West Ham United 1 - 2 Everton
Given what Everton have had to deal with from match officials so far this season, it was almost inconceivable that the bar for the remainder of the campaign could have been any lower when it comes to decisions. And yet Anthony Taylor managed to plumb the depths of standards with two utterly bemusing red cards that put an indelible stamp on what was a competitive but markedly clean game, particularly compared to last weekend's events at the Britannia Stadium.
With the scores level and the tide noticeably turning in the Blues' favour anyway, the referee flashed a 66th-minute red card at Carlton Cole for a clumsy, but accidental, high foot on Leighton Baines and then, having made a rod for his own back, gave Darron Gibson the same punishment in injury time for a similar challenge on Mark Noble. Points for consistency if nothing else but both clubs will be hoping that the Premier League will see sense and rescind both red cards.
Everton were ahead by the time Gibson's dismissal had leveled the numbers and though they survived two close calls when two efforts by Kevin Nolan flashed wide of Tim Howard's goal in closing stages, they were mostly comfortable in closing out the game and would have sealed it but for an astonishing last-minute miss by Nikica Jelavic.
The three points were very welcome, particularly because for the first hour it didn't look as though it was going to be the Blues' day. A much-changed line-up from David Moyes had struggled to live up to their billing as top-four contenders with a disjointed display, particularly in the first half after they had fallen behind to Cole's 14th-minute strike.
They had started brightly enough and should have been a goal up after eight minutes when Sylvain Distin powered a header off a free-kick into the ground and over Jussi Jasskeleinen's bar. Two minutes later they were convinced that they had gone ahead when Leon Osman out-jumped two markers to despatch a corner into the Hammers' net but their celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag, apparently for a foul by Anichebe on the goalkeeper.
Sod's law, three minutes later West Ham took the lead instead when Noble and Nolan combined before feeding Cole outside the Everton area and, with John Heitinga playing too far off him, the striker had time to set himself and smash it past Howard.
Having found themselves now chasing the game, a starting XI geared more for containment of their hosts' physical threat battled to carve out chances to restore parity before the interval. Phil Jagielka had been deployed at right back and there were definitely times when the cut-and-thrust and versatility of the injured Seamus Coleman going forward were sorely missed. Phil Neville returned in central midfield alongside Gibson but neither of the former Manchester United men were really playing far enough forward to dictate things in the final third.
Steven Pienaar and, in particular, the electric Osman were on their game, though. and, together with Baines, almost everything good that happened for Everton today came through them. Pienaar was unfortunate that Jaaskeleinen had clear sight of a beautiful side-foot strike from 25 yards midway through the first period. And Osman let himself down with a poor finish after some typically good footwork a few minutes later.
Overall, though, the Blues looked nothing like the Champions League contenders they aspire to be in the first 45 minutes. Jelavic was decidedly off-color, finding himself routinely offside and struggling to kindle any meaningful partnership with Anichebe. And with Cole having the shocking Heitinga's number at the other end, the potential for the home side to grab a second goal was always there... though, in truth, they didn't trouble the Everton goal much overall.
The second half was much better from the Blue perspective, though, and the improved performance was enough to tip the scales in their favour. Their greater penetration and sense of purpose almost reaped early dividends when a loose ball dropped to Jelavic six yards out but he shot straight at Jaaskeleinen, and, having seen the 'keeper push one direct free kick over in the first half, Gibson drifted another dead ball effort agonisingly wide of the upright.
Yet, as the game ticked past the hour mark, the breakthrough had not come and you couldn't help but feel that the longer the game went on, the less need there was for Neville as a second ostensibly defensive midfielder sitting in the middle offering precious little going forward.
The debate over whether or not Moyes should follow Allardyce's lead and make a change from the bench was cut short, though, by an equaliser with 63 minutes on the clock. Pienaar collected a short pass from Baines on the left flank before looking up and flighting an almost identical ball to the one that Ryan Shawcross headed past his own 'keeper last weekend. It picked out Anichebe perfectly in the centre and he glanced it beyond Jaaskeleinen to level the scores.
With Moyes's men now in the ascendency, it's entirely possible they would have gone on to win this game without the assistance provided by referee Taylor in dismissing Cole for catching Baines on the arm with a high tackle just two minutes later. To his credit, the England defender simply got up and got on with the game with a visible rip to his jersey but Cole was incredulous when the red card was brandished and the home team were reduced to 10 men.
The injustice temporarily galvanised West Ham but within six minutes they had succumbed to what would prove to be the winning goal. Osman, who was having one of his most inspired displays, skipped his way to the byline and was allowed to advance until he was bearing down right on the near post where he tucked it inside for Pienaar. The ball took a deflection off the nearest defender, hit the South African on the knee and was heading in anyway before Jaaskeleinen helped it on its way with the final touch.
2-1 Everton and the chance for them to go and kill the game was on. That they didn't owed much to some worrying complacency as they toyed with their opponents with long periods of passing without really attempting to be any more penetrating or anyone putting their foot through it when space opened up in front of them for a shot on goal.
They almost paid dearly in the 82nd minute when Nolan's half-volley brushed off Heitinga and dropped a foot on the right side of the post from Everton's perspective and again in stoppage time when the same player latched onto a knockdown and advanced with just Howard to beat but he poked the ball wide.
In between, Jelavic summed up his afternoon by somehow contriving to sidefoot wide into the side-netting at the far post, although his gesticulating for a corner suggests that his marker's last-ditch challenge may have put him off or helped the ball wide.
All in all, while not a vintage performance — indeed, it was poor for long stretches — this was a job well done by the Blues and a result that earns three very important points. It moves them back into fourth in the table — at least until Chelsea play one of their two games in hand tomorrow — and keeps the quest for the top four alive ahead of back-to-back home games to close out the year.
The superb displays by Osman and Pienaar in the middle, coupled with Anichebe's impressive showing in the second half that was capped by an equalising goal, bode well for the team as they grind on without their two important Belgian components in the coming games.
Moyes will be hopeful that he is successful in getting Gibson's red card reduced to a yellow as his loss for three games would be a big blow with Marouane Fellaini also missing and Neville's return, while not providing dynamism, at least gives the manager options as he prepares for the visits of Wigan and Chelsea.
Man of the Match: Leon Osman
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530 Posted 23/12/2012 at 06:02:00
Good report. I watched it on Foxtel here in Adelaide. Lucky I didn't have anything to hand with some of the officiating. I thought one official was pretty sound. The other linesman was likely blind or blind drunk and Taylor must have been mentored by Clattenburg.
I don't normally give MotM to Ossie but I thought he played a blinder. I thought we played quite well even with only the one option of playing down the left.
I thought Johnny H was shown to be very ordinary. Also, Jela needs a rest.
Thanks for the report.
531 Posted 23/12/2012 at 06:07:43
537 Posted 23/12/2012 at 06:27:58
It comes to something when Everton score a goal and despite all looking well I'm immediately looking for the Ref's decision, and not being at all surprised when disallowed for no reason.
The refereeing quality is ridiculously poor presently and I don't buy the line that with all the cameras they're under a lot more scrutiny etc etc. Its been that way for twenty years.
Players are defining what a foul should be with the falling over and complaining and all the rest of it. Is it too much to ask refs to grow some balls and tell then to get on with the game? Because until they do many fans I know simply do not enjoy what football is, yet only their support for their team has them unconditionally retain their interest.
Alan Hansen trying to defend the decision on Osman's goal was simply sour grapes on another Everton victory. He then condoned diving as well. He's fast becoming as ridiculous as all the other reds.
Into 4th. Lets stop saying we're not capable of CL qualification because undoubtedly there is more than enough skill and fight to do so.
540 Posted 23/12/2012 at 08:21:15
(1) The crap that goes on in the area from teams vis-a-vie Stoke with the refs paying lip service; and (2) the crap level of officiating.
It seems like the first two qualifications the refs must have to get to PL is they must be blind and (I hesitate to say stupid) incapable of making balanced decisions.
I might be blue biased but, when Cole was shown the red, I was irritated as shit by the ridiculous decision and, when Gibson was sufficiently stupid to do precisely the same thing, I thought Dickwit! — even though I think he is great for Everton.
542 Posted 23/12/2012 at 08:34:14
543 Posted 23/12/2012 at 08:13:08
Jelavic is having a tough time. He missed at least two very presentable chances, his hold-up play was poor and he was offside a boat load. That said, I thought he got far more involved than of late and think it will come. Those chances could have easily gone in, those offsides were close, whilst one ricket by the linesman at the margins and we would have been saying how great he is.
Heitinga, was terrible again. I am not a fan. He is slow and ponderous, which again was exposed for the cole goal again – à la Kone. If it wasn't for injuries he would have been pulled off at half-time for the second time in the season which says a lot.
People have had a go at Moyes over Heitinga, but it is him who is putting in these unacceptable performances. Don't give me any old pony his confidence has gone, or he is upset of being overlooked for Jagielka – we are talking about a 28-year-old international of a major country who can't lift his game for himself, even if it's putting himself in the shop window. The goal conceded, like Howard's ridiculous star jumps, came from him not moving his feet quick enough to get at the striker, which is a bit of a theme.
545 Posted 23/12/2012 at 09:09:27
Otherwise Gibson is crucial. Osman and Pienaar were class. Jelly will rediscover form (he still has 6 or 7 goals right so not too shabby). Shame not to see Barkley or Oviedo, think Moyes may have them lined up for Wigan at home which should see us have majority of possession.
549 Posted 23/12/2012 at 09:08:15
Osman has really improved so much and has more than made up for the loss of Arteta. He played really well for the whole 90 minutes and my normal reservations about his stamina were proved very wrong. Both he and Pienaar are very lightweight but they certainly don't avoid getting involved and they always look for the ball.
I just hope and think that Jelli will start scoring again soon as he does not hide and is obviously trying. Anichebe had a decent game I thought and his strength is a good option but he cannot play the Fellaini role. I think that the side will be the same for the Wigan game with Naismith starting if Gibson is suspended. So far we are less pleasing on the eye without Mirallas, Coleman and Fellaini but we are not losing games. We also miss Hibbert as Jagielka was certainly missed in central defence against Cole.
Despite being on the short end of every refereeing decision we are still in the hunt. I just hope that the board give DM some finances to bolster the squad as otherwise we will struggle to maintain our challenge. Even if we manage a top four place our squad is too small to play the extra games.
551 Posted 23/12/2012 at 09:54:54
- Heitinga looks very slow and just not at it... although I do appreciate his tweet that he must do better;
- Jags was incredibly uneasy at right-back with his face telling the story as he can't pick a pass at the best of times; and
- Gibson is vital to our ball retention... a very clever player who just drifts into spaces and knows his next pass before he even receives the ball. We're going to miss him most.
Moyes had the chance to keep the centre backs settled and blood Barkley yesterday by putting Neville at right-back and leaving Heitinga out with Barkley in on the right. Neville could have talked him through the game and pulled him up on positional play which – from watching the live games he played for Sheff Wed – was his biggest fault.
Great 3 points but Moyes, who by the way I'm a big fan of, has missed a trick I'm afraid.
552 Posted 23/12/2012 at 10:09:42
554 Posted 23/12/2012 at 10:14:00
558 Posted 23/12/2012 at 10:38:08
Team selection: Like most, baffled by Jags playing right back, but it was clearly designed to stop Jarvis, who is two-footed, fast and skillful: Pip no longer fast or fit enough for that job, and Heitinga would've been roasted... plus 2 yellows for certain. Problem is it weakened a central defence already shaky on crosses.
Heitinga is (sad to say) simply rubbish at all forms of basic defending: he can't tackle, block off or head the ball for shit (for example) and nor does he have the anticipation or pace to compensate. Frankly, all he can do is get his head up and ping a pass – but not as good as Gibbo, so he has no place in this team. Let him go; it's sad to watch.
I suspect if Moyes has to cover RB again in the present emergency, while we have no right backs, it will again be Jags, just for tackling ability and pace, but I'd prefer to see Duffy in the middle. With Pip covering on the ground, it ought to work.
As for Neville: barely noticed him at all except for one goal-saving interception when he followed Jarvis into the box – which nobody else would have read. If you don't see him, he is doing alright – he just kept giving the ball easy to the real footballers, which is his job, and he did it well. Selection justified. And big ups to him for having the dedication to get recovered and fit so fast after knee surgery, especially at 35 with all those miles on the clock.
Osman goal: The decision was sickening, but understandable. Vic had one arm round the goalie's waist... unfortunately it was the arm on the linesman's side. The fucker obviously presumed the other arm was holding too, and with hundreds of bubble-headed Irons fans in his ear decided to make himself famous. Lesson: be just a bit cuter, Vic. But Ossie, what a header!
Red cards: Just fucking ridiculous. Cole only had eyes for the ball, and it should've been no more than a yellow for dangerous play. A red card for serious foul play HAS to take into account intent – and there was clearly none. Refs also have to know their players and have a feel for the context of the game. A stupid stupid decision.
If it was Nolan or Gerrard it would be a red card all day of course, as they are both vicious thugs with lots of previous – but Cole?? He could have been England's Number 9 for the last 5 years if he had even an ounce of aggression, but he doesn't. Not in him to do someone on purpose.
After that decision, the fucking baldy dwarf prick ("Lee Mason mini-me" was a brilliant observation, whoever said that!!) left himself no choice but to do the same to Gibbo. All watching just knew it was a self-serving and cowardly decision to justify his earlier mistake.
That's what makes us fans sick: honest errors from refs are excusable. (Players and managers make them every week, for fuck's sake, so why should refs be perfect?) It's the "all about me" arrogance mixed with cowardice and self-evident bias that gets the veins sticking out on our heads.
Wake up, PGMOL or it won't be long till you're all out of a job and the EPL hires-in Swedes and German refs. (I pray that happens!) Fair play to the WHU players and crowd who slaughtered the Gibbo decision too.
If only the horrible "Sky Five" clubs and their fans, the PL and most of the radio and TV pundits weren't such whoppers and called these shit refs for what they are, there would still be hope for the game.
Jelavic: Why does he look shattered all the time? Hoped his goal against Spurs would fix his body language, but it's no better. At least he's getting chances now though, and they will start going in... but he needs to be a bit smarter and, dare I say, more selfish: he's wasting so much energy chasing lost causes and by being caught offside way too often that it's damaging his game, meaning he has a negative mindset – this translated yesterday to him displaying the first touch of a fat-fingered proctologist.
He needs to go back to basics and play the width of the box on the shoulder of the slowest CB – get the hell out of the corners and leave space for wingers to do their job and get crosses in, which is what he thrives on. He could also develop the Berbatov 'death stare' and give it to the midfielders when they play lazy out-balls to the corners:. They would soon stop it and the team would benefit.
Anichebe: Again, surprised by the selection, and more so that it was more-or-less two up front. I though he'd be stuck out right Same old body language issues though: falling over, getting 'hurt' too easy, pulling a titty lip at the ref etc... but when he plays back to goal on the edge of the box he looks the part. I think he needs psychological help – to focus that internalised anger onto the game and the opposition; he could become a real player, but it's himself that's stopping him. Terrific header though, from a superb Pienaar cross. But not wise to give the "up yours" to the fans, really?
Finally, MotM: I can't split Osman and Pienaar... both were rightt on form – brilliant feet and vision both. If I have a niggle, it's just that I wish someone could give them a few simple pointers on finishing. If you haven't got a shot like Shearer that can blast through keepers, why not try passing it into the corners like Xavi or Owen – both are more than capable?
All said and done, a great result against fat-head Sam Allosaurus which sets up a Merry Blue Crimbo and a Happy second half of the season.
565 Posted 23/12/2012 at 11:01:35
570 Posted 23/12/2012 at 11:10:39
587 Posted 23/12/2012 at 12:24:55
I just wish that the people who constantly criticize Moyes just look at how he manages a small squad of players and handle missing 2 very influential players in Mirallas and Fellaini. I hope Mirallas recovers quickly from his hamstring problems as his pace opens up sides and also stretches play which gives Osman and Pienaar more time on the ball.
595 Posted 23/12/2012 at 12:56:02
Okay, we won, but we didn't play then off the park. Having Barkley, who is comfortable on the ball, linking up with Osman and Pienaar might have given us an extra dimension. Barkley needs games and with Fellaini out, this is the time to do it.
597 Posted 23/12/2012 at 13:16:16
We all raised an eyebrow at selection and formation, but Brian has it right.
599 Posted 23/12/2012 at 13:12:57
1. The blues support was AWESOME. I wanted to jump out of the box (as delicious as the lunch was) and join the stand. There were long periods in the game when the small stand outsang the Hammers crowd – simply brilliant!!
2. At the end of the game, most of our players took their shirts off and distributed amid the crowd. Very nice gesture, even my mates at the box (who are all one-eyed Hammers) acknowledged so.
3. Fair play to the West Ham crowd and support. They love their club as dearly as we do but know a lot about their game. Can't remember the singing or the banter ever getting nasty or out of hand, despite the refereeing travesty.
4. Someone pointed out about the pace of Jarvis earlier. That is absolutely true. Neville would not have coped with Jarvis, that fella is FAST. Jags only *just* managed to defuse him a few times. Moyes's tactics were very good.
5. Our lads don't get enough credit for good football. Some of the interplay between Pienaar, Baines and Osman on the left was champagne (or ole). I got a close-up view of it. This season, we seem to have grown this new spirit where we just don't know when we are beat, a combination of Steel and Style.
6. Can't wait to get to Goodison Park for my own home debut!
602 Posted 23/12/2012 at 13:26:21
Let me know if you want a regular GP attender to show you around and then join you in the box!
621 Posted 23/12/2012 at 15:43:04
623 Posted 23/12/2012 at 15:47:33
Why I listen to these red bastards on these programmes I don't know. It's like some sort of self-harm...
Also a great piece in this morning's Mail about that yokel Pulis complaining about Fellaini only getting a 3-game ban, saying he seems to conveniently forget Shawcross snapping Ramsey's leg in two and only getting 3 games himself. Er... pot 'n' kettle, anyone?
While we were all in agreement curly should have walked, he never exactly put anyone's career at risk, did he? Fucking idiot, Pulis... stones, glass houses, etc.
630 Posted 23/12/2012 at 16:21:24
Ha ha, I might just take you up on that. Being based in London makes it annoyingly difficult to get away for the home game day trip. The box experience is VERY overrated. Being in the stands is way more fun (especially when away).
670 Posted 23/12/2012 at 18:26:46
Jelavic miss was worrying. His technique was horrible. Hopefully a one off...
Osman was the star of the show for me. Absolute class and one of his best performances ever.
672 Posted 23/12/2012 at 18:29:26
677 Posted 23/12/2012 at 18:39:45
Did anyone watch the Chelsea game today?
Martin "I must mention Anfield, LFC et al as many times as possible even though they are not involved in the game I'm commentating on" Tyler got on my nerves and the other Neville is still a scouse hating Manc who is beginning to get into the swing of the Sky Sports culture.
I wish we could have had a full strength team to face Chelski next week... ah, well!
778 Posted 24/12/2012 at 07:08:51
Two contenders... the referee obviously and the 1 pound fish market singing bloke from the punjab at half time... WTF was that all about... Sir Bobby would be turning in his grave!!!!
Have written to WHU to try and get me quids back having been gobbed on from the upper tier or at least get them to identify the creature.
784 Posted 24/12/2012 at 09:26:51
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