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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Any Which Way Will Do

By Paul Traill   ::  22/12/2011
 8 Comments (»Last)

Three points. I didn?t care how we did it but a return to winning ways was crucial from the fixture with newly promoted Swansea City in our last home fixture of 2011. Signing off with three points was crucial?

Straight from work I was down the East Lancs Road and soon enough congregated in the boozer with most of the talk regarding a certain Uruguayan across the park. The news that Royston Drenthe was starting the game was pleasing for everyone. Coleman also back in the side at the expense of Neville with Gueye also back on bench duty. No place in the squad at all for the apparently departing Bilyaletdinov. We moved on to Goodison Park and were nicely in our seats in time for kick off, the trams coming out to a decent enough crowd and an excellent following from Swansea, particularly for this time of year.

Kevin Friend got proceedings under way and Swansea appeared the livelier of the two teams from the start?getting into Everton?s faces and charging down clearances though Everton did settle down albeit without really creating anything in the early stages. There was a point in the first half when Swansea really seemed to have a grip of the game for quite a period of the first half though created nothing. Thankfully Everton, buoyed by the crowd, did get things going and started to press and pressurize Swansea. This created opportunities to get in behind Swansea though the final pass or crucial interception was always letting us down. We looked to have done it however when a cut back from Baines presented a great chance for substitute Gueye (on for the injured Coleman) who?s drive from close range was well stopped by Vorm?Williams blocking the follow up with a hint of handball. From the resultant corner Jagielka skied miles over the crossbar. We reached the break goalless but I was much more content than I had been for some time. In the last 10 minutes of the half I?d seen Everton really chase and try and for the first time in a while at least look interested in trying to seize the initiative in a game.

Come the ugly battle of the second half and having gotten to the break all square Swansea had re-grouped well and were doing a good job of frustrating Everton with Wayne Routledge their main outlet on the wing going forward. That we got our noses in front was a surprise in itself. That we managed to do it from a corner (given how wasteful we?ve been with corners of late) was even more surprising. That it was our smallest player who headed home was perhaps the biggest shock. Leon Osman climbing well to plant his header into the net. The relief as Everton nosed ahead was palpable.

Inevitably this invited Swansea to attack and they certainly had more of a go from this point onward. The real heart-in-mouth moment came when a peach of a cross from Routledge was met head on from Danny Graham. Either side of Howard and he?d have scored though luckily enough he planted it straight at the American and we survived. In the last two home games Stoke and Norwich have stolen points with very few opportunities so perhaps justice was done on this occasion as I?m incredibly hard pushed to identify further opportunities for Swansea in this fixture.

At the other end substitute Straqualursi missed a sitter in slightly embarrassing circumstances as he appeared to scuff straight at Vorm when through on goal. Consequently Swansea continued to pummel the ball forward in the dying moment but Everton did well to repel everything and hold out for a big three points, lifting us up to 11th with a game still in hand of course.

So, before the game we?d have gladly bitten the arm off with three points any which way and we left the game with just that. Hopefully now this presents a platform to kick on a bit with two tough away games coming up. Following the game I was grateful for a lift home from Steve?it can be quite a journey back from evening games and I was home just in time for Match of the Day.

Have a fantastic Christmas?onwards and (hopefully) upwards for 2012.

Player Ratings:
Howard: So, so little to do it was insane though made one important (though comfortable) save in the second half. 6
Baines: Had a very good game positional and going forward. Very wasteful with free kicks and corners however. 7
Heitinga: Some odd moments but quite useful at centre back in the main. Clean sheet may help cement a decent partnership. 6
Jagielka: Marshaled well and no silly mistakes this time. 7
Hibbert: Did very well defensively and ever so slightly better going forward than usual. 7
Fellaini: Just edges out Osman for my man of the match. Looked up for it from the start, covered a lot of ground, won the ball back well, made some good interceptions and won some decent headers. A great all round performance. Now needs to maintain that consistency. 8
Neville: Not spectacular by any means but kept things ticking over. 6
Drenthe: Very lively as usual. Wasteful at time and excellent at others but has to stay in the team as he offers by far the most flair. Excellent corner for the goal. 7
Coleman: Started quite badly though then struggled (presumably with injury) before being subbed early. 5
Osman: A very lively display capped off with a goal. Has been impressive the last two games. As with Fellaini ? needs to maintain that level. 7
Saha: Not everything worked but he was busy, skillful and offered us an outlet. A little unlucky with a first half header. 6

Substitutes:
Gueye (for Coleman): Should certainly have scored the opener but was lively and well-disciplined otherwise. 7
Stracqualursi (for Saha): Worked quite hard, used the ball OK and won a few headers?though missed a bad sitter. Can see why he?s not quite in the team. 6
Cahill (for Drenthe): Busy though a little wasteful at times. 6

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
1   Posted 22/12/2011 at 01:57:48

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A big thanks to you Paul and Ken and Lyndon and Michael for your much valued and greatly appreciated tales of the Blue Mersey River bank.

Merry Christmas to all Toffee Webbers.
Jamie Sweet
2   Posted 22/12/2011 at 03:16:55

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The guys writing these match reports all do us a great service... and each have their different styles and takes on the game which makes them all a worthwhile read in their own right. Cheers Paul, Ken, Luke, Michael & Lyndon.

Merry Christmas everyone. Let's hope Santa brings us some hope for the future... in whatever form that may take.
Bob Parrington
3   Posted 22/12/2011 at 03:47:45

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Agree and Agree. Thanks to all those who keep us so well informed and sometimes create that little controversy that get's the TW responses and threads.

Paul, I agree with Fellaini as MotM. Looked a cool as could be and hardly put a foot wrong. Glad to have the 3 points in the bag!

Merry Christmas to one and all.
Jimmy Sørheim
4   Posted 22/12/2011 at 03:59:29

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Though I didnt see the whole match I did see second half and I feel it was more of the same.There hardly seems to be any REAL goal chances, shots on goal, yes, but goal chances no.
That makes me very worried.
Thought both Straq and Drenthe would start and finish the game so I was surprised that didnt happen.
Straq didnt do as well as last time, but I think he needs to start games and get mote game time, he can then be subbed in the second half at some stage if he doesnt show anything good.
Saha is a shadow of a real striker, does he know he needs to put the ball into the net ????
Seems to me he does everything but just that.
Saha needs to leave, he is overpaid, lazy and he never scores and 50.000 a week contract gives us a good reason for selling him. Or just let him go.
Peter Fearon
5   Posted 22/12/2011 at 04:52:31

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It seemed to me Drenthe edged out Fellaini for MotM. He always looked committed and dangerous - even tracking back and putting in a couple of tremendous tackles. He was singe minded in his approach to goal. The build-up was great but what couldn't we do with an effective opportunist in front of goal. I like Saha but I wonder if he wouldn't be better used as a late sub. Coming in fresh in the second half might give him the extra edge he needs at this stage in his career.
Dermot Ryan
6   Posted 22/12/2011 at 05:49:53

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Want to echo other folks comments and thank you Paul for your consistently excellent reports.

I watch this stuff from LA, so I love getting some sense of the game from the perspective of the terraces.

We ground out a win. We are still obviously short, but I'm glad we managed to win at home before Christmas. Nothing more than the Goodison faithful deserve.

Happy Christmas everyone.
Shaun Brennan
7   Posted 22/12/2011 at 12:54:57

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The match reports will come in handy for me next year. As i'll be moving to Calgary for a year or so. So I'll definately not be able to attend any.
Tony J Williams
8   Posted 22/12/2011 at 16:17:16

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"Saha needs to leave, he is overpaid, lazy and he never scores and 50.000 a week contract gives us a good reason for selling him. Or just let him go"

Jimmy surely we can't just let him go without lining up a replacement? isn't that your gripe about Yak?

Stracq will never start a game, he is gash

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