Everton 1 Blues 1 .. Ron's Report

Last updated : 20 December 2009 By Richard Barker

They then sang "Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we're going to Italy".  That may be a little premature.
After five wins on the spin, this was a tough test for Blues.  Taking each of the previous five games as one-offs, they were all games that, on paper, Blues looked like they could win.  Given Blues' record at Everton, the players Everton had in their side (even despite their injuries) and the thought that all good things must come to an end, this looked a tricky test for Blues.
It was a test though.  If Blues are serious about being taken a bit more seriously, home wins against Blackburn and West Ham and an away win at Wolves are one thing, but going to places like Goodison Park and being confident enough to get a result, well, that's a different matter.
For anyone who doubted that this would be a tough test, the first twenty minutes or so would have convinced them otherwise.  Everton were 1-0 up, but it could have been 3-0 or 4-0.  Blues simply weren't in the game and were second best to everything.
Everton's goal came after Barry Ferguson was wasteful with an attempted quick free-kick.  Blues were under pressure and all he needed to do was calm down, bide some time and let one of the defenders trot forward to take it, thus taking a bit of sting out of Everton.  However, he looked to release Cameron Jerome, failed miserably, Everton broke and then scored.  It was all too easy for them down the right and that Russian guy called Billy Eddie-nov, or whatever his name is, was able to step inside and drill home.
Everton continued to dominate and you did think that Blues' run was sure to come to an end.  Still, that changed halfway through the half when Blues put together one of their first decent moves of the game.  Seb Larsson knocked the ball into Christian Benitez who did well, laid Larsson back in, and the Swede finished well.
It was a blow to Everton, and you visibly saw the wind go out of their sails.  It was something of a surprise for Blues too, but boosted them.  The rest of the first half was a lot more even, and Blues arguably had the best of it, finally playing some of the football they've displayed in recent weeks.  It prompted chants of, "we're going to Italy, you're going to Coventry", "Marseille on a Tuesday night" and "are you watching Real Madrid?"
The second half started in a similar fashion, with Blues more than matching Everton.  However, as you'd expect, the home side gradually began to wrestle control back and again began to dominate.  They threw on Yakubu and, late on, James Vaughan, desperately looking for a winner.
Blues, for the first time in a while, went more defensive, taking Benitez off and bringing Gregory Vignal on to bolster the midfield.  Everton carried on piling on the pressure, but in truth, they never really had any clearcut chances and seemed more keen to test the handling of their fans in the Gladwys Street end rather than Joe Hart. 
Resolutely, and desperately at times, Blues held on for a point.  Had Everton won, there wouldn't have been a great deal of complaints, but perhaps Blues did deserve something for their efforts and their defending.  It doesn't really matter anyway, as Blues did get their point.
Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, yet again, need a special mention.  It's getting to the point that their defending is almost taken for granted, but the two of them were immense.  They were up against, at different points, Louis Saha, Yakubu, Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini - all of whom, in their own way, are very serious threats.  Still, they dealt with them as they've dealt with pretty much everyone else this season - with minimal fuss and maximum effectiveness.
Also worthy of mention is Cameron Jerome who didn't receive a great deal of service and didn't get the opportunities he would have liked.  However, his work rate was as good as I have ever seen - he was dead on his feet at the death.  He deserves a lot of credit for that.
Blues didn't hit the heights that they've scaled in recent weeks.  They were, for periods, sloppy and wasteful in possession (Ferguson was a prime culprit) and gave the ball away far too much.  From set pieces, Blues failed to find targets and all too often a decent position was wasted and Everton were suddenly breaking - their goal wasn't the only example.
Also, Fellaini had an excellent game in front of Everton's back four, sweeping up and breaking down Blues.  Joe Hart's kicks always seemed to find his head and suddenly Everton were back on Blues.
However, in some ways, Blues not playing as well as they have done lately helped them pass this particular test with even more flying colours.  Everton are a good, clever, strong, street-wise Premier League team with heaps of experience.  If this new Blues side - who have impressed a lot of people lately and, contrary to some schools of thought, have received plenty of praise in the national press - really do want to be taken more seriously and show that they can compete in the middle reaches of the Premier League rather than at the bottom, then going somewhere like Everton and earning a point when not performing at their best, well, that can only bode well.
This was a reasonable performance and a good result which adds to Blues' current fine run.  Most of all though, it was a tough test passed and an indication that, yes, actually Blues should be taken seriously.
Amen to that.