What The Papers Say - 25 November
Sunday's newspapers reflect on the Blues' 1-1 draw with Norwich.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Sebastien Bassong netted the equaliser that Norwich deserved – and he did not need a baton to do it!
The big defender, fined £1,000 for possessing a police-style club in his car, used his head this time to inflict another blow to Everton’s Champions League hopes.
Norwich have become the tormentors of the elite and extended their unbeaten run to seven matches with a stirring second-half display.
Everton took an early lead with a goal that owed as much to Steven Whittaker’s defensive misjudgment as their own creativity and Steven Naismith’s strike.
Naismith, rescued from Glasgow Rangers’ rubble, has rewarded David Moyes with three goals in five starts and his latest contribution seemed to have restored Everton’s confidence.
But they were unable to capitalise on that initial superiority and long before the end were clinging to the hope Norwich would continue to waste their chances.
Anthony Pilkington might have added to his winner against Manchester United, but for the agility of Tim Howard.
John Heitinga intercepted Robert Snodgrass’s shot on the line and Grant Holt’s muscular leadership proved a constant challenge.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton said: “We responded really well and deserved what we got. By our recent standards it was a bad goal to give away and Everton were better in the first half, but we are solid and able to get that valuable goal.
“Bassong has been huge for us in defence and with that goal. He’s been good from
Moyes questioned the free-kick decision that led to the equaliser, as well as the reactions of Heitinga and Howard to the delivery.
Yet he admitted his side have lost some of their momentum and the loss of important players through injury and suspension — notably Marouane Fellaini — clearly hurt. They have dropped 13 points in their last seven matches, deflating some of the optimism swirling around this side of Stanley Park.
Moyes said: “I am concerned about that, but today was always going to be difficult for us. I couldn’t see us winning comfortably and knew we would be chasing it.
“It’s pretty hard to take when they score so late. We played well for 25 to 30 minutes but Norwich grew into the game.”
Moyes’s shuffle meant first home starts for Thomas Hitzlsperger and Bryan Oviedo as Everton defended an unbeaten record here this season.
Few opponents will have arrived at Goodison as buoyant as Norwich. Their run of six matches undefeated included 1-0 wins against Arsenal and Man United. They were almost 1-0 down barely a minute into the match as Leon Osman’s nifty footwork created an opening, but his curled shot didn’t curl quite enough to find the net.
Naismith went for the no-nonsense method to register the first goal scored against Norwich in 345 minutes.
Having switched roles with Steven Pienaar, the Scot took on the responsibility of playing ‘in the hole’ by hammering in Oviedo’s cross.
John Ruddy was down smartly to beat out Leighton Baines’s long-range effort and relieved to see Osman put the rebound over the bar.
Norwich came out of the mini storm with no further damage and Holt bulldozed his way to Everton’s goal. All he lacked, to his embarrassment, was the finish.
Everton toiled after the break and Howard scrambled anxiously to keep out Pilkington’s free-kick.
Norwich were denied by more Everton desperation as Heitinga cleared off the line from Snodgrass.
Baines gave Everton the attacking spark they needed, only to be frustrated by Ruddy, whose exit injured late on, did not affect Norwich’s resolve.
Howard was equal to Pilkington’s header.
But he could not repel Bassong’s header from Javier Garrido’s free-kick.
Everton have ambitions of securing Champions League football this season, but for the second successive week they were forced to endure the anger of manager David Moyes after wayward finishing cost them points.
Dominant in the first half, they struggled to assert themselves in the second and paid the price with minutes remaining when Sebastien Bassong headed home a deserved equaliser for Norwich to cancel out Steven Naismith's first-half opener.
Coming just a week after Moyes was livid at Everton's finishing during the defeat at Reading, it was a costly equaliser with Manchester United and West Bromwich - two sides above Everton in the top four - both winning.
Having started the season so brightly, Everton have now won only once in their last seven matches and Moyes admitted that the loss of more points was hard to take.
'It was a bit sickening,' he said. 'That was pretty hard to take, but Norwich were always in the game while it was only 1-0 and that's the nature of the Premier League. I thought we'd played well for 25-30 minutes and controlled the game, but Norwich grew into it and had one or two opportunities.'
Despite being without captain Phil Neville, who faces several months out after knee surgery, and the influential Marouane Fellaini, Everton controlled the first half, with Naismith showing signs of becoming the latest player to shine under Moyes' guidance after arriving at Goodison Park on the cheap.
Signed on a free transfer in the summer after he escaped the financial turmoil of Rangers, Naismith has already endeared himself to the blue half of Liverpool with his first goal for Everton in the Merseyside derby and was given his first Premier League start in the absence of the suspended Fellaini.
His link-up play was immediately evident, as was his ability to sense an opportunity when he finished off a 12th-minute cross by Bryan Oviedo, who had been set free down the left by Thomas Hitzlsperger's intelligent pass.
It was the first Premier League goal Norwich had conceded in five hours and 45 minutes since their 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on October 27.
Everton had further opportunities to increase their lead before halftime, with Leighton Baines playing a one-two on the edge of the box before forcing goalkeeper John Ruddy into a full-length save, only for Leon Osman to hit the loose ball over the bar.
Ruddy, who was forced to come off nine minutes from the end with a thigh problem, made further saves from Osman and Naysmith, and was far the busier of the two goalkeepers.
That was to change after the break, however, when Everton's Tim Howard made two saves within a minute to deny Norwich an equaliser. His first stop of note did not come until the 56th minute, diving to deny Anthony Pilkington's free-kick and then he had to advance quickly to punch clear with Grant Holt advancing after Steven Whitaker's long ball outwitted Everton's offside trap.
But after Norwich were awarded a free-kick on the right-hand side in injury time, Everton's failure to make their chances count proved costly.
Javier Garrido floated the ball into the far post for Bassong to head home and extend Norwich's unbeaten Premier League run to six matches.
'Everton were certainly the better team over that first 45 minutes, but when you're 1-0 down you have to chase it a little bit and you have to ask a little bit more of the players. And I think we got that from them,' said Chris Hughton, Norwich's delighted manager.
'To be on the run we are on now is really tough going. This league has so much quality, whether you're playing at home or away, and any point, certainly away from home at Goodison Park, is a good one.'
MANCHESTER UNITED believe they can land Everton defender Leighton Baines in January.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson reckons Baines will head to Old Trafford for as little as £8m plus a player thrown in. Everton manager David Moyes would ideally like to take Patrice Evra to Goodison as part of the deal. Without Evra, the fee would rise to £11m.
Baines, who would earn around £60,000 a week, is desperate for Champions League football. And as Everton weren’t in Europe this season, he could slot straight into the side in February for the knock-out stages.
Fergie knows that time is running out for 31-year-old Evra, who has played nearly 50 games a season over the past five years.
EVERTON FC paid dearly once again for wasting a string of chances as Norwich City grabbed a late equaliser at Goodison Park.
Having taken a first-half lead the Blues looked to have done enough to earn a hard-fought three points against Chris Hughton's side, but there was always the chance they would be made to regret several squandered opportunities to seal victory.
And so it was again, as Sebastien Bassong's 90th minute header denied Everton the chance to stay on the heels of West Brom in the mix for fourth spot in the Premier Leagye table.
Just one win in their last seven games suggests that early season optimisim has stalled for now, and with a string of tough fixtures ahead of them David Moyes must hope his side can become both more ruthless in front of goal and defensively robust.
Everton had made two changes from the side which lost after taking the lead at the Madjeski stadium last weekend. With Marouane Fellaini suspended Bryan Oviedo started on the left flank, and a late injury to Seamus Coleman meant a defensive re-jig with Sylvain Distin returning to partner John Heitinga, and Phil Jagielka deployed at right back.
There were no signs of disjointed jitters though, as the hosts quickly carved out the game’s first chance when Leon Osman turned smartly and flashed a left-footed shot just wide of John Ruddy’s post.
And fears that those various changes to Moyes’ personnel would have a detrimental effect on their football were proven further unfounded when Everton took the lead in stylish fashion on 12 minutes. Thomas Hitzlsperger, starting his second game, scooped a pinpoint pass to Bryan Oviedo and the Costa Rican international ghosted past Steven Whittaker and picked out Steven Naismith who had made a clever late run, and the Scotland international side footed emphatically home.
The Blues took control but as their half-chances mounted, it quickly became imperative that they double their lead or risk a repeat of the reverse at Reading. Nikica Jelavic played a deft pass to Naismith who was denied by Ruddy coming quickly off his line, then the Croatian was spared the embarrassment when he steered a simple header wide from Hitzlsperger’s corner as referee Mike Jones spotted an infringement.
Half time came with no further advantage for the hosts and in the second Ruddy thwarted his old side again when Leighton Baines shimmied past a string of yellow shirts to go through on goal and sting the keeper’s hands. Then Osman rolled a shot across the face of goal as the missed chances ominously increased.
Grant Holt went close at the Park end with a thumping header, and the nerves around Goodison weren’t eased when the Blues broke and Naismith only had to slide a simple pass across to a supporting Jelavic who would surely have scored but the Scot crossed wildly instead and saw his delivery trickle out for a goal kick.
Sure enough their wastefulness was punished. Baines fouled substitute Steve Morison, and Javier Garrido sent in an inviting free kick which Howard failed to deal with and as Heitinga slumbered, Sebastien Bassong stole past him and scored with a header.
It was a calamitous ending and if Moyes was angry in Berkshire last weekend, his temper will certainly not have dulled on Merseyside this evening.