Everton out to make Wigan the fall guys in Euro quest

 

Everton are halfway to paradise, otherwise known as Europe; Wigan halfway to hell. The need for three points at either end of the Premier League table adds a literal dimension to this Boxing Day clash at Goodison. Everton found the big punch at West Ham on Saturday to secure a third away win of the season. Wigan fell to the sucker-punch of a soft penalty to slip into the bottom three with a home defeat by Arsenal.

Everton, who face Chelsea at home on Sunday, have made European qualification the goal this season. A win tomorrow, and another against Chelsea, would reinforce confidence that is already soaring and secure a platform for the continued assault on fourth place in the new year. "While we are up there we are not going to talk it down, we are going to go for it," Everton manager David Moyes said.

"We played really well at West Ham and deserved the win. Even at half-time I couldn't fault the players. If we could attain European football at Everton, and I don't just mean the Champions League... the Europa League would be a great success. We are bobbing in and out."

Central to Everton's prospects is the form of Barcelona tribute duo Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman, who dominated the midfield at West Ham in the tiki-taka tradition of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. The pair combined brilliantly for Everton's winner, bundled in by Pienaar, after Osman had earlier seen a fine header disallowed.

"To come away with a win is never easy in the Premier League but we did a really good job. We played our football and stood up as a team when they bombarded us with long balls," Osman said. "We showed great character when things went against us, heads didn't drop and we continued to play good football. It is a while since we won away from home."

A return of only four points from the last seven games has seen Wigan thrust into the habitual fight for survival. One penalty given when Theo Walcott went over in the box and another disallowed when Kieran Gibbs handled at the other end ultimately determined the outcome of a closely fought clash with Arsenal. Wigan are playing well enough but earning little other than plaudits.

Roberto Martinez is right to emphasise the quality of his team's displays but will not want to see the present run acquire terminal velocity. "We didn't get the result our performance deserved [against Arsenal] but that is the only negative feeling to come out of the game, because the display was as good as it gets.

"The penalty decisions were big ones. The referee has given one to Arsenal which is very soft and then you at least want consistency when Kieran Gibbs clearly handballs Jordi Gomez's shot. His arms are not in a natural position and it is a clear decision. We have to accept that we were stopped from getting a positive result, but if we continue performing in the same manner we're in for an exciting second half of the season."

Martinez was without seven players for the Arsenal clash and must wait until the new year for reinforcements, led by Manchester United's Chilean prospect Angelo Henriquez, who has already trained with Wigan. Martinez believes the 18-year-old flyer can make the difference where it matters most, in front of goal.

"Henriquez is a goalscorer," Martinez said. "He's going to be a top player, he's an out-and-out finisher and he can bring us goals. He comes in straight away to a very familiar dressing room."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste