December 2008 Archives

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STEVEN PIENAAR'S only goal of the season so far has been taken from him.

But the Blues' midfielder has targeted progress in the FA Cup as the best way of bouncing back from that disappointment.

The FA's dubious goals panel has ruled that Pienaar's matchwinner at Tottenham on November 30 was a Vedran Corluka own goal.

There was better news for Louis Saha, whose first strike at West Ham three weeks earlier which also took a slight deflection off Lucas Neill, has been cred- ited to the striker.

But Pienaar is focusing on Saturday's FA Cup trip to Macclesfield.

BILL KENWRIGHT has hailed David Moyes as one of the Premier League's "great managers".

The Blues chairman celebrated nine years as owner of the club on Boxing Day, but he has given all the credit for the club's recent on-field resurgence to the manager he appointed in March 2002.

"Not a lot has changed in David's attitude since he arrived, but a lot has changed in the stature of this football club," he declared.

"I can remember saying within months of him arriving that he was going to be one of the great managers. I think he is one of the great managers now.

"There's no shadow of a doubt about that."

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BILL KENWRIGHT believes David Moyes has become "one of football's great managers" by returning Everton among the English game's top six.

The Goodison Park outfit have overcome a poor start to the campaign to climb up to sixth place after winning four of their last six Premier League games.

Moyes has already led Everton to three top-six finishes in the last four seasons, including qualification for the Champions League in 2005.

And Kenwright believes the Scot is now realising the potential that persuaded the Everton chairman to appoint him as manager in March 2002.

HAD Everton supporters been told back in May their team would stand only three points adrift of Arsenal going into 2009, the delight would have been unanimous.

Yet it's a sign of how perceptions have shifted at Goodison during the past 12 months that there remains a lingering sense matters could and should be even better.

When David Moyes arrived almost seven years ago, he swiftly placed the raising of expectations at the very top of his agenda.

It's been a long, and at times painful, process but last season's fifth-placed finish, which secured a second successive European qualification, and the lengthy runs in both the Carling and UEFA Cups suggested the foundations were now firmly in place.

However, a summer largely spent being led down blind alleys while their nearest rivals strengthened in the transfer market meant all that momentum was lost going into the opening game at home to Blackburn Rovers.

The 3-2 defeat that afternoon was almost inevitable. As for Everton's subsequent fortunes, supporters are split into two camps: those who see the glass as half-full, and those who believes it is half-empty.

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MIKEL ARTETA today demanded Everton make their drubbing of Sunderland the norm in 2009 - as he targeted a top five end of season finish.

The in-form midfielder scored twice on Sunday as the Blues brushed the Black Cats aside 3-0 to secure what was only a second win of the campaign in front of their own fans.

Everton have dropped a startling 20 points at home so far but the manner in which they eased past Sunderland suggests they are going to start making up for lost time in 2009.

ONE Premier League team in form, one League Two side struggling - all things being equal, you would have to expect Everton will be in the FA Cup Fourth round this time next week.

Some will examine the tie we have been given against Macclesfield and immediately fear the worst, thinking back to the banana skins of Shrewsbury Town and Oldham which we've slipped on in recent years.

But I would be flabbergasted if Macclesfield joined that list - having seen them taken apart by Bradford City a couple of days ago, I really don't envisage Everton being presented with too many problems at Moss Rose this weekend.

In all honesty, I would have been more concerned had we been paired with either Wycombe Wanderers or Brentford, two sides who are right on top of their game and would have relished the opportunity to try and take a Premier League side down a peg or two.

EVERTON are adamant none of their leading players are for sale ahead of the transfer window opening later this week.

The Goodison outfit are bracing themselves for possible bids for both Mikel Arteta and Joleon Lescott, with the pair having been linked with interest from Premier League rivals in recent months.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a known admirer of Spanish schemer Arteta, and is in the market for a creative midfielder following the serious knee injury suffered by Cesc Fabregas.

DAN GOSLING is determined to build on his merry Christmas - as his home-town expressed their pride at the teenager breaking into the Everton first team.

The 18-year-old was an impressive performer on his full senior debut for David Moyes's side at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

Gosling followed that two days later by scoring his first-ever goal for the club when emerging from the bench to cap a resounding 3-0 triumph against Sunderland.

And the midfielder is hopeful of further opportunities this season to convince Everton manager Moyes of his potential.

"This has been a big step up," said Gosling. "Hopefully, the gaffer knows what I can do now and there will be a few more chances in the future.

EVERTON have conjured up a superb spell of results amid their injury crisis.

But the fact that David Moyes's men have picked up 13 points from a possible 18 despite being shorn of all four of their first choice strikers must not blind the board as to what is needed during the transfer window.

It is no good thinking that the team has done so well despite the lengthy injury list that there is no need to spend some cash during January.

The squad is not the biggest even when everyone is fit and the manager must be allowed to bring in reinforcements, even if it is through loan deals. The team can't keep on winning games 1-0 - it will catch up with them at some point.

DAN GOSLING was today reflecting on a Christmas to remember, and admitted: "It's going to take a while for it all to sink in."

The 18-year-old made an impressive debut in Everton's 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

But things got even better for him yesterday when he scored the final goal in the 3-0 drubbing of Sunderland at Goodison Park.

Not surprisingly, it left Gosling beaming from ear to ear, and he said: "It was such a good feeling to get the goal, as I had a couple of chances at Middlesbrough and had not tucked them away.

"I'm just thankful that Joleon (Lescott) picked me out and I was able to finish it off."

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