Not that away form is too grand. The Spurs defeat makes it two straight losses on the road and no win away from Goodison since Swansea on December 20th. Unless you count Stevenage, of course. No-one tends to. I’ve heard the Spurs game described as a danger wank – magic if you pull it off, but if you’re caught out it’s a great disappointment. Heard that one from, er, a friend. And we were caught out.
I realised this weekend that I must be a happy-clapper when I’m thinking about how much easier defeats are to take. Think about it. Remember that 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane two years ago, the one delayed by the London riots? That one set off another sodding riot. Spurs cruised by us that day. We lacked imagination or possession, and that was endemic of all our games away to sides around us. On Sunday we had a lot of the ball, looked to make things happen, and got caught on the break. I’m not trying to defend us, we were poor. No game where all your best chances fall to Leon Osman is going to end well. But at least now it feels like we can turn defeats into draws or even wins.
Now we need to turn our attention to Crystal Palace. Last time we met them, they weren’t just relegation candidates – they were elected, and we’d turned up at the parade. We drew. So I’m not going to make the same mistake twice and confidently predict a victory, right?
Tony Pulis has sewed a Crystal Palace crest into his dunce cap and proceeded to scream at his squad until they play better. And, quel surprise, they have. Palace are playing gung-ho football, which is why they rarely draw. Two away wins all season pales in comparison with their ten defeats – and not one stalemate. I’ve got 1-1 on this one. Everton aren’t we.
In goal is Julian Speroni, a man who came to Goodison in 2005 and watched Gabor Kiraly muddy his pyjamas in a 4-0 home rout. James Vaughan notched in that game. Ah, the memories. The potential. The defence will probably be made up by Ward, Delaney, Ledley and Dann. It sounds weak, but with Jedinak and Dikgacoi patrolling the area in front of them, it’s quite solid. This lot won’t shift for 90 minutes, trust me. Puncheon, Ince and Bolasie will provide some attacking impotus, although Thomas Ince has put in the one performance he needs for people to assume he’s the next big thing, so he’ll be making eyes at Swansea again now. Marouane Chamakh will look moody and have a crack at our defence every now and again. It’s not a great team on paper, but they’re one hell of a unit. It’s going to be very hard to break this lot down. If you’re looking for goals, look elsewhere. Arsenal vs Man Utd perhaps.
Lining up for the Blues: Tim Howard! *Cheer* Seamus Coleman! *Cheer* Sylvain Distin! *Cheer* Phil Jagielka! *Cheer* Leighton Baines! *Cheer* Gareth Barry! *Cheer* James McCarthy! *Cheer* Steven Pienaar! *Cheer* Kevin Mirallas! *Cheer* Leon Osman! And Steven Naismith! *murmur*
If anyone’s dead set on giving up on Osman and Naismith, just stop reading now.
If you’re still reading, cheers. Either you want to hear me out before the abuse starts or you agree, which is grand. The only opinion that matters is that of Roberto Martinez and his backroom staff. He thinks they’re good enough to help us win games, so that’s that. Unless you’re calling Roberto deluded or stupid, as I’ve been called. Charming, that. Does ranting about these players online provide some sort of relief, or make you feel better? Perhaps, but it contributes sod-all. Yep. Says the man writing a blog.
Once again we’ll have a strong bench, with Deulofeu, McGeady and Traore all likely to figure. We could see Barkley, McGeady or Deulofeu start this game, in fact, but there are options. You hear? Real options. Good ones. Imagine taking off a striker with ten minutes left and bringing on one that’s just as good. Who are we, Man City? Kinell. Ross Barkley’s not 100% right now, and he has got a bit more sluggish in terms of decision-making on the ball. With sides like Palace, who put pressure on the moment their half of the field is under threat, that will be punished. As long as he’s fit to face Chelsea a week Sunday, we’re aces.
It’s “I Love Everton” day at Goodison – kiss cams, Bryan Oviedo in an “I Love Everton” T-Shirt melting hearts, the lot. We started hot and heavy, things cooled, and Everton strayed in places we really wish they hadn’t. It’s time to fall back in love with the Blues.