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(Mis)fitting debut as the Blues cruise!

By Santosh Benjamin :  07/02/2009 :  Comments (16) :
I watched in wonder today as an Everton team played some of the best passing football in a long time. Expecting fatigue to be a major factor in this game after a series of draining matches, I was pleased to see the lads start the game looking hungry.

The injuries to the Big Fella and little Peanuts meant that Gosling got a rare start and the City "Misfit" Jo started up top for us after his Deadline Day loan transfer. Bolton have always been a tough team to beat and with our usual brand of football, we have often found them hard to break down. Not so today as the first move of the day ended up with Baines on the left who put in a peach of a cross which Cahill met and missed from about two yards out WITH Jaaskelainen beaten.

Bolton's front two of Davies and Makukula were always going to a handful for our defence and they tried to make their presence felt with balls into them. These were dealt with easily by Lescott and Jags. In the Bolton half, the ball was played to Jo a few times and the way he held the ball up and headed it onwards for others made me optimistic about his role for us.

Ossie for once looked a bit better and Gosling seemed to be gaining more confidence although his first touch let him down a few times. Referee Walton refused to ruin the game with needless cards and so the game had a lovely flow to it. ( "like we were watching Brazil play" - Jimmy Crack)

A move on the right culminated in Gosling crossing it into the box where Jo met but failed to control the ball and sent his shot well over the bar. His constant acknowledgment of the quality of service to him was nice to see. Bolton had few clear-cut chances. Muamba shot from distance but didn't really trouble Howard in goal. Howard was kept busy by back passes from his own defenders in fact.

A header on by Cahill at the centre circle found Jo heading towards the Bolton goal with two defenders in hot pursuit. Sadly he ran out of steam and had his shot charged down. Lescott and Arteta had shots too in due course. Then as we seemed to be going to the break without scoring, Jo got the ball in the box and as he was challenged by Andy O'Brien, he went down (bit easily, but not unfairly!) and the ref had no doubt but to point to the spot.

Arteta stepped up and slotted past Jaaskeleinen. One up at half time when we should have been up by at least three. After the break, we came out looking just as good and the beautiful football continued. A ball was played into to Jo, just inside the Bolton box; he controlled it, turned and slotted it under a diving Jaaskelainen to make his scoring debut for us. The joy on his face was clearly evident and I realised how much it must have meant to him as the lads made him feel really welcome with their celebrations.

Another move resulted in a corner that Arteta tapped to Baines who whipped it in from the right over all the players in the six-yard box except Gosling who crept in at the far post, unmarked and somehow managed not to score with the goal at his mercy.

Bolton then had a good spell of possession as they looked to put some pressure on us. Some of the guys looked a little tired as the game went on. Moyes then made the change with Rodwell coming on for Cahill. He got a standing ovation and deserves it every time for what he brings to our club.

We continued to press but looked to be content with a rare two-goal cushion as the game drew to a close. Yobo came on for Baines (who had another great game!) and AvdM came on for Arteta (wronged by the Spanish coach, yet again!).

Just as I thought that the scoreline would be unchanged, Gosling attempted to play the ball into the box from the right and it hit Mark Davies's arm and the ref surprisingly pointed to the spot in the second minute of injury time. With Arteta gone, Jo stepped up and smashed it past Jaaskelainen, who guessed correctly for the second time in the game. 3-0 and i started to feel a little strange coz that's not a standard scoreline for us...

My heart rate stayed at a much lower level today (except for the times when Jo scored!). Great performance and the joy on the manager's face was very evident. Hope Fellaini is back for the Villa Cup game next weekend. I'm a bit wary of Villa as they seem to have made a pact with the devil this season (like Liverpool does every year!).

I still keep seeing that Gosling goal in my dreams and am loving it more and more. The Liverpool fans that emerged into the sun after the loss claimed they lost as they find it tough against teams that play "scrappily". If they wanted something else, maybe their lads can join the ballet, as they seem so good and dancing and falling!

Player performances:

Howard: Kept awake by his defenders mostly with their back passes.

Hibbert: Have I called him Immense before? He was that today... well done Hibbo.

Jags and Lescott: I have clubbed them together since that's how they should be for the rest of the season. Brilliant pairing.

Baines: Very nice to see him get a run of games and show us what he is capable off. Great crosses and improving defensively too.

Neville: Did the dirty work and didn't get booked. Good enough for me.

Osman: Better than against Liverpool but still not happy with him starting if we had better options.

Arteta: Was pulling the strings in midfield today. Looked like a puppeteer... It's criminal how they can deny him a place in the Spanish squad.

Gosling: Improving with each game although he'd be sad that he didn't score today. Needs a hairstyle like Fellaini/Pienaar/Ossie/Jo

Cahill: This man outjumps so may taller players, it's unreal. Hope to God he doesn't get injured playing for Oz. All the best to him and the Oz team for that from me.

Jo: Dream Debut? I think it was better than that. Great control, a cool head and with some more match fitness, will be a real handful for teams we are yet to play. My man of the match today. Well done. Prove the doubters wrong every time you play for us, Jo.

Subs: Rodwell: Not much time on the ball.

Yobo: Good header from a corner but has to resign himself to a place on the bench I'm afraid. Van der Meyde: A few cameos for us before the end of the season. Maybe the winning goal/assist against the Devillains in the cup...

All in all, I couldn't have asked for more from Moyes and the lads. Onwards and upwards, COYB

Reader Comments

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Gary Creaney
1   Posted 07/02/2009 at 21:17:24

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Excellent and on the ball as ever Santosh.

Coupling Today’s performance with the feling we all got in the 118th minute of Wednesday’s match makes for a grin on my face running from ear to ear.

Its always fantastic to be an Evertonian but right now is particularly amazing.

Excellent from Jo, hope he bags a good 10-12 more goals for us.
Really excited about Gosling.
And I fully believe that everyone in our squad is genuinely happy to be there and part of it, including AVDM, with a couple of positive contributions he’ll be more up for it.

Just take a look at the highlights on There’s absolutely no highlights of any Bolton attacks simply because there was nothing worthy of appearing within a highlights summary.
Says it all really.
Andy Morden
2   Posted 07/02/2009 at 22:51:46

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I was impressed with Phil Neville today, he used the ball sensibly and kept us ticking over. A vast improvement on his past outings in midfield with him resorting to hoofing it. Ditto Jags, whilst he did resort to a few hoofs, he was happy to play it short today. Usually to Arteta, sometimes to Pip, sometimes to the full backs. Arteta in the middle just opens up so many more avenues for us. He was excellent today.

I was sat in the Lower Bullens and I was surprised to hear people moaning that we weren?t getting the ball forward from midfield quickly enough. To me, we were simply being patient and picking off Bolton with some good pass and move. Keep it up Blues!

Andrew David James
3   Posted 07/02/2009 at 23:02:23

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Excellent and comprehensive review as ever Santosh. I am very disappointed that neither Baines or Lescott made their way into the England squad. Baines has been immense recently so why the complacent Ashley Cole and the hardly played Wayne Bridge get in ahead of him is beyond me!!

Also, why is Upson in ahead of Lescott?? Upson is a fine player but Lescott is a goliath in comparison.

If Jags hadn’t got in it would have been criminal so I am delighted for him.

I just hope that Van Der Meyde becomes a regular alternative as opposed to a reserve player. The recent injuries provide Gosling and Rodwell with some great exposure to game time.

I hope now they go out and make the next three months competitve as opposed to the whimper of last season where they limped into the Spring.

We really don’t care what the RS say.
Stevie Bolt
4   Posted 07/02/2009 at 22:55:06

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Dream debut for Jo?? Oh yeah, I think so, he was majestic at times. This is starting to get a little exciting what with passing play, quality build-ups and actual chances being converted... all this from a seemingly struggling and somewhat jaded Everton at the season start. Well done Davey la... dunno what you said to the boys back then but it?s working.

Does anyone know where abouts Baxter's hiding?? I was hearing loads about him on and around pre-season yet he seems to have disappeared? Wasn't he being touted as the next Rooney? We can only get stronger with him and the lad Kissock perhaps showing their faces in the 2009-10 season.

I am suddenly .... finally sleeping easier these last few weeks and long may that continue. COYB

John Maxwell
5   Posted 07/02/2009 at 22:47:33

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Just woke up and watched the highlights, as it was on 1am here in Oz.

Have you noticed how many players had smiles on their faces? Great to see us playing with so much more confidence.

Let's hope it continues to the FA Cup game next weekend. Could really be on a roll if we win that one... :-)
Andrew David James
6   Posted 07/02/2009 at 23:21:15

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Stevie Bolt - with Kissock going on loan again, I think you might have to wait longer than next season for him to come in. He’s very lightweight sadly so he might never break into the first team. Shame, as you want to see local lads making the grade.

As for Baxter, he was on the bench today but from what I gather, he might have the skill of Rooney at the same age but he doesn’t have the power or physique yet. Let’s face it, Rooney was a freak of nature.
Keith Glazzard
7   Posted 07/02/2009 at 23:22:17

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Santosh, Mikel the Magnificent did it again today. Moyes gave him a few minutes off. Thank heavens he stays with us this week. I don?t know if he?ll ever get his Spanish call-up ? and as he wants it I would like it for him. But he?s a big man ? he won?t be losing sleep.

Gosling and Rodwell ? not the future, the present. Real and very good. I know we had no money to spend in January anyway, but would Moyes have wanted these two moved down the order anyway? I don?t think so.

Jo? Too early to say, but if he plays like that and scores a couple every game, you would have to say he was a decent acquisition. I saw Tony Cottee?s first game. Jo?s was better.
Steve Carter
8   Posted 07/02/2009 at 23:51:27

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Thank you, again, for your report, Santosh. I really do enjoy reading the perspectives that you and people like Ken Buckley bring to this site. You were my eyes and ears on this occasion, as I was not able to watch the game. Good on ?ya (as they say Downunder) for your good wishes for Oz.

Evertonians should be aware that Tim has given Everton a profile here that has never previously been the case. In terms of media coverage and general interest in Oz, football (still referred to as soccer) comes fourth behind aussie rules and the two rugby codes in (indeed, even Tim is seen watching rugby league ? his cousin is the half for the Canterbury Bulldogs ? far more than football when he?s here); however, Tim?s exploits with Everton are nonetheless always in the news.

As everywhere else, football supporters in Oz are overwhelmingly glory hunting Shite, Arse, Chelski or Man U new chums; however, as measure of what Tim has done for us down here, when I popped into the largest sports store on George Street (the main street in Sydney) imagine my joy to see that the only other shirt on sale in addition to Sky 4 rubbish was, you guessed it, ours!

Andrew David James
9   Posted 08/02/2009 at 00:17:14

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Steve Carter, glad Cahill is leading the marketing campaign for the Blues down under.

He?s an Everton legend and will follow the likes of Big Dunc, Graeme Sharp and The Latch into folklore.

He can?t dribble, his tackling is sometimes dubious, his long range passing is dodgy and he doesn?t really shoot that well... BUT he is an awesome header of the ball and his running and energy is immense. He is the difference between winning and losing.

He has the unerring ability to score against all the big boys and is a consummate professional. Aussies make good sports men for their competitiveness and never say die attitude. In Cahill we have that and are forever grateful.

The way he grabbed the ball and handed it to Gosling the other night just underlines what a legend he is.

Long may it continue (and Cahill doesn?t understand what bad form is) so I predict it will for many more seasons!
Dupont Koo
10   Posted 08/02/2009 at 02:23:15

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Steve Carter - Thanks for pointing out that "As everywhere else, football supporters in Oz are overwhelmingly glory hunting Shite, Arse, Chelski or Man U new chums; "

I can tell you it’s even much worse in Hong Kong with people putting us even behind the likes of Spurs and West Ham...

Thankfully, the lads are playing so well that are definitely keeping my chin up against the wave of "Sky 4" idiots in Hong Kong!
Peter Hurley
11   Posted 08/02/2009 at 02:17:37

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Nice write-up Santosh, we were truly excellent today. I think the thing about Baxter is that Moyes wants to protect him, he dosen?t have the physicality yet for the first team and is a great talent. Not to mention his contract is up in June so we need him to keep a low profile till we can get him signed up so that if the poaching vultures come at least we can get a tidy sum for him. My feeling is though that we are in a much more stable position than when we were with Rooney and hopefully we will be singing his name for many years to come.

Villa next, more of the same Everton, in light of our recent performances is it to early to say ?we are back??
Jason Broome
12   Posted 08/02/2009 at 04:10:14

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Nice work.

Yesterday I witnessed snapshots of a young Henry.

Jô?s link up play, movement, passing, awareness, speed, flair, first touch and (at times) his finishing was world-class.

The look on Arteta?s face summed up the game for me yesterday. He thrives on playing alongside world-class quality as it raises his game and allows him to show just how good he is.

If he continues to shine then I hope Kenwright breaks with tradition and funds the arrival of both Jô and a pacy world-class playmaker.

Moyes?s track record is near spotless. Kenwright needs a leap of faith!
Trevor Lynes
13   Posted 08/02/2009 at 04:53:16

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Best incisive passing from the blues for YEARS but it was against a very poor Bolton side and I just hope we can maintain the obvious confidence in the team when we meet Villa. The likes of Roy Vernon would have had a field day in this side, he missed very few chances and let's face it we squandered loads.

Jo had a great debut and let's hope he thrives with the type of game we played yesterday... he is not a target man but he could become a truly great striker with proper service. When he gets match fit and confident he may well be worth the huge fee City paid for him. Unfortunately, we cannot compete with that sort of money without real investment.

But a real positive fillip and our run in apart from the Chelsea and Villa games looks fairly easy?????? I reckon we should end up with about 65 points or more hopefully.

Kevin Chung
14   Posted 09/02/2009 at 04:14:10

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Whenever I read your analysis, I always picture you to look like that guy from HEROES ? Suresh!
Santosh Benjamin
15   Posted 09/02/2009 at 23:16:20

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I'm not anything like Suresh from HEROES but if that was a compliment, I?ll take it anyway. Thanks for that.
Michael Tracey
16   Posted 10/02/2009 at 02:05:27

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"A header on by Cahill at the centre circle found Jo heading towards the Bolton goal with two defenders in hot pursuit. Sadly he ran out of steam and had his shot charged down." I thought that he mishit his shot and pulled it across the face, must of been watching different coverage.

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