COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
It?s such an easy drive to Wigan and you?re there in no time at all. A shame then that the three most accessible away grounds in terms of ticket allocation and travel could all quite easily be relegated this season ? Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic. We parked up probably a little closer to the stadium than usual this time and went for a few drinks in the Queens Arms ? a cracking little away pub. Very old fashioned but also with pool table, darts board, live sports and cheap food?like I say, it?s a shame we probably won?t be gathering there next season.
It?s perhaps fair to say the pub was the highlight of the day. The weather was atrocious ? a freezing combination of sleet and snow. We marched onto the ground, getting to our seats just in time for kick off. Nice seats ? quite near the front towards the corner flag on the dugout side so you could see the players warming up. 4250 hardy Evertonians packed into the North Stand. The rest of the ground sparsely populated. In fact the overall attendance of 18340 ensures that Evertonians made up 23% of the entire support ? almost a quarter overall. Fantastic support from Everton. Dismal from Wigan in what is more of a Rugby League town I suppose.
Moyes didn?t change it much from the brilliant win over Manchester City on Tuesday. Sylvain Distin was deemed fit enough so was straight back in the team at centre back with Neville the man to make way and Hibbert moving to right back. Otherwise it wasn?t too surprising that Pienaar was put straight into the team replacing Royston Drenthe. Dennis Stracqualursi continued in attack with new signing Jelavic on the substitutes bench alongside Anichebe, Drenthe, Gueye, Neville, Duffy and Mucha.
Some Evertonians were in fine voice even though there was little to cheer about on the pitch. Both teams struggled badly with the conditions. The pitch was very heavy. It was more of a case of ?who will make the first mistake? than anything else really ? where?s Titus Bramble when you need him!
Chances in the first half were few. Cahill curling a reasonable chance well over; Stracqualursi jabbing one at goal which was comfortable for Al Habsi and just before the break Gibson blazing horribly over with quite a good chance, particularly after his goal against Manchester City. At the other end Di Santo had a decent chance though it was comfortably saved by Howard. Not much to shout about at all. We went down a little early at the break to warm up a little bit and maybe get a Bovril. We shouldn?t have been surprised I suppose that we weren?t the only ones with this bright idea and the concourse was absolute bedlam at the interval as it was just so busy. It?s quite surprising there wasn?t enough room in what is a relatively new stadium. God knows what would have happened had there have been a fire.
Anyway, back to the second half and though the game was slightly improved it was still very poor viewing. Cahill must have had a knock and was replaced by Neville. Many thought this change should have been more positive and that Anichebe or Jelavic should have been introduced instead. Everton were looking good in patches in possession in the Wigan half though always appeared to want to make that extra pass and seemed reluctant to shoot. Gibson tried one from distance though it was comfortable for Al Habsi. Otherwise Pienaar and Fellaini were the most industrious albeit with no end product. Jelavic replaced Stracqualursi on the hour mark as Moyes rolled the dice. The Croat looked quite lively and seems keen to get involved in the play, however we were left chasing the game on when Wigan scored, or rather we scored for them, when Neville put through his own net in calamitous circumstances.
I think it all began when a free kick was ridiculously given against Donovan near the half way line. The ball was somehow smuggled down our right hand side and crossed in and I couldn?t see how but the ball somehow ended up in the net. From what I could tell Howard had made a real howler and now that I?ve seen it again you really wonder how he let that one in ? the ball spinning goalwards via a Neville deflection though all he had to do was land on it. Instead he let the ball bounce, the bounce taking the ball slightly away from where he thought it would and it was in. Unbelievable.
It didn?t take Moyes long to get Anichebe on and for the third time this season the Nigerian international has come off the bench to grab us an important goal, this one from a corner. Baines whipping it in, Caldwell heading it out but only back to Baines. The England left back putting the ball back into the mixer with a lot of height and bodies in there. Anichebe connected and glanced a lovely header into the corner. 1-1 and that was pretty much it. The remaining minutes ebbed and flowed but neither team could score. The most infuriating moment came just near the end when we were in a good position down the right with players in the box when out of nowhere the referee Anthony Taylor blew up for an apparent foul by Jelavic completely off the ball. It seemed a really poor decision to me.
Full time and we shuffled away and back to the car. It took an age to get out of Wigan and back onto the motorway though we were still home in good time and able to defrost for the night. A poor performance from Everton?a poor match all round but at least we rescued a point in really poor playing conditions. What?s the reckoning we turn over Chelsea next game after this display?
Now wouldn?t that be just like Everton.
Howard: Rather jittery throughout and totally at fault with the goal. I remember his fumble on the opening game at Blackburn last season and he responded with a remarkable stop from Scholes a few games later. Let?s hope he gets it out of his system similarly this time around as lets face it, he?ll need to be on top form against Chelsea next Saturday. 4
Baines: Had a great game I thought particularly getting forward. Was really pushing on for the winner towards the end of the game and seemed to want it more than most. Is probably pleased to be working with Pienaar again. Set up the goal also. 8
Distin: Good, solid and comfortable. Fitted in just fine.7
Heitinga: Had a very solid game. Restricted Wigan to very few opportunities. Was always there with the tackle or interception. My man of the match. 8
Hibbert: Coped fine at the back and got forward a fair bit also. 7
Fellaini: Had quite a commanding game in the middle and did quite well when pushed further forward also. Still capable of more I think however. 7
Gibson: Had a dreadful game I thought. Worst player on the pitch in a yellow shirt (apart from Howard of course). Is going to take time to settle. 5
Pienaar: Had an excellent game. Always lively, always on the move and always looking a threat. Great to see him playing for us again. 8
Donovan: Looked a bit leggy and didn?t quite get going, though not for want of trying. 6
Cahill: Wasn?t doing too bad but then subbed at the break. Presumably its nothing too serious. 6
Stracqualursi: Didn?t get going with the same work rate we?ve seen from the last two games but it was a heavy pitch and difficult conditions. Was perhaps a bit knackered from Tuesday?s efforts also. 5
Neville (for Cahill): Hard to blame him for the own goal. Otherwise he got involved, got stuck in and did generally OK. 6
Jelavic (for Stracqualursi): Not a bad debut. Showed enough to me that he?s quite a classy, busy player who likes to get involved. Early impressions for me indicate he?ll be a hit. Let?s hope that?s not just wishful thinking. 6
Anichebe (for Hibbert): Had a good impact on the game of course with the goal. Otherwise he worked quite well though might have done better with a couple of things. Not bad though for a 10 minute show. 7
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737 Posted 05/02/2012 at 19:04:34
Everyone knows that Moyes has never picked a consistent winning team, we have always gone on winning runs when he has fallen ass backwards into a line-up because of injuries.
I really don't know what he plans to do once Neville and Cahill retire...
I've watched a few Wigan games this year and the thing that stood out for me (despite their poor defensive record) was always the amount of saves Al Habsi has made this year. Not sure about the stats but I'm sure he is in the top ten in that category.
Yea, I was worried that it would finish as a draw but only after we had peppered Wigan's goal with shots from all angles.
As we all now know that script was way off and another mental lapse from Howard nearly cost us but I don't blame him. There's so much pressure on him because of our style of play.
I agree that no one has a right to stroll into Wigan and take an automatic 3 points
But the very least we are entitled to is to ensure the worst team in the league's goalie gets a workout and breaks a sweat!
Just shoot! Forget adding bonus clauses for goals I suggest adding a bonus for shots...
757 Posted 05/02/2012 at 20:50:30
Bringing Neville on for Cahill showed Moyes's complete negative approach. It was an opportunity to go for it with Jelavic on straight away, or Drenthe. As always, we leave it until we are behind to try and go for it. Away at Man Utd, maybe acceptable. But against the 'mighty' Wigan?
Another 2 points lost. But, always the optimist, I am hoping we raise our game again and get 3 points against Chelsea!
801 Posted 06/02/2012 at 07:09:10
I awaited the team selection with interest. I expected that Pienaar would be straight in at the expense of Drenthe who Moyes clearly doesn't either like or trust. I hoped that Jelavic would be given a start but anticipated that Moyes would stick with Cahill and the Straq, which he did. In fairness they both worked their socks off against City so their selection for the Wigan game was not unwarranted.
Fast forward 60 minutes and the start of the second half and all the positivity of the previous 4 days evaporated as I saw Neville introduced at half-time for the injured Cahill. I was fuming! We have just paid Â£6m for someone to score us some goals yet Moyes believes Neville in midfield and our best performer of the first half, Fellaini, being pushed up front to be a positive move. FUCK OFF MOYES!!!
Can someone please come on here and give me one valid reason why that substitution was made because I have thought about it for the past 30 hours and still can't believe it.
We were playing the worst team I have seen all season and yet Moyes goes for the defensive cautious approach ? what a gutless tosser !
Anyway Davie, well done. You have managed to remind me that our ills cannot be solved merely by a couple of signings. You have managed to eradicate all the new found enthusiasm I had in one swift action. You are one negative twat, end of.
802 Posted 06/02/2012 at 07:10:32
866 Posted 06/02/2012 at 14:07:46
Whilst Everton may not be proving a very attractive proposition to those who are foolish enough to buy football clubs, relegation would almost certainly put an end to any hope Blue Bill has of `realising his asset`. It would not exactly please Evertonians either!
Some weeks ago, Davey said that - as ever - his first objective was to reach the magic 40 points mark. `After that we`ll see what we can do`, he added.
So, whilst a defensive approach to the Wigan game might not please everyone, the valuable point gained keeps us well on course for survival.
We can wait a little longer for excitement.
925 Posted 06/02/2012 at 18:10:56
929 Posted 06/02/2012 at 18:25:33
Woods out!! Lumsden Out!! Holden Out!! Out, out out!!!
047 Posted 07/02/2012 at 08:42:08
Then the penny dropped: Moyes has one job to do and that is to maintain the Premier League status, it makes no difference to Moyes and the Board how we play because midtable guarantees we get a pay day at season end, the players don't give a fuck ? they are paid millions to do as they are told or rot in the reserves. With a goal a game average this season, we are ultra defensive first and if we nick a win with the odd goal then great.
It's a business and the business is to get points and the magic 40. There is no ambition to win anything when your already on Â£65k a week playing no-risk football. The Wigan game had a goalless draw written all over it until an unfortunate bounce gave them a goal; we could have played for a week and they would not have scored. It's not a priority to get goals, it's points that matter... and even before we kick off, we have one in the bag.
This is the sad fact at EFC: we are happy to keep a clean sheet, satisfied with a 1-0 loss at Arsenal and, when the game plan falls over, there is no Plan B ? aka Bolton, QPR, et al. So, if you want to waste your hard-earned quids watching this shite, well, go ahead... because this is as good as it's going to get.
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