Thinking Outloud: Jelavic
12 months ago Evertonians were welcoming a rare new centre forward signing to Goodison Park, this Croatian international promised much after setting Scotland alight with some impressive performance for the then great Rangers. We all know the rest he settled into the Premier League straight away and coupled with the return of Baines soul mate and the surprisingly good Gibson Jelavic set about repaying the faith Moyesey showed in splashing what little cash he has to bring him south of the border and steer Everton to within touching distance of European football and above our "noisy neighbours" from over the park.
Fast forward to today and whilst the goals haven`t totally dried up for the big Croatian he certainly has been far from the prolific form that saw him net an impressive nine goals in just ten Premier League games.
At times this season Jelavic has been doing his best Victor Anichebe impression; a useless waste of space and ultimately waste of a number, he has looked disinterested, unwilling and totally bereft of confidence. Fortunately for the toffees we have other players capable of carrying the goal scoring burden such as Ossie and Fellaini who have quite rightly received widespread admiration for their part in Everton`s best start to season since 2004.
So where has it all gone wrong for our number seven this season? There are a number of factors. Jelavic looks like he is being starved of the kind of service he needs to thrive we`ve sorely missed the direct, unpredictable and exciting play of our Belgian Ronaldo, Kevin Mirallas who helps balance the midfield as we have become sorely predictable constantly going down the left side and avoiding the right like a creepy TV personality. Gibson has also been a big miss as he controls the pace of the attack from the holding role and allows Fellaini to bomb forward and cause havoc with that spectacular barnet of his. As always the lack of strength in depth has hurt us when it comes to replacing these players, Hitzlsberger, Naismith and Neville have all been various shades of downright awful throughout the season and could do with being used sparingly.
With fifty eight shots on goal this season his return of six Premier League goals is far from good enough this season defenders seem to have gotten wise to his lethal one touch finishes which made him such a force to be reckoned with in the penalty area he simply isn`t taking his chances. He has shown glimpses of his former self recently against Cheltenham in the cup, his opening goal showed sharpness in the box and cunning that had been missing from his game at times this season. He also came tantalisingly close to netting in our last home game against Swansea where the spin of the ball denied him a first Premier League goal in seven games.
I haven`t the first idea what Moyes and his team drill into the players (nor am I in any position to doubt the great man) but it seems that our strikers seem to invariably take up wide positions when we are attacking and too often find themselves putting crosses in the box when common sense surely dictates that as strikers they should be the ones getting on the end of the crosses . Johnson, Yak and Saha (use the term "striker" loosely in this instance) all seemed to drift into the wide positions away from the area on the pitch where they are surely going to be more influential. If Jelavic is going to have the Everton faithful dancing in the stands of Goodison and football stadiums up and down the country he needs to get himself in that penalty area much more often and make a nuisance of himself, be more selfish and forget messing round with assists he needs to be doing what he does best and that is sticking the ball in the back of the net.
I am full of confidence that our Croatian hero will rediscover his goal scoring form starting against Southampton tomorrow evening. In the reverse fixture at Goodison Jelavic smashed two goals on the way to a comfortable Everton win against these relegation candidates. Kevin Mirallas is reportedly close to a comeback although the Southampton game will come too soon for the lad I predict that his return into the starting eleven will herald a fresh wave of goals for Jelavic and a fresh push to cement our European aspirations for next season.
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