Everton 2-1 West Brom
Everton enjoyed a fantastic night with a victory over West Brom and other results around the Premier League going in their favour.
With Everton still reeling from the breakdown of Leroy Fer’s transfer from FC Twente a good night was required to lift spirits and reignite the Champions League push. Everton duly delivered, with a first half performance of genuine quality as the Blues put the game to bed before half time. Two goals from the brilliant Leighton Baines ensured Everton went in at half time in a comfortable position and although the now customary mistake at the back, let West Brom back into the game, Everton had enough quality to see out the remainder of the game to secure a crucial three points.
The night was full of positives, but started with a surprise or two, with Jelavic dropped to the bench and Mirallas overcoming injury to take his place in the starting lineup. Everton always looks a better team with Mirallas in the team and so it proved with Everton having too much for the out of form Baggies. It was Everton’s best player on the night who scored both goals. Leighton Baines’ reputation is improving with each match and he further pushed his claims for a regular England starting place in front of the ageing Ashley Cole. His first of the night started with Baines on the half way line, and after a quick exchange of passes, Baines powered his way to the edge of the box before firing home past a bemused Foster in goal. His second came from the Penalty spot with Baines expertly finishing from 12 yards shortly before the first half came to a close.
Everton started the second half slowly and allowed West Brom back into the match. Lakaku rounded Howard and his goal bound shot should have been easily cleared by Heitinga. However, the Dutch international attempted to the play the ball out from the back and only managed to miss control with Shane Long steeling in to head home. Moments later it was almost 2-2, with Dorrans striking the bar with a dangerous free kick. This acted as a wakeup call for David Moyes’ men and Everton should have put the game out of sight. Both Pienaar and Osman had excellent chances to increase the lead, but both failed to convert. This only added to the nervous tension around Goodison, but the Blues held out for a deserved victory.
Other results certainly went Everton’s way as well. Arsenal and Liverpool, Everton’s nearest chases drew 2-2, and Tottenham and Chelsea, just above Everton in the table were forced to settle for points away at lowly opposition.
The last couple of days in January, play a big part in the final direction of the Premier League season. With a full midweek round of fixtures and the deadline day in close proximity, this time of year can make or break a team’s season. Everton have certainly delivered on the pitch, now it is fingers crossed and a night in front of Sky Sports News to see if the Blues can add depth to the brilliantly talented squad David Moyes has brought together.