December is a unique time in the football calendar. At no other point during the season is a football fanatic able to gorge themselves on such a veritable smorgasbord of footballing delights. Or if you’re an Evertonian in recent weeks, frights.
Such was the case Monday night, as Everton hosted Watford. Our most recent over-indulgence of toffees has left a sickly sensation in the pit of our stomachs. In typical Everton fashion, it started encouragingly. There was noticeable purchase down both flanks, which were gladly exploited by mesas Walcott and Bernard, with marauding runs from both full-backs complementing them. Once Everton settled into the game, there was some slick interplay between our midfield and attack. Eventually, this led the irrepressible Gomes (to be discussed later) pulling a ball back across the box to which Richarlison dispatched gleefully.
He’s Brazilian… he only…
1-0, and a magical moment for both player and manager, the latter of which had become subject to some frankly lazy yet slightly amusing taunts from the travelling away end. Deflate those snakes, lads.
However, this was not to be a comfortable home trouncing, the likes of which we haven’t enjoyed in quite some time. There was a definite sting in the tail of the Hornets, and as the blues entered the tunnel 1-0 up, all in attendance at Goodison realised we had a proper game on our hands.
And so, this was to prove the case. Watford entered the pitch after half-time invigorated, and clearly undeterred by the slightly flattering scoreline. Midway through the second half, two goals followed in quick succession and frustratingly mirrored each other in terms of build-up and execution. A slightly unfortunate first cannoned off the post and onto the unsuspecting Coleman. The second? Yep you guessed it. Rumoured Everton target, and former favourite of Silva, Doucore leapt up athletically in between our defence to dispatch his header.
1-2. And frankly, an accurate representation of events.
In fairness to the blues, they responded positively as we went up the other end and won a penalty. Sigurdsson stepped up and struck a rather tame effort against the long- flailing legs of Ben Foster.
What was to follow in the following 25 minutes was clueless and abject football, reminiscent of the Allardyce days. Gone was the quick, incisive passing of weeks gone by, to be replaced by an over-complicated and slow passing regime. So much so, that Everton resorted to a bit of old-fashioned hoof football, with Tosun and Calvert-Lewin acting as rather stagnant focal points into this under-performing attack.
As the match trudged along and entered it’s dying embers, Michael Keane entered the last chance saloon of centre-forwards, somehow, and improbably, Everton managed to win a free-kick on the edge of the box. I think it’s fair to say, not many in the ground thought Digne would be tasked with taking the match-defining kick. And fair play to him. Gladly he dispatched a perfectly placed free-kick into the top right-hand corner of Foster’s goal, much to his own dismay. Cue pandemonium.
And that was that. A point was the most Everton deserved from the game, and moving forward that is a concern. Two points out of a possible six against Newcastle and Watford is simply not good enough if we are to exceed expectations for the season, especially when considering our upcoming fixtures.
Oh that’s right, I haven’t waxed lyrical about Gomes, have I? Even our midfield maestro failed to reach the impossibly high standards he has set in recent weeks, despite a welcome assist in the first half. Perhaps the knock he suffered mid-way through the second took a bit out of him. Despite this, he was the conductor of all our play. It’s just a shame his cast failed to live up to its billing. Even on his bad days, Gomes seems to have an extra second or two on the ball. The way he can shift the ball from one foot to the other, and seemingly pivot on a sixpence is something to behold.
Dear Marcel, please sign this man permanently.
Regards, all Evertonians.
City up next then. Beware the wounded beast…
Ya never know eh, let’s go there and have a crack as we have in recent away games. Just a slightly different outcome might be nice? Is that too much to wish for this Christmas? Probably. Or do we have to wait till the January sales for a winger and centre-forward to fulfil our footballing desires? Possibly.
All I want for Christmas is Everton. Or maybe a new set of speakers. At least one of those comes with some form of guarantee…
And thus concludes this script of ruminations, and missed opportunities to satisfy the most bitter of blue. Things must improve for this fledgling side, and I am confident they will.