Everton made enforced changes, with Heitinga and Billy coming in for Rodwell and Cahill as the Blues lined up 4-4-1-1, with Osman playing off Beckford. It shows how threadbare our squad is that there was a combined total of 0 premier league starts from the lads on our bench. Villa sprang a surprise going with 2 strikers, with Agbonlahor and Bent up top with Downing switching to the right to accommodate Ashley Young on the left in a more orthodox 4-4-2.
Blues in control
Diniyar Bilyaledtinov had an eventful game today. The Russian’s output has been questioned in some quarters and today’s game showed the good and bad side of his game. Going forward he created 3 really good goal scoring chances (all for Osman). The first of which led to the games opening goal as Billy robbed the ball from Kyle Walker before rolling the ball to Osman. The quick footed midfielder is on a hot streak of form at the moment, and his nice dummy bamboozled the flat footed Collins before sliding the ball past Fridel. The goal was a classic Osman strike, and showed the benefit of a player being good with both feet.
High on excitement, low in quality
Whilst the game was an exciting one, the quality was quite poor in terms of passing. Villa had more of the ball in terms of passes made (413 v 344) but Everton had a better pass completion (64% v 59%) This was still our lowest pass completion figure of the season and the lowest amount of successful passes we have completed in a home game this season. Villa’s pass completion of 59% was the second lowest of our opponents this season, with only the route one Stoke having recorded a lower figure.
Left side vulnerability
As good as our left side is going forward, it can leave us vulnerable at the back and this was exploited just after the break. Going back to Billy, the defensive side of his game needs to be developed by the coaching staff. He is weak in terms of physicality, particularly in the air where he lost 7 of his 10 aerial duels yesterday. Villa’s equaliser came when the ball was worked out wide to Downing with Billy looking on (below). In fairness, Downing is a quality player and Villa’s threat on the break was evident all afternoon.
Poor communication between Billy and Baines here, Billy (circled) should really be busting a gut to get out to Downing here to assist Baines as shown by the arrow, he doesn’t and Downing is allowed a one on one to slot to Bent for the equaliser.
There will no doubt be calls for goaline technology following Jermaine Beckford’s ‘ghost goal’ shortly after, when put through by Magaye. Even more ghost like was Everton’s defence from the restart, clearly switching off as Bent is allowed the freedom of Goodison to slot the ball past Tim Howard into the vacated goal.
Build up to Bent’s 2nd goal. Initially circled with his marker Distin, Bent makes a clever spinning run off Distin in between him and Hibbet, and is not tracked by Distin until its too late.
The introduction of Magaye was a good switch from Moyes and he looks like a really promising kid, injecting some much needed penetration. He provided something we had really been lacking on the flanks all-day, with Coleman clearly not fit and Billy not prepared to take players on. In the 38 minutes he was on the pitch he took on an opponent 9 times (beating his marker 4 times). Billy in comparison took on his marker just once.
There was more controversy with the clock ticking down, as a very rare attacking surge from Phil Jagielka was cut short by Makoun. The penalty award seemed very dubious, but given what had happened earlier and in the context of the game it was deserved and Baines duly lashed it home.
When looking at the players unavailable today this was certainly a good point for the Blues. Under Moyes we sometimes seem better when our options are reduced in terms of personnel and this was again the case today. Given the clear cut chances spurned though, we could have taken the 3 points here against a Villa side that are impressive going forward but have a defensive fragility.