It is hard to believe that Everton have managed to draw yet another game, says David Martin.
It’s even harder to believe if you witnessed the battering Fulham received for the vast majority of a hugely one-sided contest. However, what isn’t hard to believe is that once again, Everton leaked goals at the start and end of a game with no linesman to save the day on this occasion.
David Moyes put out an attacking team that was setup to go at Fulham. With Pienaar returning it was Naismith who was a little unfortunate to make way so Mirallas could be accomodated. Perhaps aware of the lack of physicality in Fulham’s frontline, Moyes also plumped for Heitinga rather than Distin at the back and resisted once again the temptation to put Hibbert in for Coleman. The positive lineup certainly seemed to be working from the outset with Everton having all of the possession although not creating much in the way of chances.
Sadly, as has been the case all too often this season, the positive play was undone quickly thanks to a silly foul outside the area from Neville and a wonderful free kick from Fulham’s very own Bily, Bryan Ruiz. From this point on it looked like it was going to be one of those days with Everton creating chance after chance but proving to be wasteful in front of goal. Jelavic in particular had another wasteful game and it’s worrying that he is entering something of a goal drought despite getting into the right positions. Pienaar was also very poor getting frustrated on the right with other players when he should have been frustrated with his own poor play.
Thankfully after half time Everton started to press even harder with Fellaini in particular going from an anonymous figure in the first half to dangerous striker in the second. The unpredictable combination of Coleman and Mirallas proved dangerous and Pienaar switching back to the left proved effective. Fellaini proved himself calm and composed as he took both his goals brilliantly and appeared we were on course for a well deserved victory as we created chance after chance.
It was not to be however as we spurned several opportunities with none more wasteful than Steven Naismith a replacement for a tired Mirallas. The game really should have been over as he missed two gilt edged opportunities. It was something of an inevitability that Fulham would then have an opportunity to equalise despite being largely anonymous and a mistake by Coleman provided it. Coleman was having a great game but it’s fair to say these mistakes are becoming something of a feature in his game and yet again it proved costly as Fulham stole an unlikely point.
Should Moyes have taken Jelavic off for Distin to try and close the game out? It’s hard to say but I think it’s also fair to say it has rarely worked. It wasn’t the inclusion of Distin that put us under pressure from what I saw but the dropping back of Fellaini did deprive us of an option to get the ball forward to safety.
Any other time this game would go down as just, “one of those days”. Unfortunately it’s getting to the point were we can’t rely on the teams around us dropping points forever. There is a problem defensively at Everton at the moment and there appears to be no easy solution. Do you sacrifice the attacking threat of Coleman for the defensive Hibbert? It would be hard on the lad to do so but it may be necessary. Will Gibson’s return help? Neville and Osman were far from poor today so it’s not cut and dried that this is the answer. Regardless Everton are certainly making things interesting and David Moyes has some real decisions to make.