Another game, another win. Everton stayed undefeated by smashing Middlesbrough 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday. The three points also keeps them right on the heels of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. The is Everton’s best start to a season in 38 years. Well done, boys!
But it was Boro who got the scoring started...well, sort of. In the 21st minute, against the run of play, the visitors played a ball into the box. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg rose up to gather it but was clattered by Middlesbrough striker Alvaro Negredo and dropped the ball into his own net. It should have been a foul, but the referee allowed it anyway and the Toffees went down 1-0. Ridiculous.
Moments later, the Blues came storming back. Off of a corner kick, the ball bounced around the box a few times and eventually fell to Gareth Barry, who was making his 600th career Premier League appearance. The veteran settled and put the ball into the back of the net from a tough angle to tie things up in the 24th minute.
Near the end of the opening half, there was a flurry of action for Everton. First, in the 42nd minute, Seamus Coleman made a slaloming run near the top of the penalty area before putting a well-placed shot past the ‘keeper with his left foot.
And then Yannick Bolasie and Romelu Lukaku put an exclamation on the game by linking up for a third goal in stoppage time. It was Bolasie who crossed the ball into the box, where Lukaku was waiting. To the naked eye, and even most slow-motion replays, the Belgian did not seem to get a touch on it, but he celebrated as if he did. Whatever the case, the ball evaded Valdes in goal and put the Blues in front for good.
After halftime, the game slowed down a lot. Nowhere near as many chances were being created and Everton’s lead never seemed to be in danger. The Blues were happy to walk the game to the finish line and secure the three points. Not a bad plan for me.
There was a lot to like again today. Ross Barkley returned to the starting XI and showed he can deal with criticism. Barry impressed again in his advanced age. Lukaku added another goal. The defense was strong. And Idrissa Gueye continues to be incredible.
On the negative side, Lukaku was not all that involved in the game apart from his goal and then left with an injury in the second half. Yannick Bolasie continues to run hot and cold, but that is to be expected. And that’s really it! I suppose you could say Stekelenburg should be stronger in the air on that one goal, but it was a minor flub that should not have resulted in a goal. No need to get too upset about it.
Everton are a confident side and it is lovely to watch. Ronald Koeman has really made an impact. The match commentators recalled a story today about how Kevin Mirallas was told by Koeman that he needed to lose 13 pounds this offseason. He did so and then Koeman put a 13-pound weight vest on him in the first training session back. Now look at Kev, he has been superb. This manager knows what he is doing out there.
On Tuesday, Everton hosts Championship side Norwich City in the third round of the FA Cup. Then, next Saturday they are back in the league with a trip to Bournemouth, a side which was crushed by City today and will be looking to get back on track.