Saturday 24 February 2018

Baines blows top as Toffees are stuck in rut

There was a moment in this match that illustrated Everton's predicament, WRITES SI HUGHES.

Leighton Baines slalomed towards goal as he often does. He reached the edge of the Norwich 18-yard area, a position where he would usually find either Steven Pienaar or Nikica Jelavic in enough space to finish off the move.

Instead, Pienaar was moved in-field from close to the touchline and was marked out of the game. Jelavic, meanwhile, had backed away from play, seemingly frustrated at the lack of supply.

Everton eventually won a free-kick but there was little to aim at. The normally composed Baines went ballistic at the lack of options and Jelavic felt his ire. An argument ensued for 10 seconds, fingers pointing in every direction.

In a fully-fit first team, Pienaar would combine with Baines as the most fluid left-sided partnership in the league and Jelavic would receive enough support, possibly enabling him to rediscover the form that was so devastating on his arrival at Goodison Park. Yet, because of injury and suspension, David Moyes was forced to make tactical changes.

Even though Norwich's equaliser from Sebastian Bassong came in injury-time, it was deserved. Chris Hughton's side are now unbeaten in seven.

"I think, realistically, we've got a team who can possibly challenge for the top four still, but we would need most of our players to be fit to be able to do that," Moyes said.

"Baines did go over to speak to Jelavic, and yeah, I think we are looking for a bit more from him at the moment, because we are a bit short. He's looking to try to find a bit of form and we could look to get him a bit better service."

After Steven Naismith's early opener, Everton had enough chances to win. But with each miss, Norwich gained belief and with Grant Holt at his most menacing, an equaliser seemed inevitable.

It came via a free-kick from Javier Garrido that Moyes believed should not have been awarded. Tim Howard did not come for the ball, John Heitinga hesitated and Bassong headed in.

Norwich chief executive David McNally said the club would speak to police about alleged racist comments directed at defender Bassong on Twitter. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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