Job done as bigger challenges lie ahead

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesGood luck charm Victor Anichebe scored in the second half to cap Everton's decisive win over QPR.

According to the well-worn footballing cliche, the sign of a good team is one capable of winning when playing badly. Although not playing badly per se, Everton struggled to click into gear during the first half. Fortunately, just as it threatened to become one of those days, Darron Gibson stepped up to provide the crucial breakthrough to send Everton on the way to a 2-0 win.

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Taking a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Clint Hill, the Gibson goal sapped the life out of the previously energetic visitors. Tim Howard made a smart save from Loic Remy with the game finely poised during the first half; a reminder of the counter-attacking threat offered by QPR.

Needing a win to maintain European hopes, these sorts of fixtures have continually troubled Everton over the years; hosting an unfancied side battling relegation, the Toffees have a tendency for self-destruction. Not today though, as three points rarely looked in doubt after Gibson broke QPR resistance.

Boosted by the goal before halftime, Everton were a different beast after the interval. The passing crisper, the movement sharper, the home side ran riot on occasion. Only the sharp reflexes of Julio Cesar and some poor decision-making from the home players kept the score respectable.

Providing the opening goal, Gibson also led the way performance wise. Recording the most passes, something he does on a regular basis, the midfielder is the vital cog in this Everton machine. Supplying the link between attack and defence, the accomplished passing and sharp tackling add another dimension to the side.

After serving their two match suspensions, the returning duo of Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini improved the side. Receiving scant protection from a desperately inconsistent referee Lee Mason while QPR players appeared keen on agitating the Belgian midfielder, Fellaini cut a frustrated figure at times.

However, even when not at his best, his sheer presence provides space for teammates. Fellow returnee Pienaar proved more influential and their timely returns countered the surprisingly off-colour performance of Leon Osman. Little worked here and the Blues will want the midfield man back to his best for the Arsenal trip.

Struggling in recent matches, given his own high standards, Leighton Baines returned to form. Reunited with partner-in-crime Pienaar, the duo wreaked havoc down the QPR right. The pair created six chances, with Baines accounting for five of the six opportunities.

Having created 97 chances prior to this match, Baines surpassed the 100 mark here. Ending play on 102 chances, the England left back is the first player in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A to create 100 chances this season; quite a feat for a player whose primary duty is defending.

Benefitting from the tireless work of the duo, in attack and defence, the team is stronger when Baines and Pienaar function well together. On the opposing flank, the dynamic Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas continue to show promising signs as their own partnership strengthens the right side of the team.

Elsewhere, Victor Anichebe added another goal to his club tally. Developing into a lucky charm, Everton are unbeaten when Anichebe scores. Notching his 25th goal for the club, his record stands at 17 wins and seven draws (Anichebe scored twice in one of those wins).

Everton now face a potentially season defining trip to the Emirates in midweek with three points essential. Winless against Arsenal since 1996 and winless under David Moyes against the 'Sky 4', Everton require a strong showing on Tuesday night.

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