McCarthy conspicuous by his absence
Sunday’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane left Everton manager Roberto Martinez with much to ponder, not for the first time this season, ahead of the upcoming fixture packed Christmas schedule.
One of the more glaring issues for the Spaniard to address is that of formulating a game plan for when the effervescent James McCarthy is missing from the Blues’ starting lineup.
The Republic of Ireland international’s second hamstring injury of the season ensured that the midfielder sat out of the trip to North London, and his absence was notable due to the manner in which Mauricio Pochettino’s side carved through the Toffees’ midfield at will during periods of the encounter.
Noted for his tireless, all action performances, McCarthy would have been the ideal inclusion to Everton’s starting eleven against a Spurs outfit that intensely pressed Martinez’s men when the Blues were in possession of the ball, and the 24 year old’s pace, tackling and stamina would have been put to excellent use when the Lilywhites counter attacked with purpose, especially with the Toffees chasing the game in the second half, and in his superb covering role when the marauding Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman joined in Everton’s attacks.
True, there is little that McCarthy potentially could have done to prevent either of Tottenham’s goals, with the blame resting upon the shoulders of Tim Howard and Gareth Barry for the mistakes that led to Christian Eriksen’s and Roberto Soldado’s goals respectively.
Adddtionally, Barry himself was making his first appearance in the Royal Blue shirt after three weeks out with an ankle injury and would, therefore, not have been firing on all of the proverbial cylinders going into this clash, whilst Muhamed Besic is still adapting to the frenetic nature of the Premier League, despite showing signs of potential quality since his summer move from Ferencvaros.
Martinez can ill afford to lose McCarthy to his hamstring strain for much of the Christmas period, however, with a run of eight matches in a month, in which the Spaniard’s entire squad will be needed, peering over the horizon. Any further omissions of the £13m signing from Wigan Athletic and the current Everton boss will have to consider tinkering his tactics and game plan.
That is not to say that McCarthy makes Everton a one man team, but the Toffes are certainly a stronger side with the midfielder present in their starting eleven, and his return sooner rather than later is of paramount importance to the Blues ahead of a testing month.
Blues must tame tigers to keep pace with top half
Wednesday’s match at Goodison Park against Hull City will no doubt be viewed as a must win by Evertonians, especially if the Toffees are to keep pace with the teams above them in the Premier League.
Steve Bruce’s men travel to Merseyside having lost all four of their league matches in the month of November, which has seen the Tigers slump to 17th in the standings, have registered just one win in seven games on the road in the league this season, and glancing over the head to head record between the two sides appears to point to a home victory for the Blues in tomorrow’s clash.
The Blues hold an impressive record over tomorrow’s visitors. In thirteen encounters stretching back to the 1951/52 season, Everton have won eight of the thirteen fixtures played, including five of the last seven, and have only lost once at Goodison Park to the Tigers in their entire history.
Furthermore, Roberto Martinez holds the advantage in contests between himself and Bruce, with the Spaniard coming out on top in four of the seven encounters between clubs managed by the pair, with Bruce managing only a solitary victory over Martinez from this particular head to head.
Naturally, statistics and records count for nothing once tomorrow’s contest has begun, but Martinez and his charges certainly have the upper hand, in all departments, ahead of a match that the Toffees have to win as they bid to erase the weekend defeat to Tottenham Hotspur as soon as possible.