What The Papers Say - 13 May
A round-up of all things Everton in Friday's newspapers.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Mikel Arteta believes there is nothing to choose between Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines ahead of Everton’s player of the season awards.
The Spanish midfielder, himself a past recipient of the coveted player of the year trophy, insists it could be the closest call yet as Everton’s two most consistent stars are set to be neck and neck in the running.
Both Baines and Distin have started every league game for the Blues this season, and Arteta believes it will be tough on either to miss out.
He said: “Obviously it’s hard to choose one player. Sometimes it can be unfair that only one player has to win it.
“I’m not going to say who I have voted for this year but it’s tough to choose. Eventually you just have to give a name - but Sylvain and Bainesy have been so consistent and that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s not about having just a few good games, it’s playing every single game like they have and maintaining a high standard throughout the year.
“Sylvain is so strong and reliable, and Bainsey has been terrific. It’s not easy as a defender to have such an impact on the game, but he’s been important for us because he gives an extra threat in attack.
“He gets underestimated as a defender sometimes which is wrong because it’s not easy to get past Bainsey!”
Phil Neville believes the return of influential duo Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill can help Everton avoid a summer hangover.
The Goodison outfit aim to extend their recent run of one defeat in 10 Premier League games when they travel to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, before finishing the season at home to Chelsea on Sunday week.
Everton have been bolstered in recent weeks by welcoming back Cahill and then Arteta into the fold after lengthy injury absences.
Cahill emerged from the bench to inspire last weekend’s 2-1 win against Manchester City, during which Arteta’s cross supplied Sylvain Distin for the equaliser.
And skipper Neville has urged Everton to ensure they finish a difficult season on a high.
“Everybody here is totally focused on finishing the season in good shape and hopefully we can carry confidence into the summer and the start of next season,” he said.
“A poor end to a season can linger – and that’s the last thing we want.
“It is great to have Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill back in the side. They are big players for us, especially in big games, and their influence can be important during the final run-in.”
West Brom inflicted a shock 4-1 home defeat on Everton back in November, since which Roberto di Matteo has been replaced as manager by Roy Hodgson. And Seamus Coleman admits revenge will be on the minds of Moyes’s men when they step out at the Hawthorns.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but the way we are playing at the moment, we are confident of going there and getting a result,” said Coleman.
“They came here and turned us over and we weren’t at our best that day. We will definitely go there remembering that result and looking to get that back.”
Of the season, the Irishman added: “We are playing quite well now. We have two games left and we are looking for maximum points to finish the season off strongly.”
Fortunately Victor Anichebe has especially broad shoulders.
Not just because the 6ft3in striker’s powerful physique continues to endear him to David Moyes, but because he has had to endure some acute criticism in the six years since he made his Everton debut.
The Crosby-raised front-man’s topsy turvy career can be summed up in the space of just two recent games.
Jeered before kick-off by some travelling Toffees supporters at Wigan’s DW stadium, he left the field to a Goodison ovation just seven days later after a tireless performance against Manchester City.
That sustained applause was enthusiastically led by his manager, who has kept the faith in Anichebe – through a difficult season hampered by more injury and contract controversy.
Now the striker is raring to continue his mini personal revival against West Brom tomorrow, coincidentally the team he scored his first Premier League goal against in 2006, and he hopes he has turned a corner with the Goodison faithful.
Anichebe insists vehemently that he knew nothing about the specifics of his contract negotiations in January, when he was reported to have stalled on a lucrative new salary before signing a four-and-a-half year deal.
But he regrets how the saga has haunted his efforts to win over Evertonians, while behind the scenes he has learned a valuable lesson about hard work.
“The applause when I came off against Manchester City was nice. It made me feel wanted,” says a reflective Anichebe who has suffered two serious injuries in as many seasons that have left him frustrated and seriously lacking in first team football.
“I had such a good pre-season and had high hopes, then I got another setback.