Wow what a game! It certainly didn’t take long to get familiar with all the highs and lows of football again after a highly entertaining clash with Everton yesterday. I would have taken a point pre-match against this Everton side who finished 5th last season, in addition to us missing several key players through injury.
It was a very nervy start as you’d expect from a newly promoted side, with a very high tempo game played by Martinez’s Everton. Nonetheless there was a lot of promising play by the Foxes when we did win the ball back. After we began to move it out to the flanks, the two wingers Mahrez and Knockaert began to show the Premier League their magic which they did so often last season in the Championship.
There was also plenty of encouraging signs from our defensive partnership Morgan and Moore who were both outstanding throughout the match, keeping the world class Lukaku out of the game. Unfortunately despite looking reasonably comfortable, it was Everton who struck first on 22 minutes when a corner was defended well but found it’s way out to an unmarked McGeady as we’d brought all our players back to defend the box, leaving us exposed when the corner was cleared. This defending was changed later in the game but it felt poor to concede in that manner.
While that was disheartening, it didn’t take long for our spirits to rise again when two minutes later, debutant Ulloa took his chance to fire home when the ball reached him during a messy scramble in the box. I was very impressed with this instinctive poacher’s goal and I was starting to see why Brighton fans rated him so highly!
A few minutes after our equaliser, Danny Drinkwater the fan’s player of season last year, picked up a reported hamstring injury (and luckily doesn’t sound too serious) and was replaced on 39 minutes by Dean Hammond who has never really stood out when I’ve seen him play. Well today of all days, he actually did! He and Andy King put together a real shift in the centre of the park, incepting balls and distributing very effectively which was pleasing to see when it was James and Drinky who were the first choice duo last season.
Right before half time it was Everton who struck again, with Naismith finishing a lovely move by the Toffees. It couldn’t have come at a worse time but we kept our heads up and kept challenging for an equaliser throughout the second half, gradually seeing more possession.
Schlupp was brought on with about 30 minutes left in the game for Knockaert who was a doubt before the game and looked to have been tiring. The Ghanaian international was immediately in action after utilizing his great pace to get on the end of a pass and unfortunately firing high wildly which I’m sure you’ve already seen on Match of the Day! It was his first involvement but I can see why Pearson has been changing his game from striker to left-back!
Everton were beginning to look like they were going to be taking home all three points by dealing with the increasing pressure on them with ease. However in the 86th minute, substitute Chris Wood who has been linked with a move away to Wolves recently, was calm and composed enough to slot past Tim Howard when the ball kindly fell to him after a good bit of skill from Mahrez.
It was how the game ended despite a lot of promising attacks from both sides right up to the final whistle. I was delighted with the result and how we played, with Morgan and King sharing man of the match for me. It was also great to see Ulloa quickly settle in with that debut goal as it can be a struggle to justify a pricey transfer fee, as well as Wood scoring as I think he’s still a good player to have around.
The only real areas of concern were the full-back positions. The Everton winger’s had the better of Konchesky and De Laet too many times which was a worry for me. I think the result would have been a lot more negative if the centre-backs didn’t have the game of their lives! Aside from that I’m absolutely delighted, and we only need 11 more points to beat Derby’s total in their shocking 07/08 season!
Roll on Chelsea…