David Moyes says switch to centre stage for Leon Osman was crucial in beating Wigan
David Moyes credited a 20-minute cameo from England midfielder Leon Osman for giving Everton the momentum which carried them to a Boxing Day victory at Goodison Park yesterday.
Osman fired Everton into the lead, courtesy of a deflection, but it was his switch from wide boy to centre stage which proved crucial according to his manager.
“Our performance probably got going when Leon Osman moved into the middle of the pitch for 20 minutes at the start of the second half,” said Moyes.
“I thought he made us play better. We needed somebody to get us playing a bit, and he did for a short time in the game. The Toffees moved up into the Premier League’s top four thanks to goals from Osman and Phil Jagielka, and can rise to third if they beat Chelsea at Goodison Park on Sunday. Moyes’ men have lost just twice in the league this season, have scored in their last 16 league fixtures, and are unbeaten at Goodison since March. They have taken 68 points from 40 games in 2012. The Scot, though, wants their form to continue in the final league fixture of the year. “I’ve said to the players that we’ve only won two games here,” he added.
“Some teams would be taking six points from 12 over the Christmas period and might say that is fine. We’ve got six already and we want to get more if we can. We will try and keep it going.
“We needed (the win) today. A lot of these games recently we have drawn, and you could say in the last five or six minutes here it was tight. But we had one or two other opportunities where we could have finished it off. “I am happy with how well the players have done. They’ve been really good. They had to be good again today, because it was a tough game and Wigan are a good side.”
Moyes admitted he felt, prior to kick off, there was a danger of underestimating a Wigan team that remains in the bottom three of the table. Roberto Martinez’s men ensured a nervy finale thanks to Arouna Kone’s late strike, but have now failed to win in their last six league matches.
“Before the game I was a little bit concerned,” Moyes said.
“I felt a lot of the expectation was on us to win the game, and I don’t think Wigan get a lot of credit for how good a side they are, and how well they play.
“Wigan are a good side, a good footballing team who will cause a lot of teams problems, because they can play in different ways. They will be hard for a lot of teams to play against this season. Moyes also sympathised with his counterpart Martinez’s protestations after Wigan were denied a penalty with the game at 1-0. Referee Lee Mason deemed that Osman’s challenge on Shaun Maloney was not worthy of a spot kick, much to Martinez’s bemusement. And Moyes said:
“I’m fed up of talking about the refereeing situation, but I don’t want to be seen as answering questions only when it is against my side. And from where I was sat it looked like a penalty kick. I think when you see it again, there is a little debate as to whether there was any contact or not.
“But sitting in the dugout, it looked like a penalty.”
Moyes confirmed that midfielder Darron Gibson had been withdrawn at half time due to a thigh strain. The Irishman finds out today whether his red card at West Ham United will stand. If it does, he faces a three-game ban which would rule him out of the Chelsea game, as well as trips to Newcastle in the Premier League and Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup.
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