Pienaar puts on a show in routine win

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesEverton's Steven Pienaar hides his head but not his feelings after his goal.

Open up the nearest dictionary, search for ‘routine’ and a description of this home win will be the definition. Aside from a brief spell in the second half, Everton were in cruise control for the majority of the match Saturday.

Fulham are yet to register a league win at Goodison Park and it is easy to see why on this evidence as Everton earned a 20th successive home league win over Fulham in a 1-0 victory.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the talismanic Dimitar Berbatov departed after 29 minutes through injury. Even though his jog down the tunnel was probably his farthest run of the day, Berbatov is the key component in this Fulham side.

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During the first half, 'Operation Goodison Exercise' came over the tannoy and Fulham should have adopted it as a tactic. Operating at walking pace throughout, this was without doubt the weakest away performance at Goodison this season.

For the home side, the win maintains a flickering ember for those faint European hopes. Although realistically, with others possessing games in hand and trips to Liverpool and Chelsea still to come, thoughts of Europe are best kept for next season.

Recently criticised by fans and facing questions from David Moyes over his recent performances, there was some pressure building on Steven Pienaar; not that anyone would have guessed, as Pienaar turned in a man-of-the-match display here. Finishing off a flowing move for the only game's only goal, the midfielder was at the heart of the better Everton moments.

One or two games aside, it is hard to fault Pienaar since his return from Tottenham. Ably assisted by Leighton Baines, Pienaar has created 102 chances, registered 11 assists and scored 10 goals in 46 league appearances.

One of the main creative threats in the side, Pienaar also possesses an infectious work rate. Leading by example, the diminutive midfielder looked to be doing the running of others -- and one of those was Leon Osman.

Never the most mobile of players, Osman often starts matches looking worn out; the long season appears to have caught up with the England international. When Bryan Ruiz ghosted past Osman in the second half, the midfield man looked certain to make way with Ross Barkley on the sideline. Surprisingly, however, Nikica Jelavic was the one to depart and Osman remained until the end when a rest appeared more beneficial.

Jelavic is another currently struggling. Paired with Victor Anichebe, there was little to no sign of an understanding between the pair. Since both are more suited to the lone striker role, the duo looked lost as they tried to adapt their usual game.

For Jelavic, this season is one best forgotten. A shadow of the player from last season, the Croatian forward has seen his confidence shattered and even the basics look impossible at times. Struggling through matches, as Marouane Fellaini quickly became the focal point of the attack, Jelavic requires a creative player behind him.

In spite of the other failing aspects, Jelavic continues to show sharp movement. Thriving on through balls and low crosses into the area, Everton need to return to basics and make Jelavic the focus of their attacking play. Nonetheless, Jelavic is not helping himself. Trying too hard, his aimless forays out wide help neither him nor the team.

Next up for Everton is the annual trip to Anfield. Winless at the home of their local rivals since 1999, fans are growing tiresome of the annual surrender witnessed across Stanley Park. Shackles off, little to play for, Everton require a bold approach in their quest to end a 14-year away drought in the Merseyside derby.

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