Every week, the ECHO gets the views of an Everton FC fan to gauge the feeling among supporters of the week that’s been and the week ahead.
This week we chat to Mark Ellis, who writes for Blues site Everton Viral, to get his views on Everton’s win over Burnley, Samuel Eto’o and the big week ahead including Swansea and Lille.
What did you make of the win at Burnley and, in particular, that vintage performance from Samuel Eto’o?
Mark Ellis: I thought the win at Burnley highlighted that we are on our way back to the heights that were scaled last season, still the annoying tendency to drop off and invite opponents onto us but Lukaku’s howler aside I though we looked solid defensively. Alcaraz and Jags seem capable of filling the void left by Stones’ injury. I realise we were playing arguably the worst side in the league but optimism is certainly replacing anxiety about our season now.
Things are starting to gel for us, Baines was back to his best, McCarthy and Barry were superb and with Barkley and Coleman back, we’re looking threatening once more.
What can I say about Eto’o, he was simply world-class, such a joy to see a player of his talent in the blue of Everton. He dictated the play, showed hunger and desire to match his quality and he rolled back the years – as a fan it was dreamlike to be honest, Lets hope he can continue in this vein, Lukaku can’t help but improve with Eto’o providing masterclasses like this one. Awesome.
Do you prefer the 4-3-3 system, or is it something which should only be brought out for certain games?
ME: I think its something that could be used in high-profile games, It helps us get numbers behind the ball but we need pace in the side to play this system when we get the ball back, switching it to a 3-4-3 to help us expose our opponents who have let our forwards drift off. We need Mirallas for this in my opinion.
My personal favorite is the 4-2-3-1 that we used at Burnley yesterday. This allows Martinez philosophy to flourish for me with interchanging and fluidity of movement causing our opponents all kinds of problems. Players like Eto’o can find space and hurt teams, The system also gives Coleman and Baines licence to bomb forward as they are a huge part of our attacking, I think this formation is the way to go for us,
However, for it to work more efficiently, Lukaku or whoever is upfront has to start holding the ball up better – if were not perfect teams can expose our attacking intent at times highlighted by Burnley’s equalizer yesterday.
Are the Blues starting to turn a corner after their jittery start to the season?
ME: No question for me, things are beginning to click. We are looking tighter by the week as a unit, Barry and McCarthy have reached the levels of last season, Alcaraz and Jagielka seem to be developing a good understanding. Coleman and Baines are finally back in tandem to bring back our most potent attacking threat, we’re looking dangerous going forward and to be fair we have all season.
Lukaku hasnt played well all season but goals are now starting to flow and I think that’s an ominous sign for the rest of the league. The signing of Eto’o was a masterstroke and if we can keep him playing like he did yesterday, then there really is no-one to be afraid of.
I expect us to go on an impressive run now and be in contention for fourth as the Christmas period arrives – but we must cut out these ridiculous defensive mistakes.
It’s Swansea next, followed swiftly by Lille. Can we expect lots more rotation from Roberto?
ME: Yes I think we can. Roberto has been prolific with his tinkering lately, although not at the back, He has tended to leave the defence alone – and now the back four are finally developing an understanding, it would be wrong to chop and change us at the back.
Id expect to see the same team for Swansea that we saw at Burnley with the exception of Osman being replaced by Barkley.
Lille at home shouldnt be too difficult given their poor performance over in France. They looked very short on ideas and even shorter on quality – I’d expect to see McGeady, who owes us one for his showing in France, to return for that game with Eto’o upfront, Atsu also coming in with Osman in the middle ahead of McCarthy and Besic, Osman not my choice, just how I think Roberto will go.
Prediction time. Give us a final score for the Swans game and Lille.
ME: Swansea will be tough – it is like playing a Welsh version of us, same philosophy and some great players in Sigurdsson and Bony. I think we will win 2-1 with Lukaku and Baines scoring.
Lille at home. 3-0 Eto’o hat trick. They looked very poor in the first game and our momentum will be in full swing by then – we’ll have far too much for them in my opinion.
Any other business?
ME: Yes, I think we have to be careful with Lukaku. He hasn’t had a great start to the season and to say his first touch needs to be worked on is an understatement but he has one of the worlds most iconic strikers alongside him.
He’s going to improve and there were small signs yesterday, albeit with the aid of a magnifying glass, that Lukaku is starting to pick his game up – horrific error aside. He’s now joint top scorer with Eto’o on four goals and I fully expect our Belgian record signing to hit 20 this season, especially now his ammunition has arrived with Barkley back in the fold.
Gallery: Burnley 1 Everton FC 3