Stoke City 2 Everton FC 0 - reinforcements needed to paper over widening cracks
DAVID Moyes could hijack an entire fleet of B&Q lorries and still not have enough wallpaper to mask the widening cracks currently afflicting his squad. For so long this season the accusatory fingers have been reasonably pointed at his strikers. Not enough goals, desire, consistency or fitness from them. Fair enough, but what about elsewhere? In terms of creativity and direct assists Everton have relied solely upon an outstanding full-back; Leighton Baines, a defender turned midfielder in Seamus Coleman, and Tim Cahill, who has worn more hats for the Blues this season than George Melly in his prime. So against Stoke City, during this alarmingly familiar defeat, what could his playmakers muster? From Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta, the answer was just one pass each into Stoke's 18 yard box all afternoon. Indeed, the pair have just one direct assist between them in the Premier League all season. That is not to say Pienaar has not sparkled at times, but he and his highly-talented colleague are symptoms of a wider problem. Neat, tidy, and pretty in possession but with the killer instinct of a new-born kitten could summarise much of Everton's attacking play this season. Their solitary effort on target during 94 minutes at the Britannia stadium was a tame strike from Pienaar, one that Asmir Begovic could have clutched with one eye closed. At 0-0 and against limited workmen like Dean Whitehead and Rory Delap in central midfield, the quality of Everton's midfielders should have been overwhelming, but still they failed to find spaces. Passes frequently went sideways and backwards, but rarely did they go forward with any penetration. So, where is the strength in depth which supporters became convinced was in abundance in this strongest squad ever? The nauseatingly incessant feeling is that the summer just gone was a false dawn. Instead of relaxing on laurels after a season which had produced a typically slow start and then a terrific second half, Moyes should have been able to spend. The Scot should have been able to recruit a striker and an extra midfielder at the least.
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