Europa Preview| Lyon (H)
Right now, Everton’s fixture list resembles a severe bout of diorahea, messy and painfully frequent.
Things are looking bleak right now as the Blues head into the biggest week of their season thus far. Whilst we can put our misery on hold in the Premier League, things in Europe aren’t much better. Up next are French outfit Lyon (Lee-oonn).
No pressure, but the Toffees are in a sticky spot in Group E. Two games in and just one point on the board. Anything but a victory all but ends this year’s Europa League campaign. Lyon come into the game losing only one game in their last ten. They sit second in the group and are coming off a massive last-minute winner against Monaco on Friday night, courtesy of a wonder free kick by danger man Nabil Fekir. Lyon will certainly be hoping the like high-flying Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir can continue their good run of form. The latter has seven goals in nine games this season.
Although, it’s not all as rosey as it seems at the Groupama Stadium. Despite sitting 6th in Ligue 1, Lyon manager Bruno Genesio has come under some pressure recently with his side drawing six of those aforementioned ten games. Lyon make the trip to Goodison missing marksman Mariano Diaz – who has netted seven goals in eleven games since arriving from the Bernabeu in the summer – and left-back Ferland Mendy.
Let’s bring the tone right down for a minute now. It feels as though Koeman is in real trouble right now. Whilst many fans have been unhappy for some time, it seems the watching media have homed in on the Dutchman and pressure is mounting. In his press conference, Koeman has urged Everton to focus on getting three points on Thursday night, however the reality is Koeman needs a wins to survive in his role as Toffees boss, for another few days at least.
With the likes of Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon, Yannick Bolasie and Ross Barkley all remaining long terms absentees along with Oumar Niasse, who is ineligible. The team selection will therefore be key. James McCarthy is edging closer to fitness, but will not be available for Thursday night. The Republic of Ireland international has been out with a knee injury since March, but did play the first half of an Everton U23s match earlier this week.
I expect a similar team from Sunday’s trip to Brighton to start on Thursday. I believe Koeman, rightly or wrongly, believes his team will come good. Performances would suggest otherwise. But Everton have never faced Lyon before, in fact Everton have only played one French side before, Lille during the 14/15 season when we took over 10,000 fans and picked up a goalless draw away, followed by a comfortable 3-0 win at home.
Rather than the usual negative drabble I have served up this season, I would like to finish on a rallying cry. Things are shit now. The team aren’t playing well, the management look lost. It’s a stark contrast from what was expected pre-season. But this game is a must win. The hard work of last year will be underdone in three games if we don’t win. But only the players can stop that. If they have any pride, they will go out there a leave everything on the pitch.
As for the fans, well the ‘Goodison under the lights’ mindset seems a distant memory these days. The atmosphere home and away is flat, quite often even toxic. Who can blame us right? It’s been a very up and (mostly) down few years for Evertonians. But we know as fans what we are capable of if we all rally together and get Goodsion rocking. So those in attendance… and even those who aren’t. Be loud, like a rewind to years gone by, let’s get Goodison bouncing. Let’s get it nasty. This isn’t your usual ‘GET BEHIND THE TEAM’ rally cry. Fuck the team. This is a rally cry for us. Evertonians who have had fuck all to shout about this season. Let’s make a night to remember. The type of night that the players have no place to hide. The type of night that rocked Bayern Munich in 1985. The type of night that had Duncan bulldozing United in 2005. The type of night that will make Lyon wish they never left the hotel room.
Just for one night, we are under the lights of Goodison for maybe our last meaningful game in Europe this season…. Don’t go out on a whimper Evertonians, even if the players do!
-David ( @DAHughes92 )