Both teams came into this game with the statistics not showing a clear winner. Everton had only won 2 of their last 8 games at Goodison Park whilst QPR were yet to win on the road, becoming only the 2nd team, the other being Bolton Wanderers in the 95/96 season, in Premier League history to lose their opening 7 away matches. After losing both last weekend in the Premier League and midweek in the Europa League Roberto Martinez was hoping for a strong performance from Everton, whilst Harry Redknapp was hoping his QPR side could show the form shown in last week’s 2 – 0 win against Burnley.
After resting the first team for the midweek Europa league game Roberto Martinez had virtually a full squad to pick from, with the exception of suspended Gareth Barry. Martinez made 3 changes from the team who lost 1 – 0 to Manchester City with Tony Hibbert replaced by Seamus Coleman, Samuel Eto’o being dropped to the bench for Steven Naismith and the suspended Gareth Barry being replaced by Aiden McGeady.
The Toffees lined up in a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation with young England prospect Ross Barkley playing in a deeper role than usual, sitting in holding midfield alongside Muhamed Besic. The back 4 had a familiar feel to it with Coleman at RB, Distin and Jagielka at CB and Baines at LB. Romelu Lukaku lead the line on his own with Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith and Aiden McGeady playing as an attacking three just behind the Belgian.
Harry Redknapp was without arguably his best player this season after Charlie Austin received a red card in last week’s victory against Burnley. This gave Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas the chance to play as the lone striker for the first time this season. This was one of four changes made by Harry Redknapp with Matt Phillips, Junior, Nedum Onuoha and Jordan Mutch coming into the starting 11 meaning Karl Henry and Bobby Zamora had to settle of a place on the bench, with Steven Caulker and Charlie Austin left out of the squad.
QPR played in a 4 – 5 – 1, with a back 4 of Isla at RB, Dunne and Onuoha at CB and Yun Suk – Young at LB. The midfield 5 had a centre midfield 3 of Barton, Fer and Mutch, with Hoilett and Phillips on the wings and Vargas up top on his own.
The game didn’t spark into life until the 25 minute mark where pressure from Everton on the QPR goal saw Naismith have a goal bound shot blocked by his own teammate before Kevin Mirallas had a shot from 25 yards that left Robert Green in the QPR goal scrambling but it whistled just wide of the post. From this point Everton didn’t look back and it only took 8 minutes before we got the break through, and it came from a wonderful solo effort from Ross Barkley. Having picked the ball up on the halfway line Barkley played an excellent one-two with Lukaku, then drifted past Nedum Onuoha like he wasn’t there before unleashing an excellent 30 yard left footed shot which found the top right corner of Rob Greens goal, giving Everton a 1 – 0 lead.
Evertons 2nd goal came in the 43rd minute, 10 minutes after the first, when Steven Naismith was caught by a trailing Joey Barton elbow giving Everton a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the QPR box. The free kick looked perfect for Evertons set piece specialist Leighton Baines, who was stood over the ball with Kevin Mirallas, but this time it was the Belgian who took the free kick and it found the back of the net due to a huge deflection off Vargas in the QPR wall, completely wrong footing Rob Green in the QPR goal.
The start of the second half couldn’t have been more different than the first with both teams coming out at a blistering pace and we only had to wait 1 minute for a bit of controversy, when referee Neil Swarbrick, who waved away 4 penalty appeals last week in the game between Liverpool and Sunderland, failed to point to the spot when Mirallas took a tumble after what seemed to be contact from Richard Dunne.
This decision seemed to spur Everton and they got the all-important 3rd goal, putting the game to bed, in the 53rd minute. This came after excellent work from McGeady down the right who picked out the head of Steven Naismith inside the box, and the Scot directed his header brilliantly past Green to put the game out of reach of QPR at 3 – 0.
This goal seemed to kill the game off with very little created by both teams, until the 80th minute when Bobby Zamora, coming off the bench, tapped in from a couple of yards into an empty Everton goal after Howard has saved well from a low Jordan Mutch shot. This proved to be a consolation for QPR who had left it too late.
The last kick of the game nearly saw Everton restore their 3 goal advantage when veteran striker Samuel Eto’o saw his shot rebound off the woodwork but the game finished 3 – 1 to Everton, moving them up to 10th, knocking Merseyside rivals Liverpool into the bottom half of the table. The result meant that QPR stayed in the relegation zone in 18th position, 1 point behind Burnley and Crystal Palace.