Everton play host to a loud chorus of disapproval
Everton 0 Wigan Athletic 0
Sunday 12 December 2010
As befits a club with a theatrical impresario for a chairman, there is a vast poster for Les Miserables outside Goodison Park. There was no point in asking Bill Kenwright if he could hear the people boo; the sounds of discontent on the final whistle could have been heard on the Wirral.
The frustration at Everton sometimes appears overwhelming. No side in the Premier League have won fewer home games, and this was their season reduced to 90 minutes of often intense pressure that produced no goals and one rather unsatisfactory point.
The afternoon was summed up by Everton inviting a choir on to the pitch at half-time for a rendition of "Silent Night" and then turning the sprinklers on.
For all their dominance and territorial advantage, the Wigan keeper, Ali Al Habsi, was not required to make a serious save until diving full length to block a fierce long-range drive from Steven Pienaar, when the electronic scoreboard was showing 41 minutes remaining. By the time it had run down to 30, Everton might have broken through at least three times.
First, Pienaar's pass sent Louis Saha through on goal. The Frenchman seemed to lose the ball under his feet and his shot was blocked by Al Habsi spreading himself in front of a striker who has not found the net in 21 Premier League matches.
Then a header by Tim Cahill nearly rolled on to the post. Almost immediately afterwards, another chancefell to the tips of SeamusColeman's boots, but he sent the ball blazing over Al Habsi's bar. Still, it seemed an inevitability that Everton would break through and then go on to win comfortably.
Instead, Wigan finished the stronger side, and although David Moyes made a series of changes to inject fresh impetus into his formation, the Everton manager confessed thatthey had simply made hisside worse.
"With 20 minutes to go we were playing worse than atany time in the game," he said afterwards. "My substitutions were poor and I made the wrong choices."
Jermaine Beckford, who had snatched a point late on against Bolton and equalised at Stamford Bridge last weekend, started on the bench. He put the ball in the net yesterday but this was ruled out for offside. Leighton Baines's crossing against his former club was exceptional; Coleman was sometimes inspired; but football's basic act – putting the ball in the back of the net – remained tantalisingly outof reach.
And but for a stunningly good save from Tim Howard, Ronnie Stam might have snatched victory for Wigan against the sprint ratherthan the run of play.
"We went for it," Moyes reflected. "I don't know if you get better chances in the Premier League, and the longer we don't take them, the greater the frustration and the greater the anxiety in the crowd.
"We are not beating the teams at Goodison that over the years we have done. I have asked myself whether it is anything more than us not scoring goals and I don't think that it is."
Substitutes: Everton: Beckford for Saha (60), Anichebe for Pienaar (66). Wigan: Stam for Cleverley (h-t), McArthur for Thomas (64).
Bookings: Everton: Neville, Pienaar. Wigan: Thomas, Gohouri, Figueroa, N'Zogbia.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the match: Al Habsi
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