Club Focus – Everton – Donovan to the rescue

Everton missed a glut of chances as they were held to a draw with Birmingham in the snow and hail on Sunday with David Moyes believing it was “points dropped” rather than a point earned.

The Scot said that “we let ourselves down in the final third” and the news that Landon Donovan has finally signed a two and a half month loan contract will please all Blues fans, as a player of his skill and cleverness in the final third was the tonic that Moyes was looking for this weekend. The skilful American has a keen eye for goal and a good record to prove it. The Blues boss also stated “he is the first of two or three signings” and will be able to play the 27-year old in the Europa League, which could be pivotal as Everton go into the latter stage of the season. Strength in depth is what is required at Goodison Park and if another two high quality players can be enticed to play for the Toffees they could make a good push in Europe.

The Merseysiders will play Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday February 16, in the Europa League, news that was not happily received by the Everton coach, as the Blues may struggle to fill their stadium at such a time in the week. Having played all season on a Thursday evening, the game was rescheduled due to Liverpool also playing at home on the same day. The red side of Merseyside took precedence because of a higher league finish last season. Sporting Lisbon will be a tough match as the Portuguese side, who currently sit fifth in the Portuguese Liga Sagres, have a very strong squad and will be a difficult team to break down. Moyes hopes to have a high percentage of his first team squad fully fit by this stage and he will hope to come through a busy Christmas period unscathed. If the Blues can defeat Sporting then they will face either Atletico Madrid or Galatasaray and will play away in the first leg.

The news of Donovan’s loan signing will excite many a Blue as the winger has experience in spades and gives Moyes one or two alternatives in going forward. Donovan can play behind the front two or on the flanks and with Mikel Arteta still out long term, the new boy can certainly fill his boots in feeding Yakubu Ayegbeni and Louis Saha as both strikers seem to be building up and understanding together and look bright in front of goal. Saha is especially sharp at the moment as the Frenchman has now scored ten goals in the Premier League and is on his way to being the first Toffee to score 20 in a league season since Gary Lineker way back in the 1985/86 season. The powerful forward has scored 12 in all competitions and has been key in Moyes plans this year. If he stays fit for the remainder of the season there is no reason why he cannot go on to smash another 10 goals in the league. The chances were certainly there for the Toffees on Sunday and Moyes will be happy with the amount of chances that his side created but again a decision went against them and Saha’s nutmeg on Joe Hart should have stood as he was just onside. This decision changed the course of the game and Birmingham were allowed to steal one back with only their first chance. On another day the Blues would have gone on to win comfortably because of this draw Everton remain in 15th place with a game in hand.

Jack Rodwell joined Everton’s long injury list this week as he tore his hamstring in the Blues 1-0 defeat to BATE Borisov in the last of the Europa League group stage matches. The youngster has made 21 appearances in the Everton shirt this season and only missed two league games. This shows the faith that Moyes has in the youngster and he will be yet another huge miss. With Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan and Mikel Arteta long term injuries and Joseph Yobo, Sylvain Distin and Dan Gosling also out, the Toffees’ busiest period seems to have come at the worst possible time.

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