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Everton striker Romelu Lukaku's top five goals in brilliant 2015
1 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton frontman hits 31 goals in 44 games in calendar year - and here are his best moments
Romelu Lukaku began the year on the bench - but finished it by playing centre stage.
The Everton striker’s rise from a place on the bench at Hull City on New Year’s Day to the Premier League’s joint-top scorer as we move into 2016, has been remarkable. Lukaku came off the bench at half-time at the KC Stadium and though he could not prevent the Blues from slumping to a 2-0 defeat, the £28m striker would not look back. From the depths of not even being guaranteed his place in the Everton side, Lukaku began to rediscover his form. Having started 2015 with just seven goals, he finished the season with 20, the first Everton player to do so since Yakubu.
The momentum, but crucially so too fitness and confidence, was with Lukaku.
Extra sessions during his summer break and a strong pre-season (bar the hamstring scare he picked up against Dundee) meant the Belgian hit the ground running.
Fifteen goals in the league and three in Everton’s Capital One Cup run have left Lukaku with a hugely impressive tally of 31 goals in 44 games this year.
“He [Lukaku] had a really tough start to the 2014/15 season after the World Cup,” Roberto Martinez said. “He was catching up with his fitness until January but we knew that he was a footballer who could reach those heights. “The reason is that he is someone who can run with the ball and has incredible finishing with both feet. He’s powerful, has got real strength and his back-to-goal play has improved immensely. “In 2015, he gave consistent levels of performance and it’s what we expect to achieve in 2016 as a team. That will be the target.”
Here, we pick our favourite five goals from Lukaku’s year to remember.
v Young Boys (A) February 19.
It was on the artificial pitch that Lukaku started to look like the real deal.
A brilliant Europa League hat-trick was completed by storming run and deft chip over the keeper.
v West Ham (A) May 16
Lukaku reached the 20 goal milestone with a last-gasp winner at Upton Park.
In one of Everton’s best ever performances under Martinez, Lukaku scored twice in a 3-0 win.
His first, a header from Arouna Kone’s cross, was excellent but his second was better.
Another counter-attack saw Ross Barkley thread a pass into the Belgian and without breaking stride he swept a fine finish past Martin Stekelenburg.
v West Ham (A) November 7
Everton trailed as the game approached half-time but, in the blink of an eye, they were level.
From Gerard Deulofeu’s through-ball, Lukaku raced clear, rounded Adrian and slotted into the empty net. It was his seventh goal against the Hammers in as many games.
v Stoke City (H) December 28
Lukaku’s final goal of the year was one of his best.
Taking Tom Cleverley’s raking 30 yard pass on his chest, Lukaku brought the ball down and without breaking stride produced a side-foot finish past Jack Butland.
The comparisons with Didier Drogba, his idol, were obvious.
Lukaku admits being relegated to the bench for games with Newcastle and Hull last season, were a wake-up call and says he needed some tough love from those around him.
“I signed here and when I was not in a good moment, he (agent Mino Raiola) was the one who said the reality. “He said stuff to me that no one would say to me. “Mean things about me like, ‘You play like a woman. You play like a girl who has never played the game sometimes.’
“Then he would take examples of Zlatan and Bergkamp and all those players: ‘Oh, you want to aim for the top? Well you are not playing like a top player.’
Agent Mino Raiola gave Lukaku a pep talk
“He said stuff that really hurt me and I have my pride. He told me at the end of the day it is all about goals. “He said: ‘Goals, goals, goals, goals. If you are a striker, you need to score goals and you need to be professional and do this and that.’
“What I am doing now, it is credit to him also. He picked my brain mentally because I was at a very low place at the time.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was used as an example for Lukaku
“When I am not doing well the phone is ringing and sometimes I don’t want to hear it. But I am 22 now and I have to face the reality. “I had to hear a few things about me in training and what I had to do and from then on it was like unleashing the beast: Go onto the pitch and show us what you can do.” In 2015, Lukaku did just that.

Barry Horne: 11 minutes have cost Everton six league places
1 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
by BarryHorne
Blues could have been fifth at the season's halfway stage
We've reached the halfway point of the Premier League season and I can’t help but think that a mere 11 minutes of football have cost Everton dearly. There was the last 10 minutes against Stoke City when they turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 defeat and the final minute of stoppage time at Bournemouth when it looked like they’d nicked a 3-2 win only to be pegged back again. If Everton had won both those games - which you think they probably should have given the positions they got themselves into - then they’d have been five points better off and fifth in the Premier League table above the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. Those 11 minutes have cost Everton six places and without them the first half of the season would have a much rosier complexion.
Managers often complain about the start to a season that the fixture computer hands them and most of the time their moans and groans are just rubbish. But based on what happened last season, Everton really did have the toughest start to the campaign of any Premier League side having been paired against all of the previous year’s top eight teams and a buoyant newly-promoted side on the opening day to boot. Having come through that period I thought we were well-placed.
The team are now playing a more attractive brand of football but just because you’re an attacking team, the defence does not have to suffer defensively. There has to be an element of team education and coaching for the second half of the season but there’s no reason why we can’t bridge the gap and win the kind of games we’ve been throwing away.
Tottenham are the model for Blues to learn from
Tottenham come to Goodison Park for the first game of 2016 and they’re a model of everything that has prevented Everton from threatening for a top four spot. While Roberto Martinez’s side have conceded 28 goals in 19 Premier League games, Spurs have just 18 goals against them.
That solidity has ensured that they kept getting results even when their star striker Harry Kane wasn’t scoring unlike Everton who have not taken enough advantage of Romelu Lukaku’s hot streak in front of goal. Over the years a solid defence is often where champions are made. Spurs have got a fabulous manager in Mauricio Pochettino and a very underrated goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris who despite being very consistent, hardly seems to get a mention. Because of this I think they’ve got a very good chance of securing a top four spot at the end of the season. The title is probably beyond them but leaders Arsenal are not without their faults. I’m a massive Arsene Wenger fan but every year you wonder why he doesn’t just go out and buy a top class centre-back and holding midfielder he needs.

Royal Blue: Why Tim Howard dilemma may soon be solved
2 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride on why Everton's goalkeeping conundrum may soon
Whether you’re a fan of Tim Howard or not there is something that most Evertonians would surely agree on. When the ball is crossed into Everton’s area at Goodison or a corner is swung into the six yard box, there is a collective feeling of unease. There’s an intake of breath, an uncomfortable shuffling in seats and fingers being crossed. Some may even close their eyes and just hope the danger goes away. On more occasions than we care to remember this season, Everton have shown themselves to have a soft centre. That is not just down to the goalkeeper, far from it. The Blues’ struggles with defending set-pieces are a collective problem, defenders need to get tighter, show more concentration and be nastier in the key moments of matches.
Roberto Martinez is right when he says this is not about blaming one person. But undoubtedly, there have been far too many occasions when Howard has flapped at a cross, failed to clear his lines or hesitated, remained rooted to his line, and watched helplessly as the opposition win a header just yards from his goal. Some fans have had enough of Howard and want him dropped. Other people, however, believe the Blues need to stick with an experienced goalkeeper who has served the club with distinction. Martinez subscribes to the latter mindset and has backed Howard through thick, thin and even thinner moments but he is all to aware of the tide of discontent at the American’s form. The manager’s belief in his No1 is admirable and consistent selection in such a pivotal position is always seen as a positive yet he can feel the current disquiet surrounding Howard. Will Robles start against Spurs as a vital warm-up for semi-final? Howard insists the criticism doesn’t bother him bu
t he is only human after all and his clapping of the Gwaldys Street on Monday afternoon, interpreted by many as sarcastic applause, was a signal that relations are becoming strained.
But dropping the American is not a decision Martinez will take lightly and why, perhaps, he has continued to persist with Howard throughout these tough times. Relegating the 36-year-old to the bench, because on form rather than injury or suspension, would feel more definitive than any ordinary piece of squad rotation given Howard’s age. But maybe circumstance can help take such a tough decision out of the manager’s hands - for the time being at least - and offer the under-fire American some much needed shelter from the ire. Understudy Joel Robles will play against Manchester City on Wednesday night in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup and the Spaniard is also expected to face Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday in the FA Cup. Even if Howard was in the form of his life, Martinez is still likely to have rested him and brought back Robles.
But when a cup tie has been looming, Everton have looked to give Robles a run out in a competitive warm-up game. Before September’s tie with Reading, Robles played for the under-21s against Sunderland, ahead of the game in the next round against Norwich, he’d faced Schalke for the Blues’ second string the week before. Prior to the quarter-final with Middlesbrough, the 25-year-old played for the u-21s against Porto against Goodison and, so, what about the semi-final? Where is his warm-up coming from? Robles hasn’t played in a competitive game since the win at the Riverside, so is it imperative he plays against Spurs tomorrow afternoon? Can Everton afford for Robles to head into the biggest game of the season from a standing start? We await Sunday’s team selection with interest.
Is it time the Blues try a new routine?
Nobody wastes a corner quite like Everton at the moment.
There is nothing that drives Blues fans as mad as the ball going only as far as the first defender.
Everton have improved their delivery from set-pieces of late and have seen Ramiro Funes Mori head home against Bournemouth and Tom Cleverley win the game against Newcastle, from the spoils of Gerard Deulofeu’s dangerous centre. But they have been expectations to the rule this season. Everton’s momentum is killed when they win a corner but fire it straight at the defender situated at the near post. It has been a headache for Blues fans for the past few seasons, and leaves them truly baffled how many times they fail to put a decent ball into the box.
Aaron Lennon prepares to take a corner kick against Chelsea.
So is it time Everton tried to vary things up?
Do they need to be creative and cunning at corners rather than predictably poor? Corners almost feel like just another way of getting the ball pumped back into play for Everton at the moment, much like a throw-in. So why don’t the Blues work on routines and short corners to mix it up?
Bournemouth have shown to great effect this season how they can work and how they can catch the opposition off-guard. Hey, what have Everton got to lose? Not a lot.

Everton transfers: Who are the key targets and who could leave in January window?
A full breakdown of Everton FC's plans for the January 2016 transfer window, including budget, history and top targets
By Chris Bascombe
02 Jan 2016 Telegraph
What's their transfer budget?
Who's in charge of deals?
Roberto Martinez established complete control of transfers when he joined Everton. His board bow to his wishes, but it has been an ongoing process of budget management and without significant sales it’s unlikely Martinez will have much cash in the kitty.
Bill Kenwright - Premier League owners ranked and rated - where do your custodians stand?Bill Kenwright controls the purse-strings at Everton
January transfer history
Everton have a healthy habit of plucking gems from the Championship at this stage of the season. John Stones is a good example. More pertinently, they’ve excelled in the loan market with some astute additions under both Martinez and predecessor David Moyes.
What they need
The forward options would look thin if Romelu Lukaku picked up and injury or needed a break. An emerging young forward as back-up would not go amiss. Broadly speaking, however, Martinez has a well-balanced squad and is more likely to be looking longer-term.
Roberto Martinez will want to prevent John Stones leaving in January
What they'll get
A £500,000 bargain from the lower league who’ll be the subject of a £25 million bid from Chelsea in three years time. Or someone from Tottenham’s reserves who can’t get a game and needs to revive his career. Like others, Martinez is tracking players to sign now and get in the summer.
Key targets
It is more likely to be a month of resisting bids, but a few names have been touted - including Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie and Derby's George Thorne.
Who could leave
Steven Naismith is likely to go, with Norwich long-term pursuers at the £8m mark. Interest in John Stones remains as strong as ever, and Martinez knows Romelu Lukaku’s Champions League ambitions need satisfying. In the highly unlikely attempt bids that could not be refused materialised, the landscape might change. That’s one for the summer.

Everton are at a crossroads - and in danger of being left behind
One of English football's traditional superpowers still have much to commend them under Bill Kenwright but desperately need fresh investment
By Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer
02 Jan 2016 Telegraph
Everton’s Thai beer sponsor Chang has been on their shirts for almost 12 years, the longest running association of that kind in the Premier League, and there is a story that tells you much about the club that when it last came up for renewal around three years ago, there was the potential for a bigger deal elsewhere. The new party was offering more money and they desperately wanted a Premier League shirt deal. Their corporate colour was blue. Although the market trend for shirt deals is that changing brands obtains greater value, Everton decided that they rather liked Chang and the familiarity that had developed with the Thais and did not pursue the alternative offer.
Everton's resources are bare compared to some of their rivals
The story is not told as a slight on Everton, rather to try to get to the heart of a club that finds itself at a crossroads again with the promise of a takeover, or fresh investment, from the Americans John J Moores and Charles Noell. Everton are one of the last major clubs to be British-owned, still a great producer of young talent, still a great trader of talent, crammed into their 124-year-old home built as a consequence of that infamous argument over rent hikes at Anfield in the 1890s.
Somehow, against all the odds, Everton, who face Tottenham at Goodison today, are still in there, still throwing punches. They have arguably the most exciting quartet of young players at any one club - Ross Barkley, John Stones, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu - and yet their position of 11th feels a disappointment. Roberto Martinez is the kind of maverick manager they deserve, appointed on the back of a relegation, but his teams have obvious flaws too.
Romelu Lukaku is a precious asset for Everton
When the Americans’ lawyers go through the books, who knows what they will find. Only United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more league championships than Everton’s nine – the true measure of “big club” status. Yet Everton’s matchday revenue is around £19million, about a fifth of United and around the same as West Ham. Again, there is a caveat: they try to control ticket prices, and their cheapest season ticket is ranked in the top ten best value in the league.
There is unrest among supporters’ groups about the lack of ambition they see in Bill Kenwright, a chairman who owns around 26 per cent of the club and, along with fellow shareholders Robert Earl and John Woods controls more than 70 per cent. Kenwright runs the show, from the details of the sponsorship backdrops at press conferences to the final call on whether the club sold Stones to Chelsea last summer.
In the end, as the Americans surely already know, it comes down to the stadium. Goodison Park might be as germane to English football as thatched cottages are to the notion of England in the minds of American tourists, but it is a ramshackle stately home that has become a burden on the family. The King’s Dock and Kirkby moves have been and gone and all that remains now is the possible redevelopment of Walton Hall Park a mile away from Goodison.
A new stadium is a game-changer: it was so for Manchester City who, legend has it, edged Everton in the mind of Sheikh Mansour by virtue of their new millennial Commonwealth Games home. So too at West Ham, where the Olympic Stadium will change their horizons forever. Today’s visitors Spurs have commenced building a new White Hart Lane. Liverpool are building a new main stand. Crystal Palace will too. Meanwhile at Goodison, the restricted view seats are notorious which means that the ground does not always officially sell-out. The volume of premium executive boxes are a fraction of what other clubs offer. By a quirk of history in the surrounding streets, Goodison has the full set of immoveable neighbours at its northern, eastern and southern boundaries: graveyard, church, primary school and one of Liverpool’s most famous parks.
A hemmed-in Goodison Park (GOOGLE MAPS)
To the west, there has been no strategy at Everton of buying up houses on Goodison Road and further beyond that might one day be bulldozed to allow for the stand to breathe outwards. It was a controversial move at Anfield where Liverpool’s purchase policy left houses empty until eventually the club got the space to expand. Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone drew a sharp response from Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson in November when the former suggested the city council could have done more. The council’s view is that it can help find stadium sites for Everton but it can hardly justify building a new ground when funding cuts point to a very bleak outlook in a city that relies heavily on central government money. Of course, there is much to commend Everton’s approach thus far, under Kenwright. The Glazers might gasp in horror at the Chang story but who would have the Glazers as the arbiters for our strange times? Those who know Kenwright say he has a humanity which means
he does not sweat the asset at every opportunity. And, along with Spurs and Southampton, Everton have nurtured some of the most important young players in the current England team. In the recent years of Everton’s relative stability under David Moyes and then Martinez, Kenwright has been adept at outmanoeuvring bigger, wealthier rivals on transfer deals while the club itself has continued to be an astute spotter and developer of talent. But these are just passing skirmishes against the backdrop of the real struggle with which Kenwright has not got to grips: the requirement to finance a bigger stadium that shores up the long-term future of the club.
As ever in football the tendency is to see things in the starkest terms and thus Kenwright is the villain for many, although the suspicion is that history will treat him much more kindly. Especially if those to whom he eventually cedes power can deliver Everton into a new home that respects the club’s history and does not negate many of the old assets that has carried it thus far. That must be why he is so cautious about finding those with the right stuff for the challenge.

Everton v Tottenham pick your team: ECHO writers make their decision on Sunday showdon
2 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Does Howard start? What about Kone? YOU tell us what you think should happen
Ian Doyle
With Tom Cleverley and James McCarthy unlikely to feature, it means Everton will probably need to make a change in central midfield. Step forward, then, Mo Besic, who can add some energy alongside the veteran Gareth Barry. Otherwise, Arouna Kone wasn't overly great against Stoke and should make way for the lesser-spotted Kevin Mirallas, while Leighton Baines should give more experience to the back four instead of Brendan Galloway.
My team (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines; Barry, Besic; Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas; Lukaku.
Kristian Walsh
Something clearly needs to change for Everton after such a disappointing run, so I'm starting with the goalkeeper. It's time to give Robles a go - especially given he's guaranteed two starts in the cup next week. Martinez spoke of a lack of experience in defence, so Baines comes in for Galloway to rectify that. Kristian Walsh doesn't want to see either of these players in the Everton starting line-up against Tottenham Assuming both Cleverley and McCarthy won't make it, then the Blues should go with Barry and Osman. Spurs have a lot of qualities but their midfield isn't the most dynamic, so the two veterans can control play from the middle.
Lukaku starts, of course, with Mirallas getting a chance on the left, Barkley behind and Deulofeu on the right.
My team (4-2-3-1): Robles, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines, Osman, Barry, Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku.
Chris Beesley
The injuries to James McCarthy and substitute Tom Cleverley against Stoke City have hit Roberto Martinez's midfield options. I'd restore Leighton Baines at left-back and bring in Muhamed Besic for the visit of one of the Blues' toughest opponents as they aim to avoid a third successive home defeat.
My team (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Baines, Stones, Funes Mori; Besic, Barry, Deulofeu, Barkley, Kone; Lukaku.

Everton complete Matty Foulds deal as Ryan Ledson extends Cambridge loan
2 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Deal done for 17-year-old after transfer window opens
Matty Foulds in action for Everton under-18s earlier this season
Everton have completed the signing of Bury defender Matty Foulds for an undisclosed fee.
The Blues agreed a deal for the 17-year-old back in November, but have had to wait to conclude the transfer until the transfer window opened. Foulds, a left-footed centre-back who can also operate at full-back, has made trial appearances for both Everton’s under-18 and U21 sides in recent weeks.
The teenager signed his first professional contract at Gigg Lane in February 2015 and made his debut in their Capital One Cup clash with Leicester City in August last year. Meanwhile, Everton midfielder Ryan Ledson has extended his loan with League Two side Cambridge United by a further month.Ledson will now stay with the League Two side until February 4, having impressed since joining Shaun Derry’s side in November. He has made nine appearances for the Us, the latest of which came in the 4-1 home defeat to AFC Wimledon on Saturday.

Roberto Martinez insists Everton are still developing despite no improvement in league position
2 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues boss assesses his side as they remain stuck in 11th at season's halfway point
Roberto Martinez believes his Everton team are still developing despite their lowly Premier League position which currently shows no improvement on last season. In May, Everton suffered their first bottom half finish in the Premier League for nine years when they finished 11. Given the talent at Roberto Martinez's disposal and the fact that they came fifth the year before with a club record-breaking points total, it was seen as a major disappointment. It was hoped that this season would see a big improvement but at the halfway stage of the campaign, the Blues remain in the same place they were in seven months ago. Martinez said: “I think what is important to look at that league table now is we have played everyone once and there is no unknown teams and we all know where we sit compared to everyone else. “The same way I think we have been exceptional with what we have done on the ball and how well we have played between the boxes, we dropped two points in the last kick against Bournemouth when we should have won while before we allowed Bournemouth back into the game in the 86th minute, the performance in the first half at Norwich should have been easily the most dominant away from home so you are talking about four points [dropped] there and against Stoke, I am not even thinking about keeping the lead, I am just thinking about the draw so you are talking about five points. Against Crystal Palace we hit the woodwork three times and we concede from a corner.”
Stoke City's Marko Arnautovic (centre) celebrates scoring their fourth goal of the game in front of the Stoke City fans, during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool He added: “Momentum and luck plays a big part when you have to work for every single aspect but five points now would put you in fifth position. “I just feel that with the young players getting more experience in the first half of the season, we are a stronger team now than at the beginning of the season, having experienced players like Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines ready to come back, we are in a strong, strong position so it is making sure we are aware that we need to be better defensively, there are no two ways about it, we need to become better as a team and individually but in the same way we all know the potential we have as a team and we showed signs as a young team that cost us points but in the same way we will never look away from the opportunity we have with this team to be something special in the history of Everton.”

Everton's Leighton Baines is as good as ever and the stats prove it says Roberto Martinez
2 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Injuries have not hampered left-back insists Blues boss
Roberto Martinez speaks to Leighton Baines.
New Year is usually a time for making resolutions and looking to the future but Roberto Martinez is counting on one of his old favourites to provide impetus for his Everton side in 2016 in the shape of Leighton Baines. After missing most of the first half of the season through injury, the 31-year-old is now back to full fitness and according to his manager he's as good as ever. Retaining Baines' services at the Blues was one of the major issues over Martinez's first summer at Goodison when many observers believed the left-back would follow former manager David Moyes to Manchester United. However, after winning that battle with the Kirkby-born player staying put and signing a new long-term contract, 2015 proved to be a year of injury woes. Baines required two operations on his ankle, going under the knife in May before making his comeback in pre-season only to suffer a further blow. Despite the prolonged period on the sidelines and understudy Brendan Galloway's impressive displays in the meantime, Martinez insists that a fit-again Baines has lost none of his powers. When asked whether he's as good as before, the Catalan said: “Yes. I'm looking at his physical stats and he hasn't dropped one per cent. “Everything is back to where it was and if anything he should be refreshed. Sometimes you need to be out of the game to fully appreciate playing. Leighton has had that and he has seen the team develop. “An incredible evolution of young players, and Leighton's experience and influence is going to be very important in the coming period.”
England expects
It's not just at club level with Galloway where Baines faces competition for his shirt though.
With the European Championship finals coming up with England this summer, he'll be determined to regain his place in the national side. Roy Hodgson's first choice before his injury, the left-back slot has been divided between Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw during his absence.
Martinez said: “Absolutely, no doubt whatsoever he'll be ok for England this summer. His performance against Newcastle was the best he has had. “The injury was a massive setback, and when you have been playing regularly for so long such a lengthy lay-off can be hard to deal with. (L-R) England's Wayne Rooney, Phil Jagielka, Adam Lallana, Leighton Baines, James Milner and Jack Wilshere during a training session at St George's Park, Burton Upon Trent.
“It takes a bit of time, but at Newcastle we saw Leighton back to his best.
“We have to protect him, I did not think it would have been wise to give him two games in three days, but I have no worries whatsoever that Leighton will be fine over the next five months. “He has already reached the level that he had before the injury, he just needs a little more playing time to add to his sharpness and get back to his very best.”
New Year Sales
Now in the veteran stage of his career, the clock is ticking for Baines and the likes of other long-serving club stalwarts such as captain Phil Jagielka, Tim Howard and Leon Osman if they're to secure their Goodison respective legacies by winning a trophy. At the other end of the scale, young talents such as John Stones and Romelu Lukaku are in high-demand but while the riches of the new Premier League television rights deal might make it appear that clubs like Everton don't have to sell their best players any more, Martinez explains his decisions are guided by other factors. He said: “I think it is very easy to answer. As a manager and a football club, you need to have a bit of a strategy and you need to be pre-planning how you improve the squad from window to window and as a football club we are run in the way that we don’t have to balance the books at the end of every window so the answer is that every decision that is going to be made is going to be a football decision. “That doesn’t mean we will never sell a player and in the same way it doesn’t mean we will sell every player. We are going to make decisions that benefit our squad and our strategy and what Everton needs. That hasn’t changed in the last three seasons. “You have to have a bit of a plan. You have to understand what players we have got, what young players are being given opportunities and you need to clear those paths. “The answer is we are going to carry on making football decisions to become better from window to window.”
Martinez added: “It’s very easy for us to speak in a room or an office, you make the decisions on the pitch. “You don’t make them, you assess them. You allow football to make the decision for you so the decision we made that this season is that we are not going to lose anyone in August or January.
“We are right in the middle of that process and now we have got the most important month of the season because it’s a pivotal month for us in order for us to face he League Cup, the FA Cup and very important games in the league in order to get into the second-half of the season with an important momentum. “So the decisions will be made on the pitch rather than in an office and the next five months will be vital for Everton and every Evertonian knows we will always make football decisions. We will never make decisions against what we are trying to build.”
Now or never?
Given these factors and with the Blues most valuable assets being closely watched, Martinez is asked whether it is crucial to achieve something in the next five months while he still has this group of players.
He said: “Yes absolutely. We are Everton and as manager I take responsibility, we have to be a winning team. “I know that we haven’t won a title for a long, long time but it is in our DNA we should be winning titles and we should be achieving to win games, not just to compete in games or hope for a win and try to keep a clean sheet in order to score a goal. “Everton brings a certain responsibility and that’s what I am looking forward to in the next five months. I think we have the players with the character to cope with that, the players with the talent to play that type of football. We are not there yet otherwise we would be top of the league but that’s the way we are going in the next five months.”

Ian Snodin: Cup win can be key to Everton keeping Romelu Lukaku
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
by IanSnodin
Lifting silverware could convince striker to remain at Goodison
Everton take on Stoke City at Goodison Park in the Barclays Premier league. Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring Everton's second goal Romelu Lukaku's record for Everton throughout 2015 was absolutely fantastic and the best way of ensuring he’s still at Goodison come the end of 2016 is by lifting some silverware. Everton is a great club for Rom. Hopefully we can win something quickly with him because that turns players heads when you’re successful, winning trophies and in Europe. Rom’s had a great grounding here and it’s a fantastic club for him to play for. Of course there are a lot of European clubs eyeing him up now but my advice to Romelu Lukaku would be to stay at Everton, certainly for the next couple of years. He’s got John Stones and Ross Barkley beside him plus Gerard Deulofeu so hopefully we can go on and win something, certainly if he keeps scoring goals like he has been doing.
He’ll be on the radar of many top teams but let’s hope Rom can do it with us.
Rom still gets a little bit of criticism over his hold up play and his control but this boy has scored 31 goals in a calendar year which is phenomenal. He’s strong and he’s upsetting defenders but I still don’t think that Rom is the finished article yet. Rom is still only 22 but when he gets there he’ll be some player.
He’s got everything in his locker to be a world-class footballer. Even with him scoring regularly and looking a handful there’s improvement in him and he’ll keep learning. We’ve got players to win us games like big Rom who can’t stop scoring at the minute, Geri who can create things and Ross Barkley as well. There’s enough attacking play to win games but we’ve got to be a bit more astute to tighten things up when we need to as we’re conceding too many goals. Sometimes you’ve got to give the opposition credit but I’m sure the players and the manager will agree we could be defending a lot better.
I’m not saying we’re not a talkative team but there’s nobody really out there pointing the finger and telling everyone where to go when Phil Jagielka isn’t in the side.
Taking a lead back to City crucial for Blues
I think the atmosphere will be great on Wednesday night for the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City. It’s a massive game and one I’m looking forward to as is everyone including the players, fans and staff. I think we do need an advantage. While a draw isn’t out of the question when you sit down and look at it I think everyone would feel we probably need to take a lead to Manchester City for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
City are a good side with talented players but we’ve seen recently that they are vulnerable and we have the capability of beating them. I thought they played really well at Goodison in the league game earlier this season, particularly in the second half, but they’re not playing great at the moment.
They’ve been missing Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero is only just coming back so there are flaws for all the money they’ve spent. They’re not running away with the title like we’d have thought they would have done so I think there’s a great opportunity for us. There’s no reason why we can’t score against them at Goodison and I’m sure the fans will play a massive part and will hopefully roar the boys on to a first leg victory and let’s see what we can do at the Etihad.
Martinez has the opinion on Howard that matters
I feel sorry for Tim Howard, I really do. I know he’s under pressure and he got applauded by the crowd when he caught the ball in the first half against Stoke.
People blamed him for the third goal with the cross that came in but I don’t at all.
I think the cross should have been stopped in the first place. He’s been a fantastic keeper for Everton and for 10 years he’s given us great service.
I’m sure in his eyes he’s still number one.
The manager has stated on numerous occasions that Tim remains his number one choice and that’s what he gets paid for to make those tough decisions. I know the crowd have a lot of influence but you’ve got to be a strong manager and make your own decisions. There’s 40,000 ‘managers’ out there on a match day all with their own opinions but the one that matters is Roberto Martinez’s.
Joel will be thinking ‘am I going to get my chance?’ so it’s a tough one to call.
We’ve got a big run of important games coming up. I’d imagine Roberto will put Joel in for the cup games but you never know from there.
Stones and Funes Mori will have to keep a grip on Kane
We don’t want to lose three consecutive home games so it’s important that we bounce back against Tottenham. Like Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane had a brilliant 2015 and I’m sure he’s come on much quicker than Tottenham thought he would do. It will be hard for Ramiro Funes Mori and John Stones to keep a grip on him but after conceding seven goals in the last two home games I’m sure the team will have been working on the defensive side of things in training all this week to try and put that right.

Ian Doyle: Everton selling Steven Naismith doesn't make any sense this month
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
Sports writer Ian Doyle
by IanDoyle
Blues should keep hold of big-game player if they can for the time being... and Roberto Martinez will beware an FA Cup shock
do, Tom?'

Have you heard the one about the striker who scored a hat-trick against the Premier League champions then practically disappeared? Welcome to the world of Steven Naismith. It was, of course, somewhat appropriate the Scot's treble against Chelsea came after being brought on as substitute. Naismith has struggled to make an impact under Roberto Martinez this season. Indeed, ever since arriving at Goodison more than three years ago, he hasn't been a first-team regular. But has he been given enough of a chance this campaign? Sure, he started the next four Premier League games after Chelsea. Sure, he's been hampered by injury. Yet there's a nagging suspicion Martinez could utilise Naismith more, not least given the striker's uncanny knack of delivering in big games.
Everton could do with that today with Tottenham Hotspur visiting.
After successive home defeats to Leicester City and Stoke City, the Blues need a big performance, if only to appease the growing discontent among home supporters.
Otherwise, there is every danger their Premier League campaign could peter out until the trademark strong finish when no longer burdened by the weight of any expectation.
By then, Naismith could be long gone, with other clubs poised to follow Norwich City in attempting to lure the Scot away during this month's transfer window. From Everton's point of view, there seems little sense in allowing Naismith to depart. Notwithstanding his big-game experience, he offers an attacking option Everton will require over the coming weeks – there will come a point Romelu Lukaku needs a rest. And if there's one area where Everton have been fortunate avoiding injuries, it's up front.
Naismith wouldn't be blamed for seeking pastures new. And the Blues may be given an offer they simply cannot refuse. But if Naismith goes, Martinez cannot afford to allow that money to stay sat in the bank for long.
Truth hurts for Blues fans
Last week this column suggested Liverpool and Everton fans should back Leicester City to win the Premier League title.
And a lot of you got upset. Like REALLY upset.
Perhaps the truth hurts.
Obviously, the suggestion wasn't that you all dumped your team and began backing the Foxes full time. That'd be silly. But Leicester lifting the title would no doubt provide a serious kick up the backside on both sides of Stanley Park and prompt much soul-searching. Neither of these two teams are going to win the Premier League this season Let's be honest. Leicester won't win the title. And if Arsenal don't win it this year, they never will again under Arsene Wenger. Yet that Leicester are even in contention halfway through the season is remarkable. How Liverpool would love to be in their position. And when was the last time Evertonians could genuinely claim their team was challenging for the title beyond Christmas? The good news is the subsequent results for our Merseyside duo have underlined why their title hopes remain very much alive.
Oh dear.
Keeping David at bay
This time next week the season could look a lot more different for our two Premier League clubs.
Both Liverpool and Everton face difficult Capital One Cup assignments in midweek.
And that has perhaps taken the focus on what could be equally troublesome FA Cup third round assignments over the weekend. Well, we say weekend, but Liverpool – and more pertinently, their supporters, face a Friday night trek to Exeter thanks to the helpful demands of the television schedulers.
No doubt people will be tuning in for Jurgen Klopp to discover, as Rafael Benitez had some 11 years earlier, all about the 'magic' of the FA Cup. Everton should have less problem at home to Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday afternoon. However, there is little chance of Roberto Martinez resting on his laurels. He has first-hand experience of how the FA Cup can see David overcome Goliath. And the last thing the Catalan needs now is another failure in front of his own supporters.
Stat of the season – in fact any season – coming up.
With their inability to net in the opening 45 minutes against Swansea City yesterday, Manchester United have now failed to score in the first half of their last NINE home games.
Eight of those were goalless.
'Whatever you do, DON'T score before half-time Wayne...'
You can see why the Old Trafford natives are growing restless.
It is, though, a further indication that what many people are regarding “the most exciting” Premier League season ever is in fact, in terms of quality, the most utterly hopeless.

Everton need to add "nastiness" warns Lee Carsley
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Former Blues midfielder calls on current side to get tough when it matters
Everton's Gareth Barry challenges Manchester City's Yaya Toure during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Everton need to add some “nastiness” to their game if they're to fulfil their potential reckons former Blues midfielder Lee Carsley. Roberto Martinez's men are a two-legged Capital Cup semi-final away from a trip to Wembley but the formidable task of overcoming Manchester City must be achieved first. Despite playing some pretty football at times and dominating opponents for long periods, Everton are stuck in mid-table having failed to win back-to-back Premier League games all season. Carsley said: “I just think we're a nice team now. We're good to watch and we win some, we lose some. “I don't think that we've quite got that nastiness that we need.
“The current team is a lot better than the Everton side that I played in, they're far more talented, but I'm not sure if their mentality is as strong. “That comes with age and a lot of our side were more experienced but there's no doubting the ability in this side, it's probably the strongest Premier League squad that we've had. “I really hope they can win something and I've still got ambitions for them to qualify for Europe and pushing on in that respect. “If they do fulfil their potential then they'll be a Champions League team, never mind a Europa League team.” With a hugely-talented spine of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones, Carsley believes the current Everton team will be determined to secure their Blues legacy by lifting silverware. He said: “They will definitely want to be remembered for winning a trophy. It's something that I'm sure is always at the back of their minds. “When you go to the training ground I know that Roberto has put a lot of pictures of the former players and glory days on the walls and you're surrounded by it daily.
“They'll be determined to win some silverware.”
You're only a legend if you win something
Having finished his own six-year Goodison career empty-handed, a lack of trophies is something that still rankles with Carsley. He said: “That's why when I do supporters evenings now or corporate functions and get described as an Everton 'legend', I dismiss it. “No player at Everton who played in my era or anyone in the 21 century can be in that legend bracket because we didn't win anything. Everton Under 18's coach Kevin Sheedy and assistant Duncan Ferguson (left) watch the game
“I put every single player in that category because until you win something, you can't be a legend.
“Some of those runs in cup competitions were great and qualifying for the Champions League but it's the former players who have the medals to back themselves up who can claim legendary status.
“There's Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Sheedy still at the club, the likes of Peter Reid and the greats like Joe Royle and the late Howard Kendall. “We played for the club but they're the people who put the club on the map and took it to another level.”
You don't lose games like Stoke
Carsley believes there is still a significant element of naivety in how Everton play at times, as exemplified with their display in the 4-3 home defeat to Stoke City having been 3-2 ahead with just 10 minutes remaining. He said: “The mental side of things is down to the individual. Once the lads cross the white line it's down to them. The more experienced members of the group need to lead by example.
“Take the Stoke game for example. The worst result there should have been that you draw the game.
“You definitely don't lose games like that, especially when you've got back into a good position.
“The worst-case scenario is that you take a point from the game.”
Everton's Seamus Coleman (centre) stands dejected after the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool He added: “I don't even necessarily think it's a case of when you're winning 1-0 stick the ball in the corner. “You've got to flip that switch in your head when you're in a good position and say 'right, you track your runners and you stop the person who you're playing against playing. “You play percentage football which means if you've got the chance to pass forward into the box then that's what you do. “I don't mean play it into the channels and get everyone up the pitch, it's making sure that you're doing the basics really well. “The team have shown in the past that they can do that so there's no reason why they can't do it again. “The most underrated attribute in football is confidence and with confidence comes results and I'm sure that the manager and his coaching staff have been talking about that.”
Blues have the nous if they apply themselves
Carsley does not believe that such game intelligence is beyond this crop of players though.
He said: “I think we've shown that canniness in the past. There's a lot of know-how in the side with Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, John Stones, Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Tim Howard.
“These are all experienced Premier League players now. They just need to play with that belief they can do it. “I believe they can, I've really enjoyed watching Everton play this season even though the results of late have been a bit frustrating. “That's one of the things about supporting a team, you take the rough with the smooth.” Carsley added: “You don't mind somebody smashing it in the top corner from 25 yards but when it's a scrappy one and you think you could have done a bit better, it's frustrating.
“We've shown in the past that we've got the nous to see out games, to win with a bit of style when you're able to but also to win ugly when needed.
“We need to get that consistency of doing it week in, week out.”
Previous Everton manager David Moyes enjoyed an excellent record against Manchester City and in his final four seasons at Goodison he won six of the eight encounters against them, losing only once.
However, despite beating City with Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup final, his successor Martinez is yet to taste victory against them as Blues boss, having lost four of their five encounters to date.
When it comes to trying to topple Manuel Pellegrini's men on this occasion, Carsley is calling for an energetic display.
He said: “At home we've got to be as fast and as furious as we can be, trying to be up tempo and really go for it. “Away from home you've got to be compact and organised which we can be and maybe play a little bit more on the counter-attack which we're capable of doing. “We've got the pace to do that and have a lot of options. “If we sit back in both legs then I think it will be a couple of long old nights for us.”
New Year, new start Carsley is currently recharging his batteries ahead of a new challenge after leaving Brentford last month. The 41-year-old had been in charge of the London club's Development Squad but was appointed caretaker boss of the first team on September 28. Despite an impressive tenure which saw him named Manager of the Month for the Championship in October, he insisted he did not want the post on a long-term basis and left the club after new head coach Dean Smith's arrival.
Carsley said: “I finished at Brentford a couple of weeks ago and I'll be starting again in the New Year.
“I've got nothing planned at the minute but I'll keep an eye out on what's going on in the game.
“I've had a lot of things to think about over the last few months with having a spell as head coach at Brentford so I want to make sure that next time I go back to it I'm able to take all that on board and use that experience to benefit my next club.”

Everton transfer rumours: Blues look to hijack Demarai Gray deal
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Martinez moves after Birmingham winger has Leicester medical
Everton are trying to hijack Leicester City's move for Birmingham City winger Demarai Gray.
Despite the 19-year-old having already undergone a medical at the high-flying Foxes, the Mirror say that the Blues are also ready to meet his £3.75million release clause. While it would appear that Claudio Ranieri's men appear to be in the box seat due to the advanced stage in their negotiations, geographical location that would enable the youngster to commute from the West Midlands rather than uproot and current position in the table, Roberto Martinez is hoping that the England Under-21 international would see a switch to Goodison as a better long-term option. Everton scouts have been tracking Gray for several months and have been handing glowing reports back to Finch Farm. Very much still a work in progress, the wide man is nevertheless an exciting prospect and was included on our article last month on who could be the Blues' next diamond plucked from the rough. Everton are also facing stiff competition for Leeds United right-back Sam Byram with West Ham United looking to beat both the Blues and neighbours Liverpool to his services according to Daily Star Sunday. Leeds have been pressing for 22-year-old Byram to sign a new contract at Elland Road with owner Massimo Cellino valuing him at £8million. However, with the player running down his current deal, the Hammers are hoping to strike a £5million deal this month. Slaven Bilic is looking to tempt Essex-born Byram with a more rapid path to first team action as he could displace on-loan Arsenal man Carl Jenkinson while at Goodison or Anfield he would likely start as cover.

Lee Carsley hopes Everton don't record "another near-miss" like his Blues side
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Former midfielder recalls League Cup semi-final disappointment
Everton's Lee Carsley and Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips battle for the ball in the air
Lee Carsley hopes the current Everton side don't record a “near-miss” like the Blues team he played in during the 2007/08 season.
The former Republic of Ireland international was part of David Moyes' midfield that were beaten home and away by Chelsea the last time they reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. In the first leg at Stamford Bridge, Everton recovered strongly from Shaun Wright-Phillips' 26 minute opener after John Obi Mikel was sent off 10 minutes into the second half. Aiyegbeni Yakubu equalised for the visitors on 64 minutes and they could have gone ahead when James McFadden was presented with a golden opportunity but hit the post. There was late heartbreak with a stoppage time own goal from Joleon Lescott and a deflated Blues were then beaten 1-0 at home in the second leg through Joe Cole's spectacular 69 minute volley. Carsley said: “We were very strong that season and were up for every game we were going into. We'd played a lot of games in Europe and were going well in the Premier League as well. “We did have the luxury of resting too many players at that time, not to the extent that Chelsea could. It was another near-miss for us.” Everton finished fifth in the Premier League that season and were left to rue their penalty shoot-out exit in Europe to Fiorentina with a Zenit St Petersburg side who the Blues had beaten at Goodison in the group stages going on to lift the UEFA Cup. However, it was the march to the last four of the League Cup that brought them closest to ending their silverware drought. Carsley said: “We played really well. I know we were in the middle in a hectic programme of games at the time. “There was also the added distraction of our UEFA Cup run but we were really determined to get to the final at least. “They won it with a scrappy goal right at the end when Joleon headed into his own net, which handed them the advantage. Everton's Joleon Lescott scores a late own goal to hand Chelsea victory “In a midweek game at Goodison under the lights in the second leg we still fancied our chances but on the night they were too strong. “I remember Chelsea being very well-organised and difficult to break down. They played 4-3-3 which enabled them to seem to be able to outnumber us both in the middle of the park and in the wide areas as well while Joe Cole, who scored a great goal in that second leg, was in very good form at the time. “We were overloaded that night and the gaffer changed the system two or three times during the game to try and get an advantage which was usual at the time to try and combat what the opposition were doing.”

Who is Everton's sister? The Internet is still enjoying club's Twitter blunder
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Lorna Hughes
Fans poke fun at post which mentioned day out with "the best sis in the world"
A screengrab of a Twitter post made in error by a member of staff at Everton FC
Everton revealed the club has a sister on its Twitter account yesterday – and the Internet still finds it hilarious. It was, of course, because someone was tweeting from the wrong account and the post – “Best day out with the best sis in the world” (plus two raised hands emojis) was swiftly deleted.
But it was online long enough for fans – and the Twitter account of bookmaker Paddy Power – to take a screengrab and have some fun with it. Cal Fletcher responded: “bringing your sister to the game?”, while another asked: “does your sister have a season ticket”.
Sounding almost like he meant it, @callumgrant17 said: “heard you were out with your sister! Hope you had a good day.”
More sympathetic followers said they “had nightmares” about the same thing happening in their own jobs, while one fan speculated the tweet was “some weird advertising strategy which ends up in a snap chat soap”. The jokes continued today, with Neil Steele innocently enquiring: “Just the game today @Everton, or will you be seeing your sister at all?” And in response to the club’s tweet about tickets for the upcoming Capital One Cup game against Manchester City, Parker asked: “did your sister get her tickets?”
Meanwhile @Denolinch offered this explanation, probably (not) in the spirit of Mersey footballing unity: “@paddypower probably talking about Liverpool”.

Steven Naismith's Everton future in doubt after being left out for Tottenham game
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues striker not in the squad amid reports of interest from Norwich City
Steven Naismith wasn't involved against Tottenham
Steven Naismith 's Everton future has been placed under fresh scrutiny after he was omitted from the Everton squad for today's game with Spurs. The Scotland international is fully fit but manager Roberto Martinez has decided to leave the 29-year-old out of his selection for the fixture at Goodison, the ECHO understands. Naismith is the subject of interest from Norwich City, who are ready to pay £8million for his services, but a move to Carrow Road is not imminent. Martinez insists that he will hold talks with Naismith in the coming weeks about his Goodison future, once the Blues have come through a demanding run of league and cup games. Naismith is also attracting interest from a number of other Premier League and Championship clubs and admitted recently that he may have to leave Everton for the sake of his career. But the former Rangers man said that the run of seven games in January could provide him with the chance he needed to revive his Blues career but he has been left out of the squad today.

Everton vs Tottenham report: Dele Alli goal cancels out Aaron Lennon's opener in entertaining draw
Everton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
By Mark Ogden Goodison Park
January 3 2016 Independent
Tottenham Hotspur may be ahead of schedule under Mauricio Pochettino – Dele Alli certainly is – but a goal of the highest quality by the teenage midfielder to earn a point here demonstrated why nobody should dismiss the prospect of the Premier League trophy ending up at White Hart Lane this season.
As Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld insisted after the game, this may ultimately prove to be two points dropped in the final reckoning, but the performance of Pochettino’s players suggested that Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester will do well to pull clear of this team. Both Everton and Tottenham could have won and lost the game in a pulsating final 60 seconds, but Spurs travelled back to north London having proved their mettle and their depth of quality. Alli, at 19, will be crucial to Tottenham’s hopes of success, especially if he continues to play with the carefree nature of a young prospect with the world at his feet. After they had seen Roberto Martinez’s team lose successive home games against Stoke and Leicester, conceding seven goals in the process, during the Christmas period, the anxiety of the Everton supporters was palpable as Spurs arrived aiming to extend an unbeaten away run stretching back to the opening day of the season. That defeat, a 1-0 loss at Manchester United following Kyle Walker’s own goal, was barely merited, but it has been a testament to the resolve and quality of Pochettino’s players that have they since been able to mount a serious title challenge. Goodison Park remains a test of any visiting team, however, and Spurs would have to be able to emerge with a positive result to provide further evidence of their durability for the months ahead. Tottenham have yet to banish their reputation as a club prone to wobble in the second half of the season, but they will have few better chances to do that than the opportunity which currently presents itself. Not since Peter Shreeves’ team visited Goodison as leaders of the old First Division on New Year’s Day in 1985 have Spurs approached the halfway stage in such a promising position and their belief was clear in the opening stages as they dictated the tempo deep inside Everton territory. The home side were not set up to contain and hit Spurs on the counter-attack, but they were simply unable to escape their own half, with Alli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela retaining possession and using it with intent. The game was nine minutes old when Spurs first threatened to score, with Harry Kane rattling Tim Howard’s far post with an audacious angled strike from 25 yards. Howard was beaten, but the post saved the Everton goalkeeper, denying Kane his first goal of 2016, having ended 2015 as the leading scorer in the calendar year in the Premier League with 27 goals. When Howard caught a speculative lob by Alli moments later, the cheers which greeted the American’s efforts – a barbed reaction to his errors during the 4-3 defeat against Stoke – prompted the goalkeeper to turn round and glare at his tormentors, merely adding to the mood of edginess inside the ground. But the growing tension lifted on 22 minutes when Everton opened the scoring, against the run of play, with a stunning goal finished off by the former Spurs winger Aaron Lennon. Tom Cleverley’s crossfield pass to Romelu Lukaku deserved a decisive contribution by the Belgian and he delivered, heading the ball down to Lennon, whose right-foot shot beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and nestled in the far corner for his first goal since April. Jan Vertonghen may have had a valid argument to suggest a Lukaku nudge had distracted him at the key moment, but referee Michael Oliver judged it to be classic centre-forward physicality, and rightly so. It was Lukaku’s fifth assist of the season, adding to his 15 goals, just in case there were any doubts as to his importance to Martinez’s team. Despite going ahead, Everton continued to play to a subdued home crowd, with every misplaced pass prompting howls of derision and Spurs took advantage by quickly regaining the upper hand in midfield. Pochettino’s team simply probed away in search of the equaliser, patiently looking for openings, and Eriksen went close with an angled shot which was deflected behind on 26 minutes. Full-back Ben Davies then sent a 25-yard strike crashing against the crossbar on the half-hour after receiving the ball directly from Eriksen’s corner. Everton were on the ropes, but just as they looked set to reach the sanctuary of half-time with their lead intact, Alli pounced with another outstanding goal. Alderweireld’s pass from inside his own half was majestic, but Alli’s chest-trap and volley matched it for artistic elegance. By taking the ball and shooting in one swift movement, Alli took Seamus Coleman out of the game and Howard had no chance with the England man’s crisp finish. Having conceded their lead, Everton struggled to regain a foothold and Spurs twice went close to a second through Kane and Eriksen early in the second half. But a tactical switch on 60 minutes, when Martinez introduced Muhamed Besic and Gerard Deulofeu in place of Lennon and Arouna Koné, swung the pendulum towards the home side, who began to attack the visitors. Besic was denied a stunning goal on 79 minutes, when Lloris acrobatically tipped the Bosnian’s 20-yard volley over the crossbar, and Ramiro Funes Mori sent a far-post header just wide from the corner which followed. Spurs held firm and chased a winner in stoppage time, with substitute Son Heung-min seeing a 20-yard shot blocked before Lukaku raced clear from the rebound, attempting to score a winner at the other end. On his left foot and with the far corner gaping, the Everton forward was unable to find the clinical touch he has shown so often this season, but a winner for the home side would have been a travesty.

Everton 1-1 Tottenham full-time report: Blues pegged back after Aaron Lennon strike
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Winger gets first Goodison goal against former club as visitors scrap for point in lively contest
Everton secured a well deserved point at home to Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison this evening.
Aaron Lennon's first goal for the Blues since joining the club on a permanent deal opened the scoring midway through the first half before Dele Alli levelled the game for Spurs. The second half was an end-to-end affair in which both sides had chances to nick a winning goal. Hugo Lloris denied Mo Besic, tipping over his dipping volley, before he saved from Ross Barkley in time added on as the Blues carried a threat on the counter-attack. But Everton could not find the winning goal and had to settle for a point that keeps them 11th in the table.
Harry Kane fired an early warning when he struck the inside of the post with a rasping low drive from outside the area. Spurs were immediately on top but despite Kane's near miss, Everton took the lead.
Lennon, against his former club, collected Romelu Lukaku's headed knockdown and directed a superb half-volley past the dive of Lloris on 22 minutes. The away side continued to dominate proceedings and Ben Davies hit the underside of the bar from the edge of the box. Everton were living dangerously but also defending resolutely as half-time approached. But in time added on, Alli chested down Toby Alderweireld's long ball into the box and volleyed past Tim Howard to make it 1-1. Both sides pushed for a second goal after the break but Everton defended stoutly and will feel they were unfortunate not to have found a winner, with Lloris pulling off a couple of excellent stops near the end.

Everton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1, match report: Dele Alli cancels out opener from Spurs old boy Aaron Lennon
By Chris Bascombe, Goodison Park
03 Jan 2016 Telegraph
On an afternoon at Goodison Park when no one secured three points, there was still an emphatic winner.
Wherever Roy Hodgson was watching teenager Dele Alli taking on Ross Barkley in the centre of midfield he must have been purring at the possibilities for the future of English football. Add a dash of John Stones and Harry Kane and it is little wonder Roberto Martinez’s post-match appraisal lauded this current crop of home grown gems. Martinez once suggested his club did not purse Alli because he already had Barkley. The England manager has the luxury of both, which could become football’s equivalent of Ben Stokes marching in to bat with Jonny Bairstow. On the corresponding weekend a year ago an 18-year-old Alli was an unused substitute as MK Dons succumbed at home to Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round. As he celebrated the latest in a growing portfolio of exceptional goals and mature performances at a drizzly Goodison, it was not just the speed of his progression but the promise of what’s to come that left the deepest impression.
There are certain players whose age seems to need double-checking such is the ease and wisdom of their play. You expect to see the rawness of youth, but as Alli controlled Toby Alderweireld’s 50-yard pass on his chest before volleying past Tim Howard in first-half injury time even the disgruntled Evertonians were resisting applause. It was a goal basic in its construction but gorgeous in its execution. The youngster’s fast-tracking into the England squad will surely lead to Euro 2016, and if used correctly Alli’s breakthrough season at the highest level may yield the same spectacular improvement at international level as it has domestically. His manager, Maurichio Pochettino, sees no reason to take his age into consideration, or tailor his workload in the second half of the season. “If he shows in every training session he deserves to play, why not?” Pochettino said. “From the beginning we have been taking care of him. We know we need to be careful. From when he arrived at the club, in our head we always try to care because when they are young, we care. It is not only him. We have lots of young players.” Martinez was equally effusive as he suggested the England national team should be buoyant about its future. In total there were nine home-grown players on show, at least six of which will be dropping major hints to the English manager for the next ten years. “What you are seeing now is such a variety of good young English players,” said Martinez. “You don’t get many generations with John Stones, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Eric Dier, all with something to offer – they are very different. It is important they play in games like today. That experience is needed. The talent is there. These are players that wouldn’t get opportunities in other teams.”
Before Alli’s intervention the visitors were trailing undeservedly to their former winger Aaron Lennon’s volley. For 21 minutes it was tempting to ask Lennon if he had paid for his ticket to watch his former team-mates pass the ball around. He was not alone as Pochettino’s side monopolised possession and controlled the game’s speed dial. Then Tom Cleverley picked out Romelu Lukaku, and his nod down to Lennon was met with a perfect left-footed volley. Somehow Everton led, and Martinez’s willingness to play counter-attacking football in his own stadium was reaping rewards. The Spurs manager’s intent to show the days of his club wilting at tough venues was being undermined by the score if not the performance. The fluency with which Spurs started justified the view this side has a different face to so many others that have fretted the further north it travelled. Taking the initiative, they were denied a goal within three minutes by Seamus Coleman’s last ditch tackle on Alli. Kane was closer on nine minutes when he accepted an invitation to smash one from distance. The inside of the post came to Howard’s rescue. The woodwork was no friend to Spurs as Ben Davies saw another spectacular effort from distance rattle the crossbar on 30 minutes, by which time the visitors’ were chasing an equaliser.
Pochettino argued that his side should have won after ‘dominating for 75 minutes’ although he found the lack of a party spirit in his dressing room after what could be considered an encouraging point reassuring. “The players are very disappointed in the training room. Always at the end of the game we play some music but not today. That is a good sign,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow we will analyse the game and say we need to feel proud and happy for the point but today our feeling is we dropped two points, this is a very good sign. We are the youngest squad in the Premier League but we have shown our winning mentality.” Everton responded well after the break. In this most peculiar of seasons, no team bewilders more than Martinez’s. His side has outscored leaders Arsenal but only five clubs have conceded more. Herein lies the crux of the inconsistency sabotaging Champions League aspirations. Martinez was satisfied such defensive errors were eradicated against a high-class side, but their inconsistency lingers from minute to minute as much as game to game. “Eight goals conceded away and 20 at Goodison with the same players, the same style and the same way of playing is clearly something we needed to rectify,” Martinez said. Spurs were once guilty of similar erraticism, revelling in their image as entertainers while the soft underbelly ensured they got stuck below the top four. Pochettino is changing that even if – as a new year statement regarding a title challenge – there was cause for frustration. As further evidence of Spurs’ capacity to secure a Champions League return this was proof it is in their hands.

Everton 1-1 Tottenham player ratings: Great 8s for quintent, but who dived with a 5?
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe continues his admiration of Tom Cleverley... but there's one Blue who he's still not happy with
Tim Howard 6
Must block out the palpable nerves of the fans around him and avoid getting dragged into a staring contest with his own supporters. Otherwise no major clangers and couldn't be faulted for the goal, while still not convincing when coming for crosses.
Leighton Baines 6
His hunger and alertness to win the ball back played a big part in the opening goal but faded a little as the contest wore on.
Ramiro Funes Mori 7
A controlled and responsible display from the 24-year-old. Has plenty of bottle too - typified by a brave sliding block on late sub Onomah with Spurs trying to break at the death.
Leighton Baines faded a little but Tom Cleverley (right) was impressive
John Stones 7
Some crucially timed interventions in the face of Tottenham's formidable firepower. Wasn't able to start the play as much as he would like, but did his basic duties admirably. Over-elaborated a little near the end though.
Seamus Coleman 7
Was up for the challenge of dealing with the lively Erik Lamela and rarely let the Argentinian get the better of him. At times his reluctance to play the ball back to Howard prompted some jittery moments, though.
Gareth Barry 8
Tottenham appeared to try and get numbers around him to expose his lack of pace but he was too clever for them. Always seemed ahead of the play and protected the back for with his customary grace.
Tom Cleverley 8
Outstanding again. Shrugged off concerns of an Achilles problem to produce a superlative display; covering every blade of grass and using the ball superbly. It was his long pass to Lukaku that led to the goal.
Arouna Kone 5
Tried to link up with Lukaku as per his brief but struggled to offer much and was rightly substituted. Surely now the manager will realise he has plateaued and needs to be rested?
Ross Barkley 7
Bright and confident going forward, always looking for a gap to thread a pass through. His only weakness is a touch of defensive naivety but that could be costly if it isn't remedied.
Romelu Lukaku 8
A genuine talisman for this team now. Didn't score for once but did just about everything else. His hold-up play is immense and Jan Vertonghen had a thankless task trying to win anything against him.
Aaron Lennon 8
On a rare start the winger showed the levels of last term which convinced Martinez to bring him back permanently. Pace to burn, endless work-rate and some nifty skills. Lovely composed finish to score too.
Mo Besic (on for Kone 59) 8
A great, combative cameo from a man who instantly upped the tempo and helped solidify the midfield. Led by example.
Gerard Deulofeu (on for Lennon 59) 7
Some trademark deliveries and teasing runs.

Tottenham’s Dele Alli wins battle against Everton’s Ross Barkley
By Michael Cox
Sunday 3 January 2016 Guardian
In a hugely entertaining contest between two technical, high-energy, attack-minded sides, it was notable that both goals came from direct attacks, following long balls from deep. Everton’s opener was a simple move. Tom Cleverley picked up possession to the left of midfield and immediately knocked a long diagonal pass towards Romelu Lukaku. He intelligently nodded the ball down for Aaron Lennon, who converted impressively against his former club. It was an atypical goal for Everton, who usually depend on their attacking midfielders for creating chances, but as they were closed down intensely by a well-drilled Spurs side and unable to play combinations through the centre of the pitch, bypassing the press with a long ball worked effectively. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are both front-foot central defenders keen to intercept the ball on the floor, and looked less comfortable competing against their Belgian compatriot Lukaku in the air. Spurs’ equaliser, meanwhile, was interesting in a different sense and was even more direct. Alderweireld advanced forward in possession and lofted a long ball over Everton’s defence for the onrushing Dele Alli. He had charged between Seamus Coleman and John Stones before producing a finish which was simultaneously composed and acrobatic. This was one of the first times in the game that a midfield player had sprinted in advance of his centre-forward and Alli’s sudden movement took the Everton backline by surprise. Because both sides were keen to get the upper hand in the centre of the pitch, Ross Barkley and Christian Eriksen spent the majority of the game dropping deep, rather than offering penetration. Alli provided a refreshing alternative. Alli’s goal was identical to his opener in a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion last month – Alderweireld hitting the long diagonal pass from just inside his own half, Alli rushing forward and collecting the ball near the penalty spot. He made the same run twice in the opening minutes of the second half, too, on both occasions teeing up Harry Kane and demonstrating the wonderful first touch which makes him such an immediately impressive footballer. Alli had six attempts at goal here, twice as many as anyone else on the pitch. That directness itself, though, makes Alli so thrilling. For all the immediacy in Tottenham’s method of regaining possession, there is sometimes a frustrating sluggishness with the ball – Eriksen and Kane tend to come deep, Lamela sometimes goes in behind the defence but tends to drift inside from his wide position. Forward running usually comes from the full-backs, with Kyle Walker particularly aggressive here. To prevent Spurs playing in front of the opposition they require runs in behind – and while it is unusual for that to come from the No10, where Alli started today, it makes it particularly unpredictable. It is a quality notably lacking from Barkley’s game at the moment and in the battle between two of the brightest young English midfielders around Alli clearly got the upper hand.

Everton 1-1 Tottenham analysis: Ross is boss, changes do good, keep your Aaron and other things learned
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe ponders the action at Goodison... and has some strong words for John Stones
Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley both gave reasons for Everton to be cheerful against Tottenham
Barkley a glorious work in progress "Ross Barkley showed he can play in different positions and master them," said Roberto Martinez after this promising draw. "It was his most mature display in three years."

He's right of course. Barkley is the real deal; a player who is showing that he will fulfil the giant potential he has been earmarked for from a very early age. But Martinez's praise for the supremely gifted midfielder must be weighed against the moments in the game when he had to implore the 22-year-old to remember his defensive responsibilities and remain alert to the dangers behind him if he switches off momentarily in an advanced position. Barkley is growing in maturity all the time, and that has been the most pleasing element of his consistently superb performances this season. But to become the complete number eight he must never allow his guard to drop. In a make-or-break month with three games against skilled pocket-pickers such as David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, the Toffees will need their young star to be at his positional best both on and off the ball.
Early changes lift everyone
If Martinez ever required tangible evidence that a decisive change can lift the nervy Goodison crowd, it was this. Not that they were instantly convinced by the Catalan's uncharacteristic 59th-minute intervention from the dug-out. Some booed the decision to replace impressive goalscorer Aaron Lennon, but the manager was vindicated in the end.
Muhamed Besic helped raise the tempo and bring some welcome dynamism where previously Arouna Kone had laboured. You know what you'll get from Gerard Deulofeu too; one whipped delivery in particular caused havoc in the usually well-marshalled Spurs defence.
Everton have plenty of strength in depth at the moment. It's nice to see that utilised during a game when there is still time for it to take effect.
Mixed-up rewards
Nine points and six places in the Premier League table separates Everton and Tottenham, but there was little between them during this absorbing contest when the Blues reasserted themselves after the woes of Stoke. Spurs are good value for fourth place but here was evidence that Martinez's men have the potential to get back into the top half before too long. Their style of play is oft-criticised for being too predictable, and savvy units like Tottenham have the energy and discipline to deal with it. But when the Blues mixed it up and went long, they discovered instant rewards. Romelu Lukaku is as good at dealing with balls pumped up to him as he is with slick passes to his feet, and it is the centre forward's complete mastery of his role which should entice his team-mates to keep opponents guessing more often.
Everton's Romelu Lukaku arm-in-arm with Spurs' Jan Vertonghen after the final whistle
Everton have some skilled operators with the long and short pass in midfield, and the accuracy of Tom Cleverley and Gareth Barry means that long balls to Lukaku can be potent.
Nobody is suggesting they should abandon the principles of passing and possession in favour of lumpen route one, far from it. But there is more than one way to skin a cat. Against well-drilled, gifted sides which can command more possession like Spurs did with 59% - and probably Manchester City on Wednesday - Everton will have to be patient when waiting for ways to unpick them and flexible when it comes to the method they use to breach such watertight defences.
Likely-lad Lennon
There was a concern that the Aaron Lennon of last season's loan spell and the Aaron Lennon with the security of a three-year deal in September may be two separate footballers.
Where last term the winger's infectious enthusiasm, work-rate and impact was a joy to behold, his absence from the team in recent months suggested that wasn't quite as convincing on the training field this season. Lennon had become used to life as a bit-part player at Tottenham - was he willing to accept it here too? Two livewire appearances; Newcastle on Boxing Day and this cameo against his former paymasters suggest not. He remains a performer who can make the difference, and among Everton's abundance of wide men he has a cherished niche.
Calm down, calm down
John Stones had everyone's heart in mouth at the end as he took liberties with persistent Spurs sub Heung Min-Son. The elegant defender, as is his want, tried turning the midfielder several times in an audacious passage of play just yards from his own byline with the game in the balance.
Typically, Stones got away with it. Eventually he saw the pass he fancied most, made it and danger was averted but not before the panicked cries of the Park End and Bullens Road reached his ears.
John Stones got away with it a bit against Tottenham
His reaction was to gesture for them to calm down, and while on the surface it was an instinctive show of self-belief and confidence, it was also a mistake. For a centre-back, no matter how gifted, who had played in a defence that conceded four last time out and was way below his usual levels that day, he was not in a position to patronise paying punters. We all love him for his confidence and ability to bring the ball out from the back. We like it when he takes a risk and emerges with the ball. But in a defence which hasn't covered itself in glory lately, there remains a time and place for such things.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez praises "intensity" of defence after Spurs draw
3 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues manager also impressed with shape-shifting qualities of his side ahead of important month
Everton manager Roberto Martinez greets Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino before kick-off at Goodison in the Premier League. Photo by James Maloney
Roberto Martinez praised his side's renewed defensive "intensity" after a much-improved display in their draw with top-four challengers Tottenham. The Blues largely dealt with the formidable forward threat of Mauricio Pochettino's well-drilled side, only being breached once just before the break by a superb strike from Dele Alli. Everton then gave a good second-half account of themselves after a first 45 minutes spent largely on the back foot, and Martinez believes that bodes well for an important month.
He said: "We have been conceding goals cheaply at home and it was something we had to rectify. Eight goals conceded away and 20 at Goodison. "In the first half we had that in our minds and we defended with intensity. We stopped the main players from getting on the ball; Kane, Lamela, Eriksen, even Dele Alli. "We looked dangerous on the ball, we were unfortunate in a couple of decisions, an offside that was right but was very close. "I thought throughout the game we had a very good performance.
"In the first half we didn’t have the ball as much as we wanted and Spurs pushed us, but they had long spells of possession in areas they couldn’t hurt us. "We received an immense blow in injury time to concede and it was a big test of character. "The second half shows the strength we have in our squad, we can change shape. We kept that defensive intensity and got on the ball more and were one decision or one touch away from getting a winning goal. "We had to defend better at home. It has cost us a lot of points. Today’s performance showed we are ready." Martinez singled out the contribution of goalscorer Aaron Lennon, who provided a promising reminder of why the club handed him a three-year permanent deal in the summer. "I thought Aaron had a very impressive performance against Newcastle," he said. "It was tough for him, signed on the last day of the window. He was catching up and didn’t get a proper pre-season. "Today was the perfect profile for him, such a reliable footballer."
There was plenty of impressive young English talent on display in both sides, and Martinez was understandably thrilled by his own rising stars, particularly Ross Barkley. He said: "I thought Ross in my eyes gave the most mature performance he has had in three years. "It was a really good game to see British talent. Two teams who are not afraid to invest in youth. "It was such a reward to see someone like Ross who had to be fitted into a structure two-and-a-half years ago, now he can play in different roles and master them."

Everton: Muhamed Besic disappointed Toffees could not find winner against Spurs
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues drew 1-1 at Goodison despite taking the lead through Aaron Lennon
Everton's Muhamed Besic in action against Spurs at Goodison Park in the Premier League. Photo by James Maloney
Muhamed Besic admits he was disappointed that Everton could not find a winner against Spurs.
The Blues drew 1-1 at Goodison on Sunday despite taking the lead mid-way through the first-half thanks to Aaron Lennon. Dele Alli levelled the game just before half-time for the visitors who had earlier struck the woodwork twice. Both sides pushed for a second goal after the break but the best chances fell to Everton. Substitute Besic saw his dipping volley tipped over the bar by Hugo Lloris before the Spurs keeper saved well from Ross Barkley in the closing stages. Twenty-three-year-old Besic, making only his fifth appearance of the season, left the game with mixed emotions. “It was my second game after a long time and I really enjoyed it and felt good,” he said. “The manager always says the same before we come on, the subs have to changed the game and I think Geri and I did that, so I’m happy. “It was an open game, but I was expecting a win today because the last results were not so good, so I’m a little bit disappointed. But when you can’t win a game you have to draw it.
“It was an okay result for both teams.
“The important thing that the team wins, it doesn’t matter who plays. “I’m always ready, so when the gaffer needs me I will be ready. “But, like I’ve said before, it just important the result, it’s not important who plays.” Lennon, meanwhile, was delighted to open his account for Everton at Goodison.
The winger collected Romelu Lukaku’s knockdown and directed a half volley past Lloris. “It fell nicely to me and when I hit it I caught it nicely and I was happy to see it go in,” Lennon said. “I was actually just happy to score my first goal at Goodison, I was just happy to see it go in. “Sometimes you have got to be patient in football, Geri has been playing brilliantly. When I get a chance I have just got to do the best I can. “We are a team and we will support each other. We have got a lot of games coming up so sometimes you have to take your time on the bench and when you get a chance take it.”

Impressive Everton FC display proves that stats aren't everything
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
by PhilKirkbride
Unusually for Everton this season, the stats were not stacked in their favour with shots on target, attempts on goal and time spent in possession
Everton's Gerard Deulofeu looks dejected upon the final whistle after his side drew 1-1 against Spurs at Goodison Park in the Premier League. Photo by James Maloney Everton didn't have the most possession, they didn't have the highest number of shots on target or as many attempts on goal as the opposition. For long spells they weren't the best side on the pitch at Goodison or the most pleasing on the eye but yet they left a game at home not only with the applause of the fans but also with what they deserved. It made for a welcome change. In the circumstances – against one of the best sides in the division and set amid a backdrop of unease among the supporters – this was a really good point against Tottenham Hotspur. That Everton were clapped off the field was a sign of what they had put into this entertaining game and what they had got out of it, a match in which in so many ways they weren't themselves, but in others they were. The Blues had been forced to retreat into their own area, defend resolutely, scrappily and with determination. They also had luck on their side as Spurs twice hit the woodwork, as Harry Kane and Ben Davies hit the post and underside of the bar, respectively.
They then hit Spurs with a super sucker-punch, when Aaron Lennon collected Romelu Lukaku's excellent headed knockdown and hit a half volley against his old club, before being pegged back just before half-time when Spurs drew level thanks to Dele Alli's fine chest control and volley. And though there were further attacks to be withstood and repelled, Everton retaliated. They didn't get the win that would have sent them bouncing into Wednesday night's Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City but their second half display has everyone feeling that bit better about themselves tonight. Because it was a performance that showed this team and manager have learnt the lessons of the past few, painful, weeks.
Manager's substitutions and tactical tweaks on the money
Roberto Martinez's decision after 59 minutes to replace Arouna Kone and goal-scorer Aaron Lennon with Gerard Deulofeu and Mo Besic, was on the money. Everton switched to a 4-3-3 formation, retained their attacking energy and enthusiasm with Deulofeu's trickery, but also kept their shape and solidarity in midfield with Besic. The Bosnian was brilliantly all-action when he came on, Tom Cleverley continues to win over the Everton fans and Gareth Barry just glued it all together in his usual, unflappable style. He was superb. Alli's brilliance will no doubt win him most of the man-of-the-match awards but Barry, Cleverley and Besic were just as good. Barry had, angrily and bluntly, told Everton that they risked wasting their season unless they stopped conceding cheap goals. The Blues have become their own worst enemy of late and though Spurs' goal was all-too simple, this was a wiser, smarter and tougher Everton and for all the difficult games of late, a more astute manager as well.
Not the perfect performance - but Everton emerge stronger This wasn't a perfect performance, of course, and in the first-half Spurs' dominance was bolstered by Everton's poor passing, but after the break it felt like the Blues had weathered the storm – of the first 45 and of recent weeks – and emerged stronger. Martinez's side were far more robust than they have been, hardened by the chastening experiences of late, and fairly composed in defence but also threatening in attack with their typical mix of pace and bravery on the counter-attack. But the message was clear here: Everton were not going to lose three consecutive home league games for the first time since 2008. They have been that mindset before under this manager – last season's Goodison derby is a case in point – but where they seldom bothered the Liverpool goal that day, they finished the this game coming close to snatching a win.
Only excellent late saves from Hugo Lloris to deny Besic and then Ross Barkley, stopped Everton from a first win in the league here since November 21. They were pushing for a winner late on but, crucially, didn't leave themselves exposed and open to yet another crushing blow.
Lukaku developing into Everton's talisman
It was only right as well, that Romelu Lukaku was not on the losing side again.
Everton's record signing has not only developed into one of the division's deadliest strikers but he has now emerged as this team's talisman. Strong and powerful when they require him to be and a focal point when Everton need to relieve the pressure, the 22-year-old has become more than just the Blues' star forward. We were beginning to fear that Everton, so pleasing on the eye, couldn't mix it up, couldn't scrap and fight and were way too nice. But from Lukaku's bullying of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, to Besic and Cleverley's scavenging raids and Ramiro Funes Mori's blood and thunder display, Everton showed they want to prove people wrong. The Blues cannot assume that all their problems have been solved in one half of football but it was at least a statement of intent. Goodison, so often highly demanding of their teams, appreciated the players efforts and energy of this performance because it not only had the goal-threat that Martinez has brought but also the diet of edge and desire that Evertonians have been bred on down the years, the type of application that runs through the veins of the club. Tottenham showed themselves to be an excellent side here but the Blues, after Martinez's smart change of personnel and formation, more than matched them after the break and nearly snatched the win. Unusually for Everton this season, the stats were not stacked in their favour with shots on target, attempts on goal and time spent in possession. But the manager, his players and the fans will not care because this draw, and this performance, represented the hope for much more.

Dele Alli has "surpassed" Everton star Ross Barkley says Jamie Carragher
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Liverpool Echo
Spurs youngster is ahead of Barkley in England pecking order says Reds legend
By Josh Sexton
Jamie Carragher has claimed that Spurs youngster Dele Alli "surpassed" Everton's Ross Barkley during Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.
And the Liverpool legend believes Alli has now moved ahead of Barkley in the England pecking order.
The former MK Dons midfielder put in a man of the match performance and scored a great goal to equalise for the away side just before the half time break, taking his tally to five for the season.
Barkley, meanwhile, put in another solid performance for the Blues, helping pile the pressure on Tottenham in the last few minutes of the game. The Everton star has enjoyed a stellar season so far notching six goals and seven assists, and has been a regular for Roy Hodgson’s England side in recent times. However, Alli is a man bang in form with three goals and two assists in his last six league games, and Carragher has backed the youngster for a permanent spot in the national side. The Spurs youngster made an impressive start to his international career with an impressive solo effort in England’s 2-0 friendly win over France. “You think about his performance and his goal against France. Now I expect him to be in the England squad, I actually think now he’s in the team,” Carragher said. “I think Roy [Hodgson] and Gary [Neville], they play three in there. The one who has been playing regularly, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli has surpassed Ross today. “Now I’m a big fan of Barkley but they might be the two who are fighting for one position, the attacking midfield role, if they play three in there.” The former Liverpool defender has been impressed with the way in which Alli has excelled in the number 10 role for Tottenham, insisting the attacking midfield spot for England is now his to lose. “Every time you talk about Spurs you think he’s been one of the best players. “Initially he has been a central midfielder, he’s come into the Premier League and played there for a couple of weeks, then he’s come into the position behind the front two. “That’s a totally different position really, you’re playing with your back to goal at times, other times you’re facing the play so that just shows his understanding at such a young age to play different roles.”

Everton's Leighton Baines still "managing" ankle injury
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues left-back played sixth game of the season against Spurs on Sunday
LEIGHTON BAINES admits he is still having to “manage” his ankle injury.
The Everton left-back played his sixth game of the season on Sunday as the Blues drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison. Baines only returned to the side last month after being sidelined since the end of last season. The 31-year-old had ankle surgery in May but was forced to go under the knife for a second time, when he re-injured his ankle on the eve of the new season. But Baines returned in December and has reclaimed his place in the starting line-up from Brendan Galloway although he says he is continually having to monitor his ankle day-to-day. “I’m still in that phase, we are managing it on a daily basis,” Baines said. “But it is like that for a number of players and there’s very few who are injury free. “There’s still an element of that but the most important thing is that I try to keep on top of things and be available to the manager for as many games as possible.” He added: “I want to get out there and play. “We have a lot of games coming up and we have a great squad. “We have players on the bench and not making the bench, so we have got strength in depth and the manager has got decisions to make for all the games. “I’m sure he will keep making changes.”

England given hope by array of young talent on show during Everton vs Tottenham
There were 11 English players who started the game, and Roy Hodgson must be cheered by form of likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli
England given hope by array of talent on show during Everton vs Tottenham
By Jason Burt, Chief Football Correspondent
04 Jan 2016 Telegraph
One of the most important games of the season took place at Goodison Park on Sunday. It ended Everton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 and although that was not an exceptional result for either club it was a landmark encounter for the future – and the present - of English football given how technically good the match was and the make up of the two teams. There were 11 English players who started the game - half of those on show - with 50 per cent being far higher than the average 30 per cent (the lowest ever) there has been in the Premier League this season.
It was not the highest number in one game in the league last weekend – there were 12 Englishmen who started Leicester City versus Bournemouth but as well as the likes of Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels and Wes Morgan have done they are not crucial to England’s plans for Euro 2016.
Going into 2016, a tournament year, what Sunday proved beyond any doubt is that Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Ross Barkley and John Stones must be vital components of Roy Hodgson’s team never mind his squad. Eric Dier can also be added to that squad, at least.
Gary Neville, Hodgson’s assistant, in an interview with Telegraph Sport, spoke of how cleverly the manager had “transitioned” the average age of the England squad from 28 to around 25 and how the “pain” of the last World Cup was probably unavoidable for future success. Although Neville is right to reel off the names of those who have retired or been phased out – “Ferdinand, Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Johnson, Lescott” and so on, he said – it is interesting that only two of those – Gerrard and Glen Johnson – actually started England’s opening match of the last World Cup against Italy in Manaus.
Roy Hodgson has many talented young English players to pick from
None of Stones, Barkley, Kane or Alli started that game, of course. Barkley was the only one in the England squad at that time (Stones trained with them) and although he played a part in all three group matches he was peripheral. The point is: how far is Hodgson now prepared to take the “transition” when he selects his squad for Euro 2016 and, even more so, his team for the opening fixture against Russia in Marseille? Is he prepared to turn to the quartet who played so well at Goodison and make them the spine? The body of evidence to do so is increasingly there while there are also enough matches to make the switch. England have friendly internationals against Germany and Holland and will factor in up to another three games before departing for France at the beginning of June.
What is so thrilling for England is not just that the four players are so young – Kane and Barkley are 22, Stones is 21 and Alli still just 19 – but that they are four different types of player and, therefore, can create a new core to the England team for years to come. What is also so exciting is their rate of progress. At the end of the Euro qualification campaign in October then none of the four were shoo-ins for the starting XI with the Everton pair of Barkley and Stones mounting the strongest cases. Now all four are making irresistible arguments. Indeed there is a case that rather than Neville’s average age of 25 England could be looking at – if everyone is fit, a very big if especially with Luke Shaw and also with Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck – a team with an average age of just under 23 which would be remarkable and would be an average of six years a player younger than the squad Fabio Capello took to the 2010 World Cup (granted the oldest ever the country has taken to a finals).
So how is this for a starting XI for Euro 2016, deployed in a 4-3-3 formation and with current ages in brackets: Hart (28); Clyne (24), Smalling (26), Stones (21), Shaw (20); Alli (19), Wilshere (24), Barkley (22); Welbeck (25), Kane (22), Sterling (21). There are obviously strong cases for Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and so on and, undoubtedly, the captain Wayne Rooney and all should be in Hodgson’s squad if fit.
Raheem Sterling is another young English forward
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is not shy to use hyperbole but there was no exaggeration when he name-checked Barkley, Stones, Alli and Kane after Sunday’s game as “a good crop of young players”. He added: “The talent is certainly there for England as they look ahead to the Euros”. No-one can accuse Hodgson of not identifying the talent either. He has been bold in his squad selection and it is part of the argument for retaining him as England manager. Now it is time to be bold with the team also. Despite the dearth of English players across the Premier League, there are enough for a bright future.

Everton transfers: Monaco target January swoop for Kevin Mirallas
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues attacker concerned over lack of games with Euro 2016 fast approaching
Kevin Mirallas is not facing a period which will define his Everton future insists boss
MONACO have set their sights on Everton’s Kevin Mirallas.
The 28-year-old winger has become frustrated over his lack of appearances this season and will consider leaving Goodison this month. Mirallas is concerned that being on the sidelines at Everton will impact on his chances of being selected for Belgium’s Euro 2016 squad - and Monaco are keen on acquiring his services. The former Olympiakos forward has started just two league games this season and was an unused substitute in Sunday’s draw with Spurs. It is understood that Blues boss Roberto Martinez does not want to lose Mirallas during the transfer window and has held talks with the unsettled player.
Kevin Mirallas of Everton is challenged by Daryl Janmaat of Newcastle United as he shoots at goalkeeper Robert Elliot But Everton are unlikely to stand in Mirallas’ way if he demands to leave the club during the transfer window and Ligue 1 side Monaco could be ready to test Everton’s resolve.
The problem with Kevin Mirallas But they are not alone in coveting the Belgium international with a host of other clubs, including old side Olympiakos, are also said to be monitoring Mirallas’ situation.
Mirallas’ Everton future was uncertain in the summer but he opted to commit to the Blues and signed a new three-year-deal. But after starting the first game of the season, the Belgian has quickly fallen down the pecking order at Goodison.

Michael Ball: Besic roused Everton and rattled Tottenham
4 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
by MichaelBall
Midfielder has a point to prove and rubs off on his Blues team-mates
When Muhamed Besic came on he seemed to give everyone a boost.
He changed the momentum of the game and how things were flowing by not giving Tottenham any respect whatsoever. Before then we just couldn’t get close to them, they were picking us off.
We’ve been guilty of letting teams settle into games too easily but Besic’s display rubbed off on the others and they all upped their game. Being an ex-player I can appreciate what Besic brings. It’s not like people are going through the motions but when they see one of their team-mates put an extra tackle in and giving the extra yard it kind of wakes you up as well if not the whole team.
You think: ‘Come on, we’ve got these rattled.’ He’s got a point to prove because he’s been injured, has got a lot of frustration and wants to show the fans what he can do. It’s nice to see and with James McCarthy not being available he’s done the nasty work and got at teams. As the game wore on we looked fitter than them as Tottenham appeared tired. We started to get the best out of Ross Barkley in the right areas and looked like we were going to be the only team to win it. There was Ramiro Funes Mori’s header and Besic’s shot and a few other breakaways where we were trying to play the perfect pass into Romelu Lukaku only for the final pass to let us down. After the game I was pretty pleased we’d got a point. I think Tottenham were by far the best team we’ve faced this season. It was a strange feeling afterwards because speaking to some Tottenham people they weren’t happy at all.

Their heads were down and I heard that it was the first time this season they didn’t play music in the dressing room after the game because they felt deflated.
Tottenham guilty of doing ‘an Everton’
In the first half you could see why Tottenham are up there in the top four.
They were picking us off and were very fast with one and two-touch play.
You have to give the lads credit. Apart from the goal where we switched off for a moment, we kept them out of the box really. We struggled to get close to them in midfield but as soon as they came into our final third, they never really got in behind us. They ‘did an Everton’ because it reminded me a lot of how we’ve been against other teams, outclassing teams in the first half and expecting it to be the same again after the break.
Lennon still loved by his former fans despite goal
Obviously Aaron’s Lennon’s goal was a big plus point - it always seems to happen that a former player comes back to haunt you. I thought it was nice that the Tottenham fans were still singing his name when he went off even after he’d scored against them. Aaron has been waiting for his opportunity as Gerard Deulofeu has been buoyant but it shows you how strong our squad is. He tracked back well throughout and as soon as he got that one shot you could see it was going in the back of the net.
Split second lapse cost us It was such a shame we conceded the goal when we did. It was a spilt second of concentration with John Stones covering Mori too much and Seamus Coleman too wide, let the gap in. Because Tottenham were trying to play through us it wasn’t working but it was great technique from the centre-half Toby Alderweireld to put it over the top into space.
I’m backing Barkley to get at City back four
I think we can get at Manchester City because if we can get Ross Barkley in that little hole and he’s turning and running at that back four, I don’t care who they’ve got whether it’s Vincent Kompany or whoever I fancy Ross to break their lines and get at them.
The lads will be thriving on the occasion. It’s always great to play against the best players like that because you’ve got nothing to lose.
You just can’t let City settle and get into the pattern they want but we can rattle a few cages.

Felipe Mattioni is Premier League class says his on-loan Everton clubmate
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Brazilian defender is good enough for top flight says Conor Grant
BRAZILIAN defender Felipe Mattioni is back at Everton after his loan spell at Doncaster was interrupted by a hamstring injury. But clubmate Conor Grant, who is also on loan with him at the League One club, believes the 27-year-old has the class to be at Everton permanently, playing Premier League football.
The former Espanyol, Mallorca and AC Milan defender made six appearances for the Yorkshire side before his ill-timed injury but Grant has seen enough already.
“I think he’s good enough (to play in the Premier League),” Grant said.
“I’ve been very impressed with him. I didn’t know much about him. He had trained with us at Everton for a few weeks before we both came here and you could see he was a good player but you didn’t know how he was going to be in a game environment.
“He’s been superb. On the ball he’s different class.
“Obviously he’s got the experience and he’s been unlucky with injuries, very unlucky.
“He’s played with some top class players. I’ve seen the pictures of him with the likes of Beckham and Ronaldinho. It has been brilliant to play alongside him.” Midfielder Grant has scored four goals in 12 appearances on loan at Rovers, where he will stay until the end of the season. On Saturday they entertain Stoke City in the third round of the FA Cup.

Everton are not open to offers for Kevin Mirallas says Roberto Martinez
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Belgian forward can be a "major influence" in second half of the season says Martinez
EVERTON are “not open to offers” for Kevin Mirallas says boss Roberto Martinez - as French giants Monaco are reported to be lining up a January transfer window swoop for the Belgian forward.
Mirallas has started only two Premier League matches this season and is desperate for more exposure in a European Championship season. But Martinez believes he will figure more prominently in the second half of the campaign. “We are not open to offers. Not at all,” he said. “What we have seen with Kevin is that he signed a new contract in the summer and had a strong pre-season. “We are in football to make decisions and we have really good attacking options. “Kevin was unfortunate. He started the first game against Watford but then got a little niggle, a little injury. He then got the three game suspension (for a red card at Swansea). “But the way he has been working the last few weeks earned him a start against Newcastle and I thought he did really well. I expect him to have a major influence in the second half of the season. “If you take into consideration we have really good attacking players in our team and really good options going forward, there is still the opportunity for every player is to use good moments of form to help the team and Kevin is a big part of that as he showed against Newcastle.”
Martinez added: “I am sure there will be speculation all through this window. The squad is still really large because it is a squad prepared for European football and so probably we have one or two bodies who maybe haven’t had as much football as they needed or wanted. “We’ve got the Euros round the corner so there’s going to be a couple of decisions that we need to make in order to benefit everyone but I wouldn’t speak about any individual at the moment. “Whenever there is a situation that is good for the player and good for our squad in general we will announce it but there is nothing to comment on at the moment.” Martinez added that skipper Phil Jagielka was likely to return against Dagenham on Saturday, along with midfielder Steven Pienaar, but James McCarthy would continue to sit out the Manchester City and Dagenham matches. “Phil Jagielka had a really important presence in the dressing room and he will be involved very soon. He is not ready to play 90 minutes yet but probably the weekend will be a better target for Jags. “With James McCarthy we are making big strides. I don’t think he will make the next two games, but probably the end of the month. We need to make sure he is fully recovered after a setback like this. “Steven Pienaar is available for the weekend so there is good news there, too.”

Everton are not open to offers for Kevin Mirallas says Roberto Martinez
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Belgian forward can be a "major influence" in second half of the season says Martinez
EVERTON are “not open to offers” for Kevin Mirallas says boss Roberto Martinez - as French giants Monaco are reported to be lining up a January transfer window swoop for the Belgian forward.
Mirallas has started only two Premier League matches this season and is desperate for more exposure in a European Championship season. But Martinez believes he will figure more prominently in the second half of the campaign. “We are not open to offers. Not at all,” he said. “What we have seen with Kevin is that he signed a new contract in the summer and had a strong pre-season. “We are in football to make decisions and we have really good attacking options. “Kevin was unfortunate. He started the first game against Watford but then got a little niggle, a little injury. He then got the three game suspension (for a red card at Swansea). “But the way he has been working the last few weeks earned him a start against Newcastle and I thought he did really well. I expect him to have a major influence in the second half of the season. “If you take into consideration we have really good attacking players in our team and really good options going forward, there is still the opportunity for every player is to use good moments of form to help the team and Kevin is a big part of that as he showed against Newcastle.”
Kevin Mirallas of Everton is challenged by Daryl Janmaat of Newcastle United as he shoots at goalkeeper Robert Elliot Martinez added: “I am sure there will be speculation all through this window. The squad is still really large because it is a squad prepared for European football and so probably we have one or two bodies who maybe haven’t had as much football as they needed or wanted. “We’ve got the Euros round the corner so there’s going to be a couple of decisions that we need to make in order to benefit everyone but I wouldn’t speak about any individual at the moment. “Whenever there is a situation that is good for the player and good for our squad in general we will announce it but there is nothing to comment on at the moment.” Martinez added that skipper Phil Jagielka was likely to return against Dagenham on Saturday, along with midfielder Steven Pienaar, but James McCarthy would continue to sit out the Manchester City and Dagenham matches. “Phil Jagielka had a really important presence in the dressing room and he will be involved very soon. He is not ready to play 90 minutes yet but probably the weekend will be a better target for Jags. “With James McCarthy we are making big strides. I don’t think he will make the next two games, but probably the end of the month. We need to make sure he is fully recovered after a setback like this. “Steven Pienaar is available for the weekend so there is good news there, too.”

Man City: Wilfried Bony out of Everton game
5 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
By Stuart Brennan
The Manchester City striker will miss Wednesday's league cup clash but the injury is not thought to be serious.
Wilfried Bony will miss tomorrow night's League Cup semi-final first leg after taking a kick in the calf in training.
But the striker should be back for Saturday's FA Cup third round tie at Norwich, manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed today. Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri will also be missing for the trip to Goodison Park, the first of three games in a fortnight against the Toffees, with a league clash at home next week and the second leg the following Wednesday. The good news for the Blues is that Sergio Aguero, after playing 86 minutes at Watford, is deemed fit enough to keep playing.
“I think Sergio is able to three games in a week with no problem at this moment,” said Pellegrini.
“His last injury was just a pain in his heel, it was not a muscle injury.” With Bony missing, Pellegrini says that there are no concerns over Aguero: “It is very important," he said. "Maybe he will play all the game but if you ask me if he is fit, yes he is fit. The best way for him to recover his best performance is playing games.”

Liverpool Ladies: Fara Williams leaves to join Arsenal
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Paul Philbin
Williams, who recently picked up an MBE, leaves the Reds after a three year spell
Liverpool Ladies Football Club have confirmed that midfielder Fara Williams will be leaving the club to join Arsenal Ladies. The England international joined the Reds in 2012 from rivals Everton and played a key part in the Reds winning back-to-back Women's Super League titles in 2013 and 2014. The 31-year-old becomes the seventh player to leave Liverpool since the end of the season. On the move, Williams said: "I have really enjoyed my time at Liverpool Ladies and will take away some absolutely fantastic memories. When I first joined the Club the team had finished bottom of the league so to win back to back league titles was an incredible achievement. “I have enjoyed every minute of my time here and I would like to thank all my teammates and staff for making my time with the club so memorable and enjoyable. I would also like to thank the supporters for their phenomenal support over the past few seasons.”

We haven't lost the Everton fans says Roberto Martinez
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
ROBERTO MARTINEZ believes Goodison Park will be “rocking” for the visit of Manchester City
There were a couple of isolated moments of unrest against Spurs on Sunday involving goalkeeper Tim Howard and defender John Stones, but in a final half-hour which saw the Blues pen back the title pretenders the stadium was very vocal. Martinez believes that noise will be intensified for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. “I know for a fact Goodison will be rocking,” he said. “I think the atmosphere we are going to see tomorrow will be very special. The League Cup competition has been a phenomenal competition for us. “The away support and home support has helped the team get through. “To get far in this competition you have to face a team like Man City, but I feel that playing at home at Goodison at its very intimidating best we can be a match for anyone and we are looking forward to replicating the level of our performance against Spurs and have a very good game.
Asked if his players needed to win back the fans Martinez added: “I don’t think we ever lost them. We have been very open with them and the fans see a fully committed team who gives everything with character and personality. “Some of our attacking football this season has been outstanding.
“But you look at the goals we have conceded away from home and we have conceded eight. At Goodison we have conceded 20 and that tells you as a stat it is costing us a lot of points.
“But the performances have been very consistent and we need the help of our fans to help us correct that. “The fans are a huge part of how we perform at home. There’s no two ways about it. But the last 25 minutes against Spurs we were very dominant. “The crowd and our team and our play reflected that and togetherness is what we need to fulfil our potential.”
When it was suggested that some supporters were concerned that a disappointing season may lead to high profile players leaving at the end of the season, Martinez hit back: “First and foremost we need to be aware of the special side we have and not be worried of losing players - because if we lose anything of this squad it will be for football reasons and ultimately the squad will benefit from it.
“There has been a big turnaround of players in the last three seasons to the players we have now – for me they are world class. “We have experienced players who know what it means to play for Everton and then we have young talent developing big roles already in the team. “The fans sharing the same frustrations we share. We know we have seen great signs this season but we need to be patient. We can’t just click our fingers overnight and become a good team. “The performances have been very very consistent and that’s probably where the frustration comes. “We all need to learn as a football club that we have a special group of players who we have to help and we need to be part of the process to make them stronger in keeping leads and helping them get points their performances deserve. “We can only do that with the support of our fans and that anxiety will turn into a way of helping our young players develop.”

Who spoke to John Stones following his three Cruyff turns?
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Roberto Martinez reveals his favourite moment of the Spurs match
Besic has been on the Everton bench for the last four matches after sustaining a hamstring injury nine minutes into his only Premier League start of the season against Chelsea. But he made a significant impact in a half hour cameo against Spurs on Sunday and Martinez said: “Everyone was delighted to see Mo back to his full flow. “It was so disappointing for him to pick up that injury against Chelsea so early in the game. He is a contagious character. My best memory against Spurs was him being the first to go and see John Stones after he had three Cruyff turns in the box and there was a bit of a restless feeling!
“He’s a contagious footballer. It was great to see him fully fit and ready to enjoy his football. He has had a frustrating start to the season but that doesn’t take away the quality he has and how important he is going to be for us. “He is still a young man. He enjoyed a crucial role last season and this season we expected him to kick on but the injury set him back a little bit. But in a 10 month camoaign his freshness and willigness to play well will be vitally important in our team.”

Why Capital One Cup semi-finals could leave Liverpool and Everton in an away daze
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Liverpool Echo
Reds and Blues may have to negotiate the unique rules of this stage of the competition - Matt Crosby investigates
'Brendan, are you saying I'm stupid for not knowing the away goals ruling? Then YOU explain it to me...'
Whenever away goals are mentioned in football, your mind immediately wanders to all those frantic European nights when teams have been hard done by over the away goal rule. Originally introduced by UEFA in 1965 to avoid the need for tie-breakers or further replays, the rule has now become an incentive to cut out teams from “parking the bus”, rewarding teams who play a more attacking and aggressive brand of football away from home. In UEFA knockout competions, as well as some of FIFA's tournaments, the rules are rather simple to understand. If the scores are level after the end of the two-legged fixtures, the team who have scored the most goals away from home will progress. If there were no scorers (0-0 after both legs) or the result was the same in the first leg as the second, e.g both games finished 3-2 to the home side) then the traditional extra time and penalties will follow, although away goals will still count in extra time. Yet the Capital One Cup adopts a slightly strange take on away goal proceedings, making many fans and sometimes even players either unaware or confused by how they are used in the competition. So what should Liverpool and Everton be looking out for?
Don't fight the law
According to law 13.5 from the Capital One Cup's official website: "In the Semi-Final ties, if the aggregate score is level at the end of the second game an extra half-hour shall be played. If the aggregate scores are still level at the end of extra time the tie shall be decided by goals scored away from home counting twice.
"If the teams remain equal after this procedure the tie shall be determined by the taking of kicks from the penalty mark in accordance with the Laws of Association Football." Basically, it adopts its own methods (key to note this is only used for the semi-finals as the previous rounds are only one tie finished on the night by extra time and penalties if needed). If the scores remain level after both legs, but someone has scored more away goals in the tie, it won't matter as there will be extra time anyway, but away goals then become active from extra-time onwards.
Goals, lovely goals
Still with us?
In terms of last season, Liverpool were given an extra 30 minutes lifeline to try get back into the game against Chelsea, before Branislav Ivanovic popped up in the 94th minute to secure the away goal rule wasn't needed. The first leg at Anfield saw Liverpool draw 1-1, Eden Hazard converted a penalty early on for an away goal which was later equalised by Raheem Sterling. The second leg then saw the scores finish at 0-0 after 90 minutes. If the game was in Europe, Liverpool would have been out. Instead they had another half-hour to grab an all important goal, as Hazard's away goal from the first leg now became active. Instead, Branislav Ivanovic popped up with a header and made it 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) and the confusing League Cup away goals rule wasn't needed. There has only been one instance of the rule working since the Millennium. In 2006, Wigan won their first leg at home 1-0, and lost their second leg 2-1 at the Emirates, but that vital 118th-minute strike from Jason Roberts crushed Arsenal's hopes of reaching the final.

Everton must tap into winners' experience to defeat Manchester City in Capital One Cup
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues boss Roberto Martinez says the know-how of decorated players in his squad will be vital
Arouna Kone, here in action against Manchester City earlier this season, is among several Everton players to have won a trophy Everton must tap into the experience of their most decorated players if they are to make the Capital One Cup final, says Roberto Martinez . Seven members of the Blues squad, available for Wednesday night’s semi-final against Manchester City, have won domestic honours.
Gareth Barry, Aaron Lennon, Tom Cleverley, Darron Gibson, Tim Howard, Joel Robles and Arouna Kone have all lifted either the Premier League, FA Cup or League Cup. James McCarthy, ruled out of the City game with a hip injury, also has an FA Cup winners’ medal. And Martinez believes those experiences will be important over the two legs with City this month and admits it may shape his team selections.
“It helps but so does playing in the big occasions at Goodison and understanding what that takes,” he said. “I think the winning mentality and knowing what it takes to win a trophy is important as well but we have got a winning mentality in the group. “We have a young winning mentality and need for that youth to allow our performance to be intelligent enough during the 90 minutes but, as a whole, the feeling is that if we are perfect in our performance then we can beat anyone.” Aaron Lennon won silverware when at Tottenham Hotspur Everton have not beaten City under Martinez in five attempts but he saw enough during January’s 1-1 draw - and the long periods in which they matched them in August – to give him the belief that the run can come to an end. “The combination of understanding how we drew the game in January last season and how we played against them in August, is important,” Martinez said. “But also the performance against Spurs on Sunday is very, very important for us because it is the first time we defended really, really well at home for most of this season because in the last six or seven games at Goodison we have defended really, really loose. “Against Spurs, we regained that defensive intensity and that is a big part of how we want to play. “As a team wanting to spend a lot of time on the ball, you need to be able to defend those sporadic actions when you are facing teams who are not going to have a lot of possession.
“But when you face top teams, who have quality, you have to defend well.
“So the Spurs performance will allow us to start this game well.”
Martinez has watched Manchester City in person three times this season and has seen Manuel Pellegrini experiment with different line-ups and formations. But City are expected to field a 4-2-3-1 formation at Goodison tomorrow night and stick with the same side that came from behind to defeat Watford on Saturday night. It had been suggested that Sergio Aguero would be rested for the tie but Pellegrini has confirmed that the Argentina striker will play.

Gareth Barry: My one remaining career ambition is to win a trophy with Everton
Veteran Everton midfielder is hoping his team can see off Manchester City in the Capital One Cup semi-final
Gareth Barry: My big remaining ambition is to cap my career by winning a trophy for Everton
By Chris Bascombe
05 Jan 2016 Telegraph
Gareth Barry is well acquainted with the hostility aimed at Manchester City players arriving at Goodison Park. Antipathy between the north-west neighbours has festered since City surged past Everton with the assistance of Arab wealth, in part because one of the regime’s first statements of intent in the transfer market came at the Merseysiders’ expense. The scar of Joleon Lescott’s acrimonious move in 2009 has never healed – each Everton win since celebrated with greater verve. Should Everton reach Wembley at City’s expense when the sides meet in the Capital One Cup semi-final the satisfaction will run deeper. As an ex-City player there was a time Barry felt that wrath, particularly when Roberto Mancini’s side found Everton to be a nemesis. “I have experienced it and, for me, Goodison is the toughest away ground to come to,” said Barry. “I remember a game in 2012 because I saw both sides of Goodison. We (City) were on top in the first half and I remember the home crowd getting on the Everton players’ backs. I thought to myself ‘we’ve got them here because they are feeling the pressure’. Then all of a sudden, a couple of challenges turned it around. We started feeling it then. There are definitely two sides to Goodison. Barry has first-hand experience of life at Manchester City “Any crowd that gets on your back makes it difficult but you are going to get that if things aren’t going well. “The fans have got their right to give their opinion. We have got to use the atmosphere to our advantage. “At the minute we are not for some reason. That is what we need to set up on Wednesday. If you are an opposition player and you want to take a touch but the crowd is on your back, it is a difficult place to play. Under the lights here, the atmosphere is that much stronger. It is about ourselves - getting in the opposition faces and lifting the fans off their seats.” Much of the antagonism in this fixture comes from the similarity of the clubs, for so long trying to match their city rivals’ trophy gathering and global fame. City won the lottery with the Abu Dhabi takeover and Everton keep on buying their ticket in the hope of a similar windfall. Barry feels Everton have the same potential as they chase they seek to end a trophy drought. With just a percentage of the investment City have enjoyed, Everton believe they’d be regular top four rather than top six contenders. Roberto Martinez has been rewarded for keeping faith with Barry “This club is waiting to make the step to Wembley. The players are aware of that. I am,” said Barry. “They are similar fans. We never seem to make things easy for ourselves at Everton and at City it was the same. “Manchester City are just another team that needs to be beaten and standing in our way of achieving the ambition of lifting a trophy for Everton. The last two years of my career at Everton, I want to win a trophy. I managed to do it at City, being part of a group that ended a long wait for a trophy, and to do it here would be fantastic. “We have got belief. We have shown this season in some of our performances that we can beat anyone. We have got some young players but there is a lot of experience too that can see us through. It all comes down to belief and we believe we can get to the final this time.” Barry’s experience in a youthful Everton side is essential for Roberto Martinez, who stood by the midfielder at the end of last season when many were suggesting he had gone on a year too long. At 34 the ex-England man has rediscovered his consistency, with his manager suggesting he can play until he is 40. Barry knows how difficult it will be to beat his old club “I feel good for my age,” he said. “There are not too many players my age playing regularly in the Premier League. It’s a good feeling and it’s great to hear that from the manager because that gives you confidence but I just take it a season at a time. I know in football things can change so quickly.” Such changing of perspective within a matter of months explains why Barry is wary of the criticism of his former team mate Yaya Toure, warning how destructive the African can be as he seeks to silence criticism of his influence on the City team. “He gets criticism because of his style,” said Barry.
“Sometimes he just looks like he is waiting for it to happen or waiting for them to go behind before he turns it on - that’s just Yaya. He’s always been like that. “People get frustrated with him but when it comes to the business end, people like Yaya will win you cups and titles. He has got his own style. I’m not going to say he runs around and covers the most ground because the stats are there and it is clear to see that’s not him. But when it comes to producing the goods, he is capable and he has shown that through his career. “I’ve played against City three times since I left and have lost them all. People have been on their backs, saying they wait until they need to turn it on but the quality is obviously there. When it comes to the business end, they will produce and, for me, they are the favourites to win the league.”

Gareth Barry keen for the good side of Goodison to drive Everton to Wembley
The midfielder’s old club Manchester City present a formidable obstacle to Everton achieving the dream of capturing elusive silverware in the Capital One Cup but he believes the home fans can help out
Everton’s Gareth Barry
By Andy Hunter
Tuesday 5 January 2016 Guardian
Only two players have more Premier League experience than Gareth Barry and, in his qualified opinion, there is no tougher venue to visit than a floodlit Goodison Park. The 34-year-old needs Manchester City to discover what he means on Wednesdayas the old place is proving more problematic to Everton this season than most of its guests. “There are definitely two sides to Goodison and we have got to use it to our advantage,” the veteran insists. It can be a mark of the underdog to talk up a crowd’s influence before an important cup tie, as Barry and Roberto Martínez have done before the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg, but there are more significant reasons for the current focus on the mood at Goodison.
Wednesday’s semi-final represents a test of Everton’s emerging talents and supporters’ faith in the long-term approach Martínez espouses as the club’s best way of delivering silverware and top-four finishes. There have been signs of erosion recently with Everton’s lauded attacking style yielding just one win in six matches and three wins from 11 Premier League home games all season. City were among the eight to depart with points after a 2-0 win in August and Martínez’s team, keen to maintain the initiative on home soil even at the expense of closing out games, have conceded 20 league goals at Goodison this term compared with nine away. Tim Howard has reacted to sarcastic cheers from the Gwladys Street after collecting routine crosses in the last two games. John Stones urged the Park End to get off his back having performed three Cruyff turns in his penalty area during the final stages of Sunday’s draw against Tottenham Hotspur – successfully, it should be said – when groans followed Everton throughout the contest. The longing for a first trophy since 1995, in a competition Everton have never won, heightens the anxiety surrounding City’s visit. Barry admits: “You will feel that tension in the air. This club is waiting to make the step to Wembley. The players are aware of that. I am. It is down to us to get on the pitch and achieve the performance that will set us up to get through. We never seem to make things easy for ourselves at Everton and at City it was the same, having to come from behind to get ahead in the big games. But we have to be confident that we can beat them. “For me, Goodison is the toughest away ground to come to. I have experienced it. At the minute we are not using that to our advantage for some reason. That is what we need to set up on Wednesday. If you are an opposition player and you want to take a touch but the crowd is on your back, it is a difficult place to play. Under the lights here, the atmosphere is that much stronger. We need to use that to our advantage.” The midfielder, a Premier League and FA Cup winner during his four seasons at City, cites a 1-0 defeat against David Moyes’s Everton in January 2012 as evidence of Goodison’s ability to intimidate both sides. Barry recalls: “The one when Gibbo [Darron Gibson] scored stands out because I saw both sides of Goodison that night. We were on top in the first half and I remember the home crowd getting on the Everton players’ backs. I thought to myself: ‘We’ve got them here because they are feeling the pressure.’ Then, all of a sudden, a couple of challenges turned it around. We started feeling it then. There are definitely two sides to Goodison and we have got to use it to our advantage. Any crowd that gets on your back makes it difficult but you are going to get that if things aren’t going well. The fans have got their right to give their opinion.” Opinion on Barry has been universally positive at Everton this season. Without the demands of European football, which took a toll last season, the midfielder’s control and composure continue to impress and prompted Martínez to proclaim recently that the former England international could continue until the age of 40. Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard are the two players to have made more Premier League appearances than Barry, who is now 27 games behind Lampard’s 609.

“I feel good for my age,” he admits. “There are not too many players my age playing regularly in the Premier League. It’s a good feeling and it’s great to hear from the manager because that gives you confidence. I just take it a season at a time because I know in football things can change so quickly.”
Barry has 18 months remaining on his Everton contract and one clear ambition. His old club present a formidable obstacle to achieving it. “I’ve played against Manchester City three times since I left and have lost them all!” he reflects, ominously from a royal blue perspective. “People have been on their backs, saying they wait until they need to turn it on, but the quality is obviously there. When it comes to the business end they will produce and, for me, they are the favourites to win the league. “It’s just another game, though. Manchester City are just another team that needs to be beaten and standing in our way of achieving the ambition of lifting a trophy for Everton. The last two years of my career at Everton, I want to win a trophy. I managed to do it at City, being part of a group that ended a long wait for a trophy, and to do it here would be fantastic.”

Gareth Barry tells Everton fans: 'Don't hit the panic button'
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues stand-in captain wants to harness the power of Goodison against old club Manchester City on Wednesday
Gareth Barry wants Manchester City to feel the force of Goodison
Gareth Barry can tell you all about just how volatile and unpredictable the atmosphere at Goodison can be. The 34-year-old midfielder knows it as one of the most hostile places for an away team to visit but in recent seasons has discovered that it can also be an anxious and tense environment for the home side. As Barry says, there are two sides to Goodison. But the Blues’ stand-in captain is confident that Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City will be one of those occasions when the visitors head home having felt the wrath of the Old Lady. Barry, however, admits the onus must be on the Everton players to give the Blues faithful something to shout about as the club chase their first trophy since 1995. But the skipper has urged everyone at Goodison to stay calm - and not hit the panic button if City take the lead. “We know what the atmosphere is going to be like,” Barry said.
“You will feel that tension in the air. This club are waiting to make the step to Wembley.
“The players are aware of that. I am. It is down to us to get on the pitch and achieve the performance that will set us up to get through.”
'Goodison is the toughest away ground to come to'
Barry added: "I have experienced the atmosphere as an opposition player and, for me, Goodison is the toughest away ground to come to. “At the minute we are not using that to our advantage for some reason. That is what we need to set up on Wednesday. “If you are an opposition player and you want to take a touch but the crowd is on your back, it is a difficult place to play. “Under the lights here, the atmosphere is that much stronger. We need to use that to our advantage. Steven Naismith scores against Dynamo Kiev last season - but the atmosphere was 'toxic' after Everton had fallen behind early on “It is about ourselves, getting in the opposition’s faces and lifting the fans off their seats. That is the first target. “We never seem to make things easy for ourselves at Everton and at City it was the same, having to come from behind to get ahead in the big games.
“But it’s a cup tie and anything can happen. “We have to be confident that we can beat them.”
'We have got belief - we can beat anyone' The Goodison atmosphere was toxic when Dynamo Kiev took an early lead in the last 16 of the Europa League last season but Everton turned the game around, levelled through Steven Naismith and then went ahead from Romelu Lukaku’s penalty, to take a 2-1 lead into the second leg. Martinez credits Barry for bringing about the change that night. “Maybe because of the nature of my personality, I just try to keep calm if we score and I stay at the same level if we score,” he said. And so what about this two-legged affair? Everton's last League Cup semi-final in 2008
Everton's last League Cup semi-final was the defeat to Chelsea in 2008 “We have got belief,” Barry added. “We have shown this season in some of our performances that we can beat anyone.
“We have got some young players but there is a lot of experience too that can see us through.
“It all comes down to belief and we believe we can get to the final this time. “A lot of the young players will not have played in two legged ties. “If we do go ahead or do go behind, there is no need to panic.
“There is so much football that needs to be played. “The important game is going to be the one at the Etihad. “Wednesday will only be half the job done.” Barry continued: “We need to look back at Middlesbrough and see what we did. “That was an all-round balanced performance. That is what we are searching for. We attacked really well and defended in numbers. “I know you can say they are a Championship side but we did not give them any opportunities at all. That is the mark we need to get to as City have got the quality to break through.”

Everton close in on signing of Swiss superkid Shani Tarashaj
5 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues expected to snap up deal for 20-year-old - and then loan him back to Grasshopper Zurich
Everton target Shani Tarashaj
Everton are expected to complete the signing of Swiss wonderkid Shani Tarashaj on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old will put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal but is to be loaned back to Grasshopper Zurich until the end of the season. Tarashaj, who underwent a medical at a private facility on Monday and has agreed personal terms on a move to Everton, is seen as one of the most exciting young attacking talents in Switzerland and has scored eight times in 18 appearances this term in the Super League. The forward has been capped at under-21 level by Switzerland and netted in their 3-1 defeat to England in a European Championship qualifier in November. Tarashaj will become the Blues' second signing of the January transfer window following Matty Foulds' £225,000 move from Bury.
Everton remain interested in Leeds United's Sam Byram but getting a deal over the line for the talented 22-year-old is unlikely to be straightforward.

Everton transfers: Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady to go out on loan
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Republic of Ireland pair looking for game time ahead of Euro 2016 this summer
Aiden McGeady and Darron Gibson could go out on loan this month
Everton plan to send Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady out on loan this month.
The Republic of Ireland pair have featured just six times between them for the Blues this season.
And with Euro 2016 on the horizon, Gibson and McGeady fear for their place in the national squad for the summer’s tournament - unless they start playing regularly. So Everton will try and find the duo loan deals this month for the rest of the season. McGeady, 29, is hoping to remain in the Premier League but a number of Championship clubs have registered their interest in the winger. It has been suggested that McGeady could return on loan to Celtic but Parkhead boss Ronny Deila cooled the talk earlier this week. Gibson, 28, is expected to secure himself a short-term move to another Premier League side with Aston Villa and Sunderland monitoring the experienced midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer. The Goodison future of Steven Naismith, meanwhile, remains in doubt after he was left out of the squad to face Spurs on Sunday. it is understood a decision will be taken by the end of next week, with Norwich City ready to pay £8million for his services.

Everton slam door on Celtic bid to bring back Aiden McGeady by refusing to subsidise potential loan move
6 Jan 2016 Daily Record
By Keith Jackson
CELTIC are unable to afford the Republic of Ireland international's wages and the Toffees have refused
EVERTON have slammed the door on Celtic’s hopes of landing Aiden McGeady by insisting they will not subsidise any loan move. Goodison boss Roberto Martinez will allow McGeady to move on this month along with Scotland striker Steven Naismith and Irish midfielder Darron Gibson. Norwich are leading the chase for Naismith and are prepared to bid around £8.5million to land their man but it’s not yet clear if the player wants to commit himself to a battle for Premier League survival. McGeady, though, is determined to move on in order to protect his place in the Republic of Ireland’s plans for next summer’s European Championships and Martinez believes the Hoops are interested in offering him first-team football back at his old stomping ground. McGeady came through the ranks at Parkhead and spent nine years there before joining Spartak Moscow for £9.5m in 2010. It’s believed the winger would relish the chance of a return to his first club but McGeady had been hoping that Everton might smooth his passage home by agreeing to cover a percentage of his pay packet, which is thought to be in excess of £50,000-a-week. However, Martinez has now made it clear that no such compromise package will be agreed and has told the 29-year-old’s advisers to find a club which is willing and able to foot the entire bill from now until the end of the season. A source on Merseyside told Record Sport last night: “Martinez knows that Celtic will not be in a position to pay that kind of money so it’s up to Aiden to find another option.
“At this stage there is interest in him from a number of clubs in the English Championship but there has been no contact with any other Premier League clubs. “It’s a shame because the idea of going back to Glasgow for six months rather than stepping down a league in England probably appeals to Aiden and his representatives. “But Everton have made it clear they will not budge. “So unless Celtic are prepared to really push the boat out it looks like Aiden will be staying down south for the time being.”

Everton v Manchester City: Yaya Toure makes us tick says manager Manuel Pellegrini
6 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
By Stuart Brennan
The Ivory Coast midfielder's stats make his critics look silly and he will be asked to dig deep for League Cup semi-final.
Yaya Toure will be asked to dig deep once more for Manchester City as they face Everton in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. And with Blues boss Manuel Pellegrini describing the away leg as being “like a Champions League game”, it could be that the Ivorian will form a three-man midfield at Goodison Park. Toure has been criticised by some pundits this season, and has even taken flak from some fans, but has hit back with three goals in his last four games. And manager Manuel Pellegrini has re-affirmed the importance of his stand-in captain to the way City play – and says the statistics also make liars of the critics. Toure rarely gets a rest, but that is partly because he wants to play in every game, and Pellegrini recognises his crucial role – it is no coincidence that City's worst performance of the season, at Stoke, came with him injured. “I think that every player must always want to play every game,” said Pellegrini. “That’s a good mentality. Yaya always tries to play. “Maybe for the amount of games we must play, it’s not good for him to play every game. But I’m very happy with the mentality of those players that they are always ready to play. Toure feels he has been unfairly judged on his goalscoring since he bagged 23 during the Blues' title-winning season in 2013-14.
Pellegrini agrees there is much more to the midfielder's game:
“He’s not only scoring important goals. He’s scored important goals in the last few games, but I think that Yaya gives very good play to our team. “He’s the midfielder from where we have the most amount of passes to make the last decisive pass, so I think he’s a very important player. “A lot of media criticise his body language and the way he runs, but if you see all the statistics of Yaya after every game, he’s the one player that runs more.” READ MORE: Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini resigned to losing job to Bayern coach City's only new injury problem for the first leg at Goodison is Wilfried Bony, who should be back in time for the FA Cup third round tie at Norwich on Saturday. Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri are also ruled out. The Blues have the luxury of being able to counter-attack in the first leg, with the onus on Everton to seize the initiative in their home leg.
And that led Pellegrini to say: “It's a test like a Champions League game.
“Maybe it's different because in the Champions League it is more important to score away - here it is slightly different because there is extra time. But it's a similar test to the Champions League.”

Everton transfer rumours: Diego Lopez the latest goalkeeper to be linked with Goodison move, Andros Townsend gamble
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Rory Benson-LE
A round-up of transfer rumours and speculation from around the web
The big transfer rumour of yesterday was that Wayne Rooney was linked to a move back to Goodison Park in a shock summer transfer. But let's give ourselves a pinch, get back to reality and talk about gossip which is more likely to come to fruition. One supposed Toffee transfer target who could be seen in Merseyside this January is Spanish goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Respected Italian news outlet Gazetta dello Sport have claimed that both Everton and Bournemouth are tracking the AC Milan stopper, who is out of contract in 2018. Despite the rumours, it doesn't seem likely Lopez will make the move to Goodison, as the former Real Madrid man is only two years younger than his American counterpart, Tim Howard. In outgoing gossip, w e now know that Roberto Martinez will listen to offers for loan move for Irish pair Aiden McGeady and Darron Gibson. McGeady has only one appearance this season and has slid down the pecking order behind Aaron Lennon, Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu, while Gibson has made five appearances since a drink-driving charge in September. Both will be looking to maximise their chances of playing for the Republic of Ireland at the European Championships in France this summer and a loan move could benefit both players and the club. However, the Daily Record claim Celtic have been rebuffed in their attempts to sign McGeady, because the Toffees refuse to subsidise any loan move for the winger. Sorry, Bhoys. The Everton rumour mill has been grinding slowly but talk has emerged of Andros Townsend making the journey to the North West. But with the abundance of wide men waiting in the wings, would the Toffees really take a gamble on a 24-year-old lacking first team football?

Everton v Manchester City: Priorities, Stones and more to look out for
6 Jan 2016 Manchster Evening News
by RobPollard
The Blues are just a two-legged tie away from a Wembley final - and Pellegrini has some thinking to do.
After their win over Watford at the weekend, Manchester City will now park their Premier League campaign and concentrate on the two domestic knock-out competitions, starting with a trip to Everton on Wednesday in the semi-final of the League Cup.
Manuel Pellegrini has plenty to mull over before the game.
Hart or Caballero?
Willy Caballero is Pellegrini’s chosen domestic cup ‘keeper. He trusts the man he worked closely with at Malaga, despite some dodgy displays in a City shirt. But is it the right decision to play a goalkeeper so clearly inferior to Joe Hart in a cup semi-final? City are a couple of decent results away from a trip to Wembley and a shot at the first major piece of silverware of the season and Hart has been one of the Blues’ best players this season. For a manager judged on his ability to win as much as silverware as possible, it’s a big call.
Kelechi surely starts
Even before news of Wilfried Bony’s calf problem, Kelechi Iheanacho deserved a starting spot in this game. The Man of the Match in the fourth round against Crystal Palace with a goal and a couple of assists, before following that up with another goal just nine minutes after coming on as a sub in the quarter-final against Hull, he’s been superb in this competition. Surely City’s 19-year-old wonderkid will be given the nod. How important is the League Cup? January is a busy month for City, with games spanning three competitions. Pellegrini so often says he only focuses on the next match but surely, with so many fixtures in a short space of time, he must be making plans for the schedule as a whole.
If so, he may feel like some rotation is needed. But whereas some see the League Cup as a low priority and would therefore advocate wholesale changes, Pellegrini very obviously values the competition.
Expect close to his strongest line up. Romelu Lukaku, the Premier League’s top scorer this season, is bang in form. Eliaquim Mangala most certainly is not. Many will see this as a game the Everton man will relish but Mangala gave perhaps his best display in a City shirt up against the Belgian earlier in the season. It could prove to be the key battle. Keep an eye on John Stones It’s worth keeping tabs on John Stones during this game. The Everton centre-back is making a big impression this season, with a string of superb displays. He’s excellent with the ball at his feet and, although he has made some defensive errors, he is improving all the time. Has there been a better young English centre-half since Rio Ferdinand at West Ham? City may be tempted to sign him in the summer as a long-term replacement for the injury-affected Vincent Kompany.

Everton fans will get Goodison rocking for Manchester City clash, says Roberto Martinez
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
The Blues boss believes the club's supporters will crank up the volume for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final
Roberto Martinez has backed Everton's fans to get Goodison Park 'rocking' for their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg tie against Manchester City. During Everton's 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday some supporters became frustrated on some occasions, including one particular moment involving goalkeeper Tim Howard and defender John Stones. However, towards the end of the game the atmosphere picked up and Martinez said his side have definitely not lost the faith of their fans.
“I know for a fact Goodison will be rocking,” he said. “I think the atmosphere we are going to see tomorrow will be very special. The League Cup competition has been a phenomenal competition for us.
Read more: Everton FC fans and players must work together to create Goodison bear-pit if they want to reach Wembley “To get far in this competition you have to face a team like Man City, but I feel that playing at home at Goodison at its very intimidating best we can be a match for anyone and we are looking forward to replicating the level of our performance against Spurs and have a very good game.
Asked if his players needed to win back the fans Martinez added: “I don’t think we ever lost them. We have been very open with them and the fans see a fully committed team who gives everything with character and personality. “Some of our attacking football this season has been outstanding.
“But you look at the goals we have conceded away from home and we have conceded eight. At Goodison we have conceded 20 and that tells you as a stat it is costing us a lot of points.
“But the performances have been very consistent and we need the help of our fans to help us correct that. “The fans are a huge part of how we perform at home. There’s no two ways about it. But the last 25 minutes against Spurs we were very dominant. “The crowd and our team and our play reflected that and togetherness is what we need to fulfil our potential.”
'The fans sharing the same frustrations we share'
When it was suggested that some supporters were concerned that a disappointing season may lead to high profile players leaving at the end of the season, Martinez hit back: “First and foremost we need to be aware of the special side we have and not be worried of losing players - because if we lose anything of this squad it will be for football reasons and ultimately the squad will benefit from it. “There has been a big turnaround of players in the last three seasons to the players we have now – for me they are world class. “We have experienced players who know what it means to play for Everton and then we have young talent developing big roles already in the team.
“The fans sharing the same frustrations we share. We know we have seen great signs this season but we need to be patient. We can’t just click our fingers overnight and become a good team.
“The performances have been very very consistent and that’s probably where the frustration comes.
“We all need to learn as a football club that we have a special group of players who we have to help and we need to be part of the process to make them stronger in keeping leads and helping them get points their performances deserve. “We can only do that with the support of our fans and that anxiety will turn into a way of helping our young players develop.”

P8 W6 D2 L0: Roberto's Goodison Cup record plus other key stats for EFC v Man City
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
All the Key Stats for Everton v Manchester City by Gavin Buckland
Gary Lineker, Everton's last hat-trick hero against Manchester City
This is our fifth semi-final in this competition and our first since 2008, when we went out to Chelsea. The Toffees have won two (Bolton 1977, Aston Villa 1984) and lost two (Arsenal 1988, Chelsea 2008) of their four previous semi-finals We have played City twice before in this competition, losing 2-0 away in October 1969 but triumphing 2-0 at Goodison at the quarter-final stage in January 1988. City have won two and drawn one of their last three visits to Goodison – most recently winning 2-0 earlier this season. Before that sequence Everton had won the previous four encounters on the ground. City have won four and drawn one of the last five games between the clubs Manuel Pellegrini is unbeaten in his managerial career against Everton – winning six times and drawing once with Villarreal and City.
Roberto Martinez has one previous cup encounter with City as a manager – the 2013 FA Cup final with Wigan Martinez’s record in cup matches at Goodison with Wigan and Everton: P8 W6 D2 L0, one of the draws being the penalty shoot-out victory over Norwich this season.
Goals for Everton against Manchester City for those who may feature: Osman (3), Lukaku (2), Barkley, Naismith (1 apiece) Since the start of 2015, Romelu Lukaku has scored 12 goals in 10 cup matches for Everton. The Toffees have kept one clean sheet in 12 home games this season in all competitions
City have reached this stage of the competition by scoring 13 goals in three games, the Toffees netting 10 in four matches. The last hat-trick by an Everton player against City was netted by Gary Lineker in February 1986. No Everton player has scored more than once in a game against City since Peter Beagrie at Maine Road in May 1993. The last hat-trick by a City player against Everton was the treble of penalties netted by Ken Barnes at Maine Road in December 1957. The last hat-trick at Goodison was by Tommy Johnson (later to move to Everton), who scored five times in September 1928.

No fear urges Roberto Martinez ahead of Manchester City test
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
We must understand that "we are Everton" says Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez has urged Everton to "be ourselves" in tonight's League Cup semi-final first leg and show no fear against Manuel Pellegrini's expensively assembled and potentially brilliant Manchester City. Everton have won just one of their last six matches while City have won four and drawn at Leicester in their last six outings. But Martinez is more concerned about his own team's performance than City this evening. In an impassioned preview he said: “What we need to understand is that we are Everton. “That means that our DNA, the past success of our football club, the School of Science way of playing, means we have always been at the forefront. “We shouldn't be fearful of the opposition, we should be fearful of not being at our very best.
“That is the only thing that matters.
“Playing in a certain style during the first season, we finished with our highest ever Premier League points tally and last season we had the most outstanding contribution in European competition of any British team. “We've beaten teams that are now showing they are Champions League class and now we are in position where we have the biggest amount of goals from open play, which doesn't happen by mistake. “But we need to be our best by being Everton. “That means we need to attack well, defend well and not being stupid and going gung-ho. “We shouldn't be hoping to get a result. We are in the semi-final of the League Cup for a long time by being ourselves and we shouldn't change that.”

Manchester City: Why Kelechi Iheanacho must start against Everton
6 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
by RobPollard
The Blues' 19-year-old striker has done more than enough this season to earn a start at Goodison Park on Wednesday
Kelechi Iheanacho appears to be an extremely focused young man. “It's a great moment but it's not the best moment because the best moments are yet to come,” he said recently when asked about his winner against Crystal Palace in the Premier League back in September. “I can achieve great things in this team.” Whereas most young players would be wide-eyed in response to such a question, keen to express how much the goal meant to them and how it was the pinnacle of their career to date, Iheanacho expects it to be a footnote in just a few months' time. He knows he's set for stardom – capable of reaching a high level and becoming a permanent fixture in the City team. Yet, so far this season, he's been restricted to just 275 minutes of action. Four goals in that time are testament to his quality but there's a feeling he could have bagged more if he'd been given further opportunities to impress. He's been left out of two of City's recent matchday squads completely, despite impressing almost every time he's played. But with City set to face Everton on Wednesday in the League Cup semi-final, Iheanacho, surely, will return to the side. He deserves to. His last-gasp winner away at Palace was crucial and came just moments after being introduced. His Man of the Match performance against Alan Pardew's men in the League Cup fourth round was sensational, with a goal and two assists notched in a display of maturity and technical brilliance. He then scored in the quarter-finals less than ten minutes after coming on. And his last goal, against Swansea, may have hit him on the back as he tried to get out of the way but it underlined his right-place-right-time tendencies. There's something special about him.
Manuel Pellegrini is a cautious manager where introducing young players into his side is concerned. Iheanacho is the only EDS player to come through and become a part of the first team on anything like a regular basis during his time in charge of the club. It's led some to question his “holistic” credentials. His seeming reluctance to give Iheanacho more minutes has only entrenched that view. It's not as though City are blessed with strikers who are crowding the young Nigerian out. Sergio Aguero is back fit and looked much more like his old self at Watford on Saturday but his season has been stunted by injury and periods of recovery. And Wilfried Bony, a £25 million signing from Swansea a year ago, has been hit and miss, with his lack of movement in a side full of running making him look lost. With the Ivorian now ruled out for a few days with a calf problem, Iheanacho's chances of a start have increased still further.
He is ready for more games. Goodison Park on Wednesday is the ideal opportunity.

Everton youth prodigy suffers another setback
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Liverpool Echo
Suspected hernia problem for on-loan midfielder
By Matt Crosby
ONE-TIME Everton youth prodigy, Francisco Junior, has suffered yet another career setback, after scans revealed he has a hernia problem. The 23 year old, on loan at Wigan Athletic, returned to Goodison Park before Christmas for treatment and scans, after playing for weeks with what is now confirmed as a hernia injury. That news has led to Latics boss Gary Caldwell fearing Junior may have played his last game for the club, with the former Scottish International saying: “He’s still back at Everton, he’s got a hernia­ type injury that’s going to keep him out. I can’t see anything getting done for the foreseeable future with him.” Despite initial rumours that Caldwell was keen on extending the midfielder’s loan which expires in the middle of January, the Portuguese man is now set to spend the majority of this season on the sidelines with Everton physios. It is yet another blow for the former Benfica academy graduate, whose career has faced several setbacks since moving to England. Born in Guinea ­Bissau, West Africa, Junior moved to Portugal when he was 14 after being scouted playing for Benfica de Bissau, an affiliated club of the Portuguese giants, and was forced to leave his family behind to pursue his dream. However the youngster’s career has failed to progress as hoped since moving to England.
he made one senior start for Everton in a League Cup tie at Leeds but later admitted he had turned to alcohol and parties, rather than focusing on his football, and suffered a major dent in confidence when losing his mother in 2012, who was said to be “his world”. Junior's poignant message to fans It is yet to be known how Junior will cope from yet another huge setback, one that has come as his controversial career seemed to be finally getting back on track.

View From The Gwladys Street by Patrick Boyland
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
By Patrick Boyland, Editor of Read Everton
This week’s View from The Gwladys Street comes from Patrick Boyland , Editor of Read Everton.
He believes Roberto Martinez has a blind spot where Tim Howard is concerned, is a big Barkley fan - and thinks Everton’s tactical gameplan is in need of serious alteration. Everton put in a much improved display against Spurs at the weekend, what did you make of the performance? Sunday’s game could well prove to be a watershed moment for both the team as a whole and Martinez himself. For sixty minutes we were outclassed by a slick Spurs side, who delivered, for my money, the best away performance witnessed at Goodison so far this season.
Tactically, the blame for the slow start must go to Roberto for failing to alter the system to nullify Pochettino’s men, but credit where it’s due; the manager turned things round with a couple of inspired substitutions on the hour – Mo Besic’s energy and bite in the middle of the park added a different dimension to an Everton team who are often far too nice for their own good, while Gerard Deulofeu’s introduction also helped the Blues gain a foothold in a game in which they’d been second best for long periods. Overall, it was a real ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ performance, but one that may point the way forward in terms of the system and personnel needed to pick up regular points in the league.
Ross Barkley divided opinion with his performance, particularly with England counterpart Dele Alli putting in a man-of-the-match display at the other end, what are your thoughts on his display?
I’m a big Ross Barkley fan and do believe that he’s really come of age this campaign. Last season he drew criticism for a lack of intelligence on the ball but since then his decision-making has come on leaps and bounds and he’s starting to dominate games in a way that we haven’t seen previously. Statistically speaking he’s up there with the very best in the league in his position, which speaks volumes about his increased maturity as a player and Martinez’s ability to nurture young talent. The 22-year-old wasn’t quite at his barnstorming best against the North Londoners, yet he was still a big part in the Everton revival after half-time and could well have won the match with a piece of magic at the death. Recently, he’s been forced to sit slightly deeper in order to allow Tom Cleverley to play further forward and now we’re seeing evidence that he’s adding further strings to his already impressive bow.
Alli, meanwhile, was the best player on the pitch by quite a margin. Not only did he take his goal superbly, he also offered a constant threat from deep, and the former MK Dons man looks destined for the very top of the game. A lot has been made in the media of the supposed competition between Barkley and Alli for a midfield spot at this summer’s European Championships, but I can’t help but feel that the two are massive talents for the future and could well be part of the same England midfield for many years to come. It all augurs well for the Three Lions, anyway.
The Blues had the better of the late exchanges in the game, do you think a point was fair result, or do you think you deserved more?
While a point didn’t really do either side any favours, the result seemed about right given Tottenham’s early dominance and our second-half improvement. Everton were a tad fortunate that two first-half efforts from Davies and Kane struck the woodwork, while only a top drawer save from Hugo Lloris stopped Mo Besic from giving us a spectacular late winner. There’s very little to separate the two teams on paper but our opponents on Sunday have had far more consistency in their results and boast an exceptional defensive record. Let’s just hope we’ll be up there competing with them come the end of the season.
Goodison Park has already seen some crackers this season, are you expecting another one when Manchester City come to visit?
Tonight’s semi-final sees two of the league’s most entertaining sides go head-to-head, so you could say the ingredients are there for another Goodison humdinger. However, the Toffees have been far too open on their own turf and the defensive performances against Stoke and Leicester may well still be etched in Roberto’s mind. When you’ve conceded 20 goals at home and just nine away, it’s clear the tactical game plan is in need of serious alteration. Expect Stones and co. to be continue where they left off against Spurs this evening. Traditionally, games of this ilk tend to be cagey affairs and I’m expecting a similarly tight encounter this time around.
Roberto Martinez has come out and praised Tim Howard this week, but most fans think its time he was dropped, would you start Joel Robles against City? I think most fans are starting to assume that Martinez has a blind spot where Tim Howard is concerned. He’s been a decent servant over the years but the American veteran costs us points week after week with his erratic form and now is the time for a permanent change. It’s a mystery how he somehow manages to retain his place when you consider Joel Robles’ inspired form in the League Cup. We’ve also seen palpable signs of tension between the Goodison faithful and Howard of late. This does nobody any good, and may well be counter-productive as far as performances on the pitch are concerned, so I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping Joel has a blinder this evening. If he starts, as expected, and performs, then, quite simply, he deserves to retain his place for the foreseeable future.
What do you think Everton will need to take from the first leg to give them a chance of getting to the final? Would you take a draw? Given City’s obvious quality and their impressive home record, anything other than an Everton win would make Manuel Pellegrini’s side red-hot favourites to progress. Ideally, the Blues need a two-goal cushion to take to Manchester, however I’d settle for any sort of lead, in truth. Finally, with the transfer window now open what do you think Martinez should be looking for in order to strengthen his team? Top priority this transfer window should go to finding a new goalkeeper to replace the ailing Tim Howard, while any serious injury to Romelu Lukaku would leave the Blues seriously light up front, so quality back-up for the talismanic Belgian would also be useful. Of the players already linked with moves to Goodison Park, the likes of Steve Mandanda of Marseille and FC Basel’s Breel Embolo seem closest to what we’re looking for in terms of profile.
Everton certainly do need to strengthen in January. Despite what the manager says there are some glaring holes in what is a talented yet lopsided squad, but Roberto Martinez is steadfast in his belief that the best time for major additions is over the summer. With that in mind, I expect little in the way of incomings during the window.

Everton v Man City League Cup semi-final: Four ECHO writers pick their team, now you choose yours
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Who would YOU select to get Everton to Wembley?
Dave Prentice: His half-hour cameo on Sunday was significant - and along with Arouna Kone's mediocre form of recent weeks, is enough to earn Mo Besic a starting place. I'd play him alongside the peerless Barry in the middle, with Cleverley playing on the left of a central three and Barkley behind Lukaku.
That leaves the wide right spot between Mirallas, Lennon or Deulofeu - and while Lennon was decent on Sunday and arguably more solid than the Spaniard, Deulofeu makes things happen. I suspect Roberto may use him as an impact sub again - but I'd unleash him on Kolarov from the start - which would also help nullify the full-back's dangerous raids forward.
Goalkeeping spot isn't up for discussion. It's Joel Robles, and it should be.
Team: Robles; Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines; Deulofeu, Barry, Cleverley, Besic; Barkley; Lukaku.
Joshua Sexton: The Blues defence looked a much more solid unit in their 1-1 draw against Spurs at the weekend so it would be no surprise to see the defence unchanged, bar the inclusion of Joel Robles over Tim Howard. Despite Roberto Martinez's praise of Howard he has been much-maligned this season for a series of howlers, which have left most fans calling for him to be dropped, though this may not necessarily be the case against City as Robles has started every Capital One Cup match so far this season.
The only other changes from Sunday's team for me would be Gerard Deulofeu coming in for Arouna Kone. The Ivorian was subbed off on the hour mark at the weekend and Everton looked much more threatening with Deulofeu on the pitch.
Finally, Muhamed Besic coming in for Tom Cleverley, as a more solid defensive midfield option, to try and nullify the threat that City can pose from the midfield. Though two defensive midfielders may seem “too safe” at home the threat of Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva is too great to risk playing the less defensive Cleverley.
Team: (4-2-3-1) Robles, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, Besic, Lennon, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku.
Matt Crosby: If Everton are to have any chance of stopping Manchester City tonight, I'm opting for a 4-4-1-1 approach.
Tonight should be the night for Joel Robles to become a hero, rather than Tim Howard to redeem himself. If Jagielka is fit enough even to last 60 minutes I'd have straight in from the start, usual wing backs of Coleman and Baines to add stability going forward and in defence. Stones obviously keeps his place, and I think if himself and Jags stay mistake free, it will be a really tough ask even for City's firing midfielders and forwards to score goals tonight. In the midfield, Aaron Lennon deservedly stays in the starting line up after his superb goal against his old club Spurs and will hog the right touch line in the hope it will keep Kolarov quiet in the process. Gareth Barry will have a very good knowledge of his old club, and I believe Besic should get the nod ahead of Cleverly. This will be a night that if Everton want to win, they will have to be nitty and gritty and hard in the tackle, and Besic will offer them that.
Despite rumours of him being off to Monaco, I'd start Mirallas on the left, in what can only be a win win for both parties, if he really does want that move, he'll make sure he lights up Goodison tonight to ensure potential suitors keep sniffing. Up front was a no brainer, Everton's stand out performers this season and vital for the Toffees if they are going pull off a victory tonight, Barkley behind Lukaku, not more needs saying on them two really.
Team: Robles; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; Lennon, Barry, Besic, Mirallas; Barkley; Lukaku.
Dave Bartlett: Martinez has not used Naismith enough this season, he should pair him with Lukaku. If Deulofeu and Mirallas can link up well with silky football they could cause Man City a real nightmare.
Team: Robles; Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines; Deulofei, Besic, Barkley, Mirallas; Lukaku, Naismith.

Everton midfielder Liam Walsh arrives on loan at Yeovil Town
By Western Morning News January 06, 2016
By Tom Seymour
Yeovil Town have recruited Everton midfielder Liam Walsh on a one-month loan transfer.
The central midfielder is a product of the Toffees' youth Academy, and is yet to make his senior first-team debut for Roberto Martinez's side. Walsh has two caps for England's Under-18 team, and the 18-year-old arrived at Huish a dayafter it was announced that Josh Sheehan has returned to Swansea City following his three-month loan stint. He will be a like-for-like replacement for the Welsh midfielder.
Yeovil manager Darren Way has a strong footballing relationship with Martinez having played under the guidance of the Everton boss, when they were both with the Swans and, having been given the Yeovil job on a long-term basis on December 31, is now using his contacts to his advantage.
Related content Walsh joins Tahvon Campbell (West Bromwich Albion), Harry Cornick (AFC Bournemouth) and Connor Roberts (Swansea) on the list of current loanees at Huish Park.
Yeovil extended the loan of Roberts until the end of the season on Wednesday. The right-back joined the Glovers on the first day of the 2015-16 season on August 8 and went straight into the starting XI for their League Two opener with Exeter City. Since then, Roberts has played every minute of every game for the Somerset side in all competitions, despite having not played a professional first-team match up until joining Yeovil. Way has been delighted with the 20-year-old and told the club's website: "Connor has been a great addition to this football club. Little did he know that he would play as many games as he has, but he has definitely earned his place in the team. "I think all the supporters can see that he gives his all for the club in every game he plays. He has followed in the foot steps of Liam Shephard, who was on loan here last season. "It is a great education being here and develop as a player with us here at Yeovil and I have no doubt that he we go on to have a very successful career."

Ex-Everton boss David Moyes back at Goodison Park
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Former Blues manager returns to commentate on Capital One Cup semi-final
Everton v Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, semi-final first leg at Goodison Park. David Moyes back at Goodison Park in the commentary box.
Former Everton manager David Moyes is back at Goodison Park tonight to commentate on his former club's Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City. Despite spending over 11 years as Blues boss between 2002-2013, the Scot was jeered by the home fans when returning in April 2014 with his Manchester United side. Taunted by one supporter dressed as a Grim Reaper complete with scythe, the game duly proved to be Moyes' final match in charge of the Red Devils as he was sacked after a 2-0 defeat. Much of the bad blood from his once adoring public who dubbed him 'The Moyesiah' was credited as being down to his pursuit of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. Moyes tabled a £28million joint bid for both players in the summer of 2013, which was described as being “insulting” and “derisory” by Goodison chiefs. Although he eventually landed Fellaini – for just £500,000 less than his initial double offer – Baines remained with the Blues and signed a new long-term contract.
Many Evertonians were also upset by Moyes' comments that: “If I’d been Everton manager and Sir Alex had come asking for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, I’d have found it very difficult to keep them because I always felt the right thing to do was what was right for the players.”

Everton transfers: Shani Tarashaj deal hits paperwork delay
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues now expect to announce £3m signing on Thursday
Everton target Shani Tarashaj
Shani Tarashaj's move to Everton has been delayed by 24 hours.
The Blues and Grasshopper Zurich still need to complete the final few pieces of paperwork on the £3m deal. Tarashaj has agreed terms on a four-and-a-half-year contract and underwent a medical on Monday at a private facility. Everton were hoping to be able to announce the signing of the 20-year-old today but now anticipate his transfer will be finalised tomorrow. Tarashaj, seen as one of the brightest young talents in Swiss football, will be loaned back to Grasshopper Zurich for the rest of the season.
Capped by his country at under-21 level, Tarashaj also has to complete a period of national service in his homeland. The right-footed attacker has scored eight times in 18 matches for Zurich this season and netted for his country against England in November’s European Championship 2017 qualifier

Manchester City stretched by movement of Everton’s Ross Barkley and Deulofeu
Michael Cox
With Deulofeu staying wide to exploit the space left by a narrow Manchester City side, and Barkley taking up clever positions and pulling to the left Everton’s attacking flair earned them their 2-1 lead to take to the Etihad
Wednesday 6 January 2016 Guardian
This was a stereotypically cautious first leg between two teams determined to dominate possession. It is to Everton’s great credit that their attacking players offered more variety with their positioning and stretched the opposition defence more – and as the game opened out, the home side looked much more threatening. Manuel Pellegrini omitted his two natural wingers, Jesús Navas and Raheem Sterling, and instead fielded David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the wide roles, with Yaya Touré at the head of a midfield triangle. Inevitably, Silva and De Bruyne came inside, helping City to retain the ball in central positions but offering little penetration. Sergio Agüero tested Everton’s offside line with runs in behind but City appeared too content to play in front of the opposition defence, relying too much on the full-backs for forward running. Things looked much better in the second half, when the substitute Navas stretched the play down the right, and it was fitting that the Spanish winger netted a rare goal, after being played in by Aguero on the counter-attack. Everton struggled to get going, but once they enjoyed spells of possession, it was clear Roberto Martínez’s side were causing City serious problems. Tom Cleverley aped the movement of Silva and De Bruyne by playing narrow, almost as an extra central player, but it was notable he looked forward quickly when he received possession – hitting a couple of long balls towards Romelu Lukaku, as he did during Everton’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, when this route of attack created Aaron Lennon’s opener. On the opposite flank, Gerard Deulofeu provided something unique: natural width. He spent much of the first half near the touchline and while his crossing was poor – the first drilled into the sidenetting, the second woefully overhit – his positioning stretched City. It caused Gaël Clichy positional problems and increased the gap in the channel between Clichy and Eliaquim Mangala, where Lukaku spent much of the first half.
Everton v Manchester City: Capital One Cup semi-final first leg – as it happened
Minute-by-minute report: Romelu Lukaku’s late goal gives impressive Everton a first-leg advantage, though City will point to a penalty that never was. Scott Murray was watching. Ross Barkley, too, impressed with his movement. Somewhat overshadowed by Spurs’ Dele Alli, here he took up more intelligent positions between the lines and varied his movement to drift wide when City’s full-backs were drawn out of position. He especially liked drawing left, from where he slid an inviting ball across the six-yard box at the start of the second half which narrowly evaded Lukaku – although the Belgian was, not for the first time, offside. Later, he beat Nicolás Otamendi in the left-hand channel before firing at Willy Caballero, and then went on a mazy run from the same position before being dispossessed just as he was about to shoot. We know Everton can offer attacking flair and therefore arguably their performance without the ball was more impressive. Against a side using multiple playmakers, the defensive-minded combination of Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic worked well, with the former using his knowledge of his former teammate Touré to largely nullify him, and the latter playing a more dynamic, tough-tackling midfield role. Ramiro Funes Mori and John Stones had the pace to keep a high line against Agüero, while the full-backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman played more cautiously than usual, and were protected well by Deulofeu and Cleverley. Many sides would have settled for 1-0 but Everton continued to push forward deep into the second half. Getting caught out on a counterattack from an attacking set piece was a frustrating way to let City back into the game, and Everton were rather fortunate to retake the lead through Lukaku’s header. Martinez’s side are adept at attacking but their inability to manage games remains a major weakness.

Everton 2-1 Manchester City: The 30-Second Verdict
6 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
By Rob Pollard
Man City must turn things around in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final after going down at Goodison Park.
Having controlled the opening ten minutes with their slick passing and movement, City allowed Everton to get a foothold in the game. It looked as though Manuel Pellegrini's men were going to dictate proceedings but their inability to capitalise on that early period of dominance came back to bite them.
Everton went ahead just before half time and were in the ascendancy until Jesus Navas’ first of the season got City back in the game. But Romelu Lukaku, the Premier League’s in-form striker, headed home the winner moments later. City’s players looked tired for long periods of the game. Their injury situation may be easing, but the effects of not being able to rotate as often as they would have liked throughout the season is having an effect.
Key moment
Everton’s goal right on half time changed everything. The home crowd had been anxious and frustrated for much of the first half and that negativity was transmitting to the players. Ramiro Funes Mori’s goal completely altered the mood. Everton came out after the break and were on the front foot. City had to weather that storm and try and get themselves back into it.
It was that moment that made Everton believe they could win the game.
Good night
He has his critics - but Yaya Toure was the dominant player in City’s midfield in this one.
Fernandinho’s performances have eclipsed the Ivorian’s for much of the season, with the Brazilian’s dynamism key to City’s best moments. But it was Toure’s ability to dictate the game that made him stand out at Goodison Park. His passing was accurate, he always wanted the ball and, wearing the captain’s armband, led by example. A special mention for Navas, too, who continued his run of coming from the bench and changing the dynamic of City's attacking play.
Bad night
Fabian Delph struggled to impact the game in the way he has done in a number of his other appearances and was taken off early in the second half. The drive, energy and enthusiasm he usually brings were absent. It wasn’t a lack of effort of industry – he just couldn’t dictate proceedings in any way.
It was the right call to remove him in an attempt to find something more penetrative going forward.
Bigger picture
With the home leg still to play, City are very much in with a chance of making the final. Their form at the Etihad is impressive. They won 16 of their 20 home league games in 2015 and they’re scoring plenty of goals there, too. Everton would have wanted a bigger cushion going into the second leg, that’s for sure.

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku pounces to leave Manchester City with uphill task
Everton 2 - 1 Man City
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Wednesday 6 January 2016 Guardian
“I wouldn’t be that foolish,” said the Everton manager when asked to entertain the idea of facing Liverpool at Wembley next month. A wise move. Goals from Ramiro Funes Mori and the irrepressible Romelu Lukaku, his 19th of the season, sandwiched a rare composed finish from Jesús Navas to give Martínez the advantage he craved and the tangible reward he needed to convince the growing doubters. But both semi-finals remain precariously balanced and it was a confident – though aggrieved –Pellegrini who stated afterwards that City required only a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium to advance (after extra time) and would not deserve to reach Wembley if they fell short. “That’s why I trust us absolutely,” added a manager who will spend the rest of the season under the spectre of Guardiola regardless of what he achieves. Pellegrini was adamant Everton’s opening goal should have been disallowed for offside and that Navas should have had a penalty for a clip from Kevin Mirallas, whose careless substitute’s display contrasted starkly with the composure and confidence shown by his team-mates. Only the penalty claim had substance. City were again largely subdued away from home and there could be little complaint at the outcome. Everton ended with 10 men after Seamus Coleman limped off with all three substitutes deployed but there was no late flourish from a visiting team who, with Fernando replacing Kevin De Bruyne after the Irish defender’s departure, appeared content to settle for 1-2. As against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Martínez’s men sat deep initially to plug the gaps that have led to 20 goals being conceded at Goodison in the Premier League – no team has let in more at home this season – and allowed the visitors to control possession in central midfield. City began confidently and with purpose but the pattern changed once the restored Muhamed Besic, who was impressive again, began to stamp his authority on the midfield battle, flicking the ball over the head of David Silva and rousing the home fans with a fully-committed, clean tackle on Yaya Touré for good measure.
Manchester City stretched by movement of Everton’s Ross Barkley and Deulofeu Gareth Barry again provided the brains in the operation. Both managers persisted with their cup keepers, Joel Robles sparing Tim Howard another run-in with his critics on the Gwladys Street and Willy Caballero replacing Joe Hart, but neither had a save to make until Everton opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time. The goal had been coming. Everton served notice of their intent when Gerard Deulofeu slipped Lukaku into the visitors’ area only for the striker’s first touch to enable Nicolás Otamendi to intervene. The home side then had two goals disallowed for offside in the space of five minutes, rightly so on each occasion. Barry and Funes Mori were both beyond the last defender when Leighton Baines floated a free-kick to the far post where the former City midfielder headed back for John Stones to convert from close range. Lukaku also beat Caballero but was two yards behind the visiting back-line when he received a pass from Deulofeu. It was a case of third time lucky for Everton when Tom Cleverley delivered an inswinging corner from the right on the stroke of half-time. Barry was again first to the cross, glancing on to Ross Barkley who, despite injuring his foot early in the game, unleashed a powerful drive that Caballero parried into the path of Funes Mori. Lukaku was offside when Barkley struck but the Argentina defender was not and gleefully swept home his first goal at Goodison.
Everton’s Roberto Martínez gains respite after cup win over Manchester City
Paul Wilson at Goodison Park
City had barely troubled the Everton goal before the interval. Otamendi headed wide from a De Bruyne corner while a combination of Stones, Robles and Funes Mori prevented Sergio Agüero capitalising on slips from Barkley and Baines. Otherwise, their bright start faded and prompted Pellegrini to make two substitutions before the hour mark, Martín Demichelis replacing the hamstrung Mangala at half-time and Jesus Navas injecting his pace at the expense of Fabian Delph. The latter change was to have the intended effect. Agüero sliced wide, Fernandinho headed straight at Robles and De Bruyne forced a smart save from the Spanish keeper as Everton were pressed back. The counterattack suited the hosts, with Barkley breaking several times only to lack the killer final touch, but they were undone by one from their own corner as City levelled late on. Touré’s clearance found Agüero who spun superbly away from Coleman and threaded a pass behind an exposed home defence for Navas to beat Robles. The City celebrations were still in full swing when Everton retook the lead. Baines, Barkley and Barry combined on the left, the veteran midfielder swept a delightful cross over the head of Demichelis and Lukaku was perfectly placed to head home his 19th goal of the campaign, injuring himself in the process. Everton need him fit desperately. Pellegrini needs, and expects, a reaction from City.

Everton come of age in Manchester City win
Roberto Martinez's side thrill in Capital One Cup semi-final first leg - but it can't be yet another false dawn
Everton come of age in beating Manchester City
By Chris Bascombe, Goodison Park
06 Jan 2016 Telegraph
It was a night for Goodison Park to host its own coming of age drama; a night to banish talk of potential and start discussing the finished product. Roberto Martinez has been the champion and symbol of the possibilities for his emerging Everton side, but for every admiring glance for his positivity there have been accusations of underachievement. Martinez was at his most effusive again in his pre-match notes.
“We’ve accumulated a terrific mixture of top professionals with probably the most talented group of young players in English and European football,” he said. As Ross Barkley’s decision making showed more signs of maturity, John Stones displayed the poise of a veteran by back-passing with his chest, Romelu Lukaku's reign of terror restored a deserved lead and Mo Besic put Yaya Toure on the deck with one of many perfect tackles, initial incredulity at the comment subsided.
The fear for Everton, as ever, was his caveat. One that looked prophetic when Jesus Navas scurried through to equalise. “But we can only become a winning team with your patience,” added the manager.
Martinez is only in his third season but empathy for those in their 21st year of patience is also needed.
These fans do not want to feel they are in a perpetual state of development prior to rebuilding the squad with the funds of another high profile sale. Head to pubs around this stadium you wouldn’t be surprised to be served a pint half full, even when toasting exceptional performances like this.
Where many see a vibrant young team others dread they’re watching assets primed for future sale.
Mention interest from potential investors whose attention was surely pricked by the high quality of football against one of the most expensive teams in the world, and fatigued, cynical supporters will reel of a list of failed schemes and phantom benefactors. Dare to suggest Everton’s ability to consistently compete for a top six position in the midst of daunting financial and sporting challenges earns the highest regard from boardrooms across the country and you’ll be shot down for tolerating mediocrity.
Talk about the current side ending a 21-year trophy drought and winning the League Cup for the first time, and you’ll hear mumbles about likely defensive howlers and naivety - the rawness that enabled City to equalise at a time when Everton were hunting an unassailable first leg lead intervening.
Whether it’s stadium moves, takeovers or squad reshuffling, there are well-established dividing lines on the Gwladys Street. Ambition and reality clash and neither side truly warrant harsh criticism for their point of view. All that exists is the fact Everton is a club continuously on the threshold of making a breakthrough to reclaim its historic place as European grandees, but never quite possessing those extra world class players or extra £25 million in the transfer kitty each summer to make it happen.
Roberto Martinez still has much to prove
There were times at Goodison last night it felt those rifts could be healed, trust momentarily restored, Martinez’s relentless optimism backed by the actions of his team. You can’t accuse Everton of not being aspirational and you can’t blame the dissenters for being upset at waiting so long for those aspirations to be met. When you’ve heard the same story so often only tangible results can erase long-standing doubts. That’s why this semi-final with Manchester City, and a potential final if it is negotiated, represents Everton’s most important sequence of cup games since 1984. It can mean more than a sporadic success and be a springboard for sustained growth. The supporters here well remember how Howard Kendall used the League Cup as the catalyst for the club’s most successful period. How the winning mentality was forged going toe-to-toe with the country’s best and realising there was nothing to fear. Everton were at it again on Wednesday night. They looked a side capable of lifting a major trophy. The trouble is they’ve been here before. This time has to be different. Everton can look to the future by delivering rather than promising.

Everton vs Manchester City match report: Romelu Lukaku gives Toffees precious first-leg advantage
Everton 2 Manchester City 1
Mark Ogden Goodison Park
January 6 2015 Independent
Romelu Lukaku secured a precious Capital One Cup semi-final advantage for Everton on a night when neither Manchester City nor the match officials could successfully keep an eye on the Belgian forward.
Lukaku’s 78th-minute header restored Everton’s one-goal advantage two minutes after Jesus Navas had cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori’s first-half opener, but it was Lukaku’s involvement in the Argentine defender’s deadlock-breaker which prompted fury among the City contingent. Standing at least three yards offside and blocking the view of goalkeeper Willy Caballero, Lukaku was not flagged by the assistant referee, ensuring that Funes Mori’s goal stood. That error was bad enough for City, with the failure of referee Robert Madley to award a penalty following Kevin Mirallas’s trip on Navas another low blow for Pellegrini’s team. But the heaviest blow was landed by Lukaku with his late winner, which gives Everton hope of completing their part of a potential all-Merseyside Capital One Cup final in the return clash at the Etihad later this month. Everton also went into this game having failed to win in front of their supporters since a 4-0 victory against Aston Villa in mid-November. Rather than approach their first League Cup semi-final in eight years in high spirits, the home fans were quiet and tense.
That creeping anxiety has been a worrying theme in recent weeks, so much so that club captain Phil Jagielka used his programme notes to urge Evertonians to banish negative thoughts and restore the fear factor to Goodison. But aside from the raucous reception which greeted the two teams’ emergence to the Z Cars theme, Goodison remained on edge and the atmosphere was not helped by the cagey football. Everton, without an appearance in the final of this competition since losing to Liverpool in a replay at Maine Road in 1984, have never won the League Cup in its many guises, but with City manager Manuel Pellegrini boldly resting goalkeeper Joe Hart in favour of his erratic understudy Caballero, their path to next month’s final was cleared of at least one formidable obstacle. But manager Roberto Martinez’s team were unable to test Caballero with an early bombardment as both sides probed without penetration, and the only moment of note was an injury scare for Ross Barkley, with the Everton midfielder receiving lengthy treatment following a kick on the Achilles by Fernandinho.
Barkley was able to return to the action, not that there was much of it. Goalscoring chances were non-existent. City, with Yaya Touré playing just behind striker Sergio Aguero, failed to force Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles into a save in the opening half hour, with Nicolas Otamendi heading a Kevin De Bruyne corner wide at the near post and Aguero skewing a 20-yard shot wildly off target. John Stones saw a goal ruled out on 37 minutes due to three team-mates straying offside, while Lukaku, who also had a goal disallowed for offside, saw his best effort blocked by a well-timed Otamendi tackle.
It was not until Robles kept out an angled shot from Aguero on 43 minutes, before Funes Mori blocked the City forward’s follow-up shot, that either team came close to breaking the deadlock. But having kept one out in front of the Gwladys Street goal being defended by Everton, the Argentine defender then delivered the crucial breakthrough for the home side by scoring the opening goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Caballero had done well to keep out Barkley’s powerful shot, but he was unable to keep hold of the ball, which dropped loose on the edge of the six-yard box. City’s defenders were static, perhaps believing that Lukaku was offside, but Funes Mori pounced on the ball and sent it beyond Caballero to break the deadlock. City had every reason to feel a sense of injustice about the goal, with Lukaku quite clearly offside and blocking the vision of Caballero. The Belgian was flagged offside on numerous occasions, but when it mattered most, the linesman’s flag incorrectly stayed down.
Pellegrini’s team at least had 45 minutes to restore parity, but the 2014 winners were pushed back by Everton’s rampant start to the second half and Martinez’s team should have at least doubled their lead before the hour-mark. Barkley was at the heart of the home team’s attacking thrusts and the England midfielder almost teed up Lukaku with a threaded cross to the far post on 50 minutes. The ball bounced beyond Caballero and seemingly into Lukaku’s path, but the forward was inches away from connecting with it. The Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic then saw a 25-yard shot saved by Caballero after Stones had found him in space before Barkley raced away from Touré and Martin Demichelis, only to run out of pitch just when it looked as though he was set to score one of the individual goals of the season.
After Gerard Deulofeu’s chip was palmed away by Caballero, City finally rallied and Fernandinho’s downward header on 64 minutes forced Robles into action for the first time in the second half.
But Everton quickly regained the upper hand and Caballero produced a crucial save to deny Barkley 60 seconds later after the midfielder had escaped Otamendi. City should have been awarded a penalty on 70 minutes, though, when Navas was tripped by Everton substitute Mirallas, only for Madley to dismiss the visitors’ appeals. Pellegrini reacted furiously on the touchline, berating the assistant referee, but his team were level six minutes later when Navas raced on to Aguero’s through ball to score his first goal since September 2014 by guiding a left-foot shot past Robles. It appeared to be a City lifeline, but Lukaku – finally getting onside – restored Everton’s lead with a bullet header from Gareth Barry’s 78th-minute cross. Everton deserved to reclaim the lead and take an advantage to the Etihad later this month, but this is a tie with plenty of life in it yet.

Everton 2-1 Manchester City player ratings: Besic scores an 9 and there's 8s galore
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
We rate the Everton players after excellent first leg win
Joel Robles
Two important saves to deny Aguero and De Bruyne and an admirably controlled and confident stint for someone who has played precious little meaningful football lately. Strong kicking and distribution too. 8
Leighton Baines
Some crucial blocks which were as good as a goal in their influence and enough perfectly-timed rapid raids down that left flank to suggest he can recapture the superlative levels of two seasons ago. 8
Ramiro Funes Mori
Great composure to score the opener and a lion-hearted performance, arguably his best yet from the summer signing who appears unflappable even in pressure-cooker games like this. 8
John Stones
No unnecessary show-boating this time - just a cool, calm and collected performance from the young Rolls Royce of a defender. A strong organiser and leader in the making too. 8
Seamus Coleman
Rock-solid in defence and ever willing on the over-lap when required. Let's hope his injury isn't serious given Everton's lack of options in that department. 7
Gareth Barry
He just never seems to tire does he? So important he barely gets a rest but Martinez could scarce afford to leave him out and this is why. Every bit of his experience and assuredness was required to help win the midfield contest. The cross for Lukaku's header was inch-perfect. 8
Muhamed Besic
Picked up right where he left off on Sunday. Took the fight to City with zero respect for their superstars but the right mix of controlled aggression and intelligent distribution. He shoots, he tackles, he has a delightful eye for a pass. A cheeky pirouette put the garnish on a near-flawless display. 9
Tom Cleverley
Got through plenty of work and helped Everton assert themselves after a shaky start before injury flare-up saw him bow out at the break. 7
Gerard Deulofeu
Typically lively, at times audacious, display from the mercurial wideman. One attempted chip of Willy Caballero after skinning two City defenders was breath-taking and he made sure he did his bit defensively too. 7
Ross Barkley
Had City on the back-foot time and time again with his ability to take the ball in tight spaces, turn and surge up the field. Created some gilt-edged chances for himself and will be frustrated he didn't score but this was an outstanding display nonetheless from the boy who has become a man. 8
Romelu Lukaku
Battered and bruised after being worked over by City's central defence he soldiered on to score a hugely important winner in this leg. The talisman keeps leading by example and just keeps putting the ball in the back of the net. Deadly. 8
Leon Osman (Cleverley, 45)
Influential shift from the veteran who showed no signs of rustiness as he got stuck straight into the midfield tussle with vigour. Calm and canny on the ball. 8
Kevin Mirallas (Deulofeu, 67)
Some threatening runs and lively darts before Coleman's early exit meant an unlikely spell as a makeshift right-back. 7
Arouna Kone (Lukaku, 81)
Helped see out the game and used his strength to keep the ball. 6

Everton 2-1 Manchester City full time report: Lukaku header gives Blues advantage in semi-final
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Our quick take on the game at Goodison as Lukaku gives Blues first leg advantage
Romelu Lukaku's header has given Everton the advantage heading into the second leg of the Capital One Cup with Manchester City. The Blues' leading scorer got on the end of Gareth Barry's inch-perfect cross to make it 2-1 on an absorbing night at Goodison. Ramiro Funes Mori had given Everton the lead just on the stroke of half-time when he smashed home from close range after Ross Barkley's piledriver was saved by Willy Cabellero. Everton, after a hesitant start to the game, were well on top but City were becoming increasingly dangerous and they levelled the tie with less than 20 minutes to go. The visitors launched a counter-attack from an Everton corner and after collecting Sergio Aguero's pass, Jesus Navas finished coolly past Joel Robles. But two minutes later and Everton were back in front when Lukaku stole a march on his marker and nodded past Cabellero to send Goodison wild. Lukaku, however, hobbled off soon after, nursing an ankle injury and followed Tom Cleverley and Seamus Coleman onto the list of players who picked up knocks in the tie. But nothing could dampen the celebrations at full-time as Everton put themselves into the driving seat ahead of the second leg on January 27 at the Etihad.

Everton’s Roberto Martínez gains respite after cup win over Manchester City
Players responded to manager’s call to tighten up in defence in Capital One Cup semi-final while crowd did its bit by turning Goodison into a bear pit
Paul Wilson at Goodison Park
Wednesday 6 January 2016 Guardian
This has been called a topsy-turvy season, yet even so, who knew Everton knew how to defend? At Goodison too, where more goals have been conceded by the home side than anywhere else in the Premier League. Manchester City do not have the easiest attack to blunt, especially with Sergio Agüero back and looking close to peak sharpness, but Everton stood firm to take a slender advantage into the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. That should ease some of the pressure on Roberto Martínez and some of the criticism of his players. Everton still have a lot to do at the Etihad, though here was evidence that Martínez’s talk of recovering from their lapses and learning from their mistakes may not have been the usual wishful thinking. You could tell these were nervous times at Goodison by the way Everton players took it in turns to stress the importance of the crowd in this fixture. More than one mentioned the necessity of turning the place into a bear pit in order to make life as difficult as possible for City. And a little bit easier for the home players, ran the unsaid subtext. A crowd united in hostility towards opponents cannot find time for griping at its own side, which has been happening noticeably over the last few weeks. This was Everton’s chance, a rare one these days, to give their supporters what Gordon Lee used to call a sniff of the Wembley hotdogs. Lee was the first manager to take Everton to the League Cup final, Martínez stands a chance of becoming the third. Perhaps more importantly he could still write himself into history as the first Everton winner, though he slightly missed striking the necessary can-do note by admitting beforehand that finishing in the top four would be more important than silverware this season. Managers of clubs who have seen precisely zero silverware in over 20 years should be careful of making statements like that, especially with the team languishing in the bottom half of the table. Everton’s resistance was all the more impressive considering there were periods early in the first half when the contest looked uneven. One piece of control by Agüero in the first few minutes was a statement of intent on its own, and when David Silva and Yaya Touré joined in, finding each other easily with precisely weighted passes, one feared for the home side. Yet, though initially out-thought, as they had been against Tottenham on Sunday, Everton refused to be overawed and refused to buckle.
Martínez had indicated he wanted to see an end to the soft goals being conceded at home and there was nothing close to a goal for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes. For all City’s purposeful start they never succeeded in finding a way through their opponents, Joel Robles did not have a save of note to make before the interval. Willy Caballero was twice beaten by John Stones and Romelu Lukaku from offside positions before Ramiro Funes Mori just managed to beat the flag to snaffle a legitimate opener in stoppage time. What summed up Everton’s dogged resistance best was the sight of Muhamed Besic dispossessing Touré in full flow midway through the first half. Initially caught out by the Ivorian’s powerful surge, Besic refused to give up and stuck to Touré like a terrier snapping at the taller man’s heels. Just as the City player reached the edge of the area and shaped to part with the ball Besic whipped it from his toes and departed downfield with it, leaving Touré in a crumpled heap appealing for a free-kick that was never going to be given. Besic does not quite fit the School of Science template, but he is a thoroughly effective competitor. Agüero had a couple of half-chances snuffed out by Stones and Funes Mori before Everton took the lead, but the goal at the end of the first half was by no means out of the blue. Everton had held firm against City’s attacks, just as their manager had promised, and had been threatening Caballero’s goal before Ross Barkley produced a shot the goalkeeper could only parry. Barkley could have put a gloss on the Everton performance right at the start of the second half when his teasing ball across goal was only inches away from allowing Lukaku a tap-in, a miss the pair may have cause to regret in Manchester in a fortnight, even if the striker did restore his side’s lead after Jesús Navas had brought City level. It may be the case, a charge often levelled at Martínez teams, that Everton are still not quite clinical enough or ruthless in pressing home an advantage. Yet this was not a night for carping. Everton stood up for themselves, showed they can not only live with the best but come back against the best, and the home manager’s programme notes even contained a treasure for supporters who have begun to turn sceptical. “Like Spurs, we have seen too many draws,” he said, before offering perhaps the ultimate Martínez soundbite. “But all of them have been closer to victories than defeats.” Agree with him or not, there goes your glass half-full man. Football does not yet award any extra points for performances more deserving of a win than a draw, and even if it did, critics of Martínez might point out, it might then have to subtract a few for matches that were more like draws than victories, such as the one Everton won with the last action of the game at Newcastle United on Boxing Day, when Tom Cleverley’s header turned a scoreless stalemate into three points. This cup tie, to be fair, was not streaky or debatable. It was well won.And yes, Goodison was a bear pit. The atmosphere at the end was something to make all of Everton proud.

Everton 2-1 Manchester City: Pellegrini's plan to squash Toffees backfires
6 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
by StuartBrennan
Manuel Pellegrini's Capital One Cup plan fails to deliver at Goodison as Everton makes the Blues look second best and off the pace.
Manuel Pellegrini almost wished away the domestic cups in his press conference ahead of this game.
He pointed out the physical impossibility of playing so many games, when you are also chasing glory in the Premier League and Champions League. He really wasn't saying that the Blues are about to toss away the chance of a Wembley appearance in the League Cup, and will be similarly abject in the FA Cup at Norwich on Saturday. But the way his team played at Goodison, it looked like it! Not that his players take the whole rap, as Pellegrini was out-smarted by his opposite number Roberto Martinez, who played a canny game from the off – perhaps rumbling the City boss's plan to counter-attack them a la Sevilla.
City hoped to lure the Toffees on to them, counting on their desire for a lead of a goal or two to take to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 27. The plan was the for David Silva, Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne to spring the trap with Sergio Aguero as the spear through the heart.
But Martinez, criticised by many for his defensive naivety, relied on getting the ball up early to his danger man Romelu Lukaku, who Eliaquim Mangala will still have bad dreams about after his first game at Goodison last season. The result was that City had most of the possession, zipped the ball around pleasingly, and looked the more accomplished of the two teams – without actually doing real damage.
Even when there was a sniff of a breakaway, the fact that De Bruyne and Silva were in the team rather than the quicker Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas, tended to put paid to the ambition.
Perhaps the idea was to keep control for an hour and then introduce those two speedsters as Everton pushed forward with more desperation. If that was the strategy, it all fell apart just before half time.
And it was more poor collective defending that brought it down upon the Blues' heads.
Ross Barkley was lurking on the edge of the box unattended when a corner was swung over, and even when it fell at his feet City were slow to close down. Willy Caballero, not a favourite with City fans, is an easy man to blame, but Barkley's shot flashed at him, and it was all he could do to beat it out.

The fact it went straight to Ramiro Funes Mori was not Caballero's fault – and the centre half had an easy tap-in to an empty net. Mangala went off at half time, Everton came out with their tails up, and the Blues faced a fight to stay in it for the return leg. They needed some inspiration, and it was Fernandinho who provided it, at a moment when the Blues were faffing on the edge of their box.
The Brazilian took control, side-stepped and lofted a 50-yard pass to Sergio Aguero. He did superbly to lose his man and slip a pass for Navas. He had the ball long enough for everyone to remember how bad his finishing normally is – including himself – but this time he shot low and hard, left-footed under Joel Robles. They were level for just two minutes, as Gareth Barry curved in a tempting ball and Lukaku escaped Demichelis to flash a header past Caballero. Now City face Everton twice in the next three weeks – with three points at stake next week and a place in the final two weeks after that.

League Cup defeat
6 Jan 2016 Manchester Evening News
By Rob Pollard
The Man City manager insists his team can make it to the Wembley final after losing the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at Goodison.
Manuel Pellegrini says he is disappointed with the result in Manchester City’s Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Everton but insists his side can still reach the final. Romelu Lukaku’s 78-minute header means the Blues will head back to the Etihad for the return leg 2-1 down but Pellegrini was far from throwing the towel in. The Chilean expressed his disappointment with the officials who failed to give an offside in the lead up to Everton’s first and then missed a clear foul on substitute Jesus Navas inside the area during the second half. “Disappointed at the result of course because you cannot be happy if you don’t win the game but I think we didn’t deserve to lose,” he said afterwards. “The first goal of Everton is absolutely offside - Lukaku is one metre in front of Willy Caballero and he makes the movement and after that the clear penalty on Jesus Navas in the second half that can change the score.
“But the referee didn’t whistle for both actions. “If you lose 2-1 playing away, if you are not able to win 1-0 at home it’s because you don’t deserve to continue. I trust absolutely what we can do in that game and I hope now we have some time to recover some players. “I think we are able to play the final of the Capital One Cup.” There was further bad news for City when Eliaquim Mangala came off at half time with a hamstring injury.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez 'proud' after win over Manchester City
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues boss hails 'special' atmosphere
Roberto Martinez, manager of Everton gives instructions during the Capital One Cup Semi Final
Roberto Martinez said he was proud of his Everton players for their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg triumph over Manchester City - which could represent a turning-point in their season. The Blues boss was thrilled by the efforts of his players, who will take a 2-1 lead to the Etihad stadium for the second leg in three weeks thanks to goals from Ramiro Funes-Mori and Romelu Lukaku. Everton were more than a match for title-chasing City and after some fraught displays at Goodison recently, the team and supporters were in unison on a memorable night. He said: "It is more than just happiness. You are very very proud of the performance. We had to face a really good team, a really good game. We carried on our defensive intensity against special players. "The atmosphere was special. Today’s performance means more than just a win in the semi-final of the league cup. "You lose a player like Tom Cleverley at half time and you have to adjust and then losing Romelu Lukaku with a knock on his ankle and finishing the game playing with 10 men and we kept the ball really well. "We played eye to eye against a very good Manchester City side. "Conceding that goal, a really good counter attack and the winning mentality we showed to get that goal was really impressive. That character we showed tonight was a big difference." Martinez said the injuries to his important players vary in seriousness. "Romelu had a knock on his ankle," he said. "We are going to assess him. I don’t know if he will be available for the weekend but I don’t think it is too serious. Tom and Seamus is similar, Seamus with his calf is probably the most serious. "Today we showed how far we have come since August. It shows what we have got in the dressing room. We are not getting carried away. We know we have a huge challenge in front of us and are looking forward to the second leg." Martinez reserved special praise for his stand-in captain Gareth Barry. He said: "He is one of those players that gets underrated. For me the big reason why we have so many effective young players is there are leaders in the mould of Gareth. I have never seen a player with the incredible professionalism he has. "For me he is one of the best English players ever. He could end up with 600 PL appearances this season. You can build a team around him." Asked if he was dreaming of an all-Merseyside League Cup final at Wembley, after the Reds beat Stoke City 1-0 in their own first leg on Tuesday, the manager was dismissive. "I wouldn’t be that foolish," he said. "We wanted to win the first leg and we have done that. The performance will give us a lot. We face City again in the league and then the second leg but I don’t think we can look further."

Everton 2-1 Manchester City analysis: The bear pit roars, Everton wise up and brilliant Besic dominates
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe goes over the big talking points after Goodison win
Bear pit roars
Whether it was the admissions from Everton players that they have noticed how Goodison's trademark atmosphere has withered, or a selection policy from Roberto Martinez which could prompt no dissent, the Old Lady was in the mood tonight. The Bear-pit roared and it was as ear-splittingly effective as ever.
Manchester City's players have plied their trade in some of the true cathedrals of European football, but rarely will they have felt the heat like they did as Goodison rocked from the off-set.
Anything but the Goodison we all know and love would have been dangerous tonight. An early goal from the visitors could have sparked fatal moans, groans and negativity. Instead the crowd got behind their team straight away, stayed with them when Jesus Navas levelled for City, and willed them onto a deserved win.
It shouldn't have been any surprise to see Yaya Toure taking deep-breaths at the final whistle; guzzling in the oxygen, his mouth agape. It must have been pretty stuffy in Muhamed Besic's pocket all night.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Bosnian with the eyes of someone whose pint you would most definitely not relish spilling. Is it any wonder Besic had such an iron grip on City's midfield maestros? After all this is a young man who once snuffed-out the venerable Lionel Messi in the Maracana. He is more than just a destroyer though. Much more. Besic's pirouette as he glided past a procession of lime green shirts in the second half and his subtle shoulder-drops and lay-offs were a delight. If this wasn't a performance which demands a regular first-team place then what is? Ramiro Funes Mori has form at being the man for the big occasion. When he's not purring through his defensive duties (with only the increasingly rare little clanger to set pulses racing) he's a threat in the opposition penalty area where he's never shy to linger. The summer signing has scored for former club River Plate in the white-heat of a Copa Libertadores final and netted to help his old side to a historic derby triumph in the backyard of bitter rivals Boca Juniors. He was in the right place at the right time to give the Blues a crucial lead tonight once again, and might have benefited from an unlikely dose of good fortune from officials. Was Lukaku off-side and interfering with play by blocking the sight-line of City keeper Willy Caballero? Maybe. Few will care.
Everton wise-up
Only fools fail to heed the lessons of their mistakes, and this side - and their bright manager - are no mugs. They were sucker-punched by Stoke City for chasing more goals when they had one hand on victory at 3-2 over the festive period. Instead of keeping the ball and showing some common sense they carried on committing men forward, left too many gaps, and paid a heavy price. Here, reduced to 10 men and with City chasing what would have been a costly second away goal, they put their foot on the ball and kept possession. This is a young team, errors will naturally happen. But seeing them combine the best of their attacking prowess with a timely dose of savvy is hugely promising.
Thanks a million
Everton paid £1m for Gareth Barry. One measly (in football finance terms) million.
Regarded as surplus to requirements at the Etihad stadium, the midfielder was allowed to make his successful loan spell on Merseyside permanent for that princely sum back in summer 2014.
Can anyone, even die-hard City fans, says any midfielder had a greater influence on tonight's semi-final first-leg win than the 34-year-old?
Certainly nobody in the away dressing room.
He's 35 next month, but Barry purrs through games for the Toffees without seeming to break a sweat. He's the ultimate footballer's footballer. Team-mates love him, he tangibly guides many rawer colleagues through the minefield of top flight games.
And in helping Martinez's men assert themselves, and beat City for the first time under the Catalan tonight, he was, well, priceless

Everton 2-1 Manchester City the verdict: Martinez's most special night at Goodison gives Blues shouting chance of Wembley final
6 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride runs the rule over a brilliant night at the Old Lady as Everton beat Manchester City
Everton v Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, semi-final first leg at Goodison Park. Ramiro Funes Mori celebrates his goal after making it 1-0 for Everton. It ain't over until the fat lady sings – but boy did Everton give their fans something to shout about. On a night that will rank as a defining one in the Roberto Martinez era, the Blues summoned a superb performance to land the first blow in this fight for a place in the Capital One Cup final A second leg – and no doubt a sterner test – awaits at the Etihad on January 27 but Everton produced a stirring display on an absorbing night at Goodison to put themselves narrowly ahead in the tie. Ramiro Funes Mori gave them the lead, Romelu Lukaku headed the winning goal, and there were a string of wonderful performances in between but, crucially, Martinez's side defeated City with the backing of their fans. As the Catalan had confidently predicted it would be, Goodison was rocking. The Old Lady was supportive and patient with its players but often uncompromising to the opposition as calls from the manager, his captain and the rest of the players were answered. After tackling the issue of Goodison's volatile atmosphere head-on in the build up to this game, the air was cleared and then filled with the sounds of jubilant Evertonians. They know all too well that only half the job has been done and City, so often subdued and shackled by Everton's cohesive, committed and combative display, will still fancy their chances of overturning the 2-1 deficit later this month but on this form, their side will take some stopping. The debate will rage as to whether this was the Blues' best ever performance under Martinez but few will argue that it felt the most special at home as anxiety gave way to a sense of unity. Even the sight of Lukaku hobbling off with 10 minutes to go with a troubling ankle injury, joining Tom Cleverley and Seamus Coleman in leaving the game early, could not dampen their spirits. Champagne on ice for now - but repeat will see them through
Everton, deservedly, hold the lead in this semi-final. They were the better team, they wanted it more, they attacked with greater drive and energy and defended as well as they ever have under Martinez.

The Catalan, as is right of a manager, will be cautious and calm in the wake of this but, privately, he will be ecstatic with his players and the fans. Jesus Navas' equalising goal, less than 20 minutes from time, had threatened to take the edge off an excellent performance but while quality sides like City cannot ever be written off, nor can this spirited bunch in royal blue. It was Gareth Barry who told us not to hit the panic button should the visitors score and with composure, and dead-eye accuracy, he provided the cross for Lukaku to nod Everton in front on the night, and in the tie. Everton's talisman was the match-winner but there were giant performances throughout the side; Ross Barkley savoured the big game challenge, Ramiro Funes Mori scored on the stroke of half-time but also defended with his typical intensity, while Mo Besic served up a star performance. Not only did he continually pick the pocket of Yaya Toure and shield the back four like a loyal guard-dog, he also played with a bravery that was infectious. We could talk about every other player too, Leon Osman, Leighton Baines, Barry, Gerard Deulofeu...the list goes on and on - and let's hope the momentum of this win does as well.
The evening had started with an Everton side slightly on edge, City were soon on top and in control as the home side struggled to settle. But by the end of the game, Martinez's team were the most confident out there as they astutely saw out the game in a final few minutes of celebration at Goodison.
The champagne remains on ice for now, but a performance as smart and committed as that one in three weeks' time and Everton will be heading to Wembley for sure.
Funes Mori's goal, his second for the club, on the stroke of half-time was reward for the way the Blues had steadily improved.
Far from one-way traffic
After seeing two goals rightly disallowed for offside, the Blues found the breakthrough as Barkley's piledriver was saved by Willy Caballero but only as far as the defender who smashed home the rebound from close range. The Argentinian, who cast a nervous glance towards the referee's assistant before racing away in celebration, is no stranger to big goals – just ask his River Plate team-mates.
And his fearless display here cannot be overstated in the analysis. A hero at one end, Funes Mori had only minutes earlier saved the day at the other, blocking David Silva's shot on the line after Joel Robles had denied Sergio Aguero with a fine save. They were the best chances City had carved out in the first-half despite controlling most of the possession, particularly in a dominant opening quarter of the game where Everton looked nervous. But Goodison believed, the atmosphere was the best it has been in ages – by some distance as well – and when the crowd got to their feet to applaud an attempted through-ball from Besic, that didn't quite come off, it was clear that the supporters were fully behind the team.
Everton finished the first-half with a flourish and remained well on top after the break, Deulofeu going close with an audacious chip that Cabellero clawed away while the storming runs of Barkley and Lukaku were causing the visitors' backline a whole host of problems. But you don't keep a side like City down for too long and as the game began to stretch, and just open up too much for Everton's liking, Manuel Pellegrini's side began to create chances. Aguero miscued inside the six yard box, appeals for a penalty were dismissed when Navas went down under a Kevin Mirallas challenge and Robles produced a fine, full-stretch save, to deny Kevin De Bruyne.
But this was far from one way traffic.
Shouting chance going to the Etihad
Everton were equally as dangerous, the barnstorming Barkley in particular, and after he out-muscled Nicolas Otamendi, he found himself one-on-one with Cabellero from the angle – but the young midfielder could only shoot straight at the keeper. The fear was that it was too good an opportunity to turn down in such a high stakes game – and that belief was only heightened when City struck.
The away side had shown themselves incredible dangerous in hitting Everton on the counter-attack from the Blues' corner kicks and so it proved the way they got back into the game. In the blink of an eye, City turned defence into attack, Aguero fed Navas and he coolly slotted past Robles.

But Everton have 'never-say-die' tattooed across their chests and two minutes after being pegged back, they were back in front through Lukaku. City probed for a second equaliser but never truly looked like finding one and as the clock wound down, and the Blues played with a maturity that deserted them during games with Bournemouth and Stoke recently, the ground crackled with atmosphere and emotion. This isn't over but Everton are in with a shouting chance of making it to the final.

Everton transfer rumours: Blues to fight Liverpool for Ranocchia
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Rory Benson-LE
A run-down of transfer rumours surrounding the Toffees today.
A big win over Manchester City - and then a battle with Everton's Merseyside rivals?
No, not the Capital One Cup - we're talking about the latest round of transfer tittle-tattle.
Because, if you choose to believe the rumours, Everton are fighting for signing of Inter Milan centre-half Andrea Ranocchia with Merseyside rivals Liverpool. The Italian international rejected an offer from Norwich earlier in the window and is supposedly in talks for a switch to Anfield. After the spirited win against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, it does not come as a surprise that the national media once again has Everton doing battle to keep hold of their star players.
The first to attract suitors is, of course, England centre-back John Stones.
According to the Express, Chelsea have reignited their interest in the 21-year-old after seeing three bids fail in the last transfer window. The Toffees have reportedly been offered £45m for Stones' services.
Rumours also continue to swirl around the future of hit-man Romelu Lukaku.
talkSport have claimed the Belgian is on Louis van Gaal's wish-list at Manchester United, a belief shared by the Metro who suggest the striker is a top priority for the Red Devils.
Roberto Martinez might have something to say about that, with the Everton boss not ready to entertain talk of the Belgian leaving Goodison Park.

Everton planning special birthday for Noah
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues sending cards for young fan
Everton supporter Noah Cunningham with his mum Vicki
Fellow Evertonians are ensuring that Noah Cunningham will enjoy a birthday to remember this Saturday with a campaign to send him cards as he celebrates turning 12 at the FA Cup round round tie against Dagenham & Redbridge. Noah, who is from Southport and attends Meols Cop High School, lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy which means he is unable to walk and uses a wheelchair. Noah and his mother Vicki quickly realised the power of the Everton family when fellow supporters got behind a campaign to make the young fan’s day extra special by simply delivering him a card for his birthday.
A post from SpeedoMick read: "We are all going to sing Happy birthday in the 12th minute to Noah, who has his 12th birthday on Saturday. "It should be a cracker and I can't wait to hear it. "Sing your hearts out Blues and let's give our Noah a happy birthday he will never ever forget. "Please share this post to every one. Thanks very much." SpeedoMick also asked fans to join in with a rendition of "He's one of our own. He's one of our own. Noah Cunningham. He's one of our own" after singing Happy Birthday.
Noah's mum, Vicki says he is aware that his birthday appeal has built some momentum but has no idea of the extent to which the word has spread. She said: “He’s not into expensive things or massive toys, with our family it’s all about building memories. “He’s quite a shy little boy at times, but I know he is going to love Saturday. “Thank you so much to everybody who gives or sends him a card. It looks like we’ll be opening them for weeks!” Supporters who wish to hand a birthday card to Noah can drop them off at Park End Reception at Goodison Park which is open 8am-6pm on Thursday and Friday and from 9am on matchday. Those fans who can’t make the game but would like to wish Noah a happy birthday can post their cards to Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, L4 4EL and address the card to Noah. The club will ensure all cards are collected and given to Noah on the day of the fixture.

Everton FA Cup hero Paul Rideout thrilled with new Goodison Park montage
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton Main Stand artwork celebrates FA Cup final scorers
THE last man to score the goal which brought silverware to Goodison Park is the centrepiece of the latest image to adorn Everton’s Main Stand - and Paul Rideout is thrilled by his inclusion. The latest artwork to appear on the stand features centre-forwards who have scored for Everton in FA Cup finals.
Andy Gray, Dixie Dean, Graeme Sharp and Louis Saha are all included - with Rideout, who scored the winning goal against Manchester United in 1995, the centre-piece. Rideout now lives in the USA and wife Carolyn tweeted: “The banner at Goodison Park meant the world to Paul, he feels very honoured to be a part of it @Everton thank you!”
A reply from Everton’s official account said: “He’s more than welcome! Give him our best and we hope to see you both at Goodison soon. #OnwardsEvertonians”
The artwork on the corner of the Main Stand at Goodison Park has become a popular landmark for fans, visible as you approach the ground from the Park End. In the past it has featured manager Roberto Martinez, the Holy Trinity of Ball Harvey Kendall and fans favourite Duncan Ferguson. Rideout made 140 appearances for Everton after signing from Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 1992, scoring 40 goals - but none was more wildly celebrated than the winner at Wembley in 1995. He is currently the youth team coach of Major League Soccer side Sporting Kansas City.

Everton: How good is their second leg record on the road?
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Blues have reasons to be cheerful - and fearful - going to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup
Ramiro Funes Mori celebrates scoring against Manchester City on Wednesday night
Goodison rejoiced at the final whistle and the pundits lined up to lavish plaudits on Everton ’s victorious side. But as the Blues skipped back into the dressing room, no doubt the experienced players – led by the outstanding Gareth Barry – were hammering home the same message. It’s only half-time. The job is only half done. A 2-1 victory over title-chasing Manchester City has put Everton in the box seat for their first League Cup final appearance in more than 30 years. What, though, can history tell us about the chances of Roberto Martinez ’s side reaching Wembley?
Previous League Cup semi-finals
This is the fifth time Everton have reached the last four of the competition – and the fourth time they have been drawn at home first leg. In 1976-77, they were held at Goodison when Neil Whatmore’s late strike equalised Duncan McKenzie’s opener to earn Bolton a 1-1 draw. In the return, however, a Bob Latchford goal in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 at Burnden Park was enough to send the Blues through. In 1984-84, Everton were again at home first and beat Aston Villa 2-0 meaning a 1-0 defeat in the second leg was academic. And four years later, the Blues entertained Arsenal but lost 1-0 before slumping 3-1 at Highbury. The only time Everton have been draw away first was in their last semi-final appearance in 2007-08, when they lost 2-1 at Chelsea before going down 1-0 in the Goodison tie.
Away daze?
But how have the Blues fared in all competitions when playing the second leg away?
In Europe, it has happened on 13 occasions. Everton’s record has seen them win only three games, draw twice and lose eight times (this is a record of the actual away match, not the overall result of the tie). The record in the League Cup is slightly skewed because the majority of Everton’s two-legged ties have come in the second round against lower league opposition. Nevertheless, such is the Blues’ iffy record in the competition, they have still won only five of 14 away second legs, drawing five and losing four. All told – including an easily-forgotten Texaco Cup tie at Hearts – the Blues can boast a record in away second legs of P28 W8 D8 L12. With Everton needing only to avoid defeat to progress – and even then a 2-1 loss would send the game to penalties and a 3-2 or 4-3 reverse would see them through on away goals – the odds are encouraging.
Warning from history
There is, though, one portent that isn’t so welcoming for Everton.
Three times the Blues have previously won a home first leg 2-1 – against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last season, Sporting Lisbon in the same competition in 2009-10, and Dukla Prague in the UEFA Cup in 1978-79. On each occasion, Everton were eliminated. Nothing last forever, however. And with Martinez’s side more impressive on the road this season than their own patch, the Etihad on Wednesday, January 27 would be a good place to start changing the course of history.

Mo Besic brings bite and drive to Everton: Dave Prentice on a new Goodison hero
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Echo's Deputy head of Sport reacts to Everton's semi-final first leg victory
Gareth Barry carried off the Man of the Match against Manchester City - and deserved to - but running Everton's midfield general very close for the award was Mo Besic. And the little Bosnian produced an outstanding performance in only his second start of the season! Injured just nine minutes into his first Premier League start of the campaign against Chelsea in September, Besic enjoyed an impressive cameo appearance as a substitute against Spurs on Sunday - then played the full 90 minutes of the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City. He produced a wonderful saving tackle on YaYa Toure, flipped the ball impudently over the Manchester City midfielder's head - and topped a near perfect performance with a dazzling pirouette towards the end of Everton's 2-1 victory.
The Echo's Deputy Head of Sport, David Prentice, was clearly impressed ...

Muhamed Besic, the cultured scrapper who could turn out to be an Everton gem
The Bosnian shows against Spurs and Manchester City the signs are extremely positive for the midfielder Roberto Martínez describes as a ‘contagious footballer’
Muhamed Besic tackles David Silva
Everton's Muhamed Besic tackles Mancester City's David Silva in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Goodison Park. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
By Jonathan Wilson
Thursday 7 January 2016 Guardian
It was only Muhamed Besic’s third start of the season but if he was anxious he hid it well. Standing in the tunnel before the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester City, he yawned. He went on to produce his best performance in an Everton shirt, a cultured scrapper buzzing around the more sedentary solidity of Gareth Barry. It is easy to be carried along by Roberto Martínez’s ebullience – although not so easy as not to raise an eyebrow when he describes Barry as one the great players in English history – but the match provided much for Everton fans to be optimistic about, and nothing more than Besic’s performance.
Everton’s Muhamed Besic: Why I didn’t ask for Messi’s shirt at World Cup
Among Everton players, only Barry touched the ball more than the 23-year-old. Most impressive, perhaps, was his calmness in the closing minutes as Everton, particularly after being reduced to 10 men by the late injury to Seamus Coleman, denied City the ball by keeping possession. The Goodison Park crowd, as it showed in its reaction to John Stones’s Cruyff turns against Tottenham in the previous game on Sunday, has little patience for overindulgence, but Besic, forever delaying a pass until a gap appeared, won applause. It was an odd 10 minutes against a City side producing yet another slightly lackadaisical performance but Besic’s movement and use of the ball in that spell spoke of a profound footballing intelligence. The passing, though, was only part of it. Besic also made six tackles – five more than anyone else who started the game for Everton – and an interception. He was aggressive and mobile. All but one of his tackles were made in a line about 30 yards from his own goal, while his passing was spread across the pitch but particularly towards the right, where he linked up with Gerard Deulofeu.
Besic started the 3-1 win over Chelsea in September but was forced off after nine minutes with a hamstring injury. He had made only two substitute appearances before his start on Wednesday, although the second of those had been highly encouraging. It had arguably been his introduction in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham that turned the match Everton’s way in the second half. After that game Martínez described him as “a contagious footballer” and it was notable he was the first to approach Stones as the crowd barracked him after his Cruyff turns. He is certainly not shy.
Nor is he, it is fair to say, an easy character. When he was 14 he was banned by the youth side for which he played in Berlin, shrugged and told his father that it didn’t matter, he’d still become the best player in the world. Or at least that is how the story goes: it has been repeated so frequently in the Bosnian media it has become gospel, although it is not entirely clear either which team he was playing for at the time or the precise reason for being banned. It may be it is an anecdote longer on emotional truth than facts: this is the type of thing a 14-year-old Besic should have done. In 2012, by which time he had joined Hamburg, Besic rowed on the pitch with his coach Thorsten Fink, who ended up grabbing him by the throat. Besic left for Ferencvaros soon afterwards. Then in September last year he was sent off in Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying win over Andorra, having reacted to a heavy challenge by throwing his chewing gum into the face of an opponent (although not, as it turned out, the one who had fouled him).
Born in Berlin of Bosnian parents, Besic was a surprise selection for Bosnia’s opening game of the 2014 World Cup, in which they lost 2-1 to Argentina. His performance then meant he went overnight in Bosnia from being almost unknown to being hailed as the future of their football, while anybody who heard Martínez’s punditry on the game would have been aware how highly he rated the midfielder. He signed him later in the summer for £4m. “Mo has got a very natural balance about knowing that he can be strong and aggressive but in the same way he’s a technical player on the ball,” Martínez said after Besic’s first friendly for Everton. “He’ll have that power to cope with the physicality of the league but also he has the comfort on the ball – in his long pass and short pass.” It is that range of abilities, the combination of ball-playing and ball-winning that so stood out against City. One full game and a substitute appearance represent limited evidence but the signs are extremely positive. Besic probably won’t fulfil the boast he supposedly made at 14 but he could turn out to be an extremely valuable player for Everton – and then there is a decent chance his manager at least will describe him as the best player in the world.

Roberto Martinez is a tactical genius - says the Manchester Evening News!
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton boss outwitted his Manchester City counterpart
Roberto Martinez tactically outwitted Manchester City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, says the man who reports on City for the Manchester Evening News. Stuart Brennan, reporting on Everton's first leg victory over Manchester City, wrote: "Pellegrini was outsmarted by his opposite number Roberto Martinez, who played a canny game from the off – perhaps rumbling the City boss's plan to counter-attack them a la Sevilla. "City hoped to lure the Toffees on to them, counting on their desire for a lead of a goal or two to take to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 27. "The plan was the for David Silva, Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne to spring the trap with Sergio Aguero as the spear through the heart. "But Martinez, criticised by many for his defensive naivety, relied on getting the ball up early to his danger man Romelu Lukaku, who Eliaquim Mangala will still have bad dreams about after his first game at Goodison last season. "The result was that City had most of the possession, zipped the ball around pleasingly, and looked the more accomplished of the two teams – without actually doing real damage." The MEN also claimed that City's players looked jaded: "City’s players looked tired for long periods of the game," they added. "Their injury situation may be easing, but the effects of not being able to rotate as often as they would have liked throughout the season is having an effect."

Everton beat Juventus and Inter to the 'new Xherdan Shaqiri'
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Roberto Martinez excited by Blues new signing
EVERTON have beaten off competition from European heavyweights including Juventus and Inter Milan to land the signing of the 'New Xherdan Shaqiri'. The Blues today completed the £3m transfer of 20-year-old Shani Tarashaj, who has penned a four-and-a-half year deal at Goodison. Tarashaj will spend the rest of the campaign with Grasshopper Zurich before joining up with Everton for pre-season in July.
Blues boss Roberto Martinez is excited by the Blues' latest acquisition, who is seen by many in Switzerland as being better than Shaqiri was at the same age. Shaqiri, who scored a goal-of-the-season contender against Everton last month, left Basel for German giants Bayern Munich in 2012 and also played for Inter before joining Stoke City in the summer. The 24-year-old also starred for his country at the 2014 World Cup but the belief is that Tarashaj, capped at under-21 level, could become the next big star of Swiss football. Although right-footed, Martinez plans on playing Tarashaj from the left-hand side when he joins up with Everton in time for next season. And though the Blues expect the youngster will need time to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League they are confident he can have a big impact in England. La Liga sides Sevilla and Villarreal were also interested in Tarashaj but Everton moved quickly to tie up the deal.

Everton sign £3m Swiss wonderkid
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Playmaker is loaned back to Grasshoppers for rest of season
EVERTON have completed the £3m signing of Swiss wonderkid Shani Tarashaj.
The 20-year-old has put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal but will be loaned back to Grasshopper Zurich until the end of the season. Tarashaj is seen as one of the most exciting young attacking talents in Switzerland and has scored eight times in 18 appearances this term in the Super League. The forward has been capped at under-21 level by Switzerland and netted in their 3-1 defeat to England in a European Championship qualifier in November. As part of the agreement that will see Everton's new signing stay with Grasshopper Zurich for the remainder of the campaign, Tarashaj will also complete a period of military service until March. Tarashaj becomes the Blues second signing of the January transfer window following Matty Foulds' £225,000 move from Bury. Everton remain interested in Leeds United's Sam Byrne but getting a deal over the line for the talented 22-year-old is unlikely to be straightforward.

Everton confirm signing of Swiss midfielder Shani Tarashaj
• 20-year-old will be loaned back to Grasshoppers Zurich
• ‘It is a dream for me to sign here at Everton’
Shani Tarashaj
Thursday 7 January 2016 Guardian
Everton have confirmed the signing of Switzerland Under-21 international Shani Tarashaj from Grasshoppers Zurich for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £3m. A statement on the club’s website on Thursday revealed that the 20-year-old has signed a four-and-a-half year deal but will immediately be loaned back to Grasshoppers to complete his national service.
“Shani is an enormous young talent in Swiss football who, without a doubt, will have a great future,” said the Everton manager, Roberto Martínez. “We’re delighted to have found a young player who believes that our club is the perfect step for him to enhance his quality and to grow his career.
“He fits in really well to our style and the way we want to play the game. He is a family boy, hungry and he is desperate to fight for his place in our talented young squad. “I’m delighted we have been able to act quickly and secure the deal for Shani which means that, due to his national service commitments, he will be able to be part of our first team squad from next season. Grasshopper have been very professional and the deal has been conducted in an exemplary way.” Tarashaj, who has scored eight goals in 18 games for Grasshoppers this season, added: “It is a dream for me to sign here at Everton. I am proud and so happy to be here.”

Shani Tarashaj: Martinez's reputation for developing players convinced me to sign for Everton
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Swiss youngster joins Blues in a £3m deal
Swiss starlet Shani Tarashaj says he was convinced to move to Everton in order to work with Roberto Martinez. The 20-year-old signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Everton, and he revealed that Martinez’s reputation for developing young players helped him make up his mind up. He explained: “I first found out Everton were interested two or three months ago and now I am here.
“For me that is the best thing about Mr Martinez wanting me - his belief in young players.
“I heard that he was a good manager and works well with young players individually - this is what I want, to make me a better player. “English football is fast-paced and Everton is a big club with a good manager in Mr Martinez.” Tarashaj has impressed with Grasshopper Zurich this season, scoring eight times in 18 appearances in the Swiss Super League. He will remain with Grasshopper until the end of the season, but he’s looking forward to helping Everton to win trophies when he moves to Merseyside in the summer. He added: “I am fast, I have a good shot and I think I can help Everton. “It is a dream for me to play here, at Everton, to sign. I’m proud. “I want to help the club to win titles.”

Mo Besic Exclusive: We want fourth place as well as Wembley
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Mo Besic targets Champions League place as well as Capital One Cup final
MO BESIC is targeting a second victory over Manchester City in the space of a week to set Everton up perfectly for their Capital One Cup semi-final second leg. The Blues defeated City 2-1 at Goodison in last night’s first-leg to take a narrow lead to the Etihad in just under three weeks’ time for the return.
But before Everton face City in the Cup, they travel to Manchester to face them in a Premier League game on Wednesday night. Besic, who produced a man-of-the-match performance in the first-leg, says a positive result next week will be an ideal way to prepare the Blues for their crunch second leg on January 27. But the 22-year-old says a win at City in six days’ time is vital to help revive Everton’s hopes of breaking into the top four this season. “We play City in the league next week and there are three really important points to fight for because we want to get fourth place,” Besic said. “I think it is important to go there and get a positive result to help us prepare for the second leg. There will be a great atmosphere and it will help us if we can get a good result next week.” “I am really happy that we won the tie. “City, as we all know, are a good team but we were really good as well. “We played with a good defence and were always looking to hit them on the counter-attack and in the second-half we had good possession. We played a really good match.
“The gaffer told us before the game to see the first leg as just one game, and that we needed to win. So it was really important to win this first game.” Besic picked up where he left off after a supersub display against Spurs on Sunday and helped nullify the threat of Yaya Toure. But the modest midfielder insists there were top notch performances throughout the side last night - and that he was simply “doing his job”. “I don’t know, I’ll have to watch it back,” he said when asked if it was his best ever Everton performance. “I was just doing my job. “I have played in semi-finals before, back in Hungary, but that is not such a good league so this was the biggest game in my club career. “But I am never nervous.
“It doesn’t matter for me who I am playing against, I just play my football. “City are a really good team but we were good, not just me, all of the team.” And Besic reserved special mention of the Goodison fans who helped create a cracking atmosphere. “When you have such fans behind you it makes it easier to play,” Besic added. “We are really happy to win for the fans because the last couple of results have not been ok so we’re happy to give them something back.”

Everton injury news: So who can Roberto Martinez now turn to at right-back?
7 Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Seamus Coleman's calf injury has left Blues boss with a selection headache... or has it?
Everton's Seamus Coleman receives treatment against Manchester City - but who can now replace him?
There has been one universally accepted wisdom at Everton this season. “Since I arrived at the club, I would say this is the strongest squad we’ve had in terms of having options and having to make big decisions,” said Roberto Martinez back in October. Yet while there is no doubt the Blues have an unparalleled strength in depth in many areas, there are some positions where they remain somewhat short. Positions from which players just so happened to limp from the field at Goodison on Wednesday night. The sight of Romelu Lukaku departing moments after netting the goal that gave the Blues a narrow 2-1 Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg advantage against Manchester City was bad enough.
But that Seamus Coleman later left Martinez’s side down to 10 men for the closing moments was the real concern. While Lukaku’s problem isn’t considered too serious, the same can’t be said for Coleman, who is now expected to be sidelined for up to a month with a calf complaint. Similar to the central attacking role, Everton aren’t blessed with a plethora of immediate alternatives at right-back.
So what options does Martinez have with Coleman stricken?
Move John Stones
Stones, of course, has previously been deployed as a makeshift right-back.
However, such has been his prominence in his preferred role at the heart of defence, surely both manager and player would be reluctant to make the switch.
In any case, with Everton short of centre-back options, it would be reliant on Phil Jagielka making a seamless return to the first team and striking up an instant partnership with Ramiro Funes Mori
Switch Leighton Baines
Given Martinez sees the England man’s later years being played as a defensive midfielder, it would be no great hardship to ask him to perform on the opposite side of the backline.
Such a move would at least reassure Gerard Deulofeu there will remain sound defensive cover behind him. With Brendan Galloway having this season shown himself more than capable of stepping in at left-back, this would seem the most palatable choice for Martinez. Another option would be to throw Galloway in at right-back. But common sense dictates the more experienced head of Baines would appear best suited to the role.
Turn to Mo Besic
Having become almost the forgotten man for Everton this season, Besic has shone in the last few games.
The Bosnian has played at both centre-back and right-back earlier in his career, and his defensive nous indicates he wouldn’t have an issue. But having stamped his authority in central midfield against Tottenham and City, Martinez would surely be reluctant to upset the rhythm of a player bang in form.
Bring Tony Hibbert in from the cold
Hibbert is the only other dedicated right-back in the Everton squad with any extensive first-team experience. The only problem is the 34-year-old is nowhere near match fit. Tony Hibbert's last appearance was in this match at Manchester City in December 2014 A combination of injuries and the progress of other players has meant Hibbert hasn’t featured for the first team since the 1-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City in December 2014. Hibbert could conceivably feature at some point over the next month should he be deemed fit enough. But he’s not going to be a regular replacement.
Try the youngsters Tyias Browning would have been given a chance had he not been ruled out for the season following knee surgery. Instead, there could be an opportunity for a trio of other Blues youngsters. Matthew Pennington impressed when on loan at Coventry City last season and played the first 45 minutes for Everton in their 5-3 win at Barnsley in the Capital One Cup back in August.
Everton youngster Gethin Jones
Mason Holgate was snapped up from the Tykes in the summer and has been a regular for the Blues’ under-21s this season, while Wales under-21 international Gethin Jones, who was on loan at Plymouth Argyle for a spell last year, featured as a late substitute in the Europa League dead rubber against FC Krasnodar in December 2014.
Turn to Aaron Lennon again
Lennon has had to bide his time for first-team action since making his move from Tottenham Hotspur permanent last summer. Indeed, his goal against his former club last weekend came on only his fourth Premier League start this season.
Aaron Lennon could step in at right-back again
His sole Capital One Cup appearance – and his first start of the campaign – came surprisingly at right-back in the 2-1 win at Reading. Lennon did a decent enough job to suggest the prospect of a reprise shouldn’t be dismissed.
Play three at the back
Martinez demonstrated at Wigan Athletic he wasn’t averse to switching formations when needs be.
So a switch to three at the back cannot be ruled out.
Gareth Barry as one of three centre-backs is an option
Stones and Funes Mori would form two of the three, with Galloway, a fit-again Jagielka and Gareth Barry all capable of completing the trio. This, though, would prompt a major reshuffle of Everton’s attacking threat – and doesn’t address the issue of who can best defend the right flank.
Buy a new right-back
Martinez has already gone on the record saying he wasn’t in the market for a new defender this January.
The prolonged absence of Coleman could prompt a change of heart. But, as we have shown, the Everton boss does have some room to manoeuvre within his available personnel.

Robert Martínez: no verbal agreement with Everton stars about summer exits
• Spaniard determined to keep leading players such as Lukaku and Stones
• Martínez: ‘I would never do that. I think that would be very negative’
Everton's Romelu Lukaku v Manchester City
The Everton striker Romelu Lukaku beats Manchester City’s Fernandinho to the ball during his side’s Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg victory at Goodison. Photograph: Paul Currie/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
By Andy Hunter
Thursday 7 January 2016 Guardian

Roberto Martínez has denied having a verbal agreement with Romelu Lukaku, John Stones or any Everton player that they can leave this summer and insisted he would never consent to such a counterproductive strategy. Lukaku’s agent, Mino Raiola, claimed in a French radio interview last year that Martínez had said he would allow the prolific striker to move “if a good offer comes in”. The Everton manager has seen Stones develop into one of the most coveted defenders in Europe and told him that last summer was the wrong time to leave after offers from Chelsea. Martínez admitted before Everton’s Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg win over Manchester City that Champions League qualification would be more persuasive to keeping young talent at the club than victory in the competition. But he has rejected the suggestion that players have an agreement they can leave should Everton, 11th in the Premier League, fall short. “That is not true, I would never do that,” the Everton manager said. “I think that would be very negative. If you do that could you imagine the last two months for that player? He would never put a leg in or never challenge for the ball. I don’t agree with doing that. I know you can do that to keep a player for another 12 months but if you’re not going to have a player 12 months down the line you need to start replacing him to have a stronger team.” Everton have started work for next season by completing the £3m signing of the highly rated Switzerland Under-21 international Shani Tarashaj from Grasshoppers Zurich. The 20-year-old who plays as a second striker or attacking midfielder, has scored eight goals in 18 appearances for Grasshoppers this season, attracting attention from Juventus, Internazionale, Villarreal and Sevilla. But Everton moved swiftly to secure his signature, on the condition he remains on loan at the Swiss club for the rest of the season to complete his national service. Tarashaj signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Everton on Thursday. Martínez said: “Shani is an enormous young talent in Swiss football who, without a doubt, will have a great future. He fits in really well to our style and the way we want to play the game. He is a family boy, hungry and he is desperate to fight for his place in our talented young squad. I’m delighted we have been able to act quickly and secure the deal for Shani which means that, due to his national service commitments, he will be able to be part of our first team squad from next season.” Séamus Coleman is expected to be out for three to four weeks with the calf strain suffered against City. Lukaku injured an ankle in the semi-final and Tom Cleverley aggravated a calf problem but, while not believed to be serious injuries, the pair are likely to miss Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Dagenham and Redbridge.




























January 2016 - Week 1 (1st - 7th)

All News Articles throughout each month.....

Everton Independent Research!