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Before Tuesday’s epic fight back to beat Arsenal after going behind, most Evertonians were resigned to worrying about dropping down the Premier League at Christmas, especially with a derby against a rampant Liverpool side on the horizon. But then the team showed some fight.
At Goodison on Tuesday, we saw a perfect example of why we all love going to the match under the floodlights. The players put in some battling performances, and the fans responded by raising the roof. It says a lot that when you sit 8 feet away from the away fans, and even when they are in full voice, the home fans drown them out. Even the Park End got involved in some chanting!
But here’s the catch.
After Tuesday, we all think we’ve got a fighting chance against those loveable reds from across the park. And yes, we have – as long as the team play the same way as they did for the last 70 minutes on Tuesday, but for the full 90 this time out.
If we don’t, then things could go badly wrong.
It’s the hope that kills us.
In 2012 as Everton prepared to face Liverpool at Wembley in the FA Cup semi final, we thumped Sunderland 4-0 with Magaye Gueye putting in the performance of his lifetime. Five days later, Gueye got lost somewhere down the left hand side of the Wembley pitch and despite Nikica Jelavic putting the Blues ahead, Monster Munch Suarez and Andy Carroll sent Evertonians home wondering how on earth we lost.
Of course, that was under a different manager with a different mindset when it came to tackling the Merseyside derby. But it has become a familiar story.
In Roberto Martinez‘s first season in charge, Everton were flying high and looking unstoppable before a 4-0 drubbing at Anfield.
Ronald Koeman will need to impress upon his team that what they did for 70 minutes against Arsenal was how the fans want to see them play in matches like the derby. He needs to remind them of the atmosphere generated when they play like that. But more importantly, he needs to show them the scoreline from Tuesday’s match and hammer home the fact that when these players apply themselves, they can get results. Let’s start with a first win over that lot in six years, Ronald.