Tower of strength

EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez has beaten West Ham’s Sam Allardyce to the signing of towering Monaco striker Lacina Traore on loan until the end of the season. If Traore proves half as effective as Martinez’s other loanees, Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu, then he will be a big hit at Goodison Park. The 6ft 8in forward ¬†will, hopefully, prove to be the ideal back-up – if not occasional partner – for the impressive Lukaku who, thankfully, has led the line beyond the halfway point in the season without getting injured.

Everton’s success with Traore is another hammer blow for The Hammers, whose inability to score this season was never so glaringly exposed as when up against goal-mad Manchester City in the capital One Cup semi-final. City thrashed them 9-0 over the two legs, 3-0 in Tuesday’s match at Upton Park when not playing their first-choice midfielders, which merely consolidated my career-long belief that a team is as good or as bad as its front players. Big Sam had record signing Andy Carroll in the side for the first time, following serious injury, but Carroll will need time to get match fit. Meanwhile, The Hammers are involved in an increasingly-intriguing relegation fight, with Manchester United’s cup conquerors Sunderland looking more confident by the week and Tony Pulis working well to restore life to the corpse that was Crystal Palace.

Okay, I would love to see more British – English in particular – players in the Premier League, but one thing is for sure, the multi-national mix is making for a thrilling scenario at both the top and bottom of the league.


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