More possession doesn’t always mean more chance of victory
Evertonians have grown increasingly exasperated with Roberto Martinez’s tactics this season. His preference for a patient, passing game has played into the hands of our rivals, who would happily defend deep and watch the Blues pass it in front of them with little penetration. Man Utd were never going to do that on Sunday given the array of attacking talent they had on offer, but it was refreshing to see Martinez adjust his tactics to exploit the opposition's weakness, even if it led to Everton only having 33% of the ball.
It was they who were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, but crucially looked to swiftly break on the counter attack when they did have the ball. Everton played with an intensity and drive rarely seen this year, indeed it was a display reminiscent of last campaign. Lets hope they can maintain their levels of performance until the end of the season and beyond.
The Europa League curse lifted?
Is it a coincidence that Everton’s best form of the season has coincided with their exit from Europe? After a 3-0 win against Newcastle in-between their last-16 ties with Dynamo Kiev Everton have gone on to win four and draw one of their five games since their humbling exit in Ukraine on March 19. To put that into context they had only won six of their 28 league games since the start of the season. Martinez admits his players have benefitted from having a full week to prepare for games. But the extra burden of a European campaign is something they are going to have to adjust to in order to be successful in the future. For now though, the return to form is most welcome.
The 'Barnsley Beckenbauer' finally among the goals
I doubt there was a more popular goalscorer across the Premier League weekend than John Stones. The 20-year-old had to wait for his 50th appearance in Everton shirt to get off the mark but his towering decisive header was worth the wait. Not that he needs to add goals to his game to become much more of an asset. He is rapidly developing into one of the finest young defenders in the country and was once again superb against Man Utd. Like many Everton players Stones has seen injury and loss of form disrupt his campaign, but he will become a better player for it and looks a mainstay in the Everton defence for years to come.
Lennon pushing for permanent move
Martinez demonstrated last season how effective the loan market can be to plug gaps in your squad without considerable expense. Last summer’s recruitment of Christian Atsu was perhaps a warning things don’t always go to plan but that disappointment has been eclipsed by the January arrival of Aaron Lennon. The former Leeds youngster was excellent again on Sunday, his drive and exuberance an inspiration to those around him. Cynics may suggest the 27-year-old is simply playing for a permanent contract but if Tottenham can be persuaded reduce their £6million asking price, it is definitely a gamble worth taking.
McCarthy finally adding goals to his game
Not many players cover as much ground as James McCarthy but the one thing that was missing from his game was goals. That is not necessarily a criticism of the Ireland midfielder because attacking was never in his remit – until now. The 24-year-old has been pushed noticeably further forward in recent weeks after a bit of tactical tweaking by Martinez and it has already resulted in two goals for the former Wigan man, including the crucial opening goal on Sunday. He certainly has the stamina to be able to sprint from box-to-box so if he can develop his eye for goal as well he could prove to be a huge asset in Everton’s armoury.