January 2017 – a magical time that might as well feel as far away as Blade Runner. The floss wasn’t a thing, we were one failed tweet away from nuclear apocalypse, and suggesting Allardyce would be our next manager would have you on gallows outside the Oak. Fast forward 21 months and we finally have three wins on the trot, thanks to a laboured victory wrangled from the jaws of defeat with a saved penalty and three super subs. You always hear “the best teams grind out results even when they play badly”, wheeled out not 24 hours earlier for the part-time Wallace impersonator across the park. Whatever, it’s a game we typically struggle with and bucking that trend for this week at least is a good step for the New, New, New Everton Era.
For the first time in about an eternity, we ended up on the better side of fortune for injuries. Gueye’s injury scare turned out to be a false alarm, Coleman was back, and Goodison finally got to see Andre Gomes in action after his injury; he’d easily be Everton’s sexiest player if not for that bowl haircut he got off his mum. Yerry Mina also debuted on the teamsheet, but was limited to the bench. The Boys from Brazil got their own banner on the Gwladys street thanks to their antics against Leicester two weeks ago, the more romantic of us seeing ‘Dignard’ as the new ‘Bainaar’. Marco’s experiment with Richarlison up front continued testing with human owl Woy Hodgson doing the same with Wilfred Zaha – I’m guessing there were a few “fuck’s sake”s below the Gwladys when the teamsheet was announced. There’d be even more after the game started.
Palace had the ‘Lower Table Team Playing Away at Everton’ handbook and was following it step-by-step – drop deep, foul/fall often, hit on the break. Anthony Taylor fell for it and whistled so often you’d think he mistook the game for a rave. Everton always seem to struggle against this scenario and the brief chances they managed were easy for Wayne Hennessey. Inevitably, Crystal Palace had the best chance to score in the first half, Kouyate’s header mercifully smashing onto the crossbar. Those normally go in and we’re forced to deal with a Stalingrad-style defensive mode for the rest of the game. This woke up the crowd and the team a bit and the last 10 minutes of the half was better, but it was goalless at half time. Quick pint and roll of the eyes.
The second half started much the same way as the first. Zaha, supposedly announcing a sponsorship deal with Del Monte by styling his hair into a pineapple, caused mayhem by enticing fouls and crying at Taylor for most of the match. Unfortunately Seamus made the mistake of coming within 6 feet of him and clipping his leg within the box. Here we go with typical Everton, never threatening and making stupid mistakes to give away cheap go- FUCKING HELL HE SAVED IT!
Everton are definitely milking this ‘England’s No. 1’ thing with Pickford – the foam fingers, the paper masks, the graphics on the big screen that get booed. It’s not as if he doesn’t deserve it, though – speaking to my arl fella, we agreed Everton haven’t had a penalty stopper this good since Southall. The comments from other great England ‘keepers of the past also carry a bit more weight than the scrotes on social media who whinge about his sweeper antics. He’s already saved us several times this season and is just plain boss.
Another dodged bullet finally woke up Theo Walcott on the right, but he spunked a great chance on goal shortly after the saved penalty. On the left, Wan-Bissouma was doing really well keeping Bernard quiet, and the few chances he got past were quelled by the centre backs; on a related note, a petition has been started to rename yard dogs to ‘James Tomkins’ – “shut that fuckin’ Tomkins up”, you’ll soon hear your neighbours yell.
Inevitably, the little Brazilian was subbed off for Cenk Tosun who became a dad in midweek, instantly making his Rooney-esque bald patch look alright. He nearly put it to good use but headed wide from a corner because we’re hexed and not allowed to score from a corner. James McArthur and Yard Dog clattered into each other and despite it being an apparent head injury Anthony Taylor decided to wait until Keane nearly scored an own goal and we got possession back before stopping the game because he’s a crank. Some Palace fans would probably cite us not stopping play for the winner against them a couple of years ago, but they’re cranks too.
Marco Silva, with his advanced knowledge that scoring goals can win games, brought off Walcott and the impressive but knackered Gomes for DCL and Ademola Lookman, sticking the former up front next to Cenk. Six minutes later, we were two goals up. Lookman pinged an absolute peach onto the head of concrete-neck Calvert-Lewin for the first, and when Palace were threatening retribution the also impressive Michael Keane punted a great ball forward (deliberately or not) to Cenk, who controlled the ball and slotted the goal under the legs of Hennessey as easily as holding down. Goodison is a magical place when it’s like this – it’s the first thing you think of when you wonder why you keep supporting and keep watching, during the bad times. No fake anthems, no pitchside pyrotechnics, just pure passion. Absolutely love it. Who’s next to feel the wrath of the Mighty Blues? Oh, Man United. At Old Trafford. Sound.
Silva’s Super Subs – You can look at it 1 of 2 ways. It was a tactical masterstroke or it was a lucky gamble. Next to Hodgson making his first substitute on the 89th minute after going 2-0 down, I’ll plump for the former. Either way it’s a few more points in Marco’s favour after the Carabaotastrophe. Get anything from the next four away games and he’ll be cruising.
Silva’s Coat – a mix of stylish Haute Couture and what the baddies in Star Wars wear, I like it. I expect to be seeing those sideburns on every bluenose by the end of this month, even the bald ones.
Competition for places – When was the last time we actually had that besides the pile-up at number 10? Tosun looks like he’s got his groove back, but do you drop Richarlison or Bernard? Does Lookman get a Look-in or will he want to sprechen sie Deutsche again this January? Does Mina get a place in the squad when he’s fit? Can we start up the Zenith Data Systems Cup again so we can try these ideas?
‘Entrance Jackets’ that get worn for walking out onto the pitch – Waste of time. Hate them. Get rid.