VIEW FROM THE BLUE
A dramatic injury-time goal by Marouane Fellaini rescued a point for Everton and capped a thrilling finale to a game that encapsulated the frustrations and short-comings that have wrecked the campaign so far. The Blues needed to come from behind twice to deny a spirited West Ham side and yet, had Seamus Coleman not somehow side-footed over a yawning goal with seven minutes left, Everton might well have won their second successive home game instead of notching their 12th draw of the season. And fans would be discussing how an exciting comeback had really papered over some very worrying cracks.
The stirring win over Tottenham, the demolition of Scunthorpe and the creditable, if slightly disappointing, draw at Anfield seemed to have heralded a new dawn for the Blues but there was so much here today that dragged the memory back to the horror show that was the 4-1 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the end of November it was frightening.
The Hammers, berated for their 5-0 capitulation at Newcastle two weeks ago, looked anything but the Premier League's bottom side and were, at times in the first half, carving through the home defence with defence-splitting balls with alarming regularity. Only poor finishing, the inability of Frederick Piquionne and Zavon Hines to stay onside, and the width of Tim Howard's post prevented Everton going into the interval staring into a scoreline akin to that humiliation by WBA.
After booing them off at half time, the Goodison Park crowd spent much of the second half letting the players know that they did not want a repeat of that awful result, but they were forced to endure the now boringly familiar failings in the final third of the field until desperation in the closing stages finally yielded the breakthrough needed to salvage a point.
Moyes named an unchanged line-up from the one that had started the Merseyside derby on Sunday and, lest it be forgotten, had performed in such a sub-par fashion in the first 45 minutes then, too. Louis Saha was passed fit but left on the bench to allow Victor Anichebe to start paying off that new five-year contract as Jermaine Beckford's strike partner. Leon Osman started in left midfield ahead of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in the now permanent absence of Steven Pienaar.
A corner in the first minute set the tone, though, conceded by Piquionne (who seemed to be omni-present until he was dismissed for a second yelllow card late on) and wasted by Mikel Arteta, whose perplexing loss of accuracy with that once deadly boot was so painfully in evidence today that you just wanted to pull your jumper over your head and hide every time he stepped up to the ball.
Six minutes in, Piquionne tried an ambitious shot from the corner of the Everton penalty area but flashed his shot wide before an episode of Keystone Cops played out in front of the Everton defence with Phil Neville and Fellaini giving the ball away cheaply in quick succession and setting up a chance for Mark Noble but he sent a dipping shot just over the bar when he really should have hit the target.
At the other end, there were a couple of half-chances for Beckford, the better of them when Arteta picked him out just inside the West Ham box and the striker atoned for poor ball control earlier in the half by taking it in stride before being denied by a combination of Tomkins and Rob Green before he could get his shot off.
Fellaini drove over the bar after great work by Osman, Sylvain Distin had a goalbound shot blocked and Coleman saw a promising surge into the box come to nothing when he stumbled with defenders closing in on him but there just weren't any clear-cut chances being created like that which ended up in the lap of Jonathan Spector after 25 minutes.
Noble split the Blues' defence with a perfectly-weighted ball in behind Coleman and Neville for Luis Boa Morte and when he cut the ball back towards the penalty spot, there was Spector coimpletely unmarked to ram the ball past Howard and give West Ham the lead. No one had tracked the midfielders run, least of Fellaini who had slowed to walking pace outside the area by the time Boa Morte and delivered the crucial assist.
Matters threatened to get a lot worse soon afterwards when a Distin giveaway allowed Piquionne to attempt a chip over Howard but the goalkeeper was able to make a comfortable catch. And seven minutes before the break, the Frenchman thought he'd doubled West Ham's lead when he met Spector's cross and headed goalwards, only to see the ball bounce off the inside of the post, roll across the face of goal and past the other post.
The discontent from the home crowd was now unmistakable and completely understandable. There was just no movement, no imagination and no discermible plan from Everton. On one occasion, Baines was left to take on two men to try and get a cross in because there were no Blue jerseys within 20 yards of him.
On another, Fellaini was in possession midway inside the opposition half just looking for someone to link up with but Osman, Arteta and Anichebe were all standing motionless on the 18 yard-line seemingly waiting for something to happen.
Osman eventually came out wide, lost a tackle in powder-puff fashion and seconds later, the ball was in Howard'sd net, though the "goal" was, thankfully, chalked off for offiside.
With the boos ringing in his ears as he took his team up the tunnel for half-time, Moyes decided to introduce Saha ? it begged the quesiton why, if hee was deemed fit enough for the bench, was he not played from the start? ? but, inexpicably, he hauled off arguably the one player with any natural movement in the form of Beckford.
Granted, little had worked for Beckford up to that point but he'd been a willing runner and had looked more likely to score than Anichebe whose performance deteriorated as the game wore on. In any case, the problem lay not with the strikers but with the almost non-existent service from midfield, with the quality of the final ball as bad as it's been at any time this season.
It was not helped by some poor performances all over the park. Heitinga had perhaps his worst game at centre half since he joined, Arteta started brightly enough but then lost his way, and Fellaini was mis-placing passes left, right and center. Coleman and Osman, while not playing badly, just weren't able to get anything working down either flank and the latter faded into virtual anonimity in the second half, somehow escaping the hook from Moyes.
Chances for the Blues were few and far between and by the hour mark they'd been out-shot eight to four by the visitors which prompted Moyes to withdraw Anichebe, replace him with Bilyaletdinov and ? surprise! ? push Fellaini up into the "Cahill" role for the final 20 minutes. On the face of it, it seemed a retrograde step that reeked of desperation, expecially because the Belgian had won just one header in the opposition area up to that point... and that was to rob Seamus Coleman of a free header at the back post from a deep Leighton Baines cross.
Initially, Moyes's latest change looked doomed from the start as West Ham found some life for the first time in the second half. Hines found space to volley just wide before Heitinga's latest giveaway went unpunished as Noble shot weakly at Howard while at the other end, Baines had caught Arteta's set-piece malaise and just could not get a corner past the first man ? usually Piquionne ? to save his life.
But the manager was vindicated to an extent with 13 minutes left when Fellaini finally found his jumping boots to head back across the box where Bilyaletdinov swiveled smoothly and fired past Green to level the game. The Russian had needed just nine minutes to show that, just like last season, when given the opportunity he can score goals.
Two minutes later, the comeback was almost complete when Coleman, having robbed Boa Morte on the edge of the area, arrowed a wonderful shot with his weaker left foot literally an inch past the post. It was agonisingly close but nothing compared to what would follow four minutes later.
Fellaini hid driven inside and laid the ball off to Osman who initially appeared to have let it get away from him with a poor first touch but he poked it through to Saha who, in one lightning quick motion, turned and fired off a snapshot that Green did well to parry but only into the path of Coleman. The Irishman just had to side-foot into the empty net but he somehow shinned it over before crumping to the turf in disbelief.
90 seconds later, West Ham had retaken the lead. When a corner wasn't cleared and the ball came back out to Wayne Bridge who had the freedom of Goodison out on the right flank, he had time to whip in a cross that Piquionne steered into the top corner before wheeling away in delight and jumping the advertising hoardings to bury himself in the traveling Hammers fans. Having been booked for an off-the-ball incident just a few minutes earlier, this transgression of FIFA's killjoy regulations naturally resulted in a sending off.
Whereupon Moyes threw Rodwell on for the unimpressive Neville and Everton mounted another sustained assault on the West Ham area. With the game ticking into injury time, Saha tried to recreate his heroics against Spurs with another terrific low show with his right foot but Green tipped it past the post for a late corner.
Though Baines again failed to beat the first man, the ball was crossed back in, Rodwell nodded it into Fellaini's path and, after chesting it forward, the big-haired midfielder turned and buried it into the West Ham goal to restore parity once more... and snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.
Overall, this was a poor display and once that erased much of the optimism that had been fostered by the previous three results. It's hard to say whether the presence of Pienaar would have changed much because the South African was a party to many performances as frustrating as this this season. His departure, though, just intensifies the feeling that there is a general lack of quality about Everton, one that will not be addressed by Osman's fleeting moments of brilliance or perhaps the mercurial talents of Bilyaletdinov.
The Russian has been making a decent case for greater involvement in the side, though, in recent games and his goals return surely out-weighs the inconsistencies in his game, a problem that isn't going to get any better while he spends 75 minutes of every game on the bench.
Up front, it's also clear that when Saha is fit, he must partner Beckford. Anichebe hasn't shown nearly enough to warrant a regular starting place; he doesn't have Beckford's pace or movement or Saha's ability to turn a game with a moment of brilliance.
Ultimately, though, the macro problem lies in Moyes's chronically small transfer kitty and it's that lack of investment that, in combination with the manager's apparent inability to replicate the for of a year ago, that has really killed any chance of mounting a sustained challenge for the Champions League, both this season and for the foreseeable future.
Player Ratings: Howard 6, Neville 5 (Rodwell 6), Heitinga 5, Distin 7, Baines 6, Coleman 6, Arteta 6, Fellaini 6, Anichebe 6 (Bilyaletdinov 7), Beckford 5 (Saha 7)
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1 Posted 23/01/2011 at 07:26:10
2 Posted 23/01/2011 at 08:51:56
Arteta needs to be benched or pushed out to the left. Personally I'd give Bilyaletdinov a run instead of Arteta. Fellaini and Rodwell in the middle. Coleman out right. Osman can make an impact / steal a goal from the bench. Also try Gueye as a 70th minute sub in games like yesterday's.
We have been crap at corners for years - yesterday just summed it up - can't beat the first man repeatedly and without the problem being addressed.
3 Posted 23/01/2011 at 08:35:00
What also further depressed me yesterday was Saha's teasing glimpses of sublime movement and technique, the likes of which we have been crying out for all season in the final third. Sadly, procuring such quality doesn't come cheap!
4 Posted 23/01/2011 at 08:56:00
Q. David, what did you make of the game?
A. Moyes makes a rambling long winded statement that tells us absolutely nothing.
Q. David, where did Everton go wrong?
A. Moyes makes a rambling long winded statement that tells us absolutely nothing.
Q. David, what do you think about your upcoming games?
A. Moyes makes a rambling long winded statement that tells us absolutely nothing.
Q. David, etc, etc.
My question to you all is, whats it feel like to be treated like mushrooms?
5 Posted 23/01/2011 at 09:38:54
6 Posted 23/01/2011 at 09:35:06
Howard 6, Neville 5 (Rodwell 6), Heitinga 6, Distin 7, Baines 6, Coleman 5, Arteta 3, Osman 5, Fellaini 7, Anichebe 5 (Bilyaletdinov 7), Beckford 6 (Saha 7)
When is Gueye going to see the light of day again??? There must be a quality attacking midfielder somewhere in the lower leagues or Europe who would jump at the chance at of moving to the Prem to show their skills off. Perhaps we dont have the scouts anymore??? Perhaps that is the problem...
7 Posted 23/01/2011 at 10:41:42
This is badly used resources, money we could have used elsewhere on somebody who can play football.
One of Moyes biggest weaknesses has been his judgement of over-rated players i.e. Hibbert, Osman, Neville, Vaughn, Howard, and his negative attitude of those who could in fact do something if given a proper chance i.e. Heitinga, Bily, Beckford, Duffy and Mucha among others.
Absolutely amazing that he took off Beckford yesterday instead of Anichebe. But were any of us surprised? No, because we are use to these balls-ups, time and time again. Must be his last season. Dont think I could stand him being in charge of a new campaign.
8 Posted 23/01/2011 at 12:00:58
If Saha is not fit, Fellaini must be the default to partner Beckford. Anichebe has no striker qualities, in fact he's more a rugby player.
Billys goal? More confirmation that he is not a wide player.
Replace the big contract, turned retired Arteta with Billy.
Moyes's problem is that he's got his bum boys and if they are fit he can not resist playing them, regardless of form ? Arteta, Cahill, Anichebe. Luckily Cahill has been scoring goals.
People call for Moyes's head, I know why. But what skilled, forward looking manager is going to come to a cashless club? None.
Moyes has his contract, he may even run it down and leave himself.
The we can bring back Howard Kendal... just make sure the bar is stocked up.
9 Posted 23/01/2011 at 12:27:14
I have read other reports and reviews from fans who claim Fellaini was clearly MOTM, but in reality nobody in a blue shirt could claim to earn that award on that pathetic performance. He misplaced just as many passes as Heitinga, Arteta, Baines, Coleman, etc in fact its easier just to say the entire team. I suppose at least the big man does show some kind of passion - something which is clearly missing from our little spaniard. Arteta simply looks like a player who doesn't care anymore, probably regretting signing a new contract with a terminally ill club.
I went to the game hoping to finally see a long awaited mauling and goalfest, but came away from the game feeling like we are inadequately equipped to deal with a impending relegation scrap.
10 Posted 23/01/2011 at 12:37:53
11 Posted 23/01/2011 at 12:55:49
12 Posted 23/01/2011 at 12:57:05
They should have been in the Lower Gwladys yesterday when Heitinga, waiting in the area for a dead ball to come in, clenched his fists and berated the fans to pump up the volume; hea got a cheer all right - the biggest combined `fuck off'' I've ever heard
The mood of match-going fans is visibly and audibly turning to anger
13 Posted 23/01/2011 at 13:21:32
Neville also did the same thing twice yesterday in front of the Paddock. Once early in the second half and then again just after Bily scored. It didn't get the desired response and instead led to a few "cheeky twat" comments. The players are the ones who urgently need to get their acts together, not the fans.
14 Posted 23/01/2011 at 13:26:12
At least with Moyes, given his past track record over the past 9 years that very few managers can touch (even if he hasn't won anything), there is always hope. I honestly think of Moyes goes, that will be the beginning of the end and we will become another Sheffield Wednesday within 5 years. Moyes does make questionable decisions at the moment -
a) his treatment of Beckford and lack of patience with him compared to others is appalling;
b ) the decision to hand Victor Anichebe a 4 and 1/2 year contract is astonishing, given his lack of consistency and that he has never really had any sort of sustained spell of good form or goalscoring run in the past 5 years;
c) Leon Osman is not the answer to our left side of midfield problem;
d) The chronic lack of pace throughout the whole side - Ronnie Goodlass rightly pointed out on the radio that Piqueonne for West Ham cost a relative pittance yet his pace and movement caused us massive problems.
The thing is, a lot of these issues can be solved by money - money would have allowed us to keep Pienaar. Money would have allowed us to buy a better striker than Beckford (as hard as he tries and as undeserved as his treatment is) and it would also have allowed us to get rid of Anichebe instead of clinging on to a player like he is some sort of great prospect, when the reality is he's a poor man's Yakubu.
Yes, Moyes needs to do better with our meagre resources, but just because he worked miracles in recent years doesn't mean he can always do so. This should be recognised as such, and not used as a stick to beat him with.
15 Posted 23/01/2011 at 13:22:38
West Ham set up 4-5-1, kept it tight and fort for every ball. The extra midfield player told and as we tried to push forward more and more, the lack of a defensive midfield player left us vunerable to the counterattack. West Ham looked like they would score every time our attacks broke down. There was a huge gap in front of our defence which they continued to exploit in full. In the end we were very fortunate to get anything from the game. I'll bet Moyes reverts back to 4-5-1 and frankly who can blame him after this?
The only way you can cope with 4-4-2 is if you have a disciplined midfield player who knows how to defend and when to defend as well as attack. It certainly isn't Arteta. Rodwell would have been a better option but whoever it is the defensive side to the role needs to be drilled into them. If not then prepare for more performances like the one witnessed against West Ham.
16 Posted 23/01/2011 at 14:03:36
A couple of points. While it's a shame Seamus didn't bury that chance, a win would only paper over the cracks. The one person who needs to respond to yesterday is Bill Kenwright. He needs to get some dosh from somewhere so we can find some quality.
Victor is simply not good enough, Beckford tries but I'm not convinced he's the right stuff. We're fortunate to have got Saha for free, because he seems the only genuine quality we have up front (since the Yak got injured). Maybe in the short term Fellaini should play up front. His touch lets him down at times but he occasionally shows in flashes some pure magic - one to set up chaces for Louis perhaps?
I know forwards are only as good as the service they get, but sometimes the providers are stymied by the limitations of those they play behind. I mean, how best do you serve Victor? Put the ball on the line and ask him to tap it in? He's scored 1 goal in something like 35 appearances. And we give him another fourn and a half years on how many thousands a week?
Fellaini was our best player yesterday but the MotM was plying for West Ham - before he stupidly got himself sent off.
17 Posted 23/01/2011 at 14:12:26
I thought yesterday's problem was twofold.
1. The balance of the side is woeful.Anichebe is never a left sided player nor a centreforward. His only strength is cutting in from the right and shooting. Osman is never a left winger as has been obvious for quite some time.
2. The players are not motivated and cannot Get a boost from the now "Morgue like" atmosphere at GP.
They look in a state of bewilderment as to why we are letting good players out on loan or selling them because we're skint and yet we can afford new contracts for Arteta,Anichebe and Coleman.
BTW I believe Beckford was carrying an injury just before he was subbed.
18 Posted 23/01/2011 at 22:26:10
19 Posted 24/01/2011 at 10:15:29
I agree with that. His subs and tactics are baffling. The last 20 mins we were an absolute shambles. We got a point through luck alone, we should have been beaten out of sight.
20 Posted 24/01/2011 at 13:27:40
21 Posted 24/01/2011 at 17:27:24
I had really great hopes for James Vaughan and had only given up on him due of his injury record. If he is fit we should keep him. Thats still the problem though, if he is fit?
I have never come on here shouting my mouth off with regards to finances at the club but its an absolute disgrace. When we can't even compete with the likes of Bolton. It just says it all. I'm getting to the stage were I wonder why I bother.
22 Posted 24/01/2011 at 22:08:41
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