Everton Away

It was assumed that once Everton lost Yakubu for the year that they’d struggle to score goals. They have, but that hasn’t affected their fine run of form. To put it nicely, they’ve been opportunistic. Hanging on the ropes against the better teams, they rely largely on set pieces to score their goals. Arteta delivers a fine ball, and Cahill and Lescott are good at making the most of these chances. Ask Liverpool fans about that.

Their midfield is now anchored by the gigantic Fellaini. He’s a bit overrated, but he is a promising prospect. The last time we played them, he actually limited their attack. His height is an obvious advantage, but it also worked against them. Our defense against this type of football, hoofing it towards a large target. And hoping they’ll get a head on it and create a chance, is actually not bad. The problem is that we repeatedly get punished on the one occasion we do make a mistake. Fellaini wasn’t useful against us the last time. However, he may combine with Cahill and Lescott to give them even more of an aerial threat in the game.

This game may come down to one of those moments where we give up a stupid free kick. Or an unfair free kick is award against us. You know when those moments happens, a small part of you says: “God, I just know something is going to happen here.” Oftentimes, it doesn’t, but for a team like Everton at the moment, it represents their best chance to score.

They have zero offensive capability on the ball, because Cahill is not a natural striker. Their back four is solid but unspectacular. Jagielka is a capable performer. He is a “jack of all trades” (a euphemism for The Man With No Position). Jagielka has put a foot down in the central defense. That is to our advantage, as the more muscular Yobo has no place in their starting XI now. His partner is Lescott, who as a defender is largely overrated. Adebayor needs to pressure these people as much as possible. He is physically a handful for their entire defense. This will help create space for van Persie to do his magic.

Currently, van Persie is as influential a playmaker as he is a goal scorer. With van Persie and Nasri’s contributions, they have bridged the gap that went missing when Cesc went down. The right side of the the midfield is a void at this point, but Eboue is trying his best. If things are status quo after 70 minutes, expect Bendtner and Vela to enter and change the game. They are as good impact subs as anybody, because they positively affect the outcome. They are underrated contributors, and their youth is a positive, not a detriment.

Who will start alongside Djourou? Reports suggest Gallas. I hope that’s the case, because Kolo (I love the guy, but…) looked out of sorts against Cardiff. Yesterday was not a good day for us, so we need to keep the pressure on. A draw wouldn’t be the worst of results in a larger sense. But that’s not something we should even be thinking about. The game is entirely winnable, because Everton will struggle to create much. Their energy levels are high, so they may not tire. But, we have enough ingenuity to carve them open.

We need to keep our eye on the ball, focus, and finish.

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