Everton Preview: lock down on Lukaku

The storyline of the week has focused on the apparent dischord at Old Trafford, where former Everton manager David “Moe Szyslak” Moyes (thanks to @arseblog for the nickname) is under fire for overseeing a plummet from first to ninth place and for motivating van Persie to request a transfer, if the rumors are to be believed. The flip-side to this same coin is the strength of Everton after Moyes’s departure. Former Wigan man Roberto Martínez, meanwhile sits pretty in the catbird’s seat, having steered Everton to fifth place so far, no mean feat, given the pace set by Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City.

It’s perhaps telling that, despite all the allure of Man U, Moyes was only able to lure Fellaini to follow him. Meanwhile, by contrast, three Latics—James McCarthy, Arouna Kone, and Antolín Alcaraz—followed Martínez despite the somewhat-less glamorous environs and perks of Goodison Park. Everton have long posed a difficult to challenge to us. Since the 2010-11 season, it’s true that we’ve won four and drawn two, taking 14 of 18 points from the six matches, but we’ve scored seven goals, a rate almost half of what we usually score. Everton’s defensive record this season is similarly strong, with only thirteen goals conceded from fourteen matches, and their consistency home and away is remarkable. They’ve scored more at home than away, but their home-record (4-3-0) is nearly parallel to their away-record (3-3-1). What’s more, they’ll arrive tomorrow full of beans, having won at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years. Heck, it took Moyes eleven years before Everton could win at Old Trafford. What’s that word for when what happens is the opposite of what you’d expect? Oh, yeah—irony.

More to the point, Everton will present a tough nut to crack on Sunday. If anything, the departures of Moyes and Fellaini seem to have galvanized the team. Martínez has brought a more possession-based attack to Everton, relying far less on the width and crossing that Moyes seemed to have preferred. That, and the loan-in of Romelu Lukaku, have propelled Everton to its current fifth-place; at 27 points, they’re five points ahead of their pace last year. Then again, we’re 13 points ahead of our pace last year, so there’s that. Back to possession versus crossing—they’ll arrive without Leighton Baines and his vaunted service from the left flank. How this will impact the match is a bit of a toss-up: he’s a decent defender, but his real contribution comes from those crosses and set-pieces.

What I’m getting at is this: Baines’s absence to injury might at first seem like glad tidings, but Everton’s shift away from crosses and towards possession make Baines a bit less-vital. His replacement, Bryan Oviedo, has more than deputized; he scored the game-winner against Man U and added a goal and assist in Everton’s 4-0 demolition of Stoke. As such, he may pose a bigger threat at the offensive end than does Baines. It’s only a two-match record, but he’ll be one to keep an eye on.

Speaking of keeping an eye on players, we have to devote a moment to Lukaku. We’ve eyed him and for good reason. He’s scored eight of Everton’s 22 goals. The remaining 14 are spread among ten players. If we can shut down Lukaku, in other words, we’ll go a long way towards shutting down Everton’s attack. Everton are more than a one-man attack, of course. We’ve shown that we have the mettle necessary to blunt some of England’s—not to mention Europe’s—best scorers, and I’m confident that we can do the same on Sunday. If we can deny him service and knock him off the ball when he does have the ball at his feet, Everton will find it hard to score.

From there, a rested Arsenal attack should be able to press its advantage. Giroud should make a return, as may Arteta. I’d like to see an attacking midfield of Wilshere at center with Cazorla left and Özil right, and then Ramsey and Arteta. Behind, them, from left to right, Gibbs, Kos, Per, and Jenks (Sagna’s out with a light knock). I hope this balances defense with attack enough to see us through to a 2-1 win. Goals come from Cazorla and Giroud.

Make your predictions below the fold. This one could be a nail-biter!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

10 thoughts on “Everton Preview: lock down on Lukaku

  1. Anonymous

    View from an Evertonian. Only slightly arrogant, which I can live with, and a surprisingly informed opinion from an opposition fan. You're dead right Baines isn't as vital to our attacking play any more, although I would argue Lukaku isn't as integral as he seems to be. He's been fantastic in many ways but our all round play doesn't hinge on him, for a start his first touch is often shocking, and we have created and converted a number of chances this season without his direct involvement. For the record, I'd take a point now. For many reasons Wednesday night was the bigger game for us in the sense it was the one we a) felt we could win and b) desperately wanted to win. At the present time, stylistically we are closer to Arsenal than United which probably makes this game more difficult for us as, quite simply, you are better at it than we are. That said, we'll be no pushovers and I'm looking forward to a very interesting game.

  2. Anonymous

    Apologies for the seeming-arrogance. It comes from riding so high. Truth be told, I would love to see Everton and Arsenal neck-and-neck down to the wire (but you can guess the outcome I'd prefer). Ya'll are far from push-overs and may even be better without Moyes and Fellaini. As an American, I appreciate how good Everton have been to and for Tim Howard. Long story short, I'll be pulling for them in 36 of 38 matches.

  3. Anonymous

    The one we have to look out for is Oviedo. He's going to create some havoc down our right side and with Jenkinson's rawness we could be vulnerable there. Maybe Gnabry would be better on the right side because he does more on defense than Ozil or Wilshere?

  4. Anonymous

    Between Ramsey and Ozil, one has to be rested, otherwise they will have to play the next 270 minutes non-stop.

  5. Anonymous

    as you wish but i want to add some thing about tak tick ti want only to add is theo walcot and and made cazorla in side like number 10 his best position..you know this the cazorla who plays right wing is not our last season cazorla who was fantastic so give him a chance to become good again so play ozil and theo on wings and select one of ramsey and wilshere it's your choice

  6. Anonymous

    Cazorla is not enough of a distributor for #10 (if that's what you mean). he excels at creating for himself off the dribble and dishing off from time to time, but his biggest threat is to jink around the edge of the box and shoot. playing him left gives him the best chance to do that, it would be better to play Ozil, Rosicky or Wilshere in the CAM so they can direct things more than Cazorla can.

  7. Anonymous

    Very true carzola is sufferring being out of position….I stiil believe he has the drive to take this team beyond, when carzola is on the ball, its like an orchestra, first touch, control dribbling hold ing the ball, etc who can execute a reverse like him, shoot range which spectacular, vision for a pass just like ozil.he was probably if not only, but the best performers last season so why change the position at which he was flourishin..I have doubt, but wenger nows best.Wanna see carzola achieve the best,his true potential, in another position.At the can only be good for Arsenals success.

  8. Anonymous

    Arsenal will win without conceeding goal. Only Judas's superb heading was the only goal conceeded in our last 7 matches and that could be down to Merts' absence in that match. It was obvious that Man United were to win that match, except Everton luck roll for them again in this match, Arsenal might open them more than United did but could not put the ball inside the net. Everton will definately prove tough but just like Arsenal have dealth with those big team killers before now, they will finally get over Everton. COYG!!!

  9. Anonymous

    For sure, it will be a tough one tomorrow. I really like the philosophy of Martinez, he could be an excellent continuation of AW once he decides to step down. Given the tight fixture list I would opt to rest Rambo (as vital as he might be, it would be even more hurtful if he would be sidelined). I would go Cazorla Özil and TW, whereas JW and Arteta play as holding midfielders. Theo has really got some spare minutes on his account sofa but I really like the energy that he has shown so I believe he should have a go at 60-70 minutes (being replaced by Roc or Gnabry). Based on the Old trafford game last week, as well as the previous derby, with very offensive play from both sides, it would be very beneficial to have Theo on the pitch. “You just run and Bergkamp Jr will provide you with the ball”.As for the back line I see no weakness in playing Monreal, as he might not be as quick as Gibbs, however from a technical and creative point of view he offers the same end performance on the left flank although carried out in another way. As for Everton I agree that Lukaku (what a loan signingis the most obvious threat, seems scaringly allround to tackle most situations even with limited experience (I say watch out for Belgium in the coming WC!) and also his fellow countryman Mirallas has been lively in the past matches. However, I hope and believe we should be able to out maneuver them with a 2-1 result thanks to the blistering pace of TW.

  10. Anonymous

    I was probably harsh in calling you arrogant, believe me we know what arrogance is living in such close proximity to Liverpool and Man Utd fans. Like you say, you are top of the pile at the moment and deservedly so. i still rate Fellaini but he wouldn't really have suited our current style and Martinez' positivity is a breath of fresh air. I think it will be a great game unless you outplay us. If we can stay in the game I think it will be a cracker. And yes, other than tomorrow, good luck for the rest of the season.


Leave a Reply