The Blues’ Europa League play-off round home clash with Hajduk Split made more headlines for what happened off the pitch than on it.
Crowd trouble was the main topic of conversation in L4, both clubs have had disciplinary proceedings opened against them from the European footballing body.
Hajduk Split fans trying to storm Everton fans tonight 👊👊 pic.twitter.com/tVvrtCsrJ5
— Football Away Days (@sportingawayday) August 17, 2017
Bizarrely Split fans were more interested in causing trouble than watching the football.
As I wrote in the preview for last week’s first leg affair, the club are notorious for their manic support.
They are thought that well of by Hajduk Split that the club retired the number 12 jersey for them.
Damage to the seats in the Goodison Park away end after HNK Hajduk Split fans caused trouble during last night's UEFA Europa League game. pic.twitter.com/7FKDr1fesh
— Everton Blue Army (@EvertonBlueArmy) August 18, 2017
Nothing to be proud of if that is how they behave.
Enough about that, onto the football.
Split’s Stadion Poljud is expected to be full to its 34,198 capacity, and a hostile atmosphere awaits Ronald Koeman‘s troops.
Sandwiched in the middle of a very difficult week for Everton, the 2-0 advantage secured at the Grand Old Lady last week will hopefully ease a bit of pre-match nerves.
If Koeman feels he needs to rest players from Monday night’s Etihad bout in preparation for Sunday’s big test against champions Chelsea he’ll feel safe to do so with a comfortable lead already in the Blues’ hands.
Split have the benefit of an extra day of rest before the clash.
They played on Sunday and enjoyed a 4-0 victory away at bottom side Rudeš who finished with ten men.
So a few factors going in the Croatians favour, but does Koeman seem like a man to mess about?
A man who found himself unhappy after last week’s 2-0 success because of the second half display.
A man with standards.
— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) August 17, 2017
Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring return for the Blues is taking the back pages by storm, but the impact Dominic Calvert-Lewin is having when upfront seems to be going unnoticed.
Long may it continue… a secret weapon.
Everyone emerged unscathed from Monday night’s hard fought 1-1 draw against City, so it’s much the same squad wise.
It’s not looking good for Sandro Ramirez though, pictured recently with a support on his foot…
Let's go team 💪🏻🔵 pic.twitter.com/uOHg4k2adc
— Sandro Ramirez (@sandroramirez9) August 21, 2017
Evertonians will be hoping for a Gylfi Sigurdsson start in this one, time to see what he’s all about.
An early away goal or two may dispel any jitters but the thought of Everton sitting back and protecting their lead will be in the back of the mind. We all know how well that’s gone in the past… Dynamo Kyiv.
So a nice and easy professional victory to knock these crowd troubling mad men out the competition is what we need, but is it ever really that simple?
Up the Toffees.