A nice 10-day break and lots of the walking wounded on the
mend... But this game represents a massive, massive test of
ability, perseverance, and commitment from David Moyes's
Having recovered reasonably well from the trauma of Gay Meadow,
can they follow through with a much-needed back-to-back win against
another lowly team in trouble at the wrong end of the
Premiership? That, dear readers, is the quintessential
With the goal-keeping injury crisis over, and almost all his
choice defenders available for selection, expectations of a return
to the stingy defence of last November would not be misplaced.
But Moyes faces a challenge in picking his best back-four after
dropping Yobo last week, presumably in response to what many people
saw as some critical errors against Spurs, despite a very
accomplished performance otherwise. It only takes a moment and
So a bet on Pistone, Stubbs, Weir and Unsworth across the back
would not be too outrageous. They represent Moyes's favourite
pick. But who steps down for Yobo?
And what about midfield? Is Pembridge fit? Does
Gemmill deserve to keep his place? Will he risk
Gravesen? What about Li Tie? Surely he is more likely to
play Watson and Naysmith, with two of the other four on the bench.
Two from three of Radzinski, McBride and Campbell would appear to
round out the squad... leaving no room for Ibrahim Said or Leon
Osman. Who said this was a paper-thin squad?
It would be really nice to see Leon Osman rewarded for his hard
work at Carlisle, and his excellent performance last week for the
reserves, when he scored a hat-trick against Man Utd. But you
know the chances of him breaking into this first-team squad on the
strength of these limited qualifications — never mind securing a
starting slot — is remote, to say the least.
Leon was injured for much of last season, but he seems to be well
over that now, and appears to have worked hard to get noticed by
David Moyes, who finally gave him his debut — albeit a
ridiculously brief one — at the end of the Spurs game. The
Moyes method, though, seems to be Slowly, Slowly; he may get 10 mins
tonight if he is very, very lucky.
And what of Bolton? They come off the back of an impressive
performance at Newcastle where they went down by a single goal to
the Bobby Robson's much-improved side. However, the Lancashire side
haven't won in seven matches and have only claimed maximum points at
home twice so far this season.
Sam Allardyce has Jay Jay Okocha and Per Frandsen back from
injury, so Paul Warhurst, out with a hamstring injury, is his only
Complied from The
That was a weird game. We played well, should have won by
more. Steve Watson said on 5 Live that we didn't really create
a lot of chances tonight but we had good chances to create chances -
and he's dead right. A number of times we got into good
positions only for a poor-quality final ball, bad choice of pass,
panic or falling over the ball to ruin the chance. And why
won't Radz take people on, knock it and run?
I was impressed by the stadium, how warm it was inside compared
to outside (it was very cold outside!). I was
thoroughly warmed up by the foxy little blonde cheerleader in front
of me. There was no atmosphere in the stadium though (except
at one end).
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Everton fans there
seemed to be around me. I was sat there trying to keep quiet
(it's not easy) and when we scored the bloke next to my Dad jumped
in the air! And a few others round me cheered too, and those
were just the brave ones! I suppose it's because it was the
Watson was great, his first goal was superb. Pistone looked
very classy, very calm but 2 foul throws?!?! One's bad, but
Li Tie worked his arse off, made a few nice passes, needs to put
a bit of bulk on though IMHO.
Wasn't impressed by McBride but I'll reserve complete judgment
until he's settled in. He didn't seem to know where to be and
his touch was poor at times; you can't fault his work rate though
and I'm sure Moyes will improve him. He was, inexplicably,
named MOM on teletext.
Everyone else did well; nothing particularly outstanding but very
Bolton were dire. If they don't go down then West Ham,
Sunderland and WBA must be awful. And Campo? Ha ha ha ha ha ha
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Their fans moaned about *everything* aswell.
This won't come over well typed but..... there was a woman sat
somewhere behind me that whenever (in French accent) Bernard Mendy
got the ball, shouted (in a Bbolton accent) "Come on Bernard
(as in Bernard Matthews)"
One more thing, if that guy banging that friggin drum had been
sat anywhere near me ... well, let's just say he'd be walking funny.
WRIGHT - 7- relatively untroubled, handling good in bad
conditions for a keeper, distribution excellent.
PISTONE - 8 - one soft header back to Wright aside, he was
outstanding. Good going forward, and safe as anything at the back.
Never wastes a ball if he can help it.
UNSWORTH - 7 - solid, strong, not overly creative. See every other
match this season! Everything you'd expect.
WEIR/STUBBS - 7 - apologies for lumping them together, but they
almost seem the same player. Both as solid and dependable as the
other. Still think playing the two means we have to defend deeper
than we need to though.
WATSON - 9 - committed, strong and the only one in midfield to
really get in with the strikers. The rebound he snapped up for the
second was everything you want Radz doing! Superb.
NAYSMITH - 6 - think he's a good left back and tries his heart out
left mid, but was probably the weakest link tonight. Slightly too
slow, but some of the vitriol aimed at him from the away end was out
of order in my opinion.
LI TIE - 7 - good going forward, prone to dancing with players
rather than tackling when defending. Solid along with.......
GEMMILL - 8 - acted as a base to allow Li Tie forward and did the
job excellently. Never wasted a ball and harried the opponents to
death. Becoming an important player at the moment.
McBRIDE - 7 - didn't have a sniff at goal, but always available and
touch was excellent, esp 2nd half.
RADZ - 7 - another to receive unnecessary abuse from our
knowledgeable fans, presumably for not being Wayne Rooney?? 100%
effort, but a little more composure at times and we'd have doubled
the goal tally