West Bromwich Albion 1 Everton 1

A point away at a traditionally quite tough place, against a side out to impress a new manager, wouldn’t normally be sniffed at. However, with Liverpool dropping points at home this game at the Hawthorns represented a great opportunity to pile some pressure on the other sides hoping to kick and scratch their way into that mingebag jackpot fourth place in the table.

Unusually for Robert Martinez’s Everton though they blew that chance with a poor performance, particularly in the second half when defending the lead earned by Kevin Mirallas’s well taken 41st minute goal.

The creeping fears about injuries are starting to look well-founded now, with only really Mirallas looking vaguely dangerous out of a front four that included Bryan Oviedo, Leon Osman and the desperately out-of-form Romelu Lukaku. The young Belgian needs to be rested or provided with some competition because he barely poses a threat lately. Whether a human pylon with a raggedy hamstring is the answer only time and the usual work permit guff will tell.

In Lukaku’s defence, it was his knockdown that fell to Mirallas who burst past Diego Lugano – who sounds like every holiday airport in the Mediterranean and a skirmish in the Falklands – and slotted coolly past Ben Foster. Despite the obvious delight at taking the lead though, without Steven Pienaar and Ross Barkley Everton just never held the ball long enough up at the business end of the pitch and after the break were restricted to sporadic half-chances in what was a scrappy, horrible game.

Pepe Mel threw Victor Anichebe – the ‘Neech’ – on  for the second half and the much-joked-about former Everton man did a pretty passable impression of a professional centre-forward, holding the ball up and helping the Baggies to build attacks and put pressure on the Blues’ defence. Indeed, on 75 minutes he found James Morrison on the right-hand side of the Everton area, from where the winger was allowed to get the ball into the six-yard box thanks to Leighton Baines and James McCarthy’s half-hearted defending. Lugano then managed to get across Sylvain Distin at the near post and absolutely buried a diving header.

Where do the West Brom get these fellas from? They appear to have a production line of of oafish long-haired gadgies who, to use coaching parlance, ‘give you a solid 6/10 week in, week out’.  He’ll never score again, him.

Anyway, if the deserved equaliser wasn’t fun enough, Seamus Coleman immediately left the field clutching his hamstring. Aiden McGeady got 10 minutes though, so there’s something.

Distin had a goal disallowed at the very end, for being enormously offside, and Everton slipped down to sixth place. The margins for error are incredibly tight at the top of the table, so if you can’t go and outclass opponents – and you can’t every week – then you have to simply find a way to win against the less celebrated opposition like West Brom. After getting ahead the Toffees needed to exert the sort of control that has been one of the hallmarks of this season, but a combination of the Baggies’ efforts and Everton’s lack of so many first choice creative players meant that it never panned out that way.

It happens. The important thing is how you respond.

Twatting Stevenage and Liverpool would probably be adequate.

It will be interesting to see whether this slightly grubby result and the mounting injuries have any effect on Martinez’s approach to the transfer window. Does he more or less stick with what he has and hope to struggle on and stay within reach of Champions League qualification until players like Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu come back into contention, allowing him to save whatever dough there is until the summer? Or will he feel that the ‘platform’ we have given ourselves already this season is too good to waste by being cautious?

What we should do, if we’ve got any sense, is borrow a ton of cash off some lender of ill repute, get a load of Galacticos in and just win the league. Then, and this is the key part of the plan, we just Thelma and Louise the whole thing – set fire to the stadium, melt the trophy down and tell everyone that’s it, footy is over and Everton won. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT, GREG DYKE?

They probably won’t though, you know what they’re like. The shithouses.

West Bromwich Albion Preview

‘First they came for the Geordies and I did not speak up, because I was not a Geordie.

Then they came for that terrifying kid who supported Leeds and was crying when they got relegated from the Premier League and I did not speak out, because I was not a Leeds fan.

Then they came for the Manchester United fans who wear the green and gold scarves and I did not speak out, because like most of them I’m not actually sure what the real point of the scarves is any more. They must have lost a couple of games.

Then they came for the Hull City supporters who did the tiger maul dance and I did not speak out, because I was not a Hull City supporter. Or a tiger.

Then they came for those Arsenal lads who held up the Eduardo shirt when he got injured, and I did not speak out because I was not an absolute bellend trying to get on the telly.

Then they came for the Liverpudlians who dressed as cardinals and to be honest I did actually speak out this time and I said ‘there’s well more than them you know, they are just the tip of iceberg’.

Then they came for West Brom fans who do the ‘Boing, boing’ thing and I did not speak out, because I was not a West Brom fan and to be quite honest I was still seething that they only took the cardinals last time they were here. I did point though, to where the West Brom fans were hiding, because all that bouncing around is really fucking irritating.’

So then, West Bromwich Albion, eh?

West Brom.

The ‘Baggies’.

They’ve got a new manager. His name’s Pepe Mel. Apparently he left his last job because it was a grind.

What? Get out of it.

He actually left because Real Betis sacked him but he apparently worked wonders there, getting promoted and into the Europa League with no money to spend. To be honest, this was all gleaned from listening to a couple of podcasts – if it’s factually incorrect take it up with Sid Lowe. Anyway, on the strength of those passing comments we are branding him the Spanish Iain Holloway.

Unlike Everton’s own Latin smoothy, Mel isn’t particularly Spanish-looking. In fact he looks a bit like Brian Dennehy in that creepy film about John Wayne Gacy. However, he doesn’t win the Premier League ‘check his passport’ award for this season – that clearly goes to Arsenal fullback Nacho Monreal who looks like he should be limping dead fast down Park Road with his Berghaus hood up in the height of summer, drinking a bottle of Lucozade Sport and only stopping occasionally to remonstrate with his Pirates of the Caribbean-looking Judy who is trailing in his wake screaming abuse at the top of her lungs.

Doesn’t he?

Going back to West Brom, apparently they will be without the services of Hull-bound Shane Long, the Irish striker who always looks pretty decent against Everton and indeed is often linked with a transfer to Goodison Park. He’s big, strong, doesn’t score many goals but absolutely works his stones off for the cause. Baggies fans need not worry though, they have a ready-made replacement in Victor Anichebe who, let’s face it, has all the same attributes as Long. Apart from the effort part, obviously.

And yes, that might seem a bit two-faced given that we always tried to look for the positives in Anichebe before his £6 million move to the Midlands, but that’s the nature of the beast. You can’t help yourself sometimes, especially when you don’t want to feel as if you are adding to the tsunami of shite that’s being heaped on a player from the stands. At his worst though he really never helped himself. For someone of such limited ability he needed to find some area in which to compensate and he never realised that early enough. The penny did seem to drop towards the end of his Everton career but it’s safe to say that a move was the best thing for all parties.

Apart from West Brom.

Long will be joining Nikica Jelavic at Hull – the crafty Croatian is their record signing and leaves with nothing but good wishes from the Evertonians. No one ever doubted his effort, regardless of how he completely disintegrated as a functioning Premier League forward, and so the supporters stuck with him and were palpably willing him on whenever he featured in the side. That he was so grateful for that and wished it to be known in his open letter was a nice touch. You want people to leave the club with their head held high and with fond memories.

Who, if anyone, is coming in to replace Jelavic though seems like anyone’s guess at the moment. Martinez seems unfazed – but then he always does – but releasing our second choice centre-forward would seem on the surface at least to weaken our hand when negotiating to bring someone in. The selling club is going to know that we are snookered if a deal doesn’t go through and as we have seen during countless transfer windows in the past, the Goodison hierarchy won’t think twice about walking away from the table if they think some Johnny Two-Phones foreign representative is taking the piss with the demands.

‘No mate, you don’t understand. Not all at once. Comprende? Installamentos. Er, how do you say it? Drip. On the dr… EL DRIPPY-DRIPPY! Is he deliberately acting soft this kid? That’s it, give him a Delta Taxis card and tell him to fuckin’ beat it. GO ‘EAD LAD, SLINGO YER ‘OOKO. NO DUCK TOUR FOR YOU NOW, GREEDY ARSE.’

We were linked with that young Belgian striker from Anderlecht, and Kenwyne Jones of course, but now it is being reported that Martinez’s quest for another massive black lad to play up front has seen him turn his attention to some character called Lacina Traore. Or, to be more precise, West Ham are apparently on the verge of signing the 6’8” tall Ivory Coast forward on loan from Monaco but Everton are looking to ‘do a Lukaku’ again and step in at the last minute.

To hijack an old Iain Holloway analogy: ‘Hang on, I’ve been buying her ale all night!’

Lord only knows if this Traore is any good like. He’s been scoring goals in the Romanian and Russian leagues which, as we know, means absolutely nothing.

Going back to the Baggies for a moment, another striker who could be missing from this game is Niclas Anelka. The Jewish owner of Zoopla, West Brom’s shirt sponsor, has demanded that the French striker be dropped in the wake of his goal celebration the other week: the anti-Semitic ‘Quenelle’.

Presumably the full name of the weird gesture is: ‘Quenelle! What are you thinking there you daft, offside, aardvark-faced nugget?’

Finally, did anyone hear Grant Holt being interviewed after his transfer to Aston Villa? He was asked what he brings and, rather sheepishly he said: ‘I’m different from the other strikers they have here already. I’m not as fast as Gabby Agbonlahor and I’m probably not as sharp as Christian Benteke.’

Reach for the stars, son. Reach for the stars.

Liverpool 0 Everton 0

liverpool_everton_derby

Once again into the court of the crimson ming and once again no win for the Toffees.

It’s hard to think of the ‘prize’ that was at stake in this derby without imagining them minty cartoons they used to have in the tabloids, with two shipwrecked fellas on an unfeasibly tiny island with a single palm tree in the centre. Whoever finishes higher in the league gets to dance around waving the celebratory coconut but little else. And even the people on the deck of the tiny ship on the horizon and the lazy, M-shaped seagulls couldn’t give a shiny shite.

As for Reds and Blues themselves though, well, it will depend on who finishes higher as to how important the ‘achievement’ is viewed locally. Quite depressingly, it actually is something of a feat for us, giving how we rarely finish above them at all, never mind two seasons in succession. For them, edging above us will confirm what they regard as their innate superiority – they finish above us even when they are having a bad* season.

In short then, whoever is lower in the table will mutter to themselves like the single lad in the kebab shop complaining that ‘they were all ugly lesbians anyway’.

Overall it was a rather grim encounter with both sides displaying just why they need to improve quite considerably to trouble a Europa League place next season, never mind a big boy’s Champion’s League spot. As for the title – it’s just about as far away as it’s ever been for Everton. And Liverpool are five points behind us.

There’s always the argument that David Moyes doesn’t ‘go for it’ at Anfield, but this was more or less the most attacking side he could put out. Unfortunately a front pairing of Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini is never going to pose a consistent threat, especially away from home. Playing with essentially two target men asks a lot of the midfielders and they had their work cut out dealing with a combative Liverpool midfield. In fact, talk of a number of them carrying injuries looked bang on as Darron Gibson. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar all laboured – it was hard to tell with Kevin Mirallas, as he hardly touched the ball.

Steven Gerrard, arguably the outstanding footballer of his generation and a constant thorn in Everton’s side, was given free rein in the centre of the park, by the Blues and referee Michael Oliver, but fortunately time has taken its toll and crying-face’s surging runs have been reduced to the minimum. He’s all about the David Beckam ‘pings to the wings’ now, more than ever, although he still had the home side’s best chances. The first a snapshot blocked by the excellent Phil Jagielka and the second, after the break, saw the equally dominant Sylvain Distin comfortably cut out a shot after Gerrard had rounded Tim Howard.

Distin was also active at the other end, heading home a Leighton Baines corner in the second half. However, Oliver shamelessly blew for an imaginary foul and then booked Anichebe, presumably for complaining, and not just for being shit at footy. One can only wonder at what sort of foul tirade the Everton frontman unleashed upon the official to earn a yellow card given that television viewers all clearly witnessed Gerrard – accurately – brand him a ‘fucking shithouse’ at some volume, with no censure. Presumably it was said in self defence.

Apart from a slack spell at the beginning of the second half, Everton were rarely made to look uncomfortable. Obviously you always expect Liverpool to score, but they would have had to spawn something – not beyond the realms, clearly – as they patently didn’t possess the ability to exert the sort of pressure we came under at the end of recent matches at the Emirates and White Hart Lane.

Daniel Sturridge, for instance, showed why he plays for Liverpool and not Manchester City or Chelsea.

Everton were disappointing too – apart from the Distin goal Fellaini ankled one wide in the first half and an Anichebe shot took a big deflection that panicked Jose Reina in the second. There were a number of opportunities to try and snatch another winner at the end but free-kicks were lofted into the hands of Reina and, with seconds to go, Gibson opted against putting the ball into the box and the Blues settled for the point.

A win against West Ham, or anything other than a Liverpool victory at Fulham, puts this whole thing to bed. It would hardly be worthy of an open-topped bus, but still it would be a relief going into the final match at Chelsea knowing that we are at least king shits on turd mountain.

Finally, we can all look forward to derbies in future without big manly man’s man Jamie Carragher constantly pleading with referees and persistently tugging at their sleeves like a starving Bombay street urchin. The tit.

* This on the rather optimistic premise that what they are currently experiencing is some sort of ‘blip’ when anyone with any sense can see a much more obvious, drawn-out truth.

Screaming tit

Arsenal 0 Everton 0

Screaming tit

FOW!

AMBAW!

Repeat until nauseating.

That was the soundtrack to the first half of a game of big boys’ football at the Emirates where the gap between Everton and Arsenal looked a lot slimmer than the one between the once-mighty Gunners and English football’s remaining trio of serious clubs.

Arsenal can still finish in the top four, and almost certainly will, but Everton’s faint hopes realistically required all three points to induce ‘squeaky bums’ across North London, whatever the fuck a squeaky bum is. Have you ever really understood that phrase?

The Blues played well, especially in the first half, and could have made the game even more interesting had Steven Pienaar not fired over the bar after latching onto Phil Jagielka’s angled through-ball. To be fair to the South African he did have Wojciech Szczęsny sprawling at his feet but still it represented Everton’s best chance of the night and his biggest contribution. Pienaar’s not been on top form for some time and seems to have developed a running style that sports scientists call ‘Osman at Wembley’.

In terms of team selection, David Moyes surprised everyone by giving Ross Barkley another start – this time supporting Victor Anichebe up front. In all honesty it was only a partial success – the youngster was fucking last again in the first half, but in the second he had a few decent touches and almost bagged all the points late on with a great turn and shot that only missed the top corner by, to quote Junior Soprano, ‘a cunt hair’.

Arsenal, for their part, are just maggots. Everton got stuck in and pressured the home team all over the pitch but there was barely a dangerous tackle all night. If you listened to the likes of fat-tongued Lego-head Jack Wilshere though, squealing like a stuck pig every time anyone went near him, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was a replay of the infamous Haemophiliacs v Porcupine XI game from Comic Relief 1997.

Even Mikel Arteta, once the darling of Evertonian ladies of either sex, now has hair like Nick Cotton and a face like Dot’s, the crying little twat.

Olivier Giroud, the French James Beattie, missed a good opportunity to put the home side ahead just before the break and in the second half they did have the better of the game, especially when Arsene Wenger brought on Lukas Podolski and Sesame Street-faced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and moved the excellent Santi Carzola into central midfield.

When called up to defend though, Everton were outstanding. Phil Jagielka, Marouane Fellaini and Seamus Coleman stood out as the home side pushed on, but the fact that their teammates continued to pose a threat and use possession intelligently meant that there was never that feeling of an Arsenal goal being inevitable.

Unfortunately, for all Everton’s undoubted qualities they lack a centre-forward who can make a real difference as only Kevin Mirallas looks genuinely menacing going forward at the moment. Anichebe is running around loads, and it looks a thankless task trying to close down a team of good footballers like Arsenal, but, let’s all be honest, he’s the weak link in that team. Unfortunately Nikica Jelavic’s arse seems to have gone completely and the once-lethal Croatian frontman is reduced to late cameos where he manages to make a simple game look positively excruciating.

That said, you can tell by the reaction that a lot of people were mightily impressed by a serious-looking Everton side. As we’ve already established, they won’t finish fourth, but it would be great if they could keep pushing the teams around them to the very end.