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Can any position be taken for granted?

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For the first time in a number of years, I feel more confident about the squad we now have with a mix of flair and doggedness and youth and experience. So much so that I think, with the exception of Howard and Leighton Baines, no player can take his position for granted.

I think back to a recent post inviting posters to name their first choice team and very few put out the same team. I believe this bodes well for us but my only concern is defence because, if we're going to do anything serious this season, we need to keep more clean sheets. The GK and the back 4 all obviously have talent but the lapses in concentration, combined with Howard's penchant for panicking under pressure, are things I believe DM has to work on.

I know many posters have harped on about our marquee signing being a pacy winger or striker but I would prefer we got a solid left-sided centre-back. Apart from that, as I said earlier, I think we've got a strong squad with lots of potential. I can almost hear that famous Everton roar from Gwladys Street to the Park End now...
Jay Harris, Liverpool     Posted 17/07/2010 at 16:05:15

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Paul Dewhurst
1   Posted 17/07/2010 at 20:22:44

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Howard, yes... Baines, yes... but if you don't think The Best Little Spaniard We Know is not 1st choice then you're a clown!
Rob Wilkinson
2   Posted 17/07/2010 at 20:55:00

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Haha... Paul, I hate the use of 'lol' but I actually did! Amen, brother!
Jay Harris
3   Posted 17/07/2010 at 20:56:26

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I must be a clown, then, Paul, because there are certain games that my first choice would be Felli and/or Rodwell as opposed to Arteta.

He is a great player but nobody should be guaranteed a starting place in a top side.

The whole point of a large squad is to choose the balance of the team to suit the opponents on the day.
Gary Creaney
4   Posted 17/07/2010 at 21:06:45

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Jay, the whole point is to play to your own strengths whilst paying attention to the other team's weaknesses. If fully fit, Arteta is most certainly first choice simply because of his creativity. He rarely goes out of form because he has a fantastic attitude.

But I agree that it's difficult to pick a first choice team because we finally have options. I definitely think that Fellaini, Rodwell and Arteta should all be in the same midfield; that to me is the single best midfield in the Premier League bar none... mouthwatering, in fact!
Ben Jones
5   Posted 17/07/2010 at 21:21:18

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I think Jay might have a point. If we're playing opposition who we might want to stifle, then Rodwell and Fellaini could be the centre-mids.

We still need the winger though. The right hand side of the team still needs sorting out.
Iain Love
6   Posted 17/07/2010 at 21:52:25

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I agree that we have the best squad for a long time and cover in most if not all positions but one thing that's been going through my mind is what is the best formation for the team we have.

Brazil with two holding midfielders made me wonder if that might suit us... ie back line as is but with Coleman included, the five across the middle: Arteta, Pienaar & Cahill / Bily, the attack with Felliani & Rodwell / Neville / Heitinga as the enforcers. That would solidify the defence and give free reign to our creative and attack-minded players ie they can interchange. That also incorporates Rodwell in the side. The one up front, Saha, if fit and on form.

What do you lot think?

Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 17/07/2010 at 21:59:05

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I wonder if even Moyes really knows his first XI if everybody were to be fit & available at the same time; however, with the squad he has gradually developed it must now be a nice problem to have in comparison to the squad he inherited back in 2002.
Aiden Doyle
8   Posted 17/07/2010 at 22:18:29

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That's not dissimilar to what I suggested in the Brisbane article, Iain. Gets my vote and, as I also suggested, it's an effective way of fielding a side that doesn't contain any out & out wide midfielders because, whilst Arteta, Pienaar, Bily & Osman can all do a job on the wing, all of them are far better utilised more centrally.
Richard Reeves
9   Posted 17/07/2010 at 22:15:30

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I know you have to change your team depending on who you play but, in choosing my first eleven, I had Rodwell, Fellaini and Arteta in the midfield and I agree with Gary that it could be the best midfield in the Prem. Early days and all that... so we'll just have to wait for the big Fella.
Jamie Barlow
10   Posted 17/07/2010 at 22:43:05

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I agree we probably need a right winger but after watching the 3 friendlies in Australia, I think Vic could still do a decent job. Moyes has certainly decided that the right-hand side is going to be Vic's until Landon comes later on in the season. Both Vic and Seamus have looked pretty decent together and seem to have struck up a good understanding.

I'm not saying he is ideal but, with Moyes declaring that nobody else will be signed before the start of the season, don't be surprised to see Vic bombing down the right against Blackburn. In my opinion, Anichebe has looked one of, if not the best Everton player down under.

Brendan O'Doherty
11   Posted 17/07/2010 at 22:43:58

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"If everybody were to be fit & available at the same time..."

That's the point. They never will all be fit and available. In central mid he'll probably only use Rodwell when Fellaini isn't playing, and as a sub.

On Fellaini, everyone seems to be assuming that he will get back to his excellent form of mid season when he was used in a more withdrawn position. Let's hope so, but DM might revert to using him in his more advanced role.

It's also time Bilyaletdinov showed that he is a £9M player and that the money spent on him would not have been better spent on Donovan. I can see him being used as an impact sub unless he gets up to the speed of he PL soon. Here's hoping he does, because technically he is a very good player.

Gary Creaney
12   Posted 17/07/2010 at 23:39:46

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Brendan, we're due a break now in terms of having the majority of our best players available at one time ? the freakish amount of long-term injuries we had at the same time can't possibly happen again. And there is no chance of DM playing Fellaini anywhere other than than the position he impressed so much in last season.
Pat Finegan
13   Posted 18/07/2010 at 01:16:34

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If we do have everyone fit at the same time, the team we play against should dictate who is on the field. Against a tall team, Distin would be in the squad over Heitinga. Aainst a weaker side, perhaps Rodwell should start over Cahill to gain some experience. There will always be odd situations that we need to take advantage of and others we should prevent against. If we can stay fairly healthy, I would go so far as to say that we are favoured to make the top 4.
Brendan O'Doherty
14   Posted 18/07/2010 at 01:30:30

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" there is no chance of DM playing Fellaini anywhere other than than the position he impressed so much in last season".

Gary - I hope you are right. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Some people are saying that deciding which players are used could depend on who the opposition are.

Didn't DM get slaughtered on a few occasions last season for doing just that, and therefore showing them too much respect?

We should try and get our best 11 out on the pitch and impose our own game on whoever we play. It might not always work but I think there would be less chance of us dropping points that way.
Derek Thomas
15   Posted 18/07/2010 at 03:19:41

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In the event of no Donovan or similar, we must hope that the Anichebe Coleman axis is allowed to at least have a chance to grow.

Pienaar might prefer CM and think it is his best position, but his most EFFECTIVE position is on the left with Baines, they complement and improve each other, the sum becomes more than the parts.

The Arteta Dilelema, we play 5 in Mf coz we don't have 4 good enough to play effectively (5@80% =4@100% )

And like Dennis I also doubt if Moyes knows what his best 11 is or what formation they would play in. This is more of a result of the whole best / first 11 concept being some what irrellevent.

Arteta is a good player and we want to keep him

The first game of the season should give us some sort of idea
James I'Anson
16   Posted 18/07/2010 at 09:12:13

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Arteta is obviously the first name on the team sheet but, even if he is fully fit for the whole season, he still won't play 90 mins of every game.

We are not a one-man team.
Stephen Kenny
17   Posted 18/07/2010 at 09:24:54

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When you consider what Moyes started with, it brings home how good a talent spotter he is! Undoubtedly one or two players away from being taken seriously as title contender's. Hopefully those two player's are somewhere within the current set-up.
Liu Weixian
18   Posted 18/07/2010 at 09:27:56

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Unless there is a strong reason for it, I prefer to have the same back four. Defence is the backbone of a football team and it is important that the defenders develop greater understanding of one another.

As for the midfield and attack, we can mix and match according to the opposition we are playing.
Mike McLean
19   Posted 18/07/2010 at 10:00:08

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Can anyone think of a scenario where the manager turns round to Xabi, Iniesta, Rooney, or historically, Bally, Daglish or Moore and says, "sorry. You're out of the team today. We're playing against a tall team."

Either this Everton team are very decent as many of you seem to think, or they're a bunch of lucky chancers.

If they are any damn good, you leave the starting 11 alone unless there's injury.
Mike McLean
20   Posted 18/07/2010 at 10:48:58

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Unless of course you're Rafa Benitez.
Brian Waring
21   Posted 18/07/2010 at 12:12:24

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Jay, you could probalby add Neville to the players who can take their place for granted. Also, whilst we all have our best 11 we would have start games, I bet you Osman starts most games as well.
Mike Gwyer
22   Posted 18/07/2010 at 12:26:43

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Brian (nbr 21):

Osman will not get into our first eleven, I confidently predict that. I would go even further and say that Osman may well get sold ? rumour has it that Stoke have been sniffing.

Regarding the RB position, can Coleman cut the mustard and prove most TW readers correct? Moyes has not let the kid go to Blackpool (or anywhere else) so maybe he is giving it serious thought. Personally, I hope Moyes gives Hibbo the RB position ? he has the potential and at present he is playing injury-free. Either way, I will be surprised to see Neville play any part whilst Moyes has a fully fit squad.

On another note, I would like us to get to the end of August with the present squad intact, clubs are once again trying to spoil what should be a good season (Arsenal and Jags being mentioned this morning!!!).
Colin Potter
23   Posted 18/07/2010 at 16:08:37

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Brian Waring, that's what I'm worried about. Pip, as capt, first name on the sheet.
Ian Edwards
24   Posted 18/07/2010 at 18:05:20

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I wish I shared Jay's confidence. I think we are in for a long hard season. I foresee Jagielka and also Pienaar leaving around the first or second week in August.

I also think we are going to badly struggle for goals. Beckford isn't a Premier League player, Yakubu has shot his bolt, Vaughan will be loaned out, Anichebe isn't Premier League quality and Saha is over the hill. I can see a mid-table or slightly lower finish. Probably 12th or 13th. Sorry but I think we should get real.

Thor Sørensen
25   Posted 18/07/2010 at 20:20:34

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In the very unlikely event that everybody were to be fit an available at the same time, we would still need to rotate the squad, resting one or two players here and there, to avoid running out of steam towards the end.

"If everybody were to be fit & available at the same time..."

That's the point. They never will all be fit and available. In central mid he'll probably only use Rodwell when Fellaini isn't playing, and as a sub.

If we do have everyone fit at the same time, the team we play against should dictate who is on the field.
Thor Sørensen
26   Posted 18/07/2010 at 20:39:17

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Don't mind my last post at #25.

In the very unlikely event that everybody were to be fit and available at the same time, we would still need to rotate the squad, resting one or two players here and there, to avoid running out of steam towards the end of the season.

Besides, call me a cynic or a conspiracy theorist, but how do you think referees/The FA will react to Everton getting too close to the Holy Grail? Don't be surprised to see a few dodgy bookings/suspensions coming our way.

Also, I agree with Brendan O'Doherty that the team we play against should to a certain extent dictate who is on the field.
Jamie Sweet
27   Posted 19/07/2010 at 01:07:17

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12th or 13th Ian? Are you for real? Do you not know the 24-year rule?

Also, of the 12 teams we finished above last season, which five of them do you suppose has strengthened anywhere near enough to close the rather large gap we had over them?

I could go on, but I assume you wrote the above nonsense to provoke a response and I have already spent more of my time on it than I should. Idiot.
Matthew Tait
28   Posted 19/07/2010 at 10:04:26

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We've certainly got a lot of quality options in midfield, Jay, which is a refreshing change. I don't agree that Arteta can't take his place for granted ? he is by a long distance our best all-round midfielder and is crucial to us being able to play a good passing game as a team. But I do agree with your general point.

I think it's too easy to get hung up on what our best team is. Injuries and squad rotation are a fact of life, as well as tactical changes depending on the opposition. The point is more that we have 8 or 9 guys available for midfield positions who can all do a good to excellent job.

The main challenge as I see it is picking a midfield that works well together. Do we play Bily on the right and lose his crossing but gain his shooting and Pienaar's interchange with Baines on the left? Would we drop Cahill for Rodwell or even Bily in the centre, and for what advantage? Do we play our Rodwell/Fellaini deep or push him forward (I'm assuming both will rarely play together barring injuries, but that's its own question)? Does Anichebe have the skill to be a viable option down the right, and against what sorts of teams?

I honestly don't know the answer to any of these questions with any certainty ? which is why Moyes earns his money!

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