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Review of the Year - December 06

Review of the Year - December 06

Having persevered through November despite a spate of injuries, things slowly began to improve in terms of numbers of December.

And that return of players was reflected in improved results.

A decent 2-0 win and home performance against West Ham started the month on the day the Blues were drawn against Blackburn in the third round of the FA Cup.

The goals against Alan Pardew's men were netted by Leon Osman - his first of the campaign and what a fine goal - and James Vaughan.

It wasn't just the young striker's first of the season, it was his first senior goal for 18 months, ending a nightmare spell with injuries.

James VaughanJames Vaughan celebrates his goal against West Ham

With Vaughan and Anichebe snapping at the heals of experienced forwards such as Andy Johnson, James Beattie and James McFadden the club's goalscoring prospects look good.

That decent result was followed by a poor performance, a succession of enforced tactical changes and a 2-0 reverse at Portsmouth - the club's first Premiership defeat at Fratton Park.

The response? A superb display against Chelsea as Arteta, Osman and Neville returned to fitness following injury.

An Arteta penalty and a powerful Joseph Yobo header gave Everton a 2-1 lead entering the final 10 minutes of the match. But super strikes from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba broke Everton hearts.

Andy Johnson opens the scoring at The MadejskiAndy Johnson opens the scoring at The Madejski

Lesser sides may have buckled in their next performance - the Toffees didn't. Reading were swept aside two days before Christmas at The Madejski Stadium.

Andy Johnson's return to scoring form and a good strike from James McFadden sealed the three points - Everton's first away win since the August success at Tottenham.

That win should have been followed by another on Boxing Day but Middlesbrough's defensive approach frustrated the home side.

Another penalty claim was ignored and a goalless draw followed.

Having started 2006 with a victory at Goodison, it ended with one as well. Victor Anichebe netted twice and Phil Neville grabbed his first ever Everton goal to ensure Newcastle were brushed aside 3-0.

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