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Normal service resumed

By Paul Traill :  22/09/2009 :  Comments (11) :
With all my chores done for the day, I was in the mood for beer and was in The Spellow with Gary comfortably in time for the Manchester derby on the TV. Christ, I never thought I’d see a pub full of blues erupt over a Wayne Rooney goal ever again!

Ste arrived in good time with the team news. I was a little surprised to hear Hibbert had been dropped though it was perhaps deserved after a rather poor game at Fulham last weekend. Heitinga came in for him at right back. We were all a little disappointed Bilyaletdinov hadn’t made it but this gave Osman another chance to prove himself. Saha began in attack with Jo, Yakubu, Gosling, Hibbert and Nash the main names on the bench. We left the Manchester derby finely poised at 2-2 just as Bellamy scored a screamer.

At Goodison Park, we won the toss and so attacked towards the Park End in the first half. It was a scrappy opening to the game as both teams probed. Blackburn came closest to scoring in the opening exchanges when El-Hadji Diouf nodded against the crossbar with a reasonable opportunity. The Senegalese has since the game made the headline for the wrong reasons after allegedly racially abusing a ball-boy. I remember the incident but of course couldn’t hear what he is alleged to have said to the ball-boy. I’ll be interested to see how that develops.

Our goal which got us going kinda came out of nothing. Baines played a fairly low ball into the box from a free kick. “Shocking delivery” were my words just as Saha got a boot to it and calmly side-footed it home to give us an advantage. This certainly settled us down and it was very close to being 2-0 when Osman made a good run into the box and drove at goal on the turn, forcing a smart save from Robinson.

At times defending was frantic, though generally solid with Distin and Yobo getting themselves in the way of almost everything Blackburn could throw at us. At half-time we were fairy comfortable at 1-0.

Into the second half and it was more of the same. You felt a second goal would seal it and this kinda proved to be the case. Good footwork by Fellaini to create space for himself on the right flank. He got the ball onto his left foot and placed in a hell of a cross which Saha met majestically to head into the corner of the net. 2-0 and game over really.

Just in case this wasn’t enough though, from a corner our stand in skipper got on the end of some real hesitation in the Blackburn defense to slam home and make it 3-0.

With still around half an hour to play I was hoping Saha might be withdrawn to give Yakubu some playing time but Moyes opted for Jo instead, suggesting to me that Moyes is looking to perhaps start with Yakubu away at Hull on Wednesday night.

Other changes included the introductions of Hibbert and Gosling... though I’ve forgotten whom they replaced. All the substitutions affected the flow of the game in the second half and we actually sneaked off a few minutes before the end to get back the pub for the Chelsea vs Spurs game.

After a couple in The Spellow, we moved on to the Harlech Castle for a quick beer before going separate ways, me to the bus stop, Gary to the train station. Whilst waiting for the bus I bumped into Darren Griffiths who works within Media and Communications at Everton.

I met Darren a few years ago at an Everton charity game with ‘Barcelona Legends’. He looked after me well then and gave me an opportunity to interview Graham Stuart after the game. Nice to see he’s still a good fella, even if he did look ruddy exhausted.

A nice day at the game. Nice to see normal service has resumed.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Not really a great deal to do. 6
  • Baines: Good game, both defensively and offensively. 8
  • Distin: Has settled in fantastically. You wouldn’t have thought this was just his fourth appearance for Everton, was more like his 100th. 8
  • Yobo: He’s excelling as captain and is probably in as good form now as he possibly ever has been for Everton. I think he works well with Distin and its nice to see him getting on the scoresheet over the last few games… we need to get them Lescott goals from somewhere. 8
  • Heitinga: An indifferent game. Rather sound in defense I guess but nothing spectacular. Seemed marginally improved later on in midfield. Not a bad debut though hard to judge what he’s like from this game. Seems to use the ball well but one thing is clear — he can’t shoot! 6
  • Rodwell: Ridiculous given his age and that’s he’s only played just over 20 games in his career so far but you already seem to know what you’re going to get from Rodwell. He’s so composed you forget he’s only 18. 7
  • Cahill: A useful display from Cahill, full of his usual energy. 6
  • Fellaini: Great cross for the second goal. He seems to have added the art of winning the ball back to his armoury this season also. 7
  • Pienaar: My man of the match. His work rate is just phenomenal. Never fails to impress me with his tracking back as well as his effectiveness in attack. 8
  • Osman: Had a sound game and on another day could have gotten a goal or two. 7
  • Saha: You can’t really ask for much more than that from your striker eh. 8
  • Jo: Did alright. Ponced about a bit but didn’t see much of the ball given that we’d taken our foot off the gas by the time he came on. 6
  • Hibbert: Not on long, can’t judge.
  • Gosling: Not on long, can’t judge.

Reader Comments

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Alasdair Mackay
1   Posted 22/09/2009 at 15:06:01

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I’d agree with most of your scores, Paul, although I think Piennar and Saha probably deserved a 9. Two well-taken goals and some excellent movement off the ball from Saha and a typically industrious and effective display from Piennar. Very unlucky not to score two belters.

You are also right about Heitinga, but it is refreshing to see him willing to get forward and have a go. Hibbo always seems reluctant to do so. Maybe Heitinga’s attacking prowess will rub off on Hibbo and Tony will finally give us a goal. A 30 yard volley to win the Goodison derby should take the roof off!
Ray Kelly
2   Posted 22/09/2009 at 16:08:02

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Rodwell 7, Osman 7... cut down on your ale, it's distorting your view — and Darren Griffiths is a lickspittle!
Neil McKinney
3   Posted 22/09/2009 at 18:48:47

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Thanks Paul, I like your reports as they add that personal experience of meeting mates and matchday rituals.

No real issues with your ratings but I have to take issue with your comment about Heitinga.

"Seems to use the ball well but one thing is clear — he can’t shoot!"

Maybe he can, maybe he can’t, but just because he was not on the money in this one game doesn’t mean he is incapable of shooting. See the link below.

or this one

Like I said, maybe he can shoot, maybe he can’t, but you are basing your entire assessment on one game. If you had been at either of the two games in the links then you would’ve probably arrived at a different conclusion. I guess time will tell.

Thanks again for the report.

Michael Parrington
4   Posted 22/09/2009 at 19:40:14

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Paul, sounds like you had a great day. Although i’m surprised we didn’t hear about the odd trip or two to the toilet along the way!

On Heitinga... let's give him a chance, he can't be any worse at shooting than Hibbert and even players like Saha are prone to spraying the odd one or two in the direction of the corner flag.

The YouTubes from Neil show the lad can shoot, although I’m really surprised he didn’t add this classic from YouTube:

Someone has a sense of humour!

I’m looking forward to seeing Lucas Neill at right back. He’s a class player, very cool on the ball and a great marker and good passer. Hopefully he’ll get a nod if fit enough in the game against Hull.

Chris Keher
5   Posted 22/09/2009 at 21:17:50

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I would agree with most of what you have put but would bump Peanut upto a 9 and I thought Howard was excellent making some crucial saves. Deffo an 8 for me.
Geoff Edwards
6   Posted 22/09/2009 at 21:26:29

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Without taking into account how god awful Blackburn were, it was a great performance from the Blues - we bossed it from start to finish and looked dangerous every time we went forward.

It was good to see Ossie have a good game and get a standing ovation as he came off. Let’s hope he can build on it against respectable opposition.
Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 22/09/2009 at 23:33:17

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If decent footballing performances are to be the the "normal service" this season, I’ll be very pleased with Moyes & his players. In previous seasons that hasn’t been the case but, if the team can find the consistency they're capable of, I really think Moyes has a squad capable of winning some silverware.
Iain Love
8   Posted 23/09/2009 at 09:30:08

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A few years ago, Arsenal battered us 7-1, then 6-1 this season, the big difference between us I saw as the ability to be comfortable on the ball and not just hoof it away from danger.

I couldn’t make Sunday's match but, from what I hear, Johnny passed the ball rather than smacking it long. So, if he is in the passing camp rather than the hoofball camp, that’ll do for me as a start.

For those who where there — is that the case?

Liam Reilly
9   Posted 23/09/2009 at 09:58:49

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Geoff Edwards.

I agree with your comments on Osman. I don’t think anyone doubts this guy has ability, but he seems to turn it on against the lesser sides in the Premier League. Perhaps he gets more space in these games... I just wish he could step it up against the better sides.
Andy Reddish
10   Posted 23/09/2009 at 20:44:12

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Some people on here will be very unhappy with these comfortable wins.
Matthew Mackey
11   Posted 24/09/2009 at 13:41:20

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Its nice to see the grass roots of "good feeling" coming back to many of you ToffeeWebers and also the team itself.

After the debacles of the summer transfer window, the Lescott affair and the customary crap start to the season, I’m starting to get that feeling that we may now have "found our rhythm"! The season is a marathon, not a sprint and I for one have an inkling that things are about to take off at last!

(Written after we demolished Hull 4-0 last night.) COYBs

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