In times of crisis, it is always good to know you can rely on the charity and goodwill of your neighbours! Yesterday proved this, even though their own misery is far greater than ours, hovering just 3 points above relegation, Everton donated three points to our cause for the Return of Champions’ League football to Anfield next season. When I say ‘donated’, you can substitute ‘handed over without any fight’.
Granted, for the first 60 minutes Everton were marginally the better side and but for a world class double save from a truly world class keeper, they would have equalized before Kuyt’s killer blow that has been missing for so long, a second goal.
Good fortune, also conspicuous by its absence recently, returned yesterday. Two weeks ago, Mascherano’s shot, which was going wide, would have been deflected wide(r) or would have rolled easily into Tim Howard’s hands after the intervention of Yobo. However, Lady Luck decided we have been through enough, and the ball went just beyond Howards reach but crucially inside the far post. Queue: Celebration in the Red half and a look on Mascherano’s face showing exactly how much that goal meant to him. Shame it has been credited as an Everton own goal.
Following our last league win, before yesterday, we failed to capitalize on any momentum gained from the win over Man Who, by losing in our very next outing, away to Arsenal in the League cup. This was followed immediately by our Hallowe’en Horror Show away to Fulham. We must now push on and generate some confidence by winning our next two league games, away to Blackburn and home to Arsenal. I, for one, will sacrifice a win over Fiorentina in the Champions’ League if it means keeping players fresh for our showdown with the Gunners.
For all the talk of crises, and the ludicrous calls for Rafa’s head, with a third of the season gone we are in 5th, just 3 points off ‘high-flying’ (and big spending) Spurs in 3rd place! Our chance of the title may be gone, but there are still 72 points to play for. Even if we took just 50 of these, we would have a total of 73 points, which, to put in perspective, has been enough for a fourth place finish in 9 of the last 10 seasons. In 2 of these years, it would have been enough for 3rd and in a further 2 seasons, 73 points would have brought 2nd place.
One thing we cannot afford to do is fail to win at Ewood Park on Saturday. We need to make it our third consecutive win and hopefully our 3rd successive clean sheet!