VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Everton 1-4 West Bromwich Albion
Everton's erratic and increasingly frustrating season plumbed new depths this afternoon with a 4-1 home defeat to newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion that saw the Baggies win at Goodison Park for the first time in 31 years and David Moyes lose one of his key players to a three-game suspension just as another was serving the last game of his own ban for picking up a straight red card.
12 minutes into the second half, with the Blues battling to recover from an almost unthinkable 2-0 deficit, Mikel Arteta was given his marching orders by the appallingly inconsistent Lee Mason for an apparent stamp on Gonzalo Jara, becoming the second Everton midfielder after Marouane Fellaini to pick up a red card this season.
That turned a hill that Moyes's side were attempting to climb into a mountain and though substitute Jermaine Beckford had more chances to perform heriocs and salvage the game, the Blues ended up on the wrong end of a thrashing, leaving themselves and their manager with nowhere to hide.
It's hard to know where to begin with the post-mortem on this ugly result. It seemed like business as usual when Everton started the stronger side, Sylvain Distin coming within inches of connecting with Leighton Baines' early in-swinging cross, Tim Cahill taking advantage of space to unload from 25 yards but blazing over, and Victor Anichebe, thrown straight into duty wide on the right at the expense of Seamus Coleman, producing the first of a number of impressive saves from Scott Carson all inside the first seven minutes.
But Albion scored from two of their first three attacks and all of a sudden Goodison was overcome by a seething hush punctuated by the chants of the jubilant visiting fans and increasing groans and shouts of frustration from the home faithful.
After a quarter of an hour, Phil Scharner ? of course, who else? ?easily got in front of Phil Jagielka to meet a corner from the WBA left and power a header in off the hands of Tim Howard.
Then, after Cahill had needlessly bundled Youssouf Mulumbu over in a dangerous area outside the Everton box, Chris Brunt despatched a free kick so unerringly accurate that it flew into the one area of the goal that Howard couldn't reach, despite flinging himself across his goalline and into his left-hand post in an effort to do just that.
Two efforts on target ? Brunt had earlier blasted a left-footer wide after an awful giveaway by John Heitinga in midfield ? two goals and Roberto di Matteo's men were 2-0 up.
Everton were back in the hunt four minutes before half-time, though, when Cahill rose superbly to meet Baines' corner from the left side and steer an unstoppable header back into the top corner to make it 2-1.
A second corner, this time from the other side, flashed agonisingly across the face of Carson's goal and Heitinga couldn't react quickly enough to get the vital touch top turn it home by the far post so the Blues had to be content with 2-1 going into half time.
After 10 minutes of the second half without so much as a shot on goal, Moyes finally opted for an early change to his team, making his now familiar double-switch in the 55th minute, bringing on Beckford for Heitinga and Louis Saha for Yakubu.
The Nigerian had been below his best, certainly, but he could hardly be blamed for the drought of scoring chances. Continuing his mystifyingly poor form of late, Arteta was sitting confusingly deep, leaving the abysmal Heitinga as the more advanced of the two central midfielders for much of the first 57 minutes and putting the creative burden once more on the shoulders of Steven Pienaar.
The South African had accepted the situation and, together with Anichebe, was one of the best Everton players on the pitch in the first half, that is until the pair switched flanks and everything seemed to grind to a halt.
If Arteta is carrying an injury, he'll get some time off to recuperate thanks to an ill-advised act of retribution on Jara in the 57th minute.
In a beautiful moment of precision and smooth link-up play, Pienaar had put Beckford in on goal with a perfectly-weighted, defence-splitting pass that the striker latched onto and tried to slip under the advancing Carson with a low side-foot shot. The 'keeper got a hand to it and as the ball skipped on its way to goal, Gabriel Tamas' overhead kick prevented it from crossing the line.
As Baines jumped to challenge for the clearance on the edge of the box, he was poleaxed by Jara's elbow right in front of referee Mason who didn't even blink. Play continued as Pienaar bounced off the Chilean's next robust challenge and when Jara went to ground in a third tacke on Arteta, the Everton man appeared to deliberately attempt to bring his foot down on his opponent's leg.
As a number of players squared up to each other, Mason eventually flashed Arteta a red card after consulting his assistant and the Blues were down to 10 men. Jara escaped censure altogether...
Moyes responded by withdrawing the tiring and isolated Anichebe in favour of Jack Rodwell and, with a Goodison crowd fueled by a burning sense of injustice behind them, resumed their search for the equaliser with renewed vigour.
And they made a pretty decent fist of it for the next 15 minutes, with Beckford, for better or worse, in the thick of the action. He dragged a decent chance badly wide from 18 yards in the 63rd minute and after Cahill had bounced an ambitious half-volley a yard the wrong side of the post, Beckford looked to be in on another slide-rule Pienaar pass but it was slightly overhit and Cardson swept it clear.
Two minutes later, Beckford tried to go it alone despite plenty of support either side of him and just one defender for company and wasted a great chance before he spurned one more gilt-edged opportunity in the 72nd minute. Tony Hibbert chipped a peach of a ball to the far post which Beckford met but he skied it embarrassingly over the bar from close range. Full marks for movement, for anticipation and for being in the right place time after time, but the new boy's profligacy would prove costly.
That's because WBA, having absorbed that spell of pressure from their hosts, suddenly took a grip of proceedings and killed Everton off with two excellent goals. First, with Hibbert backing five yards off him, substitute Somen Tchoyi turned inside, fooled both defenders in front of him with a shimmy before curling an impressive shot around Howard and inside the far post to restore Albion's two-goal lead.
The Cameroonian then skinned Hibbert again two minutes later but could only belt it straight at the 'keeper from a tight angle as the Blues wobbled.
Still, though, after Mulumbu had somehow escaped a yellow card for chopping down Pienaar with his umpteenth foul and Beckford had been booked for dissent, Everton could have halved the Baggies' lead again with six minutes to go. Beckford was on hand to collect Saha's flick-on into the box but, with no one around him, he over-elaborated with the finish, electing a scissor-kick that flew wide rather than a dinked shot over the advanced 'keeper.
Three minutes later, it was all over. Back at the other end, Tchoyi tormented Hibbert one last time, handed it off to Mulumbu who collected a one-two from the Cameroonian winger before clipping a shot in off Distin's chest to make it 4-1. The Congolose was finally booked for an over-elaborate celebration and was sent off 30 seconds later for a second bookable offence when he caught Beckford in full flight.
That was cold comfort for Everton who had played over half an hour with ten men and ended up being soundly beaten on home turf for the third time this season, their second home defeat to newly-promoted opposition this season.
Beckford's chances aside, it's quite possible they would have lost anyway even without Arteta's dimissal. The Spaniard had offered little to the game up to that point and where the Blues were again struggling to keep the ball and to make the final pass tell, Di Matteo's charges looked, on balance, sharper, fitter, stronger, faster and hungrier.
Albion chased everything that moved for the most of the game and Everton were eclipsed by individual brilliance while their own players, Cahill aside, failed to produce in front of goal. Where Baines and Arteta failed from direct free kick attempts in the first half ? Baines put his over and Carson acrobatically palmed Arteta's second kick away ? Brunt was inch perfect; and while Anichebe and Pienaar played well enough, they couldn't unlock the opposition defence with such devastating efficiency as Tchoyi did.
And that was the difference. With the same personnel as last season, Everton remain perplexing ineffective, the answers to their malaise seemingly as intangible as the form that lit up much of the second half of last season.
Moyes's team selection was sound enough; Hibbert was disappointing but Coleman may have been torn apart by Tchoyi in the same manner had he replaced Phil Neville at right back; Anichebe was energetic and a handful for the first half hour and forced a great save from Carson; and Cahill proved that he deserves his place in whatever formation you call it with yet another headed goal, though the attacking threat was clearly amplifed with Beckford's introduction, perhaps making a strong case for two out-and-out strikers at home, with Cahill accommodated somehow in midfield.
Chelsea away next and an equally daunting trip to Eastlands to face Man City on the horizon with a home game against fellow strugglers Wigan in between, the challenges are going to be coming thick and fast for Everton as the festive season approaches. Moyes has shown resilience and surprising powers of recovery in the past but there is a worrying sense this time around that this season is running away from him and that he doesn't have the answers to his team's current malaise.
Fellaini returns next week, an obvious straight replacement for Arteta, but it's in the penalty area at both ends that the real problems lie right now ? a shortage of goals and a shortage of clean sheets are turning a chase for Europe into a battle to avoid a relegation dogfight... with no transfer funds to provide fresh blood to a stale-looking side.
Howard 6, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 6, Distin 8, Baines 7, Arteta 5, Heitinga 5 (Beckford 6), Anichebe 7 (Rodwell 6), Pienaar 8*, Cahill 7, Yakubu 6 (Saha 6)
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1 Posted 28/11/2010 at 07:23:56
2 Posted 28/11/2010 at 08:37:14
Moyes on Beckford: "When chances come like that, whatever level, that's it. It is very rarely you get as many. You have got to score."
Couldn't agree more. A championship striker at best.
3 Posted 28/11/2010 at 09:43:58
4 Posted 28/11/2010 at 09:47:30
Also, please don't let's have, "We have no money for January signings" crap. The sale of Heitinga and Bilyaletdinov would generate some useful income with minimal impact on the current setup.
5 Posted 28/11/2010 at 09:44:42
Heitinga was total rubbish, Moyes should not have started him for both the last two games; sell him in the transfer window.
Moyes needs to look at his tactics, we seem to be going backwards. Boring football... the only time the crowd get excited is when Coleman gets the ball because he hasn't had the lack of fear coached out of him, YET.
Look at what Bolton are trying to play 1 attacking football. It's still three points for a win... we have won three games all season.
MOYES HAS GONE AS FAR AS HE CAN. Its all gone stale.
6 Posted 28/11/2010 at 09:54:36
Once Beckford's out the door, then Moyes can say what the fuck he likes about him but, while he's a Everton player, he should get full support from fans and manager alike.
I reckon he has the ability to play at this level. You look at the runs he makes, the positions he gets in, and the fact that he can score a variety of goals, including some very good ones. All that's missing far too often is the end product, which is down to confidence... and I'm just glad I don't have to rely on DM to instil belief and confidence in me when I'm feeling down.
Even if DM is right about Beckford and he is Dhampionship quality like you say, he is OUR asset ? someone we can sell on for a profit, but we certainly aren't going to get much for him when his ability is being talked down by our manager!
7 Posted 28/11/2010 at 10:47:55
8 Posted 28/11/2010 at 10:44:48
Beckford gives it his all but the reason we lost yesterday and didn't win against Sunderland isn't because Beckford missed those chances ? and for Moyes of all people to say it a disgrace!!
We lost because our big players Howard, Arteta, Saha and Yakubu aren't performing. They are the highest paid with the most experience and therefore should carry more blame. Arteta's petulance yesterday was ridiculous and isn't acceptable.
Seriously, get behind Beckford, people... apart from Pienaar, Cahill and Coleman ? he's the only one trying!
9 Posted 28/11/2010 at 10:57:09
10 Posted 28/11/2010 at 10:48:31
The best example was Hibbert yesterday. Instead of running or crossing quickly, he was turning back, passing short, without any intent whatsoever to create a chance.
Arteta seems like he doesn't care anymore: slow, running away from the ball, hanging out by the back four. And don't get me even started on Beckford. He should try to play for the reserves. Every single decision he makes is just bad.
But the player who is really not fit to play in the first 11 is Heitinga. He is just thick, clumsy and slow. Every time the opposition attacks, I'm at the edge of my seat expecting a card for Heitinga for a stupid challange.
Anyway, players can have a day off, sure. But it seems that this season they are not motivated at all. Every game is exactly the same. They give all flat out when the score is against them in the last 10 minutes of the game... Shameful and pathetic.
11 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:02:43
12 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:16:24
13 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:11:40
14 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:32:34
15 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:49:44
16 Posted 28/11/2010 at 11:51:41
After a while, the players must be getting sick of it and so no surprise they start not to care anymore. For example:
JH is NOT a midfielder, so why expect him to give great performances in the middle of the park?
MA is an ATTACKING midfielder, why oh why is he playing so deep, just in front of the back four?
What on earth is Rodwell doing on the wing?? He's a CB or DCM, not a frigging winger!!!!
Etc etc. Maybe MA is playing deep because of the problems caused by JH being in the middle ? again this would not be an issue if JH was playing in DEFENCE!
DM should simply play the players in their correct positions. I think this would make an immediate impact and also allow the players to play with more confiidence and hence play better...
Chelsea away next ? cannot really say am looking forward to that. One thing is for certain, no way DM will have a go at Stamford Bridge like Sunderland did.
17 Posted 28/11/2010 at 12:04:23
18 Posted 28/11/2010 at 12:13:05
19 Posted 28/11/2010 at 13:48:17
Imagine how this goes down in the dressing room when he is at the same time creaming over anything Neville does. The man is too stubborn and I bet those home truths Freguson told him were about similar issues.
20 Posted 28/11/2010 at 14:14:59
21 Posted 28/11/2010 at 14:29:47
22 Posted 28/11/2010 at 15:02:22
Moyes ? turns Heitinga, World Cup Finalist centre-back, into a little-boy-lost midfielder.
Maintains faith with out-of-form Arteta.
23 Posted 28/11/2010 at 16:31:40
On Beckford, I have to agree with those who think he deserves credit not victimization for yesterday. He made some terrific runs and I've got to hand it to Carson for coming out quickly to close down the angle for his first chance and getting a crucial hand on the ball to allow Tamas to prevent the goal.
As long as he keeps getting into scoring positions and the likes of Pienaar keep picking him out, the goals will come.
24 Posted 28/11/2010 at 20:05:17
25 Posted 28/11/2010 at 23:15:28
Beckford got himself free at least three times on Saturday, as he did in the last minute at Sunderland... he kept looking for the ball, even after some horrendous misses, and did more in that little 10-minute cameo than Saha has done since his last goal, whenever that was.
His performances at Leeds were similar: lots of chances, lots of misses, lots of goals... but he looks like a goalscorer, he has that turn of pace ? if DJ Campbell can score in the PL then Beckford certainly can.
The overwhelming issue, though, was being totally outplayed by WBA, if Beckford had scored those goals and we had not lost, the paucity of our general play would still be apparent. What worries me the most is the loss of Cahill in a few weeks and possibly the exit of Pienaar, just who is going to step up and fill the shoes of these two players?
26 Posted 29/11/2010 at 09:38:32
27 Posted 29/11/2010 at 14:05:30
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