David has certainly put the Goodison Park outfit back on track this season and they are deservedly well in contention towards the top of the Premiership. With both sides still smarting from our respective third round cup exits, we each have a point to prove and that desire will add an extra edge today.
I am certainly not looking to offer any excuses about our failure at Southampton because we did not perform or pass the ball as I know we can. The manner of our defeat was obviously difficult to take but we got what we deserved simply because we were so below par.
Quite why we should have experienced such a total failure throughout the team is difficult to fathom but we must give credit to Southampton — and make sure that it does not happen again.
What we now need to do is quickly get that result out of our system. That was our aim this week in training and a good performance and result against Everton today will do a lot for morale.
However, we do know that we are a lot better than that latest Saints performance as we have proved regularly this season. We hit a similar setback here against Middlesbrough in September but our reaction to that defeat was to win our next three matches and that’s the response I want to see from here on.
The ups and downs and contrasts of football were clearly illustrated ahead of our recent game at Newcastle as we headed to St. James’ Park with a six-game unbeaten run behind us. It is always difficult up there but victory would have lifted us to fourth in the table with all the confidence that would have brought.
We had just won in good style at Manchester City and then stormed back in our last game here to almost snatch victory against Charlton. So we were in buoyant mood but fell asleep against United on two throw-ins and that cost us dearly.
We dominated for long periods in the first half and also took control towards the end but we went for the wrong option from a number of possible goalscoring positions and that wasted all our good approach work. Still we maintained that positive outlook in our league game at St Mary’s where we dominated and created a whole number of chances but Saints produced the only one that counted.
It was frustrating to concede such a sucker punch in those circumstances of missed chances and I felt the same when we produced such a spirited fightback against Charlton that I was left with mixed emotions.
Early in the second half I would have taken a point had it been offered but by the end our spirit and sheer will to win deserved all three. But one good thing is that we are creating a lot of chances.
That’s the character we need to rediscover today — and this time we have to do it from the kick-off.
In closing, that game also saw the unfortunate Christian Ziege end up in hospital with a serious leg injury that gave us all a good deal of worry. Thankfully he is now on the mend and we all wish him well on the road to recovery.
Once again, get behind the lads and make your support count.
Welcome back to White Hart Lane and all the very best for the New Year. A warm welcome also to manager David Moyes and to all from Everton as both sides look to put aside last week’s disappointment in the FA Cup with a good performance this afternoon.