Moyes backs Saha despite Everton's frustrating goal drought

Everton 0 Wigan 0
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The Independent Football

As someone who briefly led the Newcastle United attack alongside Alan Shearer, Louis Saha would recognise the great Geordie's mantra that the only way to judge a striker is by the number of goals he scores.

In a Shearer universe, the Frenchman would be found very wanting. Not since February, when he scored twice in a 2-1 victory over Chelsea, has Saha found the back of a Premier League net and his response to a through-ball from Steven Pienaar typified his season. He almost stumbled over it and then directed his shot squarely into the body of Wigan's exceptional keeper, Ali Al-Habsi.

In the wake of an afternoon that saw Everton squander a skip-full of chances, his manager, David Moyes, stood by his decision to start with a man who has not scored in 21 games for Everton while leaving on the bench another centre-forward, Jermaine Beckford, who had scored rather more recently against Chelsea – last weekend to be precise.

"People may wonder why I am putting Louis in with the record he has had," said Moyes. "But what I see in training – and how hard he is working – convinces me. We know the crowd will get frustrated but I have spoken about it with the team and they have to expect it."

Since victory in the Merseyside derby two months ago, there has been very little cheer at Goodison Park. January is likely to be chillier with Everton's leading source of goals, Tim Cahill, departing to play in the Asia Cup for Australia and with Moyes recognising that even selling Pienaar, who will be out of contract in June, will not raise sufficient money to buy a striker.

"The sort of money that would raise would not attract the type of player we are looking for to produce the goals we need," said Moyes.

Substitutes: Everton Beckford (Saha, 60), Anichebe (Pienaar, 66). Unused Mucha (gk), Duffy, Bilyaletdinov, Osman, Yakubu. Wigan Stam (Cleverley, 46), McArthur (Thomas, 64). Unused Pollitt (gk), G Caldwell, Gomez, Boselli, McManaman.Booked: Everton Neville, Pienaar. Wigan Gohouri, Figueroa, Thomas, N'Zogbia. Man of the match Al Habsi. Match rating 5/10. Possession Everton 53% Wigan 47% Shots on target Everton 8, Wigan 4. Referee M Oliver (Northumberland). Att 32,853.