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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

October

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

October was always going to be a challenging month but a record of only one win in five games didn't quite tell the whole story.

Everton had been handed a fiendish sequence of fixtures, including games against Manchester United, Chelsea (twice) and Liverpool.

The month began with a Merseyside derby - and a controversial one at that.

The game was marred by a sending off that was later rescinded by the FA. Jack Rodwell had won the ball, making no contact with Luis Suarez but the tackle was deemed worthy of a sending off by referee Martin Atkinson.

After that decision the game was never really in doubt and even though Tim Howard saved brilliantly from a Dirk Kuyt penalty, Liverpool capitalised, with late second half goals from Andy Carroll and Suarez.

The second game of the month saw Everton travel to Stamford Bridge where they had performed well over the past few years.

Louis Saha scores the decisive goal at Craven Cottage to put Everton 2-1 ahead.

Sadly though it was not the case this time around as a strong Chelsea side ran out 3-1 winners. Goals from Daniel Sturridge, John Terry and Ramires gave them a 3-0 advantage and even though Apostolos Vellios scored with his first touch to reduce the deficit, Everton never looked likely to get back into the game and it finished 3-1 to the Londoners.

With Everton dropping six points already in October, they needed a return to form and an away game at Craven Cottage was next on the agenda. The travelling side started well when Dutch winger Royston Drenthe latched onto a loose ball to fire Everton into a 1-0 lead from all of 30 yards.

Brian Ruiz equalised for Fulham with a deft chip over Tim Howard and a draw was looking  likely. After Bobby Zamora had missed a sitter, the game was won late on by Louis Saha and the result was sealed by a Jack Rodwell strike deep into added time.

Everton had also drawn Chelsea in the League Cup; a home tie at Goodison Park which would give the Toffees the opportunity to continue their cup run.

Unfortunately this was not the case and late into the first half, what seemed like a poor shot from Chelsea's Salomon Kalou somehow eluded Everton keeper Jan Mucha as the ball slipped out of his grasp and into the Gwladys Street goal.

Leighton Baines had a penalty saved after Ross Turnbull had been sent off and Everton were all over Chelsea for the rest of the half - before eventually drawing level with a Louis Saha header glanced past the helpless Cech.

Everton pushed hard for a winner as the game went into extra time. But after Royston Drenthe was sent off for a second bookable offence Chelsea grabbed hold of the initiative. Mucha parried a long range effort and Daniel Sturridge was on hand to put the visitors into the next round.

The final game of October saw the champions Manchester United come to Goodison. Everton dominated the game possession and chances-wise but their efforts were not enough as a Javier Hernandez goal in the 18th minute was sufficient to give Manchester United a 1-0 win, late pressure from Everton didn't tell and United held out.

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