Everton march on
You can set your watch by them. When the clocks go back, that's when Everton get going forward. This is the third successive season David Moyes's side have been slow to shake off the summer torpor before hitting a purposeful stride as the long nights approach.
Victory over Stoke was not pretty, and not entirely convincing, but Moyes was well satisfied with a firm display of resolve. "Stoke are an improving side and it was a good three points. It was also good that Yakubu got the goal; he is getting more confidence and it will be good to get back to the old Yakubu," he said.
Buoyant after the derby defeat of Liverpool and a well-won point at Tottenham, Everton opened briskly.
They should have moved ahead after a quarter of an hour when Steven Pienaar slipped the ball behind the Stoke rearguard for Yakubu, but he could only roll a tame shot at the goal. Stoke, however, were far from being overrun and might have grabbed the lead when Abdoulaye Faye fired just wide at a corner.
In the second half, Marc Wilson drove forward and blazed over from the edge of the area. Tuncay then had a goal disallowed for an infringement. But Everton responded and midway through the half, Tim Cahill's low shot cannoned off Begovic's right-hand post, falling for Yakubu, who controlled the ball before lashing high into the net from a tight angle.