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The Toffees have made a habit of struggling out of the blocks in the past but look to be ready to hit the ground running with their recent signing from Rangers on top form

COMMENT
By Richard Buxton at Goodison Park

Tony Hibbert may have won star billing at his testimonial but one of his supporting cast members wrote headlines of his own as Steven Naismith announced his Everton arrival.

AEK Athens' 4-1 humbling at Goodison Park last night was more a case of David Moyes signalling their intent for the new Premier League campaign rather than rising to the occasion.
HE'S SCOT THE LOT

 NAISMITH'S 2011-12 RECORD
APPEARANCES
GOALS SCORED
ASSISTS
BOOKINGS
20
10
3
3
 CAREER STATISTICS
APPEARANCES
GOALS SCORED
ASSISTS
200
68
25


August has proved a millstone around the Toffees' neck in recent times, with their traditional early season stagnation counterbalancing strong finishes but Naismith's 45-minute run out against the Greek outfit offers hopes of finally bucking this particular trend.

Although still recovering from a cruciate ligament injury sustained at Rangers last season, a hat-trick on his home debut was enough to captivate the home crowd and offer a signal of the Blues' domestic intent.

Renewing his Ibrox partnership with Nikica Jelavic, which yielded a prolific 36 goals in 28 appearances together last season, appears to be a work in progress but his understanding with Steven Pienaar, a fellow summer addition, at times bordered on telepathy.

Naismith was regularly allowed to exploit holes in AEK Athens' defence as early as the first-minute, when he opened the scoring after latching onto the South African's lofted pass. Defying the offside trap paid dividends again as Pienaar's cross was headed home unmarked at the far post to help Everton retake the lead.

With both players occupying wide roles, Moyes now has the freedom to enhance his attacking dynamic by allowing them to press higher up the pitch alongside Marouane Fellaini, seemingly destined to play off the shoulder of Jelavic, to form a three-pronged attacking midfield.

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Essentially, Naismith is Tim Cahill's replacement with a similar level of versatility and a potent goal threat. Where the Australian, now with the New York Red Bulls, came unstuck was that his approach had possessed an air of predictability after eight years of tireless service.

Despite contributing his share of goals to the cause, patterns began to emerge in Cahill's game to the point that even his trademark headed goals became limited.

Based on first impressions, there does not appear to be any danger of Naismith falling into the same trap as his illustrious predecessor, but admittedly he was aided by an AEK Athens side stripped of their best players by financial woes and seemingly bereft of defensive capabilities.

Moyes has attempted to exercise caution amid the delirium of his compatriot's hat-trick on a night where sentiment reigned supreme in the stands but optimism, that staple of Everton's heritage, has validation with a side now ready to challenge the upper echelons of the table.

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