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Venue: Upton Park, London
Premier League
 Saturday 22 December 2012; 3:00pm
WEST HAM
1 2
 EVERTON
Cole (14')
Half Time: 1 - 0
Anichebe (64')
Pienaar (72')
Attendance: 35,005
Fixture 18
Referee: Anthony Taylor

Match Summary

So... Capn Pip back in charge, having missed only six games following knee surgery. And the less-than effective Naismith benched in favour of the enigmatic Victor Anichebe... will he be playing on the wing?

Some smart ground play by Everton from the kick-off, without the usual hoofball. But again, the final ball wasn't there... Anichebe appeared to be playing as the central target man or at least an equal partner with Jelavic... Everton playing 4-4-2 but his initial hold-up play was poor.

Pienaar was cut down from behind by Tompkins and form the free-kick, Distin watched it all the way but got up too high and headed down into the ground and wide instead of into the West Ham net. First glorious chance gone begging.

Jelavic, on the right wing, won Everton's first corner that Baines swung in deep and there was Osman to head home but incredibly, the flag was raised but the replays showed there was absolutely nothing wrong with the goal. Jaaskelainen was unable to push Anichebe out of his way... so what? No foul, Atrocious decision... or evidence of the new 'crackdown' on goalmouth shenanigans?!?

And so, down at the other end, Carlton Cole evaded Heitinga with ease and slotted past Howard. Normal service resumed.

Jarvis lent into Jagielka to win an easy free-kick wide left of the Everton area, but Howard came out with remarkable confidence to claim the high ball and set off an Everton break that Distin fluffed at the end. Pienaar side-footed a long shot to the top corner but Jaaskelainen had it well covered.

O'Neill dragged down Distin blatantly by the neck, rugby style... but no card, of course. Jagielka did well against Jarvis to win another corner but this one was over-hit.

Heitinga was lucky when his off-ball foul on Cole went unpunished. Osman had a trademark weak shot wide of the goal, Anichebe and Jelavic were both rolling around but at least Everton had a free kick from Gibson defended away.

A beautiful forward ball was played in from Osman for Jelavic on the half-hour but he took two touches and fired wide as the flag came up (wrongly?) for offside. Anichebe tried an overhead kick but caught James with a high boot significantly unpunished by ref Alan Taylor. Some good play by Pienaar set Anichebe free but this time he was yards offside.

Jelavic had another chance that required a second touch and he fired it well wide. At the other end, A West Ham corner ended in a handball by Carlton Cole, Another corner Howard punched clear decisively.

Pienaar won a fee-kick off O'Neill that Gibson fired in on goal, forcing Jaaskelainen to tip it over for a corner that was defended away. Everton ended the half a bit flat after the bright start, totally deflated by the disallowed goal that rendered all their first half efforts wasted.

Jelavic got himself offside twice in quick succession after the break as Everton struggled to regain the initiative, Osman getting in well, the ball coming through to Jelavic but he was off-balance and could only stab it at Jaaskelainen.

Anichebe and Pienaar worked to get a corner as Everton pressed well but, again and again, the final ball was the breakdown point.

As another Everton attack broke down, substitute Maiga came so close to scoring and Everton were lucky the corner was not called from his deflected shot.

Everton kept pressing but were not really creating any clear chances, and set pieces did not seem to be yielding anything until, following a free-kick finally a ball in from Pienaar was headed in well by Anichebe for the tying goal.

Then, incredibly, Cole was shown a straight red for a high boot, essentially identical to the earlier one catching Baines. Very bizarre. Baines was not even injured and got up straight away. No intent from Cole, yellow card perhaps at best... Ridiculous refereeing.... when will this nonsense ever end?

Everton made quick use of the man advantage, Osman doing brilliant work off a good ball from Pienaar who then ran in and bamboozled the ball in off his hip through Jaaskelainen and a defender to score and put Everton in front.

It was good to see Everton continue to attack in waves after the goal, rather than sitting on their somewhat fortuitous lead, with Gibson commanding in the middle, backstopping the attacking players looking to penetrate the West Ham area.

Nolan came very close with a clever effort that deflected slightly off Heitinga's chest and floated just wide of Howard's post as the Everton relaxed a little, and decided to try keep-ball for the final 5 mins, Naismith replacing Neville.

Osman fired in a good shot and Jelavic looked to score following in but could not scoop his shot over Jaaskelainen, perhaps blocked into the sideinetting by a defender. It was one of those games were nothing went right for the Croatian.

Astoundingly, in added time, Gibson also saw red for the third high boot of the game, this on Noble another blatantly ridiculous decision, to supposedly even things up. Absolutely incredible PGMOL rubbish!

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

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 itself 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 definitely times when the cut-and-thrust and versatility of Seamus Coleman going forward was 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. 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

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Everton remain on the road for their last game before Christmas with another potentially physical and tricky match-up in store against West Ham at Upton Park.

It's three months to the day since the Blues last registered an away victory, that coming against Swansea City in a 3-0 win that helped establish David Moyes's side as early contenders for a top-four finish. A slew of draws but just one defeat since have kept them in the top six but the manager has beeing ruing his side's inability to win games recently.

Last weekend's bruising encounter against Stoke City was a case in point, although, with neither Manchester City nor Arsenal able to leave the Britannia with more than a draw, it was still a creditable result. Still, Everton had the chances to win the game and failed to do so, taking the number of tied games they've racked up this season to nine.

The game was costly, too, in that robs Moyes of Marouane Fellaini, his top goalscorer, for the Festive period and forces a slight reshuffle in the starting line-up for this weekend's game.

That could involve moving Steven Naismith forward behind Nikica Jelavic and bring in Bryan Oviedo, either on the left, with Steven Pienaar switching flanks, or the right where, as a predominantly left-footed player, he has struggled when used there as a substitute. Ross Barkley is another option in right midfield.

Or, Moyes could move Leon Osman into the more advanced role, leave Naismith where he is and bring either Thomas Hitzlsperger or Phil Neville in alongside Darron Gibson, assuming the latter is fit.

Finally — assuming he, too, is fit to start — Moyes could do a straight swap of Victor Anichebe for Fellaini up front in a bid to match some of the Hammer's physical presence. Neville has made a quicker recovery than expected from surgery of his own while Anichebe has had a long layoff with hamstring problems but it would be a surprise if either were deemed sufficiently match fit to play from the start.

Kevin Mirallas and Tony Hibbert remain sidelined as they recover from a hamstring strain and calf surgery respectively and neither is likely to be ready tom return until the New Year.

Sam Allardyce, whose side have one win in their last six — a home victory over Chelsea — will be close to full-strength, with Jack Collison available for the first time this season after overcoming a long-term knee injury. Yossi Benayoun will be missing, though, with a knee complaint of his own which will mean home-grown Mark Noble to pull the strings in midfield.

With the Hammers proving fallible against an erratic Liverpool side two weeks ago, Everton will feel that despite the absence of Fellaini they can come away from East London with what would be a very important victory... if they can create and finish their chances.

Jelavic had his most barren game yet at Stoke last weekend with fewer than 20 touches of the ball and just one half chance to speak of and Fellaini was equally quiet. West Ham will be hard to beat and, as an Allardyce team, won't be afraid to be dirrect but the Blues must go in with the frame of mind that they are the better side overall and have the tools to get the job done even with a depleted side.

Lyndon Lloyd

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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2012-13 Reports Index
< Stoke City (a) Wigan (H) >
 Everton fans' reports
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WEST HAM (4-4-2)
  Jaaskeleinen
  Reid
  Tomkins
  Collins
  O'Brien (81' Spence)
  O'Neil (58' Maiga booked:64')
  Taylor
  Noble
  Nolan
  Jarvis (88' Collison)
  Cole sent off:67'
  Subs not used
  Speigel
  Diarra
  Moncur
  Lietget

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Jagielka
  Heitinga
  Distin
  Baines
  Neville (85' Naismith)
  Gibson sent off:90+2'
  Osman
  Pienaar (88' Oviedo)
  Anichebe (90'Duffy)
  Jelavic
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Hitzlsperger
  Barkley
  Vellios
  Unavailable
  Fellaini (suspended)
  Coleman (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Mirallas (injured)
  Bidwell (loan)

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Liverpool 4 - 0 Fulham
Man City 1 - 0 Reading
Newcastle 1 - 0 QPR
So'hampton 0 - 1 Sunderland
Tottenham 0 - 0 Stoke City
West Brom 2 - 1 Norwich
West Ham 1 - 2 Everton
Wigan 0 - 1 Arsenal
Sunday
Swansea 1 - 1 Man United
Chelsea 8 - 0 Aston Villa


Team Pts
1 Manchester United 43
2 Manchester City 39
3 Chelsea 32
4 Arsenal 30
5 Everton 30
6 Tottenham Hotspur 30
7 West Bromwich Albion 30
8 Liverpool 25
9 Stoke City 25
10 Norwich City 25
11 Swansea City 24
12 West Ham United 23
13 Fulham 20
14 Newcastle United 20
15 Sunderland 19
16 Aston Villa 18
17 Southampton 15
18 Wigan Athletic 15
19 Queens Park Rangers 10
20 Reading 9
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