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West Brom 0 – 2 Everton: Post Match Analysis

We analyse the main talking points from Everton's first win of the season, a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Mark Thompson

An efficient and capable performance saw Everton overcome Alan Irvine's West Bromwich Albion side at the Hawthorns, courtesy of goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas. More importantly, the Blues managed to keep a clean sheet in recording their first win of the season. Let's start with the positives.

Romelu Lukaku is off the mark

In the three games that have came before this one, Lukaku hadn't managed to get the goals that his £28m price tag demands. However, he was unfit against Leicester on the opening day and used on the right wing against Arsenal, with the Chelsea game a hard one to compete in for the young striker. With the Belgian a doubt before the game because of a toe injury, he managed to prove his fitness and start in his favoured centre forward role. His early finish for the opening goal was sublime and helped to settle Everton's nerves, while Steven Naismith really should have turned in his later effort. If he plays like this every week, as we know he can, Everton won't have any problems scoring goals.

John Stones is the future

As if we didn't already know it, then this game confirmed our confidences in young England defender John Stones. Used in a right back position for his country in their two wins last week, he started in his favoured centre back position for this game, replacing the injured Sylvain Distin. Such is the confidence and assuredness on the ball that Stones brings, Everton rarely looked like conceding despite their early season problems in that department. A last ditch tackle to deny Saido Berahino was superb, while his confident display even made Phil Jagielka look like the player we all know, not the one we've been given so far. The young defender still has a lot to learn, but at this rate of development, he surely has to be a starter sooner rather than later.

An improved Tim Howard

Tim Howard has always been an excellent shot stopper and a man to depend upon, but his performances so far this season have not been up to scratch. After an excellent World Cup with the United States, many had hoped he would carry that form in to the Premier League season, but poor defending has left him vulnerable so far. Against West Brom however, he was in fine form to deny Saido Berahino and then get up to quickly deny Giorgios Samaras on the rebound, while also being brave in collecting the ball on several occasions. Hopefully this is the return of the Howard we've become accustomed to.

Kevin Mirallas is looking fit and confident

In our post match analysis of the Chelsea game, we touched upon how Kevin Mirallas was looking both fit and full of confidence, and how that would be a dangerous combination for opponents. That proved true in this game, as the Belgian was full of attacking threat and took his goal well, regardless of the mistake from Ben Foster. He was also unlucky with a long curling effort and looked lively all afternoon, in similar fashion to the Chelsea game. With Aiden McGeady proving inconsistent, Steven Pienaar injured and Christian Atsu yet to be blooded properly, Mirallas will be a key player for the Blues this year.

James McCarthy has been poor

For all Everton's good play, there was one glaring problem, James McCarthy. Although the Irishman did not do anything particularly poor, this performance was far from the driving and energetic displays we have come to expect after last season. Rewatching the Chelsea game will highlight several of their goals coming from McCarthy failing to track a runner as he usually does, and a similar problem occurred in this game. When in possession, he didn't try anything testing and always looked keen to get rid of the ball as quickly as he could. In his defence, his exertions for the Republic of Ireland may have had an impact and tiredness does seem to have affected him late on in games so far. Not a pressing issue, but certainly one for Roberto Martinez to ponder.

All in all, this was an efficient but slightly underwhelming performance from Everton. The most important thing was to get the win, with a clean sheet an added bonus considering our recent defensive problems. The scoreline could have been more noteworthy had a superb Ben Foster save not denied Leon Osman and Naismith hadn't ballooned his shot over the bar when it looked easier to score. This was certainly something to build upon, with Crystal Palace next up at Goodison Park after their Europa League game against Wolfsburg.