These Two Clubs Look Primed To Switch Positions
The Europa League’s detractors would have had a field day here as last season’s surprise package, now weighed down by European commitments, lost to a team which underachieved in 2014/15 whilst they were competing on the continent.
Premier League football is much more complex than that, of course, but there was a real sense that Everton – despite their meagre summer additions – are set for a revival here, whilst Southampton could be looking at a fall from last year’s highs.
The history of the game would suggest that both are just reverting to the mean, as the status quo of things remains protected, and without significant investment at Southampton perhaps that is always going to be the way of things for them.
Romelu Lukaku Can Be One Of The Very Best When He’s Given Help
Being the Premier League’s top scoring Belgian is like being the lead singer of a particularly cool band, and Romelu Lukaku’s brace has now seen him move clear of Christian Benteke to top that chart.
The fact that Liverpool have just paid £32.5m for Benteke’s ‘meagre’ 42 Premier League goals won’t have been lost on the Everton fans, either, and those that made the long journey for this ludicrously timed early kick-off were rewarded with a barnstorming display from their No. 10, whose two first half goals showcased him at his very best as he made the most of the excellent service provided for him.
Arouna Kone’s great cross following Everton’s fast break led to his first and Ross Barkley’s clever pass created the second, showing that Lukaku can thrive if he’s utilised properly and quickly, and not isolated as he often was last season.
This Year’s Departures Might Hurt Southampton More Than Last Year’s Did
Southampton’s emphatic response to the calls of ‘meltdown’ and thousands of unfunny internet memes last summer was one of the best stories of the last Premier League season, but although they have lost less players this time around they do appear to have lost key ones.
Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin are difficult men to replace, and the uncertainty of Cedric Soares at right-back (and indeed Matt Targett on the left, where Ryan Bertrand was missed) and the players in midfield suggested that they haven’t been upgraded upon.
Oriol Romeu is a good addition in the centre and should play more often than not once he’s up to speed, but in the excellent Schneiderlin he’s got big boots to fill, as Saints are quickly realising.
This Could Be Ross Barkley’s Season
He started it with a stunning goal in the disappointing home draw with Watford, and Ross Barkley’s performance here again indicated that he could be set for the type of season that many were expecting from him last year.
He was excellent, getting as close to Lukaku as possible and frequently pinning Southampton back with his clever runs, augmenting those with his excellently-taken late goal.
The watching Roy Hodgson must have been impressed, because everyone else was.
Dark Green Is So In This Season
We all started off by mocking it but the Everton third kit ended up getting better looking as their performance did.
For some reason deciding that their usual blue clashed with Southampton’s red and white, Roberto Martinez’s men trotted out in this creation which is certainly unique amongst the Premier League, and whilst that almost always isn’t a good thing, if the ‘Blues’ keep playing like this in it then it’ll be flying off the shelves on Merseyside.
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