Everton Unlucky, Donovan Solid in Debut

donovan everton

Landon Donovan may not have put all the doubts to rest, but on a frigid day in North London, he clearly showed that he has the skills to play against a top team in a top league.   Everton should have strolled out of the Emirates with all three points against Arsenal, but a few lucky bounces for the Gunners gave them a share of the winnings in the 2-2 draw.

One person who will be able to testify to Donovan’s skills was Arsenal left back Armand Traore.  Traore has done well over the past couple of months in place of the injured Gael Clichy, but he had a miserable time trying to contain Donovan’s pace and touch.  Donovan had Traore backpedaling most of the game, and used his speed to create several useful crosses, including one to Phil Neville whose shot came within inches of dipping under the bar and into the net.

The opening goal did come off a perfectly placed Donovan corner that was slammed into the net off the head of Leon Orsman.  For long-time Donovan watchers, it was a little odd seeing him take several deadball opportunities.  With the Galaxy, David Beckham is always the first choice from a set piece, and it is easy to forget that Donovan has some solid deadball skills too.

After the game, Everton manager David Moyes had this to day about Donovan’s performance: 

I thought he played very well.  I was disappointed I had to take him off, he cramped up.  I don’t know if the cold had a bit to do with that as well, I’m sure more to do with it was having four weeks holiday and then only having five or six days training with us.  So I’ve got to say he’s done really well today and I thought he was a threat to them all day and he contributed to a good Everton performance.  We’re only finding out about him. We played him on the right today, I thought he did a great job there, I was really impressed by him.  We may play him up front or off the front man as well so we just want to see if we can get the best out of him in the couple of months we’ve got him for.

On some message boards, which have been generally positive about Donovan’s debut, there are a few voices faulting him for Arsenal’s opening goal.  I have watched that goal on reply a few times, and I think that judgment is very harsh.  Donovan headed a frozen ball on a bounce out of his own box, and only sent it about twenty yards away from goal.  However, I find a lot more fault with the three Everton defenders who stood like blocking dummies as Denilson stole the ball, sent it to Andrey Arshavin, who touched it to Eduardo who left it for Denilson to score.  Given all that, Denilson’s shot got a lucky deflection off of Osman before getting past Tim Howard and into the net.

Next up for Donovan is a likely home debut against Manchester City a week from today.  This early game will be on ESPN for American fans, so you can expect a ESPN to devote a camera to follow Donovan’s every move.

4 Responses to Everton Unlucky, Donovan Solid in Debut

  1. Huey says:

    Next Saturday’s early game is Stoke City vs. Liverpool. The Everton vs. Manchester City game is scheduled to be on Fox Soccer Channel and it kicks off at 12:30pm eastern time.

  2. Eric Altshule says:

    You are right! I was looking at the listing and thought it was 12:30 Engish time.

  3. Nick says:

    Well, certain criticisms of him are fair, but given the fact it was his first match in the best league on earth, after 6 weeks off, in the frigging snow , with no chemistry built with his teammates it was all you could expect out of him and more.

    Offensivley, he will be highly usefull for Everton. I, like others…am looking to see how he plays against a more physical team. But…if his pace is as good as it was against Arsenal, then he’ll be fine. Speed can beat force in England. (Its not like you see Ashley Young sending outside defenders pinballing off of him.)

    He also needs to be a bit more aggressive on the defensive end. Especially helping out his back. But…usually this is a role he relishes in his American team role. Hell get that down. Looking forward to seeing his first goal. I really hope Moyes doesnt put him up front. He needs to be an outside MF, or maybe a AMF but even that I think he lacks Premier size for that role. I was surprised to see him getting set pieces, especially given his recent down time…looks solid on those too. That might be the most crucial training Landon can get over there..is how to hit marksman set pieces against good defenses/goalkeepers.

    Cant wait to see more!!

  4. Peter says:

    I taped the game and have now watched it three times. It was an outstanding debut for Donovan – period. Coming into the side after a two month break and going straight to Arsenal in the cold was a stern test. I can’t wait to see what Lando does once he’s had time to settle and gel with the team, which – btw – is a hec of a lot better than its record and billing. I am particularly impressed with Pienaar and Fellaini and think there isn’t a team on the planet that wouldn’t want those two as franchise builders.

    I genuinely think Donovan can establish himself as more than an adequate player in the Prem – I think he could become an upper-tier player and a consistent goal scorer. Moyes will figure out where best to use him. I too have always thought he’s better behind strikers or as a winger, than as a pure striker, however some of this depends upon whom he is teamed up with. He’s the perfect accomplice to Saha – something like a classic, physical, target-man.

    With time, Donovan’s incisive running and dribbling will open space for Saha. Donovan will find him and also will provide an outlet for him, as he did in the 52nd minute against Arsenal with a brilliant charge from right wing that easily could’ve ended in a goal.

    #9’s touch and passing sharpness was a bit off on several plays where he was intercepted and on the failed clearance that preceeded Arsenal’s first goal (he should’ve done better, but too harsh to lay full blame for the goal upon him). I think most of this comes from the time off and some comes from calibrating the speed of the game in the top flight, however I have no doubt that Donovan has the skill to make these adjustments.

    The best thing for all involved would be a permenant transfer (and I live in LA and am a Galaxy fan). Country first.

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