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Always Doing It The Hard Way

By Paul Traill   ::  31/01/2013

Having started the day with the Leroy Fer transfer “on the brink of collapse” and then, come kick off time, the transfer completely broken down, I didn’t come into the game in confident mood, though left Goodison Park entertained, satisfied and optimistic fort he remainder of the season.

Having come straight from work down the East Lancs Road, I was just about able to park and after a quick chippy joined the others in the pub…everyone in good spirits despite the frustration of the Leroy Fer transfer falling through. We saw the team news in the pub and there was only one change from the team which defeated Bolton – FA Cup hero Heitinga in at centre back with Jagielka moved to right back, Neville back into midfield and Jelavic the man to miss out.

Had Fer have signed today I would have anticipated quite a buzz about the ground as he got paraded. With this no longer the case, the atmosphere was a little flat as the game got underway. A fairly pitiful following from The Baggies did little to help this, though it was remarkably quiet in the opening exchanges. West Brom were doing a good job of keeping possession and keeping us quiet and were also lively in the attack with Jerome Thomas causing quite a nuisance on the right flank. Everton on the other hand couldn’t keep the ball effectively and struggled to settle into the game.

We had a bit of a spark when Heitinga pumped the ball up long to Distin who got up well to head across goal, Fellaini managing to turn and get his shot away but catching the outside of the top upright with Ben Foster beaten. This didn’t change the shape of the game however, and it was down to an individual piece of brilliance from Leighton Baines to settle this one. The England full-back taking on an excellent return pass from his England colleague Leon Osman, running it into the left edge of the penalty area and smashing a great drive past Foster to give Everton the advantage and settle a few nerves.

Baines was at it again just before the break, coolly slotting home a penalty which had been won by Anichebe following a foul by Yacob – giving Everton a comfortable, and you hoped unassailable 2 - 0 lead at the interval.

Into the second half and Everton began more on the front foot as they looked to put the game out of sight…Mirallas perhaps coming closest to adding to our goals tally…his shot pushed round the post by Foster. Regardless we looked comfortable…were comfortable in fact. West Brom were struggling to create anything and we had all the play…the crowd was still fairly quiet…we seemed on the road to a comfortable three points…and then the game came to life…

West Brom had barely mustered an noteworthy effort on goal throughout, though then scored out of nowhere…Lukaku getting into the box and rounding the committed Howard, thought Heitinga was able to clear his shot from the goal line…or so you thought. Instead of simply smacking the ball as far as he could, he tried to be clever and control it, only to mis-control and present a fairly easy goal for substitute Shane Long.

It was ‘Game On’ indeed. The crowd found its voice, Everton went for the killer third goal, with West Brom also now more threatening knowing that another goal would earn them a point. West Brom did come extremely close with an audacious free kick from Graham Dorrans which came back off the crossbar and was cleared.

This was pretty much the end result of all West Brom’s efforts and it was Everton who missed the chances to put this game to bed sooner. Had Anichebe kept his focus on the play rather than screaming at the referee for a penalty (though it should have been a penalty for the foul from Olsson) he would have been presented with an open goal though West Brom were able to clear before he got there. Osman however really showed him how to miss an open goal when he blazed over on the rebound after Pienaar had hit the post.

As we continued to miss chances you got a little jittery as the game was worryingly poised at 2-1, but we were able to see the game out without much discomfort.

Leaving the ground I was pleased with what I’d seen, particularly in the second half. The return of Mirallas and Gibson (from the substitutes bench) though not crucial to the result is certainly significant as getting them back is critical for the run in. I was also encouraged by our ability to create chances following three rather baron games…particularly against one of the more difficult teams to play against in the division. Really we should have scored more than just the two tonight. Finally, though discouraged by the Leroy Fer transfer falling through, I’m encouraged that Everton seemed able and ready to spend some money…it’s enough to convince me we’ll have a few new faces in by the time the window slams shut at 11pm on Thursday 31 January.

It’s going to be an interesting day…but why do we do everything the hard way?

Player Ratings:
Howard: Perhaps sold himself a bit too easily with the goal but had so, so little to do otherwise. 6

Baines: Has to man of the match. Two goals, one a brilliant one, and attacked well all night, showing good link-up play with Pienaar, Mirallas, Osman and Fellaini at times. Solid defensively also. The perfect performance really. 9

Distin: Handled the threat of Lukaku rather well. 7

Heitinga: Aside from the mistake he had quite a solid game I thought. Important thing was that he didn’t seem to dwell on the mistake. Will be interesting to see if he plays against Aston Villa on Saturday. 6

Jagielka: Was given quite a torrid time in the first half by Thomas though did better in the second half and got forward to better effect also. 6

Fellaini: Not quite at the races first half though got more involved after the break. Spent more time in midfield than up front. Would like to see more from him on Saturday…we could really punish Aston Villa if he is at his best I think. 6

Neville: Nothing spectacular really. Filled a few holes. 5

Pienaar: I found it difficult to fathom whether Pienaar was playing central midfield or Osman. I think Pienaar seemed to be playing the midfield role a bit more and was pressing all over the pitch in a typically tenacious performance. I thought he had an excellent game though coming out of the match Sue was telling me he’d had a shocker. I thought he caused them problems throughout and they really struggled to live with him. Like Fellaini…if he’s on top form this Saturday we could really punish Aston Villa. 8

Osman: Played a lovely ball in for Baines for the first goal and had quite a constructive game. However, I still think his form is somewhat patchy, exemplified by his horrendous open goal miss…strange for one normally so composed. Nothing to worry about though. He’ll get it back. 6
Mirallas: Did OK. You can tell he’s still feeling his way back to fitness and will need time to get back to his best but the important thing is that he is back. Given six games he could be ready to make quite an impact on the run in. 6

Anichebe: Was generally busy, worked hard and put himself about. Won the penalty for our second goal of course. Will be interesting to see if he keeps his place for Saturday. 6

Substitutes:
Gibson (for Mirallas): His passing is not quite up to scratch yet though he showed good willingness to press and pressurize to win the ball back when West Brom were in possession. The sooner he’s back in the team the better. 6

Jelavic (for Anichebe): He’ll have been pleased with the reception he got when he warmed up. Otherwise, he can also be pleased with his efforts in the 10 minutes he had on the pitch. Battled well and held the ball up well. Will also be interesting to see in what capacity he is going to be involved against Aston Villa at the weekend. 6

Reader Comments

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James Flynn
853 Posted 31/01/2013 at 01:46:05
Thanks Paul. Good stuff, as always. What's "Always Doing it the Hard Way" in Latin? 3 points is 3 points, though. If the hard way is the only way, 14 more times please.
David Smith
870 Posted 31/01/2013 at 02:25:46
Ta Paul, interesting report, and well written too.
Paul Ferry
877 Posted 31/01/2013 at 03:29:51
Howard: 5
Baines: 9
Distin: 8
Heitinga: 7
Jagielka: 5
Fellaini: 6
Neville: 2
Miralles: 7
Pienaar:7
Osman: 4
Anichebe: 6

Go away Neville. Somewhere please. With each passing game (and you don't have a passing game) it gets more and more embarrassing. Have some decency and dignity and retire as soon as we get a killer centre mid in and Hibbo and Seamus sort RB out. That header, that header, that header, sums you up. Hey scream and point fingers at our lifeblood away support why don't you, take another embarrassing dive, spout loyalist drivel?

Derek Thomas
909 Posted 31/01/2013 at 07:31:16
Lukaku always looked likely to get in the space behind Distan and in this case Heitinga as do some from other teams, even when Jags is there with Distan.

I don't think Howard sold himself too easily, he played it just right given the tendancy of Reffs down the years ( it's not a new thing ) to feel that they have to compensate at one end for giving a penalty at the other, how ever ell justified.... Though I must admit I have, in recent years, seen many many similar cases turned down but maybe they were Vs the sky darlings...yeah it's WBrom's fault for being even less fashionable then us (1948 show I look down on him, but I look up to him )

Miralles looked a bit tentative, but understandabley so.

Johnny's cock up, the way it came to him and the way he was facing, he ' could ' have stopped it with his right foot but it would've been with the outside of it and those sort sometimes have a tendancy to bobble over it, so he went with the flatter open inside of the left foot. Good contact with the weaker foot or possible poorer contact with the stronger foot....wrong...unlucky Johnny.

Vic did well...still seems strange writing that, but he did.

Øystein Heggelund
920 Posted 31/01/2013 at 08:36:54
Have to agree about Vic, he seems to be working much harder both offensively and defensively than has been the case in the previous couple of seasons.

Phil Neville is no doubt a liability, and we must surely find someone who can do a better job in the middle of the park (apart from the obvious Gibson). He's probably there as much because of his leadership skills as his playing skills, but even if he'd been a magnificent captain it would be very hard to defend his place in the team. The negativity in his passing game in the opposition's third defies belief...promising moves are either slowed down or broken up altogether when he gets the ball.

Mick Wrende
954 Posted 31/01/2013 at 10:27:11
At least Jelavic gets himself chances - I cant remember Anichebe having one effort at goal last night. There again Moyes destroys our strikers so it is not surprising neither of them are playing well.
Mark Murphy
008 Posted 31/01/2013 at 13:09:50
"The perfect performance really. 9"???
So if he gave 110% he'd get a 10 right?
Otherwise a good report- thanks

Paul Ferry - Neville - amen brother!
I'm also getting worried about Ossie. Ive
always backed him but since his cap he has diminished, no pun intended, alarmingly.

Steavey Buckley
022 Posted 31/01/2013 at 13:25:56
I do believe Everton are lacking a killer instinct in front of goal, and it is worrying. If Baines did not score from that magnificent shot that shot past Foster with venom, power and swerve, Everton would not have scored from open play. The penalty decision, from a half-hearted clumsy tackle, made sure Everton won after Heitinga betrayed his physical stature by being unable to hold off the attentions of the WBA striker, Long.

If Everton do sign someone in the last day of the transfer window, I hope they are loan signings. More the merrier. To make sure Everton have enough loan acquisitions to cover as many positions as possible in view of Everton's sick not culture.

Too much of the limited transfer budget could be tied up in one player costing more than he would have cost in the summer sales. When all clubs are relieved of their previous ambitions in the previous season. So are less likely to make hasty and far more ambitious signings and transfers.

Jimmy Sørheim
023 Posted 31/01/2013 at 13:38:01
Overall we have concerns. Our two best strikers just cannot find goals at the moment. As I said before the game, I think it would be important to drop Jelavic to the bench.

I also wanted Vellios to play up front alongside Anichebe, I think Fellaini does not fit as a striker, so our only choice left is Vellios because he has been injury free. Mirallas will take some time before he is back to his best.

Moyes has to play Vellios against Aston Villa; we need to find a striker in our squad who can score goals right now. My bet would be Vellios, but McAleny cannot be ruled out at this time. We simply have to try it player by player until we find a striker who knows how to hit the target right now!

Tony J Williams
028 Posted 31/01/2013 at 14:01:18
"If Baines did not score from that magificent shot that shot past Foster with venom, power and swerve, Everton would not have scored from open play" - There is absolutely no way of knowing that. Had Baines not scored, the game would have been a different one, with WBA slowly falling further and further back defending and hoping for a counter attack. They came for the point.

If my Auntie had bollocks she would be my Uncle..... it's funny that it's the hypotheticals now being used to have a go at Everton....brilliant

Brian Waring
030 Posted 31/01/2013 at 14:08:51
I know Baines hit that shot with plenty behind it, but if that's up the other end, then I would have been disappointed with Howard getting beat on his near post.
John Ford
031 Posted 31/01/2013 at 14:11:28
I'm lovin the intensity of Paul Ferry's contempt for Phil Neville! It's like a living creature.

.....go on my son!

Steavey Buckley
041 Posted 31/01/2013 at 14:34:26
Tony J Williams: The reality is, Everton did not score any more goals from open play. Osman made sure of that, when it was easier to hit the target than miss. And that is quite a few times he has achieved this season.
Kevin Hudson
051 Posted 31/01/2013 at 14:45:11
Steavey,

We've hit 37 goals in 24 league games, plus seven more in two FA Cup matches.

I'm not buying this 'problem, ' at all

Tony J Williams
092 Posted 31/01/2013 at 15:46:11
"Everton did not score any more goals from open play." - So? We won and we should have scored more. I would have been a little less pleased it we didn't have any other attempts at all on goal.....but we did.
Peter Barnes
130 Posted 31/01/2013 at 16:45:11
It was a good win against a good side. Let's not fret on it too much. I think Vic is beginning to get it at last and at the moment deserves a shot over Jelavic who may benefit from a little break.

Good news also that both sicknotes are back.

Sam Fitzsimmons
168 Posted 31/01/2013 at 17:24:43
Mick Wrende - absolutely spot on Moyes destroys our strikers and he's also solely responsible for the demise of Bent, Berbatov, Cisse, Torres, Carroll... get a grip and stop knocking Moyes just for the sake of it
Tony Farrell
319 Posted 03/02/2013 at 00:22:04
Being a lifelong bluenose now living in Australia, I miss the alehouse banter before and after the game. Thank god for Fox Sports – they show every Premier League game so I don't miss a match, although the game's on at 2 in the morning. It's great to see the lads .......

There's a lot of fans having a pop at Moyes – and rightly so in some circumstances. The positioning of Jags at right back and playing Johnnie CantGetThere at centre back is nonsense. Although Jags gives his all, he's better at centre back, that big striker Benteke wouldn't have been given the room he had if Jags was on his back.

Get the back 4 sorted, give the new kid the Number 2 shirt, tell Howard to study some Nev Binman videos, grow a set and build from the back. We've still got a chance at the 4th slot, we should be in the last 8 of the cup, so come on blues fans get behind our team... it could turn out a great season. Jelly will come good.

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