Neville Southall was never afraid to speak his mind as a player and his column for the Paddy Power Blog is no different. This week he tells us why Everton are better placed to crack the Premier League’s top four by beating teams like Saturday’s opponents Hull.
If you told an Evertonian at the start of the season that they wouldn’t lose until the seventh game in the Premier League – they’d have had your arm off.
Roberto Martinez will be telling his side it’s time to go on another unbeaten run starting with Hull at Goodison Park – after the 3-1 loss to Man City,
The players shouldn’t need motivating though. All they have to do is look around the stadium and see the fans who support them home and away. That should be all the incentive they need.
I found it hard coming back after the Internationals. Sometimes you were knackered at having to get ‘up’ again for your next league game. Mind you, we didn’t have an International break in those days. The lads like Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines will still be buzzing after qualifying for Brazil with England.
Ross Barkley’s got a great chance of being on the plane too if he can keep up his current form. The lad’s playing with no fear and could give Roy Hodgson a tricky decision to make come the end of the season.
But Barkley going to Brazil could be a double-edged sword for the club. It’s great for the lad but Martinez might be worried. He’ll be thinking:
Shit, what’s he going to be like next season? If he goes to Rio he could be absolutely knackered next season because he’s had no break.
If he performs on the world stage there’s always the danger that another club will try to pinch him. We saw that with Wayne Rooney after the 2004 European Championships and Evertonians won’t want to see that happening again.
The club’s in a better position now than when Rooney left though and one of the ways to stop young players’ heads being turned is to qualify for European football. And from what I’ve seen so far, Romelu Lukaku can help Everton do just that.
I’ve been impressed with the Belgian international (who’s also on the Road to Rio) and Everton’s starting 11 is as good as any other side in the Premier League.
Liverpool are playing okay and they’re joint top of the league! Chelsea are hot and cold. The two Manchester clubs are hot and cold and the only difference between some of these sides and the Toffees are the players they can spring off the bench.
Lukaku has made a massive difference to Everton’s attacking options. He’s probably the only consistent goalscorer we’ve had since Graeme Sharp and Gary Lineker were at the club in the 1980s. Everton drew 14 games last season. We dominated teams away from home but didn’t make them pay. Lukaku can give you that added dimension though and he’s proving a real handful at the moment.
Hull of a game
Steve Bruce’s Hull are one of the teams Everton need to be beating. But the former no-nonsense centre-back won’t allow his side to make it easy.
You don’t end up looking like Steve Bruce if you haven’t put your head in where it hurts. But players like that save you points.
Tom Huddlestone was a great signing and has class and ability. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor is one of the most under-rated stoppers in the Premier League, if you ask me.
The visitors could park the bus to try and stop Lukaku scoring. Martinez will look to use the wide men like Baines, Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas to provide the bustling centre-forward with the sort of service he’ll thrive on.
I can’t see Everton losing. Something would have to go majorly wrong for us to not take all three points at Fortress Goodison on Saturday.
- Betting: Can Everton live up to expectation and beat Hull. See the latest odds here
- Think Neville is on the ball? Check out his previous articles here