VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Wigan Athletic 1 - 1 Everton
Everton recovered from conceding a calamitous goal to grab a point at Wigan but left their sizeable traveling contingent with the feeling that this was an opportunity missed against the Premier League's bottom club.
Victor Anichebe came off the bench to score another crucial goal but there was more embarassment for Tim Howard at the other end as a deflection off Phil Neville spun off a divot and through his hands to give the home side a lead they never looked like earning on their own.
Ironically, it was the Latics' goal that sparked the urgency from the Blues that they had otherwised lacked to drive home their superiority in a dour second half played in the cold wet at the DW Stadium.
David Moyes opted for one of his two new signings from the start, deploying Steven Pienaar from the start on the left flank and leaving Nikica Jelavic on the substitutes' bench, but it was the manager's decision to bring Phil Neville on and not the Croatian striker for the injured Tim Cahill at half time that will have raised eyebrows.
Indeed, despite the South African slotting back into left midfield like he'd never left and providing the lively link-up play that was at the heart of Everton's best moments early, the Blues just looked ponderous and tame up front for much of this sleet-driven encounter.
Denis Stracqualursi was rewarded for two impressive displays by keeping his place up front and his workrate was undiminished but he and Cahill made for a fairly leaden-footed partnership, with Everton attacks again breaking down when things got tight in the final third.
The Argentine did force the first save of the game, though, with a toe-poked affort that Ali Al-Habsi gathered comfortably after 12 minutes, that came at a time when the Blues were stroking the ball around really nicely at times. But for all their patience and probing going forward, Everton created few chances and their momentum stalled, as usual, around the 20 mimute mark.
However, while Jean Beausejour was providing regular service into the Blues' area from the Wigan left, the central defensive partnership of John Heitinga and the returning Sylvain Distin were mopping things up fairly comfortably even if the Frenchman looked a little rusty in the first half.
Chances were at a premium and after Heitinga had hooked a soft shot into the 'keeper's arms and brilliant defending by Tony Hibbert had denied Franco di Santo, Darron Gibson side-footed the best chance of the first 45 miuntes disappointingly over the bar. Leighton Baines had robbed Emerson Boyce superbly on the left and cut the ball back invitingly from the byline but Gibson was unable to repeat his heroics from Tuesday evening.
Moyes's mystifying decision to put Neville on at the break and move Marouane Fellaini forward alongside the isolated Stracqualursi did not help matters and the lack of a striker with a natural touch in the box was evidenced eight minutes into the second half when the Argentine delivered a great cross to the Belgian but Fellaini's first touch was poor and the chance was lost.
Jelavic finally got his chance with an hour gone, though, when he replaced Stracqualursi, but the fact that he barely touched the ball in half an hour on the pitch and Landon Donovan was simillarly anonymous was perhaps illustrative of how Everton's early cohesion had evaporated.
Indeed, with neither side showing much ability to win it, the game appeared to be drifting towards a goalless conclusion when disaster struck in the Everton defence with 15 minutes to go. Neville stuck out a leg to block a Beausejour cross from the left and the ball spun off the uneven turf, wrong-footing Howard and the American just flapped at air as the ball dropped into the net.
Everton responded ? as they had to ? though, and when Baines' 82nd-minute corner came back to him and he whipped a left-footer in at the second attempt, substitute Victor Anichebe rose to glance a perfect header into the far corner to bring the Blues level again.
Unfortunately, though, Moyes's side were not able to seize the initiative to steal a late win. Jelavic won a late free kick when he was wrestled to the ground by Maynor Figueroa but Baines swept the resulting free kick over the bar.
Overall, a highly disappointing performance after the fireworks against City on Tuesday evening and in the final reckoning it's going to be in results like these where the chance for European qualification was lost. The first quarter of proceedings aside, urgency was missing and the introduction of Neville for Cahill combined with the decision not to introduce Royston Drenthe at some point was a misstep that perhaps assumed that the Blues would be able to force a goal from somewhere against a poor Wigan team.
With just 15 games of another lost season remaining, you'd think that the manager would have gone a bit more gung-ho once it had become clear that Wigan were there for the taking if Everton could just create some clear-cut chances. Ultimately, it's this conservatism and lack of dynamism in Moyes's approach that will keep the critics on his back.
Player Ratings: Howard 5, Hibbert 7 (Anichebe 7), Heitinga 7, Distin 6, Baines 7, Gibson 5, Fellaini 6, Donovan 6, Pienaar 7*, Cahill 5 (Neville 5) Stracqualursi 6 (Jelavic 6),
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494 Posted 04/02/2012 at 20:56:32
499 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:11:11
503 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:33:37
506 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:11:16
508 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:43:22
510 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:40:53
Without the mud slinging, what tactical reason would Moyes choose this over Jelly or Drenthe upfront with Denis and Fallaini in the middle?
The game was open, Fallaini was doing well, and there's match winners on the bench. Fallaini goes upfront and Johan Neville comes into the middle.
512 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:44:12
513 Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:55:05
516 Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:18:13
I wish Wigan had scored much earlier then it would have shaken us out of the slumber.
Alternatively we could have had a manager with balls who played two up front and told them to go out there and thrash a very poor Wigan side.
This was a game we could and should have won comfortably.
Never mind Chelsea next let's see if we can nick another point towards safety.
517 Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:05:13
And you wonder why people are fed up with him?
519 Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:18:26
It's for reasons like this that I've fallen out of love with Moyes. I hate CONTINUOUSLY playing like cowards.
524 Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:30:06
Time after time lowly Wigan sliced us open only to be denied by desperate last minute interceptions by Hibbert, Heitinga and Distin.
The closer we got to their goal our own attacks lamely petered out. After that lack lustre performance it is becoming more than ever true that Moyes does not have a clue about attacking football. Whatever he is feeding into the players shows his lamentable ability in that part of the game.
My biggest worry is that he actually believes his own words.
with premiership survival the best we can hope for.
Once again our maestro should glance across the park to learn from Daglish.
528 Posted 04/02/2012 at 23:09:25
Daglish has has a much stronger idea of what is acceptable and holds a much higher regard for the intelligence of RS supporters than Moyes has for ours.
531 Posted 04/02/2012 at 23:33:37
542 Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:10:35
555 Posted 05/02/2012 at 01:12:33
559 Posted 05/02/2012 at 02:14:03
562 Posted 05/02/2012 at 02:32:16
He knows the limitations of our squad and is thus forced to play his cards at the right time.
Now, don't blame him for the limitations of the squad - this transfer window confirms that he knows what is missing, but can't do anything until the money is in.
588 Posted 05/02/2012 at 09:19:20
Come to that, why aren't they on from the start. Only Moyes can answer that but don't hold your breath waiting for him.
He treats the fans like mushrooms.
607 Posted 05/02/2012 at 09:57:17
We all see how he says it's his fault not theirs, he has less than 18months on his contract and he was full of praise for the Spurs Board recently.
If 'Arry gets the England job, expect in my opinion to see Moyes leave and to become a completely different (fluid and attacking) manager.
694 Posted 05/02/2012 at 15:34:31
739 Posted 05/02/2012 at 19:01:15
So come on, Moyes ? we are virtually safe now, so let's start having a go from the first whistle and show a positive attitude..
760 Posted 05/02/2012 at 20:53:46
Even if we don't, we'll finish the season on a high!
816 Posted 06/02/2012 at 09:33:17
I really, really hope so. Get Big Joe or Sheedy in for a few months and then get Redknapp in once he's done his porridge. He might be a dodgy knut with too much skin but he knows how the game should be played.
818 Posted 06/02/2012 at 09:55:23
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