Missing a game for a wedding is always a bitter pill to swallow, especially so when it’s for the visit of the champions. Even more so when you trounce them. Ste had to suffer this fate, Gaz the lucky beneficiary of his ticket for the game.
Gaz and I arrived at the pub in plenty of time, Sue and Gary just making it in time for a swift drink before kick off.. We were pretty surprised by the team news in the pub with Martinez electing to play without any out-and-out wingers much to our bemusement. “Let’s see how they line up before we completely slag them off” I whimpered amongst much scorn.
Onto Goodison Park and we all knew the atmosphere would be rocking for this one given the summer goings on with Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. He certainly came in for some stick from the crowd throughout the afternoon.
We attacked towards the Park End in the first half with both teams busy from the off, albeit without any real openings. Besic made a great surge forward before he was eventually tackled inside the Chelsea penalty area. Unfortunately, for Besic at least, he got himself injured in doing so and was replaced by Naismith. None of us were convinced this was the best idea though took great delight in being wrong. Nobody could have foreseen the impact he was to make on the game. He helped set the tone almost straight away by putting in a good tackle on Pedro as Everton, backed by our vociferous crowd, got about Chelsea. The first of his three goals was a delight when he headed in superbly from Brendan Galloway’s cross. I was just as made up for Galloway that he was able to make such an important contribution. It was well deserved given his performance.
Everton were unfortunate not to go further ahead when first Kone and then McCarthy were thwarted by terrific Begovic saves, however we were not to wait long for our second goal when Naismith took range from distance with his left foot, the ball cutting across Begovic and into the corner of the net. Cue hysterics throughout the ground. What a feeling. What a noise.
You knew Chelsea were going to retaliate strongly and once Matic struck his wonder goal they really had us pinned back pretty much in just our own penalty area as we defended a seemingly endless succession of corners. Only John Terry will know how he missed his free header, though thankfully we survived, making it to the break 2-1 ahead after quite a breathtaking first half.
The preceding second period was no less intense. The crowd immense and the players performing pretty much to perfection and they could have added the third goal long before Naismith completed his perfect hat-trick. Lukaku was thwarted on a couple of occasions as was Kone. How Andre Marriner failed to award us an indirect free kick following a quite blatant John Terry back pass to Begovic I will never know, but that mattered not when Naismith finished smartly to wrap the game up.
An amazing performance from Everton and a richly deserved win. This was surely Roberto Martinez’ finest hour as Everton manager. The key now is to sustain it of course. We need to come back with points from our next two away games in the league and make progress in the Capital One Cup at Reading. Following that we need to beat Liverpool. It’s as simple as that. It’s been far too long since we enjoyed derby success and if we play anything like as well as we did today, and Liverpool play anything like as badly as I’ve just seen them play at Manchester United, victory is very attainable in that fixture.
Should all that come to fruition, then who knows what the limit could be with this squad. A glance at the quality available from the substitutes bench and the injured list suggests that we might just be able to stick around nearer the top summit of the Premier League.
Well done Everton. That was just fantastic.
Howard: Jose Mourinho will feel he was criminally under-worked as two shots on target, one of which powderpuff, all game is poor for the champions. Regardless, I feel there were times when he could have shown more, or at least some, command of his penalty area. 6
Galloway: For a young lad learning his game, he was quite fantastic, particularly given that left back isn’t quite his position. He put in a great ball for Naismith’s first goal, and was solid and dependable throughout. Excellent. 8
Stones: Also excellent. His composure on the ball and ability to play a forward pass is quite exceptional. He’s really coming of age now. 8
Jagielka: Skippered us superbly and took no stick from Diego Costa. A brilliant effort. 9
Coleman: Has started the season very positively and had another stormer of a game today. Hopefully his injury isn’t too serious as he will be missed. 8
Barry: Outstanding. Always available for a pass and marshalled the midfield superbly. One of the best players out there today. 9
McCarthy: Busy if not always effective. 7
Besic: Not on long enough to judge.
Barkley: I thought that at times in the game he was a luxury we could scarcely afford in a fixture like this, though once we had made all our substitutions he seemed to pick his game up and take more responsibility. Regardless, the Ross Barkley of this season is practically unrecognisable from the confidence-shot player of the last campaign. Long may it continue. 6
Kone: Maddening at times but can be effective. I still feel Mirallas offers a better option than he, though Lukaku appears to be benefiting from the added support in attack so lets hope this continues. 7
Lukaku: Had a very impressive game and it’s only a shame that he didn’t cap it off with a goal. He got the better of Zouma and Terry on several occasions throughout. An excellent effort. 8
Naismith (for Besic): What a performance from Naismith. Not just his goals but his team effort was infectious and rubbed off on some of the others. A perfect hat-trick as a substitute. It doesn’t get better than that. 10
Lennon (for Kone): His pace and work rate will often unsettle teams and he was quite the nuisance from when he got on the pitch. Nice little return pass which ultimately led to Naismith’s third goal also. 7
Funes Mori (for Coleman): I was a little worried when he took to the field as it seemed a very difficult circumstance to throw a debutant into a game like that. He seemed unnerved however and I enjoyed his charge forward towards the end before he was taken down by Costa. Wasn’t on long and it’s impossible to tell if he’ll be a good player or not at this stage, but he does look composed which is a good trait to have. We might find out more soon if Coleman’s injury is a serious one. 7