It could have been a lot worse. Everton fielded a very weakened side and, despite constant pressure from Southampton, managed to nab a point with a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.
That starting lineup certainly caused some rolled eyes. There was no Romelu Lukaku or Ross Barkley to stir up chances on the attack. And absent from the defense were James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and the injured captain Phil Jagielka. Instead, in their place were the likes of Arouna Kone, Leon Osman and Darron Gibson. This looked to be a tall task for the "B Team" to compete with the streaking Saints.
In the end, it proved to be just as difficult as assumed. The Toffees were outshot 18-7, with two of those Southampton shots hitting the woodwork. The Saints also earned 10 corners to Everton's three. And, while the possession was basically even, Southampton controlled the pace of the game after the opening 10 minutes or so.
Both goals were equally ugly. For Everton, Ramiro Funes Mori put the Blues ahead in the 68th minute. A corner kick came to him in the box. He headed it first and then the rebound returned to him. This time he struck it with his left foot. The ball deflect two or three times before getting past Fraser Forster.
GOAL 1-0 Funes Mori pic.twitter.com/xp63c45Nh0— Premier League Extra (@PremierExtra) April 16, 2016
Just a few minutes later, Sadio Mane got the equaliser. It was a bad bit of Everton defending that allowed it. The ball bounced around the box and off the feet of Funes Mori before Mane poked it into the back of the net. Yet again, the Toffees could not hold onto a lead. Same old story.
Sadio Mane with the equalizer for @SouthamptonFC! #SaintsFC #BPLonNBC https://t.co/UQO7rVzQKt— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 16, 2016
Now, it's difficult to be too critical of Everton on this day. Roberto Martinez is well-aware that his job is on the line and there are much more important games coming up. It was clear he didn't care too much about the result of this game and I would be inclined to agree with him on this occasion. I would be much more thrilled with wins in the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday and in the FA Cup semi-final next weekend against Manchester United than I would be about three points in a random league game with Southampton.
In that regard, I can appreciate what he was going for. He gave youngsters Callum Connolly and Tom Davies a chance to play with the first-team and they did well enough. Davies especially had a nice moment where he made a tackle in his own box and got the ball clear. He gave guys like Gibson and Leon Osman, who have struggled to even make the bench, a chance to feature.
But the real question is "Where is Oumar Niasse?" Sure, he was on the bench, but why did he not play? Maybe even start? The guy has barely played and yet, on a day where Martinez essentially threw in the towel as far as actually putting together the best possible XI, he needs to be on the field. Put him up top. Kone has had his chance this season. He doesn't need one more. Or put him on the wing. Deulofeu is an established member of Everton's rotation. What more could he show you? It boggles the mind.
Like I said above, the more important games are in the week ahead so a draw is actually a relatively satisfactory result given the players on the pitch. But come on, Bobby. If you are gonna put guys on the field to see what they can do, put all of them out there.