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More Barcelona than Stoke
Six weeks ago David Moyes said judge our progress after 10 games not two and I’ll let you know how we’re doing. I think most Evertonians would have accepted 17 points and fourth place back in August when the season kicked off.
That we are not happy with that return speaks volumes for the progress the club has made, and for once the notorious slow starter analogy cannot be made. The fallout from last week’s derby game continues and Steve Gerrard’s claim that Everton played like Stoke was well and truly shot down by the well respected Martin Jol, who said Everton’s style on Saturday resembled Barcelona - praise indeed.
This eulogy did not however compensate for the loss of two points as Everton totally dominated Fulham but somehow could only manage two goals from 27 shots. Possession of 61 percent for an away team is remarkable and the Blues are managing more shots on target than any other Premier League team at the moment, and we have hit the woodwork more times that anyone too, so the Liverpool captain’s claims seem more out of bitterness than fact as Everton continue to eclipse their neighbours for a second season in succession.
In reality they should probably be four points better off,which would still leave us in fourth place but significantly closer to Chelsea, and the Manchester clubs. David Moyes’ current team is probably the best he has had and the Belgian duo of Fellaini and Mirallas are playing inspired football at the moment; and with Baines and Pienaar continuing their telepathic play, teams are struggling to stem the Blue tide as it streams forward. Sadly Nikica Jelavic currently seems to have lost his goal scoring touch and is going through one of those barren spells all strikers have. However, if he returns to form soon someone will be on the end of a hiding.
If there is one weakness currently it appears to be the defence, normally so solid and miserly we appear to have got into the habit of conceding early (the last five games) and then having to chase the game. The trademark 1-0s are a relic of the past and the new expansive style seems to have left the defence exposed particularly with the continued absence of the injured Gibson. Tim Howard has made a few blunders this season, he should have saved Fulham’s opener on Saturday and the under-rated Tony Hibbert is greatly missed.
Seamus Coleman who has replaced him, is being exposed and punished for a series of defensive errors and on occasion should adhere to the Brian Clough strategy that states ‘the opposition can’t score if the ball’s in Row Z my lad.’ Sylvain Distin, Jonny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka who are being rotated by the manager have all made critical errors in the ten games thus far, so you can easily pinpoint why the Toffees have drawn so many games, four in a row now.
So with 10 games played and Everton settled in fourth place can the Goodison faithful really start to dream of Champions League football – particularly as Spurs and Arsenal continue to stutter? It would certainly be a triumph for David Moyes should he achieve this, and be just reward for the attacking strategy that has been adopted in this campaign. The next ten games will tell us an awful lot more and see if the Premier League managers have come up with tactics to stifle the free flowing Everton.
In the meantime Steve Gerrard needs to eat his words and listen to the Fulham manager who witnessed this exciting new approach from Goodison Park. Some day soon someone is going to get a thumping and maybe then the plaudits will continue, and David Moyes will finally get this reward.
Posted by Everton fan Steve Mahon