Moyes, Everton look to boost stock after sluggish start to season
Despite starting its campaign with two games out of three on the road, Everton has enjoyed most of the ball -- 66 percent on average -- and looked for all the world to be playing on home soil at Villa Park on Sunday. Everton fashioned 12 shooting chances to Aston Villa's nine, but another stat tells you more about how badly the home team was overrun in the final third: Everton earned a whopping 18 corners. So why aren't
It hasn't helped that Everton has twice given away early goals -- both Blackburn Rovers and Villa scored in the opening 15 minutes of their 1-0 victories. Villa defended admirably, as
But when you're on the front foot for so much of the match, you should be able to scare the keeper more than three times. "For some reason, it's just not happening,"
His manager was less shy about pointing the finger at his strikers: "
The problem is hardly terminal at this stage -- if it were later in the season, when the table is less fidgety, we might not notice. In 2005-06, Everton lost three games in March and April, scoring only once, but still finished in the Champions League spots, and a similarly barren spell in 1999 ended with two consecutive four-goal sprees. But it's reasonable to ask if Moyes has the right resources, or if he is making the most of the resources he has.
Everton has a group of established, first-rate midfielders to call upon, along with rising stars
Except you do wonder. Beckford and Saha (the only two of Everton's nine forwards to have taken the pitch in the league so far) linked up nicely in the preseason, combining to destroy Preston North End, which had just thumped Blackburn, in 45 minutes, but neither operates as well in the lone striker role as the out-of-favor Yakubu can. For all the grace and skill of Everton's wide play, it rarely breaks with genuine speed, which makes working the ball to an isolated target all the more difficult.
You could argue that
At the very least, introducing fellow midfielder
At the end of last season there was much mirth regarding the fact that
The Bulgarian was linked with a move to Europe during the summer, and there were plenty of United fans happy to wave him off. But as starts to the season go, Berbatov hasn't had a bad one. Having sealed Community Shield victory with a delicious lob, he's added two more goals in the league proper and laid on
Rooney ended his five-month spell without a goal over the weekend, though it took a penalty. His tireless running (you can rarely fault Rooney for graft) was less effective than the combinations Berbatov conjured with a similarly renascent
There were frowns among some supporters when Bolton Wanderers sent second-choice goalkeeper
So when Jaaskelainen was sent off for a ridiculous slap delivered to
Despite Birmingham's adding a second shortly after halftime, however, Bogdan looked comfortable and confident -- no doubt aided by Bolton's redoubled efforts, but still, an injury-time save from