Bright new season. Same old Everton. Last year we started with a 2-2 draw away to a team that was expected to struggle by the media and the same happened on Saturday with some impressive play in the first half strangely leading to a subdued second 45 minutes that led to Leicester City grabbing a deserved point from the match.
For the view of the game from a Leicester fan (the same person who helped with the preview, Leo Moore, scroll down).
This was always going to be an intriguing game between last season’s Championship winners and an Everton side that has been tipped for great things in the coming years after we held on to our young stars and even spent money on new players including that record fee for Romelu Lukaku.
Everton lined up with one up front as expected, with Lukaku making a surprise start after only playing 45 minutes of a pre-season following the world cup against a youth team. Unfortunately he didn’t look that fit and clearly needs to step things up against Arsenal and Chelsea in the coming weeks. John Stones moved into right-back (not his best position as we knew last season) whilst Aidan McGeady took up the right-wing/boo-boy position. Only time would tell whether he’d be great or awful, or both, as normal.
Turns out he was pretty great midway through the first half when a shot from Baines and then Distin fell to McGeady on the left hand side. There were 5 defenders in and around the line, and the only place that McGeady could have scored into was in the top right-hand corner of the net. So he did. Fantastic finish – these words won’t do it justice so here it is on Youtube: http://www.footballtube.com/gifs/aiden-mcgeady-great-goal-vs-leicester
Leicester struck back immediately though as, from a corner, Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester’s record signing from Brighton this Summer, smashed home a shot after Distin had his one ‘comedy moment’ of the game that you always pray we’ll not get punished for but normally do. We slashed at the ball and fell on his arse before dangling his leg at the shot that was belted past Howard from the edge of the 6-yard box. No doubt that will be Ulloa’s only goal of the season in a Van Wolkswinkle or even Estaban Fuertes fashion.
Just before half-time the axis of… erm… left did some great work together as somehow Pienaar’s deft back-heel had the power to get the ball perfectly to Baines and also make Knockaert fall over, before Baines passed it back inside to Pienaar. He made a scuffed effort look good by finding Naismith, who slammed the ball home with his left foot off the inside of the bar. Looked a lovely goal to be fair. Half-time: 1-2.
Whatever was said in the second half to both teams changed the game. Leicester seemed to come out with much more vigour and spent more time closing players down who previously had been able to stroke the ball around seemingly unopposed. We had a few half-chances but in truth the best chances fell to Leicester. After an amusing shot (when through on goal) by substitute Shluppuppuppandawaaay which had a number of East Midlands Airport passenger jets worried yet again the breakthrough came when Baines was brushed off the ball again too easily, Barry writhed around trying to predict where the ball might end and failed and then Jagielka tried to help out by prodding the ball into Phil Jones-faced substitute striker Chris Woods who stroked it past Howard. What John Stones was doing at that point is anyone’s guess but I guess that’s the risk of playing a centre-back at right-back.
There were one or two half-chances for Everton towards the end, but overall a draw was a fair result on the balance of play. Especially as Gareth Barry was extremely lucky to be on the pitch after the most blatant second yellow card you’ll see all season.
Everton will go on to play worse and win games I’m sure. Leicester are going to have a tough few weeks playing some of the Sky4 teams back to back but showed that if they can keep their team spirit going they might have enough to stay up in a league where to be fair there is some proper dross!
Overall, this was a game that I feel we should have won, but I predicted a draw in the preview so have to be happy with that. Martinez is culpable for the result though in some ways – the fact that the team came out so laid back and didn’t push on for more goals, and also the strange substitutes that took place later in the game – Coleman for McGeady for example – just didn’t work. Big game next week though. Arsenal at home. Beat them 3-0 last time so it should be easy. Shouldn’t it?
The Leicester City Fan View (Leo Moore)
“Everton dominated possession but didn’t really create many chances –in fairness neither keeper really had much to do at all. I think first half it was very much Everton in control, Pienaar was probably the one causing most trouble, linking up well with Baines (my anger with Baines was that twice he was very vocal appealing for corners when they were clear goal kicks, one in particular was two yards out of play before he pulled it back – I wonder if this played a part in Everton getting the decision that led to the 1st goal as it was a very close call as to whether it was a goal kick or a corner – great finish though!)
Anyway, for Everton I thought Naismith looked very good, always seemed threatening. Lukaku was poor, maybe he is tired from the world cup but he didn’t offer anything – a couple of times he held the ball up well to bring others into the game but I expected more from him –I will say he is an absolute beast though, at one stage he was about 20 yards from where I sit, I think he is 3 times wider than me (but obviously our “body shapes” are very different!). It’s the first time I have seen John Stones properly too, I thought he was excellent.
I am actually pleased that Barry didn’t get sent off (even though he should have been – he’s a very good player and breaks up a lot of play but he is incredibly slow) – if he would have been sent off and then we equalised after, it would have taken the shine off the point as everyone would say it was only because of the red card.
From a Leicester point of view, it really is a huge step up – you get so little time on the ball and all the players seem like real athletes. Wes Morgan and Liam Moore (our centre backs) were very good and Andy King had a good game in midfield. Once he got into the game, our Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez looked most likely to cause trouble – he was the one that turned Barry in the build-up to the equalizer.
Surprisingly, Alan Shearer made a very good point about Dean Hammond – when he came on it disrupted Everton’s rhythm and we started to see more of the ball – not in many threatening areas but did help our confidence.
Overall, a point probably fair although Leicester happier than Everton with the result.”