Everton secured a comfortable 3-0 win in their first away game of the season with a confident performance against Southampton in a entertaining game.
Southampton started the game brighter and had a couple of chances to take the lead, the best falling to Graziano Pellè in the 15th minute. Dusan Tadic played in a fantastic cross from out on the right but Pelle couldn’t get his header on target heading it narrowly wide instead thanks to some pressure from Phil Jagielka.
Less than ten minutes later Everton took the lead after a superb and clinical counter-attack from a Southampton corner. Everton raced up-field after clearing the ball from there penalty area, the ball making it’s way to Arouna Kone who played in a lovely cross to the back post finding Romelu Lukaku who firmly headed home into the top corner making it 1-0 to the visitors.
That goal came Everton confidence and they grew into the game from there and they almost made it 2-0 on the half hour mark. Lukaku played the ball along the edge of the Southampton area into space for the unmarked Ross Barkley who shot directly at Maarten Stekelenburg. He should have done better and scored. Tom Cleverley had a chance with the rebound but hit it wide.
But Everton did double their lead just before halftime with Lukaku getting his second of the day. He won the ball on the halfway line before playing the ball to Barkley to launch another Everton counter-attack. Barkley played the ball back to Lukaku with a little pass for the Belgian to run on to who then struck the ball with power to put it past Stekelenburg.
With less than 10 minutes to go Everton made it 3-0. This time it was Barkley getting on the scoresheet. Seamus Coleman set Barkley free who controlled the ball with a nice little touch, cutting in and putting the ball onto his right foot before curling the ball into the top corner from 15 yards. 3-0 and game over.
It was an impressive team performance from Everton but questions will be raised about why they can’t play like that every week? They played with pace and intensity but were solid as well. If they can play like this more often they will cause plenty of teams problems.
Lukaku looked good in this game. He looked confident, determined, like he had a point to prove. He was everywhere and wasn’t afraid to get involved, he was challenging for the ball, trying to hold up the ball – which still looks to be a weak point of his game – and was involved in a lot of the good stuff Everton did up front. If he plays like this every week Everton won’t struggle for goals. It might be the effect of playing up front with another striker in Kone instead of being a lone striker.
Lukaku wasn’t the only Everton player to put in a good performance. John Stones put in an impressive display that showed why Chelsea are so interested in signing him and why Everton are so desperate to keep him.
Barkley too had a good game and showed that he has the potential to become a great talent. What he needs is game time to continue his development.
Southampton didn’t have a poor game, they were just caught out by some very good counter-attacks. Having lost so many players in recent seasons Ronald Koeman might want to look into improving their defence which was exposed on a handful of occasions by Everton. Morgan Schneiderlin did a great job of protecting the back four last season that his impact might be missed.
Up front Pelle and Shane Long didn’t have the best games. Chances were created for them but they weren’t able to capitalise on them. Had they taken one of the chances early in the first half it could have been a different story but it didn’t happen.
There’s still time for both sides to dip into the transfer market to strengthen before the window closes should they wish to.