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A Game of One Half

By Paul Traill   ::  30/09/2012

With plenty to do in Liverpool City Centre prior to kick off I was in town early for this one and then in the pub on County Road nicely in time for Arsenal vs Chelsea. The thinking was to get there early enough to get a seat. I had no such luck with this which was a shame as the pub got busier, and busier and busier to the point where yoHu could hardly move as it peaked around 2pm.

“The taste of success” said Gary, in reference to a generally busier turn up for the match on the back of pretty good start to the season. I think that it was a 3pm Saturday kick off against quite a traditional Premiership team may have had a lot to do with it myself. Regardless, it was nice to see everyone and nice to catch a decent game of football prior to our walk to Goodison Park.

Onto the match and it was nice to see Jelavic starting again though I was a little surprised to see Heitinga and Jagielka partnering at centre back. I thought Distin was pretty much our best player at Elland Road on Tuesday evening. It was nice also to see Coleman continuing his run at right back. Ramirez, Rodriguez and Lambert all featured in a plucky Southampton side, new goalkeeper Gazzaniga replaced Kelvin Davis between the sticks. We lost the toss and switched ends before kick off. Lee Probert officiated.

We started on the front foot though found ourselves behind pretty much from Southampton’s first attack…a dreadful goal to concede it was too. A routine corner into the six yard box, Howard getting under it and missing the flight of it completely, nobody picking up Ramirez who dually obliged and headed in a quite straightforward goal. A frustrating start from Everton.

It took us a little while to get going again after this set-back and on another day we might have found ourselves two goals down as Southampton did look dangerous on the counter-attack. I was mighty impressed with the way we scored our equalizer however. It was a classic example of how to score a goal against a team whose tactics are to press your midfield and not give you any time on the ball.

I’d be very interested to know how many passes we made before Osman finally tucked the ball home. We had the ball inside our own half for quite some time whilst Southampton pressed us high up the pitch. Despite a little frustration from some of the crowd with what seemed like lack of progress up the field, we were keeping the ball quite well under pressure. This drew the Saints players out and eventually Everton found the opening.

A great ball from Neville out to the wing found Mirallas and the break was on and Southampton were in trouble. Mirallas ball into the box hit a delay from a combination of Jelavic and a defender and fell invitingly to Osman who finished smartly to level the score. A truly outstanding team goal from Everton.

This got our tails up and the crowd responded. What followed in the half was dazzling from Everton. We really were exceptional and could have gone into the break having scored more than the three. The two other goals weren’t at all bad either. Excellent work by Mirallas in the midfield and after a neat one-two with Fellaini he set Jelavic away. The Croat took his goal (on his left foot) superbly and put Everton 2-1 to the good. Seamus Coleman, who gave the stand in left-back Nathan Clyne a torrid afternoon throughout, put in a good deep ball which Jelavic headed in brilliantly. It was almost a shame when the half time whistle came because we were rampant at that stage.

If I’d have known what was to come in the second half I think I would have left at half time as the second half was disappointingly dull. Obviously I’ve no complaints as we protected our lead professionally but it wasn’t much of a spectacle, particularly given what we were treated to in the first half. We kept them out comfortably enough, and on another day may have done better on the counter attack, though all in all its difficult to complain as we finish the day in the lofty heights of second position, and I got to see three goals in the Gwladys Street end, including the first two Jelavic goals this end of the pitch.

One frustrating aspect to our day is our seats…or rather the gentlemen sitting directly in front of us as they are all extremely tall and makes viewing conditions, particularly on one side of the Gwladys Street particularly difficult. Nobody’s fault of course, and they’re nice fellas, but we’ll now unfortunately have to contact Everton to identify if there’s any other seats we can move to. Has anybody else ever encountered this problem? If so, what are Everton like at accommodating change for this rather unusual request? I guess I’ll see for myself when I speak to them tomorrow.

Onwards to Wigan next Saturday and no home game until a rather big one in a month’s time…lets keep this run going and who knows what can happen this season.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Seemed to switch off with the goal and wasn’t quite at the races all game really.

Baines: Excellent. Pretty much the perfect left back. It’s just as well for us he can’t seem to rectify this form for England as we’d be having to fend off significant interest from other clubs one would imagine. 8

Heitinga: Did OK. I think Distin is far better though. I suppose one reason he may have played is due to his generally decent distribution from defense. Will be interesting to see if he remains in the team for next weeks trip to Wigan. 6

Jagielka: Certainly the ‘main stay’ at the back. Has coped well in every game so far this season I think. Certainly in top form. 7

Coleman: Well…just when I was thinking Coleman was on the wane after stunted progress last season, he really is looking like his old self at the moment. I don’t know if the return to right back has assisted this, but he’s certainly looking much more like the Seamus Coleman who burst onto the scene a few seasons back…taking on full backs more and getting good balls into the box (nice assist for our third goal. It’s great to see and it’ll be terrific if he can continue this good form. 8

Neville: Had a god solid game in the middle. About as good a stand in central midfielder was we have in Gibson’s absence I think. Lovely pass to set Mirallas away for our equalizer. 7

Osman: A bit in and out of the game and can do better I think. Took his goal well but seemed to disappear at times though did do a few good things also. 6

Pienaar: Very good. Very lively. Looking much more like it these last couple of league games I think. 8

Mirallas: Two assists from the Belgian and you can’t ask for much more than that. His contribution of three goals and three assists from five games so far (including League Cup games) is quite astounding given his very short time at the club. He tired in the second half and still needs to improve certain elements of his game I think but early signs so far have been extremely encouraging. 7

Fellaini: My man of the match. He has such an aura on the pitch and Southampton, not the first (or last either I’ll wager) team this season, just didn’t have an answer to him. He covered a lot of ground throughout also. Really is on top form. 8

Jelavic: Great to see Nikica back in the goals. A real threat throughout and has such confidence in front of goal. Brilliant. 8

Substitutes:
Anichebe (for Jelavic): Didn’t really get going. Just a blip I hope as his form has been excellent the last few games. 5

Oviedo (for Mirallas): Lively but will need more time to settle. 6

Distin (for Osman): A rather unnecessarily negative substitution as Moyes well and truly shut up shop late on. Not on long enough to judge.

Reader Comments

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Gary Creaney
268 Posted 01/10/2012 at 12:30:28
In answer to your query of the amount of passes before Ozzies goal was 21. The disappointing aspect of it was the crowd getting on the players' backs at the early part of the move to lump it forward. The modern game is pass and move, pass and move and having the patience and discipline to carry it out. It is highly dependent on having the right players which we do.

We can pass it about and we can kick it up to Fellaini's chest but the latter should be less frequent than the former.
Paul David
275 Posted 01/10/2012 at 13:51:51
Gary

I was one of those groaning at the sight of Jag, Heitinga and Neville doing triangles at the back, I think most people have no confidence in two of those players knocking the ball about between themselves and for good reason.

James Flynn
285 Posted 01/10/2012 at 15:26:12
Thanks for the report Paul. Always enjoyable reads.

Can't wait for that 90 minutes when we're hitting on all cylinders. It's coming.

Gary Creaney
286 Posted 01/10/2012 at 15:23:24
In one respect Paul that's fair enough (except for Heitinga who is an excellent passing defender) but the first 12-14 passes of the move came from these 3 players and it all lead to Southampton pushing too many men forward to win it back, once Neville swept it right it was unlocked.

Have a bit of faith. The bipolar nature of ToffeeWeb is ridiculous at times – Jags is moaned about whether he hoofs or tries to play joined-up football.
Ryan Holroyd
317 Posted 01/10/2012 at 18:48:11
You don't agree with players keeping the ball then, Paul David? You'd prefer hoofs and loosing possession?

Good we don't play like Barcelona. You'd be tearing your hair out.

No surprise you were one of the ones groaning tho...

Brian Garside
342 Posted 01/10/2012 at 19:54:08
Excellent comment about the impatience of the fans. What happened to the crowd who appreciate what's happening on the pitch? We are becoming more like our neighbours in this respect. Why do these people scream and shout every time a player makes a mistake? We should encourage them to persist and make a better decision next time they have the ball. It is called supporting your team. Leave the heckling to RS. Rant over, Goodnight and COYB!!!!!!!!!
Paul David
368 Posted 01/10/2012 at 21:26:03
No, I want our defenders to defend and our ball players midfielders to do the passing. If we had more defenders like Heitinga or Baines it wouldn't be too much of a problem but if players like Jag or Neville start thinking their Beckenbauer then it would only be a matter of time before one of them fucked up.

I don't wanna see hoof ball but I want our defenders to off load the ball to the nearest midfielder and let them run rings around the opposition with their passing.

Gary Creaney
381 Posted 01/10/2012 at 22:27:33
At the time Neville was the nearest midfielder albeit an out of position midfielder.
What a simplistic view you have on things, Paul, just get the ball to the midfielders!! Have you forgotten that there is an opposition trying their level best to stop that? I hate seeing Neville in midfield but I am absolutely certain he knows his limitations and does not consider himself to be like Beckenbauer and I personally am just delighted that the days of the Jags hoof seem long gone.
Paul David
386 Posted 01/10/2012 at 22:48:18
Yes, I am aware the other team wants to stop us from doing what we want but it's for that reason I don't want players with limited ability trying to knock it about between themselves.

If the other team's players put them under pressure while they're trying to be clever, then sooner or later they'll give the ball away in a dangerous place. If a player like Jags has time, I want to see him playing a short ball to someone who can do something with it... but, if he's being closed down, then that's when I have no problem him just putting his foot through it.
Ian Smitham
388 Posted 01/10/2012 at 22:57:50
Paul, a most enjoyable report thank you. I noticed the amount of passes in the first goal, but also noted the build up to the second which also started at defence and was a joy to watch. Fast attacking football, which I enjoyed from my seat in the stadium.
John Eccleston
415 Posted 02/10/2012 at 01:09:17
Isn't it absolutely brilliant to be having a civilised discussion about the manner in which we won!!! Boys ... you are all right in your analysis and long may the discussions about feeding the ball forward to improve the scoring quotient continue.!!!

Just to keep up the Evertonian tradition of pissing on our own parade, there is one thing that concerns me about the next home game and defence partnerships and that is that Suarez has had a good number of his dives disallowed recently and that's a certainty to be redressed at the derby. I'm sure he'll be hoping Johnny and Seamus will be around?

Ernie Baywood
417 Posted 02/10/2012 at 02:27:29
On the goal, while its great to see lots of passes some of them were unnecessary. The groans came when Neville received the ball in midfield and didn't look around to see that there was no Soton player near him - he just took one touch and played it back to a defender. This undid the work we had done to work that position in the first place and we had to start again.

Hindsight is great and ultimately we got it back to him and he played it wide.

Just because we got it right the second time doesn't mean it wasn't wrong the first time.

Ultimately it doesn't matter - 3 cracking goals.

Peter Bourke
418 Posted 02/10/2012 at 02:47:16
In relation to the point Paul David raises, I did notice Neville passing backwards when knowone was around him and to some degree it stalled our attack, but on the other hand sometimes you need to hold the ball up at the back to drag opposition players out of position to open up areas for the midfield.

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