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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

I thought we gave it a really good go

By Paul Traill :  30/01/2011 :  Comments (10) :
Many previous early kick-off games have somehow brought with it all manors of logistical chaos largely because we?re bamboozled as to what time to arrive at Goodison Park. With this in mind I decided to leave at about 10:30am, parking up at about 10:50am, well in time for kick-off.

With time to kill until the others arrived, I went to the Park End ticket office to sort some tickets out. Over some of the internet message boards and Twitter etc there had been a lot of talk of a protest towards the Board of Directors and the general lack of money and signings to help us with what?s left of the season, though I didn?t see any signs of this? even if I was a little early.

Once tickets were sorted, I went on to the pub, with Gary, Sue and then Ste all congregating shortly afterwards. Nobody really felt we could win the game with many tipping a draw before the inevitable collapse at Stamford Bridge? just like back in the 2005-06 season. A lot of talk was about the online reaction over the last week, with Gary questioning if things really are THAT bad, and if there was perhaps a bit of an over-reaction after the dreadful display last weekend against West Ham? perhaps if we?d have played well last week it wouldn?t have been such a turbulent week. Time will tell I suppose.

Three changes for the Blues: Anichebe, Osman and Beckford all dropping out with Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov and Saha back in the team. Certainly the right changes for Everton with Bilyaletdinov and Saha. I?d have liked to have seen us go for it a bit more with Beckford partnering Saha up top? but I don?t see them in training I suppose. Elsewhere, Heitinga retained his place despite the return of Jagielka. Otherwise it was as you were. Chelsea?s team looked dangerous from the outset with Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Essien, Malouda and Ramires all featuring (amongst others). Howard Webb officiated. We won the toss and attacked towards the Park End in the first half.

I thought we started the game at quite a high tempo though this was matched by Chelsea as both teams tried to settle. Everton?s most presentable opportunity landed with Jack Rodwell who got in the box following good harassing by Fellaini, unfortunately young Jack?s shot was well blocked by Cech. Otherwise, Bilyaletdinov showed the main reason he perhaps should be in the team, that being his goal threat. He twice got himself on the end of something in the penalty area in the first half, and both times forced Cech into a save, albeit after a foul on one occasion.

Chelsea were lively in the first half themselves and really had a good grip of the game for a little while though failed to capitalize on their chances with Anelka foiled by Howard when through on goal, and John Terry twice alarmingly getting free headers from corners though heading over with both of them. The crowd was rather flat with the Chelsea support (who sent back 3,000 tickets by the way) singing ?You?re supposed to be at home? in fluent Cockney, and the ever hilarious ?You?ll never got a job?? though ?Torres give us a wave? did tickle me. At half time the general feeling was that we were doing OK but could, and needed to, do better if we were to win.

The second half started in pretty much the same fashion. I think it was when Terry started to lose his rag a little bit and ended up giving the ball away cheaply which was the signal for the Everton support to really turn up and start driving the team on. From Terry giving the ball away, Coleman slipped a lovely ball in to Rodwell who crossed nicely for Saha at the back post, whose goalbound volley was blocked by the impressive Ramires. The crowd continued to back Everton. The players bounced on from this and continued to press, the goal coming from a corner. I was pleased Moyes handed the set-piece responsibilities solely to Baines. Before the corner Leighton had a long chat with Fellaini, though it was Saha who got on the end of it, escaping the attentions of John Terry to plant his header into the net. Get in!

We didn?t sit back after this and continued to try and create opportunities whilst Chelsea appeared a little dumbfounded and struggled to match Everton for tempo. Bilyaletdinov attempted an audacious overhead volley when it might have been better to head, but the real turning point came when Coleman headed goalwards, Cech saved, Coleman then smashed the rebound goalwards only to be denied by an excellent, brave block from Essien.

A minute later the scores were level. From the resulting corner Ramires robbed Rodwell and played a ball out to Anelka. He ran it forward before switching play back towards Ramires. The ball was just behind him though ran through for substitute Kalou who ran through and calmly placed his shot past Howard. 1-1 after all that hard work, but as Gary said, that?s just typical Chelsea?soak you up then wham? they hit you on the break.

Everton continued to take the fight to Chelsea though could have been behind when Ramires drove from distance, though thankfully onto the post. We were to have one more opportunity when I think Ivanovic mis-queued a clearance and our sub Beckford ran through on goal. Without much time on his hands he took the shot early on the half-volley, though Cech was equal to it, stretching to tip the effort over the crossbar. I think we had one last half-chance just near the end, when Saha tried his luck with an opportunist header, though his effort drifted wide of the far post.

So that was that. Still in the hat albeit with a very difficult trip to Stamford Bridge. Let's hope we can go there and give it everything and you just never know, eh... Oh, and one other thing, I see the replay is on the Saturday afternoon when the rest of the teams left in the competition will be playing their 5th Round. The reason? Well on the week we?d ordinarily play (a week Wednesday is the general tradition right?), there?s international games and England are probably Baines-less on a pointless exercise in Copenhagen, and on the other Wednesday prior to the 5th Round, Chelsea play their weekend Premier League game on the Andy Gray-less ?Sky Monday Night Football? away at Fulham.

Now here?s a few genius ideas that would keep everything stable in the competition. Maybe don?t play pointless international friendlies when you just don?t have time to accommodate them. Even better?don?t schedule Monday night televised games when there?s a prospect a fixture clash. Not so difficult is it? Nothing less than we?ve come to expect from the incompetent powers-that-be.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Made a few decent stops. 7
  • Baines: Good and positive as always and handled the threat of Bosingwa very well. 7
  • Distin: Alright. 6
  • Heitinga: My man of the match ? Very solid. Clearly prefers to play at centre-half and is much better at it. Kept Drogba in check throughout and will probably keep Jagielka on the bench for now on this performance? will need to play just as well as he did at the Emirates last season this Tuesday though. 9
  • Neville: Much more like the Neville we know. Maybe?s he?s not going to Spurs after all. Will be an interesting day of watching the deadline day ?AS IT HAPPENS? online at work tomorrow? probably with no end result from Everton. 6
  • Fellaini: Awesome in the first half, good also in the second and kept things moving for Everton. He?s certainly found a consistent level at Everton. Will be difficult to keep hold of in the summer you feel. 8
  • Arteta: Much more like the Arteta of old? confident and composed on the ball. Still can go up a couple of gears for sure. 7
  • Rodwell: Must have gotten a rocket at half time as he was nowhere to be seen in the first half. Much improved after the break, subbed as he tired near the end. 6
  • Bilyaletdinov: Did quite well though can do better. Always a goal threat. Looked shattered at times in the first half but the energy form his teammates and the crowd spurred him on in the second. Despite this, I?d be surprised if he kept his place for the Emirates on Tuesday as Osman does offer a bit more energy. 6
  • Coleman: Kept going. His drive and enthusiasm is a great quality to have. So close to making it 2-0 though the rest is history as they say. 7
  • Saha: Had a good game. He infuriates mainly when he ghosts out of the box quite a lot and yes, I can?t disagree sometimes, you want your strikers in the box; there was one moment in the second half when Fellaini flicked on but there was nobody there? Saha at the edge of the box. Nevertheless, he normally uses the ball well when he receives it in these areas, so hopefully this can work better when Cahill returns. 8
  • Beckford (for Rodwell): Was very unlucky not to score the winner. He seemed to be pointing to his Everton badge to the Gwladys Street after his effort, as if to say ?I?m here to score? we?ll be OK?. That was my translation anyway. 7

Reader Comments

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Peter Carpenter
1   Posted 30/01/2011 at 18:20:35

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I didn't think we did give it a really good go. Yes, there were a lot of decent performances but once again it was caution from the start and back to the lone striker again. OK, Rodwell and Bily did get forward but I think the lesson of the last few games is that we need 2 strikers. Beckford and Saha had the look of a partnership against Spurs and is surely worth persevering with. Defenders are scared of Beckford's pace and so leave room for Saha to float around in dangerous areas.

Too many draws are killing this season. We have to risk being less secure in midfield and just give a go for fuck's sake. Once again its keep it tight, get a goal from a set piece and hope its enough. Another big chance missed by Mr Safety-First Moyes.

Ian Tunstead
2   Posted 30/01/2011 at 19:15:40

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Area you for real?! "Osman does offer a bit more energy. 6"

It's no coicidence that the performace improved so much against a good side compared to that of the Liverpool and West Ham matches because there was no Osman in the side.

The team was much more balanced and Bily was 10 times more effective than Osman on the left. Bily has real quality, much better on the ball and keeping possession with ease compared to Osman.
Peter Webster
3   Posted 30/01/2011 at 19:33:16

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I agree, Paul. I think we were really unlucky not to win that game. We dominated pretty much the whole second half but there was a sense of inevitability when they broke from the corner that the ball wound end up in our net. And so it proved. I'm sure Sophocles writes our script, it's so close to Greek tragedy at times.

Screech ran the game, again. Tater looking better, Bily very good in the first half but seemed to tire in the second. I agree about Osman's energy but Bily's the better player and I'd stick with him. Some nice shimmeys and linked well with the ever reliable Baines. Coleman's great to watch, the lad just won't give up.

The rest of the team played solidly and if it hadn't have been for the bouncing Cech we'd have won easily.

I thought Moyes got the tactics correct with a strong midfield. Just a pity we backed off when they broke. Still, we can do 'em at the Bridge.

Dave Wilson
4   Posted 30/01/2011 at 19:40:38

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Bily does have quality and sometimes it shines, the reason he isn't an automatic starter is ease with which an opponent can brush him aside. He is as talented as anybody we have, but he doesn't have a competitive bone in his body.

Nice report btw Paul, enjoyed it.
Ian Brown
5   Posted 30/01/2011 at 19:48:10

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Great report, Paul. The only thing I differ on is Bily v Osman: Bily must have a run in the team.
Mike Green
6   Posted 30/01/2011 at 21:04:38

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100% Ian - he's got the quality, if we can rebuild his confidence he could be a great little player for us. Will just need someone with some grit to mop up behind him.

I'm all for a diamond of.........

Neville - Distin - Jags - Baines
Fellaini
Coleman - Bily

Arteta
Cahill & Saha / Beckford
Rob Hollis
7   Posted 30/01/2011 at 21:54:54

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I would like to give my opinion on the match but it takes me 1hr 45mins to get to the game.

As I was leaving on Saturday my mate called me up to ask where I was. It was 30mins to kick off and somebody had assumed we were kicking off at 3.00pm.....whoops!
Dick Fearon
8   Posted 30/01/2011 at 21:45:10

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I saw and heard sod all of the game so am indebted to all TW reports, thanks lads.

Dave # 4, reminds me that Hiddink, when coaching Russia, said Bily playing for Everton would add much needed toughness to his game.

Alan Smeeth
9   Posted 30/01/2011 at 23:47:09

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We will beat them away. Lampard and Essien where overrun by Fellaini and Arteta.

Not sure of this rating for Bily and I say he has a lot to prove. This was one of his best games for Everton. Was much stronger when challenged, looked inventive with an extra half-yard spark. Maybe since Cash is Great has gone, he's taking his chance and may just shine.
Paul Oakes
10   Posted 31/01/2011 at 18:49:27

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I thought in honesty we did a really bad job at having a good go. It was nothing short of laborious, and at times completely and utterly clueless.

A good go and we'd have hammered Chelsea, a mediocre score like the draw we had... poor effort.

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