Spot Success for Arteta | Everton

Spot Success for Arteta | Everton

Police are reporting a theft in the North-West, apparently 3 points were stolen in the Blackburn area. A Spaniard has been arrested.

Everton snatched a late and fully undeserved win at Ewood Park today in a bizarre game that was ultimately decided by three spot-kicks. Junior Hoilett saw his penalty saved by the excellent Tim Howard in the Everton goal and then Mauro Formica sent his effort onto the post before Mikel Arteta stepped up in stoppage time to steal the points for the visitors.

It was a win that will paper over the cracks of a terrible performance as Blackburn were left to rue many a missed chance. The undisputed man of the match was goalkeeper Tim Howard, whose penalty save and all-round performance made up for a gaffe in the same fixture last year, when he (quite literally) handed Blackburn the points.

Indeed, in last year’s 1-0 reverse at Ewood Park Howard failed to make a single save. He was called into action much more frequently today, making a total of five saves. They were stops of the highest order – a close range block of Chris Samba’s overhead kick was followed by the tipping over of a Mauro Formica shot that seemed destined for the top corner.

Unfortunately for Howard and Everton, it had looked for all the world as if the outstanding efforts of the American custodian would earn just a single point. This was due to a poor and sluggish performance from most of the rest of the team.

Everton had a 58.6% share of possession and completed 71% of their 371 passes. These figures would indicate that we controlled the game – especially given that Blackburn could only muster a 63% pass completion rate from their 254 attempted passes. The thing that let Everton down is the fact that the passes were mostly played along the defensive line or across the midfield.

The 4-5-1 formation doesn’t help the cause and defensively minded players like Johnny Heitinga and Marouane Fellaini tend to play the simple, short passes. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but Everton did not have nearly enough penetration this afternoon. If we take a looks at the stats, Everton entered the final third on 39 occasions – a meagre amount, especially considering that Blackburn entered the final third on 81 occasions despite having just over 40% of possession.

We were lucky, then, that we were awarded a penalty to get us out of jail. It was a dubious decision – but so were Blackburn’s two, which David Moyes labelled as ‘dives’ in his post-match interview.

Many expected left-back Leighton Baines to take the vital spot-kick (and fantasy team managers like myself certainly did), and as Arteta stepped up I had a horrible feeling that he would miss as in the Wigan away match last year, where Baines took a second penalty and duly scored.

Luckily, Arteta calmly stroked the ball home to send the travelling support mad. A poor performance but three vital points. COYB.