December 05

December 05

December started well and ended in thrilling style - but what happened in between will not provide fond memories for Evertonians.

After the win in November over Newcastle, the Blues travelled to Ewood Park for the first game of December and secured a creditable 2-0 victory with goals from James McFadden and Mikel Arteta.

McFadden's goal was a reflection of the quality of the Scotland international's performances as the latest strike partner for James Beattie.

Leon OsmanLeon Osman evades a tackle at Blackburn

Arteta's goal was also well deserved because of his fine form throughout 2005.

But his fifth booking of the season was also forthcoming in the game and, as a result, a suspension would follow later in the month.

He was not in the side a week later as Phil Neville marked his return to Old Trafford with a Man of the Match performance as the Toffees recorded a magnificent 1-1 draw.

Once again McFadden was on target. Indeed, it took a well crafted equaliser from Ryan Giggs to deny Everton the points.

It was a memorable day for the Blues. But having used so much energy securing that result they followed it with a demoralising midweek defeat to West Ham.

The 2-1 reverse to the Hammers brought the Blues back to earht with a bump.

But worse was to follow, with Bolton arriving on Merseyside a few days later and somehow departing with a 4-0 victory.

The Blues had dominated long periods of the game but were down to a fortuitous Kevin Davies header at the break.

But things got much worse in the second period, with defensive slip-ups gifting Bolton three goals in the space of five minutes - including a penalty for former Blue Gary Speed following a rash challenge from Nuno Valente.

Cahill heads the winner Tim Cahill ends the year in style with the winner at Sunderland

Typically, Everton respond well to such setbacks. On this occasion, however, the next fixture at Aston Villa on Boxing Day produced a carbon-copy result and an equally mystifying defensive display from the Toffees.

The side had just two days to recover for the Goodison derby with Liverpool. Everton played well but were always going to struggle to fightback after conceding two goals from Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard in the opening 17 minutes.

James Beattie clawed back before the break and was unlucky to have another good goal ruled out by a linesman's flag.

But a Djibril Cisse strike a minute into the second half broke Everton hearts and provided the visitors with a lead to defend. Despite Everton's efforts, the game ended 3-1.

It also ended with the home side reduced to nine men. Both Mikel Arteta and Phil Neville were dismissed for two bookings. Both were criticised by manager David Moyes and both missed the New Year's Eve trip to Sunderland.

That game brought a disappointing month to a decent end, with a Tim Cahill header deep into injury time securing a vital three points as the Blues battled to claw away from the bottom end of the table.

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