After a convincing 3-0 win against Aston Villa last Saturday followed by another midweek clean sheet against Lille, Everton went in to today’s game against Burnley looking to carry our momentum through and get our season well and truly up and running. That’s exactly what we did with a 3-1 win against the relegation favourites.
We went into the game 14th in the table after yesterday’s results and a big win as well as a United loss could’ve elevated us up to 8th. After 2 games in less than a week, Martinez decided to start with young talent, Ross Barkley, on the bench. A very attacking line up saw Eto’o, Lukaku and Naismith all start for the blues as Osman also started. The rest of the 11 was as to be expected with Roberto keeping the same centre half pairing of Alcaraz and Jagielka from last week’s win against Villa.
Everton kicked the game off and started with slowly passing the ball across the back line. Everton kept possession well and the scoring was opened in just the 4th minute when Eto’o, who was playing in a seemingly deeper role than expected, headed in the 1st goal of the game. We played the ball from right to left with some good build-up play before Osman played a through ball down the wing to the overlapping Baines who whipped in the cross first time right on the byline. The cross was a good one & Eto’o was in the middle to head it in off the bar. For the next 10 or so minutes Everton dominated possession and looked very relaxed on the ball. Around the 15 minute mark, Burnley had a couple of corners in quick succession which we found hard to deal with at times. However, we defended well and managed to keep them out until the 20th minute. A mistake from Lukaku gifted the ball to former blue, Lukas Jutkiewicz, who slid the ball through to Danny Ings who was looking for his first Premier League goal after netting 22 times in the Championship last year. Howard came rushing out to stop the shot but Ings touched it past him and placed the ball into the open net, despite McCarthy’s best efforts to get back in time. Lukaku’s game got worse on 24 minutes when he was given a rather harsh booking. Burnley began to press high up but Lukaku, eager to make up for his earlier mistake, regained Everton’s lead on 29 minutes. Some more good build up play resulted in Lukaku gaining possession who played a lovely one-two with Naismith before struggling past a couple of defenders, his original shot deflected off a defender and fell back to him before an awkward chip into the bottom corner meant Lukaku had scored his 4th league goal of the season. Chances were limited and Burnley edged the remainder of the half, but Everton had the biggest chance on the 40th minute mark. A cross came in to the box and Naismith leaped above teammate Coleman to put a looping header onto the cross bar. An entertaining 1st half ended with Everton 2-1 up.
The 2nd half started much more quietly with the Toffees bossing possession for large parts. Heaton, the Burnley keeper had a few saves to make but none were too difficult for him to handle. With about 25 of the 90 to go, Baines had a long range curling free kick tipped away by Heaton for a corner that was creeping into the bottom corner. This was followed by a change for the blues as goal scorer Lukaku was replaced by Ross Barkley. Everton were in cruise control with Burnley having an occasional counter attack which led to nothing. With 7 minutes to go, Osman, who was involved in the 1st goal was replaced by agile winger Pienaar. Just a couple of minutes after coming on Pienaar set up Eto’o for a sublime goal. Great build-up play again left Pienaar to clip a short pass to 3 times Champions League winner Eto’o who curled an exquisite 25 yard effort right into the bottom corner and with it claimed goal of the game and surely the 3 points for Everton. Not long after the restart, Jagielka was caught napping which put Ings through on goal. Luckily, Coleman got back quick enough to put Ings off the shot and he put it over. The last player to score a hatrick for Everton was Louis Saha back in 2011 when he scored 4 in a 5-3 win over Blackpool. Eto’o was less than inches away from ending Everton’s 4 year hatrick drought when he got in behind the Burnley defence deep into injury time and tipped the ball past Heaton and then hit the post from a tight angle. The ball trickled across the line and Heaton gathered it. It wasn’t to be a hatrick for Eto’o today. Full Time score, 1-3.
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Samuel Eto’o was deservedly awarded man of the match after a great all round performance and 2 goals to top it off. However, I would like to give a mention to James McCarthy on his performance who was outstanding throughout. He bossed the game in midfield and was always in the right place at the right time.
Man United’s late equaliser against Chelsea means that Everton sit in a relatively healthy 9th place on 12 points, 4 behind West Ham in the lucrative 4th place position. Next up for the toffees, a home game against Swansea who play Liverpool in the League Cup on Tuesday night.