This game told the story of two Royston Drenthe’s as Everton’s maverick winger scored a stunning goal before allowing QPR back in to the game with a foolish tackle that led to Bobby Zamora’s equaliser. In truth, the home side should have won the game, and but for a terrible miss from close range (and countless wayward long-range efforts) from Akos Buzsaky, they would have done.
An enjoyable first half saw several chances for both teams as Cahill hit the woodwork early on for Everton, before Taarabt and Buszaky both contrived to do the same for QPR in the space of a few seconds. After an end-to-end first half hour, an Everton malaise set in, with even cult-hero Denis Straqualursi seemingly considerably less of a threat than he has been at Goodison Park recently. That said, there was little speed or creativity in Everton’s midfield as Neville passed sloppily, Cahill played the invisible man and Pienaar failed to successfully continue his telepathic understanding with Baines.
As always, David Moyes waited until the 60th minute to make a substitution. Sadly it was a repeat of earlier in the season, as the relief of Cahill finally being replaced was ruined by the dour inevitability of Osman being played out of position on the wing and Neville remaining on the pitch, pointing hopelessly in the middle of midfield. Jelavic also returned from injury to partner Straqualursi for the final half hour.
In the end it turned in to a scrappy affair, with Everton rarely threatening the QPR goal at all in the second half. Despite the disappointment, it’s now eight unbeaten for Everton. Was today’s performance just a speed bump or a return to the drudgery of earlier this season for the Toffees? Let’s hope it’s the former.
Gibson’s record as an Everton player is excellent, with four wins and three draws in seven games
In truth, Everton missed Darron Gibson. On face value he has sometimes looked a little off the pace since joining the club, with loose passing and underwhelming movement a feature some displays, but it is no coincidence that his appearances for the club have seen a return to excellent form for his midfield partner, Marouane Fellaini. Gibson’s record as an Everton player is excellent, with four wins and three draws in seven games. Gibson has brought the discipline that allows Fellaini to flourish, and for that alone he was a notable absentee today as the entire midfield meandered sloppily and showed little cohesion at Loftus Road.
As for QPR, in Taarabt and Buszaky they have players who are clearly capable of winning games, but who all-too-often make terrible and costly decisions. In the centre, Barton struggled to really impose himself on the game, and at the back they are wholehearted but very limited indeed. QPR are surely better than Wigan and Bolton, but can they amass more points than Blackburn and Wolves? On today’s showing, I’m still not so sure. Their story of the season may be one of countless missed chances and games they should have won, but that will be of little consolation if they are relegated. If they do return to the Championship, Everton fans would shed few tears, with QPR’s new boss Mark Hughes famously being the manager who belittled the Toffees (and consistently lost to them) whilst in charge of a newly rich Manchester City. Of course, City were to become far too big for him, before an average spell at Fulham and rejection by Aston Villa followed. If QPR are the light-bite alternative to the Michelin-starred City, Hughes is still more suited to serving at the drive-through window than playing head chef. The jury deciding upon his capabilities as a manager will remain in deliberation.
For QPR, every game is vital until the end of the season, and they must hope Taarabt, Zamora and Cisse can use their skill, power and speed respectively to fire their team to safety; or else “Sparky” will be on the wrong end of yet another shock.
Back to Everton, and the media-acclaimed “World’s Greatest” awaits next weekend at Goodison Park. I’ll leave you to decide whether that means Harry Redknapp or Gareth Bale…
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