It’s difficult not to become repetitive when writing about Everton of late, says king of the headlines David Martin.
Good performance, chances created, defensive lapse and ultimately a draw could be pasted into any one of the last four or five pieces I have written. Everton have achieved a level of consistency that is reflective of everything good and bad about the team this season.
In all likelihood many of these same descriptions will be used at end of play tomorrow when Sunderland come to Goodison Park. Sunderland are a team out of form. A team struggling for points and lacking in quality the only genuine fear Everton have is if Louis Saha returns to haunt us. Needless to say they are team full of underperforming purchases indicative of Martin O Neill’s, “Paper over the cracks” style of management. On any given Sunday Everton would be romping home worthy and convincing winners but then the same could have been said against QPR, Wigan, Liverpool and Fulham. We will certainly not be guilty of playing it safe with Everton creating more chances than any other team in the Premier League and beyond. Sadly, what we do seem to be lacking at present is a clinical edge and we seem to struggle to put teams away.
Much of this has to be down to our suicidal tendency to concede goals frequently both early and late on in games. David Moyes has tried a number of partnerships in an attempt to plug the gaps but nothing seems to be working. Even against Fulham were the defence largely played well there was almost an inevitability that we would concede. Whether you atttribute the goals to goalkeeping or defensive mistakes they keep occurring and even a shot shy Sunderland will almost certainly get some joy going forward.
Of course, much of our defensive frailty is down to our maverick attitude going forward this season and striking a balance between attack and defence without compromising our offensive threat isn’t easy. With Gibson unlikely to be fit for Sunderland it’s important that Phil Neville is disciplined as Leon Osman simply can’t play a defensive game and his attacking prowess means that he shouldn’t be. Regardless it might once again be a case of Everton simply trying to outscore teams. There is a case for once again changing things defensively with Hibbert coming in for Coleman giving the team more of a defensive balance. However, it would be very hard on a lad learning his trade who was largely excellent for eighty nine minutes at Fulham.
Fellaini has been in superlative form of late and it is important that this continues while Nikica Jelavic tries to return to some sort of form. The unfortunate injury to Victor Anichebe has come at a bad time as Jelavic is clearly struggling for touch and fitness something his game relies on. He will of course come through this patch but it has to be hoped that Fellaini, whose shooting has improved massively of late, as well as the rest of the midfield can start scoring more goals as well as creating chances. Kevin Mirallas of course looks the most likely player to pick up the slack as he is never scared to run at defences or shoot but it would nice to see the whole team start weighing in with goals as the Champions League qualifying team of 04 did.
This is a game Everton should be winning comfortably and one in which they are clear favourites. Someone is due a hiding at the hands of this attacking and exciting team. I can’t think of a better time to do it than against Martin O Neill’s Sunderland. Come on you Blues!