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Venue: Boleyn Ground, London
Premier League
 Tuesday 28 December; 5:30pm
West Ham
1 1
Hibbert (og:16')
Half Time: 1-1
Coleman (42')
Attendance: 33,422
Fixture 18
Referee: Howard Webb

Match Summary

Rested after the postponement of their Boxing Day fixture against Birmingham City due to miles and miles of frozen pipes at the aging Goodison Park stadium, Everton travel down to what was once known as Upton Park where West Ham had finally lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premier League table with a handsome win at Fulham just two days ago.

In the event, both Jagielka and Heitinga failed to recover from their injuries so Tont Hibbert was recalled to the back four, while Mikel Arteta, despite his attrocious form so far this season, waltzed straight back into the side after not being missed at all during his three-match suspension following his red card for retaliating against Jara of West Brom.

Coleman retained his place on the right, with Steven Pienaar coming back in on the left, and Moyes, finally despairing of his useless posse of so-called strikers, pushed Tim Cahill to the front of the line, looking to benefit from a few more goals no doubt before Everton lose their Aussie talisman for an entire month to the ridiculously timed Asian Cup in Qatar. Leon Osman succuumbed to illness and did not make the teamsheet.

The bench included three of those ineffective stikers: Beckford, Yakubu and Saha, with token positions for Duffy and Baxter. No sign of Magaye "Secret Waeapon" Gueye or James Vaughan, who returned injured last week from a moderatley successful loan spell in the Championship with Crystal Palace.

It was kick & rush early on, with Hibbert being tested and coming off superbly with a classic sliding tackle executed perfectly on Piquionne running wide. West Ham pressed Everton back and when Fellaini did advance, Pienaar had foolishly run offside. Fellaini was commanding in starting moves from the back, and good passing won their first corner on 5 mins that Arteta looped into the middle. Coleman finally got it forward to Distin(!) who shot from an acute angle instead of cutting the ball back.

Everton looked to control the game after 5 mins with some high-quality possession and patient build-up play but an opportunistic jab by Parker to rob Neville nearly let West Ham get behind the Everton defence, Hibbert once again intercepting crucially.

It was pretty even until West Ham's first corner that Hibbert gave away with a lose kick. Howard saved a close range header but Hibert wailed at the follow-up his raised leg scooping the ball inside the post for a horrible own-goal. The crucial first goal goes the wrong way for the Blues.

Cahill set Coleman off with a fantastic backheel but Upson caught him and gave away the corner that Arteta looped high and deep to Distin. Another Arteta corner fell to Distin, who wellied it high over the bar, possibly clipping off the defender's challenge. West Ham again responded at pace, and Obinna cut in, smashing a stinger that smacked back off the stanchion.

Howard was very lucky in a bizarre incident by the corner flag, the linesman giving him a free-kick after he had obstructed Obinna as the slowly rolling ball bumped into the flag and stopped instead of going behind for a goalkick! Everton's composure was tested as West Ham came at them with their tails up after the goal. Fortunately, they wasted a few opportunities to go further ahead.

A great move involving Pienaar, Baines and Arteta down the left looked promising and won a corner that Baines delivered in Arteta-style from the left, with equal lack of effect. Neville than got free to run forward and cross... far too close to Green. Baines put in a brilliant low cross from the left that Pienaar stepped over at the near post, rather than clipping goalward.

A good free-kick form Baines found Fellaini but his free header on the edge of the box was directed nowhere and came to nothing. More good play from Coleman, Fellaini, Pienaar and Baines around the area led to another wasted cross... might be nice of there was a big centre-forward, Beckford perhaps, in the middle to profit... Cahill on his own was always surrounded, consequently winning little in the air for Everton; consequently he started playing wider and deeper to get himself some space and time on the ball.

Coleman was hemmed in by two but won a throw that was uselessly blocked into the defender by Arteta. Fellaini then stamped in on Obinna, who screamed in anguish and earned the Big Fella a lecture but amazingly not a card. Cahill tried soem strong-arm stuff and was called for it. The Blues at least were trying to play football when they did get possession, but were failing to get any purchase on even a half-chance as the flow of the game continually went away from them.

Another patient move, with crossing runs form Pienaar, then Arteta, out wide left to Cahill, whose excellent cross was sidefooted superbly beneath Green by Coleman, ghosting in completly unmarked on the far post. A superbly constructed goal to put the boys back on track.

In response, Upson got too much of a free header in the heart of the Everton defence but thankfully headed it well wide. At the other end, Rodwell should have done far, far better after getting put in behind the West Ham defence but his cross instead of shot was poor in the extreme. At the other end, Parker ran at Hibbert and chipped onto the roof of the net. Coleman looked to score a second but was given too much time and looped it high and wide as the Blues went in level at the break.

Everton needed to push on, by bringing one of their strikers on at the break... but No, said Moyes: as you were...

It was rubbish stop-start stuff for a while after the break, until Pienaar turned neatly and tried to curl a sweet shot inside the far angle. A Parker free-kick forced a Howard punch; Baines crossed harmlessly into Green's hands; COleman drew a good free-kick running at Spector; Arteta's free-kick finally came to Pienaar but his shot was week; Rodwell tried a shot from outside the D that was weak and wayward.

55 mins and Cole came on for West Ham, while Moyes pondered and plotted... or dithered and dallied. The game was now SCREAMING for a change, needless backpasses, hopeless hoofballs, and a horrible cross from Cahill underlining the non-football that was now being played. Coleman was the only one showing any real adventure, putting in a great tussle with Spector.

On the hour and the move finally came: Yakubu on for the hugely disappointing Rodwell, who seems to be going backwards rather than developing with every game he plays. Yakubu won a free-kick in his own inimitable fashion but Arteta inexplicably looped it out wide right where it was ultimately wasted. Kovac went in the book for halting a lively sprint by Pienaar.

So Moyes had acted... but the dismally flat game pattern remained very much the same as Everton seemed destined for their 10th "creditable" draw of the season. Pienaar made a good run that looked to release the Yak but somehow, it became a West Ham break and Cole drove his shot across Howard and thankfully wide... and the game reverted to its previous level of uncompromising drivel.

Why oh Why oh Why doesn't Moyes act in these situations??? Everton should have been slaughtering this bottom-of-the-table team...

Coleman finally got past Spector but his cross was weak and cut out by Upson. Everton attacked down the right again and with 10 mins left, Cahill finally putting in a shot straight at Green. Baines then ran well at the defence and fed the ball to Yak but he was robbed. Fellaini then heads the corner powerfully, stratight at Green. Either side, and it would have been a goal...

At least Everton were trying now, and Cahill got the ball in the net but he had been clearly offside in a move were Yakubu looked to hook the ball home. Obinna came off, replaced by Zavon Hines with 5 mins left: Moyes still with two from six unused subs.

A laboured attack down the right ended patetically when Neville drove the ball at a defender. Another attack and Arteta played Pienaar into a cu-de-sac. 90 mins and incredibly, Moyes NOW decided to replace Pienaar with Beckford. Utterly astounding managment incompetence, but incredibly 5 added minutes to be played.

Howard came out and clashed with Hines outside the area but Everton escaped what could have been a dangerous free-kick. End-to-end in the closing minutes as each side briefly looked for a winner, and Moyes finally switched out Arteta for Bily with barely 2 mins remaining.

A final free-kick by West Ham summed up this dreadful half, Parker scooping it poorly over the backline and Webb finally puts everyone out of their misery. It's games like this that totally epitomise Moyes's mind-numbing negativity, and yes, cowardice, in not really piling in to a very vulnerable opposition team.

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

Everton exited 2010 in disappointing fashion with a sloppy draw at Upton Park that was notable more for the surprisingly negative approach adopted by David Moyes than the actual performance which, itself, was another frustrating one to endure for Blues fans.

Having fallen behind after a quarter of an hour when Tony Hibbert, operating as an emergency centre back in the absence of injured pair Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga, stuck out a leg to block Kovac's shot and diverted the ball into his own net, the Blues equalised through Seamus Coleman three minutes before the break. But handicapped by Moyes's own decision to leave three natural strikers on the bench in favour of deploying Tim Cahill up front on his own, the Blues struggled to find the winning goal against a poor Hammers side — though, truth be told, even when Yakubu was eventually introduced after an hour, attack after attack fell apart as they tried to walk the ball through the home defence.

Cahill's status as the team's most potent weapon so far this season is unquestioned but the Australian has been effective as an auxiliary striker, not as the lone forward and it became clear very quickly that the decision to play him as such was not working. Yakubu has arguably shown the best ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play so far, Louis Saha did well in the same vein as a second-half substitute at Manchester City eight days ago and both players had scored on this ground in Everton wins in recent seasons but both were forced to watch from the bench.

Very little was sticking with Cahill isolated up front and with him constantly dropping deep, there were often no options at all when the likes of Coleman tried to break quickly. And with Avram Grant's players looking quicker, sharper and hungrier than the leaden-footed Everton midfield for much of the first half, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon when the home side took the lead after 15 minutes.

Though Hibbert played well enough in his unfamiliar role, the Everton defence rarely looked comfortable without Jagielka alongside Sylvain Distin and when they failed to clear a corner and the ball eventually fell to Kovac, Hibbert deflected his effort past his own goalkeeper to hand West Ham the lead.

Perhaps illustrating the point about the overly conservative nature of the manager's team selection, the Blues' first three chances all fell to Distin, the French defender screwing a sixth-minute chance agonisingly across the face of goal and then going close on back-to-back corners before one-time Moyes target Victor Obinna easily nut-megged Mikel Arteta and hammered a shot off the stanchion behind the goal and Matthew Upson wasted a free header from a free kick later in the half.

Things clicked for Everton, though, after 41 minutes when Cahill turned provider on the left flank with a clipped cross to the back post to pick out Coleman, completely unmarked, and he slotted neatly past Robert Green to level the scores.

Scott Parker's audacious lob attempt dropped into the roof of Tim Howard's net before Coleman had the chance to turn the match on its head on first-half injury time but, having turned inside Luis Boa Morte and set up a great chance on his left foot, he couldn't find the inside of the post and the opportunity went begging.

Having exposed West Ham's frailties, you'd have thought that Moyes would have gone for their jugular after half time but the team was "as you were" when the players emerged from the tunnel for the second half. They were the better side for much of the second period but the propensity to over-elaborate in the final third and slow the game down with tedious passing proved to be their undoing time after time.

Steven Pienaar, well below his best but, along with Coleman, arguably the pick of an otherwise disappointing five-man midfield curled a terrific shot just over the bar and Jack Rodwell dropped a half-volley wide from 20 yards before Moyes finally introduced a second striking option in Yakubu just after the hour mark.

But the Nigerian hardly had a look in and the few chances that Everton created in the final quarter of the match fell to Cahill and Marouane Fellaini. After Carlton Cole had made a mess of what was West Ham's only real chance of the second 45 minutes, one of Everton's best moves of the match ended with Pienaar's square pass to Cahill but he could only shoot straight at the 'keeper.

A couple of minutes later, Fellaini rose highest to meet a corner from the right with a powerful header but Green beat it away with a two-handed save. Had the Belgian been able to place the ball anywhere else on target he would surely have scored.

Cahill then had the ball in the net with seven minutes remaining but after nodding back across goal for Yakubu he was adjudged to have been offside when he collected the striker's mis-cued scissor kick and slid the loose ball home ahead of Tomkins.

And that, despite five uneventful minutes of stoppage time, was pretty much that. The Blues had ended the calendar with their 10th draw of the season, together with Fulham the team to have racked up the most draws so far. Yes, Moyes's side may only have been beaten as many times as the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal but they just can't find enough ways to win and it's doubtful that further reducing the firepower in your ranks by leaving three strikers on the bench will help the cause.

Moyes is infamous for his conservatism but he really outdid himself today with a highly discouraging team selection. He sent out a team aimed at avoiding defeat — not to a Champions League-chasing side but to a team mired in the relegation zone with far bigger problems than Everton's — when this was the kind of opposition that would probably have wilted under a more attacking approach.

Of course, even with the negative starting line-up, Everton weren't helped by another poor performance by Mikel Arteta who, again, fell way short of the level required by someone of his import to the team. Fellaini was better but not much, giving the ball away with annoying regularity and Rodwell didn't ever really justify his presence as the extra midfielder before he was withdrawn in favour of Yakubu.

After the impressive manner in which they roared into a 2-0 lead at Eastlands, this "bottom-half" mindset against a limited Hammers side leaves one with more questions about just where Everton are heading under Moyes. Certainly, they can pass the ball about nicely enough but there's still little in the way of a cutting edge so it begs the question why you'd further deplete your attacking options by playing without a recognised striker.

This had nothing to do with an injury crisis or even the well-documented financial straitjacket within which Moyes operates and as another example of his overly defensive mindset it's a discouraging development. It also raises the question about what happens when one of those shunned strikers gets thrown into a starting berth cold when Cahill ships out to the Middle East for the Asia Cup next week. Or will Fellaini get pitched into the striker's role...?

Player Ratings:
Howard 6, Neville 6, Hibbert 6, Distin 7, Baines 7, Fellaini 6, Rodwell 6 (Yakubu 6), Arteta 6, Coleman 7, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7


Match Preview

With the postponement of the Boxing Day clash with Birmingham City, Everton's trip to West Ham, their last fixture of 2010, will be the second of three consecutive matches away from Goodison Park. If the result at Manchester City and the way in which it compared with the frustation on home soil against Wigan Athletic before it is anything to go by, then the Blues will probably welcome another road trip.

An added positive is that it's at a venue that has been a fairly happy hunting ground for David Moyes's side in recent years — they've won their last three games at Upton Park. And though the Hammers recorded their first away in 16 months with a 3-1 triumph at Fulham in their last match, the pressure on the shoulders of Avram Grant remains intense as he bids to steer his side away from the relegation zone. The former Chelsea boss has reportedly been given the three festive games to save his job.

David Moyes, meanwhile, also has his eyes on a much higher berth in the Premier League table, while also plotting how to pull off another loan success in the January transfer window. With none of Louis Saha, Jermaine Beckford or Yakubu able to lay permanent claim to the striker's role — although the Yak has been frozen out of contention for weeks now for reasons best known to the manager — Moyes is on the lookout for a solution to his problems in that area, particularly as this will be the last game for Tim Cahill, his top scorer by some distance, before he jets out to Dubai for the Asia Cup for a month.

More immediately, though, Moyes has to check on the fitness of Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga after the former was withdrawn from the win at Eastlands with a thigh injury. Everton have been coy over the full extent of the injury but with Heitinga not having played for a few weeks and therefore doubtful himself, Tony Hibbert might find himself pressed into service as an emergency centre-back again.

Elsewhere in the side, Mikel Arteta returns after serving a three-match ban and Steven Pienaar is expected to be fit after overcoming a groin strain.


Louis Saha: Has three goals in two games for the Blues on West Ham's turf

Victior Anichebe is ruled out of an encore in that lone striker position after picking up a red card at City and with Louis Saha, a scorer on his last two visits to West Ham, putting in a decent shift as a substitute in that game, the Frenchman would be a good bet to start this one.

Lyndon Lloyd

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

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WEST HAM (4-4-2)
  Ilunga (34' Spector)
  Kovac :56'
  Boa Morte
  Obinna (85' Hines)
  Piquionne (56' Cole)
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Rodwell (62' Yakubu)
  Arteta (90+3' Bilkyaletdinov)
  Pienaar (90' Beckford)
  Subs not used
  Anichebe (suspended)
  Osman (illness)
  Jagielka (injured)
  Heitinga (injured)
  Barkley (injured)
  Vaughan (injured?)
  Nsiala (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yobo (loan)

Premier League Scores
Fulham 1-3 West Ham
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
Blackburn 0-2 Stoke
Blackpool P-P Liverpool
Bolton 2-0 West Brom
Everton P-P Birmingham
Man Utd 2-0 Sunderland
Newcastle 1-3 Man City
Wolves 1-2 Wigan
Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea
Birmingham 1-1 Man United
Man City 4-0 Aston Villa
Stoke 0-2 Fulham
Sunderland 0-2 Blackpool
Tottenham 2-0 Newcastle
West Brom 1-3 Blackburn
West Ham 1-1 Everton
Chelsea 1-0 Bolton
Wigan 2-2 Arsenal
Liverpool 0-1 Wolves

Team Pts
1 Manchester United 38
2 Manchester City 38
3 Arsenal 35
4 Tottenham Hotspur 33
5 Chelsea 31
6 Bolton Wanderers 29
7 Sunderland 27
8 Blackpool 25
9 Blackburn Rovers 25
10 Stoke City 24
11 Everton 22
12 Liverpool 22
13 Newcastle United 22
14 West Bromwich Albion 22
15 Aston Villa 20
16 Birmingham City 19
17 Fulham 19
18 Wigan Athletic 19
19 West Ham United 17
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15


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