lane.
And it was great to see Romelu Lukaku becoming just the second Everton player to grab a derby brace this century, despite looking like he had shat in a witch’s hat luck-wise at the start. Having that ability to score goals even though he’s having a shocker not only shows true skill but mental aptitude as well – something I think the likes of Jelavic lacks. Lukaku could fire us into Europe this season, and with some of his and Jose Mourinho’s comments reinforcing dreams of a monumental transfer, there’s another reason to put everything behind the beast – as risky as it is. Bill Kenwright’s done the books and reckons selling Johnny Heitinga will pay for Lukaku, so we’re all set….
Right, so onto the next bunch of melts. And it’s Stoke City, a side apparently in some sort of great reform. Bollocks. Mark Hughes is less Merlin, more Butlin’s. He can tell the press that he’s making Stoke an attractive, successful outfit all he likes. The defence kick the sh*te out of opposing players, the midfielders knock it about a fair bit, the strikers sort out long balls and poach goals. Same as usual. They’re sitting in 15th due to an inability to score goals and turn draws into wins. Same as usual. I’m constantly saddened by an over-zealous, often clueless minority of our fans – for Stoke, it’s a majority. Would you credit it – same as usual. Swerve that lot on Saturday unless you’d like to hear a rant on the merits of kicking someone because he’s a twat. Then again…
Anyway, down to business. The main news regards Leighton Baines and his broken toe, which that bastard Henderson obviously deliberately did by falling over backwards onto his foot, the evil Kopite f*cker. So will he be out for just one game and get a painkilling injection? Will he be back in January? Is he camping out at Old Trafford? Who knows. But he’s almost certainly out tomorrow. That leaves one hell of a void at left back, which doesn’t bode well for if the Daily Mail sell him for the eighth time and it turns out to be more than lazy media bollocks. I won’t name names when it comes to that…
Gareth Barry will probably replace Bainsey at left back in the same line-up as the second half of the derby. And that means that Gerard Deulofeu will make his first start. Too right. He was sharp and dangerous against Liverpool, and his style of play will be used to great effect against a side less likely to punish him on the break. No doubt that he’s slow, but playing against Charlie Adam makes tough tackling more important than speed. Ross Barkley will have to sit back and play alongside James McCarthy, but he can beat players and feed Kevin Mirallas, who in turn will sit behind Romelu Lukaku and cause hell for Ryan Shawcross and the lumbering Geoff Cameron. Robert Huth and Marko Arnautovic, who have made quite an impact at either end of the pitch, are both out.
Surely this is three points wrapped up. Surely. We do have a tendency of being a bit too lax against the lesser sides at Goodison. But now it’s up to us, the fans. If we go in not expecting victory, but screaming for it, the players will respond. The atmosphere and level of play can never live up to the derby, but it’s a real benchmark for the lads.
Old Trafford and the Emirates are beckoning, but let’s sort things out at the true Premier League fortress soon. Come on you Blues.