Everton’s second successive 0-0 draw sees their chances of making the coveted 4th place in the Premier League seem an increasingly fleeting pipe dream.
After last weekend’s toothless home stalemate with Swansea City, the Toffees followed that up with an even more baffling performance at St.Mary’s against Southampton.
The Saints certainly showed no signs of a hangover brought on by the departure of Nigel Adkins, indeed their showing was full of zip and vigour as they looked like the side going for European qualification.
Everton on the other hand looked nervous, frightened and severely low on confidence, as if they were the ones living in fear of relegation.
Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge of Southampton couldn’t have gone any better for him as his players showed fight, determination and no shortage of class as they outplayed the supposedly superior Blues. The only thing their possession and pressure didn’t realise was the goal they fully deserved to give them the three points.
David Moyes will be wondering several things on the journey home from the south coast. Firstly, what has happened to Nikica Jelavic? Well, after the performances of the last two months it could be suggested his bootlaces have been tied together as his ability to stay onside and finish the most simple of chances is in serious doubt.
Secondly, what has happened to the team who were able to create chances at will earlier in the season? The creative spark is deserting them just when they need it. Injury to Kevin Mirallas has been a big factor, so Moyes will be hoping his return will stop the rot and quickly, otherwise not only will Tottenham have 4th place gift-wrapped for them, but Everton could even find themselves caught by Liverpool by the end of the season, which was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago.
The only positives to be taken out of the Monday night game for Everton were the performances of Phil Jagielka, who manfully held back the red tide almost singlehandedly , and Tim Howard’s sterling performance in goal. His crucial saves, particularly in the first half, were instrumental in stealing a point from Southampton.
Next weekend is a tricky cup tie at Bolton and on the strength of tonight’s showing, Everton will have to be better if they expect to negotiate that difficult hurdle.
This is now the time for Moyes to earn his corn. His side need a lift from somewhere, whether that’s by rotating the paper-thin squad at his disposal, or by adding some quality in the current transfer window.
After the game, Everton will be relieved at winning a point, but for one of the few times this season it has been earned when they most certainly didn’t deserve it.