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Everton at Bournemouth: Three Thoughts

Another look at Saturday's FA cup tilt against Bournemouth.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It wasn't always pretty to look at, but Everton have managed to keep their cup (and probably European football) hopes alive for another week. It'll still be an uphill slog to make something of the season, but it should be remarked that Everton have not advanced so far in both the League and FA Cup in the Premier League era. As frustrating as the season has been, that's something that shouldn't be overlooked.

All Joel Does Is Win

I'm not particularly a fan of Joel Robles. He's an adequate, mostly competent goalkeeper, but he's very unlikely to be able to steal you point a few times a year, the way the 36-year old Tim Howard is still capable of doing. At one point recently WhoScored listed both "Saving Long Shots" and "Saving Close Range Shots" amongst his weaknesses. What is becoming more and more undeniable though, is that Everton simply seems to play better with Joel between the sticks.

Robles has started 12 games for the senior team this season, and has won 10 of those games. Even throwing out the victories against lower tier competition, Everton has won five of seven with Robles in goal, including their only victory over a top five Premier League club. Howard has managed just six wins in 23 competitions this season.

So why has Everton been so much better with Robles? Its likely part to do with the lineup changes Martinez has made (Lennon's full time introduction has certainly done wonders for the defense from the wings), partly with improved coordination by extant starters and partially just plain old luck. But at least part of it must be due to Robles's control of the game from the back.

There's a certain amount of, for lack of a better term, emotional stability in Everton's play. Case in point is Robles's penalty kick save. It would have been oh so Everton to lose 1-0 to an inferior team on a boneheaded handball. We all felt that was where the situation was going as soon as the penalty was given. Joel's huge save (on an admittedly poor kick from Daniels) was the kind of emotional swing that Everton never seems to get in their favor. Joel's discipline and focus saved that shot and perhaps saved the game for Everton.

Ultimately it's a small sample set to go off of and Robles will certainly need to be challenged for this place, but for now he's the right man for the job,

Lukaku Still Scoring Goals, But Needs Better Service

Romelu Lukaku found the back of the net for the 21st time in all competitions against Bournemouth. He also frequently found himself visibly frustrated by the lack of accurate balls sent his way.

In general Everton was listless in the box for much of the match and Lukaku was a big part of that. It has to be recognized that his service has been somewhat lacking the last several weeks. Lukaku has only two goals in his last eight games in all competitions, one of which came on a penalty earned by Tom Cleverley. Rom had scored 12 goals and dished three assists in the prior 12 matches.

Lukaku probably misses the presence of Gerard Deulofeu. Deulofeu has played 70 minutes or more only twice during Lukaku's dip in productivity, amassing only 16 minutes total in the last five matches. Despite that number, Geri to Rom is the third most profitable assist-to-goal scorer in the Premier League, with the pair connecting on six goals.

Being a striker is often a feast or famine type business, but the Toffees will need to find a way to keep feeding their Belgian striker.

The Hardest Working Man In The Business

Its getting to the point that an excellent game from Gareth Barry is becoming a humdrum affair. Every once in a while its worth pointing out how good Barry has been this season. The former Man City put in another terrific 90 minutes, dominating the center midfield.

Barry was all over the place,  contributing seven tackles, eight recoveries, four clearances, an interception and one beautiful assist. Overall Barry touched the ball 100 times on Saturday, with no other player on either side even coming close matching that feat.

We began the season by waiting for Barry to fall apart physically, but it just isn't happening. Barry is one of only eight outfield players to play every minute of the Premier League season and at 34, he's the oldest. Maybe he can play until he's 40. If he does, I hope its in Everton blue.