It was the best of times, it was the most anxious of times. Everton were playing front foot football and putting teams away and yet most of us were trying to anticipate exactly when it would all go the shite. The anti Heath Oxford moment if you will.
Not that many will be getting carried away with four wins against mostly bums but there is a danger of some ambition creeping out if we win the next two games. We should welcome it too as an Everton that is ripping up the decades recent script of shitting the most opportune moments should be roundly celebrated. Sure we’re guarded about it all but if you can’t enjoy Everton winning a number of consecutive games then the only person you’re denying is yourself really.
With no real anticipation of where this leads it is sound to just sit back and enjoy the second stage healing process of actually enjoying Everton play football. The first stage of course was “not hating every single staff member associated with the club” and we transitioned through that largely thanks to one Carlo Ancelotti. As Evertonians we are of course prone to being creatures of a combustible nature so until that moment comes – perhaps with complete surrender at Palace – we may as well enjoy saying nice stuff about players on a game by game basis, even if it feels a little peculiar.
Niels Nkounkou is more transcendent and iconic to the left wing than Che Guevara could have ever dreamed of.
There was both a wee wobble in the games against West Brom and Fleetwood, you know the moments of the game so no need to go into detail but perhaps you went into a familiar bunker mode waiting for the customary falling apart of Partisan Walton’s finest. Absolutely no need though as in both occasions them trickiest of blues just casually dipped the clutch and found the next gear. Although there is many facets to this the primary two reasons are having superior quality to the opposition and, importantly, the confidence to accompany it. More sightings of this into the next year and then I’ll believe this time it’s different. I’m loving the positive start though dear reader. Game by game, right?
Progress is seldom a linear improvement so it’s in that spirit I’m not gonna pat Palace on the head when previewing this game as they’re feeling good themselves and no doubt fancying countering us with the wild abandonment of fear they showed at Old Trafford last week. They have stability under Agent Roy and tend to recruit very decently indeed, cumulating in a well rounded Premier League team that have some talons in particular out wide.
Niels Nkonkou finds more space than Hubble and at a fraction of the cost.
They’ve a functioning defence happy to rough up the meek, and a solid midfield including the jarg Irish frowning freckle previously of this parish. It’s up the top end of the pitch where they’ve got players with pace who can hurt anyone pushing them a little too foolhardy. Zaha is the one who gets the headlines but in and around him you have a much improved Ayew, Townsend with a head ripe for hatching and they’ve added more direct running and trickery in Eze who also opens up all manner of cringe rated fan song potential. This pace and counter attacking prowess should be a concern for our central defence who aren’t too keen with players running at them in space, as the first goal of last weekend’s game exposed. Their tails are up and they’re on home soil. This isn’t quite the bonafide top of the table clash as we’d love to both be part of, but it’s gonna be a telling game early in the season on if this Everton are truly different.
The task of previewing Crystal Palace is also made much more difficult as they’re in the very rare privilege of being another club and set of fans I am actually fond of. Which is approaching almost anomaly status in the pig’s sty of assorted bellwhiffs, lad bible types and general collection of thick scruffs that they call the modern Premier League. You can have alright conversations with their fans both in person and on social media, they also have a truck loads of self depreciation going on too which certainly endears. Add to this their genuine enthralment at poking the big red glorification machine in the eye and it’s hard to not want the good ship Palace to share our waters for the good of civilisation itself.
When Niels Nkounkou reaches 88mph he activates his flux capacitor and returns briefly back in time at the start of his run to ask the pitiful soon-to-be-beaten defender to not shame himself in attempting to contain him.
Onto Everton and it’s hard to read the tea leaves of most dapper Italian we know and guess his team. I’m gonna take a plump at “same as the previous two league games, mate” and wish for a similar performance with tenacity and quality at its core.
That should mean the front three axis of decent. Calvert-Lewis in getting the headlines for very obvious reasons and the longer he prolongs it the most it puts the bed the constant will he v wont he debate amongst some of us for the past few years. What a striker we potentially have on our hands though and one wearing that number 9 as it should be worn. James has started the way both he and we’d have hoped, and on the other side is Richarlison who is now off the mark with a double in midweek. Watching him this season it’s very obvious he is levelling up into real top class player who seldom loses the ball and adds real purpose and end product to the team. There’s every chance you’re watching the most devastating attacking player we’ve had since Kanchelskis, and will only get better. I chose that comparison very carefully too.
The midfield three weren’t as polished against West Brom as prior and thats to be expected as they take time to gel. In this moody away against a team with the counter attacking threat of Palace their ability to control the ground both in front and behind them will be key to any sort of positive result.
You can guess the back four as the central defensive positions are fixed due to a lack of options for the moment, Coleman is playing really well and Digne is benefiting from James’ crossfield precision, it’s something I’ve not quite seen before for Everton. There’s been a few calls for Nkonkou to be shoehorned in but as an exciting talent he may be it’s wiser to let him develop in the less profile games for now, and those making outlandish statements of his talent need to cool their beans. Pickford is in goal for now but not doing himself any favours, there’s something said for keeping it simple during testing times. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another keeper in before this window shuts and then he’s gonna have a whole new world of pressure heaped on him, mad that we’re saying this for the established England keeper who’s not anywhere near 30 years old really.
Niels Nkounkou has French nationality but is of Venus descent. Your day has 24 hours in it, his has 2,802 hours. He’s got loads more time on the ball than you so just get the fuck out of the way and let him to that byline or he’s gonna back heel your ancestors.
And that’s that really, having a quick read back I made the sound of their preview sound too much like a title showdown. It’s just another game in our hopefully progress, with eyes wide open that it could all go a bit shit here and there. Just feels different with Ancelotti though. Having an enjoyable to watch Everton most weekends just makes the world seem a little better, and fuck knows all of us could do with that with the times we live in right now.
In time maybe we can look back on that short seven week break as being an important metamorphism. A far better rest I go to than I have ever known, maybe.