There’s so much to talk about from the terrific win over Arsenal. Did you see Leighton Baines telling Mikel Arteta he has to stick up for his team at the end of the game? That’s the sort of attitude that will get you places. Sylvain Distin deserves a mention, as does Gareth Barry. But we haven’t got room for all that in 5 thoughts, so here they are.
There are many examples of the impact and influence that Roberto Martinez has had at the club but on the field maybe Naismith is the best example. Under David Moyes Naismith was the Goodison boo boy, targeted by those sections of the crowd that likes to pick on the little kid. Why was he so poor then? Well mainly because he was consistently played in the wrong position, right midfield, and given no confidence. Martinez has corrected this by playing him further up the pitch and generally in positions that his movement can hurt the opposition. His movement against Arsenal, in the false 9 position, was excellent with his runs in behind the defence and unselfish work rate standing out. Two man of the match awards in succession, whoda thunk it?
Tim Howard’s save at 2-0
Now it might not have registered and realistically seeing as we dominated Arsenal so much it may not have made a difference, but on such small moment can games and seasons change. Lukas Podolski smacked a volley into the ground and it was heading into the top corner when Howard palmed it away. That was at 2-0 and gave the Blues the confidence to see the first half out with a two goal lead. All season our American keeper has been playing out of his skin, his best season since he came to the club. Another example of the freshness the Catalan master has brought to the club.
It’s early in Martinez’s reign at Goodison, the team will make mistakes but will be better for it in years to come. The type of football we’re playing now is more risking and there’s a far larger chance of things going wrong, see John Stones' two errors. What this means though is that our younger players are learning at a rate they would never have under David Moyes, look at what happened to Ross Barkley when he made an error on his second or third ever appearance, he disappeared for the best part of two years. Stones and Barkley will be far better players for their experience, and mistakes, in the first team this season.
Roberto Martinez’s spot on tactics
There was no centre forward as such, Romelu Lukaku played on the right wing, and Naismith was the false 9. Having understood how Arsenal would play, Martinez set about putting his team together to exploit the gaps and weaknesses. Whilst Lukaku didn’t chase back once this was catered for by the ever willing James McCarthy playing wider than usual to help out Seamus Coleman when the Gunners did attack, and how we looked impossible to beat defensively. And all this despite the early disruption of losing Leon Osman to injury. Ultimately though Arsenal has no response to our quick counter attack and the first two goals were an example of the subtle change in our play; quick, incisive passing at the right time. Well played Roberto.
A season of transition. Or something special?
When was the last time you saw a full minute of ole football at Goodison from an Everton team? A long time ago right? Now think when that happened against a top four team. Can’t remember, well you’re not the only one. At the start of the season it was thought that we’d take at least a year to get used to a new manager. Some thought we’d struggle to stay out of a relegation battle, and there were guffaws when Bill Kenwright mentioned that Martinez said he’d get us in the Champion’s League. Now we’re still a long way from that happening but come Saturday evening, with five games left, we might well be in 4th position in the Premier League. Now really is the chance for this season to be something very special indeed.