Let’s travel back to the bygone days of yore, a halcyon days, the salad days during which we at the Arsenal imagined ourselves traipsing to the trophy. We’d won 16 of our first 19 and were riding high. The Toffees by contrast were in a tailspin, having won just three times from 19 matches. Then, along came Sean Dyche. While he didn’t perform any miracles, he at least stanched the bleeding, Everton stayed up, and we stumbled. We can’t blame our bottling on just one match, but this is one that stands out. As such, we simply have to exact our pound of flesh.
Let’s take a minute, shall we, to parse our words. I carry no grudge or animosity against Everton. If anything, I want them to stay up. However—and I admit that this might a splitting of hairs too fine for even the finest of microscopes—I carry a measurable, perhaps even significant grudge against a certain Sean. During his time at Burnley, we enjoyed a fair few lat winners despite his “tactics”, which consisted largely of trying to resurrect a certain late twentieth century tendency to simply hoof it up the pitch and hope for the big fella to knock it down for one of the quick, little fellas to have a go, all the while keeping eight or nine outfield players behind the ball. If there was to be a throw-in, a goal kick, or even a corner, a good twenty or thirty seconds might pass before a Dychean (?) would see fit to put the ball back in play.
On one level, I get it. The bigger clubs have financial advantages that clubs like Everton can only dream of. Wasting time and parking the bus are effective if not entirely honourable counter-measures. If I were managing a club with Everton’s budget, sure, I’d look to fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. On another, you can’t curl up like a turtle in its shell. While Everton have hardly splurged in the transfer market like various other clubs, they’ve been in the Prem long enough to be able to flex some muscle.
The looming exit of Moshiri and the subsequent arrival of the American conglomerate 777 Partners, may just put a spring in the collective step of this dispirited squad, which is all the more reason why we simply have to put this same squad to the sword. Whatever their financial situation is, and whatever vague allegiance we might owe to the enemy of our Merseyside enemies, we have demons to slay. Our rivalry with Liverpool might mean that we feel a vague alliance with Everton, but we have bigger demons in our crosshairs.
A win at Goodison Park would exorcise a few demons both because of our recent record there and because of last season’s Dycheian (?) debacle.
We have more than a few scores to settle on Sunday. If settling them sends Everton that much closer to relegation for the first time since 1951, then so be it.