LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is congratulated by teammate Sylvain Distin during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 4th round replay match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on February 19 2011 in London England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Once again we are back here at Royal Blue Mersey with another monthly review of Everton's season. Today we are taking a look back at February, a month that summed up Everton's season perfectly. There was some excellent play, a little bit of apathy, a whole lot of suspense, and in the end the sense that things could have gone a bit better than they did. League games against Arsenal, Blackpool, Bolton, and Sunderland coupled with an F.A. Cup replay against Chelsea led to a thrilling month.
To begin the month Everton faced what may have been their hardest match with a trip to London to face off against Arsenal. Unlike their previous encounter the Toffees did an excellent job with the final score being 2-1. Everton was lucky to score when Louis Saha was incorrectly ruled offside, but it was a deserving goal based on their performance. Unfortunately bad luck struck once again as Arsenal's equalizer came against the run of play, and then Koscielny headed home a free header to give the hosts all three points.
After their midweek clash against the Gunners, Goodison Park played host to the game of the season as newcomers Blackpool faced off against Everton in their second meeting of the season. Louis Saha led the charge for Everton with his first Premier League hat trick in a game that saw the lead change several times. Saha started off the goalscoring early on with an excellent finish. Blackpool rose to the occasion and was able to nick a goal near the end of the first half in what can only be described as a chaotic situation. After the half Everton came looking for blood and Baines and Saha linked up to give the Toffees the lead. Blackpool quickly levelled and then even more suddenly took a 3-2 lead off of goals that left Tim Howard furious at his defense for their lapse in concentration. Thankfully Jermaine Beckford rose to the challenge and sent an absolutely sublime volley into the back of the net as Gwladys erupted in euphoria. It is a credit to Blackpool that they continued to surge forward, but Saha managed to get his fourth goal as he dribbled the field to eventually slide the ball past an outstretched keeper to end the game with a 5-3 score.
After such an exhilarating victory, it almost seemed inevitable that Everton would slip up, and they did in a stunning way at the Reebok against a talented Bolton side. The less said about this game the better as it was certainly the low point of Everton's season. A 2-0 loss where the team looked disinterested and even David Moyes appeared to be looking for the nearest bridge to jump off of.
Following their loss to Bolton, Everton took time off from their EPL campaign to travel to Stamford Bridge to face off against Chelsea in an F.A. Cup replay. After an excellent 90 minute match, both teams were locked in a 0-0 tie which meant the next step was extra time, where both sides were able to score, and in particular Leighton Baines produced a stunner of free kick at the end of extra time to send both sides to the dreaded penalty shootout. Everton ended up being winners thanks in particular to Mr. Heitinga with an excellent shoulder check to the whiny Ashley Cole, who then skied his penalty attempt.
The Toffees then continued to ride this victory into their match against Sunderland, where Jermaine Beckford netted 2 goals to help push the side into the top half of the table where they would finish the season. Goodison Park was rocking throughout the match, and the home side absolutely dominated the game and probably should have scored more than two goals. The downside was that everything was not rosy as both Fellaini and Beckford left do to injury, and the lose of Fellaini ended up being for the rest of the season.
With 6 points from twelve games plus advancement to the 5th round of the F.A. Cup, Everton had a positive look heading into March where despite a shocking loss in the F.A. Cup, the Toffees continued their run towards a European finish. Leave your thoughts about February in the comments below, and until next time COYB!