COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Walking up to the match and there was quite a good buzz about the place. For the first time perhaps since our last date with Wembley in 2009 the feel good factor was there. For the first time in ages we all headed into the game with confidence. Did anybody really think we weren?t going to win yesterday?
The teams came out to great applause. Just a few changes from the heroics of Tuesday evening. Distin given a well earned rest and Jagielka replacing he; Hibbert in for Neville probably as expected and Pienaar in for Gueye?also probably as expected despite an excellent performance from the young Frenchman on Tuesday evening. West Brom going with two up front in the shape of Long and Odemwingie; Chris Brunt, Paul Scharner, Liam Ridgewell and Ben Foster all also featuring for the visitors. A special announcement was also reserved for the referee Peter Walton who is all set for a new role in the States working with the MLS. Though he officiated generally well yesterday I won?t be disappointed to se the back of this hapless official.
Everton attacked towards the Park End in the first half and went about their business impressively, getting straight into West Brom from the start. It took only 17 minutes to go ahead. An excellent turn by Leon Osman took him away from his marker, a lovely one-two with Jelavic and he was licensed to shoot. Shoot he did though only found the net via a sizeable deflection from McAuley. I think that?s Osman?s goal personally but it seems to have been credited as an own goal. I guess it all depends on whether the shot was originally on target or not. Regardless we were ahead and though lucky with the strike it wasn?t fortunate with the way we had started. When you have the momentum ? as we seem to at the moment ? these things tend to go your way at both ends of the pitch. This was epitomized when Brunt looked set to score with an open goal but managed to hit Shane Long on the goal line and the ball went out for a goal kick. Elsewhere in the half Fellaini came very close to scoring with a decent drive from the edge of the box but you felt comfortable ? so comfortable in fact I even joined Gary for a half time beverage. All smiles at the break.
The second half was more of the same. Everton dominant and controlled ? West Brom almost looked resigned to defeat. The killer second goal was a lovely one also. An excellent run from Pienaar who played in substitute Anichebe at the edge of the box. Big Vic steadying himself and placing a lovely low drive into the corner. That silenced a few critics who booed his arrival onto the pitch. 2-0. Job done.
It could have been more of course as Pienaar and Jelavic both wasted decent chances to add some gloss on the scoreline and, more importantly, provide us with a healthier goal difference than ?0?. Had Pienaar have scored the goal would have been particularly impressive after fantastic work by Jelavic. Overall, a good solid performance from the Blues ensuring it wasn?t a case of ?After the Lord Meyer?s Show?. The comedy moment of the game came when Ben Foster and Peter Odemwingie went head to head in a disagreement. The win of course takes us up into seventh position, ahead of our great rivals Liverpool for a day at the very least.
Following the match I met up with the others for a few swift ones before catching up with the lads I was due to go the Cast gig with a few jars in town. A great day all round really.
So it seems like all systems go at the moment. There?s certainly a buzz amongst the supporters, the team look confident and committed. We?re finally scoring goals and we?ve stopped conceding them (only the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool have conceded fewer). We?re certainly in peek form as we approach our Merseyside derby FA Cup Semi-Final?this is all very exciting indeed.
Howard: Largely untested. Dealt with corners etc quite comfortably. 6
Baines: Did well at both ends of the pitch. 7
Jagielka: Coped just fine. As Gary said ? you don?t really get much better back-up at centre-back than Phil Jagielka. 7
Heitinga: Calm and composed. Makes defending look very easy. Certainly on top form. 7
Hibbert: Fine all round really. Great defensively and provided good support going forward. I?m not so sure Pienaar likes passing to him mind. I saw quite a few occasions when Hibbert was open for a pass in the second half when Pienaar switched to the right wing but he often seemed reluctant to do it. It seems quite clear he?ll never score a goal. I don?t like the ?shooooot? shouts every time he gets the ball as I think it unsettles him, but even I screamed it when he was played in for what seemed a great opportunity to have a dip at goal. What did he go and do instead? Panicked and flipped up a ridiculous high hanging ball which went straight out for a goal kick. He?ll never get that goal but I still admire his loyalty and generally good defensive work. Are he and Ossie now due a testimonial? 7
Fellaini: Had quite a busy game. There was quite a bit of talk before the game of the notion of Fellaini picking up a deliberate yellow card in this one to get his two game suspension out of the way before the FA Cup Semi-Final. He didn?t get the card but I?ve just checked with the official website and with PremierLeague.com and it seems he?s currently on eight yellow cards which is good because it means he can carry on playing and if he gets one against Norwich simply rest him against Sunderland to ensure he can play in the big game. 7
Gibson: My man of the match. His best game yet in my opinion. Did a lot of the donkey work and kept possession well. Lets hope he can keep on going. 8
Pienaar: Had a good lively game and should have added a goal to his assist. I was just watching David Moyes on Sky Sports ?Goals on Sunday? and he hinted that we could be signing him up in the summer. Fingers crossed! 8
Osman: Did some good work for the goal and was having a lively game until taken off at the break with a minor knock. 7
Cahill: Not quite at his best. Probably tired from Tuesday night. Was a sensible substation taking him off as he?d already collected a booking?and Big Vic came on and scored of course. 5
Jelavic: Busy though not quite at his best. Could and should have scored with one chance and was unlucky not to provide an assist with another. All in all, I think we?ve got to be very satisfied with our new centre forward. 6
Gueye (for Osman): Had his best game yet by far on Tuesday and was unlucky not to start yesterday. Nevertheless, he came on and did well. Finally looks quite settled. There was all sorts of rumours about Drenthe flying around at the game and you don?t quite know what to believe but the door may be quite ajar for Gueye to come in and step it up, particularly with Pienaar unavailable for the FA Cup. 7
Anichebe: Came on and scored the decisive goal. You can?t ask for more than that. 7
McFadden: Tried desperately to make an impact in the short time he had on the pitch but couldn?t quite get going unfortunately. Nice to see him get some game time though?however little. 5
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267 Posted 01/04/2012 at 18:05:30
Agree with Gibson MOTM had a top top game.
Now if we only still had Donovan that would be some team! Still a lot weaker down the right than left. Hibbert had a good game though and put a lot of decent crosses in for once.
340 Posted 02/04/2012 at 02:19:53
376 Posted 02/04/2012 at 02:19:53
381 Posted 02/04/2012 at 11:04:23
When compared to the likes of Van Der Vaart, Ben Arfa, Sigurrdson, silva or suarez who play in similar roles i feel that maybe this is the position we should be looking to re-inforce in the summer...unless of course Moyes begins to give Barkley (who seems like a natural successor) more time to share the burden with Timmy.
391 Posted 02/04/2012 at 11:54:41
I'm not a big fan of Anichebe but that is a disgrace!! If I were him I'd stick the Vee up every time I scored! Isnt that 4 now for him?
Our fans make me cringe sometimes!
401 Posted 02/04/2012 at 12:43:36
404 Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:04:46
A good performance again. I was a bit worried of an FA Cup hangover. West Brom have a fairly good away record aswell. However we played some great stuff in patches and got the job done.
One question I'd like to ask is where is Vellios? Surely he would make a much bigger impact than McFadden.
Our bench is looking a bit weak - we could do with Rodwell and Coleman being fit again, and Vellios being considered. Also, what does everyone make of the decision to play Barkley in the Dallas Cup?
405 Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:26:39
408 Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:24:40
So where did the isolated booing come from if at all?
412 Posted 02/04/2012 at 13:23:23
Glad to get the 3 points in this one. As Tom @404 says, WB have a good away record this season and it was a potential banana skin but we managed to avoid it. Just hope we can keep it up before the Semi's where we play a couple of winnable games. Would be nice to roll up at Wembley on a winning streak especially when the RS are going the other way!
466 Posted 02/04/2012 at 18:03:32
Cahill is now the weakest player for me. We've come a long way since nuisance value alone was sufficient to get a starting place.
Drenthe is a liability in my opinion, so I'll lose no sleep over him being unavailable.
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