Everton are still 20 years without a major trophy, but all that could change as we contest the final of the unfathomably prestigious Premier League Asia Trophy against Arsenal. Before that utterly depresses you, I speak of course in jest. The reality is that it’s our second sling in Singapore, and the third run out for the lads all under the all seeing eye of Sky, who like to remind people, even in summer, that they’re never going away. On the bright side, I’m sure there are Evertonians having a ball over there right now and Arsenal are as good a pre-season test as anyone.
Arsenal, you say?
Let’s be honest, Arsenal need no introduction really, do they? 13 times League Champions, 12 times FA Cup Winners and permanent residents of the apparently now important Top 4 Boulevard. The Gunners boast the most consecutive years in the top flight, having exclusively played in the top division since 1919, while Everton can proudly remind ourselves that no team has played more total season at the top, our last experimentation with second-tier football was in 1954. It’s been many years since Arsenal last won the league with one of the best sides of the Premier League era, but with a steady influx of top quality players in Ozil, Sanchez, Cech and perhaps someone this summer, with back-to-back FA Cup wins in the Royal Armoury, fans will hope they can really have a go at the title in the upcoming season. Personally, I predict Chelsea will retain the title, but Arsenal will be their closest competitors this time around. (Woolwhich) Arsenal have so often had the better of us since our post-80s decline, they’ll be the toughest summer test, especially given they’ll be riding a heroine-esque high from defeating one of the finest pub teams in all of Singapore in front of thousands of their Asian-replica-shirt-sales-demographic.
Meanwhile, on the transfer front:
In keeping with the Great War theme, it’s time for the club to dig in deep in the wake of a £20 million shelling from Chelsea, who predictably have targeted John Stones as a long term replacement for John Terry. Rio Ferdinand, £30 million. David Luiz, £50 million. These should be the at the very least the starting basis for any bids we could even possibly consider accepting. While it may be somewhat inappropriate to offer an opinion of the board, I do feel if a bid of £30 million comes in, they’ll be all too quick to accept, which is a shame. Hopefully I’m wrong. Stones is one of the best young players I’ve in my time following the club, I’d at least like to see him playing in the blue shirt (of Everton) for a few more years.
With that slightly negative transfer aside out of the way, allow me to dust off our trophy cabinet while I review the glorious semi-final in which Everton defeated Stoke 0-0… It was a game of two halves, one which represented many of the problems in recent years, desperately lacking the creativity to break down a well-organised unit. The other offered much more inventive play which led to clear chances on goal, at least one of which should have found the net. Whether that was down to increased intensity and decisiveness going forward, or a tiring pre-season Stoke opposition, I couldn’t possibly say. Their were, however, definite positives. Improved attacking play in the second half, particularly from Deulofeu and Cleverly. In addition, Jagielka, Lukaku, Howard, Browning and Galloway all got 90 minutes which bodes well for fitness. A special mention to the penalty takers also, very, very cool. I predict we’ll shape up in a similar manner against Arsenal, a different team each half with perhaps a couple more palyers getting more than 45 minutes.
Irrespective of Saturday’s result, I think anyone who watched us last summer can firmly agree that we look infinitely sharper this time around, so let’s hope for another good run out and a decent display for all Toffees, be they travelling, Thai/Singapore locals or sat at home fuming on forums whilst watching on Sky/totally legal and above board live streams.
WE SHALL NOT, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED. WE SHALL NOT, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED. COS WE’RE THE TEAM WHO’S GONNA WIN THE ASIA CUP! WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!