Roy Hodgson and David Moyes set up with relatively conservative gameplans at The Hawthorns in the Premier League's first match of 2012, with both teams doing very little going forward. Tim Howard did not have to make a single save, while Ben Foster was only pressured into three. There were very few chances in the match, as that statistic indicates, but Everton were able to hit the back of the net with one of them. Victor Anichebe grabbed a late winner, giving the Toffees a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Though WBA lost the match and Hodgson will catch criticism for playing such a negative style against a mid-table side at him, it's actually tough to argue that he didn't get his tactics right. Until the goal, his team had created easily the best two chances of the night, and they were created for their two in-form strikers. Shane Long put a clear header over the bar in the 18th minute and Peter Odemwingie hit a shot over the bar while one-on-one with Howard in the 47th minute.
The winner finally came on a free kick in the 87th minute, and it was exactly the type of goal one would have expected Everton to score if they were ever going to find one. The free kick from outside the area created a scramble in the box, which resulted in the ball falling to Anichebe about eight yards from goal. He made himself a small opening and fired past Ben Foster, giving his team all three points in a match where they failed to create much at all.
Hodgson and West Brom might feel a bit hard done by, as their tactics more or less worked perfectly, but a case of two bad shots for them and a lucky bounce for Everton gave the visitors all three points. Though, when a team goes forward as little as West Brom did today, it's tough to feel bad for them when luck doesn't go their way.