Preview: Wigan vs. Everton

What a difference four calendar days makes. From the perma doom and gloom have rose an Everton scratching and snarling and playing that little beautiful song in your heart that makes you feel dizzy.

Let’s not get above ourselves, we’ll probably go and promptly get beat by the bottom club in the league but for one moment it was lovely. Like when Andy Dufrense locks himself in the Warden’s office and plays that opera music.

The Everton that turned up on Tuesday is the one we love. The one that enjoys nothing more than bloodying the nose of the perceived mighty. Beating City is a habit we just can’t shake, they’ve got sh*t on us and they hate it. We see through them and blow that pompous condescending attitude they carry right back in their face. What’s our name?

A very nice evening of association football indeed was compounded by the conclusion of our transfers for the January transfer window. In simple terms we’ve swopped Bilyaletdinov and Saha for Gibson and Jelavic, and also got Donovan and Pienaar on loan.

Gibson has been a bit hmmmm for the first few games but that goal will do his confidence no harm. 99% of you reading this will be judging Jelavic by a certain youtube compilation and will have noted the suspect defending. As far as attributes go he does seem worth a pop and besides what have we go to lose? Is he likely to be any worse than this year’s Saha ambling round the pitch? Donovan has made a difference since he’s come back, I have much love for the little Californian sex pixie. I do believe it’s Pienaar that will make the biggest impact though as our football has been dump since he left. But more of him later.

It makes a last three months of the season seem one with something to look forward to as let’s be frank we’ve played some uber dull footie this year and it might just be about to get a wee bit better.

We play a Lancashire team who’s bottom of the league for third time in a month. The other two haven’t gone so well so it’s with a certain degree of trepidation that we’ll approach this. This is St Domingo after all.

Wigan are near neighbours to us geographically and as is the norm there is some gentle ripping and collective typecasting between it’s peoples. Some cultural differences too. For example Merseysiders don’t consider playing Bamboozled huddled around a Calor Gas heater as being essential family evening leisure time. The Wigan alpha male sneers at us for overlooking the most macho of alpha male symbols: a wispy moustache, male ear ring and over sized looped knots on your gola trabs. Maybe our evolution hasn’t pushed us in the way of sleeping with our cousins yet but perhaps it will come. I wonder what Darwin would have made of Wigan? Poundstretcher Paradise.

Aside from that I can’t help but like the Wiganers. It’s similar for the most part with the outlying wool wastelands. They’re generally good people who don’t take themselves too serious, have some sound arl pubs and enjoy binge drinking on a Sunday afternoon. I have plenty of friends from that area and the bellend dilution levels is far less than in most parts of the country. Imagine, for instance, if we had Hull and it’s primates as our neighbouring town? How about heading down the East Lancs to do your big shop in Luton? A taxi ride to Middlesbrough for a couple of pints? You see, they’re areet are Wigan. They’re also got a small hardcore following who get their footie.

They’re having a dog of the season as you’d expect being three points adrift at the bottom. Mexican Thunderbirds stand in Roberto Martinez has a grand reputation in the game and from what I believe still the majority of the support of the fans which is impressive considering their position. But then the glory days of Dave Whelan flying his helicopter to hijack our sale of Andy Johnson are long gone.

They do play some nice football and sometimes to their detriment as we can unfortunately testify that sometimes you have to scratch and snide your way out of trouble. Rodallega, McCarthy, Moses and Figueroa are allegedly coverted by other clubs when the window opens. Moses in particular is a pain when he’s up for it and might fancy himself against the ghost of Phil Neville. They will try and be offensive in their play but have suffered from the same syndrome as us with having ineffective players up front who’ll grab the goals.

It’s their defence where we should be targeting. They are not comfortable at all against players with pace and a direct approach at goal, watch how many goals they concede from this. Donovan and Drenthe might just get some change out of their full backs, and it’s from wide where we’ve been having some success lately. In the middle of defence they have Ronnie Stam who I’m not going to offer insightful comments other than when he used to play for Twente I was always looking out for the large brown speaking dog accompanying him on the pitch.

As is the norm with new signings there’s been those little crap permutation diagrams that people draw on forums this week. Weirdos. Nice to be thinking we have one or two options though.

The best standing ovation for a while was witnessed for Stracquilarsi at Goodison on Tuesday. Simply well done lad. I hope the watching Jelavic noted it. He ran his ugly lungs out on that pitch and gave one of the most expensive defences in the world a really uncomfortable evening, unlucky not to score too. If he’s a confidence player then he should be raring to go for this. He’ll start. Despite the arrival of the Croatian I think we’ll see Cahill start up front with him and credit where it’s due he’s looked a little more like the pain in the arse he is normally in the past two games. Goals are what brings his value to the team though so we’ll be needing some of them.

In all the mirth post City it wasn’t perhaps noted enough how good Fellaini was. Immense. He once again dominated their midfield. His destruction of their possession and use of the ball was fantastic, as was his aerial dominance of any ball played in his vicinity. I’d love to see him get a run going where he’s doing that to lesser teams too. He’ll probably be partnered by Gibson who three games in has been pretty average but scored that boss goal. When Rodwell and Osman are back Moyes is going to have some interesting decisions to make.

Drenthe was a bit better but still not where he can be. This is the type of game that should be made for him to destroy and opposition. Time’s running out to put a concrete case forward for a permanent contract so I hope he shifts into gear. Donovan has got better and better with his games, his contribution shouldn’t be overlooked and it’s just a crying shame that we can’t get him for our roster (for you that American lids) on a permanent basis.

We’ll hopefully see Pienaar at some point. Not only does he look like Snoop from The Wire´s turned-out-on-the right-side-of-town brother, but he is one little ace footballer indeed. Our football has been poor without Arteta but arguably far worse for his omission. He works hard and makes us tick. He is also the powerful yin to Baines’ yang. I noted over the past couple of weeks how you could see Baines’ body language become more and more frustrated. At present he is the best player we have in our team and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to fearing him wanting to further his career elsewhere come the summer. Thing is though, he loves hanging round with Pienaar. They make beautiful soccer together and sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Take a bow Tony Hibbert. I was in the legions of fans dreading you play at centre half against Man City’s attacking players but you done unbelievably well. Whether Moyes will plump for him or the impressive Duffy against Wigan remains to be seen but a word on Heitinga. He’s doing well. In a similar run of form to that two years previously when we went on a bit of a run. His distribution is probably his main asset in that position but he’s been defending very well and marshalling the whole back four in the absence of the usual leaders.

Two swallows don’t make a summer in that two wins don’t make a season. We’ve seen the shoots of recovery repeatedly stamped on during this tit of a season. It probably won’t all that we aspire the rest of the season to be, but it should be better.

There’s a long way to go and still some pertinent issues which will hamper the club in the near future again. But that’s for another day. Football is at its best when it’s a simple sport and this week has been boss. At times it really is a grand old team to play for.

Onwards Evertonians.

Thanks to Chicoazul who contributed this piece.

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