It caught me by surprise today whilst in a surreal situation somewhere tucked away in the tropics with time to dwell on my hands, and no data connection to distract a restless mind: the realisation that I was looking forward to Everton playing on the weekend.
Maybe you do that often but for me – on the back of a defeat – it’s been a while. The spine free recent versions of Everton had an uneery ability to turn one defeat into a prolonged depression, but this Everton seems different. I hope. An amicable older looking gentleman walking past and pointing to the Everton tattoo on my shoulder asking “are you police?”, resulting in a quick denial (taking no chances) and a brief explanation that it symbolised Everton. Pleased with the explanation he returned a thumbs up before uttering “toffees” and whistling out of my life down a brightly painted corridor; whistling a tune that wasn’t Z-cars.
And I went back to pondering whether I’d see Andre Gomes bodyswerving into the final third in just under 48 hours time, and counting the amount of letters in a local safe sex awareness programme poster – 72 in total if you really want to know. Now by typing that it almost guarantees a Brighton smash and grab this weekend at Goodison but I considered it a decent benchmark in any progress of Marco Silva, Marcel Brands or Farhad Moshiri. We will still probably win nothing in the immediate future but an Everton containing a semblance of strategy and a tendency to push the opposition was absent from my life, maybe your life, and here it was again.
Manchester United did enough to take the usual 3 points from Everton at Old Trafford but the general consensus wasn’t dispondency about Everton’s inability to turn up. Still though, Everton shit it and I’m not leveling up any true excitement until Everton arrive and do a job on the perceived mighty. So onto Saturday at 3pm, Goodison Park. Brighton are gonna turn up on a three game winning streak, with 3 clean sheets included in that bounty. With a little bit of space between themselves and relegation, and into their second season they now seem to feel like they belong. They won’t necessarily be the lambs to the slaughter anticipated.
There’s been a lot of good things happen at Brighton that’s helped their appearance of sustainability, and it all started with a wonderful fan protest movement at the club being sold out from under their shoes that cumulated in a new stadium after 14 years without a permanent home. I’m rushing through this preview but can recommend it as pleasant bog reading. There’s no (usual) malicious words in this preview towards Brighton, it’s a wonderful city to spend a weekend as far as England goes and it’s full of fans without any sort of pretense. Fans that – as touched on above – have a deep connection and commitment to their local club. This is also compounded by being managed by one of the genuine nice guys in Chris Hughton.
That said, if I had to choose between not running a bus over the families of all they love and 3 points for Everton then the 19 would be in for a bumpy ride. I’m also fucking raging typing this knowing that they have a sign on song deep down inside them by season 4 of the Premier League experience. Never mind that little twat Knockaert trying to two foot our beloved Leighton for making a tit out of the wee French fraud.
Brighton simply must die this Saturday at Goodison as they’re in our fucking way. Get the fuck looking down your noses from the top of a helter skelter you cockney holiday home fucks, where’s yer lamb banana? Buzzing because they’ve got a Pier when we’re so not arsed we outsource ours to Wigan. They didn’t vote for Brexit, nor for the Tories, so this gentle head of steam I was building to add something partisan about Brighton is fucked. So let’s look at some of their players:
Glenn Murray – despite looking like every person that goes to order in Wetherspoons without knowing their table number he’s a suprisingly adept striker, plundering 6 in his last 8 this season.
Knockhaert – you little prick, hurt him.
Izqueirdo – remember the 1980s Boglins toys?
Bong – athletic and competitive full back who will fancy tussling with likely Walcott out wide, perhaps leaving you pondering if Theo can take hits from the Bong.
Duffy – done well to carve out a top flight career for himself, he’s been linked with some moves to a bigger stage of late. Nice to see, although his 92nd minute out jump of Mina for their equaliser will set yer dar stomping past the Black Horse in under 3 minutes time.
Bruno – a 38 year old full back that if neither Bernard or Richarlison torture into instant retirement then I’m all out of love with samba.
A defeat may be a mandate for Marco Silva to make a wee change or two, after a few games of a settled team. A current theme is who is the suitor for the number 9 position, with inconsistent examples so far. You’d think Tosun, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison have an opportunity to make a play for it before January when Everton will be looking for the right person there. Bernard’s quiet last 2 games are a symptom of a player not playing for ages and trying to feel their way into Premier League football, he excites me for what may lay ahead when it clicks.
Walcott is also coming under some scrutiny as the goals have dried up and without them he’s not influencing the games too much. With having Lookman looking to come in and deputise there’s an urgency for Walcott to get his head down and contribute, more so impact. Sigurdsson is contributing goals and will therefore play in close support of whichever front 3 is preferred on the day.
There’s no more insight into Andre Gomes that I can offer other than he really looks a fucking player. Let’s see how he fares before Christmas before I start making passive aggressive demands on Moshiri dropping all Bramley-Moore financing in order to pry the handsome midfielder away from Barcelona. Gueye is having his best spell in a blue shirt since his initial flurry upon joining, him finding a settled and compatible midfield partner could sustain that further.
There’s a quandry in defence. I can’t see anyone other than Zouma and Keane start this but the former will be ineligible for a tough following week’s game away to Chelsea. Is that the type of game to blood Mina into English football? We’ll see. Digne really has settled in well and alleyed fears of a life after Baines, which is some doing. Coleman hasn’t looked the same player on his return from a broken leg, which many don’t to be fair and completely understandable. If neither Coleman or Kenny makes an impact then take a good gawp at the second position Everton will be looking to spend some money on. Would be a shame but I have an inkling one of them will make it their own before then. Pickford in goal, the ace mad bastard.
So it’s set up nicely for a keen contest between two team eyeing better times and higher places, but the onus falls on Everton at home to do what Man United done to us a week earlier in finding enough to take the spoils. The tune whistled by the guy walking down the corridor incidentally was Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. I really hope so.