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What The Papers Say - May 2

by Andy Lewis @efc_andylewis

Everton v Swansea

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The Echo

 

After only three defeats in 21 games confidence is flowing through Everton veins. Their approach work was impressive, if sometimes too elaborate, but they took the lead in messy, fortuitous circumstances on the stroke of half-time. Peter Crouch attempted to head Tony Hibbert’s cross clear but the ball struck Marc Wilson and then ricocheted off the Stoke forward to cross the line.
 
This was Stoke’s 54th game of a season that started at the fag end of July, but refusal to admit defeat on home turf is part of their DNA and three substitutions in the second half swung the game. Jerome has become too accustomed to life on the bench for his liking, but here he conjured a goal out of nothing.
 
The forward had been on the field barely a minute and was allowed to advance at least 40 yards as he escaped the attentions of Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga, to bundle the ball past Tim Howard.
 
Stoke manager Tony Pulis, who would like to secure a top-10 finish, said: “We’ve got two cup finals left and we have to be ready for them.”
 

He said: “I feel if we can try and keep winning I’ll be pleased if we finish in the top 10. This point should let us do that. If you’d given me that at the start of the season I’d have settled for it.”

Everton’s lead over their neighbours could have been more significant had it not been for a spirited Stoke fightback, which culminated in Cameron Jerome’s equaliser. But with two games left to play, the portents are promising for Moyes and he will surely consider finishing above Liverpool this season as a significant accomplishment. However, Moyes sidestepped the subject last night.


The memories of last month’s painful FA Cup defeat at Wembley are fast being erased by the glorious prospect of Everton finishing the league season above their rivals.
 
It has been seven years since David Moyes last secured that notable achievement on Merseyside but this draw enabled Everton to move three points clear of Liverpool, after Fulham’s surprise victory at Anfield.

 

Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile, Burnley have taken Hednesford Town's Cheyenne Dunkley and Chris Clements on trial. 

Southampton are also considering a return for Celtic striker Gary Hooper after they offered £7m in January.

Southampton had a £5.5m bid turned down in January and Newcastle also made an enquiry for the England U21 striker.

Southampton and Fulham are also keen on Rodriguez, 22, who only has one year left on his contract.

Everton manager David Moyes wants to sign Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez but the Championship side want £8m.

Daily Mail

‘It will be a bear-pit at QPR,’ he said. ‘And there is likely to be something on the game against Bolton. But we will be giving it our best shot.’

Pulis is not the kind of manager who will demand anything less than a full shift in the final two matches — against QPR and Bolton — despite the club’s lengthy campaign.

‘Anyone who tells you they can guarantee a change will work is a liar.’

‘Sometimes you get substitutions right and sometimes you don’t,’ he added.

He said that it ‘didn’t take a genius’ to see that the Potters were jaded. This was their 54th match of a season that began last July in the qualification rounds of the Europa League.

Pulis refused to take the credit for the changes that eventually brought about a share of the points.

He has made just five 90-minute outings for the Potters in 33 appearances. Although he raced over to the home bench after scoring, it seemed like he was taking tactical instruction from the manager, rather than making a more forcible point.

Jerome has not been afforded too many chances to make his mark. But this was his eighth goal of a campaign that has been stop-start since his £4m move from Birmingham last summer.

Jerome collected the ball just over the halfway line and twisted and turned his way between two centre halves before producing a finish that was helped by a  ricochet off Jagielka’s back.

A drab first half was enlivened when Steven Pienaar swept a free-kick to the right. Tony Hibbert produced the cross which saw Tim Cahill attempt to force home. He succeeded only in unsettling Stoke’s Marc Wilson, whose header bounced into the turf and rebounded off Crouch’s back and over the line.
Rory Delap’s long throw-ins had looked the most likely source of an equaliser but it was a triple change which injected life into the hosts.

‘To be honest, I didn’t know our goal came off Crouch. I thought we played really well and I was pleased how we  performed. And I thought we were liable to score the second but we couldn’t quite crack it in the end.’

‘I’ve just said to them, “Try to keep winning” because I’ll be pleased if we finish in the top 10 — and I think this point just about does it,’ he said.
‘If you had given me that at the start of the season, I would have settled for it all day long.

But if seeing Liverpool’s name below them in the Barclays  Premier League table held any great attraction, Moyes wasn’t showing it.

His humour would not have been helped by the manner in which Jerome powered through Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga, two defenders who are renowned for their physicality.

Moyes had greater cause for complaint as Everton had enjoyed the better of the evening’s chances.

But within two minutes of coming on Cameron Jerome scored a goal that showed off his best virtues. His strength and pace created the opportunity for a finish that received a kind deflection.

Until the Stoke boss decided upon wholesale changes with a quarter of the match to go, his team had looked distinctly below par.

That the visitors were not able to earn themselves a healthier advantage over their neighbours was due to a bold triple substitution from Tony Pulis midway through the second period.

But Stoke’s top scorer inadvertently set them on their way to a point when the ball bounced into Asmir Begovic’s net in the penultimate minute of the first half.

Not since the Champions League qualification season seven years ago have the blue half of the city been able to lord it over their rivals.

Having lost their FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool, the assistance would have come as scant  consolation, but an own goal from former Reds striker Peter Crouch aided the Scot’s quest.

David Moyes was given a welcome helping hand from an unexpected source as his Everton side remained on course to end the campaign as Merseyside’s top dogs.

Daily Mail

“We were just caught  out a wee bit for their  goal. Though it was a bit  fortuitous, in that it took  a touch off Jagielka.
 
“In the second half Stoke were better, but I always felt we were liable to score a second goal. We were just unable to craft it at the end. But I am pleased with the performance, there was nothing wrong with the way we played.”

“I think our style has  improved as the season  has gone on, partly  because of the  introduction of Steven  Pienaar. The loss of  Mikel Arteta was always  going to affect us, but if  you watch Everton over  the past few weeks, you  can see the confidence in  the side.
 
“Players are taking the  ball, passing and they  now believe they have a  centre-forward (Nikica  Jelavic) who can nick  them a goal, though he  couldn’t do it tonight.
 
“So we’re happy with  the style of play.”
 
Stoke equalised when  sub Cameron Jerome  scored a deflection off  Phil Jagielka on 69  minutes, and Moyes  admitted he was  disappointed his side  didn’t cope better with  the Potters’ raft of  second half substitutions.
 
“You know Stoke are  always a threat,” he said.  “And they threatened  two or three times with  throw-ins that were  headed over. That was  the main threat we had  to deal with in the first  half.
 
“I thought in the main  the boys played really  well at the back.
 
“You will always have  to deal with different bits  of play with Stoke, and if  you are not on your  guard they can catch you  out.

DAVID MOYES admits  Everton FC have surpassed  his expectations for  this season – after  their draw with Stoke  guaranteed them a top  10 finish.
 
The Toffees were  held 1-1 by Tony Pulis’  men at the Britannia  Stadium last night,  although the point  widened the gap over  Liverpool in the  Premier League table  to three points, and  ensured they will  finish no lower than  10th.
 
Moyes, who  insisted his side were  unfortunate not to  secure another three  points after Peter  Crouch’s own goal  gave them a first half  lead, was in pragmatic  mood afterwards.
 
“We will just try to  keep winning, and I’ll  be pleased with top  10,” he said. “I think  the point just gets us  top 10. Certainly our  form from January might  be better than the top  10, but I would have  taken that all day long at  the start of season.
 
“I thought we played  very well, and we were a  wee bit unlucky not to  take more from it. But  taking a point here is not  the worst result.
 
“It was a fortuitous  goal, but we deserved to  go ahead, I felt. We  played well, I was really  pleased with how we  performed.”
 
The Blues comfortably  played the more stylish  football in the face of  their host’s trademark  tactics, and Moyes  welcomed his side’s  display – even if they  were unable to maintain  their free-scoring streak.
 
He said: “I felt we  started well. We moved  Steven (Pienaar) in,  brought Magaye on, and  kept playing some nice  football, keeping the ball.

 

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