BLACKPOOL 2 (Eardley 10, Vaughan 48) – EVERTON 2 (Cahill 13, Coleman 50).
End to end football is fine so long as the result is right and on Saturday it wasn’t. Blackpool’s goals, one a freakishly good free kick which Eardley probably couldn’t replicate if he tried fifty times and the other a scrambled miss-hit, were instantly equalized by Cahill and Coleman, but a host of missed chances, of which those by Pienaar and Saha fell into the ‘sitter’ variety, meant a return of just one point from a game which should have yielded three. Why does this Everton team always seem to struggle against the lesser lights of the division yet excel against the top teams? Being the underdog seems to suit the team ethos while being the favourites and carrying the weight of expectation, requires a different, more ruthless approach, which they have yet to find.
Johnny Heitinga was once again playing in his accustomed position, sitting just in front of the back four, where he is supposed to break-up play, win the ball, and prompt and probe. A role in which he excelled in the second half of last season. On Saturday he was substituted on 78 minutes; we are not sure if he is carrying an injury but he seemed to be signalling to the bench that he wanted to come off. Be that as it may his statistics, courtesy of The Guardian chalkboard, make interesting reading: Heitinga completed just 16 passes and made 5 successful tackles. Lets look at those statistics compared to the other midfield players: Arteta made 43 passes and 6 tackles; Pienaar 39/5; Cahill 21/9 (and remember Cahill plays as an auxiliary striker); Coleman 27/5. Even allowing for the fact that he came off 12 minutes before the end his contribution was just not good enough. If Jack Rodwell is fully fit we would expect him to replace the Dutchman against Bolton on Wednesday evening. Once again the contribution made by Everton’s two full backs was excellent. Neville completed 40 passes and Baines 41. Baines also made 8 successful tackles, not bad, but still one behind the superb Cahill who made 9.
Everton’s current strike force looks tired and one dimensional and in truth has done so since day-one of the season. Beckford looks out of his depth, Saha is a high class front-man but every time he starts to look like the real deal he gets injured, ditto Anichebe, ditto the on-loan James Vaughan, which leaves just one fully fit and functional striker in Yakubu. Two New Year wishes; Landon Donovan on loan and some wheeler-dealing by David Moyes to improve his options up front.
Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Keith Southern (Phillips 61), Adam ©, Vaughan; Taylor-Fletcher (Grandin), Campbell, Varney (Harewood)
Unused subs: Kingson, Keinan, Sylvestre, Carney
EVERTON (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville ©, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga (Beckford 78); Coleman, Arteta, Cahill, Pienaar (Bilyaletdinov 77); Yakubu (Saha 61)
Unused subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Rodwell, Baxter
Referee: Andre Marriner