A point in the end turned out to be a good result. It was very much a game of two halves and whilst we might have been dead and buried by the interval, the corpse of our performance spluttered back to life to give Everton a similar hiding.
With Arsenal losing in such diabolical fashion, you’ve got to say it really is a good weekend overall.
There were downsides, of course. Hugo Lloris’ injury is not good news although a bright spot was Michel Worm’s performance. Assured, the Dutch goalkeeper kept Everton at bay with several key saves. Reports of a move to Glasgow Celtic are disturbing in this form, not so when he drops a ricket as he is inclined to do.
Lloris gave cause for concern with Barkley’s goal. I’m of the view he should have done something rather than the nothing he did. Coming for the ball was risky; there were some big old units in front of him and most likely, he would have been clattered. Goalkeepers worried about the risks in those situations almost always end up hurt.
If he wasn’t coming for the ball, diving in anticipation was surely the answer? Apparently not; standing there, watching helplessly as the ball crossed the line for the opening goal seems to be the order of the day.
The first half was a mix between a hangover from last season and a typically uninspiring opening day performance. After the match, Poch admitted he had “laid into” the squad during the interval. It wasn’t a team he recognised, he went on to say.
They had the desired effect. From the whistle, there was more energy all over the pitch, particularly noticeable with the full backs getting forward more often. The passing was crisper and neater as well, culminating in Lamela’s equaliser.
Starting on the left, the ball was worked across the pitch to the right and then delivered for the Argentinean’s finely timed run. We might have been better off were it not for some fine saves by Everton’s debutant goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenburg.
Overall, we can’t complain about the result. There are areas to be worked on and from Poch’s words after the match, he is well aware of them and not likely to settle for a rerun of the lacklustre first half. Talk this week of a bid for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Adrien Silva is indicative that the manager has identified the weaknesses in the squad.
It’s also indicative of who is leaving. Bentaleb is still linked with Lazio although the Daily Mail reported earlier today that Benfica are interested.
There are plenty of changes still to come this transfer window and whilst we haven’t been the most active club, the biggest issues facing us were the mental strength missing last season when it mattered. That is a solution which can only be found from within the club. It might help with new faces but it’s up to the players themselves to master their own minds.
Saturday’s second half suggests an important step has been taken.