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Season 2011-12

The Selection Dilemma

By Paul Traill   ::  09/04/2012
 6 Comments (Last)
Wet and drizzly on the tail end of the Bank Holiday weekend, driving to the game was the only option for me today and it was quite a relief to park up comfortably ? the bad weather probably deterring the ?watch ?yer car mate? lads. We arrived at the pub in good time.

Of course, a lot of the talk was of our trip to Wembley next Saturday with just Sunderland to negotiate before the big day. We all expected Moyes to make his changes to the team and that he certainly did, though the one player we all wanted removed from the starting XI was Fellaini given he accumulated his ninth yellow card of the campaign on Saturday. One more against Sunderland would rule him out o the semi-final ? or so we thought. Upon discovering the team news we also found out the 10 yellow cards = two game ban deadline had passed yesterday, so into the team the Belgian went. Baines, Distin, Gibson, Cahill and Jelavic all rested and of all their replacements McFadden was by far the most surprising.

Out of the pub, into the drizzle and onto the game the teams came out to good applause. The Sunderland following was sparse and as the game got under way the atmosphere generally flat. The tannoy speaker at the Gwladys Street end wasn?t operating very well and any announcements (including the line-ups) from the match announcer were blurry and so I needed to consult my match programme to identify that Kevin Friend was the referee. We attacked towards the Park End in the first half.

The first 5-10 minutes were quite lively from an Everton point of view albeit with no end product. McFadden, Osman and Pienaar were doing their best to get things going in the opening exchanges but nothing was really created. Later in the half McFadden forced a stop from Mignolet whilst Pienaar and Fellaini both blazed shots well over the crossbar. The crowd just didn?t get going in the first half as there was generally little to get excited about in the gloomy weather conditions. I did chuckle when David Vaughan collected the ball to take a corner for Sunderland to great applause from the Gwladys Street following his excellent own goal in the FA Cup Quarter Final replay a few weeks ago. The crowd also sung his name to add to the humour.

The Gwladys Street End was also in admirable applause for one Stephane Sessegnon following an overhead volley from a Seb Larsson cross. That would have been an exquisite goal. There was also almost drama when Howard crumbled in a heap at the edge of his box though thankfully got up and the whistle had gone before Sunderland could capitalize. Losing Howard for next Saturday really would be a body blow.

All in all it was rather drab up until the break and I don?t think anybody could have predicted what was to follow as Big Dunc jested with Tony Bellew on the pitch at half time. I could barely see where a goal was coming from, let alone four.

It took us only 12 seconds to force a corner in the second half and this kind of set the tone for the rest of the game with Everton attacking with much more purpose after the break. It was only six minutes in when McFadden?s corner was semi-cleared but Pienaar did very well to head the ball back across the box which Osman drove from the edge of. Mignolet saved but cold only palm it to Gueye who thrashed home a beauty to put Everton ahead. Much relief all round as we finally had a contest on or hands in what had been a woeful game all-round until then.

Sunderland never really threatened an equalizer, or even a goal at any point in the match, though at one stage Everton were very nearly the architects of their own downfall when they gave the ball away woefully in midfield and despite several opportunities to clear the ball just couldn?t do so and you were convinced somebody was going to nestle the ball in. Eventually it was cleared.

Everton appeared to heed the warning and added a second goal when Gueye found substitute Roysten Drenthe who picked out Pienaar?the South African placing a lovely curling effort past Mignolet and Everton now had breathing space. The moment Pienaar scored and confident I could make it, I made a quick dart for the toilets whilst everyone celebrated. It turned out to be a mis-judgement on my part as I was just at the top of the stairs on the way down towards my seat when I could only catch a glimpse of Osman taking a swoop at goal and the ball nestling into the net and then everybody going nuts. It?s a shame I didn?t see the goal clearly and I look forward to seeing it later on Match of the Day.

Everton weren?t finished and you sensed at least another goal was possible and it was a comedy of errors which settled it. Pienaar slipped, recovered, got past his marker and played a ball back to Anichebe who woefully mis-kicked. The ball span up into the air and so he tried to pull of a speculative volley instead. He connected reasonably well with the next effort though it was going wide until it hit Colback and flew in past the helpless Mignolet.

All was left to do now was see out the rest of the game and we did so comfortably ? just the one effort from Larsson which was hopelessly over the crossbar is all I can recall from Sunderland?s efforts. The players left the field to great applause following a job well done. Players rested; a big win; goal difference improved and four points above Liverpool. Not bad for an afternoons work. Kudos to the players who came in and performed also?must be a nice problem for Moyes to have going into such a big game. Osman, Drenthe, Anichebe, Gueye, Coleman and McFadden all vying for two positions. You?d actually assume Osman will definitely fill one flank at Wembley so assuming he plays on one wing who takes up the other. My money?s on Seamus Coleman.

We got away from the ground quick also and I was home with my dinner by 6pm. I did hear one interesting stat on the radio on the way home ? the last time we scored four in the league at Goodison Park we beat Wigan 4-0 in 2009. This was also the last home game prior to our 2009 semi-final which we of course went on to win.

I?m not one for omens but surely that?s a good one! Have a safe trip down to Wembley. Let?s get to that final and bring home the trophy!

Player Ratings:
Howard: Seriously difficult to judge him as he had so little to do. 6
Neville: Obviously didn?t get down the flank to the effectiveness of Baines but did what he had to and worked hard before being subbed for Coleman late on. 7
Jagielka: Fitted in quite seamlessly at the back though I imagine he?ll have to step aside for Distin next weekend. 6
Heitinga: One rash slide aside in the second half he was rather excellent and was desperate to score a goal come the end of the game and was charging forward seemingly at will. Really has found top form. 7
Hibbert: Did just fine. 7
Fellaini: My man of the match. He generally controlled the game and bossed the midfield. Needs to be on top form next weekend. Needless to say, I?m glad he played now. 8
Osman: Had quite a busy game and really got going in the second half. Topped it off with an apparently excellent goal. 7
Pienaar: I was surprised to see him start the game in-field rather than on the wing and I thought for the most part he wasn?t that effective. However, as the game wore on he got more and more into it and he also topped off his performance with a lovely goal. Lets hope we can sign him up come the summer. 7
McFadden: He spent most of his time on the field on the right wing and had a rather effective game I thought and showed quite a bit of spark. Received a nice reception as he was substituted just after the hour mark. 7
Gueye: Though he took his goal well I don?t think he was really involved enough in the game, particularly in the first half. Has quite a lot of work to do to become a permanent fixture in the team I think. 6
Straqualursi: Did battle away and showed some decent touches in the second half. Useful run out for him. 6

Drenthe (for McFadden): Got involved straight away and had good input into the game. Is a very useful impact substitute. 7
Anichebe (for Fellaini): Got involved and grabbed a goal (sorta). Nice to see the substitutes making an impact. 7
Coleman (for Neville): Was pleasing to see him slot in comfortably at right back. Did rather well. 7

Reader Comments

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Rob Hollis
707   Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:47:55

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God help us if it is Coleman. We need Drenthe and Gueye on the wings. Coleman is out of his depth in midfield. Fellaini, Osman and Cahill to complete the five.
Ryan Holroyd
720   Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:14:14

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Gibson for me is a shoo-in for the semi final. Osman will be on the right but tucked inside. It will be the team that played v Sunderland in the cup.
James Stewart
740   Posted 09/04/2012 at 23:29:40

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No way will it be Coleman. Gueye will play. I thought he played well today bit harsh with your ratings. Gueye/Pienaar linked well. Pienaar was also Motm by a country mile.
Jamie Sweet
785   Posted 10/04/2012 at 03:15:28

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To say Gueye wasn't really involved enough in the game is surprising given that he scored one and grabbed two assists.

Let's hope he can get really ivolved on Saturday!
Eric Myles
792   Posted 10/04/2012 at 03:55:11

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Agree with what you said about McFadden, I was really surprised at how well he played.

And did you see that rocket shot from Ossie? He must have had lessons from Gibson.
Paul David
864   Posted 10/04/2012 at 11:24:07

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I fear you might be right about Coleman starting. If history is anything to go by, then Moyes will shit himself and offer the defence as much protection as he can which is why if he goes down that route. Coleman will get the nod but it's been a really long time since he played well.

I just hope he has learned from his mistakes and picks a team to win the game, otherwise he will play into Liverpool's hands as usually.

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