Everton succesfully overcame a determind Norwich side on Tuesday night, to progress to the quarter finals of the Capital One cup.
The Blues stuttered and eventually went a goal down, due to some poor marking. However, after weeks watching from the stands and the sidelines, Leon Osman stepped up and put the toffees level. Neither team could break the deadlock in the 90 minutes or extra time, so, the game went to penalties where Everton evenutally sealed the win.
Robles to the rescue
After a poor showing from Tim Howard at Arsenal and our current first choice keeper subsequently coming under fire from critics, it was time for our number two to step up. And, he did just that.
Ultimately, being a goalkeeper is tough. When you have a good performance you're recognised as saving the game or being a big part in gaining the team 3 points. When you're out of sorts and perform as such, you're seen as not being good enough and losing the side 3 points. There is rarely an 'inbetween'.
Personally, before Howard went to the most recent world cup, he was on fire and at the peek of his form. That continued for USA through the World cup campaign. But, since then he has never really hit those heights. If you remember at almost exactly the same point in the season, last season, Howard was again under fire for his form and picked up an injury that practically took him out of the limelight.
We may have been looking at a completely different result on Tuesday if Joel Robles didn't make the saves he did. Robles seriously gave the best challenge to Howard's position the American may have seen since being at the club. Editors, Journalists and analysts don't go into enough detail about the performances of goalkeepers. But, we will.
Robles' overall starting position before shots on target were almost perfect, if there was a time he was caught slightly off guard he used his feet fantasticly to get to the ball. The Spanish goalkeeper was seen numerous times really organising his defence, particularly from corners and freekicks. The best thing we noticed about the Spaniards performance was his decision making from set pieces. He didn't come flapping at the ball as we seen from Howard at the weekend, instead he made confident, timely decisions in wether or not to come and collect the ball or even punch it. Robles really gave Howard an idea of how its done, a lesson from the apprentice to the master so to speak.
It's a real shame in my opinion, that Martinez isn't rewarding Joel for such a well rounded goalkeeping performance, with a start at home to Sunderland on Sunday.
Kev needs time
Time. All to often, we jump on the backs of our players to quickly. Kevin Mirallas really didn't have a great performance on Tuesday night. But, honestly, what can we expect from a player that hasn't even had enough minutes to equate to 2 full games of football? He has been sat on the bench, not playing, not getting match practice and not get the confidence he clearly thrives upon. There aren't a lot of things I don't like about Martinez, but his treatment of Mirallas this season has beem nothing short of baffling and maybe a little undeserved.
Mirallas and Lennon are very similar players when in form, maybe Kevin just edges it with a little more strength and a his ability to track back and aid his fullback. So, that makes me question Roberto's decision to continue to select Lennon or Kone and even Naismith at times, over Mirallas. even from the subs bench, others are prefered to the Belgian.
As we touched on, Mirallas is a big confidence player and we've seen some brilliant performances from the Belgian when he has been given a good run in the team and the confidence that comes with that. Therefor, if we're going to judge the winger on his performances this season we have to take into account his performances from previous seasons when he has played minutes consistently. When we weigh things up with those things in mind, its clear that the good out weigh the bad. I'm confident if the manager gives him more of a chance, we'll see the best of Kevin once again.
The cup we've never won
The league cup has always been overlooked in recent times at our club, certainly by David Moyes during his tenure. Roberto Martinez has made a clear objective to go as far as we can in this seasons campaign. So far, that objective has paid off. The balance of the teams selected by Martinez in this seasons Capital One cup have so far, been perfectly balanced, with fringe players looking to prove their worth, the regular first team players aiming to further add to their Premier league form, its set us up in all the cup games so far, really well.
We may have been taking each game as it comes in the cup competiton so far, but now, its hard not to look at the possibilty of actually going on to seriously challenege to lift the trophy at Wembley.
The quarter final draw threw us an away tie at Middlesborough. The Championship side held Manchester United for 120 minutes on Wednesday and progressed on penalties. However, I believe Middlesborough will be a lot more attacking when we make the trip up North, than what they were away to Man.utd. Two reasons for that, they will be at home in front of a now slightly more expectant crowd, also they will be more confident in playing further up the pitch in the comfort of their own stadium. Secondly, having beaten United they will really fancy their chances of beating any team left in the competition at home and their own expectations will be enhanced. Both of those things can work in our favour, with a strong team and a bit of composure we should come away having progressed to the semi final.
Now is the best chance we've had of winning this cup, certainly in our recent history.