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Crystal Palace (A) Sat 31 Jan 2015, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Donovan Backing Blues

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Landon Donovan says Saturday's performance at Aston Villa was evidence Everton are set for a strong second half to the season.

The American earned the praises of David Moyes after expertly laying on Victor Anichebe's second-half equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Villa Park, his manager describing him as ‘the best player on the pitch’.

Donovan was quick to shift the plaudits on to his teammates, however, pointing out a game-by-game improvement in the Club's form since he began a second loan spell from LA Galaxy earlier this month.

Injuries have deprived the Blues of a number of first-team players but the US international insists the squad is still more than capable of an almost customary late charge up the Premier League table.

"I thought given what this team has been through in the last couple of weeks, all the games, I thought the effort was really good, the game was good and it was fast," he told evertontv. "It was probably pretty exciting for the fans to watch and, in the end, a point is probably fair, even if on another day with a little luck we might have got a win.

"If we get Hibbo, Ossie, Jack [Rodwell] and Jags back it's quite a strong squad. Obviously adding Darron [Gibson] now has strengthened the squad, and getting Vic [Anichebe] healthy and playing well too. I think that will give the manager some really tough choices in the next few weeks.

"Obviously this team is a great team. We're a lot of guys who work hard and play the game the right way, but we just need a little bit of creativity in the final third and I think we're starting to get that. I think Louis [Saha] was a little better on Saturday, I felt a little better, Tim [Cahill] played well, and I think we're just starting to click a little bit more, and it's going to get better as we go."

Donovan was particularly impressed by the performance of 20-year-old Irishman Shane Duffy.

The centre back deputised for the injured Sylvain Distin and caught the eye on what was his full top-flight debut.

"I was here with Shane a couple of years ago and I didn't even realise that Wednesday [at Tottenham] was his first Premier League game,” he said. “He looked so comfortable and having played a bunch of games out on loan you can tell his confidence is high. He came in on Wednesday and did well and on Saturday I don't think he put a foot wrong. He was really good."

Everton's next game will see Blackburn Rovers visit Goodison Park on Saturday and Donovan admitted he is relishing a full week without a game.

The 29-year-old has indentified areas of his game he wants to improve but says four games in 14 days since returning to Merseyside have made it difficult to put in extra hours on the training field.

"It's been nice to come in and get a lot of games but you kind of get thrown right into the fire and you've got to fend for yourself," he said. "It's been good but the part that hasn't been sharp is in the attacking third. I feel I haven't been great with my passing and my finishing and it will be good having some time to actually work on it during training as opposed to just playing a game and recovering and then playing a game again."



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