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Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Premier League
 Saturday 30 April; 3:00pm
WIGAN
1 1
 EVERTON
N'Zogbia (21')
Half Time: 1-0
Baines (pen: 77')
Attendance: 17,051
Fixture 35
Referee: Lee Mason

Match Summary

All change at the front with Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe all starting in the fluorescent pink kit adding to the blazing spring sunshine. Beckford, Bily and Coleman were dropped to the bench, presumably in response to less-than-impressive contributions last weekend.

For relegation candidates Wigan, Rodallega nearly got a shot in from an early through ball but could only drive wide. Distin gave away the first corner on 6 mins but it was dealt with. With Arteta back in form, the early attacks failed to get near the area unless Baines was played in down the left... but his crosses were not finding any of those delightful pink shirts.

Zonal marking seemed to fill the Wigan half with strategically placed defenders whenever Moyes's boys went forward, but they started to get more into it after 15-mins, building some attacks that showed signs of getting closer to the Wigan goal. Everton got lucky when Rodallega beat Baines but the linesman wrongly gave the ball as out of play.

But a strange pattern of play saw Wigan take the lead, a ball chipped forward to N'Zogbia beat  the Everton defence but he looked to have missed the ball and stumbled when Howard challenged him, the crowd screaming for a penalty but N'Zogbia was back up and, as Baines stood off him, he spun around and from a difficult angle he scooped a brilliant shot over Howard into the far side of the goal.  Poor defending, principally from Baines.

Up the other end and neat footwork saw Osman lash a shot at the Wigan goal that was palmed over by Al Habsi as Everton tried to respond immediately, but a quick goal did not come.  Some sustained attacking led to Osman winning a free-kick on the right that Baines swung in, but the ensuing corner on the half-hour came to nought.

Osman won another corner and then won a penalty from it played short as he turned N'Zogbia on the corner of the penalty area. A glorious gift to equalize but  Arteta's spot kick was not hit with sufficient power or height and Al Habsi anticipated it brilliantly to palm it away. 

Diame went in the book for his poor tackle on Rodwell, who seemed to land awkwardly but came off better than the Wigan player, who limped heavily and then collapsed in a heap and finally was substituted.  Next wounded Wiganer was N'Zogbia. Rodallega then pushed Distin in the face as he ran for a ball in the Everton area.

In stoppage time, N'Zogbia managed to get a shot in that Howard blocked away, but had not been smart emough at the other end to get anything from a first half that looked ominously like spoiling a surprising record: Everton are the only Premier League team not to loss back-to-back this season.

Neville started the second period with a Rory Delap throw from the left that almost surprised Al Habsi.  Anichebe looked to get past his marker and set off for goal but was caught too easily and punted it pointlessly. N'Zogbia limped off on 53 mins replaced by Moses. Osman won another free kick but a bit far out, and Baines went square, getting another kick from a wider position that Baines hopelessly overhit.  Anichebe, who had been poor, looked to be on the end of a neat little through ball but was offside.

Hibbert was given a poor yellow card when Figurora playacted well, adding to a lengthening list of poor decisions by the officials. Everton then lived dangerously as Moses looked to score but Howard saved well after Jagielka had denied Rodallega a clear chance.  Moses then powered another one for Howard to palm over as Wigan threatened to overrun the Pinks and Moyes looked to change things, but not until Baines had taken a corner as the pace briefly quickened.  Osman, finally seemd to get a chance but it lacked power and almost bounced back to Cahill who had largley been a passenger.

When the changes finally came, Moyes's underperforming favourites Arteta and Cahill came off with Beckford and Coleman coming on... would  that be 4-4-2???  Not exactly; Anichebe pushing out wide left.  But it was Wigan who looked more like scoring, three vital blocks by Neville and Jagielka denied Moses then McArthur.

A series of corners and free-kicks finally put some serious pressure on Wigan and Rodelleag finally cracked, needlessly handling a corner from Baines when he mistimed his defensive leap. Beaines showed Arteta exactly how to take an unstoppable spot-kick, and gave a semblance of respectability to the scoreline.  Martinez responded by pulling off Cleverly with 12 mins left for someone to claim all three points. 

Rodwell picked up a yellow card for a 50-50 challenge and Anichebe was finally dragged off, Magaye Gueye on for the last 10 mins. Everton looked more intent and Coleman had a pop from a corner that was deflected, forcing a nice acrobatic save from Al Habsi.

Everton were finally playing better football but a good move was spoilt by Beckford being offside, and Wigan then attacked, forcing a good punch from Howard, who had to alert to catch a weak shot from Di Santo, the game set to go right to the finish with both sides getting increasingly keen.  Rodellaga drove a good shot that Howard blocked. Watson looked to beat Howard from distance and Moses should have scored off the rebound but was offside as Wigan seemed more intent than Everton despoite the raucous Blues support.

So it finished 1-1, yet another draw, leaving an all-too-familiar feeling for this disappointing season of two more points squandered with a result that should surely have been a win.

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

Everton racked up yet another draw in a season littered with them thanks to a Leighton Baines penalty 13 minutes from time, but they had Tim Howard and Hugo Rodellega to thank for a point that they largely didn't deserve from a performance that could charitably be characterised as benign.

Having taken a pricleless lead in their quest to beat the drop, Wigan twice shot themselves in the foot by conceding soft penalties and were grateful that a very rusty looking Mikel Arteta looked the first gift horse in the mouth with a penalty delivered at the perfect height for Al Habsi to parry it away to safety 10 minutes before half time.

They were not so fortunate the second time as Baines, atoning for an unusually poor performance, rammed his spot kick, awarded for a handball by Rodellega, high into the Wigan net, underscoring the question uppermost in many Evertonian minds as to why he hadn't take the first one.

Arteta took his place in the starting XI after recovering from a hamstring tear, one of three changes made by David Moyes to the team that lost at Manchester United last weekend. The under-performing Jermaine Beckford was replaced to little effect by Victor Anichebe, Tim Cahill came in in place of Seamus Coleman who dropped to the bench, and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov made way for Arteta but the Blues were lethargic and unimaginative in a first half where they managed just one shot on target from open play.

Their hosts, meanwhile, set about their task in a far more enterprising manner, testing the Everton back line in the early exchanges with defence-splitting balls by McCarthy, the second of which Rodellega fired wide.

The Latics successfully caught the Blues cold after 20 minutes, though, when McCarthy clipped the ball over the static defence for Charles N'Zogbia who momentarily looked like he was going to go down under the attentions of Howard but stayed on his feet and turned back towards goal. With Baines backing way off and the goalkeeper in No Man's Land, the French forward swept a superb shot into the far corner to give Wigan the lead.

Osman did his best to restore parity two minutes later with a driven snapshot that Al Habsi pushed over but Everton didn't otherwise look like scoring with a first half display that seemed to lack urgency or any real direction. Arteta made a couple of purposeful forays down the left and Osman's footwork occasionally threatened to create an opening but a lack of movement and tempo kept chances to a minimum.

It wasn't until N'Zogbia's clumsy trip on Osman just inside the area that Moyes's side had a genuine opportunity to make a breakthrough but Arteta's penalty lacked conviction and Al Habsi's save was almost routine once he'd guessed to dive to his left.

After Howard had denied N'Zogbia with the last chance of the first half, blocking a powerful shot from the angle with his chest, the pattern continued into the second half, with the American by far the busier of the two 'keepers. Twice in as many minutes he had to be at his best to foil substitute Moses, first with a smart save at his near post to turn a low shot behind and then with a one-handed first to keep another drive from the angle out of his net.

A brief lapse in concentration by Al Habsi almost let in Cahill at the other end, though, when he spilled Osman's shot but a frustrating afternoon for Australian came to an end after that when he and Arteta were withdrawn in favour of Beckford and Coleman.

Wigan kept probing, though, and had the Everton defence on the rack with 20 minutes left but McCarthy was foiled three times in quick succession by impressive blocks by Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville around the edge of the box before Jagielka almost made a telling contribution at the other end, sliding in to meet Baines' free kick, only to see Al Habsi block it at the far post and divert it behind for a corner.

From that corner, though, came Rodellega's inexplicable handball as he rose to try and clear the ball in the six-yard box. Referee Lee Mason had a clear sight of the incident and had no choice but to award a second penalty, one that Baines despatched unerringly and unstoppably into the top of the goal to cancel out N'Zogbia's opener.

That signalled a brief flurry where it looked like Everton might go on an win the game, especially when the more energetic Magaye Gueye belatedly entered the fray in place of the lumbering Anichebe and won a corner with his first touch of the ball. When the resulting kick came out to Coleman on the edge of the box, Al Habsi had to catch his deflected shot on the dive to keep the scores level.

But the closest the fans got to a grandstand finish came from Wigan who tried in vain to find a way past Howard in the final minutes. Rodellega saw an ambitious 20 yarder fisted away and another shot saved from slightly closer range while Di Santos' superb chest control and shot in the turn was caught in mid air and Ben Watson's speculative 25 yarder was also comfortably gathered.

That left the final chance for Rodellega to redeem himself in the last minute of stoppage time but he lashed the ball high over when hitting the target probably would have resulted in the winner and Everton were allowed to take away a point that they barely deserved.

Though there has been talk of closing the five-point gap between themselves and Liverpool and claiming sixth place, the Blues betrayed a bit of the end-of-season mentality with this display, one that lacked any visible energy or drive. The attack looked as toothless and ineffective as usual — how could it not with a half-fit Cahill and an unsuitable Anichebe leading the line? — and perhaps that was why the team as a whole looked incapable of creating much in the final third.

Manchester City up next and a chance to not only play an important part in who claims those Champions League places but also put one over the upstarts from down the road. Maybe that will light some kind of fire in the hearts of the players as opposed to this slow drift into the close season.

Player Ratings: Howard 8*, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Baines 6, Osman 7, Neville 6, Rodwell 6, Arteta 5 (Coleman 6), Cahill 6 (Beckford 5), Anichebe 6 (Gueye 6)

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

With four games left and with diminishing hopes of pipping Liverpool to sixth place, Everton travel down the road to the DW Stadium to face relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.

The Latics start the weekend in the bottom three on goal difference, one goal worse off than the season's early high-flyers Blackpool and they'll be hoping for a first victory over the Blues in three years to lift them out of the drop zone if results go their way elsewhere.

Everton, meanwhile, are aiming to finish as strongly as possible in order to secure seventh at the very least and the prize revenue that comes with it.

After missing out on a return to action at Old Trafford last week, Mikel Arteta has a good chance of figuring in this one after resuming training this week after recovering from a hamstring tear.

Tim Cahill, though, is struggling with a foot injury even though he did play in the defeat to Manchester United. David Moyes has voiced his concerns over the Australian's fitness and it remains to be seen whether he is named on the bench or if he has suffered more of a setback in his own recovery.

Johh Heitinga is likely to miss out again with a hamstring strain so, Arteta part, Moyes's options for his starting XI will be very much like last weekend. If the Spaniard does play, struggling Diniyar Bilyatdinov is almost certain to make way and the only real question will be whether the manager deploys Arteta on the left side of midfield or in the center; he excelled on left wing before he got injured... but it was in the process of hairing down the wing that he tore his hamstring in the first place.

Up front, it's possible that Victor Anichebe, a figure who has courted controversy and disdain this season, could get the nod over Jermaine Beckford. Anichebe acquitted himself fairly well as a second-half substitute against United while Beckford had a second successive game where exerted almost no influence as the lone striker.

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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WIGAN ATH.(4-4-2)
  Al Habsi
  Boyce
  Caldwell
  Alcaraz
  Figueroa :87'
  Diame :39' (44' McArthur)
  Watson
  N'Zogbia (54' Moses)
  McCarthy
  Cleverley (79' Di Santo)
  Rodallega
  Subs not used
  Kirkland
  Gohouri
  Gomez
  Sammon

EVERTON (4-5-1)
 

Howard

  Hibbert :58'
  Jagielka
  Distin
  Baines
  Neville
  Rodwell :81'
  Osman
  Arteta (66' Beckford)
  Cahill (66' Coleman)
  Anichebe (82' Gueye).
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Duffy
  Bilyaletdinov
  Vellios
  Unavailable
  Barkley (injured)
  Baxter (injured)
  Fellaini (injured)
  Heitinga (injured)
  Saha (injured)
  Agard (loan)
  Akpan (loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Turner (loan)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yakubu (loan)
  Yobo (loan)

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


Team Pts
1 Manchester United 73
2 Chelsea 70
3 Arsenal 67
4 Manchester City 62
5 Liverpool 55
6 Tottenham Hotspur 55
7 Everton 48
8 Bolton Wanderers 46
9 Fulham 45
10 Stoke City 43
11 West Bromwich Albion 43
12 Newcastle United 41
13 Aston Villa 41
14 Sunderland 41
15 Birmingham City 39
16 Blackburn Rovers 38
17 Blackpool 35
18 Wigan Athletic 35
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 34
20 West Ham United 32

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