Picture via Sky Sports
Tim Cahill comes to the rescue again as Stoke City’s set piece defending comes back to haunt them as despite coming back to level at two thanks to Rory Delap’s throws, Everton leave the Britannia Stadium 3-2 winners.
One goal from open play, four set piece goals, and an extremely entertaining game at the Britannia Stadium. To me, this was the game of the weekend. Plenty of chances, back and forth action, and unfortunately a moment of controversy.
Rory Delap is someone that football managers should look at more closely and find someone who can actually pull off the direct long throw. Delap’s long throws I knew were special, but after his third minute throw that was only 18 inches short of going directly into the back of the net did I really realize his potential. His throws are more efficient and lethal than any free kick or corner kick I’ve seen in quite a long time. Every time he throws one into the mixer, keepers freak and end up weakly punching, and the defense doesn’t have a chance to properly clear it.
Everton were really having the game taken to them by Stoke until they put in the opener. Up until this point in the game, Stoke City did extremely well to clear their lines. The first time they don’t Cahill finds Yakubu for the near post finish. Sorensen was caught on the wrong foot and wasn’t going to get to it.
Mikel Arteta’s set pieces were sharp today, but Stoke City’s lousy marking helped. Where was the man responsible for Victor Anichebe on Everton’s second? It was the easiest flick on I think he’ll ever see.
Back to Delap’s throws. Tim Howard should have dealt with the Stoke’s first goal much better than he did. To give Olofinjana such an opportunity at the volley was inexcusable. Then on Stoke City’s equalizer, Phil Jagielka has to give his keeper an opportunity to save. The flick on attempted clearance was never going to be put out for a corner, and Howard was playing Cort’s shot. Stoke City should be commended for pulling level, even with the first moment of controversy in-between.
I’ve gone back and forth on Ricardo Fuller’s disallowed goal, and after the beauty of the rewind button, have finally decided that Alan Wiley made the right decision. He did just enough to take Joseph Yobo out of the play. What surprised me about this decision was how quick Wiley was to blow the whistle.
The other moment of controversy was 12 minutes later. Leon Cort was rightfully called for hand ball, but Wiley and the linesman blew it by now awarding the penalty. Even after the conference, Wiley should have gone with his correct reaction instead of using the linesman. Yes the linesman was better positioned to make a call. But by not properly using the flag to award the penalty, it caused the decision to be the incorrect one. Moyes losing his top about though was funny.
The game winner again came from poor marking. How Stoke City let Tim Cahill get that wide open inside the penalty area was poor. The man who knows where to be late in matches latched onto Arteta’s corner and onto the near post. Despite Stoke City’s fight, set piece defense let them down again.
Tony Pulis has to work on set piece defending. It’s the only thing right now that is keeping this team from living up to it’s full potential. While there aren’t many people that can score from open play, Rory Delap’s long throws will give them plenty of chances. David Moyes is starting to get key players fit, but it’s a matter of keeping them fit throughout the season that is going to be crucial to their play. Winning a game at home would also be a good start.
A Few Other Observations
1) Liam Lawrence’s crosses Sunday were downright awful. Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often this season.
2) For all the possession Everton had, it’s still hard to believe they were out shot by Stoke City. Again, the power of the long throw in.
3) Nice touch of class from David Moyes to shake the Stoke City fans hands at full time.