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THE BEATTIE DEBATE

Graeme Sharp, 12th October 2006 - 13:48

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Graeme Sharp

Graeme Sharp

Posts: 25

Blues legend Graeme Sharp is Everton's leading post-war goalscorer and won two league championships, an FA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup.

He is now the Club's Fan Ambassador and chairs the Fans Forum.

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Judging by the posts following my last blog, the issue of James Beattie is one that is getting a lot of people talking.

The debate seems to centre on playing 4-4-2 with James in the side or continuing with the 4-5-1 formation which keeps AJ as the focal point of the attack with Tim Cahill providing support from midfield.

It is an interesting argument. There is no doubt that playing with one up front this term has worked well. And so it was a surprise to most people when David Moyes opted to play 4-4-2 and bring James back into the side for the game against Manchester City.

The end result was a 1-1 draw, but I would argue that the manager's selection was the right one because we created more than enough chances to have won the game. Richard Dunne and Nicky Weaver in particular had to be on top form to frustrate us and Micah Richards popped up in the dying seconds to snatch a point.

The City performance may not have been a great one, but it was good enough to have won the game nine times out of 10. James had a tough afternoon because of the defensive quality of Dunne and Sylvain Distin - arguably one of the best defensive pairings in the Premiership - and so he only really had one half chance.

The system that has served us so well this term does present an issue in terms of striking options. If that system is employed again this weekend then the forward who is currently the most prolific in the Premiership is likely to get the nod - provided he is fit after his hamstring injury.

But ultimately, the level of competition we have now for a striking berth can only be beneficial - and helps explain why we are one of the top scorers in the Premiership.

Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan are definitely in the equation, and showed why with another great performance in the mini-derby win over Liverpool this week.

They are both hungry and have shown they have an eye for goal. Tuesday's was a good result, although it was not without controversy.

Liverpool reserve boss Gary Ablett was not happy with the challenge from Victor on Jerzy Dudek that led to the Polish international losing his cool, shoving the young forward in the face and ultimately being shown the red card.

I think it was a case of sour grapes from Gary to be honest. Having seen the incident, if I had been Victor's manager I would not have been happy had he not gone for the challenge. The goalkeeper's reaction was poor considering how experienced he is.

Victor is improving all the time and having the friendly rivalry with his good friend Vaughany will only help Everton - and add further to the attacking options.

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