DEC
29
2012
Everton Season Review The Halfway Point
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Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic took Everton to exactly halfway through the Premier League season and there is a positive buzz surrounding the blue half of Merseyside.

Perennial sluggish starters, the Toffees have shrugged off that unwanted label and find themselves well in the mix for a European spot.

It was apparent that the Goodison outfit meant business from the word go after Marouane Fellaini bullied Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United off the park in a 1-0 win under the floodlights on the opening weekend.

Determined to kick on from that impressive victory, David Moyes' side dispatched of a youthful Aston Villa team at Villa Park with first half goals from Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic sealing a 3-1 victory.

A routine 5-0 drubbing of minnows Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup was followed by a disappointing defeat at the hands of an impressive West Brom, bringing to an end Everton's 100% start to the season.

Newcastle United visited Goodison Park for a Monday night fixture and the evening will long be remembered across Merseyside. In the days leading up to the fixture, the revelations surrounding the Hillsborough cover-ups had finally been made public and Everton's tribute to their neighbours across Stanley Park was fitting.

Chairman Bill Kenwright chose The Hollies 1969 track, 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' to be played before kick-off and the song has since reached No.1 in the charts as the nation backed the fight for justice.

The game itself was full of controversy as the Magpies escaped with a 2-2 draw after the hosts had two goals incorrectly ruled out.

Elimination from the Capital One Cup at the hands of Leeds United was sandwiched between two impressive league victories over Swansea and Southampton.

Everton found themselves in a Champions League berth as they entered October but the wins started to dry up and the early season optimism soon turned into frustration.

Seven of the next nine fixtures resulted in a draw and the majority were games where Moyes would have felt it was a case of two points dropped rather than a point gained.

Having said that, a share of the points against Manchester City, Arsenal and away at Fulham will go down as decent results and to come back from 2-0 down against Liverpool to record a draw was a welcomed result.

A return of one win out of these nine fixtures could have been worse had it not been for a late showing at home to Sunderland.

Adam Johnson had given the North East club a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half time and with the second half reaching the latter stages the Blues seemed out of ideas.

Leading goal scorer Marouane Fellaini fired in from outside the area to level the scores and two minutes later set up Nikica Jelavic to wrap up three points in front of the Gwladys Street and send the stands into pandemonium.

There is nothing like a late winner to seal three points and if the defeat of Martin O'Neill's side was exciting, what happened on December 9th at home to Tottenham was something special.

Trailing to a fortuitous Clint Dempsey strike, Everton headed into four minutes of stoppage time on the brink of their first home defeat of the campaign.

A rare Pienaar header levelled proceedings and when Apostolos Vellios acrobatically flicked on Darron Gibson's cross, Jelavic popped up again to volley home the winner on 93 minutes and steal the three points for Everton.

That result will be savoured for some time and is proof of how invaluable an instinctive goal scorer is.

The ever challenging visit to Stoke City awaited next and Moyes will not have been too downhearted to see his side leave the Britannia with a 1-1 draw. The talking point from the game however was a moment of madness from Fellaini, the Belgian losing his temper with Ryan Shawcross and blatantly head-butting the defender only for the referee to not see it.

The inevitable retrospective action was taken and the 25-year old was banned for three games.

The media began to doubt Everton's ability to cope without their influential talisman and many predicted that his absence would see the Toffees slide down the table.

What happened was quite the opposite, Everton recorded back to back league wins for the first time since September against West Ham and Wigan and are very much in the shake up for a top four finish.

Half term report rating: 7/10.

The first half of the season has without doubt been a positive one for the blue half of Merseyside. Most would have taken a tally of 33 points at this stage of the season and to be only six points adrift of current champions Manchester City shows that Everton are well in the European shake up.

However, the performances of Tim Howard provide cause for concern, the American stopper managing only 2 clean sheets in the league out of a possible 19.

An inability to finish games off has resulted in points being dropped when they shouldn't have been and is no doubt linked to the fact that Jelavic is not proving quite as prolific as he was last season.

Another positive January will really provide the current squad with a timely boost and it is of course essential that key players do not leave in the transfer window.

Everton will be hoping to build on a positive first half of the campaign and produce the now traditional second half of the season surge.

Do that and an unthinkable return to the Champions League could be on the cards.

Not that we're getting carried away though.

Follow The Gwladys Street Preacher on Twitter @GaryMaidenEFC

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about Everton Season Review The Halfway Point
 
2
I think this could have been the season where we may have had a chance to really shake up the pack, the title won't be this open again because United et al will strengthen for next year. Not just because they are under performing, which they are, but, because their sides are aging and contracts are expiring.We will struggle to keep up, especially if Moyes were to move on.Those dropped points may look really expensive if we now go on our usual new year run of consistent wins. For the last 3 years we would have been title contenders if only second half of the season results had counted.
Win, Stafford, 6:33 PM 29/12/2012
 
1
if offered this position at the start of the season, i would have snapped your hand off, as would most Blues i suspect. If we can just add a little bit of quality depth to the squad, then who knows? Europe is a real possibility
Terry.U , Gosport, Hants, 9:55 AM 29/12/2012
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