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From My Seat: Southampton (H)

By Ken Buckley   ::  29/09/2012

Back from the ‘Leeds experience’ — where I thought that, no matter how you viewed it, the wheels came off big-time with only management and players to blame, leaving fans to lick their wounds and chalk off another route to that elusive trophy.

On the walk up to the ground, things were back to normal, a real buzz with hot-dog stall, scarf and badge stall and Blue dragon chippy doing roaring trade and what seemed like thousands seeking out the lady giving away Everton-themed covers for the latest Fifa footy game.

The teams as announced continue to suggest that we have a very good first eleven but the bench looks thin so prayers were said for the prevention of injuries and sendings off this season.

We kicked off playing into the Street End and for 20 minutes we seemed in ‘Leeds’ mode. Sluggish, unimaginative and long ball merchants and it was no surprise to see us go behind early (6 mins), the manner of conceding right up there with the best of our switch-offs and really poor goalkeeping. A corner delivered in well within 'keeper, come and get it' range saw the keeper seem rooted to the spot and the ball clearing him, this was compounded by their No 10 completely unmarked one yard from goal heading into the gaping net. Silence from Blues fans and much arm waving and pointing from Blues players. What is really annoying for fans is that we are getting caught like this and getting better at it.

We did attack and Heitinga had a header go straight to the keeper then Jelavic looped one in that looked to be going top corner but the Saints keeper clawed it away from the angle. We then had a big let off when their No 9 was put clear through on goal but flashed his shot wide of the post. We could have been 0 - 2 down and really in a mess; instead, it brought 15 mins of super footy that destroyed Saints and more than satisfied the faithful.

It all started when Osman was brought into the game more. We stopped pumping the long-channel ball which earned some boos from some quarters, and played through midfield, and the often maligned one was dictating things and this soon rubbed off on others to produce a brand of football that simply tore through the opposition.

25 mins and Mirallas careered down the right and hit a low cross with power that Jelavic was first to but could not get a shot on goal but his effort fell to Osman who was following up and he made no mistake and rifled a shot that bulged the top corner netting. Oh joy, as the ground erupted and celebrated. From the restart, you could just see that we were right on our game and it was just a matter of time before the next goal came.

As the half-hour mark approached, we got the second, a goal made in Belgium and finished in Croatia. Mirallas and Fellaini exchanging passes whilst cutting through their rearguard and ending with Mirallas feeding Jelavic who took a touch that seemed to take him a little wide but he controlled well, looked up and sent a perfectly weighted and accurate pass across the keeper and into the net just inside the far post. A joy to behold and all celebrated.

The tension in the players that was generated by the crowd’s reaction to the poor start now evaporated and players and crowd joined forces and within 5 mins we were 3-1 up. Coleman had a dash down the right and the volume rose with each step as he danced past one defender and from the by-line dribbled past another and put a cross in to the far post that saw Jelavic rise and send a power header on target that the keeper got a fist to but could only help the ball on its way to the net. Celebrations were long and loud.

Jelavic now a hero, but the crowd still had time to berate him for falling with a touch of theatre on a few occasions; as one wag put it, ‘This is Goodison, not Anfield — and you are Jelly, not Suarez.’

The rest of the half was all Everton and could easily have been 6 by the interval. Jelavic wasted a header, Fellaini hit the bar and some last ditch tackling kept the score 3-1 at the break.

Half-time and the chat was how many we might get and what a bummer Tuesday night was. There were loud cheers for the family of Alan Ball where the famous red hair was once again on view courtesy of one of the lads.

The second half was a bit of a damp squib as it became apparent early doors that we were intent on holding what we had which in turn allowed the Saints more licence to attack which did produce some hairy moments; but for that 3-1 cushion, the crowd could have become more hostile, as it was a general grumble had to do.

Their Nos 7 and 10 went mighty close but the promptings of Osman kept us ticking over and when we had the urge some of our attacks could have increased the lead. Osman and then Mirallas both went close. We had a comical moment when a Saints chip from wide right beat Howard but just eluded the far post but from the angle of the away fans position it must have looked like it had gone in and they started to celebrate, much to the amusement of the Park End who were unmerciful in their banter.

The manager then made subs: Vic for Jelavic on 77 and then Oviedo for Mirallas on 80 with Pienaar going right to allow the Costa Rica man a run out with Bainsey. They were not on long so not much could be gleaned except to say we did have three good attacks down the left and Oviedo looked as though he can be decent cover for that flank as indeed he did in that debacle at Leeds.

Injury time and Distin replaced Osman who got a deserved whole ground show of appreciation. Final whistle but not much of a rendition of "If you know yer 'istory" – more just a filing out of fans happy with 3 points and a super 25 mins of footy out of the 94 on offer. To be fair, a good and welcome win but that second half was a touch boring.

MotM – Osman

Overall a good day out, second in the league after 6 games gives a warm glow... Imagine how warm that glow will be if we are still in second after 36 games. Back to the pub for a pint and the inquest and most seemed satisfied if not ecstatic. Plans were laid for our trip to Wigan next Saturday. And we definitely don’t want another West Brom scenario so much power to the manager’s elbow down Finch Farm this week that sees us gain three more points with a touch of style. As ever with footy, you just never know till the ref blows that final whistle. I hope for the best, see you there.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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David Price
016 Posted 30/09/2012 at 01:20:33
Get the poor stuff out of the way first: I can't believe Tim missed the cross for the first goal... and Heitinga's lack of pace for the second chance, a real concern. The next 25 minutes were awesome, absolute attacking feast of football.

I've got to say at one down, with 30 odd thousand fans, myself included, were pleading Everton to hoof the ball up to Fellaini, Pip, to everyones' frustration, chose to ignore it and demanded the ball short to keep possesion. After numerous passes, this led to the equaliser. That was leadership on the pitch, a factor a lot of people ignore when discussing Pips' qualities.

Osman was excellent today, Jelavic a class act, but the highlight of the day was in the last minute when Fellaini had a dicky fit for not receiving the right pass, and in arching his head back whilst tugging at his hair mass in a massive strop, seemed to trap a nerve in his neck, causing seemingly massive pain and massive laughter from the away fans from his drama queen reaction.

Look, we'll take 3-1 any day... and yes, we could have been punished in the second half, but I'm convinced our gears will go up in line with the opposition. Some great attacking play today and it's amazing how we are 2nd in the league yet we haven't really done a complete 90 minutes in any of our games.

Good job so far, but it counts for nothing if we don't turn the shite over next month.
Jim Harrison
019 Posted 30/09/2012 at 01:59:19
David, did you just say positive things about Pip and Osman? I must be on the wrong site!
David Price
022 Posted 30/09/2012 at 02:12:20
Jim, you must me getting me confused with someone else. They must have played well, or else we would have more than 2 comments so far!!
James Flynn
023 Posted 30/09/2012 at 01:25:16
Great stuff as always Ken. Much appreciated.

As much as I enjoy the daily back and forth of ToffeeWeb, I look forward most to the live reportage you and others provide us.

With all our new additions over the last 9 months, God help the clubs we're playing once we're hitting on all cylinders.

Derek Thomas
027 Posted 30/09/2012 at 03:22:36
I still don't know if I am worried or pleased that we only played in 3rd gear for 25 mins and won 3-1.

Howard has never been too hot on crosses into the 6-yard box, both he and the goalkeeper coach need to address his initial positioning for corners. Twice (maybe others I didn't see), but deffo once for their goal, he was standing too far toward the front of his goal.

He should be towards the back of his goal. You can get more power/speed/ height/momentum running forwards than backwards, mind you this assumes he is going to 'want' to attempt to dominate, or at least get into the mix in the 6-yard box, I think there is a bit of Dracula in him.

Neville; I think he knows he is only keeping Gibbo's spec warm and as it was yesterday, being only asked simple one-word answer type questions by Southampton, gave all the correct one-word answers, did the basic bare neccessities and on occasions used his nouse to cover left and right when others went walkabout on the attack/got stranded when it broke down. Not the end of the world to 'just do the basics right'.

Paul Johnson
039 Posted 30/09/2012 at 07:40:11
Assuming Gibson comes straight back in and Coleman maintains form at right back, who gets dropped? Neville is club captain and Moyes has a real history of always picking him. I would normally have said play him at right back but as a number of posters have rightly pointed out on other threads our right side looked as potent as our left today.
Still that is why he is manager and for the first time in a long time the selection conundrum is based on positives rather than negatives.
Another way of looking at it is you don't change a winning formula - so do we leave Gibson on the bench ?
Mike Gaynes
049 Posted 30/09/2012 at 08:34:35
Paul, I'd hope to see Gibson back for Liverpool in four weeks, and predict Coleman will be dropped then... as outstanding as he was in attack today, his defensive positioning deficiencies were also on full display, and against more sophisticated attackers (which Wigan and QPR lack), I will expect to see him on the bench.

Assuming Fellaini's neck is OK, I predict only one change for the Wigan game – Distin back in. Heitinga's had two stinkers in a row and was our worst performer today by far.

Kase Chow
050 Posted 30/09/2012 at 00:42:27
I don't believe this is happening. Great, winning football. Losing to the red shite will bring me back down to earth.

I'll enjoy it til then.

Kase Chow
051 Posted 30/09/2012 at 08:46:15
Btw, it may be that we play Colan at RB against weaker opposition and PIP for defensively solidity (when Gibbo is back)
Sam Hoare
059 Posted 30/09/2012 at 09:07:42
Heitinga and Howard both look dodgy and we will have to tighten up at the back if we want to maintain this sort of form when playing the bigger clubs.

Overall though, a great time to be an Everton fan. The bad news is that this form will put us in the spotlight and the likes of baines, jelavic and fellaini will be turning some big heads in January transfer market especially as not European cup tied. For now though let's hope kens no injury/ suspension prayers work as our first XI look very tasty.

Martin Mason
061 Posted 30/09/2012 at 09:20:24
Will Gibson just walk straight back into the team?

I'm worried more worried about the Liverpool game now because they have played well without winning and Suarez was bound to start scoring with the number of chances that he creates. Still we need to beat them if we want to improve.

Phil Roberts
063 Posted 30/09/2012 at 09:29:38
Derek #027 "on occasions used his nouse to cover left and right when others went walkabout on the attack/got stranded when it broke down."

And that is why Moyes picks him. Not because he plays like Messi or RVP but because he uses his nouse to cover left and right when others went walkabout on the attack/got stranded when it broke down.

This is a team game not 11 individuals.

And I suspect he also did a lot of shouting and telling people where to be.

Kev Johnson
064 Posted 30/09/2012 at 09:34:46
Phil - don't forget the pointing! Neville is probably the best pointer in the Premiership!
Christopher Timmins
072 Posted 30/09/2012 at 10:14:39
When Gibson is fit he plays, just like Sheedy in the Glory day's. The focus must be on improving Coleman's defensive side as must surely happen with more games in the right back spot. In my books yesterday's line up is the best starting 11 and for the first time in years the right side of the team has an attacking demension and the team as a whole as a proper balance. Less long ball and more through midfield going forward. A great time to be a blue. Anyone think that Duffy might be worth a go at this point in time?

Paul David
077 Posted 30/09/2012 at 10:38:34
Christopher

None of our centre backs have covered themselves in glorly this season and I see no reason why Duffy shouldn't be picked even if its just short term as a message to the other 3 but I really can't see it happening.

Sam Hoare
093 Posted 30/09/2012 at 11:53:57
I would like to see Duffy and Jags given a go. Decent combination of pace and height. Did you see how easily Rodriguez outpaced Heitinga for their chance yesterday?

Think a new centre back might be on the shopping list, especially with Heitinga's contract running down. Perhaps we should have sold him in the summer?

Ian Bennett
096 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:19:41
Phil Neville also has the best sand wedge pass in the minor leagues.
Paul Gladwell
098 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:31:20
The problem with that Sam, is that Duffy and Jags are both not the best on the floor and resort to hoofball, Heitinga will sort himself out given a few games, he was player of the year lets not forget.
Peter Leslie
099 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:21:00
Good shout for Duffy; Jags is still by far our best recovery defender, and Distin the best header, but Heitinga has stunk the place out in the last two games, which disappoints me – I hoped he would at least have some more composure and play the ball out, but he seems even more prone than Jags to launch it long when under the slightest pressure, trying to play hollywood passes.

If Distin is in bad form (or on the slide, which I hope not) then Duffy seems a natural fit for the 'Terry' role of attacking the ball, with Jags covering. If Heitinga throws a titty lip its his own problem.

He has the class to play deep midfield, but if he can't force Neville out of that position there's no hope for him.
Brian Harrison
101 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:38:32
I think for 30 minutes in the first half was some of the best football Everton have played in decades. The first instinct of this team is to attack, and with some many players that are comfortable on the ball they are a joy to watch.

Yes, I am sure that at some time we will have a blip but as long as they stick to their attacking beliefs then I think we are in for a cracking season.

I don't think anyone is getting carried away and we will certainly face stiffer challenges than Southampton, but I don't think there is a side in the Prem who will look forward to playing us home or away.

The only 2 negatives in yesterdays performance was Howard for the goal and Heitinga's lack of awareness. He was the wrong side of Rodriguez who could have scored, and in the second half he allowed Ramirez to run in behind him, a chance that he should have scored from.

Derek Thomas
102 Posted 30/09/2012 at 12:37:45
Phil #063.The Manager picks him cause Gibbson is injured, I mentioned the nouse bit as a plus in his favour and like I hinted, if anybody comes asking midfield questions that require more than a one word answer he will be and always has been found wanting...top bloke, model professional, diamond geezer, club captain, uncle tom cobly and all.
Jay Harris
137 Posted 30/09/2012 at 14:28:36
Good report as always Ken.

IMO more should be mentioned of Coleman's display yesterday who I thought got up and down the pitch more regularly than Bainesy.

I used to think he would never make a top class RB due to his defensive frailities but he appears to be progressing well.

I would also like to mention Jelly who despite not playing that well for much of he game scored 2 crucial goals, the sign of a top class striker, and could be the difference in getting into Europe if we can keep him fit.

It's a shame that Pip's pace has gone because the one thing we are short of is a general on the pitch without him..

Jags, Distin and Heitiga should offer some leadership but are not nearly vocal enough and it's hard to think of any other member of the squad who could step up.

Steve Barr
139 Posted 30/09/2012 at 14:57:03
Another excellent performance but I'm puzzled by this phenomenon whereby teams relax in the 2nd half after great 1st half performances.

It's not just Everton of course, but whenever I see it, I'm left frustrated as I obviously want to see the same again in the 2nd half.

I expect responses along the lines of "natural instinct to take the foot off the gas" etc. but...as we saw yesterday a n average team like Southampton had chances to get right back into the game with some clear cut chances, luckily for us, missed.

Can't understand why we didn't just come out in the second half and blitz them and finish tha game off. Surely every attacker wanted to bag more goals!

Very frustrating and against better teams we won't be so lucky. I still remember the semi!

Colin Malone
145 Posted 30/09/2012 at 16:08:37
I thought we played cavalierish, with a 4-3-3 formation, with Mirallas up top with Jelly and Felli, which left us a bit bare in midfield, suppose you can't have it both ways. A better team might have punished us. I'd like to see Mirallas play deeper, where he can make runs like he did for one of the goals. Well done blue boys.
James Martin
149 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:14:17
Did we actually score 3 goals without Baines or Pienaar being directly involved in them? Great to see a threat from the right hand side for a change. Mirallas has really added to our game. Injuries permitting we could start against the RS with Pienaar and Mirallas down our flanks in comparison to the last two times we've played them which saw Gueye/Osman and Anichebe/Drenthe.
Michael Kenrick
152 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:18:33
Who get's the assist for the first goal?

I'd like to give it to Mirallas but I haven't seen a decent slo-mo, and maybe it should be Jelavic for causing such havoc, if as I thought, it really came back off a defender. But if Jelavic did touch it then the asist would be his.

Kevin Thompson
156 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:46:34
Sam, Duffy seems a good shout at the moment, he is scoring a lot of goals for the U21s at the moment for a defender.
Keith Glazzard
158 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:19:11
Thanks Ken - I had a long well argued post all ready last night, but after a particularly good night at la 'Si Tapas Bar Lounge' even I could see I was talking in tongues so mercifully for all deleted.

I've said it before, you always seem to go to the same game as me, whether I'm there or not. And most of the rest has already been said. Yes James - Baines could coast a bit because their left flank, which should be every teams weakest side, was under pressure. Mirallas. Bloody Belgians!

Coleman? I think Kase might have spotted it. Moyes, as we know, will always put Cap'n Pip on the field if he thinks he needs him - he was on the bench a few times last season don't forget, and don't mention the Leeds. And it took Saint Leighton about three seasons to become a good LB. I suspect Seamus is going down the same road. Baines as a left-footer (like myself, and very sensitive to this stuff) couldn't be flip-flopped. Bur Coleman can I'm sure that Davey sees him as part of our future, but don't be surprised to see him moved around a bit. And that includes the bench.

Jay is quite right to point out how well the lad is doing, but we always have to remember that DM makes the decisions. Trying to guess what they are is part of the fun.

COYB

Keith Glazzard
159 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:54:09
Michael -

without going to video evidence myself, and rapidly becoming a fan of Kev (the Belgian one) something you said is so important. Jelavic causes havoc. He pulls defenders all over the place. Trying to mark him, and they'd love to be able to do it, means they've got to be as good as him. Not many about.

Bet Heitinga could do it, but that's another thread.

Dennis Stevens
160 Posted 30/09/2012 at 17:38:48
I just hope Moyes doesn't decide to play both Gibson & Neville behind Fellaini & then resort to pushing Osman back out wide right - we need Osman in the centre & Mirallas out wide.
Jamie Sweet
207 Posted 30/09/2012 at 22:25:12
Another note on Coleman, not only was his play for our third goal simply sublime, but for our equaliser, as soon as Mirallas picks up the ball, our young Irishman absolutely flies past him on the overlap... their poor fullback didn't have a clue what to do - started to go with Coleman's run which left Mirallas plenty of time to pick his cross into the box. If you could hand out multiple assists for a goal (not just the last player to touch the ball) then he would certainly deserve one for that work.

He may not be as defensively robust as Hibbo, but my word he offers a threat going forward which we haven't seen from any right back for many years. I would like to see him given a run in the team, but I think Moyes is likely to go for the safer more defensive option of Hibbert or Neville when that option is open again. At least play Coleman at home against bottom half clubs though?

Andrew Gilbert
216 Posted 30/09/2012 at 23:51:55
Jelavic got the assist, It was given to Mirallas and then taken away....according to the premier league fantasy thing.
John Crook
219 Posted 01/10/2012 at 00:19:41
Good point, Ken (about Jelavic). Blatant dive! He's gone down in my estimation.
John Feeley
262 Posted 01/10/2012 at 10:24:07
Jaimie Sweet #207 - spot on about Coleman's role in the equaliser - he goes haring up the line and full-back has to go with him, which gives Mirallas a big gap to look inside with his head up. No matter how good an athlete the opposing fullback is, if you overload them with decisions to make (do I stay with my man or take the runner?)....you'll cause him problems.

At right wing, Coleman, has appeared a less exciting proposition, but in part becasue he has tended to have a static full back back behind him. This has allowed the opposing left-back to simply concentrate on marking Seasmus, rather that being scared that Hibbert of Neville will overload on that side.

Frankly, I expect some rotation between him and Hibbert depending on how expansive the opposition are.

One final thing : Neville's dropping back from mid-field has been vital in allowing Both full-backs to attack (but mainly in covering for Coleman) - he's been simply fantastic. I can envisage Moyes choosing between three duo's:

Hibbo (RB) + Gibson (centre mid), Neville + Gibson, Coleman + Neville.

But ideally (for sake of effectiveness) Hibbert + Neville would be the fourth and final option.

To go with Coleman + Gibson - we'd need to see if Gibson can put quite as much emphasis on covering the flanks like Neville - is he capable of not giving away fouls in those areas, ect.? Coleman would also need to improve. I expect Moyes to test it in short bursts, but not to start with it.

Off topinc, but it was news to me that Mirallas scored most of his goals from the Left in Greece. That flexibility means that, If (and its an if) we could get Donovan on loan in March, we'd have cover across the attacking quartet, with lots of inter-changeable players.

Andy Stevens
273 Posted 01/10/2012 at 13:41:59
Great report as always Ken.

I remember, not too long ago, where we would have so much possession in games but had no cutting edge. Now with Pienaar, Jelavic, Fellaini, Mirallas etc. we look like we can score against anyone.

For once it's great to go to work and say to your mates "Did you see Everton at the weekend?" and wax lyrical about some nice play and goals. Let's hope we can keep it going! COYB

Mike Oates
348 Posted 01/10/2012 at 20:15:42
Great 25 mins, our creativity at times is fantastic and for the first time in many years it was from both left and right, with Mirallas and Coleman looking as good as Pienaar and Baines.

The only doubt in my mind – and I'm afraid it's always been there – is Heitinga. To me his positional sense is poor – he lacks pace and tries to stay deep in order not to be outdone in any race for the ball. Both in the European Championships and in the last 2 games he has been found out bigtime.

Duffy is not ready at all yet – his passing is poor, and the only option Moyes has is to re-instate the Jags/Distin partnership. For me, Heitinga should be sold in January and proceeds used to buy another established centre-back.

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