When Leighton Baines fractured his toe in the 221st Merseyside Derby there were many fears within Evertonians that losing such an influential player would severely dent their top four ambitions. However his replacement Bryan Oviedo, coming in as somewhat of an unknown quantity, has seized his opportunity with both hands.
Waiting in the wings for more than sixteen months, Bryan Oviedo had made just a solitary start in the Premier League before replacing Baines last Saturday against Stoke City. Other than that, a few FA and League Cup outings have been presented to the Costa Rican and it was a lack of seeing the 23 year-old that provided some anxiousness ahead of Oviedo coming in the injured Baines. Those worries were proven to be unnecessary as the fullback came in and put in an excellent performance in a 4-0 demolishing of the Potters at Goodison Park.
Going forward Oviedo looked as comfortable as his English counterpart and was involved in play of all four goals, including direct involvement when assisting Romelu Lukaku to his eighth goal and of course striking his inaugural goal for the Toffees with an accurate right foot strike just outside the area, kissing the post on its way in past Asmir Begovic. Gerard Deulofeu gained most of the plaudits for coming in and putting in an excellent performance which meant the former Copenhagen player’s contribution was slightly overshadowed. At the other end, Oviedo wasn’t tested as Jonathan Walters didn’t have the best game against his boyhood club. It was because of this that some still felt that in the following two games against Manchester United and Arsenal both away, he might struggle defensively.
Again this worry was down to very few minutes in the public spotlight last season as Oviedo remained a squad player. These worries were again made redundant on Wednesday night with an excellent display from a player who was a forgotten man for a large part of his first season in English football. It was rumoured that David Moyes beat Manchester United for the signature of the fullback come left midfielder last summer. He may have been rueing that capture as Oviedo scored what turned out to be the decisive goal against him and United in the 85th minute to secure the Blues’ first win at Old Trafford in 21 years.
Bryan Oviedo has quickly become a hero among Everton fans and with a goal as significant as his last there is no mystery to why that is the case. The Toffees faithful demanded a win in the first encounter against their former manager and to break the Old Trafford hoodoo and it was clearly the current manager’s positivity that was the key to this victory. Everton next travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal and with the Gunners also in fine form the clash promises to be an entertaining one. Oviedo will again be likely to start at left back whether Leighton Baines is declared fit or not on Sunday after two superb performances and a surprising goal scoring record at left back – now who would have thought that when Baines limped off two weeks ago?