Mar 122015

Can Everton keep shaking off their league form in Europe?

It’s been just about the only comfort for Everton FC fans of late. However bad things get in the Premier League, supporters know that it will be different when the lights come on and the Europa League theme tune starts to play.

Everton’s performances in Europe have been so far removed from their domestic showings, it is tempting to wonder whether Roberto Martinez might be tempted to ask his league opponents to wear Wolfsburg kits, or to check if the Premier League would let them play with the official Europa League ball.

How long, though, can they keep up this double life? Several players, and Martinez, have spoken of the need to transfer their European form to the domestic stage, but what if the opposite happens?

Everton have set the benchmark in Europe in terms of their intensity, hunger and the speed of their attacking play. They cannot let the bad habits of the Premier League creep in now.

Has Tim Howard’s time run out?

At first glance, the American was blameless at Stoke City. After all, who expected Victor Moses to produce a header of such quality? And what can you do when you’re left exposed in a one-on-one?

Well, you could save it, I suppose. And while this may sound harsh against Howard, it is not ridiculous to suggest the goalkeeper might have done better with both of Stoke’s goals at the Britannia.

Jamie Carragher – again – highlighted his tendency to ‘bounce’ on his line, slowing his reaction time for efforts like Moses’ header. The sight of him diving the wrong way when faced with Marko Arnautovic, and then flicking a despairing hand as the ball whizzed past him, meanwhile, is rather too familiar. Top goalkeepers make it difficult for a forward to beat them in a one-on-one; something Howard has struggled with for a while.

Roberto Martinez is likely to keep faith with his No.1, which is fair enough, but with Joel Robles breathing down his neck, Howard must know he is under pressure. Let’s see how he handles it.

Will Barkley and Mirallas step up?

It was like the good old days in Switzerland last month. Romelu Lukaku wreaking havoc, and Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley roaming free behind them, enjoying themselves.

How rare that sight has been, where those two are concerned. Mirallas and Barkley are, on their day, two of Everton’s most devastating talents, capable of creating and scoring goals, capable of winning any game for their team.

But of late, neither has delivered. Indeed, both are facing serious questions as to whether they justify their places at the moment.

Now would be a good time to show they do. Everton believe they will need a first-leg advantage to take to the Ukraine – Mirallas himself mentioned “two or three-nil” when interviewed earlier this week. It is up to their attacking players to step up to the plate.

Football stories brought to you every minute of every day. For more stories like this subscribe to the RSS feed. If you just want to follow comments and the shoutbox (thats it over in the right hand column) then there is a comments RSS feed too.

Click here to get a special offer on Everton branded football boots.

 Posted by at 4:55 am

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>