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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Sunderland (A)

By Ken Buckley :  23/11/2010 :  Comments (17) :
Becks boob leaves the travelling faithful cold wet and grumpy from a game that ebbed and flowed and could have gone either way ? but try telling that to any Blue who witnessed that last gasp howler.

The game started with the Blues looking lively and it took less than ten minutes for the Baines/Pienaar axis to bamboozle Sunderland down their left. An interchange of passes saw Baines clear and his perfect cross was met by the ever dependable Cahill, the net bulged and the faithful erupted. We are constantly told that the first goal in the Prem is so important but in my book this is only true if you go on and win.

Sunderland responded with some high energy play that saw their central midfield somewhat swamp ours as Arteta and Heitinga struggled for form yet it was that Baines/Pienaar axis that was our undoing when we conceded the equaliser. Pienaar was as weak as wet lettuce when the pint-sized Zenden merely left him on the deck and Baines backed off that far I thought he might join the crowd. Zenden put a low cross in that Welbeck poked home.

Sunderland were having quite a purple patch and we struggled to keep them at bay mainly by way of wild punts up field where no Blue shirt was stationed. Sunderland sent a couple whistling past the post but, as Pienaar seemed to get a second wind and cut inside more, we started to get back in the game.

Just after the half-hour we gained a corner, Baines took it and who else but Cahill headed goalwards only for the ball to be scrambled from the line by well positioned defenders. Up until the break, the Blues looked the more composed side without really making good approach work pay.

Half-time... and my contribution to the chat was that Coleman and Saha should be replaced as neither had performed well and both were guilty of giving the ball away or running into blind alleys. You could hear Neville talking Coleman through the half.

The manager decided to start the second half as we were ? so what do I know? We did start the better and Arteta at last looked as though he wanted to take part but, some ten minutes in, it was Neville?s long ball that saw the ever willing Cahill muscle his way in and lob the keeper with some aplomb, only to see an alert centre-back clear from the line and collide with a post.

The action then went helter-skelter from one end to another. Jags deflected one wide, Pienaar fired in but his shot lacked the required force. Just after the hour mark the manager took off the ineffectual Coleman and sent on Rodwell but, just four minutes later, Baines made a strange decision when inside our half: he had a choice of pass to either Arteta or Distin but for some reason he bisected them and gave the ball to Sunderland as it was their player that reacted the quicker, out-muscled Arteta, got the ball into the box that we defended for a corner. We cleared the corner but straight to a Sunderland player who played it back to the corner taker who crossed and Welbeck deftly headed them in front. We don?t seem to close down players who are wide on our left these days.

Twenty minutes to go, surely the manager would make another change? ... but no; we battled on for another quarter of an hour when the Yak was noted getting ready and the faithful sang his song. He came on for Heitinga and Saha was replaced by Beckford.

The game continued from end to end but Sunderland with an eye on the clock were getting deeper and so it was with just over five minutes remaining Arteta at last showed some form that we all know he has and twisted and turned players on the edge of the box and fired one in that seemed deflected but a goal is a goal and did those assembled celebrate.

There was a definite feeling we could snatch it but our earlier approach play in joined-up mode was sacrificed for a more direct approach looking for a break off one of the front men. One came to the Yak who swivelled well but his shot was blocked.

Four minutes went up on the board and from a rare home attack they got a man free in the box but much to the relief of the faithful his shot was wide. Time up and well at least we have not been beaten and got one more point... but wait a second ? Neville tries one more punt up into the box, Beckford is on to it, only the keeper to beat, he shoots and the yell ?Goal? is strangled in voice boxes as the ball clears the bar. With a miss of that magnitude with what was the last kick of the match left thousands feeling like we had lost.

Overall, I thought it was an entertaining game but far from a classic. I have no hesitation in naming my MotM as Cahill. If only his effort, commitment and work-rate ? not to mention his goals ? could rub off on a few others, we might yet finish a lot higher than it?s looking at the moment.

After all the games so far this season, I am left frustrated as I can see we are better than many of the teams we have played but, whilst this last third malaise goes on, we won?t get what we deserve ? or maybe we will!

The manager had called for Saha to make his own luck by working hard and getting into the right positions; well, he didn?t tonight and Cahill had to do the work of both of them. Coleman played like a player just learning the position and was easily negated by old pro Bardsley... and Heitinga just didn?t turn up. Johnny?s time at the Blues is going in a similar vein to when he played in Spain. Signed as a centre back that plays for his country in that position but neither club see him as a first pick in that position. In Spain he was moved to right-back and centre-mid with us. He left Spain and now look?s like he will leave the Prem. Strange game this footy.

Still it?s a marathon not a sprint, so I will keep my spirits up and hope for a home win come Saturday and one of our three strikers to come good sooner rather than later.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Allan Barratt
1   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:45:37

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Again, great summing up of the game, Ken. I thought the same about Coleman, he never looked like getting clear of Bardsley. Saha is a waste of space, he's got so much talent, I enjoy watching him during the warm up as his touch and technique are amazing, he just never shows it on the pitch when it counts.

I was sat quietly in the Sunderland end and listening to Sunderland fans saying how we have one of the best midfields in the county, we just never have a decent forward who can score regularly; if other supporters can see this why can Mr Moyes not.

Paddy Hamilton
2   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:52:07

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Having watched the game last night, I think we are resorting too much to the long ball tactic. Apart from Baines, all the back 4 wanted to do was hoof the ball up the field. Are these Moyes's tactics or the players as I can't figure out who is to blame?


I never thought I would say this, but I think we are missing a bit of Osman's ball skills in midfield. Arteta at the minute is a waste of a midfielder. Give him some bench time and get Rodwell in there.
Allan Barratt
3   Posted 23/11/2010 at 13:55:59

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Sorry, not just the county but the country too!!
David Thomas
4   Posted 23/11/2010 at 14:05:11

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Ken,

Excellent report. Was at the game as well and agree with every word you say about the overall performance and the individual players you mentioned.

I mentioned on another thread that if you worked out the amount of goals we concede from the left hand side it would be very high. I personally think Baines is great going forward one of the best in the league but as a defender he is suspect to me. For the life of me I can't understand why he just kept backing off Zenden for the first goal.

Agree with your Man of the Match, thought Cahill was great as he constantly had to do all of Saha's running as well. Watching Saha play, you can easily see why he has not scored a league goal since the Chelsea game in Feb. He does not look interested to me.
Jay Harris
5   Posted 23/11/2010 at 14:07:23

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Allan, I think you were right the first time.

Our MF needs to be able to defend the back 4 better and contribute goals.

It's all very well looking pretty but, if you concede silly goals and can't score that many, the result is obvious.

Arteta (I know he was credited with the goal but my god what a pathetic shot on goal), Heitinga and Pienaar couldn't muster a decent shot between them.
Mike Oates
6   Posted 23/11/2010 at 14:54:44

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Actually thought Arteta has his best game for weeks, but clearly he and Johnny don't blend well at all . Watched the game 2nd time this morning on record and only noticed how little Heitinga is used by any of the players. He did show on numerous occasions but was never received a pass - will be gone by early Jan.

Thoughts Pinnear was our sole attacking creativity, and Saha a waste of space. Get Cahill back in midfield with Arteta and put the Yak and Beckford together up front.
Matthew Tait
7   Posted 23/11/2010 at 15:01:37

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Yep good report. Unfortunately for all Baines' and Pienaar's qualities going forwar, they've both looked incredibly suspect defensively all season. It often seems like all the goals we concede come through there. Pienaar seems to just dive into tackles rather than jockey for position, which gets him in trouble, whereas Baines has the opposite problem of not closing down enough.

One thing I'm noticing this season - it seems like our only threat for a goal is a cross, mainly from the left. We just seem to be unable to create a goal on the ground through the middle. I'm not quite sure if that's a tactical thing, because our buildup is too slow, because Arteta is sitting too deep (which he is), or because our stikers are playing so poorly. But whatever the reason it's making us very predictable and one-dimensional, no matter how nicely we pass the ball around in midfield.
Micheál Sheelan
8   Posted 23/11/2010 at 15:57:26

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David # 4 & Matthew # 7,
I made the point on here a few weeks ago about the number of goals conceded down our left side since pre-season. I also pointed out that this problem had disappeared temporarily during Pienaar's absence through injury. This used to be a problem on our right side until the Osman / Hibbert partnership was broken up...

Needless to say, I was criticised by those who defended Pienaar on the basis of his creativity...

I cannot understand why Moyes has allowed this problem to continue as it is so glaringly obvious to opposition teams that they now seem to exploit it on a regular basis, a la Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal, Sunderland ? need I continue?

Another basic weakness among certain members of our team (Baines being the main culprid) is the inability to cut out crosses at source which have led to a significant number of goals conceded.
Ian McDowell
9   Posted 23/11/2010 at 17:06:57

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I actually thought we played fairly well on the whole and were unlucky not to come away with the win.

We certainly didn?t respond to going a goal up too well as Sunderland completely took over for the next 20 mins after we scored and the inevitable equaliser followed.

We where definitely on top in the second half when we fell behind to a great header by Welbeck, which is a bit worrying that we are conceding so many goals when we are on top in games.
Steve Edwards
10   Posted 23/11/2010 at 16:44:37

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I am convinced that it is the slow build up that is the problem. By the time the attack gets to the penalty area the opposition are all back just waiting for us. They've had time to pick up who to mark and its then differcult to break them down.

I don't know what the answer is, for years I have wanted a midfield that dominates games and we now do that against most teams. The trouble is we don't make any use of it because we are too slow in the build up.

I don't really want to go back to the bish-bang- wallop in their face, up and attem style of play. The trouble is it seems to be more effective in the Premire League. Several teams in the league have now adapted to this style of play and their results speak for themself.

The thing is I can see us becoming more direct again once Steven Pienaar has gone so who knows it could be a blessing in disguise.
Michael Kidd
11   Posted 23/11/2010 at 17:13:02

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Baines and Pienaar were both at fault for the first goal, but so was Distin ? Wellbeck was completely unmarked. Saha did nothing the whole game ? I can't believe it was 80 minutes before he was subbed ? and Arteta only started playing after about 60 minutes. Did this coincide with the time that Sunderland started tiring and their closing down was not so tight?

Another observation is that I don't think our defensive frailties are just the fault of the back four, although there is a fragility about us that was not there last season. I don't think we are closing down the opposition early enough. Clearly Heitinga's main job is to do this and he isn't. Not to say it is his fault because he is playing out of position but is anyone in management noticing this?

Not a bad result all told but we need to be converting draws into wins, even if we don't deserve them (which we didn't last night).

Jeff Magee
12   Posted 23/11/2010 at 17:25:55

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Ken, another sound report ? pretty much as I saw the game from the comfort of my settee, which is why I would just like to pick you up on their second goal: Richardson was a good two metres offside and so, whilst Welbecks 'goal' was very well taken, it should not have stood.

Andy Gray did a very good analysis of why it should have been straight forward for the assistant on that side to work out that the guy (Richardson) appearing in his vision from the right could only have come from an offside position as he was looking straight across our back line ? I appreciate that being at the ground you may not have seen this but it has been pissing me off all day that the headline writers (including TW) have all been portraying that we somehow jammed a draw due to a lucky deflection when a more accurate headline would have been along the lines of 'Justice partially restored after complete ineptitude of officials gifts Sunderland an unwarranted lead' ? but then again I am not knee jerk lover of all things Sunderland because they recently beat Chelski but an Evertonian with no agenda other than supporting the Blues as best I can.

Kevin Gillen
13   Posted 23/11/2010 at 23:36:11

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Great report, Ken, and a good thread (not too much moaning). I thought overall we were the better team. Saha is off the pace at the moment, cannot understand why he is picked ahead of the Yak.

One other thing that nobody has commented on. Why oh why can't Neville shoot!! One would have thought after as long a career as his he could at least poke the ball goalward with some force! We have no attacking threat down the right when he plays, I know he defends well but all the creative pressure goes on to Coleman (he does admirably in the circumstances).

As for Beckford, he gets paid an awful lot of money to miss those. Two points dropped again! Baines, Cahill, Jagielka and Pienaar all excellent.

Ajay Gopal
14   Posted 24/11/2010 at 08:22:06

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Ken, I really enjoyed your report. Wish DM would emply you as his assistant!

You absolutely hit the nail on the head "We don?t seem to close down players who are wide on our left these days."

Looking back at the 1/3 of the season that has passed us by, Everton have never been really outplayed by anybody (except the Newcastle game perhaps), but we have lacked that extra sucker punch to flatten the opposition. In every game, we seem to have had 3-4 players who have under-performed. Then, I say that it is down to Moyes not wanting to change things around or be more adventurous.

To shore up the left side, I propose that we bring Baines forward (it has been mentioned in a previous thread here on TW) - and although I am not one for playing people out of position, the present circumstances should make DM consider this option seriously. With Anichebe also seemingly finding form again (reserves against Liverpool yesterday), I would go for the following line-up:

Howard
Neville, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin
Anichebe, Arteta, Fellaini, Baines
Cahill
Yakubu

Bring on Coleman to replace Neville to provide more attacking threat later in the game. Saha, Beckford, Bily & Pienaar as subs.
Lol McNally
15   Posted 24/11/2010 at 18:35:37

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Funny how we don't talk about Howard ? can't catch a ball in his own box... confidence starts from the back. COYB
Sam Hoare
16   Posted 26/11/2010 at 13:20:51

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Ajay ? it would never happen but I would actually be interested to see that team in action. I suspect Baines would struggle at left wing and I think if playing a weaker team, Coleman should start at RB... but who knows.

Sadly, no chance.
Martin Faulkner
17   Posted 27/11/2010 at 07:55:00

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I currently work as a contractor for Shell, I earn x amount of dollars a week, if Caltex ask me to go and work there for y amount of dollars a week more than I get now will that make me any better at my job?

I know the players get paid a lot of money, but how much they get paid doesn't make them any better or worse at their jobs.
The only thing that should be said about what they get paid is that they should be trying their damn hardest every game.
Money can be a motivator in effort but not in ability.
So beckford getting paid a lot of money to miss those or Arteta getting 75k a week is irrelevant, the only thing the money can do is ask for 110% effort (see Cahill)

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