COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
No points from a trip to the lane in a topsy- turvy game that fitted the cliché ‘a game of two halves’
The first half seemed a little like Sporting away as we were getting a bit of a chasing and it took Spurs only 7 mins to open their account. A long ball from Huddleston from his own half sailed over Distin’s head and found Defoe at the angle of the box and running on goal. Heitinga didn’t know whether to stick or twist and Distin couldn’t make up the ground, Defoe shot across goal by-passing Heitinga and Pavlyuchenko slid in to score. You could almost sense it coming, the manager had made five changes from Thursday and it had not helped in the understanding department as Spurs were playing around us and through us at will.
After the goal we did rally a little and to be fair we did put some passes together but there seemed a lack of movement and urgency. We did force a corner just 5mins after they scored and the keeper dropped his attempted catch at the feet of Yak but his shot was blocked and that was to be our last effort on goal for some time. Spurs continued to press and when we did clear the ball we could not hold it long enough to mount a dangerous attack.
Spurs tested Howard via Pavlyuchenko and Kranjar and then on the half hour mark we conceded again and to be fair it was a great goal after some half dozen or more passes near the corner that we were unable to pressure Modric was fed inside the box and before a Blue shirt could close him he had rifled it in over Howards head and the underside of the bar. 2-0 down and with Bale raiding down our right at will often leaving Neville and Big Vic trailing you started to fear the worst. Neville took a yellow card when he was late on one of Bale’s runs and dumped him to the turf.
We did rally again and kept faith with the joined up stuff without causing the Spurs rearguard much trouble until just before the break when Big Vic turned neatly and found Neville forward on the right, his cross was good and gave Rodwell a free header in front of goal but he directed it wide when well placed to do much better. We seemed on top now but Spurs gave us another fright just on the whistle when that man Bale got forward far too easily and cut in but fortunately his shot was diverted for a corner.
H/T and time for the manager to earn his corn as the first half had not gone to any discernable plan. His move was to introduce Jags for Osman and move Heitinga into the holding role which allowed Arteta more freedom.
The second half started and we looked quite a different team in terms of endeavour, urgency and movement. It was as though just having Jags back on the field had galvanised many a player none more than Distin who was to have a very good second half. Heitinga was mopping up things and getting us going from his holding role and he gave us even extra impetus when in a tackle with Huddleston the Spurs man had to leave the pitch and be replaced by a centre back. This gave us even more control of the mid-field. This paid dividends within minutes when we forced a corner on our left. Arteta took it and delivered deep beyond the far post where Rodwell was lurking, he headed back across goal, the keeper missed it and in an almighty pile up of bodies the ball found the net, it turned out the Yak had been fed and he did indeed score. Game on and a good 40mins to get something.
Within a minute or so we almost equalised as Neville put in another good cross that Rodwell caught powerfully on the volley but alas the keeper redeemed himself by making a good diving save. Big Vic seemed to be labouring and gave up in one chase after Bale so the manager took note and put on Donovan in his place.
We were looking the more likely and when Pienaar robbed Palacios he set off for goal and fired in a shot that the keeper just got to, from my seat I thought he should have gone across the keeper but the game is easy for a speccy, the player had a split second only to make his mind up. More good play down the left saw a ball threaded through to Rodwell in the box, his turn left Bassong floundering he crossed low and found Donovan completely unmarked at the far post with the goal at his mercy—he put it into the side netting! A worthy contender for ‘miss of the season’
Still we went forward playing some good stuff but that final ball seemed to elude us time after time and many a good move broke down at the 18yd line when with a little more composure and guile we may well have profited. After the 80min mark we forced a corner on the right and as the ball came in Jags left his markers brilliantly but put a free header over, he will be kicking himself for that one.
6mins of added time to try to rescue a point and it was all gung ho as we tried but always open to a counter and but for Howard palming a fierce Kranjar shot away we may have conceded a third which would have been unjust after that second half recovery where the major talking point will be just how did Landen fail to land the equaliser.
M.O.tM for me was Jags, only played half a game and missed a great chance but his influence on the rest seemed unreal.
Overall I thought we did well to come back strongly after a poor first half showing that may have seen them out of sight. This game mirrored our season where it showed we lack consistency, consistency within games as well as game to game which is probably brought about by key player injuries and form blips but certainly needs addressing for us to make the progress both club and fans want. Hull next and a different challenge so I wonder which Everton will turn up? Good attacking joined up stuff over 90odd minutes will do me.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 01/03/2010 at 10:29:12
Question is what do we do rest of the season, obviously Distin is left sided and it helps us enormously, Heitinga and Jags are predominantley right footers so Distin will stay Left CB.
I know Jonny is two footed but he still has a preferred Right boot.
2 Posted 01/03/2010 at 10:41:30
3 Posted 01/03/2010 at 11:05:14
4 Posted 01/03/2010 at 11:16:01
Perhaps he wasn’t helped by having Neville behind him, but he didn’t make strong case for himself either. I think he will be away in the summer for sure.
5 Posted 01/03/2010 at 11:37:05
Sopcast channels work best for me here in Austin TX, but require a download and install first; best to play around with it in advance of a big game as it can be tricky at first, simple once you get it wroking though.
6 Posted 01/03/2010 at 12:13:45
Defining weekend as a victory for us would have put us within 5 points of spurs and with injuries piling up on them I believed we looked good to overtake them but with them extending their lead and the shites victory along with the unexpected result at stamford bridge this season has now fizzled out for us. Time to give the likes of Coleman, Goslting and Vaughan more game time for the last 11 games.
7 Posted 01/03/2010 at 16:25:04
We are missing Fellaini especially in away games to shore up the midfield and provide the muscle we are lacking in that area...its unfortunate that he got injured as he was playing at his most consistent level since he joined EFC and he does not get himself booked anywhere near as often as when he first arrived.
This season is over though as far as European football and I for one am not too bothered as our squad is not strong enough or large enough to compete in so many competitions.
I still think we need to give our best youngsters a run for the rest of this season and see how they do at the top level.
In the next transfer window we need to sign at least one top player and off load one or two who dont look as if they are going to make it.
8 Posted 01/03/2010 at 17:13:12
Jagielka in, but Heitinga stepping forward.
Fellaini was providing superb protection to the back four, and maybe thats what Jonny has to do for us now (and let Jack go forward - does alright up there).
Heitinga - is he the Cars we have missed? And he’s classier than Lee could imagine. Maybe. And The Jag will be happy to play alongside or behind him. And Distin (under Finch Farm re-education) will get better.
Hard games to come Ken. But at least we do have options.
But I can’t understand the starting option Moyes took for this game.
9 Posted 01/03/2010 at 17:44:59
For example, I would have asked, has Moyes at long last realised that a few twinkle toe passages of play from Osman do not a premier division midfielder make.
Or was he convinced by the couple of times a much smaller and scrawnyier Modric easily bundled Leon off the ball thereby exposingn Leon as the slow pathetic weakling he really is.
Whatever Moyes reasoning all I can say is Halleluga!
Ken, as I said before, you are a bit too gentle on millionaires who fail to earn their inflated wage packets.
10 Posted 02/03/2010 at 00:16:44
Thanks for the report, I saw the second half only fortunately! Even that not very inspiring. What a long way to fall in just a week how long ago Manure seems and the joy thereof.
My season’s over... I senseth it’s back to same old roller coaster and teeth pulling nerve wrenching ordeal that being an Evertonian often is. Seems like we’re never going to win anything no consistency sometimes brilliant sometimes awful, mostly something in between.
Several times this season I have been close to jacking in football, especially after the appalling Liverpool gangster game. I watch less and less now and even Everton I am less interested in, they just let us all down too much too many false dawns! Got no juice either for the the WC! What is the point? A deflated blue!
Take care all,
11 Posted 02/03/2010 at 20:11:52
A. A good off-season by management.
B. A good pre-season by the players.
C. Mr. Moyes to boost individual’s confidence (the most under-rated part of a Manager’s job) and attack constantly, even if we lose a game or two early doing so. The Attack is all-important. The other guy has to be afraid. Has to!
D. To adjust to being a Top Side next year. Because we’re going to be.
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