Usually, I am the one who writes the match reports for EFCFeelinBlue, but with the defeat against Arsenal being a bitter pill to swallow, I thought it’d be best to refrain from retelling Saturday’s events in great detail. Here is a little summary of what happened:
Joel got the nod over Howard, pyro, pyro and more pyro, they battered us for about 25 minutes, Barkley produced a moment magic for Lukaku to equalise, the game was even until half-time.
Second half started how the first half ended, Barkley’s miss was a huge flashpoint, Barry produced a moment of madness, Arsenal took it from there, 4-1.
Many Evertonians felt confident that Martinez’ men could repeat the performance from December’s visit to the Emirates, but the Gunners looked desperate to end their barren trophy spell and showed levels of determination and drive that Everton lacked on the day. The scoreline is harsh on Everton, but Arsenal deserved to go through.
Roberto Martinez has been a breath of fresh air for Everton. There has been some excellent football on display and many believe that the Catalonian is on his way to setting the foundations for Everton to be successful in the future.
He has made some excellent in-game decisions this season, with his substitutions usually having a telling impact on games. However, starting Joel Robles in goal for a game of such magnitude was a poor decision. It’s not because Joel is a bad player, he’s a good shot-stopper but is still very raw in many other goalkeeping aspects. When you have your best centre-back and captain unavailable for the most important game of the season, wouldn’t it be wise to keep the defensive tinkering to a minimum? Howard has a better relationship with the backline, and could’ve decreased the pressure on the defence with his experience.
In all honesty, the substitutions Martinez made yesterday came too late in the game. He should’ve changed things up at 1-1 when Arsenal were starting to turn the screw, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Also, it looks like it’s time for Steven Pienaar to be phased out of the Everton starting line-up. The diminutive South African has given good service to us in his two spells at Goodison, but his legs are starting to go and he is slowing down the attacking play too often. He is one of the most intelligent players at Finch Farm and could be an excellent impact substitute against the exhausted minds of an opposition defence, but the days of the 32-year-olds regular starting position are coming to an end.
On a positive note, Ross Barkley was back to his best yesterday. His run and delivery to set-up Lukaku/Mirallas for the equaliser yesterday was unbelievable, not many players could’ve executed that pass so perfectly. Barkley looked confident, strong, quick and dangerous when he got on the ball, and although he really should’ve scored when the game was finely poised at 1-1, he was one of the very few positives in royal blue at The Emirates. Along with James McCarthy and John Stones, Barkley has got future captain written all over him.
All in all, it was a disappointing day. Gareth Barry made his only error of the season and Phil Jagielka was sorely missed. There will be more negatives to come in the future but with Martinez at the helm, the dark days will be outshone by gleaming silverware.