It’s not often that you can aptly review a football match with one letter, repeated multiple times. But here goes.
Bizarre really. I don’t know what to say. You expect this Everton side to be in swashbuckling form, grabbing a goal or three, but nothing’s doing. You expect Ross Barkley to do something magic, but he introduces himself to his own arse messing up a cross in spectacular style. In a way, it was part of what the Martinez-doubters fear about his style of football – a lot of possession and not enough shots on goal. But the doubters are tits. The (dare I use this modern cliché?) philosophy is sound. On this occasion it didn’t yield a breakthrough. You’ll note that in every other league game this season we have made that breakthrough. So draw a line under it and move on.
One more thing. In a bit Jonjo yer shiny-headed big melt.
Onwards, then! And back into European competitions. Easy stuff this, isn’t it. If our neighbours can send Kolo Toure and half the cast of The Muppets to the Bernabeu and not get the royal stuffing they deserved, us getting out of this group must be a dead cert. If only. It’s looking fairly sound for us to be fair, with two home games left to play. We top the table on 5 points, while Wolfsburg have 4. Lille are on 3 points while Krasnodar prop up the table (albeit whilst being three points behind us) on a total of 2. It’s close, but clearly we’re in the driving seat. Wouldn’t be like Everton to make it unnecessarily tough for ourselves, would it?
Anyway, we’ve been to Lille and made our mark on their city centre while the French police make their mark on us, so now it’s time for the reverse fixture. Their trip to Goodison particularly special, apparently. C’est l’occasion du 100ème match européen du club à Everton. Hopefully my poor grasp of French hasn’t let me down, and in fact it really is Lille’s 100th European match since their first one against Parma in 2001. In fact, it’s special for us too, as we welcome French opposition to Goodison for the first time. How lovely is this then?
Bollocks to all that. Smash these, Everton.
The story with Lille is the same as it was a couple of weeks back. They don’t score many, but won’t concede many either. They currently sit in 12th in Ligue Un, having scored 9 in 12 games but with just 10 put past them. To put it in perspective, they have the third best defence, but the joint-worst attack. Since our last meeting Lille have lost 2-0 against Stade Rennais and drawn 1-1 against St Etienne. They’re there for the taking if we can replicate the first half performance against Wolfsburg. LOSC have drawn all of their group games, and see where it has got them. If we turn this one into a win, everything will look rosy for Les Bleus d’Everton.
I’m hoping they just keep the same starting XI as for the St Etienne game, because it’s easier that way. Vive lazy journalism. Not that this even qualifies as journalism, unless you’re reading from the Martin Samuel book of being a sweaty old dog-botherer behind a computer spawning all manner of weird opinions. And I’m not a dog-botherer, contrary to the rumours.
Enyeama, Corchia, Kjaer, Souare, Basa, Gueye, Lopes, Mavuba, Rodelin, Frey, Origi. Key notes – Enyeama is boss. Kjaer is solid. Origi is THE NEXT LFC LEGEND YNWA – but also the only Lille player to score more than one goal this season. A few decent players would be on the bench in this case, including Martin, Mendes and Roux. Decent side. Not as good as Wolfsburg though, and we sorted them out.
There’s not all that much to report on the Everton front…oh, what’s that? Some boss Belgian winger is on his way back? Beautiful. Kev Mirallas, who must be pretty sick of limping out of derbies, isn’t back for this one though. So, imagining we go for a strong side, we’ll see Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin and Baines as our defensive quintet. Yes, Distin’s back. Not by choice, but because shoulder injuries were the dish of the day in the latest edition of the Premier League, and alongside Man Utd and Sunderland we’ve lapped it up. In a bit Alcaraz, see you in a few months. Hopefully regular person months, not Kone months.
Barry and McCarthy once again pulling the strings in midfield. Sounds good to me. McCarthy was magnificent once more on Saturday, and Barry looked composed although at some point these weekly bookings are going to amass to a suspension. In front of them…Eto’o, Naismith and Barkley is the best case scenario. McGeady, Atsu and Osman anyone? Could be a mix, with Pienaar thrown in somewhere. Plenty of choice. Lukaku reckons he’s fully fit and raring to go now, so he can have a crack up front. Besic and Gibson are about to break people if necessary.
Roberto Martinez has talked up the home crowd for this one, as you do. “In the last two home games in the Premier League we had sell-out crowds, so you can imagine there is a real buzz around Goodison when we play our football.
“We really look forward to our home games, especially now we know the group inside out. We are looking to make our home an advantage.”
The onus is on us then. A nice raucous Goodison could do the players the world of good here. The point is that it’s another European night under the lights, against a team that’s not good enough for us to be seriously worried about this game, but also good enough to make victory a notable Europa League memory. Great group, this. Wouldn’t change it for a Chelsea-style Group of Dirge or anything.
Swansea was much too dull, Everton. Throw caution to the wind for this one. Allez les Bleus.
What’s French for “these are shit, these?”