At face value, Everton’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa yesterday seems akin to the current frustrations of fans at Goodison Park – not enough quality to kill off the game.
However, in truth, the Toffees performed excellently and but for two appalling refereeing decisions, would have been cruising.
The return of Seamus Coleman was a huge plus for Everton. With Coleman on the right and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov on the left, Everton had a good shape to the side, and with Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell completely dominating in the centre, Leon Osman was able to wonder freely to great effect.
Another real positive for the Blues was the impact made by substitutes Drenthe, Barkley and Vellios. All three showed glimpses of genuine promise, suggesting a squad depth that perhaps we had all overlooked. With Saha, Anichebe and Stracqualursi all to come in, the signs are all good for Everton.
Tim Howard 6 – The American cannot be blamed for either of the goals. Aside from equalisers, Howard was little more than a spectator, though pulled off a fine save from Bannan in the first half, Howard was little more than a spectator.
Tony Hibbert 7 – Good performance from Hibbert at right back. He kept the threat from N’Zogbia and Agbonlahor down to a minimum. Solid as ever, though contributed little going forward.
Leighton Baines 8 – An excellent performance by Baines, capped by his coolly taken penalty. Baines grabbed his chance to take Mikel Arteta’s role as corner taker with both hands, really helping Everton to build pressure with some great deliveries. One of his corners led to the penalty.
Phil Jagielka 6 – Defensively Jagielka had little to do though he should have pushed out to play Agbonlahor offside for Villa’s second equaliser. The England defender had a header cleared off the line in the first half but missed a simpler close range chance in the second.
Sylvain Distin 7 – A very powerful, reliable performance from the Frenchman, the highlight being a sensational 40 yard dash to keep pace with Agbonlahor before dispossessing the Villa striker twice and preventing the corner, all to rapturous applause from grateful fans.
Seamus Coleman 8 – A very encouraging performance from the Coleman, especially when you consider this was the Irishman’s first game back. Full of positive running, looking at all times for an opportunity to go past his man, Coleman had Steven Warnock’s number all day.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov 7 – One of Bilyaletdinov’s better games for Everton, recently anyway. Demonstrating a great willingness to work for the team, Bilyaletdinov often tracked back to the applause of the crowd. Promisingly, the Russian combined well with Leighton Baines on several occasions.
Maruoane Fellaini 8 – Whilst this was not Fellaini at top form, it is fair to say that Everton fans will not have to wait long for the Belgian to reach it. Physical and commanding in the centre of the park, Fellaini was key to everything Everton did.
Jack Rodwell 6 – A frustrating game for Rodwell but certainly not awful. Rodwell’s partnership with Fellaini looked impressive yet the England u-21 international often chose the wrong option – a 60 yard backpass to Howard particularly annoying. Can do better.
Leon Osman 8 – Osman enjoyed the free role given to him by David Moyes and linked everything. Just as Fellaini was crucial to all of Everton’s defensive work, Osman played an equally vital role going forward. Consequently, Everton played some of their best attacking football in months. Full deserved his goal.
Tim Cahill 7 – Cahill worked tirelessly and showed several nice touches to bring midfielders into play. Looked every part the natural striker and showed great awareness to lay on Osman’s opener. Cahill looked very sharp and never stopped running.
Royston Drenthe 7 – A very encouraging cameo from the Dutchman saw him rob Alan Hutton of the ball, before sprinting to the by-line and picking out Osman. But for a fortunate block, Drenthe would have claimed an excellent assist. Showed great pace.
Ross Barkley 7 – The youngster came on to good effect, picking the ball up and running and showing several quality touches. Guilty once or twice of hesitating when he should have pulled the trigger, yet despite this, another very promising performance.
Apostolos Vellios 7 – The young Greek was pick of the substitutes, which is really a bigger compliment than it sounds. All three did very well, but Velios demonstrated his threat both in the air with several flick-ons, on the ground, with a very fierce shot, and in behind, almost winning the game after nicking ahead of Given.
Of course, Moyes will be disappointed to have dropped two points, but the difference from Everton’s last game will be comforting enough for the Scot. With just two matches for Everton before games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, Moyes will hope the team can turn this excellent performance into a run of form.
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