Everton: Reality Sets In After Draw With Leicester


The Barclays Premier League is finally back, and for a team with high hopes like Everton, their first game didn’t exactly goes as planned. A 2-2 draw away to Leicester wasn’t the worst result in the world, and indeed there is plenty of time to get things right, but it can’t have been the star manager Roberto Martinez would have wanted. This is especially true given how the game itself played out, which we will get to in a moment.

First though, a word on Leicester. Compact and tight in defense, they looked up for the game and the challenge of being in the top flight. You would think playing a newly promoted team early on would be a nice way to settle down and get some points on the board.

The reality is quite the opposite, with both players and fans being up for the game even more than they usually would have. So we can forgive Everton for not totally getting the job done here. Given the circumstances, a draw actually wasn’t so bad.

That is until you look at how the game panned out. Everton had 64% possession, and while that is all well and good, they didn’t do a whole lot with it. Yes there were some nice passages of play, but the incisive stuff that is required to break teams down when playing away from home was largely absent.

Even more worrying, was the ease with which Leicester dealt with the Everton threat. In fact, this would have been the most concerning revelation of all for Martinez once the final whistle went.

Last season, the power up front of Romelu Lukaku pulled defenders away from their positions. Then the dribbling skills of Kevin Mirallas made life even more uncomfortable for the opposition. If that wasn’t enough, full backs Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines threw themselves forward time after time, providing an assault from all angles for the other team. While Coleman only came on for the last five minutes here, all of the other players named were present, but at times they looked lifeless in this one.

To say Everton were totally poor would be a disservice to how they played in large patches of the first half though to be fair. Twice they took the lead, first through Irish international Aiden McGeady and then Steven Naismith. Twice however they were pegged back, despite the fact the defense was solid enough, with Phil Jagielka in particular putting in a shift.

Looking at it positively, it is nice to know McGeady may pop up with the occasional goal like he did on Saturday. He has got talent, but is maddeningly inconsistent to the point where a lot of people groan when they see him warm up when on national duty.

It took a Chris Wood strike with five minutes remaining to snatch a point for Leicester, but in reality it was a deserved one. Again while Everton had looked comfortable and bored even at times, there was no real desire to kill Leicester off. Playing that was is always dangerous, although again another positive from the game were the two well taken goals from McGeady and Naismith.

The worst news of this week though came off the pitch for the Merseyside club. Influential midfield maestro Ross Barkley, who would have had big things in mind this year, injured a knee in training. While it is still unclear exactly how long he will be out for, everybody associated with the clubs waits with baited breath. Various unnamed sources have the twenty year old taking between six to eight weeks to return to action, although some others feel it could be closer to four months before he is seen again.

While this is exactly why Muhamed Besic was bought by the club, surely the need for an extra body in midfield is a must now. Dipping into the transfer market one last time for even a player on a year long loan deal (A specialty of Martinez) would seem to make a lot of sense at this point, Losing Barkley for a significant amount of time would be a disaster for the team.

Everton are know as quick starters in the league traditionally, but the draw with Leicester and the injury to Barkley has thrown a bucket of cold ice on what was real optimism about the year ahead only last week.

Next up is Arsenal at home, in a game that already has a lot of importance to it. Beat a legitimate top four side, and all will be right with the world once more. Lose however, and suddenly one point from two games sees the Toffees playing catch up on their rivals.

Though Goodison Park is tough place to go, Arsenal always seem to do well there too, although they were soundly beaten in the league last season. It gets no easier though, so the time to start winning games is now.