THE media reaction to the Manchester United triumph somewhat unfortunately centred on an argument about our playing style and if we are a long ball team.
On Saturday they got a resounding answer.
Unfortunately for the sides around us, Everton have now amassed the brains to compliment the defensive brawn, with genuine game changing talent in the likes of Pienaar and Naismith who both impressed with a goal and assist in the weekend win.
Villa deployed an orthodox 4-4-2 and it was our domination of the midfield with Pienaar/Naismith coming off the flanks creating a 4v2 situation in the central area which enabled us to control the game with 61% of the ball and more than double the amount of final third touches than Villa (219 v 105).
This dynamic was only resolved when Paul Lambert brought on an extra midfielder at half time and went 4-5-1, by which time the horse had already bolted.
In recent campaigns we have been able to edge out the big guns that will come at us and give us space but then we struggle to put away the league’s lesser sides that defend in greater numbers, comfortable that we lack the incision to break them down.
So far we’ve averaged 20 shots per game which is the most in the top flight and six more per game than last season.
Blues with decent memories will recall that the season we finished fourth included beating Villa 3-1 on their own patch along with a 1-0 night time win over Manchester United.
It’s only early days but our maximum points return, coupled with the inability of sides such as Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool to win any of their opening games gives us a decent head start in our quest to win what is very much a ‘mini league’ behind the Manchester clubs and Chelsea who should be safely ensconced in the top three.
West Brom are next up and will be a tougher nut to crack.
Their strength lies in their shape: a gift bestowed by former manager Roy Hodgson. Steve Clarke has tried to evolve a tad with more of a 4-2-3-1 setup in their opening fixtures. Their centre-backs are both aerially competent but susceptible to quick feet around them and last season we put them away with relative ease home and away without conceding a goal.
With optimism in the camp high let’s hope we can continue what has been an incredibly positive start to the new season.