Using the Counter-Attack to Great Effect
Since Roberto Martinez has taken over the reigns as Everton manager, the team has been known for their high-possession short passing play. It was very successful in his first season in charge, but lately his game plan has appeared predictable and showed little sign of flexibility. This game was a different story, Everton actually lost out on the possession battle, but they were incredibly dangerous on the counter-attack, scoring the bulk of their goals in that fashion. The direct play they showcased today may not prove fruitful against every opponent, but they used it well on this occasion and came out on top because of their flexibility.
Better to be Lucky Than Good
Everton's defense impressed against a Southampton squad that was full of dangerous attacking threats and playing on their home ground. It appeared to be a formula for an Everton loss, but the center back pairing of John Stones and Phil Jagielka was able to limit the Saints attack and mop up any lose chances. That being said, it's hard to come away from that defensive performance feeling as though Everton have solved all of their issues in that department. While the back four was good on the whole, they were lucky on multiple occasions and still showed their weaknesses defending crosses and balls played in the air. The full backs left a lot to be desired defensively with Seamus Coleman getting beat far too often and Brendan Galloway looking every bit as inexperienced as one would expect a 19 year-old to be. Southampton also jumbled their fair share of clean cut chances, meaning that this scoreline could have been drastically different had Everton not gotten a few lucky bounces.
The Ross and Rom Show Returns
Following an impressive 2013-14 season, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley had the burden of very high expectations last season. Despite their youth, many expected them to pick up where they left off and lead Everton back to a top-five finish. Sadly, neither lived up to the high expectations of supporters, especially Barkley who only scored two goals in the year. So far this season Barkley has looked more like the unstoppable attacking threat with endless potential that we saw two years ago. Lukaku was equally impressive netting two goals while constantly posing a threat to the Southampton defense. It may only be the second game, but if Lukaku and Barkley continue on the path they started today, then Everton may be better off than any of us expected.
What were your thoughts on the match? Do you agree or disagree with the points listed above? Have your say in the comments.