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Everton 0 - 1 Sunderland & Everton 2 - 1 Southampton - Five Thoughts

A combination of thoughts from the Christmas period, full mainly of festive cheer despite a poor result.

Clive Brunskill

High risk game plan

When you takes risks on the ball there are inevitably the odd mistake and you just hope those odd mistakes don’t end up costing you. Unfortunately against Sunderland that one mistake did cost Everton. Roberto Martinez has asked his team to be brave on the ball and they were, what they were missing was the correct decision making, Tim Howard should never have played that pass. The flip side of that was our second goal against Southampton, where Leighton Baines was brave on the ball and passed short when he could have hit it long. In two games we’ve seen the risk and reward of the type of football we’re now playing. It’s fantastic.

Quite often football makes no sense

In previous years games against Sunderland have been a given, three points to mark on the calendar as soon as the fixture lists have become available. And this year it seemed even more of a banker. Even during the game there were enough chances to win, particularly from Ross Barkley, but sometimes that’s just football. Ask Manchester United.

Goal crisis?

The sign of the value of a striker is measured by goals, but a sign of their quality is how they react to a drought. Over the last five games we’ve seen Romelu Lukaku struggle. He’s not lacked effort but he probably has lacked a bit of service from the three behind him, but when presented with a decent chance today he buried it, and in style. On the surface it’s a simple finish, but watch again, hit first time and beautifully placed, all with the weight of a goalless run hanging around him.

Our very own Action Man

He looks like the kids toy from the seventies and eighties and plays with an all action style. James McCarthy is currently looking a bargain at £13million, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Ostensibly one of two more defensive minded players, alongside Gareth Barry against Sunderland, and Leon Osman against Southampton, McCarthy is a dynamo in the midfield, the archetypal box to box midfielder. He has real talent on the ball as well, just look at that first time touch to set Lukaku up against the Saints. The transformation of our midfield is one of the key improvements that we’ve seen in the team this season.

A squad game

The worry has been what might happen when injuries started to bite, especially at this time of year. Well we can worry a little less going into January. Bryan Oviedo has proved himself a capable deputy for Leighton Baines over the last month, and today Steven Naismith, who isn’t a favourite of anyone particularly, came in and did a job. Perhaps more promisingly though Anton Alcaraz made an incredibly assured debut against Southampton, his experience alongside Sylvain Distin over the next few weeks will be invaluable, but don’t be surprised to see John Stones start a game soon. The only negative was the slightly worrying performance from Joel Robles, in mitigation though it’s always a bit more difficult for a goalkeeper coming into the team, but he’s a definite ‘must do better’.