A surprisongly packed Goodison Park welcomed back James Beattie, who had been drafted in to the Blackpool team over the January transfer window, but his team arrived on a poor run of eight consecutive defeats. Everton were unchanged despite the return of leading scorer Tim Cahill after missing six Everton games at a crucial stage of the season due to the ridiculously timed Asian Cup that his Socceroos ultimately failed to win.
It was a very bright start for Everton, creating numerous chances in the early stages, with Heitinga, Rodwell, Distin and Fellaini all going close. A superb move down the left and a brilliant shimmy by Bily allowed him to pick out Louis Saha near the penalty spot and it was a glorious chance the Frenchman could not miss, a clinical finish to set the Blues hopefully on their way after 20 mins.
Rodwelll looked to benefit from an awful Blackpool throw-in, skipping into the Blackpool area and flicking the ball up stylishly over a defender for a shot but then completley miss-kicking as the goal gaped. A sweeping move let Coleman release Saha who returned the favour down the right as Everton looked to attack the nervy Blackpool defence, but it only won a corner.
Billy played a lovely littled chipped ball forward to Saha but the Frenchman could not control it and was crowded out. A bad bounce at the other end rolled off Distin's arm and was deemed handball but the wall did enough to block Adam's kick; however, from the corner, Abbot clipped the ball onto the post, from where it ran behind Howard along the line to Baines on the far post, who had a simple task to clear but clipped the ball at the incoming Baptiste and it rebounded into the net. Nothing is ever simple with Everton!
But Everton deservedly went ahead through Saha moments later when Coleman fought his way past Carney and pushed the ball into Saha who clipped it beautifully just inside the post but Referee Kevin Friend had decided Carney's attentions on Coleman merited a free-kick to Everton, calling the game back and criminally not playing a clear advantage after Carney had grappled Coleman, much to the huge frustration of crowd, players... everyone. Baines put the free-kick woefully high to add insult to injury.
Another beautifully crafted piece of football involving Baines and Bily down the left was well worthy of a goal but there was no-one on the far post to benefit from Bily's exquisite chip. Half-time and massive jeers for another useless referee.
Some simple beautiful football after the break, an incisive pass from deep by the excellent Rodwell to release Baines, whose cross was perfectly weighted for Saha to walk the ball into the Gwladys Street net for an excellent second goal, that should have been his hat-trick. Bily should have done better a few minutes later when a lovely touch on by Saha set him up but he could not lift it past Rachubka. Baines then shot wide.
Blackpool had a spell of free-kicks and corners as they attacked and tried to get Beattie in for the equalizer, with Puncheon running in dangerously from the right, but the Blues defence held firm and Saha won a free-kick that was taken quickly and got Rodwell in a superb position but his deft clip bobbled the wrong side of the post.
A dreadful piece of play from Everton eventually allowed Blackpool back into it. Coleman at fault for playing the ball back slopppily; Heitinga at fault for a feeble challenge, and from there it was Keystone Cops stuff that saw Beattie's cross converted on the far side by Puncheon. At the other end, a great Fellaini shot was cleared off the line. With a third of the game left, this surely could not end as another draw? No, said, Blackpool, who broke at speed and tore through the Everton 'defence', Puncheon smashing his shot off the bar and there was Adam to head the rebound into the empty net. Everton 2 - 3 Blackpool!!!
Another beautiful Everton move looked to be finished with Fellaini scoring but Baines had overun it and gotten himself offside.
An amazing moment when Rachubka tried to dribble out of his area, Rodwell got the ball and lobbed a perfect shot over the stranded goalkeeper that was all but in the back of the net until Evatt made an absolutely incredible recovery to scoop the ball away off the line for a corner as he ended up a crumpled heap in the corner of the Blackpool net.
Everton had played some of their absolutey most absorbing football in ages, yet were behind, and the all-too frequently dithering Moyes acted decisively for once, make some crucial changes: Cahill and Beckford on for Bily and Rodwell — two of the players who had played key contributions to Everton's excellent display, but who arguably tend to fade. A huge gamble by Moyes in any event... Holloway swapped out Puncheon for Keith Southern, a former member of the Everton Youth Academy.
Everton piled on the pressure, and a sequence of corners saw Louis Saha finally get his hat-trick from one of Arteta's better deliveries, in lots of space at the far post, benefitting from the presence of Beckford causing havoc in fornt of him. 3-3 and everything to play for... a tremendous atmosphere and a tremendous game of football at Goodison Park.
Arteta overplayed a throughball that should have put Fellaini in on goal, but the go-ahead goal did come, and what a fantastic, fantastic finish to a brilliant ball from Baines it was, a beautifully deft touch By Beckford beating defender and goalkeeper to direct it past Rabchka, to the sheer dellierium of the Goodison faithful. 4-3, and an Everton game for once truly worthy of the adjectives "incredilble, unbelievable".
Blackpool pushed back, but Fellaini released Saha and the star man had a determined and pacey run-in on goal and a brilliant finish with the outside of his foot to make it five. Fantastic stuff. Four goals for Saha was enough for David Moyes, who pulled him off to tremendous adulation. Everton played out only their fourth home win of the season, a truly incredible, unbelievable game!!!
With just one league victory in the last seven outings, Everton have slipped dangerously close to the drop zone, sitting three points above West Ham in 18th place, albeit with a game in hand.
As their performance for the majority of the defeat at Arsenal amply demonstrated, this Blues side is too good to go down but confidence — or the lack thereof — can be a debilitating force on a team so a home game against Blackpool has taken on an unusual importance.
The impressive win over Tottenham a month ago was supposed to provide the shot in the arm that David Moyes's team so badly needed but the narrow escape from defeat to West Ham was a significant set-back for morale and the depressing inevitability of the result at the Emirates, coupled with the off-field uncertainty intensified by the barren transfer window, has once again set nerves on edge.
Tim Cahill is back from international duty but is nursing a thigh injury so Moyes could be picking his starting XI from the same pool of players as the last few games.
He may elect to go once more with the side that acquitted themselves well against two of the Capital's elite teams in their last two outings, with Jack Rodwell playing behind Louis Saha. Or the manager may match Ian Holloway's more attacking style by pairing Jermaine Beckford with thr Frenchman, a combination that has worked well against the supposed lesser sides.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2010-11 Reports Index|
|Rodwell (70' Beckford)|
|Bilyaletdinov (70' Cahill)|
|Saha (86' Jagielka)|
|Subs not used|
|Puncheon (74' Edwards)|
|Campbell (74' Southern)|
|Beattie (80' Harewood)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Man City||3-0||West Brom|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||26|
|20||West Ham United||24|