A clean sheet and a convincing win away from home, hello Everton. Where have you been? The blues managed to get their first win of the season away at West Brom on Saturday. After being slated for their defensive woes in the first 3 weeks, our boys managed to show real grit to keep out the Baggies, with Tim Howard showing significant improvements.
Tim Howard – 7
In my reports this season Howard has averaged a match rating of 4.0, below average and uninspiring is how I would of described his performances. Howard has announced that he will not play for the USA this year and wants to concentrate on Everton. Therefore Tim didn’t take part in the international break last week and he looked like a keeper with a fresh start on Saturday. 2 saves for Tim Howard, but this doesn’t reflect how good he really was, never looking like he could be beaten and was commanding in his catches from corners and crosses.
Leighton Baines – 8
Baines was instrumental against West Brom, lets have a look at the 5 highest pass combinations between two players on the pitch:
Baines and Barry seemed to be in sync and both players were instrumental in most of our attacks. To be in 4 out of the top 5 pass combinations is unbelievable. Leighton had 94 touches of the ball which is also the highest for any player on the pitch. It’s hard to forget that this is a left back we are talking about here, with over 90 touches in all his games this season. LB3 did pass the ball to Mirallas for his goal so he is also credited with an assist. On top of this, Baines had 2 key passes, 1 dribble, 2 tackles, 3 shots blocked and 5 effective clearances. This shows his undeniable presence both defensively and offensively.
Phil Jagielka – 5
Phil had an abysmal week last week and I gave him my lowest ever match rating, owever hee showed hints of what he is all about on Saturday. Jags’ distribution was a lot better this week, managing 93% pass accuracy (3rd highest percentage on the pitch), 8 out of 11 of his long balls were accurate. He also won 2 tackles and had a whopping 17 effective clearances.
John Stones – 7
3 tackles (more than Distin has managed all season), Stones was a breath of fresh air at the back, you’ll never see a centre back as comfortable on the ball as John Stones. He had 2 successful take-ons (ridiculous for a CB), won 100% of his tackles and 100% of his aerial duels. Not to mention an interception, a shot blocked and 96% pass accuracy (which was the highest percentage on the pitch). James Morrison was the most accurate passer for West Brom with 94%. Look out Sylvain, John Stones is coming and he’s coming to take your place.
Seamus Coleman – 5
Quiet performance for Seamus, but sometimes it’s nice to have him concentrate on defending when we are 2-0 up away from home. Winning all 3 of his aerial duels, 4 effective clearances and blocking a shot in his effort.
Gareth Barry – 8
Gaz Baz is one sexy guy when he plays as he did on Saturday. 1 tackle, 5 effective clearances and 4 interceptions (most on the pitch). He looked fantastic defensively and his distribution was on point once again, 73 passes (most on the pitch), 93% pass accuracy, with 7 of his 8 long balls accurate. Barry had another 90 touches game, beaten only by Leighton Baines.
James McCarthy – 4
I have been getting some stick for not giving McCarthy a higher grade this season, even criticising his work rate and decision making. As much as I’d like to stick an 8 by his name every week and be done with it, i simply can’t. If you’ve read my articles before you will know that the stats never lie. Won 0% of his aerial duels, 33% of the tackles he went in for and had a dysmal 80% pass accuracy. It was heart in mouth at the end of the game when JMac gave the ball away cheaply and almost cost his team their clean sheet. I’m not panicking yet but I’d like to see some improved performances please James.
Kevin Mirallas – 8 (Man of the Match)
That left side of Baines – Barry – Mirallas with Naismith popping over his starting to really get me excited. Mirallas is on fire this season in my opinion, always looking quick enough to out pace any defender and can’t be dealt with then he cuts inside on his favoured right foot. Which funnily enough is how he managed to score Everton’s second of the day. 3 shots, 1 on target, 1 chance created, 2 dribbles and 3 crosses for Kev is enough to earn him my man of the match by a hair.
Steven Naismith – 4
Naismith lost the ball a few times in a good pieces of build up play and needs to shake this one off i think. My star performer this season, was disposed twice and had 2 turnovers. 79% pass accuracy isn’t fantastic either and his goal to game ratio this season is now over. It was fun while it lasted, Naismith doesn’t score we riot.
Aiden McGeady – 5
McGeady is like marmite for the Everton fan base, some of us (myself included) really do rate him and his ability, others think he is a liability with no final product. With 77% pass accuracy (lowest for any Everton player) and no crosses for a winger doesn’t seem like good reading. But when you look closer and see that he created good chances, had 3 successful dribbles and 3 shots, i think it shows he is getting in the right areas and could become the permanent name on the team sheet on that right hand side of midfield. Aiden scored both of Republic of Ireland’s goals in the international break including one screamer to win it in injury time.
Romelu Lukaku – 7
Much better from Lukaku this weekend, a real classy finish only a minute into the game must of done in him the world of good. Our main man showed great strength throughout the game and was constantly blowing Baggies defenders off the ball. He had 3 shots, 2 on target and managed 4 successful dribbles; West Brom’s entire team only managed 3 successful dribbles in 90 minutes, Lukaku had 4 in 68. I could get used to seeing Rom score goals like that for us, shame he is only on loan… oh wait thats right we’ve signed him for £28 million. This is Lukaku’s first goal in the Premier League for a club that actually owns him.
Leon Osman – 6
Coming on for Lukaku to shore up the win, Osman did well and was part of some good link up play which almost resulted in him opening his goal scoring account this season. I believe he is a great player to have on the bench that can come on and show his experience to close out games.
Muhamed Besic – 4
Besic showed us exactly what his game is all about. 0 touches, 0 passes, 0 aerial duels, 0 interceptions, 0 tackles, 0 shots blocked, 1 foul, 1 yellow card. Reading this I couldn’t help but laugh, I swear he must have had at least a touch in 4 minutes of football. But no, just one foul and one yellow card for our Bosnian pit bull.
Overall Team Rating – 5.82
Highest overall team rating of the season, and it is well deserved. To go anywhere in the premier league and win with a clean sheet is an achievement. I just hope there is a lot more where that came from. One significant improvement that should be mentioned is the fact we didn’t sit back and allow the opposition to score an inevitable equaliser, we attacked and managed to get the all important second goal. There is a tough run of fixtures coming up and this was a must win game. We’ve got it done and it’s on to the next one.