Everton: Why McGeady Could Be Vital vs. Arsenal & Chelsea
Most years people predict Everton to drop off in favour of their big spending competitors, but every year they somehow manage to squirm in to a position that annoys at least one of those said big spenders. This looks like being another one of those seasons.
A draw away at Leicester isn’t exactly the most auspicious start to the season, but there’s no need to start worrying about the new season for Roberto Martinez and co yet. The brand new (ish) striker may not have scored, and the back four may have been a little suspect, but there were enough bright points for the fans to get excited about. It will have hopefully also told Martinez that he may need to dip in to the transfer market again before it shuts in a couple of weeks.
First, the good points, and Aiden McGeady’s fizzing finish for Everton’s first showed a glimpse of what he is capable of now that he isn’t fresh from a sojourn in Russia that, appearing by the size of him when he arrived, involved little else other than guzzling vodka and beef stroganov. With no Deulofeu anymore and Steven Pienaar not getting any younger, McGeady could be very important this season, especially with the extra Europa League games that everyone seems to be worried about. An old fashioned out and out winger, he was one of few shining lights from the disappointing pre-season, and hopefully his form will continue in to the next few games. It will certainly be needed for the visits of Arsenal and Chelsea up next.
Baines and Pienaar looked good together, as they always do, with them setting up the second goal. Even when as a team Everton don’t quite hit their straps the pair are always reliable, giving an out ball to the underperforming central midfield, Barry especially looking out of practice, and lucky not to be sent off for a second bookable offence. As a whole though, the good play on the ball that has become the norm under the Catalan maestro Martinez was still there, and once the players get up to full fitness, the team should be able to hit the heights that they did last season. Let’s not forget, a pretty forgettable 2-2 draw against Norwich, which involved a great goal from Ross Barkley was how they started last season. Substitute McGeady and Leicester in there and it all becomes eerily similar don’t you think?
However, for all that Everton looked good on the ball, that lack of cutting edge that was the difference between 5th and 4th last season looks to still be there. With Arouna Kone a seemingly permanent sick note, Lukaku not yet fully fit, and no world beating youngsters coming out of the academy at the moment, it could stay like this for a few weeks yet. The fitness of Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas are musts on this front, sadly as much as we love Steven Naismith, (he seems to have turned in to a sort of goal scoring Tony Hibbert) he’s not going to be the man to fire the team to Europa League or Top 4 glory. Although hopefully he will cover for Ross Barkley’s injury, with his performances in that number 10 role promising enough that some prefer him in there to Barkley anyway.
Both of Leicester’s goals came from unlucky deflections, with Sylvain Distin’s clearance, and then Phil Jagielka tackling the ball right in to a Leicester forward’s feet. However, Leicester did have several other opportunities to score, and Jagielka’s World Cup form worryingly might not have been a blip, but a sign of a wider decline in his game. A centre back pairing with a combined age of 68 isn’t usually the rock that a top four team is built on, even with Distin’s Benjamin Button-esque ageing. The quicker John Stones turns in to the player that half the media seem to think he already is, the better. It could be argued that Stones should have picked up Wood, Leicester’s last minute hero, and this persistence in switching off at key times will need to be quashed if he’s going to be a regular starter this season.
All in all, this game highlighted what we already knew, Everton need to get their players fit, because as much as we like to rave about our youngsters, and the fact that new signing Besic did a couple of fancy turns in pre-season, the squad just doesn’t have the depth that other Champion’s League hopefuls do. If they do get them fit then top six should be eminently doable, with another tilt at the top four not out of the question. Although with the Europa League looming, hopefully Martinez does make at least one more signing this window to help with this. Having gone for the ‘spend all of your money on one player’ approach it would probably have to be a loan, but to be honest, this writer at least is starting to revel in the fact that our loans annoy everyone so much. It also wouldn’t be a complete disaster to not sign someone, but you’d hope their at least thinking about it.
If you’re reading Roberto, apparently Lewis Holtby just became available, and he supposedly supports Everton, so get involved, mate.