A Fan's View: Everton 2 Albion 0
By Site Editor
Updated Monday, 2nd April 2012
DonnyValdo gives his verdict on Albion's defeat
After a quick dash across the city courtesy of an anti-Hodgson, Liverpool supporting taxi driver – he can’t have been all that bad, he only charged us £4! – we arrived to find tickets waiting for us courtesy of David Moyes. Nice one, Gaffer!
We obviously missed kick off but it was quickly apparent that Hodgson had reverted back to 4-4-2 with Peter Odemwingie up front with Shane Long, Somen Tchoyi on the right, Brunt on the left with Andrews and Scharner in the middle. I was surprised to see Mulumbu benched. We always miss his energy in midfield – regardless of the form he’s in. Jones, Olsson, McAuley and Ridgewell completed the backline. Fossy continued between the sticks.
As we took our seats, Darren Gibson fired over a long range effort. It was the hosts who looked the more threatening as we struggled to keep the ball up front. Andrews and Scharner were working hard enough, but they offer little in the means of creativity. When the ball did reach either Brunt or Tchoyi, it was quickly won back or played backwards to Jones or Ridgewell who again moved the ball along the backline.
Albion were competing well enough, but it was clear who would open the scoring first. We showed very little intent on pushing men forward. In fact, with Peter Odemwingie playing as a sweeper, Shane Long was an isolated figure.
The underrated Leon Osman gave the Toffees the lead in the 18th minute through a deflected effort. It was harsh on Albion, although the goal could’ve been prevented. Osman turned Ridgewell too easy. He spun and continued his run as he played a one-two with Jelavic. His effort didn’t seem to be troubling Foster before McAuley through out a leg and diverted the ball past the diving goalkeeper.
Despite being disappointing going forward, it was Albion who had the next real opportunity. Scharner worked the ball well down the right and sent across a shot from the edge of the area. Tim Howard could only parry the ball into the path of Chris Brunt. The skipper fired the ball towards the open goal but found the leaping Shane Long in the way who somehow diverted the ball out for a goal kick. It would’ve been interesting to see how an immediate reply would’ve changed the game – unfortunately, we’ll never know.
The hosts continued to push forward. Everton are pretty direct at times and use the height advantage of Fellaini and now Jelavic well. A long kick from Howard saw Olsson beat Jelavic to the ball but his header fell invitingly to the bouffant Belgian. Peter Odemwingie initially tried to close down the on-rushing midfielder but gave up chase and let ‘Felli’ fire a swerving half-volley which Foster did excellently to push around the post and out for a corner.
After the break
I’d hoped that Roy Hodgson would rip into the side at half time and them come out with renewed vigour and a willingness to get back on to level terms. It didn’t happen. Hodgson had returned to a side playing in red and continued his form whilst at Liverpool.
In a rare attacking opportunity, Long linked up with Odemwingie after Albion finally started play the ball into the channels. The Irishman found Odemwingie who cleverly found Andrews with a neat first time touch. The ball ended up flashing wide, but it showed Albion can play decent attacking football when we want to.
It was a brief respite however. Everton were to double the lead in the 69th minute when Gibson walked through Keith Andrew’s ‘challenge’ and found Anichebe. The giant frontman took a touch, took advantage of Jonas Olsson backing off – again – and fired home from 20 yards in off the post. Game over.
Hodgson bought on Graham Dorrans, Marc Antonie Fortune and Simon Cox to try and find a way back into the game. The introduction of Dorrans helped but by this time we were chasing the game and Everton exploited the space, especially down their left. Towards the end they were playing with us. This led to incident with Foster and Odemwingie clashing heads. I wish Foster would've dropped him.
Hodgson’s insistence on playing 4-4-2 again backfired. How many times is he going to experiment with this formation? We don’t have two midfielders who have the quality to compete in the centre. When we play three we are fine, but we’ve never been able to play 4-4-2 in this division. Then there’s the partnership of Long and Odemwingie which hasn’t worked all season. Odemwingie played more as a centre half on Saturday collecting the ball 20 yards inside his own half looking to create in the absence of James Morrison. This is fine, but that left Long isolated.
I also think we’ve seen the last of Somen Tchoyi in an Albion shirt. I like his predictability, but on Saturday he was a liability. He offered nothing going forward and even less defending. I can’t help but think this was his audition to earn himself a place in the squad next season. Unfortunately for him, he failed it miserably.
We’re lucky to have already amassed 36 points. Had we not have beaten Chelsea at home, I’d start to feel worried such is our current form. Three points against Blackburn are very much needed.
On meeting my mate after the game, he told me that frustrations had boiled over in the tunnel between Ridgewell and Odemwingie. All is not well in the Albion camp it would seem.
However, on a plus point, he did manage to get Ridgewell's shirt signed for my mate!
Have your say on Albion's defeat here at Baggies Banter.