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Stamford Bridge: The Scene of the Climb?
by Ed Bottomley

It was wonderfully described as “The Scene of the Climb” ; Everton’s barrel-scraping win against Oxford in the Milk Cup in 1984 that injected us with confidence, restored belief in Howard Kendall, and led to an utter turnaround in our fortunes. Could our unbelievable 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge do the same?
Chelsea Everton match reaction on Sky

Two points from three games isn’t the form we are used to, but those two points in the last two league games will mean a lot more than that to the players. Against Spurs, we had a back four entirely made up of full backs; we were playing Scrabble armed with only vowels. Our hobbled defence, shaky from the start, and decimated further during the game, also produced our star – Seamus Coleman. Faced with a 2-0 scoreline, Moyes brought on Yakubu and Louis Saha, neither was fit enough for a full game, but brought immediacy to our attack.

Match Report: Chelsea 3-3 Everton
Things improved slightly against Chelsea, with Heitinga and Neill a partners the centre of defence and kismet embraced the ball for two of our goals at Stamford Bridge, but luck isn’t a word in our vocabulary – not when loyal footsoldier Tony Hibbert has been forced to play at centre half in European cauldrons and against Peter Crouch.

Welcome to the world of the People’s Club, where this season and the last have been tarred and feathered by injury, where we hemorrhage money even in a good year, where we need to move but cannot. A boa-constrictor of problems wrapped tightly around us, but the moans by fans and the media have been unfair. Look in front of our ersatz defence, and our midfield has been hit by injury too.  Rodwell and Fellaini – our midfield Jekyll and Hyde – have a combined age of just 40. David James, Englands elastic evergreen keeper, is 39 years old. The press leapt into a flurry of anti-Everton keyboard bashing when we got mauled by Benfica home and away, but qualification from our Europa League group has been done with a game to spare – and those defeats were done with a team as downtrodden as Bob Cratchit.

Louis Saha is being played to perfection. When the striker is close to fitness he plays; rather than keeping him out with injuries, Moyes sends him out sparingly – squeezing match time out of his injured frame until the pips squeak. From 15 starts Saha has scored 10 goals this season, and Christmas and the New Year promises to bring further hope with Landon Donovan jetting over, and  Mikel Arteta and the two Phils – Jagielka and Neville – returning to the fray.

Stamford Bridge may well be the scene of the climb for Moyes, and the season isn’t over by a long stretch.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

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