Everton punish sloppy Saints
Everton 3 Southampton 1: Southampton's charming naivety is once again exposed by David Moyes' vibrant side
Sunday 30 September 2012
Everton, the notoriously sluggish starters, are absolutely flying, with the most points they have ever accumulated at this stage of a Premier League season, matching the total of 2004. That year, of course, culminated in Champions' League qualification. And they have managed this supreme points haul with an exuberant front four that will cause much better teams than Southampton a great deal of hassle.
Fighting back from a goal down, David Moyes' side exuded complete control of the game for over an hour, but were gifted the points by shambolic defensive organisation. "I was probably due a good start!" Moyes laughed afterwards. "We're able to play in different ways now. Watching Everton you would say we look more likely to score. There was a piece of action every minute and it was great theatre. We maybe could have scored more," before labelling the top four as the club's aim this campaign.
On this evidence that looks eminently achievable but before all the Everton adoration Southampton, clearly buoyant following their 4-1 win against Aston Villa last Saturday, started with the confidence to suppress their hosts by pressing in good areas and quickly launching counter attacks.
It often started from their centre-halves. Maya Yoshida won possession far too easily before sauntering forward into the Everton final third. From the next phase of play, they forced a corner which Adam Lallana whipped in and as Tim Howard flapped. The unmarked Gaston Ramirez nodded into an empty net.
Tails up, and Toffees down, it should have been 2-0 moments later. James Ward-Prowse's hopeful forward pass caught out John Heitinga, who was too slow to catch Jay Rodriquez, but the striker sliced wide.
The tide turned in the 24th minute, however, seconds before Everton equalised. Phil Neville collected a ball midway inside his own half, bereft of ideas or options. Goodison Park howled, which acted to give their team impetus. Saints' pressing was eventually their undoing. After a string of passes, Kevin Mirallas' cross found Leon Osman who thrashed it in. The sense of relief, soon turned into urgency.
Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga strayed too far beyond his near post, gallingly widening Nikica Jelavic's aim, to gift Everton the lead. They were now up against it.
When Seamus Coleman glided past the napping Lallana and then Nathaniel Clyne, it became clear just what Nigel Adkins is up against this season, particularly away from St Mary's. Exciting on the ball, brilliant going forward, but his side is not defensively-inclined. Coleman picked out Jelavic to score his second.
Southampton defending is something that will be talked about for hours over the course of the next eight months. They have now conceded 12 goals on their travels and it could have been more here. They lack steel in midfield – the cultured Steven Davis was the holder – and were playing their third different back four in as many games. Marounae Fellaini hit the bar and Jelavic went close to a hat-trick in a fashion that was all too easy. "One Nigel Adkins" rang out from the away end, but their manager must accept part of the blame.
"We've come away from home with a desire to win. We took the game to Everton but that spell before half-time we were far too open," he said. "You should always be positive and look to win games. I believe we play good passing football, but we are shipping far too many goals. It's something we're addressing."
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Osman (Distin, 90), Neville; Mirallas (Oviedo, 79), Fellaini, Pienaar; Jelavic (Anichebe, 75).
Southampton (4-1-2-1-2): Gazzaniga; Richardson (Reeves, 80), Yoshida, Fonte, Clyne; S Davis; Ward-Prowse,
Lallana (Chaplow, 89); Ramirez; Lambert, Rodriguez
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Fellaini (Everton)
Match rating: 7/10
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