Long haul fight: Everton 3 Latics 1

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I dared to dream yesterday around about 70-odd minutes. After weathering something of an aerial storm in the first half from a typically direct Everton side, Latics came out in the second half and played a bit more directly and purposefully themselves.

We seemed to have a frontline for once and constantly tested Everton both on the break and slowly building possession whilst the home side’s passing game went awry and even the reliable Osman and towering Fellaini struggling as the home fans started to groan.

Everton started the game attacking, with plenty midfield aggression and possession and spraying the ball out wide and getting decent service into the box for their makeshift front line of erm, Tim Cahill and Al Habsi was called upon on more than one occasion. It was Latics who took the lead though when Di Santo turned his man from a tight position out by the corner flag and wellied it into the corner aided by a massive deflection. He’ll hit one cleanly one day this lad.

The curse of short lived leads was to strike however as Latics taking the lead merely spurred Everton into action as they immediately pressed forward and won a corner. Although on this occasion someone did appear to be marking Cahill the spring heeled kangaroo like Aussie still leapt highest to crash a header against the bar and Jagielka was quickest to react with a diving header to make it 1-1. A very disappointing way to concede after containing Everton for so long before taking the lead. Everton dominated a lot of the midfield play through Fellaini, a player who has the turning circle of a small planet yet getting trying to get the ball off him is still akin to trying to get a lamb chop off a rott weiler.

Wigan Athletic came out played a much brighter, almost more direct game in the second half and took it to Everton for long spells. We waited for the Toffees to come back at Latics but it barely came and the front three of Rodallega, Moses and Di Santo all worked tirelessly in the middle of the pitch to try and create, supported by some great attacking wing play by League debutant Van Aanholt.

Moses skipped his way into the box only to pull it back beyond everyone and you felt the tide turning towards Latics, even more so when a great run by Paddy Van Aanholt was followed with a lovely curling shot which just drifted over with ‘Timmy Tourettes’** Howard beaten. **NB Latics away speccies – this was funny for approximately 8 seconds after which I was cringing at the small time behaviour of it.

Sadly, as is often the case, the failure to convert possession into chances and ultimately goals was again to cost Latics dear as defensive frailties were again exposed with just eight minutes on the clock.

As Everton finally got their act together, another cross into the box was met by a superb glancing header by Everton’s 19 year old striker, erm some Greek bloke which beat Al Habsi. Let’s not excuse the atrocious marking however and it’s fair to say this was a sickening turning point, at a time where an away win didn’t look out of the question and a point would have been more deserving.

Nevertheless, Wigan attempted to take Everton on at their own game and within seconds of the re-start, a loose ball outside the Everton penalty area was cleverly/flukily you decide, lofted over Tim Howard by sub Dave Jones, only to rebound agonisingly back off the bar. Jones followed up himself but struggled to get the ball from under his feet to apply the finish and another follow up from Moses was deflected over.

Latics continued to press in the final stages but two bad injuries, one to Rodallega and a clash of heads meant that the six minutes added time was barely of use. Wigan Athletic’s failure to play out the game was yet again cruelly exposed as with the last kick of the game a big boot forward, was flicked on by Everton’s new Argentinian signing to leave Drenthe a clear run on goal to make it a slightly flattering 3-1 scoreline to the home side.

Undone by a Denis and a Roysten, it’s like Darts and Dominos night down the Legion!

As the Wigan Athletic fans sang ‘we’ve no debt m’lud’ midway through the first half but at what cost comes having no debt? Clearly, it’s a balancing act and as a football club we always have to look to get a bit more bang for our buck. A financially stable football club is the key to the future and a club like Everton have suffered more than most as a result of the money pouring into football but not in their direction.

We have several new players who need time to settle in, and they should be given time to settle in. It’s not an easy plea to make given the way Everton’s new players influenced the game yesterday, but we are stuck with what we are got. Alas, we now have an injury to another key member in personnel with Hugo Rodallega out for up to three months with ligament damage. He may not have scored this season but he is a key member of our attacking fulcrum and his pace and guile will need to be replaced by someone stepping up.

Defensively now we seem to have greater worries and personally although he sometimes has the positional sense of a blindfolded toddler I would probably keep Figueroa where he is for now and look to bring Boycey back at full back. I don’t think Lopez is the car crash some people make him out to be but he is still prone to the odd blunder and just doesn’t inspire enough confidence. He’s the opposite of commanding basically, what’s the word for that. Uncommanding – that will do!

Wigan Athletic have performed best in recent years when we’ve got our backs against the wall,  the sooner the players – and dare I say it – fans recognise that and start fighting, the better. Regardless of defence and attack the battle is won and lost in midfield and this is where we do have options. We need terriers, terriers who can pass. Whereas much has been made of the improvement of Latics as a team since N’Zogbia went, we are a team that still needs heroes in order to win games.

Spurs at home is arguably tougher than any of our October fixtures but we need to start picking up points again sooner rather than later. With injuries biting hard, a side seemingly low on confidence and sections of the home support getting a tad restless, a show of unity would be nice. It will, as ever, have to come from the pitch first unless we are to endure a long, hard winter again.

Man of the match and the one bright spot was the performance of Franco Di Santo who is starting to look like a proper centre forward and turning into the sort of player we always hoped he would be leading the line very well. Just knock the brandishing of imaginary cards on the head, you’re not in Buenos Aires now lad..

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