Bolton 2-0 Everton


Everton made2 enforced changes from the side which won last week’s thriller with Blackpool as Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe replaced the injured duo Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha in the striking roles. Anichebe played more on the right with Cahill playing up top when we had possession and deeper when Bolton where on the ball in a 4-4-1-1 setup. Bolton played 2 out and out strikers in Kevin Davies and Daniel Sturridge with Elmander playing right midfield but tucking in a lot to assist Mark Davies and Holden in the centre of midfield. Matt Taylor provided their attacking width in a 4-4-2 formation.

Bolton press better

Bolton started the game really well; their passing was crisper and their pressing in the opening exchanges was relentless as the below chalkboard shows

Bolton pressed us high up field shown by the fact that they made 7 interceptions inside our half whereas in contrast we made just 1 in theirs. Overall Bolton made 17 interceptions to our 8.

Pressing was key to Bolton’s strategy as despite much talk of them playing a more fluid passing game this campaign they still play a lot of direct balls to target men with Elmander often the target against his direct opponent Leighton Baines. Everton kept the ball better with 74% of our passes successfully completed compared to Bolton’s 67%.

It was no surprise when Bolton went in front on 10 minutes when woeful marking in the area enabled Gary Cahill the freedom of the 18 yard box to head home with no Blues defender attacking the ball to clear our lines. Everton’s defending at set pieces has been inexplicably woeful lately and this was the 3rd game running we have conceded a goal from a set piece. Indeed, we have now kept just 1 clean sheet in our last 18 games.

Everton lack cutting edge again.

As the passing stats show above we were keeping the ball better than our hosts from 15 minutes onwards, although we created little in terms of chances. Baines superb delivery should have been buried by Cahill who strangely tried to volley when a headed connection would surely have bursted the net. Mikel Arteta was the only midfield inspiration from the Blues, completing 88% of his passes and his driving runs from midfield were one of the few positives on a terrible day. Our other midfielders were truly awful. Fellaini’s recent form has been superb but today he was woeful with his pressing game not at the usual level of tenacity and his possession sloppy.

Our wide player’s were impotent with Coleman not beating his marker Robinson once and mustering just one successful cross. The Irish youngster can struggle when up against a more physically robust opponent  who will principally look to defend more so than getting forward. The game against Sunderland earlier this season in which he was dominated by Bardsley was a similar story. On the opposite flank, Billy successfully beat his marker just once and produced no successful crosses. Again, Baines was our only potent offensive weapon from wide areas.

In attack, Victor Anichebe was chosen ahead of Jermaine Beckford, most probably for his physical strength. The youngster will always show effort and do a job for the team but technically and as a goal threat he is extremely limited.  His pass completion this campaign is a really low 51% which shows the ball isn’t sticking. Goal wise, in his last 36 league games he has mustered just 13 shots on target and 2 goals. As much as I would like to see him do well I just can’t see it happening.

On the hour mark Moyes made a double change, replacing our ineffective wide men Coleman & Billy with Beckford and Osman. Cahill dropped into a more orthodox central midfield role and Beckford played alongside Anichebe.

Bolton get crucial second goal

Despite having more of the ball we still weren’t looking like scoring and Bolton’s second goal of the game effectively ended the game as a contest on the 67th minute. An aimless punt up field by Gary Cahill was again woefully defended by the Blues and when we failed to clear, Lee won a second ball aerial dual with Baines and Sturridge hit a right footed half volley past Howard. Game over.


As a tactical battle there wasn’t much to report here. Bolton deserved the points due to much better desire and workrate in their pressing play off the ball. This season has seen us consistently inconsistent and this was a truly abject performance comparable to Hull away last season . Basic errors are occurring with great regularity at the moment and our inability to keep clean sheets proved our undoing once more. The Blues now need to regroup and prepare for the Chelsea cup game next weekend when surely we could not play worse than we did today.

Everton 1-1 Bolton Wanderers


Everton made 3 changes to the team which drew with Blackpool on Saturday, with Saha, Fellaini and Bilyaledtinov coming in for Yakubu, Heitinga and Coleman. The three replacements were all like for like so the Blues retained a fluid 4-5-1 setup. Bolton opened up with a more orthodox 4-4-2 system, with Lee and Taylor providing decent width for the bruise brothers forward line of Davies/Elmander.

Early exchanges

Everton were in dominant form early on, with a stranglehold of possession leading to a flurry of early corners as the Blues looked to press home their advantage. Firstly Saha went close and then Bilyaletdinov chose to cut in on his better left foot when put clear on his right by the industrious Piennar. A lot was expected from the Russian this campaign after impressive cameo’s last season, but thus far he has endured a wretched campaign. Everton simply do not have the resources to have a £9m winger with limited pace and no right foot sit on the bench week in week out. For their part, despite creating little going forward Bolton are a much more aesthetically pleasing team to watch under Owen Coyle. The Scot has harnessed the bruising capabilities of the Allardyce/Megson stalwarts such as Davies with players like Lee and Holden who can provide enterprise without having to resort to unnecessary gamesmanship. The early misses continued for the Blues in the second half as the game continued the early season trend of high level possession (65% v 35%) yielding 27 shots. However, with just 5 shots on target (Diagram A below) It was a case of déjà vu after a similar poor return of 4 on target from 21 at Bloomfield on Saturday. Clearly, Everton’s 5 offensive minded players are adept at creating chances, but failure to take these opportunities and kill off unglamorous opposition is a glaring issue which is undermining the Blues season.

Diagram A

Changes make an impact

Coleman’s introduction for the hapless Bilyaletdinov on the hour mark gave Everton a renewed attacking impetus. The pace and traction of the Irishman was clearly unnerving Robinson who had looked more comfortable with the Russian who prefers to cut inside to make things happen. The introduction of Klasnic and Beckford late in the second half would have a significant impetus in the balance of power in this game first one way and then the other. Whilst looking dangerous going forward, Seamus Coleman is still something of a work in progress defensively and he was caught out twice in quick succession by Bolton’s Taylor. First the former Pompey winger escaped his marker to head onto the bar from a corner, and then after Jagielka’s woeful control following an Everton corner, the American Holden fed Taylor who powered past Coleman to put in an unmissable cross which Klasnic duly converted. Luckily for the Blues, Jermaine Beckford picked an ideal time to lay down his claim as the potential solution to Everton’s striking woes with a superb solo effort following great industry in the corner from Baines. The rangy striker has often looked out of his depth at this level, but this was a great strike and will hopefully give the forward the confidence he has looked in short supply of in recent run-outs. Sandwiched between the two goals was a stupid red card for Fellaini, given his marching orders for kicking out at Paul Robinson. The chunky Bolton fullback was booked also for his troubles, and on close inspection he bears a striking resemblance to Desperate Dan or a fat Brian Laws. For Fellaini it was a blight on what was an assured all action midfield display in which he had marginalised his midfield opponent Holden well throughout.


Everton stretched their unbeaten run to 7 games in the EPL but, as with Saturday’s game against Blackpool, the chances the Blues missed will mean this is very much 2 points dropped than a point gained. Including the run in to last season it is now 10 draws from 19 games. Clearly, the difference between draws and victories is goals but these are a commodity in short supply for the Blues. Yakubu and Beckford have both scored in recent weeks but Louis Saha is still to register this season in a goal drought which has seen him register just 4 goals in open play in the last 12 months. If Everton are to start turning these 1 points into 3’s and thus putting pressure on the teams above them they desperately need to improve their conversion rate in front of goal.