Everton Preview: Scrap For Third Is On

Those worrying about the trip to Wolves following the midweek games get some respite from those concerns. This afternoon we travel to Everton to put our two wins in nine away Premier League games up against their two home wins in the last nine Premier League games.

It’s got draw written all over it. And that will be enough to send us back to third on goals scored. However, will it be enough in the context of the run-in? I don’t think so.

The team news for the match isn’t bursting with sunshine in that sense. Koscielny and Xhaka are both “being assessed” but unlike Ramsey, they didn’t take part in the latest training session. Or maybe they did and the photographers complied with the request not to take snaps of them. Subtefuge and all that…

It’s unlikely given Unai told the press they were working with the physios.

Just as with Wolves, there is a danger in building the opposition up too much in your own minds. Everton, don’t get me wrong, have some good results under their belts in the three or four games but not all of them are impressive. Beating Chelsea and drawing the Merseyside derby, however, point to a team which can raise its game for the big occasion and that, I suspect, is the Everton we must overcome.

Just to point out, we’ve only lost one of the last five at Goodison Park. That’s the Arsenal Everton must overcome: bogey team.

You can read too much into the past, however. How far do you go back before bogey becomes favoured, etc? This season is the only measure which really matters and we’ve been pitiful on our travels since the draw at Old Trafford.

That was a costly night in more ways than one.

Talk the Talk, Now Walk the Walk

That Unai Emery felt the away warranted comment is telling:

We are thinking game by game and we know we have five of seven matches away. For us it’s a big challenge, away [from home] we want to achieve the same good performances as when we play at Emirates Stadium. 

Unai tells it like it is

The reality is confidence is hard to come by away from but scraping the win in Huddersfield proved enough of a boost for us to go to Wembley and snatch a point from the jaws of victory.

Mesut Ozil is a running theme at present. Emery pointed out that he is no different from any member of the squad:

He’s working very well, playing very well, he’s helping us. I’m very happy with him. I think the team has a good atmosphere, good spirit with each player helping us with their qualities and good behaviour. That’s the spirit I want, they are doing that, and Mesut is like the others [in that regard].

We’ve got Ozil…

Murmurings of Emery ‘ruining’ the player continue on social media but at present, his performances are better than they were. I still think he can deliver more and having re-watched Monday night’s game, am still baffled over how he got Man of the Match. Hopefully, his performance this afternoon will make the decision much more clear cut.

The line-up I think Emery will go with ought to make that possible:

Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette

Choosing his strikers is maybe the toughest call. I know we’d like to see PEA and Lacazette start but frankly, it leaves us too open, especially with Koscielny, Xhaka and Torreira absent. I can’t see the pair playing and while PEA is the main goalscorer, Lacazette is more the team man.

And finally…

The last word, however, goes to Emery. He openly talks about third, claiming the immediacy is more important than the long-term today.

If we win, we are third. If we don’t win, we can’t hold this position. But football is each moment to enjoy, to prepare, to work, to play. It depends if we are efficient on the pitch. If we are – for 90 minutes – competitive, then I think we can achieve these three points.

Carpe diem.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

78 thoughts on “Everton Preview: Scrap For Third Is On

  1. Thanks, YW. I always feel match ready after I’ve read your preview. Doesn’t necessarily vaporise the nerves, but that would be asking too much.

  2. Emery doing a good job (be careful what you wish for eh?). Handicapped in more ways than one by the old regime the fact that we’ve a wage bill £100m a year higher than Sp*rs will probably mean no major signings in the summer without letting one or two of the big earners go. Even then I’d expect more up and coming players on modest wages than established stars. But as long as we look to address any problem areas (defence, a winger?), then I’d be happy with that.

    As for Everton today any win will be a good result. A bit hit and miss these are two teams who could deliver almost any result today but the fact that there is more riding on it for us might give us an edge. Come on you Gunners!

  3. Team news is in:


    Subs: Cech, lichtsteiner, Jenks, Ramsey, Iwobi, Suarez, Aubameyang

  4. Bit concerned about that midfield duo, Mhiki and Ozil are going to have to be on their game to support them.

  5. Agree with Andy- Ozil and Mikki have to support the midfield to ensure speedy transition and we are not overrun there

  6. Looks like Toteira is still suspended.

    The bench has enough attacking options. The challenge is to keep it tight at the back.

  7. SV,

    Frankly , your negativity doesn’t deserve nformation. He’s banned!
    At least he won’t get injured

  8. Cheers YW,

    If emery feels he can beat everton with El nino, then I’ll assume he thinks distance covered will give us an advantage.

  9. This has been a bit shit, to be honest.

    Slow, ponderous build-up play with poor support for the player on the ball when we’re in possession.

  10. I don’t see where the spark is going to come from.

    Too inexperienced or too lightweight in midfield.

  11. Inexperience caused that booking.

    From a goal scoring chance to a potential break away goal.

  12. We lack movement and Mhkitaryan has offered so little. Ozil dropping deeper to pick up the ball but nobody to pass to cause everybody is standing still.

  13. Really struggling in the middle of the park, Ozil and Mikki adding very little either. One nil down at HT wouldn’t be a bad result given the way the game has gone.

  14. Strength in depth. If we had the type of players that could step in and hustle on the road I’d be a lot happier.

  15. Salut been a while. Family and work all consuming. Excecellent post YW. Never expect less.

    The trio of Ozil, Miki and El Neny is a no no. A flat first half performance , a lack of conviction. Simply been out hustled.

    Emery yo change it half time.


  16. Elneny and Guendouzi struggling in midfield together and our wingbacks aren’t offering anything so Everton can just focus on closing down Ozil.

    Ramsey and Aubameyang on, Sead and Elneny off.

  17. Back 4


  18. We have run out of players. Perhaps we should have got someone on loan when we had the chance…..

  19. O Ramsey, with your quality that should have been in the back of net!!!!!

    We already look much more better attacking wise. Ozil a bit more space and runners all around him.

  20. C,

    He just looks so half heared all of the time. I never thought he would score with that effort.

  21. I feel like if we can get one, Everton are there to be had to get a 2nd. But there seems to be a genuine lack of belief to get the 1st.

  22. Not enough influence by Ozil on the game. Mkhiki has been ineffectual also.

    From the wings it’s been pretty sterile today. The pace of Richarlison has given Nacho a huge problem today. We have to look at new options for next seasons. We need a wide player also.

    I think that the suspension of Torreira has been a factor today especially in the first half. The midfield just did not compete in the first half.

  23. Poor all round, some big names not earning their corn today. I’m afraid that Mikki has been so average we would have almost been better off letting Sanchez go for free and not wasting £200k a week on that swap deal.

  24. Ramsey stops playing at the top of our box looking at the ref as Everton attacks pretty much sums up the whole match: we haven’t been at it and Everton have.

  25. Weaker, slower, less motivated.

    Oezil absent in an away game. Not surprising.

    Emery not getting right the lineup and the spirit. Surprising.

    A big setback.

  26. SV:
    Weaker, slower, less motivated.

    Oezil absent in an away game. Not surprising.

    Emery not getting right the lineup and the spirit. Surprising.

    A big setback.

    If only it would have been only Özil… ah, well, this Özil, always good to have him on the pitch when we lose. Mki was a shame but no, it was Özil.

  27. Some of this stuff is a little ott.

    We were poor today but we are playing for third place. Hardly a reason to give up on the team.

  28. Alex,

    Iwobi should have started instead of Oezil. It was so obvious even before the game. And Emery knows it. So why? Prioritizing Europe over the league? He’ll get neither as a result.

  29. Oh well, moving on to Wolves v Watford I’d like to see Wolves get to the final (their turn after we beat them in semis in ’79 and again in ’98) but really wouldn’t begrudge either their day in the sun.

  30. The game was lost as soon as he made the team selection. It set the tone for the game and we were never able to get into our stride.

  31. We may be red hot at home but we’re bang average away.

    The selection was flawed as IMO you can’t play both Ozil & Mikhitarian in the same side away from home. Neither looked likely to provide anything of note today & the balance of the side was always wrong.

    Everton were OK but nothing more. It seems likely that these lightweight efforts are going to cost us top four. Can anyone honestly say they believe we’ll win at least three of our last 4 away matches ?

  32. Paulie Walnuts,

    Nope-not at all.
    And if they turn out that shit show again I think there’ll be some P45’s in abundance at the close of the season.
    We were woeful

  33. There should be a clearout at the end of the season.

    No doubt there will be. We did run out of effective and reliable players.

    We could make a list of those along with the ones who will be leaving. My guess is that we would be mostly correct. Nothing new in that, it’s been known all season that we are in transition. I don’t know if Emery could have risked Ramsey from the start but otherwise, who else did we have?

  34. So, Watford are in the FA Cup final, and we are playing them away from home next Monday. Goodby top four.

    After that, we get smashed at Napoli. Goodby Europa League.

    Hello frustrating summer.

  35. C,

    Oezil should not start an away game. In fact, Oezil should not be an Arsenal player. We are not a retirement club. We are playing in a tough physical league, where one trick ponnies are quickly found out .

    Not saying that Mchirarian was any better btw. But Oezil was our captain.

    Emery is not ruthless enough. He’ll regret it.

  36. Thanks for the preview yogi. I have to agree with the other comments that emery’s team selection was a big mistake. Not nearly enough firepower. Lacazette is a good player but not a prolific scorer and none of our midfielders were the type who can make something good happen In the attacking 1/3. None of are much of a threat to score a goal or create an assist. There is a role for ball possessions players like ozil Elneny, Mkhitaryan and Guendouzi but starting all 4 together was clearly a recipe for the type of game we saw today

  37. I know we discuss this topic a lot and I understand that stats don’t always tell the whole story. However, game management, technical skill and ball possession are not enough to get consistent results by themselves. Like it or not you need to have a critical mass of players who are productive and are a threat to score a goal and/or create an assist. The problem is players who can give you production are the least common type of player and you can’t build your own and they are rarely available without spending huge amounts on transfer fees

  38. I can’t imagine that we will see Suarez other then in a mop up role at this point in the season. All the evidence we have argued that he was heavily over rated. It looks like he is going to end up with fewer minutes then Kim Kallstrom or Park Chu-young. Thankfully we avoided the must buy option. I suspect taking him on loan was a matter of our front office wanting to be able to say they did something.

  39. We are now fourth, with still a chance of third place in the EPL and we soldier on in the Europa.
    Whatever transpires in either competition, we should surely remember the limited target all the experts forecast in Unai Emery’s maiden season in charge.
    In my view this has been virtually achieved. 😉

  40. Our attack was poor today. All over the pitch we were never in the game.
    I am certainly not normally a xhaka fan but feel we missed his vocal presence in midfield today.
    Everton snapped (fouled) and hurried us throughout, not allowing us to play our normal game. This will be a recurring theme away from home unless we up our intensity and speed.
    On a plus note, Leno was superb.

  41. Bill,

    Lacazette is a top goal scorer but was ineffective today as a result of our general team play. Our number 9 spent so much time in our half and around the midfield you would wonder what’s going on. Overall a very bad team display.

  42. Adebanjo:

    Lacazette is a top goal scorer but was ineffective today as a result of our general team play.Our number 9 spent so much time in our half and around the midfield you would wonder what’s going on. Overall a very bad team display.

    Lacazette is a good all around CF but he has certainly not been a prolific goal scorer for us. The numbers don’t lie.

  43. Would agree with most of what’s already been said. Team selection, game management, intensity on the road. I’ve been saying our run in isn’t a forgone conclusion that we’re in the top four. We’ve got Watford, Wolves and Leicester all more than capable of taking points from us. Coupled with the fact that Chelsea, Utd and Tottenham won’t lose as many as 2 of their remaining fixtures, leaves us outside of the top 4 unless we go on a run. Given our form away from home, I seriously doubt that’s possible with this bunch of player’s. That said I won’t knock the progress we’ve made under Emery in his maiden season. Hopefully he would have learnt a lot about the league, his team and back room staff. We’re heading towards the silly season and wondering who we will procure to improve this squad. I’ve suggested some centre halves, which I think is vital given the state of the defence. Full backs would be good if they are an upgrade on our current full backs. Winger’s would be nice, but do we really have the budget for that large an overhaul!?

  44. SV,

    I keep hearing that Ozil should never start an away match but last I checked, we have been absolute shit away from home and Ozil has barely even featured let alone started one. Was he and the team not up for it, absolutely but Mhkitaryan was absolute rubbish to the point that the commentators couldn’t workout how a PL futboler struggle so bad to make a 5 yard pass multiple times.

    Sure he was Captain and he shoulf have played better but our struggles yesterday lay at our inability to get the ball from our defenders to our attackers, our wingbacks struggling to provide width so Everton could just clog the midfield. I mean how many touches did Lacazette and Ozil have in our own half?

    When the subs were made at half-time, there was more width and it worked because now when Ozil drops deeper, Ramsey makes the run ahead which means Everton’s midfield has to react.

  45. C

    For the last several years you have been complaining that Ramsey hurts the team when he plays with Ozil because his forward runs force Ozil to drop deeper and it limits mesut’s effectiveness. You have often suggested that Ramsey’s influence is one of the reasons Ozil has often struggled and his assist total has dropped so dramatically in the last 3 years. Now suddenly those same forward runs by Ramsey are a good thing and Ozil cant be effective without them? I have to admit I am confused.

  46. Let’s not start the Bill and C show over Ozil’s performance and the Ramsey factor! At the end of the day collectively as a unit (this includes the manager) we weren’t at our best. We’ve not been good away from home most of the season. Failing to keep a clean sheet away from home all season! Why doesn’t he play more defensively away from home if he knows this is an issue!? A point would leave us with a little bit of wiggle room. But that defeat means we can’t afford many more slip ups! Don’t think we’ll do it myself personally. You’re all welcome to disagree with me, but I really hope I’m not in the “I told you so” bracket at the end of the season.

    However C, Bill does have a point! ;-p

    Guess we won’t missing Rambo, eh C!?

  47. Bill,

    Your confused because you always miss or ignore certain aspects. In this case with the Ozil and Ramsey situation, I have always stated that in a midfied 3 they don’t work because our 3rd midfielder wasn’t defensive and Ramsey wouldn’t consistently be the box-to-box midfielder but instead would abandon his role. Ramsey’s best season coicided with Ozil coming and allowing Ramsey to do less on the ball making him more effective because Ozil can get him the ball after he makes his trademark late runs.

    Ramsey has found form and is doing both sides BUT also the width that was provided in the 2nd half allowed for Ramsey and Ozil to have more space centrally.

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