From the off, Wigan were up for it and determined not to be turned over by a superior team in a fashion that has been played out many times by ourselves at Goodison Park. Sad to say, we started as though victory was nailed on and within the first half hour we were rudely awoken.
After just 10mins, Coleman was comprehensively left for dead by journeyman Maloney who found Kone in the box and his finish was unerring. "Offside" yelled the faithful assembled... but Ref and liner did not agree.
Now this was not in the script so we immediately fought back and within a minute we were level when, from my seat some distance away, it appeared that Jelavic headed home from a Pienaar shot that went wrong but who cares 1-1 and all celebrated.
I thought we may go on from there but, as I have commented a few times this season, our rearguard seems to me to be vulnerable where undoubtedly good players are either in poor form or not at one with each other and this situation was demonstrated in graphic fashion as Kone left Heitinga for dead and his pass to Di Santo, who had already tested Howard from long range, saw Jags fail to rescue the situation as his desperate lunge failed and the aforementioned Di Santo smashed home.
This was hard to take as previously, after much Wigan fouling against both Fellaini and Mirallas, Pienaar put in a cross that Jelavic just missed/fluffed at the far post. We showed some signs of recovery as Osman shot and forced a fine save from the keeper and then Mirallas had a shot deflected for a corner. As the half wound down, Fellaini – who had been having a average game by his standards – won a aerial battle that floored a Wigan player which resulted in an unseemly encroachment by the Wigan bench demanding the ultimate penalty but, in my view, the Ref got it right and yellow only ensued – much to the chagrin of the home fans.
The half came to an end with us 2-1 down and, to be fair, we deserved to be. Wigan had shown the desire that we lacked. The concourse below our stand was filled by a mass of bodies with one word predominant: ‘Shite’. The faithful were not happy.
It was no surprise that the manager had made a switch at half time replacing Heitinga with Distin and I don’t think Heitinga could have any reason to feel hard done by as the first half demonstrated our player of the last season was way off form this season.
Half-time was a bit like Goodison Park a couple of years back as Wigan fans participated in the ‘Hit the bar’ contest. No-one did. This was only witnessed by those not intent on refraining from the traditional half-time bevy.
Moyes must have had strong words at the break as we started with endeavour and purpose. We got an early corner that, after some interplay, Osman fired over. Next meaningful action saw that telepathy between Baines and Pienaar set up Mirallas but, sad to report, his touch was well off as he found Row Z when better could have been expected.
The Blues were on top now and Wigan were getting narked and fouling which upset our players who were looking to retaliate. Silly really. Their keeper was required to make a super save to deny us and as we came piling back; McCarthy fouled Mirallas and got yellow after the Ref had been hounded by Wigan players and as if by way of keeping Wigan on side he then booked Baines for – I ain't sure what. I mean Baines – hell, he never says boo to a goose.
The game became more frenetic as we pushed on and Wigan were determined to stop us to the extent of fouling and then falling and pleading innocence which more than brought a fusillade of rhetoric from the faithful assembled; this was a hallmark of the second half as the Ref lost more and more control and ended up giving decisions that seemed to him to placate both sets of fans but instead left him open to abuse from both sets equally.
So it went on in the same vein until we had all-but conceded that it was not our day... when, after somewhere near the 90-min mark, Mirallas was floored in the box. ‘Penalty’ yelled the faithful and would you believe it! — the man they had chosen to hate most of that second half agreed.
After the usual protestations from the hosts, Baines finally got the chance to spot up the ball and on the whistle rammed it hard and high past the excellent Al Habsi. The celebration was raucous to a point but there was a sense of ‘It should not have come to this’.
We had no more chances but did survive one from Wigan near the death when a shot went just wide of the post. A time before the whistle to reflect on what could and might have been left most glad of a point when expectations had been so high pre-match.
Overall, a game of many talking points — especially the performance of Ref Kevin Friend. Blues bemoaned his performance, yet so did Wigan fans... which is usually a fair indicator that he had a poor game to say the least. Yet for Blues don’t let the Ref thing detract from the fact that we did not as a team perform to our early season form and I just wondered if the day's fare was dictated by Mr Martinez, who employed a 3-4-3 system that we never really got to grips with. Yet I don’t think our manager was caught out by this as our formation was set out to combat it... but turned out at best baffling to the observer as we tried to figure out who was playing where and I think I can be bold enough to say the players struggled a little too.
Today, it has to be said, Heitinga is really struggling for form or he is narked and wants away. It was also clear today that, the higher we are in the table, then the opposition will be that much more fired up and will certainly raise their game — which in turn left me bemoaning our inability to raise those extra funds to (a) reinforce the central midfield and (b) have a deeper adequate squad.
Make no bones about it — our current first picks are more than capable of making a fist of it but you have to factor in games like today that saw players out of form a little and, when the opposition make such a dog fight of it, you find yourself bemoaning the fact that a real defender like Hibbert is injured.
I read many fine posts on our site quoting stats etc and how good our first picks are... but travelling home and away with the Blues ensures you never become carried away as so many variables occur, game on game, that without the necessary back-up may well cost us as fans and indeed the players themselves from having success of some sort in this period when it is possible...
I normally like to nominate my man of the match but today I found that rather hard, so I will mention Baines as having a decent match and hitting an unstoppable penalty kick.
I don’t know how the game looked to those watching on TV but, from my seat at the DW, Walter's word ‘disappointing’ comes to mind... a thought of my own that if we are good enough to mix it with Team Sky then we have to be more ruthless in digging out games away — and be prepared to mix the hoof with the joined-up at the right times.
Still, never a dull moment following the Mighty Blues; after enduring an international break that I am sure could be structured better, we head to QPR where I hope we play to realize we are a top 3 team rather than dither, thinking we only might, be as seemed to be the case today.
UP THE BLUES
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467 Posted 07/10/2012 at 05:37:30
I thought Baines had a match that was far more than decent... his passing was superb, his tackling solid... and I guess you didn't see it from your vantage point, but he hit the post with a close-in shot before the break. And I loved the passing combinations between Baines, Pienaar and Mirellas.
I think we've seen the last of Heitinga for a while... he's had three stinkers in a row, and let's face it, nobody subs out a center back at halftime unless there's a serious problem. I don't know if he wants away or just got old, but he's two steps slow. He completely abandoned Kone on the first goal – had him marked and just let him go – and then got scorched for the second.
468 Posted 07/10/2012 at 06:08:00
Given the present vulnerability of our centre halves (whichever combination they are used it), I think that Fellaini has to play the holding midfielder role if we are to give them protection. At least until Gibson is back.
Osman and Neville are not mobile enough to give them protection. Ossie repeatedly gets dispossessed in central midfield and Neville backs off into the penalty area rather than closing down.
That being said, we were imaginative in attack in the second half and created a lot of chances against what was a very good Wigan performance.
469 Posted 07/10/2012 at 06:27:14
I agree that Coleman was 'left for dead' by journeyman Maloney which doesn't say much for our boy. The number of times Seamus was left standing by Maloney the 'journey man' should be a matter of concern for Moyes and Co.
481 Posted 07/10/2012 at 08:54:10
Heitinga looks badly out of sorts, so I wouldn't be surprised if Moyes dumps him in the next window, and looks down the leagues for a new Lescott. We need a tackling bulldozer in midfield as well.
An improved Everton team is bit like a house you are doing up. The kitchen might be new, but it just shows up that the bedroom and garden is looking tatty. Onwards and upwards, let's just hope Moyes puts Mark Hughes in his place.
482 Posted 07/10/2012 at 09:14:59
484 Posted 07/10/2012 at 09:13:07
Distin is pure aggression, wins the race or the header or the tackle. Johnny boy like to try and outsmart, lean in and fox the attacker. Moyesey, you're doing a great job and getting most things right but some of your selections are still costing us games.
487 Posted 07/10/2012 at 10:13:00
499 Posted 07/10/2012 at 11:28:51
503 Posted 07/10/2012 at 11:33:28
The first goal was offside, and Heitinga was left to deal with Kone running into Baines's vacated space. Baines should have been tracking back. Heitinga held him up but no midfield runner tracked Di Santo. Unfortunately I fear it could well be the end for him at Everton if he's dropped for the next game.
In terms of the points then a draw is frustrating but at least we keep a good unbeaten run going, we're not playing that well and still doing alright so hopefully when Gibson returns we can really hit our top form again. As ever the crucial test of where we will finish this season will come in the home game against Liverpool. Away draws are only ok if you win your home games and we won't do anything this season if we give that lot another 6 points.
506 Posted 07/10/2012 at 12:08:45
On the bright side, this is the second time in a row that we've come from behind to save a game – first Southampton and now Wigan. I remember the days when we were sunk the minute the opposition scored the first goal. Saving the game after going behind will do their confidence a world of good.
On the negative side, why can't Howard command his 6-yard box? For the first goal, though offside, credit to Kone for attacking the ball. Howard, on the other hand, was just reacting. I'm not sure if any of you noticed, but Howard fell backwards after the goal went in, meaning he was back-paddling. He should have been diving forward, into Kone. Why can't Moyes and his goal-keeping coach see that Howard needs to be more aggressive in the 6 yard box? That area belongs to him and he should command it.
509 Posted 07/10/2012 at 12:31:31
No doubt we look a better team than last year but sadly so do Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal amongst others. QPR will be fighting for their lives next up but 3 points will be needed if we are not going to sink back to mid-table obscurity.
515 Posted 07/10/2012 at 13:39:29
Kevin (#487) – I take your point about 4 lost points due to poor officiating. I honestly believe that the officials and their association work hand in glove with the "big clubs" to ensure that no other club will enter there domain. It is happening too frequently to be an accident or bad day. I believe there will be more and more fans will eventually see though this and give up on the game. Where there is massive amounts of money involved, you will always get corruption.
519 Posted 07/10/2012 at 13:53:37
534 Posted 07/10/2012 at 15:40:53
James Martin, of course Distin will make another mistake. Everybody makes them. But as I have argued for two years, he is a better choice than Heitinga even at age 35. As to whether Duffy or a new signing should be Distin's eventual successor, personally I haven't seen enough of Duffy to form an opinion. I'll trust Moyes on that one.
But as to Coleman, my opinion has been clear from the first few times I saw him play RB. He can't, at least not at this level. He lacks defensive instincts, is continually caught out of position, and couldn't mark a three-legged basset hound. Sure, we all love his attacking ability... but as we saw yesterday, it's way too expensive.
550 Posted 07/10/2012 at 18:54:27
Heitinga probably had his worst game in an Everton shirt............ not just the goal, but his distribution and positioning was woeful.
I hope it wasn't because he was thinking about playing for Holland in midweek, but Distin was much better as a substitute.
I wonder where this leaves us, and particularly Duffy, in terms of pecking order at centre back. It is funny when you consider how strong Everton usually are and now ,when we have the creative side, the defence is letting us down.
552 Posted 07/10/2012 at 18:36:21
Gibson was sorely missed, as was Fellaini since he was used further up front.
I think that this game and the WBA game have told us all we need to know, we are still lacking quality in midfield.
Since Gibson got injured the midfield was left with a huge hole that can not be filled with players such as Neville and Osman.
Moyes had more then enough time to find loan players to cover that hole in midfield, but waited until it was too late as usual.
Moyes now will have to tend to finding midfield players as his nr.1 job in January, we simply can not let this decent start get away from us!
Perhaps Moyes should get this Vadis guy, plus a defender and another flexible midfielder in on loan.
We simply have to fill the holes that is showing right now.
The biggest hole is in midfield, but our defence also needs another quality defender.
I think Heitinga is out of form, but he really should be fit at this point in the season. The way he backed off Kone was abysmal at best, somehow I still can not believe that Heitinga was so poor in this game.
Also Coleman, he has played enough games to be fit, but I think he just lacks ability overall. We might as well sell COleman in January, I can not see the use of him anymore.
Phil Jagielka so far this season has been not very good, it troubles me that we concede these silly goals while under the watching eye of David Moyes.
For all the period Moyes has been here, the defence have been Moyes`s favourite area to be strong in.
I can not help feeling that Moyes has let us down a little in strengthening the defence in recent years.
Even Yobo is better than what our current defenders are showing, but Moyes chose to sell him without finding a replacement, like a loan player.
My overall conclusion so far this season is we still have huge holes in the squad, but now instead of having no wingers, we now have no central midfielders, and there is a hole in the defence because Distin now is too old to be counted as a regular consistent performer.
That leaves us with just Heitinga and Jagielka.
If anyone thinks this squad is good enough for 4th or better then they are way off!!!
557 Posted 07/10/2012 at 19:52:36
We are seriously missing Gibson in his role as the Defensive Midfielder, particularly his positional sense means he cuts out a high number of opposition attacks, and he has the physical strength to compete whereas Ossie doesn't and Neville doesn't have his mobility.
The real plus point this season is our creativity but all top teams defend well – we need to sort it out quickly.
570 Posted 07/10/2012 at 20:51:11
But to criticise him for Wigan's first (offside!) goal is ridiculous. The ball was fired in from within the penalty area and rocketed in from the near post. No goalkeeper could have done anything about that.
573 Posted 07/10/2012 at 21:05:29
Distin has made some mistakes but has provided enormous cover with his speed and strengtrh, and wins most balls in the air. He gives everything and he and Jags are the best we've got.
Unfortunately no-one in the Prem will want Heitinga so we'll have to hope a Euro team comes in for him.
577 Posted 07/10/2012 at 21:44:04
595 Posted 07/10/2012 at 23:58:01
What do the officials say to each other through their sexy little headsets? Any way of hacking it? I'd love to know. 'Let's get our story straight here lads' must figure highly at a guess.
I watched El Classico on TV here in Spain tonight. Loads of hard decisions to make, no doubt their best people in charge. Nothing 'controversial' that I could see. As usual in the many Spanish games I watch. They simply do it better than the FA do. I think we are stuck in a time bubble which makes many believe that the 'home of football' produces the best, the fairest officials. Wrong on both counts.
618 Posted 08/10/2012 at 09:14:17
Johnny be good. Go......
619 Posted 08/10/2012 at 09:29:02
635 Posted 08/10/2012 at 12:19:59
I have never rated Heitinga and have said on many occasions that he is the worst Dutch defender I have seen. He gives away stupid fouls in dangerous places. He has no pace or height to combat tall centre forwards.
To my mind, Distin is a 'proper' central defender and is Jagielka's best partner by miles. He needs to be replaced only because he cannot go on forever... but certainly not by Heitinga.
I don't know about Duffy because he hasn't been really tested, but if he is not considered better than Heitinga then he must be pretty poor.
If Heitinga cannot do a job as a holding midfielder then he is not worth his place. Baines even said that he was happier with Distin behind him as it freed him up to attack... ENUFF SAID!!
648 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:35:03
661 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:05:47
I don't think you can lay that at Heitinga's door, the least he can expect, after some excellent play by Kone it has to be said, is that one of his buddies will pick up the other players.
Some will argue Kone should have been tackled further up the field but if he had committed to a tackle and lost out, a three v two would have become a two v two.
666 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:31:39
Heitinga doesn't do nearly enough. He puts in a little pansy tackle with the end of his toe and then stops as he thinks the balls going out.
I agree that other players should have been backing up but the cross should never have been allowed to happen.
669 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:29:52
I think Heitinga should have done better on that goal but it wasn't just down to him. I don't know if you seen match of the day but on it Martin Keown highlighted Neville ( about the media picked up on his shiteness ) tracking back, he ran from the half way line all the way back to his own 6 yard box without once having a look around to see if any Wigan players needed picking up.
670 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:38:00
673 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:51:15
675 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:56:29
No its not true just because Keown says it is but it is true because the camera shows it. Neville didn't make a decision at all,when he started running back ( Kone and Heitinga where just inside the half on the far side of the pitch at this point ) he had no idea how it was going to play out, so how could he have decided the best thing to do was to run all the way back to the 6 yard line to cover Heitinga?
The earliest he could have decided to do that would have been when Kone was in our area and even then he was too far behind play to actually cover Heitinga. When Kone pulled the ball back Neville was about 6 yards behind so if Kone had got past Heitinga he still would of had a free shot on goal.
What really happened was Neville was caught ball watching as usual, he ran half the length of the pitch while having absolutley no idea what was going on around him, if he had glanced over his sholder he would have seen Di Santo running into the box on his own and would have been able to do something about it.
676 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:26:22
Neville was facing the ball (ball watching if you want) and didn't see Di Santo while Jags and Coleman both went to cover the goal line and probably both should have seen Di Santo coming as they were facing the correct way.
It should have been dealt with before that though imo.
678 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:26:37
I haven't seen the MotD analysis but Heitinga has done his job fairly well but, as I said before, Kone's done well too.
You have to admire Wigan's game plan and understanding of their identity and how Everton play. They know we over commit on the left and they've pushed Kone right up to work the right hand side channel, they've got early, long ball up to him and he's stretched us, as soon as he sees Kone stretching out wide Di Santo has busted a gut to fill the box.. You can almost see Martinez drawing it up on the chalkboard on Friday morning!
I did think Heitinga was a bit lame on the other goal, instead of putting his head in the mixer, he tried to step up and play offside but that's Heitinga in a nutshell.. Distin is a better athlete and Heitinga is more cunning.
679 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:44:57
681 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:50:20
I don't think he did his job fairly well at all. He should have put the ball out for a corner. As he didn't do that, he should stop the ball from being played into the box.
As I said though, I don't think he was the only one to blame.
Just for clarity though. I obviously don't know what he was thinking. Why do you think he stopped, or pulled up?
682 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:58:50
683 Posted 08/10/2012 at 17:09:16
That is the point he should have dealt with it whether any other defenders are anywhere near is not the issue - Johnny should have dealt with it - he did'nt and in fairness to him he acknowledged his responsibility straight after the game. So are you going to argue with Heitinga himself?
Jamie gets it right with his "bad defending all round".
685 Posted 08/10/2012 at 17:18:49
Equally I don't think Nevilel's positioning was great. He should take a look around to be aware of the options and if he had moved a few steps to his left then he could have cut off any cut back to the penalty spot whilst also being able to cover Kone should he skin Heitinga.
Of course such analysis is alwasy easy in retrospect but for me it so happens that Heitinga and Neville are two of the weaker players in our first XI at the moment. Hopefully Gibson will come in for the latter but difficult to say what are best choice CB partnership is as to be honest none of ours have looked at their best this season.
690 Posted 08/10/2012 at 18:19:47
I think he appeared to stop because he slid/took a lunging stride when making the block, came to the end of his slide/lunge, and Kone took another step to make more space for the cross.
By committing the block where he did he made sure Kone crossed from the byline instead of attempting to cut in and shoot, again a good move in the area avoiding an unnecessary penalty situation.
I don't think you can take anything away from Kone, if I had to concede anything, perhaps if it had been Distin, he would have got to the ball before Kone and the move would never have started.
719 Posted 08/10/2012 at 21:59:38
Your post is an incredible example of a highly subjective interpretation of events being treated as absolute cast iron fact. Neville watched the ball, of course he did, because that's where the danger was! Neville was in a perfectly reasonable position to be in, covering two things at once. The cut back got past him and no-one else was picking up Di Santo either. If Neville had been five yards further back, the cut back might have gone in front of him and Di Santo could have beaten him that way, then you'd slag Neville off for not being closer to Heitinga.
726 Posted 08/10/2012 at 22:49:10
776 Posted 09/10/2012 at 11:47:32
If a player runs half the length of the pitch, is it too much to ask for that player to have a quick look around to see if there is another threat?
There wasn't a mass of bodies in Neville's way, he didn't need to keep looking where he was going, he had plenty of time to have a look around to see if there was something else he should be doing or that he was in fact doing the right thing anyway.
Do you honestly believe it is acceptable for a 35 year old, captain of the team, 50 odd caps, more experience than most, who's only job in the team is to break up attacks not to be aware of his surroundings?
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