Everton 1 - 1 Arsenal
I was here there and everywhere before kick off and it was nice to get to the sanctuary of the pub with a good half hour to spare until kick off. I fleetingly heard the news in the pub that both Gibson and Hibbert were back in the team and Fellaini was also involved following his suspension. Hitzlsperger, Oviedo and Heitinga were the ones to miss out as Moyes rightly changed things following the Norwich City shocker last Saturday. Despite fairly widespread criticism of his performance last Saturday, Tim Howard remained in goal (not that we realistically have much choice mind).
For Arsenal, Arteta returned to Goodison Park for the second time with Giroud leading the line in attack. The referee was Michael Oliver. You just have to love a floodlit Goodison Park and it was great to see we would be attacking the Gwladys Street in the second half as the players readied themselves for action. What followed was crazy. Jagielka seemed to hesitate and all of a sudden Arsenal had a break on, Hibbert exposed, a neat ball from Ramsey and Walcott finished via quite a deflection from Hibbert - with just 52 seconds on the clock. Delight for the Arsenal support and general bemusement for everyone else. Just two minutes later Koscielny was forced off injured and was replaced by Kieran Gibbs.
The early goal really seemed to rock Everton back and it took us a little while to get going though once we did we really had our foot on the gas and should really have scored more than the solitary Fellaini strike. The Belgians goal came when Arteta was robbed in possession by the industrious Pienaar, the ball was only half-cleared by Sagna and was picked up by Fellaini who, with time and space zipped the ball past Szczesny to level the scores. Another excellent goal by Fellaini who again outlined his vast importance to our team. He had other opportunities in the first half also but failed to really test Szczesny with his other efforts.
The best effort of the half (which didn’t find the net) had to be from Jelavic who flicked the ball past the defender with an audacious bit of skill and then with the goal gaping snatched at it and volleyed over the bar. Regardless, it was great to see Jelavic looking a lot more like his old self. The half drew to a close with Distin and Baines between them unnecessarily conceding a corner to ensure the crowd remained tense, though Everton repelled it well.
At the break it was a real treat to see Everton legends Kevin Ratcliffe, Graeme Sharp, Duncan Ferguson, Ray Wilson, Alex Young, Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall. Great to see the legends back on the pitch.
The second half, though not quite as lively as the first period, was an exciting encounter. Whilst Everton did have the better chances to win the game, Arsenal were always a threat on the counter attack and will feel they merited the draw. We seemed to have a lot of the ball around their penalty area but there always seemed to be a miss-hit pass at the wrong time or failing that, a great save by Schezny. At the other end Giroud was a whisker away from scoring with a header that just cleared the post, the best chances for Everton fell to Pienaar and Distin and were both kept out by Szczesny. Michael Oliver also bottled a reasonable shout for a penalty when Arteta appeared to foul Pienaar as he bore down on goal.
So another draw despite quite a sterling effort. I think I might revisit the Pools and put Everton down for a score draw every week. On the other hand, maybe we’re saving it for the big one this Saturday. Man City unbeaten this season with 14 games completed and unbeaten in their last 20 league games overall. The last team to win at Eastland? Everton…two years ago. Also, given that we’ve won five of our last six games against Man City, perhaps we do have good cause for optimism as we head to Manchester to take on the champions.
Howard: Perhaps he was stung by his criticism at the weekend as he seemed a lot more positive than usual. OK, his punching wasn’t great and some of his kicking was atrocious but at least he was more positive which was rather encouraging. 6
Baines: Brilliant from Baines. His partnership with Pienaar was in full swing and he attacked well. Fingers crossed his hamstring injury isn’t too serious and he won’t be out for long. 8
Distin: Did well. We seemed to defend a bit more stubbornly as a team today and Distin lead by example at the back, and came closest to scoring our second down the other end. 7
Jagielka: Seemed to be struggling a bit first half and was a bit off the pace but was much improved in the second half, one tackle late in the game on Cazorla I think was particularly impressive. 6
Hibbert: Fantastic to see Hibbert back and to see a bit of solidity added to the right back birth…even if the goal did come from his side. Some passes wayward yes but defensively much better than what we’ve had lately. 7
Gibson: Great to see him back also. Was given a very harsh yellow card but that didn’t seem to affect his game. He fitted in like he’s never been away, always showing for the ball and using it effectively. Big game coming up for him this Saturday. 7
Osman: Not one of his better games but he kept on going. 6
Pienaar: My man of the match. Infuriating at times with his choice of passing and shooting at the wrong times but his creativity and link-up play with Baines was excellent throughout. His best performance probably of the season. Key is to get that consistency now. 8
Naismith: Did OK. Was replaced by Oviedo on the hour mark. Might have scored had he have connected with one of those balls which were flashed across the box. 6
Fellaini: His usual menace. Took his goal expertly and was a thorn in their side throughout. I think Everton went a little too long ball-ish near the end as we resorted to Plan B. 8
Jelavic: That’s much more like it from Jelavic. Much, much better than against Norwich City at the weekend. As with Pienaar, needs to discover than consistency. 7
Oviedo (for Naismith): Lively but not always effective. May have to play left back on Saturday now…what an opportunity that is for Oviedo. 6
Hitzlsperger (for Gibson): Definitely the right sub. He was sensible with the ball, though some of his shooting was dreadful at best. 6
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838 Posted 29/11/2012 at 10:33:59
Brilliant central midfield performance that. Got to keep him and Gibson fit now, they should be our main two in the middle.
840 Posted 29/11/2012 at 10:39:34
842 Posted 29/11/2012 at 11:31:55
Naismith looked out of his dept to me. Maybe a few years ago he would have fitted into our team but his inadequacies (inacurate passing / speed of thought) are highlighted by the quality players around him.
844 Posted 29/11/2012 at 11:40:22
if we can manage to keep the majority of Gibson, Pienaar, Baines, Mirallas, Osman, Jelavic and Fellaini fit then we will win more games than we lose. But it's a big 'if'!
848 Posted 29/11/2012 at 11:46:29
The thing with Ossie is that he is 3ft3 and very unassuming but more and more he is becoming the craftsman for Everton. He is calm, good on the ball and pops up with a goal every now and again and he is a blue through and through. I can't imagine Ossie demanding another club if we don't get Champions League football next season !!
It was good to see Pienaar raise his game last night as for the past few games he has been poor. I was slightly disappointed with Jelavic - he struggles to hold up the ball, he ballooned a clear chance into row Z and oh how I wish he moved out of the way when Baines was clean through.
I just so wish the boys could be more clinical in front of goal. Once again we had chances to wrap it all up and send Arsenal packing. Boy oh boy it is frustrating being an Everton fan !
854 Posted 29/11/2012 at 12:42:20
857 Posted 29/11/2012 at 12:49:46
All-in-all, I thought we played well, shame we couldn't find a second goal against the most mediocre Arsenal side seen in years.
859 Posted 29/11/2012 at 12:58:08
We look a lot better side with Fellaini in. He caused all sorts of problems, but I do think we need to play it to his feet more, instead of unanimously lumping it long to him all the time. I may've brought on Barkley instead of Hitz, but that's me. Hopefully Gibbo's injury is nothing serious.
Disappointing from Jelavic again. He was busy, but didn't really do much last quarter, we were probably better throwing a fresh pair of legs on in Vellios. I don't like to criticise Jelavic because he's not getting good enough service, but his hold-up play is non-existent and he's adopted a lazy attitude. The sooner he's back amongst the goals, the better.
864 Posted 29/11/2012 at 13:21:09
Jelavic never hid, but he just isn't looking sharp in front of goal at the moment. Fellaini was great for 70mins, but seemed to tire. Neither Oviedo or Hitz did much when they came on & it'll be interesting see how Oviedo plays at left back against Man City. Like Tom, 859, I'd given Vellios 20mins.
867 Posted 29/11/2012 at 13:25:44
What does seem apparent is that his timing / judgement of when and where passes are coming seems to have deserted him. Some occasions are obviously mainly the fault of the passer, but at other times he is just not reacting quickly enough, never mind anticipating.
Possibly trying too hard at times and can look a little weary, but definitely not lazy.
I don't think Ossie put in as much effort as Baines or Pienaar and, whilst good overall, did waste some possession whilst under minimal pressure so not my choice for MotM.
872 Posted 29/11/2012 at 14:18:24
874 Posted 29/11/2012 at 14:49:11
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