Everton went into their first away match of the season with very little to be cheery about. The disappointing draw against Watford last week and the continued lack of signings meant Everton fans were travelling down to the south coast with very little to shout about. It was also revealed last night that supports group ‘Kenwright Out’ had planned for a plane to be flown over St Mary’s prior to kick off with a ‘Kenwright Out’ banner attached.
The Blues lined up Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway, Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Kone, Barkley, Lukaku.
Martinez to his credit looked like he was trying something different although, not one recognised winger appeared in the starting eleven. As with last week against Watford on paper we looked very narrow with no width.
However after the plane had flew over the stadium it appeared that we were set up in a fluid 4-4-1-1 with Kone and Cleverley occupying the wide positions in midfield with Kone getting forward to support Lukaku at every opportunity. Barkley playing in his preferred No.10 role with McCarthy and Barry shielding the back four.
Southampton started the more positive of the two teams. Getting the ball forwards to Pelle at every opportunity, where the big Italian was causing a few problems to Stones and Jagielka. They had a flurry of corners, which we defended astutely including good blocks from Jagielka and Coleman. Their first real chance fell to the Portuguese Mane who broke onto a lose pass from Coleman to work a chance in the left hand channel and forced Tim Howard into the very good save. Getting down low to stick out his left leg out to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Fortunately for Everton the following corner was over-hit and drifted harmlessly out to the edge of the box where Barkley picked it up. He drove toward the half way line where he played a brilliantly weighted pass into the onrushing Kone’s path. The Ivorian picked up the baton and headed toward the edge of the box where he picked out an unmarked Lukaku to powerfully head the Blues into the lead!
We continued to keep a very good shape, with this new formation really starting to look good, especially on the break. A chance out of nothing was created by Lukaku, who beat his man with some quick feet. He drove towards the box, sucked in Yoshida and fed Barkley who’s first time shot went straight at Stekelenburg. Cleverley then followed up by putting the rebound into the side netting. It was a real chance and one that the travelling blues would hope wouldn’t come back to haunt them.
Thankfully as half time approached the Blues would double their lead. Lukaku winning the ball in the centre circle before releasing it to Barkley who powered forwards towards the Saint’s box, just when fans were calling for him to pull the trigger he played a deft pass towards Lukaku who placed a first time shot into the bottom right hand corner. 2-0 Everton and the away end was bouncing.
Half Time Southampton 0 -2 Everton
The second half began in similar fashion with Southampton on top. The Blues happy to let them have possession and kept them at arms length. Jagielka, Stones, Coleman and Galloway were defensively excellent, all taking turns to frustrate The Saints attackers with good blocks and tackles. They were shielded brilliantly by Cleverley, McCarthy, Barry and Kone. Southampton’s best opportunities fell to Wanyama and Pelle from corners and Tim Howard did brilliantly to turn a Mane shot around the post.
Time was ticking away for the home side and Everton’s game management was superb. Working good corners and they pressed Southampton back into areas they didn’t want to be playing in. Just when you thought the Blues had settled for the 2-0 scoreline Ross Barkley put the icing on the cake. Lukaku involved once again, receiving the ball with his back to goal he turned before slipping a great pass into Coleman’s path. The Irishman looked like he’d lost possession but he steadied his feet before playing the ball out to Barkley. the Waveretree Wizard taking one touch to get the ball out of his feet before firing an unstoppable shot past Stekelenburg. Game set match Everton and thankfully no late scares.
Full Time: Southampton 0 – 3 Everton
It was an excellent away performance. We looked so strong and powerful on the break, with every player putting in a shift and earning us a great away victory. Our attacking players gave us a foothold in the game but it was the defensive unit that kept us ahead. There were so many stand out performers, Jagielka, Stones, Barkley and Lukaku to name but a few.
Man of the Match last week was tough as there were so few good performers but today was the complete opposite. You could’ve given it to any of the players previously mentioned but today I’m going to give it to Lukaku. The big Belgian looked every bit the player we paid £28million for. He looked strong, powerful quick and took his goals brilliantly, as well as being involved in the third. Ross Barkley ran him a close second but Rom just pipped him.
It was a fantastic away win and the fact it has occurred so early in the season will give the players so much confidence. If the manager can work out how to transfer this into home performances then we are in for a great season.
Come on you Blues!