Moyes still seeking Toffees improvement

David Moyes is looking for Everton to rediscover their clinical

touch as they attempt to climb away from the Premier League’s

basement battle.

The Toffees extended their unbeaten run to four games with a

1-1 draw at Sunderland on Saturday, and, with their crippling

injury problems finally starting to ease, are starting to look

upwards rather than over their shoulders.

However, on Monday they face promoted Burnley, who have

proved formidable at home but less effective on their travels, at

Goodison Park seeking a first win in any competition on their own

pitch since defeating Blackburn on September 20 – a run of eight

games.

Six of those have come in the league, and although only derby

rivals Liverpool have won there, that sequence of fixtures has

yielded just five points.

After seeing his team last keep a home clean sheet against

Rovers three months ago, manager Moyes believes Everton must be

more ruthless in front of goal to take three points. He said: “At

home, we have struggled a little bit recently. We have not turned

draws into victories, so we have to do that.

“In some of the games – Birmingham last week as well – we

have dominated the majority of it, but gave them one chance and

they scored.

“It looks like we are going to have to score more than one

goal at this present time to win, and that’s what our problem has

been, we have not been doing that.”

One goal at the Stadium of Light was enough to claim a point,

although the visitors had to wait 85 minutes to get some reward for

a performance which improved the longer it went on. Leon Osman had

already struck a post and Louis Saha twice in quick succession

failed to hit the target after being played into promising

positions when Sunderland took a 17th-minute lead.

Kenwyne Jones found space on the right to deliver an inviting

cross for strike-partner Darren Bent, who left the makeshift

central defensive pairing of John Heitinga and Lucas Neill

flat-footed to head home his 11th goal of the season.

Indeed, Bent could have claimed a hat-trick inside the

opening 21 minutes as the home side, themselves looking to improve

upon a run of just one win in nine league outings, started

brightly.

But inspired by Moyes’ half-time warning that he would be

disappointed if his side only ended up with a point, Everton

returned in determined fashion and went close through Marouane

Fellaini and Saha as the home side dropped ever deeper in an

attempt to preserve their lead.

They finally claimed their reward with five minutes remaining

when Fellaini controlled Tony Hibbert’s cross and blasted a shot

into the roof of the net.

Moyes, for all his interval warning, was satisfied with a

point and delighted with the performance which earned it.

“It was a reward for how the players have played in the last

week or two,” he said. “We have played much better and looked more

like ourselves, and in Marouane Fellaini, we have probably got the

best midfield player in the country at the moment.

“He is outstanding the way he is playing. He was exceptional

on Saturday and his goal was deserved for the way he played.”

There was a welcome sight for the travelling fans on Wearside

as Phil Neville took a seat on the bench on his return from the

knee injury he suffered in September. He was not used after getting

just a day’s training under his belt, but could figure if required

tomorrow.

Moyes said: “He came in on Christmas morning and said he

would like to come (to Sunderland).

“He had trained the day before and felt he was okay, so I got

him on the bus right away.”

But asked if anyone else is likely to return for the Burnley

game, Moyes joked: “Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid – they are both

available.

“I would settle for them both at the moment, take it from me.

“They would certainly get me my goals and make sure we were at it

in midfield, that’s for sure.”