Romelu Lukaku became Everton’s most prolific goalscorer in the Premier League era, scoring in a 3-1 win against Aston Villa.
Everton took control inside five minutes when Ramiro Funes Mori headed in from a Kevin Mirallas corner. Aaron Lennon doubled his side’s advantage on the half hour mark, slotting in from close range after Mirallas provided.
And three points were effectively sealed on the hour when Funes Mori turned provider. The Argentine’s cross was met by Lukaku who struck his 17th league goal of the season; the first ever player to do so in Everton colours since the Premier League’s inception.
Villa responded through substitute Rudy Gestede who planted a firm header past Joel Robles with 10 minutes to go, but Everton were comfortable winners despite the late rally.
Why Lukaku is Everton’s greatest since 92
While the Belgian is not exactly enjoying his finest run of form, his second half goal at Villa Park was enough to guarantee three points for the travelling Blues as well as a new club record.
Lukaku has now scored 17 Premier League goals in a single season, more than any other Toffee in the top flight’s current formation. He eclipses recent club heroes Andrei Kanchelskis and Tony Cottee while his 22nd strike in all competitions is the most since Cottee’s haul of 24 in the 1990/91 season.
One criticism pointed at Lukaku since his first appearance at Everton is a perceived laziness or lack of effort. It’s an accusation you’ll still hear on the terraces and likely will continue to hear as long as he’s at Goodison Park, but the Belgian’s goal-scoring record is indisputable and he can legitimately claim the title of Everton’s finest goalscorer in the Premier League.
Blues will need patience, despite investment excitement
With news of fresh investment in the form of billionaire businessman Farhad Moshiri, Everton capped off a wonderful few days with three vital points in their pursuit of European qualification.
If Everton are to reach the upper echelons of English football once again, a new and wealthy face was much needed in the Goodison boardroom.
And while an Abramovich-style splurge of egotistical self-satisfaction (not to mention the huge spunking of money that goes with it) is unnecessary and almost impossible in the light of Financial Fair Play rules, Blues will be hoping the glory days will be back sooner rather than later.
Evertonians will expect money to be spent improving (and maintaining) the squad but what is more important for fans is that a more long-term strategy is put in place to allow Everton to: A) compete as high up the league and as far into cup competitions as possible; B) encourage the development of first-team-ready graduates from the academy, C) secure the club financially; and D) deliver a modern football stadium worthy of bringing one of England’s most decorated clubs into the modern era (albeit, belatedly kicking and screaming).
Villa walk out is lesson in how not to run a football club
Aston Villa supporters’ planned walk-out in the 74th minute sought to highlight their frustration at the club’s current predicament and as a protest at American owner Randy Lerner.
This was the 202nd league meeting between the sides, but the most played fixture in English football is unlikely to be played at all next season. This was Villa’s ninth defeat in 17 league games, and while they can still mathematically avoid the drop, Remi Garde’s side look condemned to their first relegation since 1987.
A sad state of affairs for a club with whom Everton share much history, including status as founder members of the Football League, not to mention the overly-mentioned “most-played fixture” fact. Evertonians will hope new investment does not bring with it a similar fate to Villa’s.
Time for Mirallas to nail down starting spot
Kevin Mirallas has had to be patient in terms of first team opportunities this season. Of his 20 appearances in 2015/16 only eight have been from the start, with just five coming in the Premier League.
The Belgian took up too many deep positions in the first half, coming so far into his own half at times to collect the ball from Phil Jagielka. And while Tuesday night was hardly his best performance, we saw moments of his ability which ultimately helped win Everton the match, first taking the corner from which Funes Mori opened the scoring, then picking out Lennon to double the score. They were his first assists in the Premier League in over a year.
If the winger can continue to occupy space in the wide areas and make the kinds of forward runs that led to the second goal, then we may well see a lot more from Mirallas.
Away form shows Blues are happy to hit the road
Tuesday night’s win at Villa Park was their fifth on the road in the Premier League, one more than they’re managed at Goodison Park. And with only one defeat away from home compared to six at L4, Everton certainly seem a lot happier on their travels.
Gavin Buckland’s Twitter feed reveals that Lukaku’s goal was Everton’s 11th away goal without reply; the first time it has happened in the club’s history, while the Toffees have only been outscored away from home by the league’s title-chasing top three (22).
Bit of history there #efc have now scored 11 away goals without reply, for the first time ever. Previous best 10 on six occasions.
— Gavin Buckland (@GavinBuckland1) March 1, 2016
After years of dour results on their travels under David Moyes, an unbeaten run of form in Roberto Martinez’s last eight league games (W3, D5) makes for happy travellers. Now, about that home form.