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Basque ingredients key to the recipe at Everton

By Sean Watson :  06/12/2007 :  Comments (13) :
Everton have begun to slowly emerge from their indifferent start to the season and again threaten to break into the top six. It appears that the shadowy events that transpired in the Merseyside Derby have sparked the manager and players into positive action on the pitch that has resulted in a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

The return of boxing kangaroo Tim Cahill and his goals from midfield or as the second striker have also been invaluable. Building on the excellent season that Everton had last campaign; Moyes has again spent wisely ensuring that this season they can pursue cup success which should combine nicely with their strong league form. Currently heading their group in the Uefa Cup and facing West Ham next week in the League Cup, Everton may well be celebrating a cup success at the end of the season.

Everton now boast a forward line that is up there with the best in the EPL:

  • Yakubu has started to win over some of his doubters with a steady stream of goals.
  • England international Andrew Johnson has had an injury-riddled campaign but still offers pace and a reliable route to goal.
  • James McFadden remains an enigma but still offers something different off the bench.
But it is again Everton?s youngsters who are stealing the headlines. Victor Anichebe has stepped up to show us a glimpse of his frightening potential with goals in the Uefa Cup. Coming off the bench he has roughed up defenders and displayed predatory finishing for someone so young. James Vaughan showed in the last few games of last season that, with his jet-heeled pace and strength, he has the makings of a Goodison legend, but only if he can rid himself of the injury curse that has riddled his season to date.

Moyes is a strict disciplinarian and has forged Everton?s team spirit in the proverbial fire. Much of his success at Everton can be put down a strong defence and unheralded but world-class keeper in Tim Howard. Yet this season they have struggled to keep clean sheets and this has cost them dearly in a number of games.

Joleon Lescott, however, remains a tower of strength and has also added goalscoring to his game. He would do well to his ignore the ridiculous criticism that he received during England?s ignominious displays against Russia and Croatia.

Everton possess a Spanish magician in Mikel Arteta. His dazzling displays on the wing have again caught the eye. His set pieces and crossing ability are a major part of Everton?s armoury. At 25 years of age he can only improve and should reach his peak in a few years, which is frightening for Everton?s opponents.

Steven Pienaar?s arrival has also added subtlety and creativity to a midfield that has for years been seen as a destructive force rather than a creative one. Lee Carsley, the ageing 33-year-old, has again shown that he is a vital player in shutting down attacks and still has a place in most Evertonian?s hearts.

As Christmas approaches, Everton will need to call on all their spirit and skill as they face a hectic schedule in the month of December. The African Cup of Nations will also test the resolve of the squad as up to four players will be unavailable over that time. Moyes needs to overcome his fear of buying in the January transfer window and dip in and strengthen the midfield.

A central midfielder is a must for this team who are clearly lacking a player who can hold up the ball, pick out a pass and dominate the midfield. I for one will divert my eyes if I have to watch Neville and Carsley in the middle of the park again. Moyes, remains the man many see as crucial to Everton?s resurgence and in a few years you may well see Everton top of the charts.

Reader Comments

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Danny Gorman
1   Posted 06/12/2007 at 08:36:52

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Sean I agree with your comments; I think that we are starting to blend a decent side together, and we are no longer just hard to beat.

However, even though I think we have four good players at the back, I am worried by their tendency to switch of a crucial moments of the game.

Also, I don’t think Arteta has put in a decent corner or cross since the tottenham game. Even though I love him and his all round play has been great
Pete Rogers
2   Posted 06/12/2007 at 09:38:16

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Spot on Danny,but I do think the manager’s early preference for Neville and/or Jags in the Carsley role cost us a number of points we shall rue the loss of in the end of season shake-up. Whilst Mikyand Tim get all the plaudits it’s only since Moyes saw the light on Cars that we’ve stopped shipping killer goals.
Andrew Ellams
3   Posted 06/12/2007 at 09:59:34

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The changes in midfield are the key to the improvements both defensively and going forward. You can put this down to several reasons, the return to the team of Cahill and Carsley plus Pienaar starting to find his feet in English football. But I think if we are to take another step forward then we still need to improve this area of the field. Carsley is not getting any younger and we need to start looking for a replacement now and also we could really do with some pace out wide so maybe Leon Osman needs to be sacrificed for somebody like Shaun Wright-Phillips. We are a long way from catching the top 4 but the difference between us and several teams around us is very slight and we need to open this gap before we close the one above.
Dave Graves
4   Posted 06/12/2007 at 12:14:29

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Andrew - I agree with your comments about the need for pace. I think it is one thing we are missing if we play with only one striker. Don?t agree about Shaun Wright-Philips though.
James Elworthy
5   Posted 06/12/2007 at 12:31:14

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I have posted on this forum on 5 or 6 occasions about Arshavin being a player we should buy, after last night I thought yes we should the boy is class.
Chris Jones (Wakefield)
6   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:02:19

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I think we should let McFadden go. We have plenty of options up front and, for me, he fails to retain possesion when he should. Last night, as against Metalist at home, he was constantly picked out for passes forward only to lose it immediately to the opposition. So, if Brum want to give us a few million for him, fine, then Davy can spend it on securing Piennar’s contract long-term.

Likewise, and this might ruffle a few feathers, if West Ham want to give us silly money for Johnson - say £12m on our £8+ m investment, fine. He’s had some bad luck at Everton and, on balance, I don’t think things are quite working for him the way it looked it might in his honeymoon period at the club. With the money which is being talked about to secure his departure, Davy could pick us another diamond from somewhere perhaps?
Joe McMahon
7   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:26:35

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Am I the only one who is concerned big time that Johnson just isn't upto the job. He never seems to have the confidence to get into scoring positions or to even have a pop at goal. Johnson, or McFadden out in we welcome Lita?
Rob Hollis
8   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:40:38

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I see Arteta and Cahill as the players who started our resurgence. Arteta is a fantastic player to watch but apart from the fact he does not shoot enough I am beginning to get an impression. I am not stating this as a fact but would be interested in your thoughts on this statement.
’Arteta destroys poor teams with his ability but makes no impression against strong opposition and this is why Spain are yet to pick him for the international team.’ Discuss.......
Mick Mac
9   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:49:40

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Joe your notthe only one who has concerns about the ability of Andy Johnson, I have. I have watched him do a lot of running into the chanels so to speak but di nothing wiht the ball when he gets it. Last night when long balls did come through he wasnt going for them he was running round the back looking for scraps. Sometimes that works but not last night. To be honst I dont think he is totally to blame for his form. I think the team are not playing to his strengths of running onto a well placed passed forward of him bearing down on goal. The current style of play doesnt favour him so hence our need for a creative central midfielder. To be fair I think the same is to be said of Faddy in a slwer kind of way. I htought he had a decent game but foir the most part he was back to mgoal and unable to create enough space for himself. With the aid of that elusive midfielder he will also struggle.
Jonah Jones
10   Posted 06/12/2007 at 14:05:39

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Your talk about ability to score goals.....a chance or two for Johnson or Faddy wouldn?t go a miss. In 90 minutes last night I can?t remeber one decent, cutting pass from the midfield. Everton have improved hugley and have the making of a great squad but they still expect forwards to chase lost causes. Having watched almost all their games this seasons most of the time they are their a long ball team hence why so many goals come from the second ball and midfield
Paul Lenehan
11   Posted 06/12/2007 at 12:20:15

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I heard Moyes saying he will be resting one or two lads for the Alkmar game. I would rest as many of them as possible . My team would be: Wessells; Hibbert, Jagielka, Yobo, Boyle; Gravesen, Vidarsson, Neville, Van der Meyde; Vaughan, Anichebe.

This would be perfect preparation for the United game plus giving our fringe/youth players some competitive game time and also some European experience against a good team.

Ben Jackson
12   Posted 06/12/2007 at 16:52:15

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Obviously, the result last night was great and I’d have taken a 1-0 win before the game without a doubt. However, I think it once again proved that we’re so much stronger when we use Cahill in the hole with just Yak upfront. I like Johnson but I think he’s going to have to get used to life on the bench at the moment. We tried to play 2 strikers when we signed Beattie and time and time again, the 4-5-1 formation has proved to be so much more effective.
Also, I really got the feeling that last night could have been one of McFaddens last games...
Peter Bourke
13   Posted 07/12/2007 at 04:51:05

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Interesting fact is since Tiny Tim has come back from injury we have not lost a game...I know it is inevitable but the most important ingredient he brings to the team is Passion, not to mention Goals.

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