Gutted. Simply gutted.
I said in my match preview that this was one that, on paper, Everton should win. Well, matches aren’t played on paper, their played, won, and lost on the pitch. And Wednesday night at Goodison Park, even though the Blues dominated possession, had more shots on goal, and took waaayyyy more set pieces, Crystal Palace were the better side.
Even a draw would’ve seen us retain 4th place. Instead, the ability to control our own destiny is now lost and we, yet again, must rely on Arsenal to stumble on their run in. Which, by the way, looks much easier than Everton’s.
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Knowing goals would likely be hard to come by, Martinez opted for a more attack-minded lineup by resting McCarthy who had developed quite the rapport with Barry in central defensive midfield, and used Ross Barkley in his stead. Up front, he played a combination of McGeady, Mirallas, and Deulofeu right behind Lukaku, hoping that that group would be able to crack the very solid Palace back 4. And for the most part, the plan was working it just lacked execution. McGeady and Deulofeu were constantly finding room on the flanks to cross the ball in, but credit to Palace, they met almost every cross on the day with a head or a foot to send it away.
Barkley and Mirallas both enjoyed solid days on the pitch, eventually linking up (thanks to a slight deflection) in the 85th minute to give the team the slightest glimmer of a hope at drawing level at the death. Barkley worked from box to box, completing a whopping 78 passes while also chipping in on defense with 2 interceptions and 7 clearances. And previously, Mirallas aided on the first goal with a cross (that did land) to Baines who played a beautiful header down to Nasmith who was able to tap home.
And speaking of Nasmith….I’m beginning to think he should never receive another start, because he appears to have an innate ability of coming off the bench and positively effecting the match. He scores when he wants…
Where to begin? Palace’s first goal was flat out caused by Baines being easily beaten by Bolasie, who’s shot left Howard with little option but to dive to block the ball back to the middle. He was then left out of position as Puncheon slotted the ball home. And missed tackles seemed to be a theme on the day as Everton missed 10 opportunities in their own half.
The second and third goals, I hate to say it, were on Stonsey. He let Scott Dan have a free header on the second, and a slight slip gave Jerome all the space he would need to curl the ball around Howard for Palace’s third and the eventual match-winner.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Stones though. I continue to be impressed with his confidence in bringing the ball out of the back, and he continues to display some very sharp passing. How many long ball’s did he ping right to a teammate in attempt to switch the play?
With a slew of bad performances and no one really standing out on offense, I’ll give the nod to the young midfielder. Barkley, as stated earlier, was box to box the whole game, and did a little bit of everything; winning 3/6 take on’s, completing 81% of his passes, and had the 2 interceptions and 7 clearances that I previously stated.
Mirallas was your leader with 9 pts from 90 minutes played and the one goal. Barkley and Nasmith both ended up with 5, as Nasmith had his goal, and Barkley went the distance and had an assist. Baines would’ve had a decent day had it not been for getting a yellow card and the team surrendering 3 goals. His assist on Nasmith’s goal proves his value at the defensive position, and despite a rough day at the office still remains someone you should start on a weekly basis.
Lukaku disappoints again with only 2 pts from the 90 minutes played. Yet again he was given very little room to shoot, and never really had any chances other than a shot from right around the six yard box, which Speroni saved easily. He’s still Everton’s best goal-scoring threat and should be started as he can heat up at any moment.
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