Leeds United v Everton Preview

Game of two halves ain’t it.

And with a little knee grease and some swashbuckle those tricky tricky toffs sent the south coast scruffs down the long road home with all they deserved. It felt alright too.

Sure it’s this and that but ultimately it’s a weekend shot in the arm isn’t it? Cups? Please, but I’m over dreaming of the marathon finishing line when I can’t enjoy the miles, no, the inches. I’m writing this from a train hurtling through the Lakes – the journey is often better than the arrival. Although the arrival of rain on the window right now reminding me that I forgot to pack a jacket this morning reminds me that some suffering we induce on our own.

Benitez managing Everton in his first game needed a win, especially in front of the highly charged, the unsure and the expectant of Goodison Park. Who knows if the latest manager taking the Moshiri dollar will work out sound. If we’re to go on previous evidence then it’s unlikely but that’s the finish line and right now I’m looking out the window. Give me 3pm Saturday wins and if it manifests itself into anything tangible then I’ll enjoy it as a sequence rather than an entirety. Give me Everton in front of Evertonians, raucous Evertonians snarling at every ball to be won, give me getting the ball forward, give me big Everton number 9s electing to head the ball one yard off the ground, give me top corners, give me blues unable to control themselves on the field, give me enjoying Saturday evenings, give me wanting to catch Match Of The Day, give me missing it anyway for want of one for the road. Give me flicking the vs to scruffs who don’t even notice me as we’ve taken their shot in the arm away from them, this week, and who the fuck were they to look us in the eye thinking it was theirs to take anyway? Give me some better players for better teams also if you can, whoever I’m pleading to for this.

But for now just give us Saturday 3pms @ Goodison Park.

There won’t be any of that this weekend as Everton travel t’Leeds for their first away test of the season. There won’t just be just the formidable Pennines to overcome in our next quest for an alright Saturday evening, there’s gonna be a snarling team in white looking to bounce back from an opening day humiliation to despised rivals, a potent motivation for running even further and faster. Which when you consider their high octane brand of togger means Everton are gonna have to work especially hard to get anything from it. Or just spawn it, I care not which method is preferred like. Marco Bielsa, the mad ace squatting bastard, will be working on his team swarming the Walton weekend club and that particular puzzle is an early marker for Benitez’s ability to overcome through tactical prowess.

You’ve been to Leeds or for sure bumped into someone from Leeds at some point on this gigantic ball of crusted magma hurtling through space with us all hostage on board. These samey previews usually take some form of macabre enjoyment of pointing out the deficiencies of hygiene, fashion and behaviour from those about to stand in front of Everton – and let’s be honest there’s plenty of material to throw at the fine people of metropolitan Yorkshire but, alas, I once again come up the author’s kryptonite: I’m quite fond of them.

Now maybe you’ve been subject to the primitive swarming instinct of their hordes when following their team, or had to share proximity on public transportation for more than two hours with assault on both ears and nose, perhaps you hold others to high standards in their consideration of casual attire, or personal grooming, it’s quite possible you prefer the intellectual quality of those you’re conversing with to better an enchanting but weather beaten tree, your mating habits to be ever so more slightly more nuanced than tongues and borderline pneumatic hip twatting, your idea of pastime not being spitfire or tractor ogling, yet I’m quite sure these can all be overlooked for their sincerity and staunchness. This is what people from Leeds offer as good as anyone. There is no layers, no deception, no ambiguity, they either want to sex attack you or crush a pint glass into your face. The closest thing you’ll get to binary relationships this cold, wet side of the Atlantic. Which is alright really.

Now I’m not calling them a land that time forgot or natural extras from Jurassic Park 4, nor am I saying that if an unfortunate meteorite was to wipe them out that their presence in your life could be replaced adequately by manky yet obedient beaver, no what I’m saying is that I don’t mind having them in the Premier League as they are a part of what English football is all about and occasionally, just occasionally, I like to live life on the edge and twat hips or block pint glasses. Think of it like high stakes roulette but with just two numbers on the table. But the zero is what makes the casino really win? OK then that can be Amokachi smashing it in from close range, and the joy that still gives me when recalling.

My biggest bone of contention with them is the sheer amount of terrible barnets amongst their playing staff, it’s like the barber from the Commodore Amiga 500’s Mortal Kombat has exclusivity and free creative rights to sheering them weekly. Football saving them all from a career in Love Island, or selfies in sundown at Cafe del Mar, or a fishbowl cocktail in Revolution on a Tuesday night, or inappropriate pestering of anything with collagen in their lips and a UN border on their upper eyelid. In short, get our dogs on and fucking hurt them until St James’ staff are picketing outside.

Onto Everton and last week’s game gave us at least a little insight into how Benny The Tez may line up and play. None of which I am tactically astute to notice but I was fond of Richarlison’s effectiveness and the rebirth of the Frenchman with the go-go gadget limbs in the middle. Indeed Benjamin Tezla, soz, has been talking up a few of them this week and in particular is kean (sic) on getting adequate service and support for DCL up top. Good Golly Gosh that cross from Richarlison was rasping, more of that raunch please

What is apparent is Rafa Cakes, please send help, love of wide players so it was Gray and Townsend in from the start who both showed some merit but if that’s gonna be a primary channel of attack we’re likely to need a little more, better. Is Gbamin ready for inclusion yet? Does Allan have the legs to give us what we need? Is Tom Davies pining for Ancelotti? All questions in the middle that need answering.

It’s at the back though where the questions need answering first if last week’s game was anything to go off, both Keane and Holgate – our sturdy preferred duo of a couple of seasons ago – looked disjointed and nervous. It’s aided somewhat by having Mina and Godfrey to come in, and Branthwaite being mentored along, but those cobwebs should have been blown away in pre season. They may have fluffed their audition. The full backs look short on depth too and it’s best we hope our keeper has matured past the impulses of a cocaine addled trap-door spider.

Of course the above could just be a manifestation of my royal blue anxiety yet I feel compelled to offer the Gods of fate a few tasty projected catastrophe morsels lest they smite us all for getting too confident and relaxed.

It will take more than one Saturday win to change that impulse but there’s me racing ahead into a future, exclusively in my head, where 99.9% of things in it fail to manifest. Yet it irks me. Maybe the Matrix had merit but, if presented to you, would you take the blue pill?

Benitez did. Game by game, remember.

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