Everton vs Sunderland

by | 31/10/2015  96 Comments  [Jump to last]
Match Preview

Tim Howard will return to the starting line-up at Joel Robles's expense

Does the season start now?

Everton's 10-match start to the 2015-16 season was viewed with a mixture of trepidation and sense of opportunity by Evertonians and while the Blues' return from a stretch of fixtures that pit them against all of last season's top eight sides hasn't been as awful as many feared, it hasn't matched the hopes held by others either.

Roberto Martinez's side have won a couple they might not have expected to win in the form of the excellent victories over Southampton and Chelsea, failed to take three points where they probably deserved to at Spurs and Swansea, and fared disappointingly against the remaining four of the "Sky five" by gaining just the one point in the Merseyside derby and losing to all three of Manchester City, United and Arsenal. With three of those games coming at home, it's hardly been the stirring stuff of 2013-14 when the Catalan's confident outfit were capable of "going eye to eye" with all comers.

On paper, at least in the context of the how things were perceived before the season started, things should start to ease up now, with Everton not scheduled to play any of those eight clubs again until January. But the trip to West Ham next weekend looks an altogether trickier proposition than it ordinarily might given the start Slaven Bilic has made to life at the Boleyn Ground and the date this Sunday with Sunderland has taken on a different complexion in the wake of Sam Allardyce's appointment and the Black Cats' latest win over their northeast rivals, Newcastle.

The new boss at the Stadium of Light is probably relishing the challenge of bringing his side to Goodison Park, too. Media and supporter scrutiny of Tim Howard and the Blues' increasingly suspect defence has been mounting in the wake of successive Premier League defeats and a brush with elimination from the Capital One Cup against Norwich last Tuesday. And captain Phil Jagielka will be absent from the back four because of the medial knee ligament injury he picked up at the Emirates last Saturday.

Not the ideal conditions for taking on an Allardyce team which, knowing the canny and results-driven Midlander, will surely be under instruction to exploit those obvious weaknesses in Martinez's rearguard when it comes to crosses and set-pieces. Let's hope that there has been some focus on defending those situations at Finch Farm this past week...

Jagielka's absence gives another chance for Ramiro Funes Mori to further demonstrate how quickly he has adpated to life in the Premier League and eased concerns in that regard among fans who were uneasy about this relatively unknown import from Argentina. Like Marcos Rojo before him and Nicolas Otamendi after him, Funes Mori has shown himself to be well-suited to the English game and, being naturally left-sided, he compliments John Stones nicely in the centre of defence. His prodigious leap also belies his height that is a shade under the usual for a centre half in the Premier League.

Martinez has a concern at right back, however, where Seamus Coleman looks very likely to miss out following his bout with a stomach bug this past week that has claimed a fair amount of his weight and strength. Tyias Browning has deputised in that position this season but with varying effectiveness and it may be that the manager deploys someone like James McCarthy or John Stones there, perhaps with Gareth Barry dropping back to centre half and Darron Gibson playing in central midfield as he did against Norwich in the cup.

Further forward, the usual conundrum presents itself in which four to perm from Arouna Kone, Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu, Aaron Lennon and, perhaps, Tom Cleverley to play around Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku. Mirallas's inability to truly stake a claim against the Canaries could see him start on the bench, while Deulofeu's effectiveness despite his inconsistency could get him the nod against a suspect visiting defence. Cleverley's absence from the team in midweek raises question marks over his readiness but if he is deemed fit to start, he would be a good bet for the left-midfield role.

Allardyce may only have overseen two games since assuming the hotseat at Sunderland but his methods and ethos are usually simple enough that they won't take much bedding in. In that sense, the Blues can expect a hard-fought, physical encounter with plenty of dierct play and an examination of the defence in the air. By the same token, though, Everton will hopefully know how best to get at an opposition defence that has shipped 19 goals and a team that has won just once in the League all season.

Kick off: 1:30pm
Referee: Andre Marriner
Predicted Line-up: Howard, Browning, Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Deulofeu, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku

Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Report

Reader Comments (96)

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Ian McDowell
1 Posted 31/10/2015 at 07:28:47
Not feeling confident about this game at all. We seem to really struggle at home recently and very rarely seem to score the first goal. The build up is all far too slow and Sunderland will do exactly as they have done on their last visit to Goodison, sit deep and look to hit us on the break and via set pieces.

Incidentally we are the only PL club not to have scored from a set piece this season.

Joe Foster
2 Posted 31/10/2015 at 08:18:02
I feel we are more likely to lose this than win it (which should not be the case).
Colin Glassar
3 Posted 31/10/2015 at 08:36:57
We will batter this lot. Big Sam won't have had time to sort out their defensive issues so even though it won't be 7-0 it should be 4-0 at least.

I watched them last week, against Newcastle, and they were awful. They might show a bit more fight tomorrow but they are still crap.

Dave Ganley
4 Posted 31/10/2015 at 08:52:47
To be honest Lyndon, your opening sentence says it all for me as to where we are and how low our expectations are. The season starts in August, always has; always will do. I get where you're coming from but can you imagine us saying that in the last 5 or 6 seasons before Martinez came? No me either.

Also, your statement on gaining points against Chelski and Southampton were unexpected bonuses. Again, says it all really. Fortress Goodison would have at least guaranteed us a point against the Chavs and although we don't have a great record down at Southampton I always thought we should be going there with expectation.

Spurs I thought we were lucky to come away with a point in my opinion, thought we were awful that day. Martinez has managed to lower expectations of what we are capable of when somebody like yourself suggests the season starts here.

I don't wish to start complaining bitterly about the manager but this season is starting to look a but like de javu from last season. I really want to be wrong and the team go on a splendid winning run and to make my words look foolish. Being made to look foolish would be heaven to me as it would mean we are successful.

However, more than just results, the performances for most part this season have been awful. Worse is the fact that we know the team can play, re Chelski and Southampton, yet they don't on a regular basis. You can forgive a limited team being rubbish,but what you can't forgive is a talented team being rubbish for most of the time with occasional flashes of excellence. The last few games have been terrible to watch with pretty terrible results to go with it, Norwich excepted as we won on penalties, really Norwich should have won in regulation time.

As for tomorrow's game. Really, Sunderland at home should be a gimme. Awful team with an awful record... looking like an away win then! Hopefully we can turn up and play some energetic football that we know we can play.

If Martinez can let the players off the leash then we are capable if beating not only Sunderland but most in the league, especially at Goodison. However, the shackles stay on for whatever reason, and we are reduced to turgid dire football with few or no chances. That is not entertainment for me.

No wonder Lukaku's agent is muckspreading again, may as well not be there if we are not creating anything again. We are reduced to statements starting with "hopefully", "maybe" and "could do" sad really. Hopefully we can get a win tomorrow and maybe sneak a goal from somewhere.
Up the blues

Thomas Surgenor
5 Posted 31/10/2015 at 09:01:39
Ian (#1),

"From a set piece".... In a Premier League game.

Young Geri scored a free kick in the League Cup.

Trevor Peers
6 Posted 31/10/2015 at 09:02:58
If our current form is anything to go by this one will be a draw. The signs are not good, as we entered a similar period of form this time last season.

Hopefully Roberto can fire the team up for victory, that's got to be his mission.

Ian Bennett
7 Posted 31/10/2015 at 09:05:22
It would be nice to see a 90-minute performance, rather than the 70 mins of rubbish and 20 mins of a bit better.


Funes Mori




Tony Hill
8 Posted 31/10/2015 at 09:24:42
I expect us to win and I am going to try to show more confidence generally in the team. I share all the doubts and was miserable after the Man Utd and Arsenal debacles, but I think there is a serious risk of us getting too doom-laden, too soon.

We do have some very good players and some of them will be back from injury soon. We have a strange manager (though anyone who can identify two talents like Besic and Funes Mori is no fool), but sometimes things just click in the right way when you least expect it.

Laurie Hartley
9 Posted 31/10/2015 at 09:44:57
Ian @ 7,

I like your back 5 but it is very young. Who gets the armband in your team?

Phil Sammon
10 Posted 31/10/2015 at 10:00:12
I completely agree with that team, Ian. We all know it won't happen though, sadly.

I honestly don't give a shit who gets the armband. Give it to Howard and let him revel in his newfound status on the bench.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 31/10/2015 at 10:30:13
Dave (#4) says it all for me, and I suspect quite a few others here on this site.

Let's be honest: we are playing very poor, regardless of results, and if we can't beat this very ordinary Sunderland team, we are in trouble.

Play on the front foot from the off and attack them. I for one have had enough of this tippy-tappy nonsense; attack and entertain us or we will be playing in the library again — and that doesn't help anyone.

John Crawley
12 Posted 31/10/2015 at 10:37:17
I would be bringing Gibson back into midfield; as long as he's fit, he plays, for me. I'd drop McCarthy, who has been poor this season, and keep Barry in there.

I'd be tempted to give Pennington a game at right back; I think he offers more going forward than Browning and he's better in the air. Same wide players as on Tuesday.

Paul Kelly
13 Posted 31/10/2015 at 11:04:14
Dave @ 4, quality post.

This isn't the most constructive next comment, Martinez Out, and to those who say it's knee jerk, take a look at the last 18 months of cack and take a moment.

Peter Weaver
14 Posted 31/10/2015 at 11:10:17
Given that my expectation for the season was never more than a 7th/8th finish, our yield from the first 10 games and the teams we faced, the 13 points we have gathered has been an acceptable start.

However, the next 10 will have to be more productive with a minimum of 18 to see us have any real chance of worrying the top third. Starting with three points on Sunday.

Kunal Desai
15 Posted 31/10/2015 at 11:13:28
The players start matches like a training session, dicking the ball about in defence and midfield, no real pressure in the final third. There is no intensity, passion and urgency in our play. 18 months down the line, this side is pedestrian; the worse part is that we show no fight at all.

Tomorrow will be the same, Sunderland will play for a draw and some no mark like Borini will pop up and score the winner. Everton have become boring and stale under Martinez. Three seasons of Martinez in charge is enough. A change must be made in the summer.

David Hallwood
16 Posted 31/10/2015 at 11:42:42
Good analysis, Lyndon, and I suppose in golfing terms, we're par... so we ain't going forward.

Same old Martinez faults are beginning to emerge: clean sheets a rarity with a high shot-per-conceded-goal percentage, and then we have Our Tim. There's little doubt that The Arse changed their team and tactics and attacked Howard (Big Centre Forward? Crosses into the Box? Arsenal?) and it paid handsome dividends against old Concrete Boots.

Now Big Sam doesn't have to change his tactics, and he's obviously noticed that we don't stop crosses coming in (which was a problem even in the Moyes era) and we don't defend them when they do come in. All-in-all a lethal combination. Oh for an Ashley Williams or Ryan Shawcross because, even though the spotlight has rightly been on Our Tim, Stones defensively leaves a lot to be desired.

I suppose it's ridiculous describing tomorrow's game as 'must win' but, if we lose to relegation fodder and heaven forbid it's a close-range header or any other howler from Howard's box of tricks, the Goodison faithful will turn decidedly nasty, because it'll turn into last season. Start off playing some decent stuff, only to be undone by schoolboy errors (with the stats to prove it) that sapped the confidence out of the team.

There's a great new series started on BBC 1 called The Class of '92 and it's a fly-on-the-wall documentary of Gary & Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt & Paul Scholes who have bought Salford City, a club in the Northern Premier League. And after a decent start, the performances start to bomb, and almost immediately all of the owners, who remember were phenomenally (had to get the word in) successful footballers, all observed that with the players they've got out against the teams they were up against, they should be winning – an unforgiving attitude and the manager was sacked, even though it didn't come easy because, as Giggs remarked, he only played under one manager.

So I ask the same question: left back excepted, for the first time in the illustrious history of our club, we can field a team of internationals, and yet we find clean sheets impossible to keep, and this is a continuation from last season, in which a team built on rock solid defence became sieve-like... or, more to the point, Wigan-like.

Football is like hotels: clean sheets are everything. And anything other than 3 points and a clean sheet tomorrow is a failure.

Tony Marsh
17 Posted 31/10/2015 at 11:46:44
What amazes me this season is how easily Martinez has morphed into David Moyes. Roberto has all the horrible traits that Moyes displayed for so long. Awful team selections and tactics; no Plan B; keeping faith in players who are shot; fearing the opposition; showing too much respect; terrible use of subs during critical periods of games; talking shite; etc etc.

I can't believe Martinez is the same man we enjoyed having here in his first season. It's surely a mental breakdown that has transformed the winning mentality Martinez had into this Terminal Loser we now see. I hope to God we don't get through to Wembley this season and meet Man City in the final of the Capital One Cup, as my mate is predicting. That wouldn't be a day out I would want any part of...

Chris Gould
18 Posted 31/10/2015 at 12:07:24
Tony (#8), I agree with your line of thinking.

Although RM can be very frustrating, and it is very easy to make an argument for his termination. I don't share the opinion that we have a squad who should be doing far better than they currently are.

I believe we have a young squad who, if kept together, will be ready to push for top 4 in a couple of seasons time. Too many of the players that we are relying on to put in big performances, week-in & week-out, are still very young and don't yet have the maturity.

Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku, Stones can become huge players in time. But right now, they carry too much responsibility for players so young. They will be in their primes at 27. That's 5-6 years away. What RM has done incredibly well is keep them all together. If he can continue to do this, then we will all reap the rewards.

RM will also become a better manager in the next couple of seasons. It's hard to visualise and believe it right now, but I believe patience with RM will be rewarded. There are going to be frustrating times ahead, no doubt about it, but we are on the right track.

The 4 players I mentioned above could all become world class. The chances are that they won't all progress to those heights, but if they get close, and all stay with us... who knows how good we could become?

Paul Jeronovich
19 Posted 31/10/2015 at 12:11:53
No excuses, this is three points if Martinez would just set us up to play direct attacking football.
Peter Weaver
21 Posted 31/10/2015 at 12:39:32
A poster on another thread named 11 of our players who are either past their best or of no more than average ability.

Such is the level of competition in today's Premier League, no manager can hope to get in the top quartile with almost half his squad of such limited quality. And, clever as Roberto may be, he will soon have to recognise that reality and do something about it.

Meanwhile, we should still have the beating of Sam's lot!

Si Turner
22 Posted 31/10/2015 at 12:45:29
Good write-up. Although Big Sam does indeed have a great record of turning fortunes around and stabilising clubs, the players at Sunderland are bang average at best.

Their defenders are awful and I believe the pace of our expected front four will be too much for their old defence.

I would like us to once go for it straight from the whistle rather than waiting for a wake-up call (goal conceded, fans venting frustration etc).

I'm going for 2-0 with Big Rom picking up a brace!


Kim Vivian
23 Posted 31/10/2015 at 12:45:48
The next 10 matches will tell us volumes more about where we are than the last 10. I sincerely hope I am massively wrong, but I can see us not taking advantage of a hypothetically easier run, and floundering in the wake of mid-table mediocrity. (Hopefully no worse.)

Please, RM and you Blue Boys, prove me wrong and make my Christmas and New Year.

We should be kicking off tomorrow with a win but I predict a dour draw, coming from behind.

I like the look of that line-up, Ian (#7) but we'll just be getting more of the same, I fear.

Nev Renshaw
25 Posted 31/10/2015 at 13:31:52
D'ya think if I asked nicely the boss would sign me (just for a few months and on the same sort of wages that present day footballers get)? 'Cos I can sit injured on the treatment bench just as good as anyone. Well RM, it's up to you!
Victor Jones
26 Posted 31/10/2015 at 13:44:32
This is one hell of a tight league this season. At any time, any team can beat any other team. But I expect as the season goes on, that the cream (bigger and better squads) will rise to the top. That is why Everton need to win these sort of games and keep in touch. We do not need a dog fight, like last season, 'cause I don't trust Martinez to do the right thing.

It took him an eternity to turn things around last season. October... November and December last season, Martinez was clueless. The Thursday night Europa League games were blamed... What's the excuse this season?

We have been poor through October (look at our results); not great. The Sunderland game will be a test: we are expected to beat them. But the fact is that we must beat them: no ifs, no buts. We have to be beating Sunderland.

And when did Big Sam become a manager to be feared? Squeaky bum time at Goodison Park. Those renowned world beaters Sunderland are in town. Come on people. We will beat them... I think.

Fine margins this season; we win, and we could reach the giddy heights of 7th. We lose, and we could be 14th. Fine margins. Should we lose, then it could be a long winter... 'cause, as stated, Martinez takes an age to iron out mistakes. A bloody eternity. And only by accident does he stumble upon a winning setup (eg. his favourites getting injured).

Pointless trying to select a team... but, for what it is worth I would play Robles (never going to happen). I would play Browning instead of a misfiring Coleman. And I would play Kone instead of Lennon (not too much to have two right wingers trying to slot into RB). And I don't like two DMFs (never have) but that is unlikely to change.

We need to press high up the pitch tomorrow and try for once to get the first goal; then, they will have to try and get back into the game... and we can exploit gaps. We can open them up. But they score first, then expect to play something like 8-1-1. Watch and see. That's Big Sam's notion of football: do a job on Martinez, thank you very much. Go back to London happy. As I said... fine margins.

But I expect Everton to win. I always do. And please, Mr Martinez, no silly formations. Mensa are still trying to work out what you were trying at Reading. And the Norwich game was no better. COYBs. Three points tomorrow. No nonsense. Time that we started to climb the league, and put some distance between ourselves and the midtable teams.

Colin Glassar
27 Posted 31/10/2015 at 13:50:51
Ian (#7), that’s probably our best XI right now and, off the top of my head, has probably cost us 㿲m to put together.

After watching 45 minutes of utter dross served up by Chelsea and Liverpool, with a combined worth of about 𧽴m, I still think we perform miracles to still be in or around the top 10.

I’m not making excuses for our poor performances but, when you look at the investment, or lack of, in the team over the years, then it puts things into more perspective.

Jay Harris
28 Posted 31/10/2015 at 13:58:23
I agree with Colin,

Sunderland were absolutely dire against a 10-man Newcastle last week. We should absolutely batter this lot.

My only concern is we start slow (again) and the crowd turn against the team. It is essential we get an early goal.

If Coleman is unfit, I would start Lennon at RB in this game.

Victor Jones
29 Posted 31/10/2015 at 14:18:33
We have trouble with crosses; everybody has worked that one out. When a ball is whipped in with pace, we defend like circus seals, flapping about. But TBH, we never cause too many problems with crosses of our own.

We never put teams under that sort of pressure (apart from Deulofeu's efforts against WBA). So how did we manage to win a few games? Simple, we went narrow; we played through the middle with no wingers and Kone helping Lukaku.

Not to everybody's taste, I know. But, as soon as something worked, Martinez changed things. I just don't get our manager. I try... but he makes it hard work to actually see what he is trying to do.

On the Howard v Robles debate, yes, Robles makes mistakes (understandable, as he never has time to settle into the team). But would we have scrambled past Norwich with Tim Howard in goal? I wonder...

Colin Glassar
30 Posted 31/10/2015 at 14:30:07
Stonesy must be gutted not playing alongside the likes of Cahill and Terry and learning from such wonderful defenders. Are you watching Merson, Redknapp and all the other dickheads who wanted him to move to chavdom?
Ray Roche
31 Posted 31/10/2015 at 14:56:06
Aye, Colin, I'm not sure just what Stones could learn from Terry.

How to remonstrate with a referee? How to insult American tourists? How to knob your teammate's bird?

Colin Glassar
32 Posted 31/10/2015 at 15:33:12
Eugene, you are right, all three were/are bent but Thomas was the worst out of the three as he was also a certified nut-job to boot.

Harold Matthews
33 Posted 31/10/2015 at 15:42:32
I'm usually "glass half-empty" but not tomorrow. Sunderland are seriously poor and I'm expecting three- or four-nil.

Seriously poor down at Chelski also. The players are not doing it for the manager.

Dean Adams
34 Posted 31/10/2015 at 15:58:46
Eugene Ruane (#32)...

I find myself ageeing with you all the way on that particular post. What is the world coming to?

Victor Jones
35 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:06:41
A clean sheet would be great tomorrow, which means that at least we get a draw. But we really should be thinking of nothing less than three points. I would even forsake a clean sheet, as long as we win 3-1 or 4-1. But no conceding more than one.

And please, please score first. I'm getting pretty tiresome going a goal behind every bloody game. That is one hell of a sinking feeling.

As usual, here is my rallying cry... Get out of the blocks quickly. Put Sunderland on the back foot... and not just on or around the 80th minute. Thank you very much, Mr. Martinez.

Gavin Johnson
36 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:18:52
Bearing in mind we've now played all the sides that were top eight last season, I think we've done reasonably well. We need to exploit the fixture list we've got ahead. We've got no excuses for not being around the top 6-8 by Christmas.

I remember some of them posts last season when we played Hull and Stoke and even the most tolerant Martinez supporters were going to give him until November to Christmas this season. So, while we've not had the complete turnaround we'd have hoped, it's not been a bad as many would have predicted at our lowest last season. We're mid-table after playing a very daunting fixture list.

The biggest positive for me that we've sped play up a little more. We still like to pass the ball around a little needlessly at times. But we've definitely moved on from last season.

So, while I'm optimistic about the fixtures ahead, my only fear is that the lower teams will just sit back and we won't be able to break them down like we saw last season. As the more competitive teams allow us to play our style of football and we've now played them all in our opening fixtures.

So could we do worse against the lower sides?!?

I don't think we will but there's that fear at the back of my mind. I think we've moved on and things have been learnt from last season. I don't think the teams deemed to be lower will give us the same level of respect this time round. When we're seen as one of the big teams not to lose to.

Tomorrow's going to be the acid test for me; Big Sam will set that side up as a defensive unit and they'll be the embodiment of negative football with the onus on getting something from set-pieces. So, if we win convincingly, I see it as a good omen for the way the rest of the coming 8-9 fixtures play out.

Jay Harris
37 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:24:41
There is far too much money in the game now and, as they say, money corrupts. Even a player could drop 50 grand as a bung and not notice it.

If it happens at the top of Fifa, it sure as hell happens at the bottom of the food chain.

Coming back to EFC, I see a poll on Royal Blue Mersey shows only 13% think Martinez is doing OK.

Patrick Murphy
38 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:31:33
Jay does that mean the other 87% think he is doing brilliant? :)
Winston Williamson
39 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:33:38
No Patrick... phenomenal!
Joe Foster
40 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:39:03
As much as 13%. I am surprised.
Eugene Ruane
41 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:46:29
Dean Adams (35) - 'Eugene Ruane 32, I find myself ageeing with you all the way on that particular post. What is the world coming to?'

That is terrific news, cheers!

To be honest whenever I post I always have that little niggle in the back of my mind - 'what will Dean Adams think?'

So brilliant to get your seal of approval on that.

(I was going to stay in tonight but you know what, fuck it, I'm going out!)

Rahman Talib
42 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:50:26
The Arsenal game was ours for the taking until Howard screwed up twice and gave them a two-goal lead.

Many.games thus far should have been a walk in the park for us but became a struggle because of Howard's shortcomings.

When was the last time Howard had a three-in-a-row clean sheet? Robbles had one last season before he was dropped.

Simon Harris
43 Posted 31/10/2015 at 16:51:16
Martinez, after the Man Utd trouncing, described the team as pedestrian.

He then stated he expected to see a reaction from the players ahead of the Arsenal game, only to see us come out second to every ball and lacklustre until we went two-down against an Arsenal team who'd played in mid-week.

So can Roberto motivate his players? ... as they sure can't do it themselves.

I can take being beaten by a better team if we give everything, but I can't take lack of effort or fight. Get into them and fire them up, once we win the battle our class will tell.

Tom Bowers
44 Posted 31/10/2015 at 17:44:11
I think by now most knowledgeable Evertonians have come not to expect anything wonderful happening in any game. Whilst Everton do have a big, somewhat talented squad, they do not yet have the kind of synchronization and to a certain degree the belief in themselves to be a serious in this league.

This is down to, in part and maybe totally in some cases, the succession of managers they have had since Howard Kendall's glory days, with the exception maybe of Joe Royle.

The record this season, as we all know, is not good despite beating Chelski which is no great feat seeing how RS gave them a goal start and a beating today on their own pitch. They survived big scares at Soton and Albion before getting all the points and generally play, at least defensively, with too much trepidation always looking like they will concede with every opponent's attack, just like Norwich during the week. Everton still lack that bite in the middle of the park as the tackling is poor and the passing is too shoddy, frequently setting up attacks for the opposition.

So another home game and against another team that on paper they should beat but they need to be up for it and show some real fighting spirit from the start. I would like to see Deulofeu start and get him running at them down the flanks. I would also like to see Kone given another start even if it means Lukaku on the bench.

Glen Garrett
45 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:03:01
A must-win win tomorrow without question. Everton have been shocking and have really struggled at home this season so far. The only game they show any passion was the game against Chelsea.

Everton need to get that passion back and keep up with the rest of the top half of the Premier League if they want Europe next season. Martinez needs to get it sorted out now; I personally would sack him and get a manager that's got heart and passion.
Gavin Johnson
46 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:27:26
It's a shame Oviedo hasn't got a few more games under his belt. Otherwise, I think I'd play Galloway alongside McCarthy in Barry's absence.

Galloway can also play as a defensive midfielder as well as LB and CB. I think he could make a cracking defensive midfielder who also has the ability to surge forward. Something neither Barry or Gibson can do.

Jay Harris
47 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:27:45
Against this lot, I would play Lennon at RB if Coleman isn't fit, with Deulofeu just in front with Mirallas or Kone on the other flank.'

It will be important to have tempo from the beginning and not start in a slumber, as in previous games.

Ian Bennett
48 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:29:30
Stones would be my captain. If you're good enough, you're old enough.

Ss John Lennon said, just give youth a chance...

Colin Hughes
49 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:49:01
If we fail to beat Sunderland at home, Martinez should be sacked. Our home form this calendar year as been shocking and we are potentially spiralling towards another winter relegation scrap.

It's alright fans pointing out winnable games but this fixture has been winnable for the last two season and we have lost both. Do or die time, Roberto.

Karl Jones
50 Posted 31/10/2015 at 18:51:32
This won't be pretty. I think we all know what to expect. Slow in possession, trying to force a way through an organised defence, and the ball coming in to our 6-yard box at every opportunity.

Everyone will be on edge for every corner conceded. The organisation for corners is as bad as ever. We really need to get rid of Lawrence and get a proper defensive coach, such as Keown, maybe.

The main thing is, we desperately need to score first. Chelsea is the only game at home where we've scored the first goal. A lot of this is down to bad decisions from Howard. If he plays, we'll probably end up chasing the game once again and we all know how ugly those games are.

Clive Rogers
51 Posted 31/10/2015 at 19:25:24
Ian (#48),

Stones has not played well the last few games... and Lennon said 'peace', not 'youth'.

Eddie Dunn
52 Posted 31/10/2015 at 19:40:36
Far too often do I find myself thinking that a win against our next opponents is very important, and then check to see we are not playing a rival for a top 6 spot, but a team in the lower half.

So much for the optimism of a new season. We are descending down to the level I predicted during pre-season. I hoped that our over-rated manager and players would somehow get it right, but alas, this is reality.

Incidentally, does anyone else wonder that if Martinez wasn't Spanish, and British, say Pardew, Pearson, Allerdyce or Lennon, that he may have been sacked by now?

James Royston
53 Posted 31/10/2015 at 19:50:14
Just the words 'Andre Mariner' concern me more than Sunderland.
Frank Thomas
54 Posted 31/10/2015 at 20:07:21
It's very hard to understand how we are not in the top 4 this season. No disrespect to Leicester, West Ham, Spurs, Watford and even Crystal Palace but, if we all sold our players, we would get far more than any other team.

We have not had a team this good since Kendall's FA Cup winning team. So what is the problem? It has to be the manager. He seems to only have a Plan A and only chance changes his mind. You think we would have won against Chelsea if not for an injury causing Naismith to come on early when we all know Naismith would not have come on until the 82nd minute or later.

Players are playing well and he leaves them out of the team the next week. Other players play badly and he leaves them in, so they can get their confidence back. How logical is that? They should be back at the stadium doing heading and doing shooting practise — not on the field missing sitters.

Klopp is going to change the way the Premier League plays this season and if we continue with this madness we will be playing for 17th place. Why?

We have already seen Liverpool run, hustle and attack more and the players are starting to get the pattern and the fans are seeing players really earn their money on the field. The results are coming and so will the confidence very quickly.

The other teams I mentioned at the beginning are also doing something similar; you only have to look at Leicester the same 8 players in the team and they are currently 9 points above us. Can you name any two of their defenders? Most people know all our regular back four and are envious of us.

So the team I would choose this week would be as follows:


Funes Mori

Barkley (Cleverley 83)
Oviedo (Besic 75)

Naismith (Osman 75)


Totally rested for two games at least.
Lukaku (missed at least one sitter in the last game and more before that )
Kone (similar reasons )
After the Watford game with two missed sitters (headers) by Lukaku and Kone they improved probably due to practise and have missed quite a few since.

You are not in the team unless you give 100% for the full game.

John Keating
55 Posted 31/10/2015 at 20:39:17
Jay (#41),

Playing non-defenders as defenders is usually a recipe for disaster. Defenders are taught from day one about keeping the line, stepping up together to play offside. Unfortunately, non-defenders tend not to have a clue.

Our defenders are bad enough without putting a winger as a full back. If Coleman is out, we have enough natural defenders to cover.

You would think even if Sunderland start with Fletcher and Defoe, we should have enough to sort them out.

Peter Bell
56 Posted 31/10/2015 at 21:12:08
James, I totally agree. It is getting sad when the first question the fans ask is "Who is the ref?"
Christy Ring
57 Posted 31/10/2015 at 21:12:10
Everton have to come out with all guns blazing from the start tomorrow. We need high tempo, more passion, and stop Bobby's shit of passing sideways and backwards.
Laurie Hartley
58 Posted 31/10/2015 at 21:39:34
Personally I think the choice of captain for this game is very important for a number of reasons:

We need someone on the pitch that will display a sense of urgency and intensity. We need someone on the pitch who is capable of cajoling his teammates into putting in 100% if things are going against us.

It may give us an insight into Martinez's future plans for the team - depending on who chooses. For me, there are only two candidates: Barry or Stones.

Mike Oates
60 Posted 31/10/2015 at 21:43:10
We always in August and September have the belief that this will be our season, with a great squad, a manager who can instill belief in the players, BUT by October/November we realise once again that we just don't have a good enough squad and we don't have a good enough manager.

Doesn't matter how much you hate the lot from the other side of Stanley Park... but they act; they have acted every pre-season for the last 3-4 years to get 3-4 decent/quality players, spending 㿨m, and finally they acted to get the best manager out there.

Us... we get a freebie, and two wingers for a total of ٦m and what looks like a decent centre-half for ٧.5m, and even worse, we'll keep Martinez until we are desperate relegation trouble, then probably get Royle back as interim manager whilst we wait for Moyes to come back.

It's all too much, lack of fight, passion, will to work, crap at defending, crap at supporting Lukaku. I even noticed today that in the latest stats we are 19th in league for miles players run in a game – only kept out of bottom by Aston Villa – surprise, surprise they are also bottom of the Premier League.

Klopp, in his 2 weeks, has Liverpool up from about 13th to 3rd and no matter how you feel, they completely destroyed Chelsea today.

Us – we'll be lucky to score tomorrow. Sorry I've lost the faith; it's gone... we are a poor poor outfit.

Callum McNab
61 Posted 31/10/2015 at 21:59:19
Dave Ganley, spot on. Totally agree with everything you said. Where has that team gone that played at Southampton giving us so much optimism?

It's back to the same crap that was being played last season. If they think the Chelsea players aren't playing for Jose, well our lot look like they're at Martinez's leaving party.

John Malone
62 Posted 31/10/2015 at 22:01:41
The key to tommorrow is the formation. I'd go for a 4-4-2 with Kone and Lukaku up front, Barkley centre mid with McCarthy, Mirallas on the left, Deulofeu on the right keeping either fullback deep when the opposite side are attacking to not leave ourselves open for the counter.

Also, I'd like to see Oviedo back in the team. As much as Galloway is a good defender, I think Oviedo offers a lot more going forward; if Coleman is out, I'd play Galloway right back before Browning.

Another point is set-pieces. Allardyce is not daft; he will know how shite Howard is at crosses and play on it. Communication and bravery has to be the key for, if we concede because of another Howard flap, he has to be dropped!

Jamie Barlow
63 Posted 31/10/2015 at 22:30:19
Playing Barkley with McCarthy is okay if you think we can win the game with 10 men when we don't have the ball.

Personally I would get Barry straight back in and play Mirallas and Deulofeu on the wings with Barkley behind Lukaku. That should be good enough to beat these.

I'm a bit gutted about Coleman. I don't think we get enough going forward from Browning.

Derek Thomas
64 Posted 31/10/2015 at 22:42:51
If we're asking 'does the season start now' in NOVEMBER then the answer must be NO. The season is almost over in meaningful terms with regards to the Premier League. Just like it was last season.

There's a power vacuum on the Board, an Innovation and Inspiration vacuum in the coaching staff and a confidence vacuum in the Players.

And, as I keep saying, baring a major Board shake-up or a Mike Walker-esque Meltdown, Martinez, just like Moyes before him, has the job as long as he wishes.

So on reflection the season does not start here, that's well gone. But the Job of getting the Club back playing decent football in a proper manner does. That's your mission Roberto. Not that you'll accept it, or in fact accept the need to change, you've said too many times 'No Change'

Tony Twist
65 Posted 31/10/2015 at 22:48:29
Sunderland should be easily beaten tomorrow if Martinez picks a team that is balanced, has attacking threat and intent. A team made up of players that are in form, not a team of favourites. Martinez fails to do this then we will be lucky to get anything from this match.
John Malone
66 Posted 31/10/2015 at 22:54:59
Fair comment, Jamie, Barkley is useless without the ball; he switches off constantly and doesn't work hard enough to win it back. But, if he plays Barry and McCarthy sat on each others' toes, pumping shite long balls up to Lukaku with no support, I'm walking out.

I thought Martinez had finally realised Barkley is not a Number 10 and the 4-2-3-1 shape at home was a load of shite after the terrible season last time and the first game of this season, which only improved when Kone came on the pitch and we went two up top.

I'd even be happy if he benched Barkley in order to have two up top. Lukaku on his own is useless!

Harold Matthews
67 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:03:13
Laurie. I'm afraid Stones has no sense of urgency. I've moaned about it ever since he arrived.
Danny Broderick
68 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:07:52
If we can stop them scoring tomorrow, we will win. However, I'm sure Allardyce will have noticed how weak we looked at Arsenal when crosses were played into the box. That is where the game will be won and lost. Howard must dominate his 6-yard box. Fail to do that and we will drop points. It really is that simple.
Laurie Hartley
69 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:09:04
Well, Harold, if you are right about Stones, then it looks like Barry (who for me is an automatic start). But it is a worry longer term. We have to have a leader on the pitch.
Oliver Molloy
70 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:12:19

I don't think Sunderland will be easily beaten tomorrow irrespective of what side our manager decides to put out. How many players do you think we have who are on form?

Ian Riley
71 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:12:35
The run of games the team has faced would be a test for any top team. Tomorrow presents a different test, a game we should win. Sunderland are dire but big Sam will bring a team happy to frustrate the opposition and fans and nick a one-nil or nil-nil.

At present, the team is not playing well at all. Howard has come under fire but the team as a whole must work harder. More tackles, stop the crosses, more energy. Let's really surprise Sunderland and up the tempo from the kick-off. I expect a win tomorrow... but we are Everton!

Trevor Peers
72 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:40:14
We have got to get a performance out of the side tomorrow or the writing will be on the wall for Roberto.

He'll make all those who supported him last season and this, look stupid if we descend into last season's form, by pissing around passing the ball amongst ourselves, when we should be ripping the back out of a poor Sunderland team.

Nick Page
73 Posted 31/10/2015 at 23:45:58
I can't see us getting a result tomorrow. I say that with a heavy heart.

We do nothing well. We don't close the ball down. We don't get players into the box. We have a crap keeper. Our players don't talk to each other. There is no leader on the pitch.

Our home record is now bordering on dire. If he doesn't win, and win handsomely tomorrow, it's times to start looking. And believe me, Martinez is probably the 18th best manager in the Premier League. Certainly the most fucking stubborn.

Mike Hughes
75 Posted 31/10/2015 at 00:08:22
Derek (#56),

If I read you correctly, the points that you make can – I think – be summed-up in one word: 'culture' – the way we do things around here.

The culture, outlook & expectations of any organisation affect everything: in our case – who is recruited at all levels throughout the club; who are our commercial partners etc; how we train; what songs we sing at the ground; where we think it is acceptable to finish in the league etc.

A positive aspect of Everton's culture was highlighted this week in the way we conducted everything regarding Howard Kendall's sad demise. We are class. (No kopite-style attention-seeking banners, embroidered scarfs, grown men wearing badges etc.)

But, on the flipside, we are effectively also-rans in a league that is massively influenced by revenue streams, marketing, media and so on. To a large degree, we have missed the boat and it's a long swim from here.

The one potential chink of light is what happens on the pitch. That is hugely influenced by the manager and, in turn, the players. Turning points – like 1984 for HK Mk 1 – can happen. The manager makes a couple of under-the-radar signings (Reid, Gray) and imprints his culture on the team & club. Clearly not as simple as all that but we heard some stories about such an outlook in the eulogies this week.

That is what gives me hope that we can still get back to the top in time. If the manager gets things right – and the players do – then it's still 11 versus 11. People seem to accept that anyone can beat anyone else on their day in the Premier League.

Only a few weeks ago, Mark Lawrensen commented prior to the Merseyside derby that man-for-man Everton appeared to have the stronger team for the first time in many years. But we still failed to beat them at home and most subsequent performances and results have been poor.

Is RM the man to get it right? To me – and I genuinely hope I am wrong – the bloke is stuck in the shallow end and is a little uneasy venturing much further.

The most recent evidence for this is that many of us are going into a game against a bottom 3 side in Sunderland without complete conviction that we will stuff them.

Tim Greeley
78 Posted 01/11/2015 at 02:28:18
If anyone is expecting anything other than 1-1 or possibly even 1-2 heading into the 85th minute, then you ain't been paying attention. Or you're deluded. Which is fine. But that's Everton and it's awfully hard to keep this up.

Tonight is Halloween so I'm sure to be hungover and in no mood tomorrow so we'll just friggin see what happens.

Also – I'll keep bringing this "stat" up until the pattern changes as I think that it is relevant: Everton have now played 13 matches in all competitions and have scored the first goal... juist TWICE. Twice in 13 matches we have scored first. What the FUCK, DUDE!!!

Sure we have bounced back against crap in the League Cup games but keep that up in the League and we will be right back in Hell by January.

Why can't Brown Shoes see it !??! Try to score! There is no other point to the entire sport but GOALS. IDIOT.

Peter Barry
79 Posted 01/11/2015 at 03:28:17
Slowly and inexorably and inevitably, we slip further and further down the table. It is also blindingly obvious except to the willfully blind that Senor Martinez is the wrong man to do anything about it.
Laurie Hartley
80 Posted 01/11/2015 at 04:28:44
Mike Hughes (71) - good post.
Peter Barry
82 Posted 01/11/2015 at 06:20:53
'Old Brown Shoes' has made such a big deal about how hard the first 10 games would be that any slip up from now on will be inexcusable.
Graham Mockford
83 Posted 01/11/2015 at 06:29:56
Peter Barry,

I think we are about par for the first 10 games, but are also still in the last 8 of the League Cup. So I do think the doom and gloom is about as misplaced as claims of a top 4 finish were just three games ago.

Tim Greeley, I am happy for you to consider me deluded because I expect three points today. However, I still won't expect a Top 4 finish; in the words of Walling it's looking very seventhish.

Darryl Ritchie
84 Posted 01/11/2015 at 06:45:10
Getting on towards midnight here. These early games are kinda like Christmas when I was a kid. You go to bed and hope that Santa comes and leaves you something nice. I'll check the score in the morning, and hopefully I get present, and not a lump of coal.

We should handle them easily, but you never know. The Norwich game midweek didn't inspire a lot of confidence in our form. Still too much east/west, and not enough north/south.

Tim and the back 4 had better be on their game, because they are going to bombard the box with crosses.

We have to be much more clinical in the final third. Whoever Martinez selects up front have to create more chances and put those shots on net.

Still, like I said above, we should get three points. Santa wouldn't let me down....would he?

Everton 2-0 Sunderland

Ernie Baywood
85 Posted 01/11/2015 at 07:14:17
I think the team that has done reasonably well in some tricky fixtures will comfortably beat the team that has stunk out the league through the first few months of the season.

Incidentally, all those who are certain we'll lose can make some decent coin. A certainty in a three horse race paying 6/1.

Peter Weaver
86 Posted 01/11/2015 at 10:13:15
Graham at 76. Didn't Phil Walling promise to come back from Cyprus in November? Perhaps he'll wait until we are back in seventhish!
Rob Halligan
87 Posted 01/11/2015 at 10:39:16
I can't think of any manager who would announce his starting goalkeeper for the next match, five days in advance. Is this a "Baldrick" style "Cunning Plan" by Martinez to fool fat Sam into adopting bombardment tactics into our penalty area, and put Howard under pressure?

Come 12:30, when teamsheets go in, and Robles is in goal, Fat Sam's tactics fucked, with no Plan B. 4-0 to the mighty blues.

Peter Barry
88 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:08:07
Graham Mockford (#76), I was right about Moyes when many were, and still are, unable to hear a word against him. And I will be proved right about Ole Brown Shoes too. You can say "Sorry, you were right" later... but of course you never will; people like you never admit your mistakes.
Nitesh Kanchan
89 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:25:05
Anyone else feel Lukaku is lazy? His off-the-ball movement is very lazy. He hardly tries to make defenders work by getting into positions or making movements to unsettle the opposite organised defense to make space for himself or others.

He waits for the ball to come to him. Even his decision-making is awful many a times. Many of his goals have come through penalties and the less said about his first touch, the better.

I feel he can't score more than 1 goal like Yakubu or Saha or Cahill or Jelavic even against the mid-table or smaller teams.

Mourinho has made many bad decisions with Mata, De Bruyne and Cech but I feel Lukaku was right one. I hope he proves me wrong today by scoring a hattrick against leaky Sunderland defence.

Nigel Gregson
90 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:32:46
Peter Barry - the trouble with your kind of analysis is that you will obviously be proven right one day. If you can say 'the world is going to end' for a long enough time horizon (let's say a few hundred thousand years), you'd be dead right.
Brent Stephens
91 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:38:30
Nigel #82 - you beat me to it!
Brent Stephens
92 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:39:15
Nigel - ps "analysis"? You're being kind.
Ernie Baywood
93 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:44:04
It goes further than that. The easiest thing in the world is to say that an Everton manager will fail. Switch Everton for any other traditionally successful club that doesn't have top 4 resources. Same applies.

It's not like it's a long shot call or even 50/50. An Everton manager achieving better than 5th and having 'success' is a long shot.

I could cry "fail" constantly and never be disappointed. But I'm not sure what kind of supporter that would make me. It's the hope that keeps you going (and kills you)... right?

Brian Harrison
94 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:46:08
A couple of things that I would like to see happen today:

When we defend a corner, can we have at least one defender on the post? When we are in the opponent's half, can Ross be closer to Lukaku rather than 20 yards adrift of him?

Can we let Deulofeu go outside the fullback as he used to in his first spell here? As at present he gets to the edge of the box and tries to cross from there.

I would also love to see somebody run past Lukaku as nobody makes these runs. Could we, for this game at least, release one of our central defensive midfield players to join the attack sometimes, to give us some options.

Finally, when we get around the edge of our opponents' penalty area, can we have more than one player willing to run into the box to receive a pass.

Brent Stephens
95 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:47:19
Ernie (#85):

"It's the hope that keeps you going (and kills you)... right?"

Dead right.


David Hallwood
97 Posted 01/11/2015 at 11:58:38
It'll be interesting to see how the Mackems start and will they target Howard from the off. I'm expecting Johnson to bang the ball into the 6-yard box early to players making late runs.

In normal times this should be a routine win (OK what's a routine win) but, player for player, we are better in every department – except of course GK.

Derek Knox
98 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:06:48

Love your subterfuge theory, let's just hope there is many a true word spoken in jest.


Andrew Clare
99 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:17:48
Expect a grim frustrating game.

Why? Just look at our recent performances. They're getting worse every game. We never dominate games, we always look vulnerable and quite frankly our squad isn't good enough.

Jamie Crowley
100 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:25:01
I do not care how. I do not care if it's pretty or as ugly as I've ever seen.

Three points any old way against an Allardyce team.

Colin Glassar
101 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:29:20
Not expecting a classic as Sam will set up his team to frustrate us. As long as we win is the important thing.
Tom Bowers
102 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:43:06
Whatever the line-up, and we all have our own, it does seem they are lacking belief in winning again apart from Deulofeu who has the ability to run at the opposition and doesn't show a lack of intensity. Unfortunately he doesn't defend well but he shouldn't have to should he?

Sadly, in the modern game, every player has to defend and that's why he may only be used sparingly and alternating with Lennon or, dare I say, a lacklustre Mirallas.

Sunderland are a poor team generally and they may finally go down this season, so let's hope the Blues can help them on their way.

Luke Osborne
103 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:51:19
I sincerely hope we can start our 'easy games' with a win. If we lose, it's gonna be 2014-15 all over again.
Brian Hill
104 Posted 01/11/2015 at 12:58:46
Colin @92, you say Sam will set his team up to frustrate us. Probably true, but not half as frustrating as how Señor Roberto will set HIS team up.

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