The Toffees were well beaten in the end at Villa Park, though the game was relatively even until they fell asleep at the back and allowed Villa to score two in two minutes, with a third goal following six minutes later with Everton yet to regain their composure.
I don’t think we should be too hard on the team given the injury list they have to contend with. Everton’s chances took a nosedive the moment it was confirmed Richarlison, Seamus Coleman and Jordan Pickford were ruled out through injury, adding to growing list of absentees that includes Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Fabian Delph, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and James Rodriguez (more of him later).
Salomon Rondon put in a decent shift on his first full start but he is clearly not match fit and gassed out before the hour, leaving Everton having to play Alex Iwobi upfront.
We knew the squad was perilously thin going into the season so we all crossed our fingers in hope that they would not suffer too many injuries. So to have so many absentees at this early stage of the season is therefore a concern, though thankfully things should ease by the end of this month.
It is all part of the lengthy penitence the club has to pay for the reckless spending of years gone by.
However, 10 points from five games also represents a decent start, though it piles the pressure on Tuesday’s game and next weekend’s match with Norwich as they seek to bounce back quickly.
As I write this James Rodriguez is in the Middle East negotiating a move away from Goodison Park.
It is a hugely disappointing situation, especially as few Evertonians have been able to see the Colombian play in the fresh. But it’s clear he has no future at the club and at £200,000 a week he needs to be moved off the wage bill quickly so we can all move on.
It’s six years since Everton last met QPR. That March encounter at Loftus Road saw the Toffees come away with a 2-1 victory that pushed the London club further towards relegation.
They ended that campaign bottom of the table and brought to an end a turbulent five-year spell that brought two promotions and two relegations with millions spent inbetween.
They have rarely come close to returning to the top flight since, working their way through a number of managers including former England boss Steve McLaren and even flirting with relegation to League One.
Mark Warburton took over in 2019 and has steadied the ship, leading them to 13th in his first season before a ninth-place finish last time out.
They begin the campaign with three wins and three draws from their opening six matches, but head into Tuesday on the back of successive defeats, including an agonising last-minute loss to Bristol City courtesy of a goal from one of their former players.
This will be the first ever League Cup meeting between the sides and only the third encounter outside of the league, after an FA Cup third round match at Goodison in 2014 and a Simod Cup (one of those random competitions devised during English clubs’ ban from Europe) semi-final in 1989.
As mentioned, Everton have a lengthy injury list for this game, with Richarlison, Coleman, Pickford and Calvert-Lewin definitely out.
Who knows about Delph and Gbamin, but I doubt they will play. Rondon is also unlikely to start given how knackered he look on Saturday.
Therefore expect to see Benitez as much as he can, with the likes of Tom Davies, Andre Gomes, Jonjoe Kenny, Anthony Gordon, Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite handed starts.
Lucas Digne probably needs a rest after a shaky performance on Saturday but he is the club’s only senior left back, so he has little option but to play.
QPR 1-2 Everton March 22, 2015
A spectacular Seamus Coleman strike and Aaron Lennon’s first Toffees goal earned Everton all three points under Roberto Martinez when the sides last met six years ago.
What they said
QPR boss Mark Warburton: “You have to be excited by a tie of this magnitude.
“We’re playing a Premier League team who’ve enjoyed a strong start to the season, Saturday’s result [v Aston Villa] aside.
“They’ve got a top quality squad. Everton are a club with huge history and I’ve no doubt that Rafa will want to progress in the competition – just like we do.”
Everton manager Rafa Benitez: “The team has shown character and a very good attitude and I am happy with that.
“Now, we have to take all the positives from the past games and training sessions... and try to be sure we are ready for this one.
“You can replace players in some positions and it is fine. In other positions, we are short of some people and it is a big risk if you lose one of these players you cannot replace.
“But, at the same time, you have to put a strong team on the pitch to compete and win.
“You don’t have the time to recover properly and you have an important game [Norwich] coming soon.
“But, in the meantime, you have to be sure you make the right decisions.”
We say it every year, but the League Cup is a great opportunity to win some silverware. Frustratingly however this game has come at a really bad time, with Everton dealing with a litany of injuries and licking their wounds following a defeat at the weekend.
They still should have enough to claim victory, but a night game against a lower division side at a tight, compact stadium is always cause for concern.