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Toffees Mailbag: Merseyside Derby Edition

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A seriously light-hearted look at all things Everton.

It’s Derby Day

It’s Derby Day

We’re off to great places

We’re off and Away

The future is bright

Great things on the horizon

The Toffees can’t wait to do some surprisin’

A curse to be broken

New streak to be begin

The Reds bells are ripe and all set to ring

Pickford a stoppin’

Richarlison scoring

The Anfield away end is sure to be roarin’

Because it’s Derby Day

It’s Derby Day

We’re off to great places

We’re off and Away

To your questions!!!!!


It’s definitely going to be Lucas Digne.

But I like where your head’s at.

The difference this season is that Everton are not forced to make those types of decisions because Marco Silva’s signings have been productive, AND he has improved the performance of a number of players (Michael Keane, Tom Davies etc...).

This means instead of deciding between rolling the dice on an unproven youngster or rolling out a creaky veteran, Silva gets to..... gasp... choose the best of a group of talented players!

This concept has escaped Everton for a number of years as deciding between Cuco Martina or Mason Holgate should start at right back left scars that will take years to heal.

However, things are a bit different in the Brands/Silva era.

No, the Toffees are not a completed project by any stretch of the imagination, but many fans (myself included) couldn’t possibly have believed that Everton would be in such a positive short and long-term position after seemingly having no direction and whispers of relegation, however premature, circling around Goodison only 12 months ago.

The form and belief in the direction of the club are why the whispers of relegation have been replaced with whispers of a derby win.

Sure, the Toffees have technically been able to win every matchup against their vaunted rivals, but the reality was that the only way any result would come about would be due to some sort of miracle. (See below)

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate Phil Jagielka’s goal every time I see it, but it’s not as if we all went into that derby talking about our center back’s ability to strike a volley from 25 yards as a foundational component of the game plan.

It’s completely believable, however, to imagine Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and the rest of the Blues playing the same pressing style that has brought so much success this season and reaping the rewards of their hard work.

In the middle, Idrissa Gueye and Andre Gomes are quickly establishing themselves as one of the elite pairings in the midfield.

Gomes ability to carry the ball past a line of defence himself is EXACTLY what the Toffees have been missing in midfield. This has allowed Gana to do what he does best and play a free-wheeling destroyer role that when paired with Gomes gives Gylfi a formidable base upon which to pull the strings from in attack.

Regardless of who the Reds put in the midfield Sunday I am supremely confident that Marco Silva will have the Blues engine room ready to go.

In the back, Seamus Coleman will certainly have his hands full with Sadio Mane, but the Irishman has started to show better form and would surprise no one with a dominating performance on the weekend.

On the other side, Lucas Digne will have the toughest test of all with Mohamed Salah running at him, but the French international is in sparkling form and will push back on the attack himself, hopefully forcing Liverpool’s star to track him and be pulled as far away from Jordan Pickford’s goal as possible.

Finally, why am I so confident the pair of Coleman and Digne will have success?

Because the Toffee’s choices at centerback are all in fantastic form.

Michael Keane has played great when paired with both Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina.

(Speaking of Mina, the Toffees have yet to concede a goal in matches in which the Colombian has started. )

Finally, Kurt Zouma has nothing to hang his head about as he was in fantastic form before a match up with his parent club Chelsea cost him his place.

Whoever Silva choices to go with on Sunday, I am confident they are up to the challenge of marking up Roberto Firmino.

This type of front to back confidence in the side hasn’t been present in quite a while, and whoever Silva rolls out on Sunday I expect to see an Everton team ready to take the game to their hated neighbors.

And I think the Blues just might do it.


The key question is this: Would the Toffees be better or worse off dropping their current point total?

Well, assuming nothing else changes, a glance at the schedule does show the Toffees still having yet to face the Top 3 (Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur), so there’s 6 TOUGH matches not voided by already being played.

So with that in mind, and having done a lot of random addition in my head, I think dropping the previous results wouldn’t be super advantageous for the Blues and I think they would end up where I think they’ll end this season:

6th


For all of the positive feelings around the men’s side, there is an equally as worrisome feeling around the women’s half at Goodison.

One look at the table and it’s easy to see why:

The Toffees struggles have been so bad that they even let their manager go, though they do apparently have a replacement lined up.

As for the upcoming matches against Liverpool, the Blues task is certainly difficult but not insurmountable.

Liverpool aren’t exactly lighting up the league themselves, having only cobbled together 9 points. ( I know the Toffees only have two but stick with me.)

Add in the fact that beating a team twice in such a short time is not an easy task for any team and I’d say the Blues could pull something out.

If I were a betting man I would say the best chance for Everton will be on Sunday before the men play, when emotions will be at their highest and the Blues can use the emotion to elevate their game and pick up their first league win of the season!!

Ladies....


Well, let’s start with the bad news.

Robinson is going to be out for a while.

The good news, however, is that Robinson will return with enough time left in the current campaign to reestablish him in the Wigan side and prove to Marco Silva that he can overtake Leighton Baines as backup to Lucas Digne.

After seeing Robinson play for Wigan and the United States, there are a couple of things that stand out.

  1. Robinson has all the physical tools necessary to be an elite Premier League defender.
  2. He positioning gets him in trouble against elite wingers.

Now, the positive are that #1 are inherent, and #2 can be improved upon.

Like many young defenders, Robinson must learn that he doesn’t have to intercept every ball and engage in an endless string of tackles.

While playing for the US Robinson has taken a few lumps, and his ability to learn from and improve on those performances will be the ultimate decider in whether he progresses into the Everton senior side.

I personally think Robinson WILL be given a shot to prove himself next season when Baines isn’t asked to return, though if the youngster struggles to recover from his injury Baines may start to look like a more appealing option as the backup for another season.

Long story short: it’s a balancing act.



This is a great question, and for the best answer possible I hit up one of Royal Blue Mersey’s own Matthew Chandler, who as a season ticket holder has far more experience with the Goodison and away crowds than I, an attendee of one match, could ever have.

Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

We have lots of great songs. The problem is I usually ever hear them at away games.

The reasons for this are obvious: firstly, you tend to get your more ‘hardcore’ fans at away games; the ones who want to sing for the entire 90 minutes and more, whereas at Goodison, it’s inevitably more varied.

There was a brilliant song about Yerry Mina sung away at Wolverhampton Wanderers just days after he signed; the only other time I’ve heard it since was in the games at Leicester City and Manchester United.

Likewise, songs about Bernard and Richarlison I’ve only heard at games on the road to Leicester, United Chelsea.

Another factor in this is that people drink more at away games; to many, myself included, it’s a day out, rather than the usual routine of a Goodison matchday. Some of the best days I’ve had watching Everton have been the away games with my cousin where we have a beer and a sing-song on the coach; as memorable as that atmosphere is, it’s naturally harder to replicate that for home games.

Aside from anything else, the euphoria of seeing Gylfi Sigurdsson equalising at Anfield in front of 8,000 Evertonians, or scoring a screamer to win away at Leicester City, or Richarlison netting a brace on his debut at Wolves outweighs the feeling of, say, Saturday’s no-frills home win against Cardiff City, where the atmosphere was, admittedly, somewhat eerie at times.

One of my favourite recent memories watching the Blues came in the 3-0 win at Stoke City in February 2016; Everton were already three up by half-time and the concourse during the break was utter madness, while singing ‘We’ve Got a Diamond Called Ross Barkley’:

Goodison will become noisier with further improvement under Marco Silva. The entire first year with Roberto Martinez generated the best home atmosphere I’ve seen in my 14 years supporting Everton, because the club was brimming with optimism at the time. The best example I can give is this:

We played Southampton this time two years ago in Ronald Koeman’s first season, and even though we lost and were in the middle of a poor run at the time, there was still a lot of optimism at the time and the away end was bouncing pre-match.

We faced them again this time last year under David Unsworth, on the back of Koeman’s sacking and with Sam Allardyce set to be appointed as his replacement. The pre-season optimism surrounding the club last summer had long gone by this point, we were battered 4-1 and the atmosphere was just depressing and lifeless from start to finish.

My point is that to say Everton have few good songs is unfair, but it’s easy to see why you would come to that conclusion if you use the Goodison atmosphere through the television as a yardstick.


Let me start by saying that Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse are in similar situations, but with VERY different circumstances.

Both are currently spending the bulk of their time on the bench, with Tosun getting a few minutes late in matches and Niasse rarely making the 18.

So would a derby winner SAVE each of them?

Let’s start with Niasse.

His surge onto the scene last season was a major reason Toffees fans weren’t biting their nails in a relegation battle all season. The Senegalese striker popped up with important goals more than once and frankly his personal success was one of the few (only?) feel good stories Everton fans have to cherish from an otherwise wasted campaign.

So would scoring in the derby save Niasse’s Toffee days?

In a word.

No.

Even though a Derby winner would make Niasse an all-time Toffees legend, it might actually EXPEDITE his exit.

Such a high-profile goal against a good team would only serve to drive up Niasse’s worth and would more than certainly drive up interest in signing him in January, and having spent about £12 million on him in the first place the Toffees would have a legitimate chance of making their money back selling him to a relegation-threatened side.

So in other words......a Niasse match-winner would make EVERYONE happy, in both the short and long-term.

Now, as for Tosun, that’s a different story.

Having been unable to lock down the striker position in the beginning of the season Tosun has been serving as a backup to Richarlison, even being forced to split those minutes with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

After being signed as a possible long-term solution at the #9, Tosun has failed to find his best form since joining the Toffees. Fans have been understanding, as when he is on the field he contributes mightily to the build up play, but those same fans also long to see their striker...well...strike.

Build up play is nice and all, but being a #9 is about goals.

So would a match-winner against Liverpool drastically change the Turkish striker’s fortunes?

In a word.

Yes.

That would be exactly the type of goal that gives a striker two things that are worth more than gold:

Leniency from the fans/ manager and confidence

It’s not that fans have been particularly hard on the Turkish striker, who works his socks off every second on the pitch, but fans also can’t hold him up as a hero is he doesn’t score.

Win the Merseyside derby, however, and Tosun will held up higher than a Sadio Mane high kick.

I think that Tosun will be given the rest of the season to prove himself, but if he can find a winner at Anfield on Sunday he’ll have a lifetime’s worth of love from the Goodison faithful, and a few more starts to get his feet underneath him and show he is the goal scorer every Toffee supporter knows he is.


TOFFEE TUNES

The Wild Reeds

Blind and Brave

PS: Derby prediction: 2-1 good guys