Guest Post: Blues in the Groove

Lennon - Four Goals in Six

The fact I was buzzing about watching Match of the Day on Saturday when previously I’d avoided it like one of the missus’ reality shows, just shows how great this performance was.

A somewhat unexpected mauling of Stoke at the scene where Martinez reached his nadir last season was perfect revenge for that miserable 3-4 reverse the blues suffered at home to Stoke over the Christmas period.

Martinez got this spot on

I’ve criticised him heavily this season but credit where it’s due here. Bringing his dance moves to the touch-line, he out maneuvered Mark Hughes’ much improved Stoke. Albeit with a few key players missing as the blues impressive away record showed no signs of weakening at the Britannia.

Everton were in no mood to hand out any gifts this time against the potters, the fact that Tim Howard was nowhere near the side helped hugely in reducing our levels of generosity. The blues looked as determined in defence as in attack in one of the most complete displays you will see from an away side all season.

It’s frightening just how good this team can be

We truly should already be in the European places instead of plotting a late run to get into them. Better late than never, but this Everton team is slowly starting to right the wrongs that have held us back this season.

Ramiro Funes Mori, who is growing in stature at both ends of the pitch by the week, saw his header from Cleverley’s Corner narrowly diverted wide by Pieters. Love Mori, yes he has his flaws no question but I get the feeling he gets as much enjoyment out of defending as Lukaku gets from scoring. A proper defender and one who is getting better and better as time goes on.

The Blues didn’t take long to take the lead and found themselves in front courtesy of Romelu Lukaku’s 20th goal of the season from the penalty spot. Stroking home down the middle to give the blues a deserved lead after some fine buildup play from Barkley and Oviedo.

Lukaku - Prolific

The latter putting the surging Tom Cleverley in on goal, before Cleverley took the ball past Butland who brought him down. Yet another stonewaller. And for the third time in two games we were awarded a penalty. This fact alone tells you things are starting to look up. We simply never get penalties.

Stoke huffed and puffed but Evertons defence remained strong and organised

Looking a world away from the ‘Some Mothers do Ave Em’ back line that has plagued us all season. With, of course, Tim Howard playing the Frank Spencer role.

Honourable mention for Oviedo today. I thought he was outstanding. He’s not my favorite player by some distance but I thought he was excellent at the Brittania so credit where its due.

The Blues took a stranglehold of the game soon after from a terrific header by Seamus Coleman, one for the cameras with a flying header following another perfect Cleverley corner. The Irishman stealing a march on Erik Pieters before expertly guiding his header into the corner of the net to send the 2,900 travelling blues, and all those at home watching it on dodgy streams into orbit. No more than the blues deserved, and the first half was about to get even better.

Coleman, celebrating the birth of his daughter with a Bebeto-esq celebration, the sleepless nights will be easier to cope with after results like this. Congratulations to Seamus and his family.

Stoke were their own worst enemies on the stroke of half time as the blues killed the game off through Aaron Lennon. Phillip Wollscheid’s reckless cross field pass was never gonna reach its intended target, and Lennon seized upon it before racing clear to coolly slot home past the exposed Jack Butland.

Lennon capped a wonderful display with his third goal in three games

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I’m made up for Lennon, his attitude since arriving at Goodison has been spot on and he genuinely looks like he loves playing for the blues and its showing in his performances. High-class, hard working and dangerous in equal measure.

At this moment I’d rather Lennon than Deulofeu. He brings so much energy to our attacking play. Lately Deulofeu has been looking knackered after 20 minutes, resembling me in the first 20 seconds of five-a-side football.

Lennon the polar opposite, one lung bursting run after another typified his performance. He offers a lot defensively too and deserves a run in the side now. It’s up to Geri to dislodge him.

Half time arrived, superb from the blues, not many sides look as dangerous as us attacking and it was great to see us have that belief in ourselves. So important to have when trying to win at places like the Britannia.

Stoke began the second half with more urgency as expected but it was the blues who should have added to their tally. In what was to prove a frustrating second half in front of goal, Ross Barkley could have gone down for a penalty but to his credit stayed on his feet following a 1-2 with Lukaku,. Barkley in on goal from a wide-angle could only hit the side netting when well placed. Great link up play from the two.

Barkley now becoming the player we all thought he could be, very exciting to see Ross grow in stature, maturing into a great footballer and as a consequence helping us mature slowly into a great side. Long may his form and his enjoyment he is clearly revelling in continue. A happy Ross Barkley is making for a happy Everton.

Next it was Lukaku’s turn to test Butland, getting on the end of a menacing cross from Barkley, before heading powerfully from close range only to see Butland pull off a great save tipping the Belgians header onto the bar to keep the score at 3-0.

The blues continued to press for a fourth, like a drunk determined to pull in a nightclub. Lukaku seeing his shot blocked after more arousing play from Barkley and Lennon on the right. Utterly mesmerizing stuff from the blues.

We play some wonderful football at times. Minutes later, James McCarthy had the blues fans off their feet with a first time Exocet that flew inches past the post.

At the other end Robles was called into action from Glen Johnson’s well struck shot. Robles who had been sitting on his deck chair reading the paper for most of the game reacted smartly to palm the right back’s effort out of harms way.

Kone came onto replace Lukaku with 15 minutes remaining. It was a great shift from Lukaku who looked far more like himself. Twenty goals for the club at the start of February is no mean feat, with the chances we create coming thick and fast each and every game, it really ought to be within Lukaku’s reach to hit 30 goals this season.

Kone was denied an instant goal by Butland, racing clear with Stoke all over the place, Kone’s low effort bringing the best out of Butland and a game I was previously concerned about was now becoming annoying that we were only leading 3-0.

I’m being ridiculous but this could easily have read 7-0 to Everton, such was the quality of our play and chances created.

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Another quality Tom Cleverley corner found Funes Mori in more space than a Jehovah’s witness on a bus, but the Argentine, usually potent in these positions headed down and wide as the search for a well deserved fourth went on.

Mirallas had a chance to make it four in his brief cameo role but couldn’t adjust his feet when well placed and the chance went begging. 3-0 it ended.

Utterly superb from Everton, a result that left me buzzing and if we can repeat performances like this from now until May, a big ‘if I know’ but this season can still end well for us, and the players look finally ready to make their move on the top six.

It’s been long overdue but now we look in the ascendancy and teams above us will be wary. Great to say Everton are finally getting their shit together.

It’s not only our manager who is in the groove

The team now looking balanced and settled at long last,players are thriving,Barkley,Lennon running games,the industrious midfield three of McCarthy,Barry and Cleverley worked a treat here and should be allowed to develop,including Mo Besic when he’s back fit.

Just hope Martinez doesn’t go and ruin it by re-installing that buffoon Howard in-goal on Saturday

I want to believe the pennies finally dropped with him and he  hasn’t put Robles in goal simply because of Howard’s injury. He must realise now surely how much better were off with Joel in goal.

Next up West Brom

The baggies should represent an opportunity to climb further up the table. No holding back blues, the nature of our frustrating season and out-and-out draw-fest means we simply have to go for it now.

It’s crazy we can still make Europe but the belief is coursing now, let’s show our quality once more and really show intent in our league campaign. We have all the quality to do it, the time has come for this side to cash in on its talent. Between now and May anything is possible.

It was a great weekend making up for a few stinkers this season, as the weather improves let’s hope this Everton side can make hay while the sun shines.

Finish as high as possible which if we put a run together in this unstable Premier League could see us end up back in Europe next season. It’s the least our magnificent traveling support deserves, that and an FA Cup triumph. Something every blue deserves.

Dreaming a bit but that is how this team gets you sometimes, we have the quality, combine our new clean sheet renaissance and the persistent attacking menace we’ve shown all season and you have a cocktail for success.

Reintroduce Howard and its a recipe for disaster.

Which do you prefer Roberto? It’s time to win back a lot of fans, it’s time to pick up where we left off in 2013-14. Starting with the School of Science teaching West Brom a lesson this Saturday.

 

by @Markthablue

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