Get the Whitesnake on. Here I go again.
So, to that shimmering light I see over yonder. Is that the sun setting on the winter of our discontent or just a false dawn? We’re about to find out.
There are two ways to look at the two games we’ve played in the last week – West Ham and Man City, both at home, one in the FA Cup and one in the Premier League. You can either put them down as much better performances and a sure sign of an upswing in our fortunes, or two 1-1 home draws against teams we would normally fancy ourselves to beat at Goodison Park that are endemic of the poor season we’ve had. It’s a bit of both really – yes, our record against West Ham and Man City is quite good, but ignoring history it was us at our lowest ebb meeting two sides who enjoyed a strong start to the season. West Ham were (and still are) exceeding expectations, while Man City form half of the two-horse race for the Premier League this season.
If you base it on results only we’re still in a rut. But the performances are improving. A big part of that is the return of the indomitable John Stones in the centre of defence. Also, be it due to some sort of player revolt or a simple adjustment in strategy based on Roberto Martinez seeing the light, we’ve introduced the ability to go more direct at times, especially when we’re struggling to break into the final third. The biggest improvement of all is the attitude. On Tuesday, West Ham took the lead and held it until the 90th minute. Romelu Lukaku stepped up and scored the vital equaliser. On Saturday Man City finally broke the deadlock and we only had fifteen minutes to get back into the game. We did it in three.
Steven Naismith, with hair like snow, with a head like a wrecking ball, with feet made of lead. You beauty Steven. You beauty.
But it’s time to start getting some wins under our belts – with only one victory from our past eleven games, we seriously need more than one on the spin. So in the league there’s West Brom at home and Crystal Palace away – both on the crest of a wave with a new manager. Then the derby, with Liverpool on their longest undefeated run this season at time of writing. Chelsea away. Leicester, themselves finally finding form, at home. Arsenal away. As I said last week – the sooner we stop the rot, the sooner the good times roll.
We’re up for the league and up for the Cup. Are Everton on the up and up?
Sam Allardyce has never been arsed about the FA Cup but West Ham fans will see the promising start to the season as a springboard for European qualification, either by a good league finish or Cup success. And who doesn’t love a good Wembley trip? They’d be glad to be at a showpiece final where the prize isn’t promotion.
Their line-up: Adrian; Cresswell, Tomkins, Collins, Jenkinson; Jarvis, Noble, Song, Downing; Carroll, Valencia.
So this time they’re at home, they’re playing two up front, the creative talent of Alex Song is in the midfield and they’ve realised that Kevin Nolan really, really, really shouldn’t be a professional footballer any more. This will be tough.
And our starting XI is the same that kicked off against Manchester City. Joel; Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry, Besic; Barkley, Naismith, McGeady; Lukaku.
There’s a few things we’d love tonight. Muhamed Besic pounding the turf like it had called his ma a blert. Steven Naismith being the Albino Pimpernel, the goalscoring man of the people. Romelu Lukaku doing what he needs to do. John Stones being John Stones. A fantastic away support at Upton Park having a great night in east London.
The only thing we need, though, is a win. Come on then Everton. Onwards.