A Dominic Calvert-Lewin hat-trick and some James Rodriguez magic was enough to give Everton an impressive 5-2 win over West Brom on Saturday.
The young English striker and his Colombian team mate were the stars of the show as Carlo Ancelotti’s side maintained their 100 per cent start to the campaign.
Okay, we may have made a mistake with this one.
When asked in our season preview who would be the ‘biggest flop’ of the season, this moronic writer went with James Rodriguez.
My reasoning seemed sound – a dearth of proper playing time at his last two clubs, a sense that Everton just wasn’t the right team for him at this point in his career, and a worry that the Premier League might be slightly too high octane a division for his style of play.
Two games in, and it’s probably safe to say that that is a load of nonsense.
James was brilliant again, netting his first goal for Everton thanks to a sumptuous left-footed finish and showing clear signs of a great understanding with the front two.
But more important than all of that, James has added a real sense of fun to Everton’s game. He’s playing with a smile on his face and that infectiousness has spread across the side.
Things really are looking up.
The weak link
Everton have gone big this summer.
The signings of James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan have transformed a woeful midfield into one of the best in the Premier League.
Fees, plus wages, plus the money they are spending on Carlo Ancelotti, means that the Toffees gamble on reaching Europe simply has to pay off come the end of the season.
So how then, are they keeping faith with Jordan Pickford in goal?
The England international has been an accident waiting to happen for at least 18 months now, and once again he was at fault here this afternoon.
Grady Diangana’s 10th minute strike beat the goalkeeper all ends up, and showed up his shot-stopping abilities yet again.
And then Matheus Pereira’s free kick whistled past the former Sunderland man with his arms tucked into his chest.
There’s no doubting that Pickford is a good Premier League keeper but if Everton do make Europe come the end of the campaign, it will be in spite of Pickford, not because of him.
It feels like this needs saying before we forget what’s actually happening and become used to this new type of Premier League football.
Just imagine how good this game would have been with a full house at Goodison Park.
It was a cracking encounter between two flawed teams who were happy to attack – and it just called out for a bouncing Gladwys Street End.
A balmy September afternoon on Merseyside, Carlo Ancelotti’s side bombing forward, a bunch of new exciting signings, an away team that went down to 10 men but still played their part – this game had everything, apart from the most important thing.
It’s become totally normal to watch games without supporters in attendance, but let’s remember to take a step back once in a while and remind ourselves that this isn’t normal, and the game will be infinitely better once stadiums are full again.