Lukaku shows the way forward
When the elation that always comes with scoring a last minute equaliser dies down, Evertonians will likely remember that for most of Tuesday’s FA Cup tie with West Ham, their team was, again, not very good. That is, aside from Romelu Lukaku. Contrary to some complaints this season, Rom’s work rate has generally been excellent, but last night he was more than industrious – he was dangerous. Constantly buffeting West Ham’s centre backs, shooting (mostly) well on sight and playing in others for good measure, Lukaku’s display was a very important plus for Everton at what is a very difficult time. He had one goal wrongly disallowed for daring to lay a hand on Aaron Creswell, but made no mistake when the ball dropped to him in injury time. It was a deserved goal, and hopefully the first of many.
Barkley’s maddening form continues
It hurts to see Ross Barkley so bereft of confidence. This was supposed to be the year he asserted himself as England’s premier young footballer, but ever since he was injured on the eve of the first game of the season, things have failed to work out that way. Barkley was once again poor against West Ham, with every sparkling moment of skill followed up by a heavy touch or miscued pass. He is still a unique, immensely gifted player, but this is a lengthy bad spell, and there are no signs that it is set to improve. Ross doesn’t seem to know what to do to haul himself back up to the levels he reached last season, and perhaps more worryingly, neither does Roberto Martinez.
Gareth Barry’s decline continues
Has there been a more sudden and severe decline in form than that of Gareth Barry? In fairness, he has some serious competition from within the Everton squad, but the drop-off from Barry’s stellar form last season to his performance level in this one has been astonishingly steep. The midfielder has never been quick, but his lack of pace has been further undermined this year by error after error, and while his foul rate is trending up, his number of tackles per game is down. The only thing more mystifying than Barry’s change in fortunes is Martinez’s insistence on picking him.
Distin’s injury a blessing
The last thing Everton need is another injury, but many fans probably let out a sigh of relief when Sylvain Distin was forced to leave the field after once again being culpable for an opposition goal – allowing James Collins the freedom of Goodison Park to head home in the second half. A loyal servant for many years, the Frenchman has been (to put it kindly) dreadful this season, and any excuse to include the fit-again John Stones should be viewed as welcome.
City will bring a reality check
For all the catharsis that Lukaku’s goal brought, it still only earned a replay at the Boleyn Ground, and the next visitors to Goodison are unlikely to be as accommodating as West Ham were at times on Tuesday. Evertonians should take heart from the fight the team showed late on, but with the team still faltering and Sergio Aguero slated to be fit for the weekend, we shouldn’t necessarily get our hopes up.