VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Everton 3-1 Wigan Athletic
Everton are off the mark at Goodison Park with their first home win of the season but it took the intervention of all three second-half substitutes and some clinical finishing to get them over the line just when it looked like the Goodison faithful were going to go home frustrated for the second week running.
Having dominated the opening half hour but failed to make their superiority tell, it was with an air of annoying inevitability that Wigan Athletic, a team who hadn't scored on their travels so far before today, took the lead on the half hour. And although the Blues hit back almost immediately and were level again inside two minutes, they were found wanting for long periods for the next 50-odd minutes in their quest to kill off their near neighbours and grab three elusive points in front of their home fans.
Enter three players who represent life after Arteta, Beckford and Yakubu, as the buds of promise that Apostolos Vellios and Royston Drenthe showed in their cameos against Aston Villa last weekend blossomed into two late goals, with Denis Stracqualursi also playing his part with the flick-on that set the Dutchman away for the third goal, his first in the Royal Blue jersey.
Contrary to expectation, David Moyes named an unchanged lineup from the side that started the Villa game but, just as they did seven days ago, Everton started brightly and purposefully, Seamus Coleman forcing the first save of the game from Ali Al-Habsi after five minutes with a downward header that the goalkeeper pushed behind.
10 minutes later, a beautiful reverse pass by Leon Osman released Leighton Baines and his low cross found Tim Cahill who was able to engineer a left-footed effort but it was blocked. Later, Osman's chipped ball to the far side of the penalty area found Coleman who drilled the ball across the area to Marouane Fellaini but Gary Caldwell was on hand to block his side-foot shot in front of goal.
Those two chances aside, the Blues were guilty of over-elaborance at times ? all too often the wrong decision was taken with the final pass and a Wigan defence that was just begging to be breached with its sloppy distribution and the space they afforded their hosts remained intact.
Apart from a 10th-minute chance for Franco Di Santo following an awful slip by Fellaini that the young striker blasted high and wide, Robert Martinez' Wigan were barely in the match as an attacking entity but they found themselves in the Everton box with Victor Moses about to pull the trigger on a shot from the angle but Tony HIbbert slid in with the first of a number of crucial interventions he'd make to concede the corner. The resulting kick was played short to Di Santo and he easily shrugged off Osman, the Everton midfielder giving up on the challenge with vain appeals for a foul. That gave Di Santo the space he needed to drive a shot off Hibbert's out-stretched leg and into the far corner of the Blues' net.
As if to prove that they could find their way through the visitors if they could just get their act together, though, Everton were level less than two minutes later. Bilyaletdinov's hammered cross-cum-shot was headed behind by Caldwell and from the resulting corner Baines found Cahill who leaped in typically impressive fashion but saw his header cannon back off the crossbar. Thankfully, the ball dropped invitingly in front of Jagielka and he stooped to head home the equaliser.
Parity restored and a breakthrough made, the stage was set for Everton to finally take the game by the scruff of the neck but they struggled to create much more meaningful before the break. A Baines free kick that he clipped wide from right on the edge of the box and a Cahill header that flew wide at the back post were as close as they came to making another dent in the scoreline.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the second half was an increasingly less promising affair than the first 45 minutes had been, with the team seeming to lose its way as the game progressed. It was clear just minutes after the resumption after half time that the Blues were crying out for a genuine striker... and the fact that both Yakubu and Mikel Arteta had found the net in the lunchtime kick-off between Blackburn and Arsenal probably didn't help the Evertonian mood as they pondered their team's lack of goals from open play this season.
Cahill had put in a decent shift leading the line in terms of running and effort but he looked a little off his game in terms of his distribution of the ball and there was a general lack of movement up front.
Bilyaletdinov had had one of his most consistent displays in a long while but, like Osman, Jack Rodwell and Coleman, he was often guilty of holding onto the ball too long or picking the wrong pass and the Russian was withdrawn after 58 minutes in favour of Drenthe.
If the Dutch winger hoped to make an impact on proceedings, though, he would initially be disappointed. Indeed, it would be a full 10 minutes after his first couple of touches before he'd see the ball again. In between, Fellaini was booked for persistent fouling and Hugo Rodallega ballooned the resulting free kick over, Baines swung a direct effort of his own a yard or so over from the edge of the "D", and Coleman made way for Apostolos Vellios.
The 19 year-old Greek had been on the pitch just two minutes when his first chance to change the game arrived but in his eagerness he either didn't see Osman wide open to his right or elected to ignore him and went for goal instead from 25 yards with a daisy-cutter that Al-Habsi had no problems gathering.
At the other end, Wigan were threatening with the odd corner off the back of some superb interventions by Jagielka and Hibbert while Van Arnhoult fired narrowly over after stepping neatly inside two Blue shirts but the onus remained on Everton to take the game to the visitors, a task that became all the more difficult the more Martinez instructed his men to sit deep and soak up the pressure.
The frustration that was building in Everton's midfield as they failed to make inroads was finally released, though, with six minutes left of the regulation 90. Vellios neatly chested down a ball forward and held off two markers before laying the ball wide for Hibbert and when the right back delivered a peach of a cross from the right flank, the Greek rose majestically to power a header beyond Al-Habsi and break the deadlock before being mobbed by teammates celebrating his first goal in English football.
The delight was very nearly short-lived, though, as almost straight from the kick-off, the ball was lofted towards the Everton box, Rodallega headed it back and David Jones, a substitute for Jordi Gomes, took once touch before lofting a shot over the reaching Tim Howard. For a horrible moment the ball looked like it was going to drop under the bar but it bounced off the "woodwork" instead, fell back to Jones and a combination of Sylvain Distin and Hibbert was enough to edge the ball away from him. Moses latched onto the loose ball at the corner of the six-yard box but Hibbert made one last lunge and helped deflect the shot wide of the post.
Everton survived and would seal the points in injury time thanks to the confidence and cool finishing of Drenthe. The Blues' new number 10 had given Osman the opportunity to score four minutes from the end but, not for the first time in the game, he ran himself into a cul-de-sac and the break-away was wasted.
But when Stracqualursi, who had made an impressive first appearance that bodes well for his future at Goodison, flicked on a long goal kick by Howard some seven minutes into injury time, Drenthe anticipated the possibilities superbly, accelerated onto the ball and swept a left-footed shot past the stranded 'keeper with aplomb to wrap up three much-needed points.
So, three goals and another post-match inquisition into the Blues' attacking frailties averted as the Blues prepare for a Carling Cup date with West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday and, beyond that, a potentially season-defining run of games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
After the horrendous result against QPR, the lucky escape with a win from Ewood Park and the sense of loss brought on by the departures on transfer deadline day, there are genuine grounds for hope now. While there isn't a natural like-for-like replacement for Arteta, the addition of Drenthe, with his self-belief and ? even more important ? his pace, looks to have added a badly-missed dimension on the left flank. Up front, in just two substitute's appearances, Vellios has demonstrated that he is a more complete striker than Beckford and one much more suited to the way Everton play.
Very early days for Stracqualursi, too, but if the absence of Louis Saha can be relegated to a mere after-thought, you know that things are starting to look up in the striking department. Of course, the real tests for the new boys are just around the corner but, for now, let's welcome a mental hurdle cleared and take one game at a time.
Player Ratings: Howard 6, Hibbert 8*, Jagielka 8, Distin 7, Baines 7, Rodwell 6, Coleman 5 (Vellios 7), Fellaini
76, Bilyaletdinov 7 (Drenthe 7), Osman 6, Cahill 7 (Stracqualursi 7)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 18/09/2011 at 01:54:24
Hibbert was my MOTM... his perfect ball to Vellios was one of several outstanding crosses, his short passing into attack was unusually excellent, his tackling was up to its usual standard and his block on Moses to save the lead while lying on the ground was a miracle.
Vellios and Drenthe are obviously class... pure quality on both finishes. Vellios did a fine job of holding the ball in traffic, including right before his goal, and had a great flick to put Drenthe through. Certainly Drenthe will start over Bily on Wednesday, but does Vellios start up front? He?s assuredly earned it, but Cahill has earned his place as well. I don?t care what anybody says... if you do the job as striker, you?re a striker, and Cahill does the job. His feed to Osman last game was brilliant, and he hit the crossbar today. I?d like to see Vellios and Cahill up front together, maybe at the expense of Coleman.
No idea what was wrong with Felli today, but his passing was almost as bad as his attitude. He was lazy, sour and absolutely miserable in his body language. He deserved that bloody nose.
Lyndon apparently disagrees, but I thought Osman had an awful game by his standards... blunders he rarely makes, from bad passes to lack of effort. His quitting on Di Santos was the worst single moment of the season for me so far ? he was totally to blame for the goal ? and he stopped dead on a perfect chip from Bily that would have handed him a golden opportunity. He had Drenthe wide open in space late and missed him by three yards. I?m a big Ossie fan, but he was poor today.
Has anybody noticed how good a passer Rodwell has become? He had a couple of crossfield balls today that were inch-perfect from 40-50 yards, and he?s spreading the ball around with great confidence. Nothing killer, but no more mistakes either.
I?m initially impressed with Denis... he?s fearless and aggressive. That wasn?t a striker?s tackle on Rodallega ? it was perfectly executed ? and I was saddened to see Hugo so seriously hurt by it, because I?ve always admired his quality. Unfortunate way for Denis to make his debut.
Finally, congratulations to Yak for his great debut at Rovers ? one goal was genius, one was offside ? and I wish him the best, since he?s back playing after his blown Achilles while I?m still struggling with mine. But Yak could not have helped us today ? no way he scores the goal Vellios put away ? and I think anyone who would have him back in an Everton shirt is bonkers.
2 Posted 18/09/2011 at 01:50:27
Only one word to describe Vellios's goal - 'Fergusonesque' I hope this is the first of many.
The manager got it spot in with his subs
3 Posted 18/09/2011 at 02:38:38
But Oh the timing...If they aren't ' match fit ' sittting on the bench won't improve it...playing from the start will.
Take it to the opposition from the KO... It might stop the daft goals we give away on a weekly basis...for example:
Bburn took every opportunity to attack Arsenal and restricted the Hoofs to a minimum.
Samba picked the ball up on the edge of his own box ( cue Jags hoof in our case ) tiny feinted right, gave a slight drop of the left shoulder and made 30 yds past some proper footballers and passed it on...Samba ffs
As Mr Punch has oft said...' dats da way ta do it '
4 Posted 18/09/2011 at 03:00:57
Great signs from the new guys and Vellios looks sharp - great header for the goal.
5 Posted 18/09/2011 at 06:11:17
6 Posted 18/09/2011 at 07:17:04
7 Posted 18/09/2011 at 09:32:56
We lack some creativity in the centre of the park, which worries me. Personally I feel Fellaini and Rodwell aren't that type of player to unlock defenses. Regardless, great result to give us a confidence booster before some really tough fixtures ahead!
8 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:02:40
9 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:01:49
10 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:15:35
Rodwell was deeper but his positional sense is poor as is his vision. He looks for the sideways sweep pass or the obvious drop off from the centre forward. Several times the little ten yard pass forward, bypassing their midfield was missed, Osman in particular was getting frustrated as he was in space in front of the centre halves.
Also fellaini does most of the challenging in the middle but Rodwell doesnt get in a position to give Fellaini an out, his movement and thought are ordinary. He doesnt have the scavenging instincs of a Carsley either so defensivelty were left vulnerable.
I thought Moyes got his subs spot on. There was no need to change anything at half time as we were well on top. Then after 15 minutes of lethergy he changed it.
Well pleased with the result but would love to see if Barkley could play with Fellaini in the middle.
11 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:28:53
12 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:48:12
13 Posted 18/09/2011 at 10:55:36
14 Posted 18/09/2011 at 11:17:57
To play our second consecutive home game without a recognised forward on the pitch is a complete anathema to me. I was brought up to believe that the purpose of the game is to score a goal more than the opposition not to avoid conceding one. Tim Cahill is not, and will never be a forward and anyone who thinks he is has either never played football or is a relative of his. He has fantastic other attributes but playing from the start as a forward is a joke. Ask him to challenge a 6ft centre half, run through a brick wall and he will do it without question. Ask him to create space in the box, pull players around, bring other players into play, threaten the goal with play on the ground and he sadly comes up lacking. Before you start defending him I do not blame him one bit or would I criticise his commitment yesterday. He did exactly what his manager told him to do.
I sense a growing feeling that people desperately want to see light at the end of the tunnel after the disastrous transfer and are grasping at straws. Drenthe should become a good acquisition, after all you don't play for Real if you're a mug, but the others are young with some shoots of promise and no more. Whilst I agree that Kenwright has led us into the tunnel Moyes could have turned on a few lights along the way with his approach to the game, something he stubbornly refuses to do.
I have watched Everton since the 60's seeing some fantastic sides and some drivel, but in all my years I have not watched us play without forwards on the pitch as has now happened under Moyes on far too many occasions. My season ticket brings me back each week but it will not entice me along on Wednesday. I sat frustrated and annoyed through almost all of yesterday, the result was great but I for one believe EFC is about more than what Moyes offers with his dour defensive and regressive tactics. After Blackburn I decided to stop watching away matches, yesterday had me questioning home matches.
I might be a purist or a romantic but I associate far more with Brian Clough and his comment that if God wanted us to play football in the air he would have put grass in the clouds than I do with Moyes who expresses his delight that his most accomplished forward is unhappy that he does not make Moyes' bench
15 Posted 18/09/2011 at 12:15:21
16 Posted 18/09/2011 at 12:44:23
As i mentioned on another thread, I believe that in Moyes' ideal world, strikers would simply not exist and I cannot believe that this philosophy is not linked to the fact that virtually every striker we have eventually has a falling out with the manager, (I noticed that the yak scored 2 goals on his Blackburn debut against Arsenal - that 1.5m could be an absolute steal for Blackburn!).
Have a lot of respect for Tiny Tim and his committment but he is not and will never be a striker. Also when people go on about his 7-10 goals a season, again this is commendable but this is the least I would expect of an actual striker playing in his position anyway. If he scored that many goals with 2 strikers on the pitch then that would be something to really sing about.
Anyway, with the big Argie showing signs of being up for it and the greek lad showing some promise, I truely hope that the manager stops this ridiculous 4-6-0 starting formation, especially at home against a side that barely survived relegation last season.
Given no other team plays with no strikers, Moyes is either a yet to be discovered football revolutionary / genius or a dour defensive minded manager with no aim to play expansive attacking, dare I say it entertaining, football
. I'll leave people to judge that one for themselves.
17 Posted 18/09/2011 at 15:13:26
The bizarre mentality that 3 points from a single match justifies the means baffles me. If we start each match with no strikers for the entire season we will lose more than we win.
Watch Moyes sell Saha in January...
18 Posted 18/09/2011 at 15:42:22
Or the other way around; what about strikers like Heskey or Kevin Davies? these are strikers that dont score a lot so are they realy strikers? Who gives a toss if we are getting the results. I think the question that needs to be asked is, who would you put money on to score you more goals over the course of a season out of Cahill or Anichebe or Vellios or strac? My money would be on Cahill so he is the striker for me thank you very much. Moyes is thinking out side the box, not what it says on paper what his position is meant to be, just like Wenger did with Henry.
Moyes is getting the optimum out of what he has available. We dont know what went on behind the scenes with Yakubu and Saha so we can not comment.
19 Posted 18/09/2011 at 15:51:58
20 Posted 18/09/2011 at 15:52:54
Fulham and the shite had his best years and we were left with glimpses!still the fresh blood seem to be trying at the moment! Rather pointed the Yak's post match interview yesterday saying something on the lines of he was never given the chance to score goals at Everton! ouch!! nice to get a mention though !!
21 Posted 18/09/2011 at 15:46:40
Cahill has a strike rate of 24 in 55 for the Aussie national team, and he sure does have a big and distinguished family according to Jim Hourigan. The Socceroos bosses who have played him at forward include the legendary Guus Hiddink and current incumbent Holgier Osiek, who won a World Cup as Franz Beckenbauer's assistant coach for Germany in 1990.
Since these guys are two of the most knowledgeable managers in the world, they must both be Cahill's cousins. And of course anybody can see the family resemblance with Moyes.
Thank you for your expertise, Mr. Hourigan. We're lucky to have someone who knows the game better than Hiddink.
22 Posted 18/09/2011 at 16:49:05
We are 3-1 up & you feel "ashamed" to be an Everonian? WTF?
23 Posted 18/09/2011 at 17:04:05
You only have to look back to the villa game and Ossie's goal to see that the above statement is incorrect.
24 Posted 18/09/2011 at 17:02:47
25 Posted 18/09/2011 at 17:31:39
26 Posted 18/09/2011 at 17:51:45
27 Posted 18/09/2011 at 18:09:54
28 Posted 18/09/2011 at 18:06:46
"I want to see the opposition get massacred at Goodison. I want total destruction. I want Armageddon when the Shite comes here. I want us to be fearless like the Huns and scheming like the Mongols. Fortress Goodison: the graveyard of the mighty. "
Maybe you should come back down to earth and want things that are a bit more realistic and you might have little bit more enjoyment in your life.
29 Posted 18/09/2011 at 18:25:16
30 Posted 18/09/2011 at 18:00:41
I worry about Jack Rodwell. He's obviously a good player, but its often hard to see what he's good at. In possession, he stops, turns, turns again and wonders who to pass to as, strangely, everyone is by now marked. Defending, he often gives the opponent a few yards to get the ball under control and is then by-passed. The manager should know this is a problem.
A problem that I'm glad the manager has is that Vellios has been allowed to stake his claim, and that Big Straka looks like he might be a prospect. I think Moyes has already made his mind up about bringing Drenthe in. How he will set up his teams and use his subs in the coming games is still, however, anybody's guess.
31 Posted 18/09/2011 at 19:15:58
Some people may have an issue with what they saw or feel about any incidents from the game but from what I can ascertain, it was a home win, an Everton win, three points, new players scored, reasons to be cheerful, we can take this on to subsequent games, still in the League Cup, and for all the berating it gets, I really would like to see us in the Final again and finally put this trophy on our honors list, day out at Wembley too.
32 Posted 18/09/2011 at 19:18:39
33 Posted 18/09/2011 at 19:44:11
34 Posted 18/09/2011 at 19:56:52
At 3-1 with just about no time left we did get a breakaway and Leon did not manage to bust the net as I screamed at him to do so. They had ten men back and to pass the ball around and draw thier defence out while keeping possession was exactly the right thing to do. From my seat anyway.
35 Posted 18/09/2011 at 19:58:40
No I didn't get it wrong. I just can't understand how anyone can feel ashamed to be an Evertonian at any time let alone when we are 3-1 up and simply try to see the game out in the last few minutes.
See Dalziel's excellent post at 31...nail on the head there!
36 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:01:48
37 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:12:19
38 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:21:21
But if you were managed by Dominic you'd score a hat-trick & conquer the known world during the half time interval...just have to figure out what you do during the added on time!
39 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:13:57
40 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:51:03
41 Posted 18/09/2011 at 20:51:51
42 Posted 18/09/2011 at 21:23:26
Its our defence we need to worry about. Jagielka and Distain just do not keep clean sheets like Jags and Lescott used to do.
We look like conceding every single game.
I think Moyes has done the right thing in keeping Straq and Vellios on the bench.
Anyway, it seems we are getting James McFadden back so there is someone else you can all BOOOOOOOOOOO
43 Posted 18/09/2011 at 21:29:34
Rightly or wrongly, Cahill has been our forward these last two games. He has NOT played midfield.
If anyone can not see this i would questions your eyes and perhaps go to specsavers or perhaps read Jonathan Wilson's book on football tactics.
44 Posted 18/09/2011 at 21:42:31
45 Posted 18/09/2011 at 22:00:12
46 Posted 18/09/2011 at 22:32:26
"I don't feel like an out-and-out striker because i've never played as one really for Everton" Cahill said.
"Against Sunderland was the first time I've ever had the licence to go up and stay up, but it's in me to come back and defend.
"Obviously I win the first, and second balls and try to close down defenders but straight after I do that I'm back into the midfield trying to make sure everything is closed up. Then I'm back defending corners and free kicks.
47 Posted 18/09/2011 at 22:55:09
Where did you get that from? It took us long enough to get rid last time.
48 Posted 19/09/2011 at 00:17:29
Dominic, we have too many central midfielders. We couldnt afford to have Rodwell and Heitinga sat on the bench and having tantrums like Saha for not getting a game. Priority was a striker and a winger, that is what Moyes got.
49 Posted 19/09/2011 at 09:58:10
That said at home to Wigan was the kind of game we would probably drawn last season, and we came away with three points after some effective substitutions, so not all bad.
Citteh is the first big test, and normally games against top table opposition bring the best out of us.
50 Posted 19/09/2011 at 20:42:40
Barton is on 80k a week over a 4 year contract. We couldn't have afford him.
51 Posted 19/09/2011 at 21:56:40
52 Posted 19/09/2011 at 22:08:38
53 Posted 19/09/2011 at 22:57:01
54 Posted 19/09/2011 at 23:22:55
Not sure how you read into my comments which were from a loyal Evertonian of many years standing talking about the issue of a game that i attended on saturday and sharing with others on the site as to how I saw it.
Your response is I believe abusive, and just because I believe you are wrong you accuse me of being spineless.
As for changing the discussion about a game, and I stress, one that I went to, in to one about "your lot" then I am afraid you have no idea about my position, to be honest i am not sure of that myself, but to go on as a relative newcomer to the site with your particually abrasive views wihich take no regard of others positions is simply antagonistic.
If that is your style, that is up to you but next time you want to call me spineless then perhaps we should meet at Goodison to discuss matters face to face and see how we get on. I will be in the Winslow, whenever you are ready.
55 Posted 20/09/2011 at 00:06:00
Nobody has questioned your loyalty nor has anyone called you spineless. The fact that you read things into a post that are simply not there, just goes to show that you are wont to letting your preconceptions and prejudices get the better of you.
If you do not like my posts, then I suggest that you ignore them. Your assuming an indignant and moralising tone will not make me any more receptive to your views.
Furthermore, there is nought wrong in being antagonistic as long as one refrains from ad hominem assaults.
Iron is sharpened by iron.
Strife is the mother of many a wonder.
Dare to have your views challenged. I am grateful for the fact that there are so many people here with whom I can disagree, thus enabling me to see my own positions in a clearer light.
56 Posted 20/09/2011 at 12:47:09
"Apart from his well taken goal, Drenthe was anything but impressive yesterday."
Given that was his first involvement in the team and that it lasted for about 25 mins, happen you're being just a little harsh on the lad?
I think I'll reserve my judgement on how impressive he is until he's played a few more games.
57 Posted 20/09/2011 at 15:23:53
That's why we have been cost cutting for the last year or so.
58 Posted 20/09/2011 at 17:49:28
59 Posted 21/09/2011 at 04:39:17
Cast back to Old Trafford one Wednesday afternoon I think when the 3 day week was in full swing. I'd guess 1972? Catterick played Sandy Brown as lone centre forward in the most dreadful game of football that I've ever seen. That makes anything DM does look adventurous.
60 Posted 21/09/2011 at 13:29:11
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment to Column articles, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and MailBag submissions across the site.