Love him or hate him, Anichebe can't be faulted this season

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Ian Kington/AFP/Getty ImagesEverton are unbeaten when Victor Anichebe scores for the Toffees.

The team news filtered through on Saturday and the inclusion of Victor Anichebe raised many eyebrows, as it always does. Constantly dividing opinion among Everton fans, the debates over his ability and attitude look set to continue. Missing through injury since the 1-1 draw at QPR, the improbable task of replacing Marouane Fellaini fell to the much-maligned Anichebe. Overall, however, there could be few complaints with Anichebe scoring the pivotal equaliser.

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With over 150 Everton appearances to his name, the obvious assumption is that Anichebe has nailed down a regular first-team place. Not so, and closer inspection highlights his struggles in establishing himself. Almost 60% of Anichebe's appearances are as a substitute; 90 appearances from the bench out of 154 speak volumes. His 90 substitute appearances make Anichebe the most-used substitute in Everton history.

Though failing to nail down a starting spot, Anichebe has proven resourceful as a 'super sub' in recent months. Able to use his considerable frame against tiring defences, the burly forward scored crucial late goals last season. An 87th minute goal earned three points at West Brom while late goals at Wigan and Aston Villa earned a share of the spoils. Another Anichebe goal rounded off a home win against West Brom in March.

Bursting onto the scene as a teenager, Anichebe scored his first goal on Duncan Ferguson's final appearance in a 2-2 draw against West Brom -- Anichebe has something of an Indian sign over the Midlands club. The goal placed Anichebe alongside esteemed company with the record books showing him as the ninth youngest scorer in Everton history.

There is one statistic, in particular, that reflects favourably on Anichebe. With 21 goals in his Everton career, the Toffees are unbeaten when Anichebe appears on the score sheet; his record when scoring is 15 wins, five draws and no defeats.

Often criticised for a lackadaisical attitude, there is noticeable change in Anichebe this season. The arms aloft, hands on hips cries towards officials are gone, replaced by a greater focus on hard work. Closing down defenders with increasing regularity, the penny has finally dropped for Anichebe. Enjoying his football, the stroppy teenager goal celebrations have evaporated amid the eventual realisation of what playing for Everton is all about.

Earlier in the season, Nikica Jelavic went off injured against Newcastle and many feared for Everton. Nevertheless, and it is to Anichebe's credit, Everton survived without their main goal source. Anichebe entered the fray at halftime, scored one and had another wrongfully disallowed. A start and barnstorming performance followed at Swansea including the opening goal was just reward for his display.

Upon Jelavic's return, Anichebe made way and the Croatian's double against Southampton left Anichebe warming the bench. Once again, though, there was a change in attitude. When called up from the bench, the sulking attitude disappeared with determination filling in its place. The injury at QPR halted his form, but West Ham on Saturday showed the new Anichebe rather than the old one.

In a break from the norm, Everton went for a two-pronged attack with Anichebe and Jelavic. Though not a barometer of overall ability, the contrast between the two could not have been greater. Continually offside and wasting presentable chances, Jelavic cut a frustrated figure. On the other hand, Anichebe took his goal well and made the most of his chance after injury. Displaying a more positive and proactive attitude, Anichebe can finally establish himself at Everton provided these improvements continue.

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