A point at Everton. Given their record this season and how well they have performed thus far, it would be hard to say that this is 2 points dropped. Of course we should aspire to be better than that and make 3 points as the only target for every game. After all, no one plays not to win. Yet, everything is circumstantial depending on the conditions that governed. As for the case of us going to Goodison Park and taking back one point, does not call for the end of the world.
Everton put up a great fight from the second minute onwards. Theo Walcott, restored to the starting line-up, had already put us ahead almost right from the kick-off. He got lucky with his dribbling that bounce back into his direction and with the deflection that came from his shot that took Tim Howard out. Aaron Ramsey waited and waited for Walcott to get into position before playing the perfect pass to him. First blow to us in the first minute of the game but Everton wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
They came back into the game with gusto. The loss of Laurent Koscielny after only 4 minutes also didn’t help. A groin strain picked up trying to reach to block an Everton pass. Kieran Gibbs hurried onto the pitch without time to warm up. Wresting possession quickly and denying us the space to operate, they even started to create chances of their own. However, we were defending well and did not allow Everton to get in behind. It looked comfortable to an extent but we contrived to allow they clearer chance to score.
Ramsey was sloppy in possession and got caught out. Everton counter ended with Marouane Fellaini placing a shot beyond the dive of Wojciech Szczesny. It was a goal of our own making. Taking the unnecessary risk and for all the good that Ramsey did to make the first goal for Walcott, he wasted it with a poor pass. The Welshman would go on to have a few more of those in the rest of the game. The boo boys were already at him when Ramsey was announced to be in the starting line-up, even though he probably only came in because Lukas Podolski got sick at the last minute. Just like he always is, Ramsey doesn’t hide from taking the riskier option but he should learn to have more awareness of where to do it and where not to.
He wasn’t the only one from our side who had a poor game. Santi Cazorla was as effective as Andre Santos helping out to search for an item when there’s a candy bar around. The Spaniard looks laboured and painstakingly low on fitness. His passing was astray and his normally immaculate ball control, seemed to have deserted him for a night. It’s a tough transition to come from another league to the English league and be able to cope with the frantic pace of the game from the get go. While the mind is able to adapt, the body can sometimes take a different route and more time to recuperate. A game or even two on the bench for him, wouldn’t be the worst of decisions.
With Fellaini and the powerful Nikica Jelavic spearheading Everton’s attack, their tactic was bound to favour the more physical aspects of the game and exploit our perceived aerial weakness. Several times it worked and Szczesny had to be alert, even though those can be considered easy save to make. The Pole might go home and look at the goal conceded and wondered if he could have got down sooner. Unsighted maybe but the shot wasn’t travelling at great speed and not exactly bottom corner. But we worked out our defences and knew that it would be easier to stop their supply than preventing their Belgian-Croat partnership to win headers.
Gibbs and Bacary Sagna both excelled from wider defensive positions and Everton crosses from wide positions were few and far in between. Perhaps because of that, neither player got involved much in the attacking part of our game. It made us lose that little bit of extra up front but they can’t be bombing forward every game. We needed them to be discipline and we got that from them. Though, that didn’t stop Gibbs from producing what was the pass of the game almost as soon as he came on for Koscielny. Outside of his left boot, straight down the line for Ramsey.
Walcott became a peripheral figure as soon as he made the switch to the left hand side and Ramsey move to the opposite flank. Several thoughts on why the change was made. Ramsey would be better equipped to handle Leighton Baines’ forward runs. Or it was felt that Walcott could get at Tony Hibbert. Or that Arsene Wenger saw that Baines had the upper hand and wanted to mix things up. In any case, it didn’t work. For much of the latter part of the first half and the entirety of the second half, Walcott was anonymous. Though, to some degree, Ramsey was much more visible on the right hand side. If it was because of Walcott’s injury, then it made no sense that we did not substitute him out.
Looking from the fixture list last Friday, I wanted 6 points out of Aston Villa and Everton. Though, I made peace with myself that 4 points out of these games would be a very decent return. In the end, we only got 2 points and the points dropped weren’t from Goodison Park, it was at Villa Park. We need to step it up again and we need to do it fast. Goodbye November, here’s to a better month for us ahead.