I was surprised to see Robbie Keane in the starting line up but apart from that it was as had been predicted in the preview. And guess what, we saw some excellent performances from those Harry had brought in for the game. Bale was great at left midfield, Hutton very good at right back and star man was David Bentley who played well throughout and was winning the crowd over by the end of the game. Our only disappointment was Pavlychencko who proved once and for all that against the best sides he has little to offer in the rough and tough game played in England.
In some respects Pav was painful to watch. The crowd supported him really well and at times it looked like Keane was trying to put it on a plate for him but when it really mattered he failed to commit himself and attack the ball as Crouch or Defoe would have done. As an example in the second half Bale used all of his strength to squeeze past two defenders and put a ball across the six yard line where Pav essentially stood and watched it go by as if rooted to the spot. His anticipation was poor and while he did a few reasonable things he appears to need more room and time than our game is ever going to allow him.
For some reason Everton wore a light purple kit and after two away games in the previous 4 days capitulated once the first goal went in. Near the end of the game our play became expansive and there was a slight concern that our abandonment would threaten our clean sheet but we cane through unscathed. Once more Dawson and Bassong were strong and Wilson and Tommy did better in midfield both making some excellent passes to get the wingers going.
The first goal was the result of an excellent move and was hammered home by Tommy with a powerful volley from just inside the box. The second followed what looked a streaky penalty award which Howard blocked from Keane’s weak shot. A melee took place in the Everton area and Keane eventually lashed home a furious shot to spare his embarrassment. From that point on there were more goals for us but all the crosses we made were either cleared away under pressure or sailed straight over as our aerial power was pretty none existent.
And so to David Bentley. The man who last season could not beat the first man from a dead ball situation. Last night he turned that on its head and put in a rousing display that will put Lennon under pressure if he is not 100% fit on Saturday. And so it should. Having spent nearly £16M to acquire him it was time for him to perform. Last season it looked for a time as if he was trying too hard before giving up completely. Last night reminded us why the majority of fans were delighted when he was signed. I’m delighted for him and having turned it on when it matters I hope he now focuses attention upon himself in the mirror and says “I can do it and I will do it next time I get my chance”.
Harry must be pleased. The result was the one called for after Stoke and all of the players called in put in a great shift. Arsenal is going to be tough but then again it should be. The local derby is never going to be easy irrespective of league position and form going into the game. What we have to do is give a good account of ourselves rather than sitting back and being rolled over. Any of those playing last night showed that they can do what we expect of them this weekend.