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Blues' Attack Frozen Out Again

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  21/01/2013

Southampton 0 - 0 Everton

Briefly under threat after Friday's snowfall, this televised Monday encounter went ahead as scheduled but Everton's attack remained in the deep freeze as they racked up their 11th draw in 23 games with a largely poor display at the St Mary's Stadium.

After putting the 3,000 hardy souls who made the trek south for this one through a shocking first half, one in which they had some goal-line heroics to thank for retaining parity going into half time, the Blues perked up for a time after the interval and had the chances to win it but Nikica Jelavic blew the best of them and otherwise found Artur Boruc in indefatigible mood in the Saints' goal.

It was a game that will have done almost nothing to dispel the gathering gloom around a side that appears to be struggling from a collective fatigue, a diminishing belief that Champions League qualification is attainable with such a shallow squad, or both. There is no question that the team needs an urgent injection of fresh blood but, with no virtually money to spend, everything will depend on David Moyes's ability to fish the loan market in the final 10 days of the transfer window.

The nine days' rest prior to this fixture were supposed to have offered an opportunity for the players to recharge their batteries a little but it was Southampton, despite the disruption caused by the sudden dismissal of Nigel Adkins last week, who looked lively and motivated in the first 45 minutes.

Indeed, Everton were unusually subdued and were out-fought and out-thought for a good deal of the opening exchanges by their more hungry hosts. Phil Jagielka came within a whisker of slamming the ball into his own net but his interception of a low cross from the right whistled inches wide and Puncheon's effort was also deflected behind a few minutes later as Southampton searched for an early breakthrough.

Striker Ricky Lambert came within inches of it in the 20th minute when Phil Neville's clumsy foul gave him a free-kick opportunity from around 25 yard but he whacked a terrific shot off the post, though Tim Howard appeared to have it covered with a full-length dive. And after Steven Naismith had despatched a low effort straight into Boruc's arms, Lambert had another great opportunity but, having neatly turned his man, he was unable to beat Howard who beat his effort away.

Rather than signalling an end to the Saints' early superiority, those were warning signings and after Howard had turned Gaston Ramires' drive behind, Lambert unchallenged to head powerfully goalwards. A combination of the goalkeeper and Jelavic stopped his effort on the line, though, and Howard was fortunate that when the return ball fell straight to Hooiveld the defender's chest and volley came straight at him and the Blues' defence was able to desperately hack it away again.

A promising interchange between Jelavic and Naismith almost opened up the home defence but Boruc raced off his line to claim the ball before the Scot could collect the one-two pass before Lambert despatched another free header wide when he should have done better.

After as poor a first half display as Everton have put in since perhaps the lame defeat at Tottenham a year ago, the second period could only have been better from the Blues' perspective and it was... but not enough to earn the win that would have pulled them within a point of Spurs in the race for the fourth Champions League spot.

Six minutes after the restart, Fellaini brought down a deep cross by Seamus Coleman but Boruc saved the Belgian's shot superbly with his legs and the 'keeper was on hand to deny him again from the resulting corner, Fellaini planting a close-range header straight into his arms.

Coleman was forced off after 55 minutes with a thigh injury sustained as he lunged to block a Luke Shaw cross back at the other end and he would be replaced by Victor Anichebe who came on for an Everton corner that was cleared only as far as Leon Osman but his rocketed first-time shot cannoned off Yoshida's head an behind.

As has been the case since his most recent return from injury, Anichebe's impact off the bench was pleasing and within three minutes he had laid on the best chance of the game for Jelavic when he latched onto Fellaini's perfectly-weighted through-ball, but the Croatian appeared to over-run the square pass, got it stuck under his feet and the opportunity evaporated.

Apart from a difficult headed opportunity that had dropped tamely wide in the first half, that had been Jelavic's only chance but it was as illustrative an example of his blown confidence as Moyes has seen this season and it was enough to prompt the manager to withdraw him five minutes later.

Kevin Mirallas came on after six weeks out with a hamstring injury and hope sprung that his direct running and creativity might provide the spark to create a crucial goal.

Initially, it looked like the Fellaini-Anichebe combination would provide that opening but Boruc again foiled Everton by pawing the striker's shot wide. But when Mirallas popped up in the six yard box a few minutes later, his first touch was good but he smashed a left-footed half-volley half a yard wide.

Unfortunately, that would be as good as it got for Everton and, just as was the case against Swansea, they appeared to run out of ideas completely in the final 15 minutes. The increasing reliance on the big boot forward never looked like working and with Osman, Naismith, Baines and, to a lesser extent, Pienaar all having decidedly off days, there was a desperate shortage of creativity, drive and determination in the Everton ranks.

Mirallas would line up one last shot from outside the box in injury time but, in the main, it was depressingly uninspired fare from the Blues in the closing stages.

Everton may still be fifth despite dropping four points in their last two games and they remain well-positioned in their quest for fourth place but in all brutal honesty they looked several shades short of the quality required for that lofty aim this evening.

The positives were few but heart should be taken from the return of Mirallas, the form and attitude shown by Anichebe, and the fact that the Blues avoided defeat yet again. Wins from their next two League games, both at Goodison, would, of course, change the picture substantially but on the evidence of the last two draws, that looks a tall order. You can't escape the feeling that urgent work in the transfer market is what is required if Moyes is unable to find another catalyst for his small squad.

Man of the Match: Tim Howard

Reader Comments

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Paul Thompson
551 Posted 21/01/2013 at 23:58:17
The only positive is that we improved after that utterly woeful first half. The Anichebe-Mirallas combinatiojn up front could be a genuine alternative.

Agree entirely with Lyndon's last point. The squad needs freshening even if it's a couple of loans. Pienaar has been poor the last few games and even Ossie had a poor game tonight. We need to be able to change things around and there is not enough options on the bench. As others have noted teams are starting to learn how to close our left side down. A midfielder and attacker would be my priority.

Tom Dodds
556 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:23:59
One key player returns...

One key player promptly takes his place at the treatment table.

FFS!!!

Mark Wilson
564 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:20:24
Expectations raised and wouldn't you know it this game was just so bloody "Everton ", contrary to the last here we are looking like doing the exact opposite of recent years, start well then fall away. It's like a train slowly running out of steam and chugging to a stop. The engine desperately needs more fuel but the network owners just can't replenish so here we are chugging along with others catching up.

This was dire stuff really. The better second half shouldn't kid anyone. We need to beat teams like Southampton if those expectations are to be even remotely satisfied. I know its hard. We have done brilliantly to get into this position. Great work by Moyes and the players, superb support. But what's the point if its all going to drift away into nothing, again? Take the bloody gamble EFC. Spend that £22m Felli money now, or at least half of it. Take the risk, he's off in the summer if no CL so give it a go. It's simplistic isn't it ?

Typical footy fan amateur view of life? Maybe so but somehow it just feels like a managed risk not a mad gamble. Sell JH and Gueye if at all poss. Shake it all up and give Moyes this chance to get us into the top four. Bill, I can't see u doing it but I'm asking and I'm pretty sure I won't be the only one after tonight's pathetic first half as frankly a bit more of that and its a season of what could have been.

Andy Peers
571 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:48:57
Mark Wilson, 100% correct. Transfer dealings should be done and dusted. Managed risk is right but no action from the board. I just get the feeling that the only thing they are concentrating on, in this transfer window, is holding on to Fellaini and Baines and they will feel satisfied.

Why oh why did I have to be born an Evertonian? At least I wasn't manufactured!

Steve Edwards
572 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:39:23
Very good article. Summed up exactly the state of play for us at the moment. We've run out of steam. You couldn't say one player had a good game with the possible exception of Victor who only played a bit part. That's it for me; I'll stop dreaming of a top four finish now.

Biggest disappointment for me this season has got to be Jelavic. I honestly thought he would get 30 goals this season. I can't believe the ass has fallen out of his game so completely.

I felt sorry for any neutrals watching that display tonight, never mind the 3,000 who made the trip south. The players should be ashamed of themselves after serving up such a lacklustre performance.

Bill Gall
573 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:57:08
All supporters of Everton can see that new players are needed for any chance of pushing up the table to achieve Champion League qualification, but going by Mr Moyes comments he has joined the ostritches on the board's ideas that, if you bury your head in the sand, everything will be okay.
Jamie Sweet
576 Posted 22/01/2013 at 01:37:42
Very disappointing not to get three points but this fixture was always going to be a potential banana skin.

WBA next under the Goodison lights, then the Villa at home. Surely 6 points is achievable from these two games, and then the belief that 4th is still possible will return.

Dan Doran
577 Posted 22/01/2013 at 02:39:40
@Steve, I think you could add Howard to that short list of players who did OK. He kept us in the game the first half. I am big fan of Moyes and not a big fan of all the useless whining I constantly see but Oviedo sat on the bench while Naismith played a full 90?! Even I had to throw my hands up in disbelief at that one.
Peter Barry
578 Posted 22/01/2013 at 03:35:35
David Moyes: a Manager for all Seasons – Well, if you only want to compete for HALF a season anyway.
Martin Mason
581 Posted 22/01/2013 at 03:15:07
I think that what we are seeing now is that our squad is probably strong enough to finish in the range 6th to 8th over a season with our best 11 capable of giving the best teams a decent game and sometimes winning these at home. We are weak in key positions and I'm thinking here of Pip Neville, Naismith and even Jelavic with journeymen on the bench.

My own feeling is that the squad is not remotely capable of finishing 4th and that Moyes realises this and has now gone to his trusted strategy of not losing rather than going for wins at all costs. This is not a criticism btw because I feel that given our resources we still do incredibly well.

As you can also see, as time goes on, we are not going to get outward investment... so what we see now is what we have to live with. All-in-all, it was still a decent point at a place where we typically don't shine. Fabulous support for a Monday night in winter.

Fri Ericsson
589 Posted 22/01/2013 at 05:09:51
I feel so sorry for Nikica Jelavic, his confidence after tonight will be completely shot. He had the opportunity for me to win that match for us, but bizarrely he tangled his own feet up.

Second half I thought we improved with Anichebe coming on.

Another clean sheet... but we need an urgent replacement for Jelavic. We cannot keep on relying on him with this current form of his.

It's okay to say he will get better. In the here and right now, we need someone to step up and take his place or at least play alongside him.

Can we risk not playing him? Think of it this way, would playing young Vellios up front really be any worse with the state of confidence Jelly is already in?

We need to urgently win matches. Anichebe has proven he is a great impact sub and that's about all he is. Vellios has to be given a chance... maybe it might make Jelly buck his ideas up.

If Jelavic needs competition for his place, and I think if we can't bring anyone in, then it has to go to Vellios; we have nothing to loose but more to gain if he starts scoring... We are in this business to win matches, forwards score goals; if a forward is not performing, we need to bench and replace him until he proves he is back in form again.

Really tired and exhausted from these lack-lustre performances and the large amount of draws. Unable to finish games off... why can't the midfield chip in and score?

We are absolutely inept at the moment in front of goal. The manager needs to take action now... not keep on relying on a forward who couldn't hit a barn door.

Anto Byrne
592 Posted 22/01/2013 at 05:53:22
I have to admire Soton who just got rid of their manager. Adkins is a bit like Moyes but not seen as someone who can push on hence they bring in a new man. After ten years in charge we still don't have a winning mentality, settling for another point (11 so far thats a lot of points dropped) Not really good enough to be honest.

If we had lost 6 and won 5 we would be better off points wise. We can look back and say only 3 losses in the last 20 plus games but so what?
Danny O'Neill
596 Posted 22/01/2013 at 06:16:54
Martin, I said that at the start of the season and haven't changed my view. We should expect top 8, a top 6 finish is realistic and we could be an outside bet for top 4 if someone slips up. Expectations managed from the onset so I'm not feeling too bad sat in 5th at the moment!!!!

Best 11 fit every week, we'd be right up there but that obviously will never happen and we just don't have the depth of others.

I won't over-analyse last night, no escaping that it was a poor performance by this team's standards BUT (time for glass half full moment), we didn't lose, which is something we seem to have acquired this season. Tottenham drew, Arsenal lost so no real change in league position. Although an opportunity missed against so called lower opposition, this is the time of year the teams at the bottom come out fighting.

Southampton worked incredibly hard to close down space quickly, have not lost in 6, drawn 4 of the last 5 and were emotionally charged given the week's events. Excuses, excuses I know, but perhaps some perspective as well. Cue barrage of counter-arguments and abuse!!!!

Trevor Thompson
598 Posted 22/01/2013 at 06:42:45
What the hell is going on with him? Lack of confidence? Felliani taking up his position in the middle? Or just spent? I still can't get that miss against Southampton out of my mind. Last season he would have buried it.

I don't buy the idea that Moyes gets all his strikers to just work the channels instead of concentrating on scoring. At the start of the season I believe Mirallas was getting in his way or not passing to him enough and the chances didn't come and after a while of not scoring it's affected him.

In all honesty, we either need to bring in another striker, midfield playmaker or just drop him.

Alan Clarke
602 Posted 22/01/2013 at 07:45:07
Moyes reverts to type again. That's what is so frustrating. He gets so scared of the goals we've been conceding, he overhauls our attacking style this season and turns us back in to turgid crap that has been the feature for the majority of his reign.

It's all well and good pointing the finger at Jelavic but if we're leaving him isolated up front because we're playing an 8-1-1 formation, he's feeding off scraps. Like strikers who have gone before him, Moyes is ruining Jelavic.

We're struggling for goals all season and what type of players is Moyes looking at this transfer window? Another fucking defensive midfielder and a central defender! Fuck me and people moan about the lack of respect and press coverage we get.

At least everyone can stop panicking about Moyes leaving. There's no way he's going to a 'top club'.

James Morgan
607 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:07:28
We need to drop Jelavic ASAP. He is costing us points, we need to convert chances and he's not up to the job. Give Vic and Vellios a chance, they are hungry players desperate to do well. Pace, power, aerial ability and and hunger. We've nothing to lose because Jelavic has gone off the boil, at least give him a rest.
Sam Hoare
609 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:20:45
We look well set for our usual 7th spot finish. Grrrr.
George McKane
611 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:25:19
Its fascinating how we allow ourselves constantly to divert our attention away from certain issues and get dragged into something else.
A few weeks ago we were calling Coleman terrible names for his "mistake" at Fulham while completely overlooking Heitinga's woeful defensive display in that (and other games).

Now we can all call Jelavic and start praising Anichebe. It was Anichebe's 150th game last night - he is averaging 2 games per season. But of course lets get rid of Jelavic.

Last night was disgraceful. I have argued consistently that Moyes is not a psychological manager. He does not seem to push the players when other results have an affect on us and in many games this season we have looked frightened - sadly against poor teams, QPR, and we looked terrified last night.
But the main thing is that we attack one player and leave others, who have played for many years, alone.

The midfield was dreadful last night. Osman and Piennar were woeful.Could not pass except to Southampton players. I have never seen a player fall over as often as Osman.
Moyes continues, seemingly forever, with his favourites but long term sticks to his safe 4 or 5 players. We do not seem to be a club that know how to move on, to develop.

Their full back last night, Shaw, looked positive, exciting. He is 17. Could you honestly see him doing so well under Moyes.

We got off to a good start this season playing exciting football. I said early on "I wonder how long Moyes will put up with this".
Not long?

Chris Keightley
613 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:49:55
I have to say that when I saw the team sheet with Osman and Neville together and Naismith, I feared we would struggle. Unsure why Moyes favours his fellow Scot Naismith... I would have gone with Anichebe on the right from the off with Mirallas in the wings – and why at half time did he not just drop Felli into midfield and take off Neville with Anichebe partnering Jela?

We have to beat West Brom now but I'm sure they will be thinking they could pinch something at our place. Still, we are fifth and I would have taken that after 23 games with only 3 losses and 4 points in front of Arsenal and the Shite.

Kevin Tully
617 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:54:08
If we don't have a striker on form, we have no chance of turning our form around.

Look at our midfield of Neville, Osman Pienaar & Naismith - they must have the worst goals to games ratio of any midfield at a top ten club.

We have reverted to type I'm afraid, and the going gets very tough after West Brom and Villa at home.

Bolton will fancy their chances on Saturday, but a cup run may give us our confidence back.

We are now desperate for a couple of new faces, and a bit of competition for starting places. There are too many players who's place in the side is guaranteed, that's half the problem.

Dennis Shaw
620 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:26:54
I hope they only have a £3000 release clause on Naismith so Tranmere can soon come in for him.
Andrew Ellams
621 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:22:16
What to do with Jelavic is going to be a big call this summer. Those who work with him every day are closer to the situation than us and they need to decide which is the real Jelavic. Was January to May last year a purple patch and we are now seeing the real thing or is his confidence genuinely shot to pieces and we will see last year's form come back if he sorts his head out. If he was a youngster I would suggest a loan to a championship club to get his eye in again, but that isn't going to happen
Dan McKie
623 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:23:42
I say start Mirrallas and Anichebe for the next 3 games, let Jela be a bit part during that time, then bring him back with something to prove at Old Trafford. Carrying on starting him is counter productive right now, and like someone else said, even starting Velios looks a better option. We have been saying all year, he will come good, he will come good, but until he does, he hasn't.

Last night was poor, Pienaar and Baines were out of sorts, our central midfield was weak, and Fellaini was trying to address 2 or 3 positions. Despite that, the defence played well to keep another clean sheet, and we had at least 4 very good chances in the second half. The next 3 games are even more important now, it has to be a good cup win and 6 points.

Paul David
625 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:30:42
Jelavic deserves to be dropped but I would love to see how he performs if we played with 2 up front. In the first half we failed to create a single chance for him and for most of the game the nearest team mate was 20 yards away, we can all see he is not the best on the ball so what is he suppose to do with no support or service.

There is no excuse for missing that sitter last night and a few others this season but if he had someone to share the burden and make space for him I would expect his confidence and goals to return.

Jimmy Sørheim
629 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:11:23
All I can say is, had Moyes started using Barkley and Vellios, then they would have been playing tonight and made a difference. Southampton have all their best youngsters out there, and we should aim to do that as well.

The season is long, and this is the time for some of our youngsters to shine, but they have to be given a fair chance. Moyes blew this game because he sent Barkley out on loan, and left Vellios out of the squad.

It is against lesser teams that we need to be testing our youngsters, while giving players such as Osman and Jelavic some competition. Junior could have been on the bench tonight instead of Hitz.

Long term, I am not at all surprised we are running out of steam because, with Moyes and his unwillingness to play ANY of his best youngsters, the axe will fall where it falls.

Adkins has got it right by playing his best youngsters, it was a game where the youngsters wanted to shine, Southampton's youngsters, because we had NONE of ours out there.

We are heading for a downfall, Moyes needs to step up and change things around for our long-term well being!

I would have liked to see more of Barkley, Junior, Vellios and McaAleny. I have faith they are the best youngsters we have and that they will come good once they are given a fair chance to shine like Jelavic has thus far.

Mark Murphy
631 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:42:40
"Look at our midfield of Neville, Osman Pienaar & Naismith "

and there, in a nutshell, you have it! That is not even a top 8 midfield!

Not knee-jerking but last night was the final nail in the coffin of my belief that we could overcome the financial odds and break the top four. We have hit our glass ceiling and without significant cash injection, even with Moyes who I think we are lucky to have, we will never again mix it with the big boys on a consistant basis.
Cup final and 2-1 defeat in that is our realistic highpoint I fear.

Thomas Surgenor
635 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:26:20
Just a word on Jele,

Form is temporary...Class is Permanent.

I believe the guy is class, people say he cost us 2 points last night by getting his feet in a tangle.... but what about the Spurs game where he turnt a draw into a win with a great poachers mentality strike?

Maybe a rest is what is needed, but I'm not about to get on the guys back...He is still better than AJ, Beattie, Saha etc

Steve Cotton
636 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:59:02
After watching that disgrace last night with most of our regular 11 playing, the future does not look as assured as say mid-September last year when we were taking on all comers.

Naismith should not be anywhere near the first team. Neville should never play midfield again, and what has happened to Osman? — he lost the ball on the edge of their box at least three times and they marauded forward unopposed each time.

I thought Coleman looked good and perhaps big Vic in his cameo. The rest just went through the motions...

Oviedo must be wondering why he came here and Jelavic needs a month out to help him think about his game.

Then again, Mirallas is back, Gibson will be back soon and one impressive signing this month could see us at least 'having a go' again...

Dan McKie
639 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:13:47
Thomas, sadly though, there has been more of last night than there has been the Spurs game this season. To me, he isn't getting as many chances as he was last year because he looks like he doesn't want them. It is no coincedence that our best chances in the box haven't been falling to Jelavic as much. It's because he hasn't been there. Its been heard a few times when a striker is out of form, someone says 'at least he is there to miss them', right now Jelavic often isn't.
Brian Waring
645 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:17:24
Southampton have average players, no depth to their squad, have got the stress that comes with fighting relegation. We had a full 8 days rest before last nights game, whereas Southampton only had a four day rest because they had a difficult midweek game away to Chelsea, but, for some reason, they don't seem to have this 'Collective fatigue' excuse, why is that?
Patrick Murphy
647 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:13:39
That's the problem though Thomas, that goal against Tottenham was his last PL goal. The Jelavic situation is a worrying one, is it down to the player or is it down to the team he's playing in?

There is no doubt that the form he showed at the back end of last season was that of a top class striker and he improved the team no end, but this season he hasn't just looked out of sorts he looks completely out of place. He has been given plenty of opportunity to play himself back into form but it just isn't happening.

If Anichebe had played up front as often and in as many games as Jelavic would so many fans have been as patient with him?

We never seem able to find the ideal forward to play in our team, Saha and Cahill were great in the air but lacked pace, Andy Johnson was similar to Jelavic but lacked the ability to hold the ball up and bring the midfielders onto the ball. The rest were just not good enough to play at high end PL level.

I don't think that its the case that Moyes' over-trains or that his emphasis on work rate spoils the strikers, I just believe that Moyes doesn't have a plan when it comes down to attacking strategies. Of course the financial situation isn't helping him as buying strikers is the most risky part of the business and DM can't afford to gamble with the money he has at his disposal.

How many games have we seen in the past five years in particular that are similar to last night?

If we want Jelavic to have more opportunities and to rediscover his goal scoring form we have to revert to a 4-4-2 in all matches and the second striker has to be just that a striker and not a make-shift forward like Felliani. As we can't afford to buy anyone, it will have to be either Anichebe or Velios. If we do revert to 442 then Mirallas has to be told to stay on the wing and stay outside the box and leave the strikers to get on with their job.

It may lead to us conceding more goals - last night we could have been 3-0 down in the first half - but it might just lead to us scoring more as well. It might be a gamble and cost us a European spot but not as risky as playing like we did last night where too few opportunities were carved out.


Kevin Tully
651 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:40:56
You can tell these players are devoid of ideas, the hoofball has returned with Jagielka & Distin being the main culprits.

I nearly cried when Ossie had the ball taken from him for the 3rd time like he was 14 years of age. (Mainly 'cos that draw cost me a weeks wages!)

Jon Ferguson
652 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:39:54
I have faith in Jelavic, but the guy is short of confidence. It's hard to know what to do. Would dropping him for a couple of games spur him on, or make destroy his confidence completely?

I still don't think Anichebe is a player, despite 20 mins of him looking good last night. Maybe start him in the next couple of games and bring Jelavic on for the last 20 mis when defenders are tired. It's unlikely we'll get another stiker in and so we need to make the best of what we have.

I would normally cringe at the idea of Fellaini in the middle of the park, he loses his marker to often and is a bit rash defensively, but we need to mix things up a bit and he played well there when dropped back last night. He says he sees himself as a midfielder, lets let him prove it. It might encourage the defenders not to hoof it as much, which has been creaping back into our play recently.

Everyone in the league has got onto Baines and Peinaar. I think we need to mix that up as well. Move Peinaar on to the right and let's see if he links up well with Coleman. Put Oveido on the left and give him a run in the team and see what he can do. He can't be worse than Naismith, who is terrible.

We don't have the luxury of rotating the playing squad to keep it fresh, we can make some changes to the style though. Managers look at hours of footage in the build up to match. We need to keep them guessing.

We need to win the FA cup game, 4th is going to be difficult without reinforcements and they're looking increasingly unlikely. It's going to be tough getting sixth with Arsenal and Liverpool hot on our tails. Europe via the FA Cup is as good a route as in the league.

Oliver Molloy
653 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:31:41
Mr Moyes record with strikers is not good. In my opinion he has contributed to the loss of form and confidence with every striker he has bought.
Jelavic is an out and out striker that needs to be in the box,not running all over the place.
It's another case of "feed the yak".
It was only a matter of time until teams started to work out in how to stop Baines & Pienaar.
Last night was never going to be an easy match,but once again it was a match Everton should be capable of winning.
There were to many in our side that did not put in the required preformance which happens now and again.
My worry is Moyes has been slowly destroying another striker in Jelavic.
Barry Rathbone
654 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:36:14
Compare Pienaar now to the rejuvenated player who returned from Spurs and the unencumbered Jelavic who arrived full of goals.

The familiar "under duress" look that eventually overtakes all our forward players has set in.

There is a fundamental lack of spark about the Everton set up and saying the cure is simply more players is a sop. It's like painting over rust, just covering the problem not dealing with it.

Jon Ferguson
655 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:52:54
Anichebe
Oveido Mirallas Peinaar
Fellaini Osman
Baines Distin Jags Coleman
Howard

With Jelavic coming on for Anichebe to try and work the defenders when they are tired and get his confidence back.

Paul David
657 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:51:41
Jon I agree. More often than not Moyes makes like for like changes. Pienaar was terrible last, replacing Naismith with Oviedo and putting Pienaar on the right seemed obvious to me. If Pienaar remained shit then we've not lost anything but playing with different players against different players could have seen him play better. Moyes never tries something different cos its like admitting he was wrong in the first place.
Paul David
659 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:04:55
For Bolton I would go with

Howard

Coleman ( if injured then Neville as theres no one else )
Jag
Distin
Baines

Mirallas
Fellaini
Pienaar/Hitz ( i'm undecided )
Oviedo

Anichebe ( can not believe i've actually put him in a starting 11 )
Jelavic

Steve Carse
660 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:02:40
It's just as well Osman isn't at the start of his career because after giving the ball away 3 times in crucial central areas of the park last night, allowing Southampton to break dangerously, he'd have been given the Barkley treatment by Moyes and not seen again for the rest of the season!
Paul David
661 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:10:45
Fuck I can't do it, Vellios in for Anichebe.
Kev Johnson
669 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:36:20
Ha-ha! Too late, Paul, too late. You love Big Vic - go on, admit it, you've always fancied him (to score a hat trick) haven't you?

Post of the week that, mate. Brilliant.

Christopher Timmins
672 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:09:34
Last night was just terrible. God what a way to try and play in the first half.

Howard and Jags must have launched 25 diagonal balls into the Southampton half, all in the general direction of Fellaini. Are we trying to be the new Stoke?

Of course it all stems from a lack of a central midfield, we don't have midfield players who want the ball, who will come deep and take the ball off the back four and start the play.

Our centre forward needs a rest, his confidence is low at the moment. Of course the service and support he is getting is not up to much.

I hope Coleman is not out for long as he starting to improve the defensive side of his game. Still, if he does not make the weekend then Neville will be moved from his midfield birth.

Brian Harrison
675 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:07:19
First half was our worst performance of the season so far, but improved in the second half and could/should have won the game. Yes we have lost a bit of sparkle the last couple of games but that happens during a season, very rare does a team go through a season without a blip.

Surely the positive to take from last night was, even though we were woeful in the first half, we managed not to concede, and the key is if you are playing bad then don't concede.

The other big positive is that Kevin Mirallas got some game time and Anichebe looked a threat, so don't give up on finishing 4th just yet.

Mark Wilson
677 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:58:38
Some games tell you more than others and often it feels like the bad ones tell you the most, which is why the resulting feedback from fans can appear hugely negative and forgetful of the good things in a season like this one. But last night surely was a game of lessons wasn't it ?

Jelavic has needed a few games rest for some time and now is the time to let him him have a break on the bench. He hasn't turned into a useless player overnight, but he has been getting far less chances and yes he looks a bit shell shocked so give him some bench time.

If Mirallas can keep fit then its a real option to play him alongside Victor, or wide right in front of Coleman or as seems likely for a bit, Neville.

It's obvious teams are getting better at handling Piennar/Baines partnership. Inevitable really. Have to mix it up and that right sided approach with a hopefully fit Mirallas can do just that. I would have given Oviedo a chance but then I'm crazy, I'd play him at LB and put Baines at left wing, it worked for Spurs with Bale so why is it we won't try it ?

There are some things you just can't do much about. If Gibson isn't fit, as he isn't most of the time, then that's our lot in midfield. Osman really has had some cracking games but he's not the ball winning centre mid player you need when struggling and that's why earlier I whiffed about the obvious inability of the club to gamble in this window and shell out for some strong creative playmaker in that crucial midfield position. But in the meantime and whilst he's still here I think dropping Felli back has to be done. It leaves us a bit short up top though which is why Moyes needs to try something different in attack.

I'm more frustrated than ever watching Everton right now and most seem to feel the same way. We genuinely are not far off that fourth spot if the club wants it enough. We are closer than I thought we could be and have performed no worse than Spurs or Arsenal. Better in many games. But to push on we need to gamble, and like I said, take a managed risk. I'm not asking to bring down the club for gods sake, just to take the risk and spend the £15m or so that might make the difference between fourth and seventh. The money comes back in the summer via Fellis inevitable sale and that of two or three others plus some of the new TV money. It's a measured risk, and if we don't take it what's the point? This is a football team, it's about results and success on the field. Forget all the other valid arguments about the Board, Kirkby, KD, shops in the Park End etc. This is a moment in time. It's about the football. Take the bloody risk.

Alan Clarke
682 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:28:09
I don't think we should be too stressed after last night. It was an important point towards the magic 40 point mark! A point each from the West Brom and Villa games and Moyes will be delighted that he's reached his goal for the season.
Ray Said
686 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:54:05
I think we are a half-season team. We either start badly and then finish well or start well and finish badly. The team can't seem to do both. I can't see that changing with the thin squad we have.

Jelavic has come in for some stick but other teams that play with one up front have an attacking midfielder that makes forward runs to support the striker. We are playing Fellaini whose natural game is to drop into midfield rather than make forward runs. I would expect to see a turnaround in Jelavic's from if we played with Mirallas as attacking midfielder to give him some support.

Bill Griffiths
704 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:10:38
Lets get some perspective on this. Given events at The Dell this was going to be either a stroll in the park for us or one hell of a struggle. Unfortunately for us The Saints took the 2nd option which given their recent good run of form meant we struggled and did well to come out of it with a point. While on the face of things this was a dcent point it was somewhat worrying given the dire perfomance of the first hale especially by Ossi and Piennar. I lost count of the numbe rof times Ossie lost possession. Thought these 2 both improved in 2nd half especially Piennar. Another plus was the perfomance of Vic when he came on. I
Bill Griffiths
705 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:18:39
Don't know what happened there, so to continue. I notice some complain about Moyse preferring Naismith to Vic which is fair comment I don't think it is any use just using V
Bill Griffiths
706 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:20:24
It's happened again. I don't think it's any use just using V
Bill Griffiths
707 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:20:24
It's happened again. I don't think it's any use just using V
Bill Griffiths
709 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:21:18
Vic is no straight replacement for Naismith if used wide on right. He only really looks effective when used in the middle up front. On the good side Mirallas made a return, hopefully Gibson will be back real soon so if we can either draw or beat Bolton then take 6 points off Villa and WBA then maybe things will start looking up again and we can kick on from there. However if we don't take the full 6 points from these 2 games then I think the best we can hope for is 6th or 7th and finishing above The Shite. Got there eventually.
Steve Edwards
751 Posted 22/01/2013 at 16:14:00
Naismith to Tranmere, don't make me laugh. He wouldn't get into the Tranmere team. How Moyes continues to play him is totally beyond me. He's the biggest load of crap I've seen in a blue shirt for many a year. What on earth Moyes sees in him is anyones guess. He'd be better off playing that Kenedy kid he brought in from Scotland, surely he couldn't be worst than that muppet Naismith.
Brian Garside
812 Posted 22/01/2013 at 18:56:49
At the start of the season, we had a three-pronged attack in Jelavic, Mirallas and Fellaini. All of them difficult to mark and all watched by defenders.

Since Mirallas has been injured, Everton have been much easier to defend against due to the reduction in pace and movement. Defenders have had more time to concentrate on Jelavic who has essentially been ploughing a lone trough for two months. This makes it more astounding that Moyes does not use Oviedo on the right.

I have written before that it wold mirror our left wing where we have a left-footed defender with a right footed midfielder infront of him. Oviedo has pace and skill and would occupy opponents a lot more than Naismith who makes runs knowing he cannot be passed to.

Gueye does not look the part so the alternative being switch Pienaar to the right. This should and is done during games in order to open up space on the left for Baines to overlap. So why not do the same on the right wing? This would fully occupy any opposing defence and midfield. Besides. How many defences in the PL could cope with two wingers? It works for Man Utd

Logic?

Bob Parrington
889 Posted 22/01/2013 at 21:58:26
Brian #812. Basically, ditto in principle! We're too one sided and they've worked us out. It's as simple as that.

Additionally, Southampton made us look tired and listless, particularly in the 1st half. Osman had a horror of a game. I can hardly recall him making a decent pass and he was also being caught on the ball regularly. We appear to be becoming more static with every game.

Jela isn't even looking like scoring. I'd either give him a spell off the bench, a rest or a few games in the reserves, while giving some games to Velios. EWe do need to see what the lads made of and camios at the end of games don't really give him a chance. Oviedo certainly looks like he is up to PL standard, so use him. Naismith is predictable, has a poor first touch and has not been providing to players like Jela.

Also, we should do what we can to bring in a couple of players.

Matt Roache
930 Posted 23/01/2013 at 07:12:14
23 games into the season and we have lost 3 games. In my time following the Blues that is unheard of and should, in my opinion, give us all plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Part of me thinks we should have more points than we currently have (home games against Newcastle and Norwich, aways at Fulham, Reading and Stoke spring to mind); however, at the same time, we have perhaps been a little fortunate to win games against Spurs and Sunderland and arguably a little lucky to escape from Monday night with a point so in many respects things have more or less started to even themselves out.

Whilst I feel that Jelavic will come good again with a goal or two and a fit Mirallas is going to be absolutely key to us, it is the centre of midfield which worries me. I am one of Phil Neville's biggest fans. I like his professionalism and leadership on the pitch and to be fair, he's put in a fair amount of decent performances this season for a man of his age. I just don't see though how a team going for the top 4 can continue to consistently play a 36-year-old in the centre of midfield. Granted, I'd still have him in at right back if we are short, but the legs just aren't there anymore for the midfield area. We need a ball winner ideally with a bit of pace in there. I like Gibson, but we could do with someone else to compensate for the time he is out injured.

If we were to make a signing, I'd like to see someone like a Mo Diame from West Ham come in. I was a bit disappointed we didn't pick him up on a free in the summer. The lad N'Diaye who Sunderland have just snapped up also looks a steal and someone in the mould that we could do with. If there were to be no signing, then I'd consider sticking Fellaini back in there (particularly taking into account big Vic's improvement up top).

Anyway, plenty of points to play for (and the FA Cup of course) and if we get right behind the lads, I think we have every chance of nicking that final Champions League qualifying spot.

COYB

Ian Bennett
082 Posted 23/01/2013 at 21:24:47
Our biggest issue is that we cant pass it to a midfielder 20 yards in front of the man, on the deck. It's either 5 yards square or 30 yards lumped in the air, which by the time it's brought under control the options are being snuffed out.

All the midfield permutations come out with above, other than Gibson. It's no surprise we look a better side with him in it. A bit of pace would nice too.

Robbie Muldoon
199 Posted 24/01/2013 at 12:44:43
Good point about Osman, he gave the ball away so many times, if it was Barkley I would probably write him off as a no hoper for the future. Shocking.

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