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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

That Feel-Good Factor

By Paul Traill   ::  01/04/2012
 11 Comments (Last)
Jet-lagged and exhausted following a little trip abroad?I was almost relieved to hear the Cast gig at the Liverpool Guild of Students had been cancelled due to a bout of laryngitis to John Powell. So just the match to conquer and it was nice to catch up with everyone for a good few jars before the game. All the talk was of Wembley. To say we?re all very excited is something of an understatement ? travel already arranged!

Walking up to the match and there was quite a good buzz about the place. For the first time perhaps since our last date with Wembley in 2009 the feel good factor was there. For the first time in ages we all headed into the game with confidence. Did anybody really think we weren?t going to win yesterday?

The teams came out to great applause. Just a few changes from the heroics of Tuesday evening. Distin given a well earned rest and Jagielka replacing he; Hibbert in for Neville probably as expected and Pienaar in for Gueye?also probably as expected despite an excellent performance from the young Frenchman on Tuesday evening. West Brom going with two up front in the shape of Long and Odemwingie; Chris Brunt, Paul Scharner, Liam Ridgewell and Ben Foster all also featuring for the visitors. A special announcement was also reserved for the referee Peter Walton who is all set for a new role in the States working with the MLS. Though he officiated generally well yesterday I won?t be disappointed to se the back of this hapless official.

Everton attacked towards the Park End in the first half and went about their business impressively, getting straight into West Brom from the start. It took only 17 minutes to go ahead. An excellent turn by Leon Osman took him away from his marker, a lovely one-two with Jelavic and he was licensed to shoot. Shoot he did though only found the net via a sizeable deflection from McAuley. I think that?s Osman?s goal personally but it seems to have been credited as an own goal. I guess it all depends on whether the shot was originally on target or not. Regardless we were ahead and though lucky with the strike it wasn?t fortunate with the way we had started. When you have the momentum ? as we seem to at the moment ? these things tend to go your way at both ends of the pitch. This was epitomized when Brunt looked set to score with an open goal but managed to hit Shane Long on the goal line and the ball went out for a goal kick. Elsewhere in the half Fellaini came very close to scoring with a decent drive from the edge of the box but you felt comfortable ? so comfortable in fact I even joined Gary for a half time beverage. All smiles at the break.

The second half was more of the same. Everton dominant and controlled ? West Brom almost looked resigned to defeat. The killer second goal was a lovely one also. An excellent run from Pienaar who played in substitute Anichebe at the edge of the box. Big Vic steadying himself and placing a lovely low drive into the corner. That silenced a few critics who booed his arrival onto the pitch. 2-0. Job done.

It could have been more of course as Pienaar and Jelavic both wasted decent chances to add some gloss on the scoreline and, more importantly, provide us with a healthier goal difference than ?0?. Had Pienaar have scored the goal would have been particularly impressive after fantastic work by Jelavic. Overall, a good solid performance from the Blues ensuring it wasn?t a case of ?After the Lord Meyer?s Show?. The comedy moment of the game came when Ben Foster and Peter Odemwingie went head to head in a disagreement. The win of course takes us up into seventh position, ahead of our great rivals Liverpool for a day at the very least.

Following the match I met up with the others for a few swift ones before catching up with the lads I was due to go the Cast gig with a few jars in town. A great day all round really.

So it seems like all systems go at the moment. There?s certainly a buzz amongst the supporters, the team look confident and committed. We?re finally scoring goals and we?ve stopped conceding them (only the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool have conceded fewer). We?re certainly in peek form as we approach our Merseyside derby FA Cup Semi-Final?this is all very exciting indeed.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Largely untested. Dealt with corners etc quite comfortably. 6
Baines: Did well at both ends of the pitch. 7
Jagielka: Coped just fine. As Gary said ? you don?t really get much better back-up at centre-back than Phil Jagielka. 7
Heitinga: Calm and composed. Makes defending look very easy. Certainly on top form. 7
Hibbert: Fine all round really. Great defensively and provided good support going forward. I?m not so sure Pienaar likes passing to him mind. I saw quite a few occasions when Hibbert was open for a pass in the second half when Pienaar switched to the right wing but he often seemed reluctant to do it. It seems quite clear he?ll never score a goal. I don?t like the ?shooooot? shouts every time he gets the ball as I think it unsettles him, but even I screamed it when he was played in for what seemed a great opportunity to have a dip at goal. What did he go and do instead? Panicked and flipped up a ridiculous high hanging ball which went straight out for a goal kick. He?ll never get that goal but I still admire his loyalty and generally good defensive work. Are he and Ossie now due a testimonial? 7
Fellaini: Had quite a busy game. There was quite a bit of talk before the game of the notion of Fellaini picking up a deliberate yellow card in this one to get his two game suspension out of the way before the FA Cup Semi-Final. He didn?t get the card but I?ve just checked with the official website and with PremierLeague.com and it seems he?s currently on eight yellow cards which is good because it means he can carry on playing and if he gets one against Norwich simply rest him against Sunderland to ensure he can play in the big game. 7
Gibson: My man of the match. His best game yet in my opinion. Did a lot of the donkey work and kept possession well. Lets hope he can keep on going. 8
Pienaar: Had a good lively game and should have added a goal to his assist. I was just watching David Moyes on Sky Sports ?Goals on Sunday? and he hinted that we could be signing him up in the summer. Fingers crossed! 8
Osman: Did some good work for the goal and was having a lively game until taken off at the break with a minor knock. 7
Cahill: Not quite at his best. Probably tired from Tuesday night. Was a sensible substation taking him off as he?d already collected a booking?and Big Vic came on and scored of course. 5
Jelavic: Busy though not quite at his best. Could and should have scored with one chance and was unlucky not to provide an assist with another. All in all, I think we?ve got to be very satisfied with our new centre forward. 6

Substitutes:
Gueye (for Osman): Had his best game yet by far on Tuesday and was unlucky not to start yesterday. Nevertheless, he came on and did well. Finally looks quite settled. There was all sorts of rumours about Drenthe flying around at the game and you don?t quite know what to believe but the door may be quite ajar for Gueye to come in and step it up, particularly with Pienaar unavailable for the FA Cup. 7
Anichebe: Came on and scored the decisive goal. You can?t ask for more than that. 7
McFadden: Tried desperately to make an impact in the short time he had on the pitch but couldn?t quite get going unfortunately. Nice to see him get some game time though?however little. 5

Reader Comments

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James Stewart
267   Posted 01/04/2012 at 18:05:30

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I personally think we have seen the end of Drenthe and I for one am not too bothered. He's idiotic if he has done something stupid as he was in probably the best form of his time here.

Agree with Gibson MOTM had a top top game.
Now if we only still had Donovan that would be some team! Still a lot weaker down the right than left. Hibbert had a good game though and put a lot of decent crosses in for once.
John Brereton
340   Posted 02/04/2012 at 02:19:53

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5 for McFadden is a bit uncalled for!
John Brereton
376   Posted 02/04/2012 at 02:19:53

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5 for McFadden is a bit uncalled for!
Sam Hoare
381   Posted 02/04/2012 at 11:04:23

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I think though Jelavic' arrival has definitely seen him play with a lot more zip that Cahill is possibly one of the weaker links in the team now. His work rate and commitment are unquestioned but he plays in such a key position that i feel his all round game requires more in terms of goals and assists and creating chances than we have seen from him in the last 2 years. He is still capable of great games but all round i wonder if we should be looking elsewhere.

When compared to the likes of Van Der Vaart, Ben Arfa, Sigurrdson, silva or suarez who play in similar roles i feel that maybe this is the position we should be looking to re-inforce in the summer...unless of course Moyes begins to give Barkley (who seems like a natural successor) more time to share the burden with Timmy.
Mark Murphy
391   Posted 02/04/2012 at 11:54:41

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"Big Vic steadying himself and placing a lovely low drive into the corner. That silenced a few critics who booed his arrival onto the pitch."

I'm not a big fan of Anichebe but that is a disgrace!! If I were him I'd stick the Vee up every time I scored! Isnt that 4 now for him?
Our fans make me cringe sometimes!
Howard Don
401   Posted 02/04/2012 at 12:43:36

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I didn't hear any booing when Vic came on, if it's true then it can only have been the mindless few - so called Evertonians, last time I looked the lad was wearing a blue shirt, booing your own is a disgrace.
Tom Owen
404   Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:04:46

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Who's John Powell? You mean John Power? ;)

A good performance again. I was a bit worried of an FA Cup hangover. West Brom have a fairly good away record aswell. However we played some great stuff in patches and got the job done.

One question I'd like to ask is where is Vellios? Surely he would make a much bigger impact than McFadden.

Our bench is looking a bit weak - we could do with Rodwell and Coleman being fit again, and Vellios being considered. Also, what does everyone make of the decision to play Barkley in the Dallas Cup?
Mark Stone
405   Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:26:39

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I didn't hear anyone booing Vic
Paul Joy
408   Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:24:40

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Did not hear any booing of Victor Anichebe at all from my seat.

So where did the isolated booing come from if at all?
Spencer Ramsay
412   Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:23:23

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Thanks Paul for the report. I always read your report and Ken's. Ive not had the time on here Id like in the last couple of weeks and in the meantime Ken's reports seem to have disappeared. Anybody able to shed any light? What have I missed?

Glad to get the 3 points in this one. As Tom @404 says, WB have a good away record this season and it was a potential banana skin but we managed to avoid it. Just hope we can keep it up before the Semi's where we play a couple of winnable games. Would be nice to roll up at Wembley on a winning streak especially when the RS are going the other way!
Paul Johnson
466   Posted 02/04/2012 at 18:03:32

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I heard no-one boo Big Vic from upper Gwladys, but I'll still never understand not celebrating a goal. What's that all about?

Cahill is now the weakest player for me. We've come a long way since nuisance value alone was sufficient to get a starting place.

Drenthe is a liability in my opinion, so I'll lose no sleep over him being unavailable.

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