Baggies burst Everton's bubble

Everton's optimistic bubble burst with alarming ease at West Brom. The home side were worthy winners thanks to goals from Shane Long and Gareth McAuley. The defeat ends the club's unbeaten run of 11 matches; a positive result would have created a new club record.

Everton began in control and looked purposeful with Darron Gibson showing his passing range. Unfortunately for David Moyes' side, the good start did not last. Injuring himself playing a pass, Gibson had to make way after 20 minutes. Favouring caution, Moyes opted to replace him with right back Tony Hibbert.

Before the substitution, Nikica Jelavic headed Everton's best chance wide from a Baines corner. After Gibson's withdrawal, Everton struggled to adjust and Shane Long's header against the Everton crossbar should have served as a warning. At the other end, Fellaini headed narrowly over from a deep Hibbert cross.

While lacking quality service throughout, Jelavic ought to have done more with a tame header. The home side produced the best chance of the half as the interval approached. Through on goal, after quick feet saw him past Sylvain Distin, James Morrison forced a fine save from Tim Howard. After all his hard work, the midfielder should have put West Brom ahead.

The second half began and, albeit temporarily, Everton did show signs of life. Following neat play from Pienaar, Baines had a shot well blocked and Fellaini dragged another effort wide. Soon after, Everton wasted their best opening of the match. Substitute Mirallas fired a ball into the area and the unmarked Fellaini lashed the ball over the bar when well placed.

Despite the early promise, West Brom remained the better side with a Hibbert clearance preventing a clear chance for the home side. With less than 30 minutes remaining, Shane Long fired West Brom into the lead. Peter Odemwingie outpaced Hibbert and Shane Long escaped some slack marking to fire past Tim Howard.

Everton made changes but they were to no avail with the substitutions proving more disruptive than helpful. Moyes opted to break up the Baines – Pienaar axis and Everton suffered for it. The cautious replacement of Gibson hampered the team. The resulting changes had a similar affect as the management struggled to find a way through West Brom.

Steve Clark made attacking substitutions and it swung the pendulum in the Baggies' favour. Gareth McAuley rose to head in West Brom’s second as Fellaini and Howard failed to do their jobs. One back post mix up aside, West Brom saw the game out with ease.

The lack of communication between Jagielka and Distin is worrying with a chasm between the pair at times. John Heitinga spoke of his omission with great disappointment. After today's insipid display, he may earn a recall in the near future. Heitinga's composure has a calming influence on those around him and he is a leader, something the team often lacks.

Another area for attention is central midfield. With West Brom favouring a counter-attacking approach, Everton's central pairing of Neville lacked the strength and pace to compete. During the second half, the home side seized control and Everton needed Fellaini's physical presence in the engine room.

After the promising start, this is Everton's reality check. Lethargic for the final 70 minutes, the team looked short on ideas at times. The defence has had better days and David Moyes will want to work on that in training.

Newcastle at home is next for Everton and the Toffees will look to get back to winning ways. Despite the setback, this is still Everton's best start for several years. The deadline day signings will have a chance to integrate themselves over the international break. On today's evidence, the squad needs them.

ESPN Conversations