So here we go again, Everton travelled to the King Power Stadium to kick off their Premier League campaign. Filled with excitement and optimism the blues ended up with a point, in what proved to be a tightly contested game.
Martinez will be disappointed that his side couldn’t hold on to a 2-1 lead after two sublime goals from McGeady and Naismith. When Chris Wood scored the equaliser late on for Leicester, there were whispers between away fans of it being a very “David Moyes” sort of game. It seemed that Everton didn’t come out to play the second half and as a result it has cost them two points.
Tim Howard: 5
Evertonians in USA have been increasing in numbers ever since Howard’s performances for his country proved hims a national hero. Unfortunately Howard conceded 2 goals against a side who never had 2 goals in them. He misplaced 13 of his 27 passes and seemed a lot more willing to just boot the ball upfield instead of looking for Gareth Barry or his defence.
Leighton Baines – 7
When you play Everton you better have a quality right back otherwise they will punish you down that left hand side. This was true against Leicester, and for the first half at least everything came down the left. Baines and Pienaar were absolutely in-sync once again, It has been a while since we’ve seen that telepathic understanding between the two. Baines had 2 effective crosses and created 3 chances of which one was a delightful pass in to Pienaar who assisted Naismith for the second goal.
Sylvain Distin – 4
Distin had a poor season opener on Saturday, the big frenchamn didn’t look totally fit and misplaced the ball a fair bit (2 turnovers), 82% pass accuracy. Most noticeably however was his inability to win aerial duels, Distin lost 54% of his aerial duels against strikers who were much smaller than him. It’s hard to say it was entirely Distin’s fault for the eventual equaliser, however it was his tackle that led to an easy finish for Wood.
Phil Jagielka – 5
Jagielka had the 2nd most touches on the pitch and maintained a 88% pass accuracy. He also contributed 2 blocks, 11 effective clearances and an interception to the rather lacklustre Everton defence. The skipper will have to lead by example this season, especially in Europe where we will have a relatively inexperienced side.
John Stones – 5
Anonymous for large part of the game, It has been spoken before that John isn’t as comfortable out on the wing as he is in the centre. However he managed to dribble past 2 people and deliver 1 accurate cross. Although these are reasonable figures for a fullback, its not quite Seamus Coleman standards. The addition of Coleman back into the squad will surely give the team a boost.
James McCarthy – 6
Air was sucked out of the King Power stadium when all Everton away fans collectively breathed in as JMac fell down injured without being touched. Luckily the man made of steel returned to the game only moments later to have his usual impressive performance. 90% pass accuracy, 4 tackles, 2 blocked shots and managed to win 75% of his aerial duels. These figures have now become ‘the norm’ for an always improving James McCarthy.
Gareth Barry – 6
Lucky to still be on the pitch at the final whistle, ‘tactical fouler’ Barry had 3 fouls of which 2 were blatant yellow cards and somehow we ended the game with 11 men. The result of the match could of been very different if Gareth had been shown red. Barry had no turnovers and a 93% pass accuracy (best on the pitch) with 96 touches of the ball (also best on the pitch). This shows once again that he is essential to Martinez’ game plan, in that he keeps everyone calm and plays the sensible pass the majority of the time.
Aiden McGeady – 6
The first goal of Everton’s 2014/15 campaign may well be a contender for goal of the season. McGeady showed great composure to put the ball into the top corner after a broken Everton set piece. For a winger however, he should be looking to create chances for his strikers, he didn’t manage any key passes, accurate crosses of successful dribbles. These statistics don’t lie, and its become very apparent that he needs to work on his final ball.
Steven Naismith – 7
One of the standout players in the first half was Steven Naismith, his cooly taken finish gave the blues a much deserved lead going into the dressing rooms at half time. He contributed to some good play on the left side and made some good runs in between defenders. 70% pass accuracy and 5 turnovers will not make good reading, but the Scot contributed enough in this game to earn him a 7.
Steven Pienaar – 8 (Man of the Match)
I’ve said in preseason that Pienaar will have a big part to play this year. He proved my point on Saturday by showing great maturity in his game. Steven linked up with his best mate Leighton for some intricate one-twos and delightful dribbles, which subsequently rolled back the years for Everton fans. Considering this was Pienaar’s first start in the league since March 1st he impressed throughout, and I believe his departure in the 81st minute was the reason we conceded late on. Without Pienaar everyone began to panic and had no outlet on that left side. 1 assist, 3 dribbles, 2 shots and 3 chances created, between himself and Baines they managed 6 created chances, this was more than the entire Leicester team managed.
Romelu Lukaku – 4
Lukaku was rushed into this starting eleven because of horrible news that Barkley will be injured for at least 6 weeks. The 28 million pound man is obviously less than match fit having not played a game since the 22nd June vs Russia. Rom only had 1 shot, was dispossessed twice and had 2 other turnovers, not to mention an embarrassingly low aerial duel success of 25%. He will have to get himself fit and start scoring goals soon or Bill Kenwright will have a heart attack.
Seamus Coleman – 5
Seeing the player of last season run on the pitch for the last 5 minutes was a sight for sore eyes. Seamus is undoubtedly key to this Everton squad and the quicker he gets back into the starting line up, the quicker we can start winning games.
Kevin Mirallas – 5
Another Belgian that wasn’t fit enough to start was Kevin Mirallas. Kev came on and dribbled past a couple of players, had a shot, committed a turnover and had a series of crosses in typical Mirallas fashion.
Overall team rating – 5.72
I’m sure the whole team will feel disappointed going home on the M6 with only a point after today. Some positives to take from the game; we managed to score 2 goals away from home without having a completely fit squad. It could also be said that both of Leicester’s goals were extremely fortuitous and on another day we would of kept a clean sheet. The left side of our attack seemed more potent than ever and don’t forget it finished 2-2 on opening day last year; look how that season turned out.
1) 12 of the 17 Premier League games between Everton and Leicester have resulted in a draw (71%), this is the highest percentage of draws in any fixture between two clubs in Premier League history. (minimum 10 league PL fixtures).
2) Today’s result ends a 19-game sequence for Everton without a draw, dating back to 1-1 at WBA in January 2014.
3) The last time Everton faced Leicester on opening day was in the 1985/86 season, Everton lost 3-1 that day and went on to finish 2nd in the league.