COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Villa were then on the up for a good fifteen minutes but then Ossie found Cahill and his point blank shot was parried away by the keeper. This led to Everton dominence for the rest of the half and with a little more luck we could have led at the break 3-1. As it was we had a Fellaini header saved on the stretch and a good penalty shout on Big Vic turned down.
The half hour mark and a Arteta free-kick is headed on by Ossie and the lurking Lescott turned it in for a deserved equaliser. Before half-time Fellaini had a header headed off the line, the same player also got himself yet another yellow card for a poor tackle and gave away a dangerous free kick on the edge which luckily for him went sraight to Howard.
H/T whistle and our chat was keep it going for we were on top. We started the second half well on top and from a corner taken very surprisingly by Ossie rather than Arteta, he put in a beauty that missed out the first man and Fellaini found the bar from no more than three yards.
We were looking comfortable but just 10 mins in, Jags of all people totally lost concentration and in attempting a routine backpass, gave the perfect through ball away from Howard and into the path of Young who despatched with consummate ease, much to the consternation of all assembled, non more-so than Jags himself who lashed the ball back into the net on realising the consequence of his error.
Fair play to the Street End as they chanted 'There's only one Jagielka' in an effort to lift all and sundry. Villa were now less adventurous than ever and slowly the Blues regained composure and pressed the Villa goal. Neville was getting forward well but got himself injured by a last ditch tackle on the by-line which led to our version of Lord Lucan entering the fray on the 80-minute mark. Yes the lesser seen Andy van der Meyde.
A few minutes later Baines for Big Vic, a strange one that even if Vic was injured. However we kept pressing and from an AvdM well taken corner, Yobo headed just wide. The Baines sub now became apparent with Jags at centre forward (Is this the ploy Moyes alluded to?)
Three minutes went up on the board with us on the attack, a minute into that time and a deep cross beyond the far post was headed back into the mix in true centre-forward style from the make-shift man, Cahill heads on and Lescott performs a striker-like scissors kick and we have saved a point much to the delight of every Blue assembled.
But hang on... there is a sting in the tail; right on the whistle, a Howard hurried clearance is miscontrolled by Arteta who then gets in a mix-up with Fellaini which results in the ball being prodded to the dangerous Young who sprints forward turns Lescott and fires past Howard into the net. The silence is deafening, the feeling is of disbelief, dismay and just plain gutted.
Final whistle and the four words I heard most all the way back to my favourite post match watering hole were "I don't believe that!" ... What do you make of a game like that?
It could be argued that, if we play like that for the rest of the season we will win more than we lose... yet on the other hand if we gift teams goals like that we could find ourselves much lower than hoped for. For me, the game threw up a few things, Jags won't need telling that full concentration at this level is vital for his team as well as any international aspirations he may hold. I still think we lack steel and a general in midfield, and no matter Arteta's obvious quality he is not that man.
Fellaini must be worked on to improve his tackling and heading technique or he will end up with more cards than a standard deck and ever lengthening suspensions. If we are to persist with this formation, I think the manager should define the role of Cahill as today he seemed not sure whether to stick or twist. I suppose this all comes down to a midfield weakness as much as a striker shortage and, with the manager assuring us he has no money to spend, any wish list we may have will remain just that.
City then Chelsea to come before Christmas and with a small squad depleted further by injuries... we could be on a rollercoaster ride to Yuletide. But this is Everton and who knows? See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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