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This evening sees our first away trip to one of the so called “Big 4” or, if you´ll allow some cynicism, the Sky 4, since the departure of Mr Moyes and the arrival of a dashing young Catalan in a suave coat and striking brown brogues. This is swiftly followed by another, at Arsenal on Sunday. Almost notoriously, Everton failed to register a single victory at Old Trafford, Highbury/The Emirates, Stamford Bridge or Anfield during Moyes´ eleven year tenure as Goodison manager.
Martinez has brought not just a new style of play, favouring possession football and short, direct passing, but also a wholesale change in attitude. No longer the attempts to hold on to a slender lead, now we see the L4 Azzuri going in front and continuing to press on and try to kill off the game with more goals instead of a stalwart defence.
Already this season, we´ve seen a bright start at City fizzle out after a couple of questionable refereeing decisions, but this week is different to that. Here we´ve got two attempts in a week at finally taking that eleven year monkey off our backs and giving the victory withholding simian a damned good kicking in the process. If there are any members of the RSPCA reading this, I don´t advocate the vicious assaulting of small monkey animal types, it´s just a metaphor. Back off PETA yeah?
Only once can I really recall Everton going to Old Trafford under Moyes and having a real go. That ended up in a 4-4 draw and with better defending on the day, we might even have won. That for me, is the key to getting the three points tomorrow. Finding the right balance between keeping it tight at the back, no mean feat when faced with Rooney and Van Persie, and attacking a back four that is not the fearsome unit it once was.
Defensively, we´ve been strong recently, although conceding from three set pieces against the lovables was a tad disappointing. United have several players who can hurt us in the air, and I don´t just mean Marouane´s penchant for swinging an elbow, so we´ll need to try and avoid conceding silly fouls in and around the box.
In midfield, we have in McCarthy and Barry, our best central midfield pairing since Bracewell and Reid in the 80´s, so for once, we´re in position to control the tempo of the game. Putting a foot on the ball and keeping a bit of possession, the crowd will become impatient and that could well work to our advantage.
Huge game for Barkley, in that he´ll be given a bit of space in between the midfield and their back line to put his foot on the ball, look up, and hopefully create plenty of chances for himself and our Ebony Adonis up front to wreak mayhem.
I can´t actually recall the last time there was such confidence going in to an away fixture against one of this quartet and I genuinely believe we´ll see Everton taking all three points tomorrow night, setting us up perfectly for a, wait for it, top of the table clash, with Arsenal. Now, doesn´t that make you feel giddy all over.
For once, I´m just looking forward to us taking a big f*ck off anti-tank missile to a gunfight.
Bobby is boss, poke off Rusty