VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Chelsea 1 - 1 Everton
Everton snatched yet another point from Stamford Bridge ? their fifth draw in succession here in the Premier League ? after a stirring second-half fight-back that, with a bit more composure in the final third, might also have yielded a shock winner that would have set more cats among the pigeons at Chelsea, a side that looked a shadow of the one that won the title last season.
This was the Chelsea you hardly ever see, frenetic, profligate in possession and being barracked by the home fans, and the Everton you fervently hope to see a lot more of this season, and it was astounding to see Carlo Ancelotti's Champions threatening to implode in injury time as the Blues, playing for the first time in their elegant vanilla third strip, poured forward in search of what have been a deserved winner.
After last weekend's horror show against West Bromwich Albion, David Moyes had publicly challenged his players to step up their performances but he was let down badly by his returning captain, who gifted Chelsea the lead late in the first half with an awful backpass that left Tim Howard stranded.
Hemmed in near the touchline, Neville, as he so often does, turned backwards but his woefully underhit backpass put Nicolas Anelka in on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat. He knocked the ball past Howard but then barreled straight into him, drawing a penalty and howls to referee Lee Probert for a red card from the Chelsea fans. With the official deeming Sylvain Distin to be a covering defender, he sensibly confined the 'keeper's punishment to a yellow card, though it was hard to see what Howard could have done to get out of the way. Once upon a time there was a rule called obstruction and it yielded an indirect free kick...
Didier Drogba rammed the spot kick home and Chelsea were 1-0 up going into the break, a lead they deserved on the balance of play. Everton had started in the manner in which they would end up finishing by controlling the first five minutes of the game almost exclusively and earning the first shot of the game for Louis Saha whose effort was beaten away by Peter Cech.
But the Londoners quickly assumed control after that and it seemed to be business as usual. A suicide pass by Seamus Coleman, who replaced Victor Anichebe on the right flank, left Jack Rodwell in trouble and he was duly robbed by Drogba but Phil Jagielka's block prevented Anelka's shot from troubling the goal.
Two minutes later, Howard got a let off when he spilled the ball at the feet of Salomon Kalou but Jagielka was again on hand to belt it to safety as Everton threatened to buckle under their hosts' pressure and their own inability to keep the ball. Indeed, sloppy passes by Moyes's side were a recurring feature of this game and it allowed Chelsea to enjoy the lion's share of possession for the first hour.
Indeed, they might have had taken the lead earlier than they did had John Terry's looping effort not bounced off the face of the crossbar after his first shot had been blocked by Rodwell and Kalou not glanced a free header wide of the target.
At the other end, Coleman had a half chance from reasonably close range with a cross-cum shot that cannoned the wrong way off Tim Cahill and Rodwell ballooned a speculative effort into the crowd behind Cech's goal as chances for the away side were few and far between.
Far from following Sunderland's lead in taking the game to a Chelsea side who hadn't won in three League games prior to today, Moyes stuck to his conservative approach for the first hour or so and it might have succeeded in keeping things goalless were it not for Neville's moment of madness.
The captain was involved in one other notable first-half incident, one which could and should have seen Florent Malouda sent off. Taking umbrage at being fouled, the Frenchman slapped Neville in the mouth in clear view of the referee. Though he initially reacted by putting his hands to his face, Neville quickly turned and ran back his position before defusing the situation with Probert and keeping Malouda on the pitch.
Probert did not extend him any leeway, though, just four minutes later when he clattered into Drogba and Neville was booked. So much for sportsmanship being rewarded...
Thankfully for the traveling Everton army, the Blues were markedly better after half time but it was the substitution of the injured Louis Saha for Jermaine Beckford that seemed to provide the catalyst for an increasingly attacking approach. Up until the French striker was pulled in the 58th minute with an ankle injury sustained in a tackle with Ivanovic, a Rodwell shot that he dragged wide on his weaker foot was the only effort on goal either side had mustered since the restart.
But that changed in the 61st minute when Everton seemed to moveup a gear, starting with Rodwell connecting with Baines's superb cross but then watching in disbelief as his header hit the inside of the post and bounced across the face of Cech's goal and out to the other side where it was cleared.
Another Baines center a minute later found Coleman at the back post but from a tight angle the Irishman could only plant a header into the 'keeper's arms before Rodwell again tested Cech with a deflected effort in the next attack.
Still the Blues applied the pressure and when Jagielka rose to meet Baines' corner from the left and glance a header across goal, it looked as though he'd leveled matters but, agonisingly, the ball sailed the wrong side of the post.
20 minutes of stalemate ensued, much of which was taken up by a five-minute stoppage to treat a facial wound to Cech that he sustained in a challenge with Cahill, the Australian's trailing boot catching the Czech above the eye. When play resumed, though, it was until the 82nd minute that the next chance arrived and it very nearly resulted in the killer goal for Chelsea.
Paulo Ferreira easily drifted past Steven Pienaar on the right wing and crossed low but Ashley Cole missed the ball on front of goal before being taken down from behind by Coleman but the referee waved play on.
That spurred Everton into a 10-minute spell of almost ceaseless pressure, one that turned the match on its header, giving the impression that it was they who were the home side and not Chelsea. And when Baines finished a superb run by swinging a cross in to the back post and Cahill headed back across goal, Beckford was on hand to head the ball home from close range to grab a deserved equaliser.
Sensing blood, Everton kept coming forward and Ancelotti's side threatened to collapse, routinely giving the ball away and inviting more pressure on their teetering defence. But Marouane Fellaini shot when he should have slipped in one of either Cahill or Beckford for a one-on-one chance with Cech, and again the Belgian went for glory a couple of minutes later, smashing the ball across goal rather than trying to find another vanilla jersey in the six-yard box.
Beckford then wasted the last chance of the game blasting over the edge of the box when there was support better placed to his left.
So overall a point well earned and a much-needed confidence-booster, but you left the game feeling that the Blues could have won this had they either kept their heads a little in the final minutes or started to take the game to Chelsea earlier on. Much in the way they did against Sunderland, Ancelotti's side looked visibly shaken once the Blues started coming at them and they certainly had to content with a lot of frustration from the stands.
Beckford will obviously gain confidence from his goal and Fellaini made a fine return to central midfield with a good performance alongside the equally impressive Rodwell. Neither midfielder showed that they can turn reliable provider in the final third, though, a role usually fuflilled by Mikel Arteta when he's in form or by Pienaar when he is playing in the centre so, with Saha often isolated during the first half, the attacking threat was limited at times. But that changed in the second half when Baines began getting forward and pinging crosses in, something that Chelsea weren't always able to deal with.
Wigan at home next and the Blues have to take this momentum back to Goodison and start putting three points on the board. What price Beckford gets the starting role in that one, particularly if Saha is injured?
Howard 5 - Not much he could have done to prevent the penalty but made a couple of potentially dangerous handling errors
Neville 6 - Horrible mistake for the Chelsea goal but otherwise unremarkable
Jagielka 7 - Better this week, particularly with his long-range distribution
Distin 8 - Continues to be a rock in central defence. Almost nothing gets by him one-on-one
Baines 7 - Defensively, continues to stand off his man too much but going forward he is a threat, providing a string of good crosses
Rodwell 7 - Looked composed for the most part. A solid return to the starting line-up
Fellaini 7 - Did well breaking up the play in a defensive midfield role but lacked composure in the final third
Coleman 7 - Lots of energy, lots of running. Managed to have a decent game without anything really coming off for him
Pienaar 7 - I still maintain Everton are half the team without him in it but, ironically, the goal was scored after he'd come off injured
Cahill 7 - Nice assist for the goal but an otherwise workmanlike performance against a physical Chelsea defence
Saha 6 - Didn't get much of a look-in after his early chance
Beckford 7 - In the right place at the right time to score the goal but also provided more great movement
Bilyaletdinov - Not really on long enough
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1 Posted 04/12/2010 at 19:34:49
2 Posted 04/12/2010 at 20:21:27
Glad you mentioned Pienaar because if there is a harder working,more energetic player out there I would love to get him.Very sad that he is leaving.
Like you I thought not much came off for Coleman today and I would have put Anichebe on for the last half hour.
I was more encouraged by the performance than the point because I saw the return of the "Everton" spirit in this game.
3 Posted 04/12/2010 at 20:36:13
4 Posted 04/12/2010 at 20:54:23
5 Posted 04/12/2010 at 21:03:13
Fellaini gave too many weak passes allowing Chelsea players to pressurise us into hurried mistakes. Not to mention poor decision making by hopefully shooting when far better placed teammates where available. Rodwell seemed bemused.
Thank god it was neither Hibbert or Osman who made that disgraceful backpass. Even these pages would be turning red.
Saha did not get much to work with in the first half. Support was non-existent as we sat so deep. Only when we started to play with some pace and intent did anyone forward of the halfway line come into play.
This is, I feel, our problem. We play too slowly. One and two touch football with movement to receive the return pass and giving teammates an option is the way. We did it against Chelsea and Utd (amongst others) last season and it is still the way. I am not asking for something which we are incapable of, there is no point. This is why there is so much venom and anger spouted on thse pages. Why is it only DM and his puppy don´t see this.
With several players behaviour being as it is, I have also wondered, along with a previous poster this week, if DM has lost the dressing room?
Surprise off the day:- Osman did get brought on for Coleman!!! Time will tell, so onward and upward.
6 Posted 04/12/2010 at 21:42:41
7 Posted 04/12/2010 at 21:47:05
Baines would get the 8 for me and MotM.
8 Posted 04/12/2010 at 21:48:10
9 Posted 04/12/2010 at 21:49:03
Appologies for the above mistake which should have read that Osman was NOT brought on for Coleman.
Perhaps DM did not want to expose Nev as Hibbert was exposed in the Cup Final when Osman disappeared.
10 Posted 04/12/2010 at 23:12:15
11 Posted 04/12/2010 at 23:19:44
12 Posted 05/12/2010 at 00:20:26
Having said that, Anelka ran into Howard today and was a bit lucky to get away with it. I hope refs watch that play and come to a better understanding of the situation.
If Beckford had been played more from the start of the campaign I think he would be more up to speed and doing the business. Give him time and he'll come good.
I like Coleman, but he was up against one of the best backs in the game and might have fared better holding and passing more rather than putting his head down and running into defenders. I would not like to put him off his positive attacking play, though.
I feel a lot better today and look forward to enjoying the weekend. COYB!
13 Posted 05/12/2010 at 01:29:36
Couple of observations:
I know it is a League below ours and I am not naive enough to think it would solve all our problems but Swansea played some good football. If they can do that with players deemed unfit for the Premier League, then surely we have a chance to do so.
If Arteta is worth the extra few thousand a week, then Pienaar must be wondering what is going on. If we let him disappear in January, we will miss him tremendously.
Injuries permitting, we have to play a settled midfield of Pienaar, Coleman, Rodwell and Fellaini and leave them there, even if we don't set the world alight for the first few games.
PLEASE give Beckford a break and play him from the start. I never have been and never will be a Saha fan. How many times have we started to create chances and open up the game when Beckford appears? (I also realise that the mind set and tactics can change at this point but surely we can play like this from minute 1 rather than the 72nd minute???)
14 Posted 05/12/2010 at 02:18:37
I thought Fellaini and Rodwell were guilty of poor short passing. Coleman was furious with Rodwell at one point when he was bombing down the touchline, and Rodwell plays the square pass, behind him. Maybe Chelsea do want another Wilkins in the team.
And Fellaini right at the death, all he had to do was nod the ball into Beckford's path. Clear on goal from 12 yards (fair enough, no guarantee given recent games, but the lads tail would've been up after the equaliser).
But I'm nitpicking. Like most on here, if offered a draw before the match, we'd have snapped the hand off.
15 Posted 05/12/2010 at 04:04:26
In the first half, our midfield was poor, giving away possession cheaply. In fact, all four (Rodwell, Fellaini, Coleman & Pienaar) frequently lost possession or were guilty of poor passing that resulted in Chelsea easily taking the ball ? certainly a zillion million miles away (in the words of DM) from Barca.
I would also partly blame the midfield for the goal ? when it was obvious that Neville was in trouble, you would expect somebody to show up for the easy pass, but nobody did (or at least I could not see it on TV). The second half was a different story, and especially Fella got better and better. I am not convinced about Rodwell ? sure, he looks very composed, but for me he does not do enough with the ball.
Special mention about Cahill ? what an intelligent player he is! Instead of going for glory (like Coleman tried to do with his header), Cahill heads it back across goal for a better placed team-mate and the team scores. Legendary header of the football ? is he the greatest ever (header) in Everton's history?
16 Posted 05/12/2010 at 06:35:12
17 Posted 05/12/2010 at 08:52:33
18 Posted 05/12/2010 at 08:58:44
Neville's attitude is commendable in one way but stupid in another as there was a clear opportunity to have one of their players sent off for retaliation. When was the last time an opponent had the same attitude? This 'we are Everton and above that bullshit' is why we are where we are on the ladder!
19 Posted 05/12/2010 at 08:55:29
ps. Tiger Tim would get on the podium but only Dixie could ever be considered for the top accolade. (Baines and Alec Troupe have a similar crossing talent perhaps?)
20 Posted 05/12/2010 at 10:13:31
The problem is the referree then took no action. It was an awful tackle, arguably a red. 'Getting the player sent off' by rolling around shouldn't be the issue. The ref should not judge a tackle on how hurt a player is. You could tell by Malouda's reaction, he knew he was in trouble.
His decision not to do anything gives players a clear incentive to fein injury and complain en masse, because they know they're more likely to see a red. Imagine if that had been Drogba tackled. Half the Chelsea team would have been in the ref's face, the crowd would be baying. D'ya reckon the ref would have then walked away from it. Not a chance.
I detest cheating in football but this just invites it.
21 Posted 05/12/2010 at 10:20:47
Same team for Wigan but with Beckford for Saha please. Would also like to see Coleman playing behind Arteta or Anichebe on the right at some point. Baines shows us time and time again how dangerous a good overlapping fullback can be!
22 Posted 05/12/2010 at 11:51:42
23 Posted 05/12/2010 at 11:57:00
But why had Moyes persisted with playing him almost as a third centre-back? For some time, I've been saying that it's a remarkable waste for a team struggling to create chances to have their most inventive player so deep.
The best midfield structure we have at present (in my view) is Fellaini deep, Rodwell doing box to box and Arteta supporting the forward, whoever that is, with Coleman and Pienaar in the wide positions ? with possibly Osman coming in to replace Pienaar wide left when he inevitably leaves.
It has strength, invention and all of those playing in the central positions are capable of knocking the ball around ? rather than just being 'destroyers'.
An example of Moyes's lack of tactical nous, for me.
Also, I take your point about Baines allowing opposition right-wingers too much time/space, but I'd still say he deserves above 7 and the MotM award ? he was exceptional yesterday!
COYB ? we really need to string some victories together this month now!
24 Posted 05/12/2010 at 12:57:57
25 Posted 05/12/2010 at 12:52:00
26 Posted 05/12/2010 at 13:09:55
27 Posted 05/12/2010 at 14:39:12
Who to believe?? I prefer Charlie's analysis because I've always liked Seamus ever since he went past Gareth Bale like he wasn't even there! COYB.
28 Posted 05/12/2010 at 15:32:52
29 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:11:13
30 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:20:37
Graham Sharpe in his Radio City comments was at pains to point out the lamentable efforts of Saha to offer such options not just in this incident but throughout his time on the pitch. It was most reassuring that at last we had a radio voice who knows a thing or two about centre-forward play "lay into" this guy Saha who I have long believed to be a complete charlatan with real character issues/problems masquerading as "unlucky with injuries" labels. The shame of it is that he has been blessed with talents as a footballer but without the character to apply them.
Mr Moyes needs to now show some real courage and take a real chance with Beckford. Give him a consistent run, see if he can develop levels of composure and decision making; speed of thought and application and the injection of some real focussed movement up front.
As for Saha... the least said the better.
31 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:34:40
Much as I support Michael's right to his sometimes lofty expectations, I generally side with Lyndon's more grounded approach. Perhaps it is telling that Michael watches the games (as I do) on TV, where as we all know, the viewpoint is never the same as actually being at the ground.
32 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:31:39
Enjoyed being first on MotD! If Leighton keeps up this form, we'd better worry about hanging on to him, although he IS a true blue like us, and I'm sure he wouldn't do a Wayne!
Let's hope this gives Jemaine the start he needs.
33 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:38:23
If it had happened in open play, I can see that it might have been deemed a late tackle... but Cole never actually had the ball and had no chance of getting the ball when tackled, so would it not be dismissed as an off-the-ball collision?
34 Posted 05/12/2010 at 16:44:55
That being, Coleman had no intention of ever playing the ball, and that in his mind, he was always going to go through Cole. Even though the ball had already gone, it is still a foul in the penalty box, and a penalty. If that happens anywhere else on the pitch, that's a late tackle, and a free-kick all day.
35 Posted 05/12/2010 at 21:20:42
Brain (#34), yea, I guess you're right. But correct me if I'm wrong: normally (and I would emphasize 'normally') for a foul in the box to lead to a penalty, it is a foul on the player who has or is about to receive the ball. I want to say that off-the-ball offences and late tackles after the ball has gone do not seem to get called inside the box... but I'm not 100% convinced!
36 Posted 06/12/2010 at 12:57:22
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