We Evertonians are a weird bunch. Not as weird as that lot across the park and their overboard optimism (joint top of the league on points difference, don’t you know). Our kind of optimism is saying that things are looking well, but with the anticipation that it will immediately go tits up. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Everton’ as a verb, to grasp defeat from the claws of victory. This week’s test for Marco was to see whether he would Everton it after defeat last week, if the Blues could keep their heads up between a boss rush of away games to keep winning the winnable home games.
I managed to snag a ticket for this game late on – all the talk of our shiny new stadium made me think how I’m going to miss the Old Lady on days like these. Dodging horse shit to get into a pub with the central heating set to ‘surface of the sun’; grazing on a chippy while a fella with a megaphone tells you how you’re going to hell; squashing myself into a seat and exceeding my annual threshold for human contact over 90 minutes. We’ll probably have all the necessities of any modern football club at Bramley Moore like on-site breweries and robotic horse shit patrols, but without going to Daily Mail-levels of fear of change, it just won’t be the same as Goodison no matter how many Leitch arches and wooden seats we bring along.
After calls to make changes to the squad from misery arses like me after the defeat last week, Marco Silva named the same starting line up. This would turn out to be a good decision and showed why EAW aren’t paying me thousands of pounds a week (yet). Brighton started with Shane Duffy at the back, one of a small cadre of former players that aren’t complete bastards, so he got a decent reception. Mina didn’t start again, but Zouma is unavailable against his parent club next week so no point playing him outside of a quick Goodison debut near the end. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the challenge, since Zouma and Keane have had the time to know how each other plays.
Everton pretty much bossed it from the start, but early chances were wasted – Coleman cut it back to Sigurdsson in the box in the 5th minute, but he put it wide. On the 10th, about half the ground thought he scored when Digne got free and passed it to him, but he only hit the side netting. There were a few chances that, again, could have been put to better use, at least according to the arl arses surrounding me. More grumbles came up when Coleman put it out for a corner to Brighton in the 24th minute.
From the corner, Zouma jumped highest and got it to Sigurdsson on the left, racing the full length of the pitch while playing a tidy 1-2 with Bernard before a perfect through ball to Richarlison, who buried it past their goalie. It’s grim when those go against you, but so satisfying when you get one back. Even more so since we were still doing rosaries for Richarlison after he rolled on his ankle not long before. Even though it’s him on the scoresheet, it’s Gylfi who deserves most of the credit for a brilliant attacking run and pass.
Just a shame that the lead couldn’t have lasted further than Brighton’s next corner a few minutes later. The zonal marking hasn’t been too bad in the last few games, but the short pass to Solly March absolutely bamboozled everyone and he pinged a decent cross to the head of Dunk, Zouma not managing to clear it this time around. We all know this is a work-in-progress, but it adds something else to worry about. Brighton had a couple more chances after that, but nothing too threatening and we got to half time level.
It was a fast start again in the second half, with Gueye pinging the post before Bernard’s cross from the rebound missed both Richarlison and Walcott to tap it in. Thankfully, before yer da could complain again, Coleman picked up the loose ball from Andre Gomes and pinged it from outside the box into the bottom corner. Seamus is always fuming when he scores, but the cupped ears in front of Gwladys were well received after the stick he was given last week, and at some times during this match too. He’s definitely the kind of player who gets motivated by that sort of thing, but he loves us and we love him.
The third goal on 77 minutes was something else. The Dunk taketh, the Dunk giveth away the ball with a crap sideways pass, and Richarlison was on it ahead of Duffy before banishing him to the Shadow Realm with a deft move I later learned is called either the ‘drible la vaca’ (cow’s dribble) by those crazy Brazilians. Richarlison showed the composure and finishing ability he was missing last week by rounding Matt Ryan and poking it home. It’s good to finally see what the boss sees in him, we can only hope he keeps doing it in other games.
Marco said that was the best performance at home this year – I think most of us would argue that was the best team performance in any game this season. Despite the goal, Keane (increasingly looking like the one we signed from Burnley) and Zouma bossed things at the back so Coleman and Digne could press forward comfortably. Gueye and Gomes are already being compared to our 80’s-era central midfield, controlling everything going through the middle. Gana was happy dropping back in front of the defenders and tacking anything that moved, with Gomes acting as the link between him and the front 4. Sigurdsson is making the no. 10 position his own, the counter attack goal showing how important he can be. The stats for Walcott shown he dropped off near the end, and Lookman will still be eyeing up his chance to start, but him and Bernard still managed to create some scorable chances, and both Coleman and Richarlison showed how fortunes can change with a goal underneath you. Nice one Blues, I’ll be happy for you to show me up each week.
Awful optimism – As I said at the start, we’re a weird bunch. There’s hope that we’ve finally got a decent team together, and I’m excited for next Sunday, but my anxiety is telling me I’ll be saying ‘Everton, that’ again and bemoaning the team. But we’ve won 4 in 5. All our stats are up on the previous season. Doesn’t matter. Anxiety doesn’t care about silly ‘facts’. Stop that, Joe. Get moaning.
Go, Go, Gomes – He’s only played a couple of games but we’re already talking about a permanent move for Andre Gomes. If he keeps playing like this we’ll have to move sooner rather than later, lest Barca think they can get more money for him elsewhere.
Return of the Yak – God bless Yakubu. Came on at half time and wasted some poor fella’s last chance to hit the crossbar and win an arbitrary amount of gift vouchers for the club shop. We still love him.