The turn of the new year will hopefully bring about a new run of form for an Everton side that while beginning their ascent of the table to currently sit in 11th, certainly left points on the pitch in December. Beginning with an excellent draw at Stamford Bridge, Everton ended December with an unbeaten run of form that saw them draw Chelsea, Wigan, and West Ham while beating Manchester City for 6 points out of a possible 12. The game against Birmingham on Boxing Day was canceled and looks set to be made up in late January. The Toffees certainly could have done better against West Ham and Wigan where they were unlucky to not claim 3 points against both sides.
It should be no surprise to Everton fans that the team continued to show the same weakness that has plagued the team all year, incompetent forwards. The problem at the forward position got so bad that David Moyes decided to start Tim Cahill up top against West Ham. Jermain Beckford continued in his role as super sub, and had a beautiful goal against to equalize against Chelsea, and as usual missed a number of chances. Both Yakubu and Saha continued their abysmal run of form in their appearances this month, but the big news was the return of Victor Anichebe from injury. Anichebe made his return against Wigan, and was actually jeered by Everton fans after reports that he had turned down a new contract that could pay him up to 20,000 pounds a week despite his lack of first team appearances in the past few years.
On the defensive side Everton continued an excellent run of form, with both Jagielka and Distin forming a solid partnership in the center, Phil Neville being himself on the right side, and Leighton Baines continued to build on his candidacy as the most valuable player for the season with countless assists, and continued pillaging the right side of opposing defenses at will.
In the midfield Moyes may have found an excellent pairing in Fellaini and Rodwell forming a defensive core in the center, while Pienaar continues his play on the left, with either Coleman or Arteta on the right side, with Cahill playing right behind the chosen striker of the day.
Overall the past month as reinforced the fact that Everton needs more punch up top to have any hope of qualifying for Europe next season.
As for tomorrow, Everton once again play the newly named Stupid Fucking Stoke, not to be confused with Stupid Fucking Bolton. The previous meeting between the two teams ended in a 1-0 win for the Toffees, with Yakubu's physicilaity making the difference against an extremely defensive formation from SFS that included 5 center backs. A similar formation could be in the offering once again, but the Stoke team sheet will not include Richard Huth who is suspended for the game which is a big benefit to Everton, who will also be playing their last game with target man Tim Cahill before he departs for the Asian Cup, and could be gone for all of January. Look for Everton to try and maintain most of the possession and use a patient attack to try and break down the Stoke defense to get a goal, at which point the game will most likely open up as Stoke attempt to get back a goal. I see a repeat of the October match-up with Everton winning 1-0 off a Tim Cahill header.