Everton’s 4-0 win over Fulham on Saturday not only marked the third consecutive Premier League match in which David Moyes’ side have scored four goals, but also confirmed that the Toffees’ new found goal scoring form is no mere fluke.
The headline statistic of 12 goals in three games is impressive enough but taken further, to include the three league games before Everton saw off Sunderland 4-0, the totals rise higher still. In their last six Premier League outings, five of which have been won and the other drawn, Everton have scored 18 times, an average of three a game, and, just to note that Everton have not totally forgone their defensive duties, only six goals have been conceded in the same period. By comparison, it took until December 26 for Everton to score 18 goals in the league this season, 17 games, which represents almost half of the campaign.
No doubt the signing of Nikica Jelavic in January has contributed a great deal to Everton’s efforts in front of goal. The Croatian has netted eight league goals since switching from the imploding Rangers, skyrocketing to the top of the scoring charts, with another two goals in the FA Cup coming for good measure. Jelavic’s deadeye approach inside the opposition penalty area is the kind of coolness not seen since the peak of Yakubu’s time at Goodison Park, and those characteristics were on full show against Fulham.
Not only was Jelavic’s second goal, an unlikely sweep past Mark Schwarzer from a tight angle, the kind of natural finish Everton lacked before the winter transfer window opened, but an attempt that was denied by the post and left the Australian goalkeeper completely helpless despite being the most nonchalant of flicks towards goal was borne of equal confidence. That ease in front of goal worked in Everton’s favour against Fulham and has ever since Jelavic came to Merseyside, but if the result had not gone quite so completely in Everton’s favour the striker may well have been lambasted for his greed, yet these are the fine lines by which such tunnel-vision goal scorers live.
Jelavic was of course not the only arrival in January. Steven Pienaar has been at least as effective as his new teammate, if not more so. The lob to play in Tim Cahill for Everton’s final goal was a class apart of what was seen in the year the South African was at Tottenham Hotspur. Pienaar made his name at Everton on the left wing, in conjunction with Leighton Baines, but often since his second coming has taken a more central role, allowing more impact on the game, an indication of how Moyes’ changing tactics have freed up Everton to find their scoring form.
Often labelled as a safety-first manager – with some justification – Moyes has latterly encouraged more freedom in Everton’s play while retaining the defensive strength on which has success has long been built. The finesse Everton zipped the ball around in the first-half especially was striking to see and greatly encouraging for next season.
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