Kevin Mirallas menace adds to Toffees turmoil in Baggies bore draw
Everton, odds-on 1/2 with Coral for a top 10 finish, were haplessly held to a scoreless draw at Goodison Park by West Bromwich Albion, after Belgium winger Kevin Mirallas controversially missed from the spot.
The Toffees’ Premier League woes were summed up with one swing of Mirallas’ right foot, as he struck a penalty off the post, after grappling the ball away from regular spot-kick taker Leighton Baines.
Mirallas’ missed penalty proved very costly to Roberto Martinez’s men, as they were eventually held to a goalless draw by Tony Pulis’ defiant Baggies, leaving the troubled Toffees without a victory in their last six league games.
Everton’s previous win came before the Christmas period, when they eased past Harry Redknapp’s QPR with a 3-1 triumph at Goodison Park. Mirallas was on target that day, but the winger has rapidly went from hero to villain on the blue half of Merseyside.
After stealing the ball from Baines, despite protests from his Toffees teammates, Everton’s talented Belgian failed to convert and was quickly withdrawn at half-time by his livid manager.
However, Spanish boss Martinez denied that his decision to substitute the player was because of Mirallas’ fatal on-the-field choices, declaring an injury was to blame for hauling him off.
It was the 27-year-old wideman’s miss which proved to be costly, after deciding to take over spot-kick duties, despite England’s left-back boasting an incredible conversion rate of 15 from his last 16 penalties.
Martinez’s team were in contention for a possible Champions League spot at this stage last season, but after a poor result against the Baggies, it looks more likely that the Merseyside outfit will be involved in a relegation fight for the remainder of this current campaign.
The toiling Toffees are now a massive 17 points adrift of Manchester United in fourth place and just four above the drop zone, sitting in 12th position in the domestic league table.
Martinez’s stuttering side finished last term in fifth, capturing a slot in this season’s Europa League competition, but a series of four consecutive defeats followed up by two draws on the bounce has catapulted them into a ruthless relegation scrap.
At the beginning of last year Martinez’s outfit were flying-high and just a point from fourth spot, rivalling Tottenham, Liverpool and David Moyes’ United for a place in Europe’s top club competition.
Norwich City were in an unnervingly identical position to the Toffees last season, sitting in 12th and residing on 23 points for the campaign, the exact total Everton presently inhabit. The Canaries were eventually relegated after being unable to secure a single victory in their last seven league games.
Martinez will be hoping to avoid the same catastrophic fate as Norwich, but a huge drop in form and a series of appalling performances since December has hurdled the terrible Toffees into unwanted territory.
Everton will now face a tough task of turning around their form and fortune with just four months of the season remaining. The Merseyside outfit are available at 20/1 to be relegated from the Premier League this year.