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Season 2011-12

A Point Salvaged as Anichebe Makes His Point

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  15/01/2012
 36 Comments (Last)

Aston Villa 1-1 Everton

It's fair to say that prior to the turn of the year, few Evertonians would have picked Victor Anichebe as the goalscoring saviour on two trips to the Midlands this month. Prone to injury ? indeed, he was sidelined for all of the first half of the current campaign ? his frustrating the-world's-against-me demeanour and goals return of just one goal in 43 matches had him more or less written off as less than Premier League material.

With a brace of well-taken goals, Goodison's forgotten man has now scored twice as many in the League as his supposedly superior teammate, Louis Saha, has this season, two more than Tim Cahill has managed in 13 months, and earned the Blues four points from the trips to West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa.

If his first was all down to a striker's instincts and quick reactions, his goal at Villa Park owed much to the vision of Landon Donovan to spring the offside trap but it still needed a confident finish past Shay Given to cancel out Darren Bent's 56th opener.

The result was probably a fair reflection of a tight affair between two teams struggling for form, goals and confidence. A tense home crowd had been kept silent by Everton's territiorial superiority in the first half but the Villains managed to reach halftime goalless thanks to the quick reactions of Shay Given.

The Irishman was playing his first game back from injury and though he was spared having to make a save when Tim Cahill failed to make contact with Darron Gibson's enterprising ball over the top, Given denied Saha after 16 minutes with an impressive one-handed save as the Frenchman tried to head Leighton Baines' free kick into the far corner.

Six minutes later, after Saha, looking odds on to bury Donovan's delicious cross into an empty net, appeared to be pulled back illegally by Alan Hutton, Baines whipped another dangerous ball across the face of Villa's goal and Given had to make a reflex save to prevent Neil Warnock from heading into his own net.

The first period was bookended, though, by saves from Tim Howard: the first after six minutes denied Stilyan Petrov from a direct free kick following John Heitinga's poor tackle on Bent; the second saw the American push Gaby Agbonlahor's attempted curler behind for a corner that, thankfully, came to nothing.

So far, so fair for the Blues who were in an all-too familiar mode in the first 45 minutes. Lots of possession against a nervy defence but without the incisiveness to create enough chances to opening the scoring. Gibson was quietly effective in central midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini and made an encouraging debut overall with some confident tackles, intelligent passing and regular availablity for the ball.

But the Blues as a whole were still giving the ball away too much, relying too much on the long ball at times from the back and generally failing to make regular inroads into the Villa defence. The home side topped Everton 4-1 in shots on goal in the first half but while they began the second the stronger team, it was David Moyes's team who almost broke the deadlock.

Royston Drenthe was awarded a dubious free kick in the 50th minute for a "foul" by James Collins and when Baines swung the ball in, Fellaini powered a header that was destined to creep inside the far post before it hit Given's outstretched forearm and ricocheted to safety from Villa's perspective.

A spell of pressure from Alex McLeish's side in which Howard twice had to punch the ball behind in a goalmouth melee bore fruit six minutes later, though. Fellaini and Heitinga got in each other's way as they went for a cross from Mark Albrighton and the unsighted Shane Duffy could only head it back to Stephen Ireland on the right side of the six-yard box. With the Blues defence now at sizes and sevens, he returned it square to Bent who converted from close range to make it 1-0.

Two minutes later, full League debutant Duffy's sole error of the game almost let Bent in for a second off Ireland's dangerous cross when the young Irishman reacted too slowly but the striker powered his header over Howard's crossbar.

With an hour gone, Drenthe's somewhat disappointing afternoon came to an end and Anichebe was introduced and within six minutes of his introduction had scored the equaliser. Donovan broke quickly down the Everton left before coming inside and, spotting Anichebe's run, he split the defence with a perfectly-weighted pass that the striker slotted home with aplomb.

It looked initially as though Anichebe had crocked himself just three minutes later when his leg buckled underneath him as he tried to keep the ball in play on the touchline but he recovered sufficiently to collect Donovan's ball down the right flank in the 86th minute and drive into the box before forcing a save from Given with a drive from the angle.

Overall, though, neither side really looked likely to win it in the last quarter of an hour and things petered out a little. Moyes threw Diniyar Bilyaletdinov on for the tiring Gibson with seven minutes left and it was Denis Stracqualursi and not Apostolos Vellios who got a late cameo but the final chance to set up a dramatic late winner fell to Cahill. Sadly he let fly with a poor shot from miles out and referee Mark Clattenburg called time on proceedings.

One swallow doesn't make a summer where Anichebe is concerned as he has a long way to go to convince his manager and the supporters that he is any solution to the goal drought afflicting the regular starting strikers. What he did, though, in making the run and executing the finish that secured this point for Everton was demonstrate the kind of movement, anticipation and self-confidence that none of Cahill, Saha or Stracqualursi have showed with any regularity this season.

Like the New Year's Day win at the Hawthorns, this draw provides another potential platform on which Everton can build with a home game against a team struggling against relegation in the form of Blackburn Rovers. The onus is on the manager and players to follow through now with a more confident display than the one that condemned them to consecutive defeats against Bolton and Spurs.

Player Ratings: Howard 7, Neville 6, Duffy 6, Heitinga 6, Baines 6, Gibson 6 (Bilyaletdinov -), Fellaini 6, Drenthe 6 (Anichebe 7), Donovan 7*, Cahill 5, Saha 5 (Stracqualursi -)

Reader Comments

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Al Reddish
043   Posted 15/01/2012 at 09:03:57

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I think a 6 is 3 too many for Fellaini who I thought had a nightmare of a game and didnt look interested. Look at his stray passes and his role in the Villa goal. I think Drenthe also had a very poor game and put us under undue pressure with his wayward passing (did he really come from Real Madrid!), and doesnt deserve the same points as Heitinga, Duffy and Gibson who all had decent games.
Chris Matheson
044   Posted 15/01/2012 at 09:13:47

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Every week I come on here having torn our my hair at our dreadful, one- dimensional attacking play: slow sideways build-up out to the wings, and then a high, hopeful ball hoiked in to the middle. And we wonder why Everton can't score goals.

So at Villa, the first time we play it forward on the ground, in front of the striker to run on to, and lo and behold we score.

But no, moronic summarisers on local radio are still going to be telling us next week to "get it wide and get your crosses in".
Tony J Williams
046   Posted 15/01/2012 at 09:22:31

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I think you have give Neville a few too many too. He was awful, probably due to his mindset being in midfield now.

There were many times that their left winger was in acres of space because Phil had moved towards the middle.

At least Hibbert actually stays on the right side.
Gavin Ramejkis
049   Posted 15/01/2012 at 09:31:45

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There were too many players who were rubbish yesterday, Fellaini and Neville were both poor, Bily when he came on showed why he doesnt get a game, we appear to have very few players that actually try to go past an opposition player and this reflects in a cant wait to get rid of it mentality when we have the ball.

Donovan had a good game as did Baines other than their goal which saw at least four Everton players just ball watching. Anichebe took his goal really well from a great pass from Donovan to save our collective blushes but why weren't we already well ahead in a game after seeing Villa so poor in the first half?

We need goals and fast, the upcoming games dont fill me with confidence of getting them from watching the majority of that game.
Derek Thomas
050   Posted 15/01/2012 at 08:42:53

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Anichebe seems to have matured mentally and, as he looks even bigger ( but not in a Yak sense ), physically as well.

As you say Lyndon single digits on the swallow front.

Time for Moyes to phase out the oldies?? but I won't hold my breath

We have too many who are, or seem to be impact subs at best. But they can't all fill the 'impact sub' spot(s)

IMO Moyes seemed never know what his best 11 was or how to play them, maybe after 10 yrs he can get it right...and other factors not withstanding stick with it. For again, IMO his best 11 will be better to watch than the dross of recent times.

Time for Neville, Bily and Saha to be moved out and / or on, for what they actually offer and contribute there must be much younger players ( and cheaper ) here or elsewhere to do better...A change is as good as a rest.

Drenthe?? Fancy Dan luxury player who flatters to decieve, shit for brains or being fucked up by having to track back...probably all of the above.
Anthony Jones
054   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:00:13

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Is this the same Anichebe that has been slaughtered for over a year on Toffeeweb?

From reading the opinions posted on this site I was beginning to think he was some kind of Sloth from "The Goonies" type.

He can clearly score goals, so are any of his detractors going to acknowledge that maybe he isn't complete shit?

PS. Saha and Cahill should be dropped if they aren't playing well, but the anger towards them is distasteful. Moyes plays them. They aren't exactly going to tell Moyes to drop them before kick off.
Gavin Ramejkis
055   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:17:20

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Anthony if you had watched him in the past and his tantrum antics off it he has been slaughtered with good reason, the two goals he has this season have been well taken and deserved but he still has a long way to go to prove an effective striker, his goal returns have been piss poor so far:

2005/6 1 goal
2006/7 4 goals
2007/8 5 goals (his most prolific season to date
2008/9 1 goal
2009/10 1 goal
2010/11 0 goals
2011/12 4 goals (1 in League Cup)

The goals this season are proving extremely useful but it's a long way from calling him prolific, he needs to do it every week and, in comparison to Saha, that's not hard at the minute,
Gavin Ramejkis
056   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:26:52

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should have read three goals not two and antics
Gavin Ramejkis
057   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:28:09

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still half cut from a night out last night 3 this season - 1 in league cup
Sam Hoare
059   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:35:45

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Gavin, those stats ignore the fact that for the majority of his apperances and time at Everton he has been played on the side of midfield or not at all.

I can't remember Vic ever getting a run of more than 2 or 3 starts in the strikers positions.

Not saying that he should have a run necessarily as personally i think he's a pretty limited player but i don't think his goalscoring record is that relevant given the time he's had and positions he has been played in.
Wayne Smyth
061   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:26:29

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Al, you say Fellaini had a shocker and had a role in Villa's goal. Yet you don't criticise Baines for making absolutely fuck all attempt to close down Albrighton who crossed the ball, or Heintiga and Duffy who were also as culpable as Fellaini for failing to clear the ball from our 6 yard box.

I think Fellaini actually had a decent game. He broke up a lot of their play and I don't recall too many passes of his going to the opposition.

From what I can remember, he worked hard all game to break up their play, saving us a goal by tracking back 40 or 50 yards late in the game, lazy fucker that he is. I thought his passing was generally accurate and I'd be interested if anyone has a link to some objective stats about pass completion or work-rate from yesterday's game so we can see.
Wayne Smyth
064   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:57:07

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I agree with Sam about Anichebe. I don't recall him getting many starts at centre forward, so it's not right to judge him on the stats you posted, Gavin.

I think his attitude is often not right ? mentally he seems frail and often disinterested ? but Moyes obviously thinks there is enough to work with to have offered him a new contract. Would be good to see him get an injury-free run in the side and see what he can do. He certainly causes problems to the opposition with his strength.
Dave Wilson
067   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:52:12

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Gavin's stats also ignore the fact that many of Vic's appearances were "run down the clock" substitutions lasting only a few minutes; he also forgets that Vic has battled his way back from injuries that could very easily have ended his career.

Lyndon is right of course, He has a long way to go. Most of Vic's battles are going to take place in his own head. I know he has had rotten luck with injuries, but the sheer panic on his face every time he gets a knock worries me.

Still, he has played around the equivalent of three full games this season and he has three goals, I`m sure we will all be delighted if he can take that sort of form forward.
Milos Milenkovic
070   Posted 15/01/2012 at 10:49:41

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This was actually the first time this season that I was excited with our midfield line-up. My impression was that first 30 minutes was the best we've played so far and Darron Gibson was very good.

I must add that I can't believe how quick people are to attack Drenthe. He is probably our most gifted player, he didn't have run of 3 games together, yet many of you are jumping on him because he had unsuccessful game. I think he was trying hard yesterday and he lost possessions by trying to make something good for his team. He needs time and he needs support.
Sam Hoare
072   Posted 15/01/2012 at 11:24:05

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I agree Milos. People on here are constantly complaining that we play boring football with people moving it slowly and sideways. The reason they do that is because it is low risk. If you want someone to make things happens then often it won't go right. You can't have it both ways.

There are many on here who have slagged off Moyes for not starting Drenthe and yesterday were slagging off Drenthe for losing posession and saying he shouldn't play. The moaners should at least be consistent!
David Hallwood
085   Posted 15/01/2012 at 13:02:26

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Good spot Wayne Smyth# 061, I know it is heresy to criticise Baines, and he is one of the few positives about Everton, but the amount of goals we concede from crosses from out left because Baines doesn?t close down quickly enough.

But that is the trade-off for having one of the best attacking full backs in Europe.
Howard Don
088   Posted 15/01/2012 at 13:32:10

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I think Gibson deserves more of a mention, not outstanding but a very competent debut after a shaky first few minutes.

Can't believe the number of people slagging off Fellaini both here and yesterday's matchday thread. He didn't have a great game, but nowhere near as bad as some are making out.
Al Reddish
089   Posted 15/01/2012 at 13:33:28

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Wayne, you are quite right. The thing that did it for me with Fellaini was his lack of effort throughout. I am a fan of his and just thought he started well but then had a really poor game. Maybe this was due to having a new partner in midfield (Gibson). You are right to point out that it was yet another cross from Baines side that led to the goal. He is a great left back and we would be lost without him, he does tend to leave some of his defensive responsibilities behind though, especially when he has someone like Drenthe in front of him who shows little or no defensive intentions in nearly every game..........but that is for another thread!
James Morgan
093   Posted 15/01/2012 at 13:54:06

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I've slated Anichebe as much as the next fan but if he puts a shift in at least then he will get my support. I don't think he is a natural goalscorer but I think with a run of games up front he will be a handful for any defender. Fellaini wasn't great but he has had some decent games for us this season so let's not get carried away.

Duffy looked good at the back which is nice to see and I actually think Gibson had a decent game, the lad likes a tackle and has a good pass. However, we still need that elusive goal scorer.
Wayne Smyth
100   Posted 15/01/2012 at 14:26:29

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Al I think it often looks like Fellaini isn't arsed because of his gait, which looks very laboured, but I think he covers a lot of ground and does a lot of good work.

Unlike many of our players he often tries difficult forward passes and most of them come off. He also gets us playing football on the deck by trapping difficult high balls and passing to feet, unlike most of our players who're happy to hoof it, or continue head-tennis.

I'd also like to echo what Howard and Milos said, I think Gibson will prove to be a very astute signing and we now have two proper midfielders who can both play and give as good as they get. Hopefully this will be the end of Moyes insistence of playing defenders there.
Peter Askins
101   Posted 15/01/2012 at 14:58:06

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Fellaini is effective, and does a lot of unheralded work well. He is a tall and physical presence (and presumably a nightmare to play against) who regularly breaks play up. He brings the alleged more creative players into play early, by getting the ball under control, and playing it on the deck. Granted, he should score more goals, but then again, who shouldn't in this team !

I thought Gibson did well yesterday, a natural midfielder in his best position. He was comfortable on the ball, always available, and usually looking to play forward ? his pass to Cahill was fantastic, and every bit as good as Donovan's for the goal. The only difference was that Cahill botched up the great chance.

My take on Drenthe is that he seems a liability in his own half. He tries to do too much, and losing possession there is dangerous. I think other posters have mentioned this, but Moyes should therefore look to playing him much further up the pitch, as the second striker off a big lad. He will chase lost causes, run the channels, and so scare defenders to death. In his brief cameo against Spurs, he could easily have "won" two penalties, which other forwards (ahem, Saha) seem unable to do. In the short term, this could be the answer to our goal-scoring issues, as he can clearly finish too, if he is allowed to do his work in an attacking position.
Ian Kearney
103   Posted 15/01/2012 at 15:22:36

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The accusation of Fellaini being uninterested or lazy, is in fact a very lazy accusation. As Wayne says, his running style seems to convince people he is lazy, he tops our stats for ground covered every single game, and is involved in physical battles constantly.
Mick Davies
105   Posted 15/01/2012 at 15:41:34

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Tony J Williams, are you Hibbert's agent? Weve just played the best football of our season in the last two games and guess what? Your international class super hero wasn't involved.

Before you criticise a player who throws tackles in and motivates his team mates by example, how about picking on the left side, where Baines had one of his worst games for us and Drenthe and Fellaini were absolute shite.

Pick on the likes of Cahilll and Saha but don't hand out stick to someone who has improved the position and works well with Donovan. Mind you, as soon as Hibbert's fit, he'll be straight back in the side
Denis Richardson
106   Posted 15/01/2012 at 15:47:36

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I don't think Fellaini is lazy and think that is unfair. However, I do think that his performances on the whole have not justified his bumper new contract and I would expect a lot more from our highest earning player on supposedly £3.5M a year. Maybe confidence or lack of regular string of games is the issue, I don't know.

Overall, the midfield looked far better yesterday than for a very long time simply because every player in it was playing in his natural position. Amazing what can happen when round pegs are put into round holes....

Gibson is not a world beater but looks good because, unlike some of our players, he is comfortable on the ball and not afraid to call for it and get stuck in. He'll only get better with more matches under his belt. I just hope he carries on in that spirit and ignores whatever our 'coaches' try to drill into him!
Paul Ferry
116   Posted 15/01/2012 at 17:17:15

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Howard-7 - Neville-4 - Baines-7 - Heitinga-6 - Duffy-7 - Gibson-7 - Drenthe-4 - Fellaini-5 - Cahill-4 - Saha-2 - Donovan-8
Steavey Buckley
117   Posted 15/01/2012 at 17:12:43

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It maybe best playing Drenthe in Saha's position. He could not do any worse. And has bags of pace and trickery to unsettle most defences, without to having worry too much if loses the ball and doesn't track back.
Paul Ferry
118   Posted 15/01/2012 at 17:18:06

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Jesus Lord, I'm just watching Swansea right now out-Arsenalling Arsenal at home. Stroking the ball around, wide play, through the middle, joined up passing, pace, passion, verve, flair. 2-1 up; 7 corners and Arse yet to have one at the hour mark. A manager (BR) who gets the very best out of a string of mostly middle-ranking players: hey, does that ring any bells? If we were playing Arse at home today we would be a shadow of this.

So, Swansea are below us and might well end up where they were last season. It must be be great to be a Swan fan watching this. Exactly the sort of commitment and passion that so many have asked for on these boards, even if it means losing a game now and then (or 10). Hang on, though, Henry has just come on and yet another disappointing Ruski has been subbed.
Kevin Hudson
120   Posted 15/01/2012 at 17:29:28

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Decent shout that Steavey..
David Hallwood
127   Posted 15/01/2012 at 19:15:13

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Thinking that as well Paul (#118), but they were piss poor when they played us.
Peter Bourke
142   Posted 15/01/2012 at 21:33:39

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Exactly David, they looked every bit a League One side when they played us. Most of the time you can only play as well as the opposition lets you and maybe Arsenal just had a bad day at the office.
Paul Ferry
147   Posted 15/01/2012 at 22:04:58

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I was thinking about them at our place too Dave! Nice shout
Derek Thomas
192   Posted 16/01/2012 at 06:03:55

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Anthony Jones; #057 ? No, Anichebe ISN'T the player we have been slaughtering for a year or more. That's the point. He is now 'The Crosby Drogba'.
Gavin Ramejkis
194   Posted 16/01/2012 at 06:18:29

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Not had chance to respond to the many what I failed to add to the stats I gave chirps. Read this site and you'll read many of the posters damning James Vaughan to oblivion through his injuries, likewise the Yak was finished after his injury. Players get injured but they have a job to do, when their job description is striker I expect to see goals, something you cant say you've ever had in abundance from Anichebe.

The he's played on the wing etc, well Tim Howard plays in goal and he's fucking scored more than Saha - so what? Our defence have a good few goals - so what? If you are a goal scorer by trade and given our set piece goal ratio whether you are a winger or centre half I expect you to score if you can, more so a striker whose job it is to score goals.

I hope Anichebe gets a bagload this season, doesn't look like anyone else will but I'm not holding out for a sudden 20 a season pheonix from the flames out of him.
Albert Perkins
197   Posted 16/01/2012 at 07:05:14

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I have been such a big critic of Anichebe and I hope he makes me eat my words. Go big Vic!
Albert Perkins
200   Posted 16/01/2012 at 07:06:31

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Saha has had a couple of gilt-edged chances in each game and has failed to convert. Moyes can't believe this can continue and he MUST start scoring soon. There is a logic in this. However, I agree with some other posters that Anichebe or Velios with Drenthe should be our front runners at this time. Play Drenthe center right and let him screw up until he gets the bounce of the ball and does something significant in the danger area. He goes at them. He's the only one. If the crowd give him constant support, even when he loses the ball, then he will keep at it and good things will happen.
Michael Brien
448   Posted 17/01/2012 at 07:26:30

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The recent goals against West Brom and Villa doesn't mean that Anichebe is the answer to all our goal scoring problems - what it does show is that he is perhaps a better player than some people think. He hasn't been prolific but you can make stats prove anything can't you Gavin? ( are you a Lib Dem by any chance?) - your figures took no account of the bad injury that he suffered away at Newcastle in Feb 2009 - which put him out for months.

And as regards Tim Howard - that was a fluke goal so if you are going to use players records as a comparison at least try and be realistic.

And a striker haowever good he is needs to have decent service. Dixie Dean himself was quick to acknowledge the number of goals created for him by wingers such as Troup. Indeed he was quoted as saying that if he had played alongside Callaghan and Thompson - the Liverpool wingers of the 1960's - he reckoned he would have scored 100 goals in that season.

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