Former Blues communications chief takes over same role at Blackburn Rovers 24 hours after quitting Goodison Park
March 1 2014 The Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Ex-Sky sports broadcast veteran had only been with the Toffees for six months
Former Everton FC communications chief Alan Myers has taken over the same role at Blackburn Rovers just 24 hours after quitting Goodison Park. The ex-Sky sports broadcast veteran had only been with the Toffees for six months after being appointed in the summer. Myers, who is a passionate Evertonian, quickly became a popular figure with the club’s supporters for his willingness to engage over social media, and his public role in consulting fans over the decision to change the club crest after a controversial re-design. However, the Blues announced yesterday that he had left citing ‘personal reasons’, and Myers later took to Twitter to thank the club staff, fans and players for their support. He initially replied to Tweets asking about his next career move that it was unlikely it would be a media role, but earlier this afternoon the Championship club revealed they had appointed him. Rovers managing director Derek Shaw said: “Once we were made aware that Alan had left Everton, we moved quickly to secure the services of a very talented and experienced football man. “We have seen how he engaged with the Everton fans and the significant success he had over a short period of time, and that is what attracted us to him. “After discussions with the owners, it was unanimously agreed for Alan to join Blackburn Rovers as early as Monday and his appointment will further strengthen our existing media team.” Myers said: “I am extremely excited to join Blackburn Rovers and be at a club with such rich traditions and history.
“I have observed from a distance, through my work at Sky, developments at Blackburn Rovers over the past few years and have been really impressed in recent months at the stability and progress being made both on and off the field. “One of my first tasks will be to engage with the Rovers fans. I think it's fair to say they've had a difficult time over the last few years, but that is changing now and I want to be part of that. “Madam Desai and the Rao family have tasked me with bringing the club and its fans together and that is my main aim here. “I'm extremely excited to be working with Gary Bowyer – one of the country’s brightest young managers – and I am joining an extremely talented and committed management team, led by managing director Derek Shaw, along with hugely experienced Football Secretary Ian Silvester. “I believe this is a really exciting time for Blackburn Rovers and its fans.” Earlier today Myers tweeted that he had gone to say goodbye to Blues boss Roberto Martinez. ‘Just been to say goodbye to Roberto, that man is pure class we are so lucky to have him!’ he wrote. Then later on - following a flurry of tweets from Everton fans questioning the circumstances of his new role - he wrote: ‘I never left Everton to join Blackburn, I joined Blackburn because I had left Everton. I am delighted to join Rovers and hope the fans welcome me like the Evertonians did'.
Royal Blue: Barry's England snub may be good news for the Blues
March 1 2014 Thew Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Brazil carrot can benefit Everton
Those admiring Blues seething with indignation at Gareth Barry’s exclusion from the latest England squad may be missing something. In their perfectly understandable befuddlement at how Tom Cleverley could be called up ahead of the on-loan Everton FC midfielder, they might have overlooked Roy Hodgson inadvertently doing the Toffees a favour. Yes, Barry’s form has been far superior to the much-maligned Manchester United scurrier, and only Yaya Toure and Jordan Henderson can claim better passing accuracy in the Premier League this term. But Barry, who won his last Three Lions Cap against Norway in April 2012, has ticked along nicely without international recognition so far during his Goodison tenure. In fact, that dangling carrot of the summer World Cup could be a factor behind his superlative displays. This latest snub is not the first time the former Manchester City man has been left frustrated, so it is unlikely to sap his morale. Barry is not the type either to spit out his dummy or let his head drop. What it could do is keep him in the right frame of mind to fight tooth and nail for a last-minute seat on the plane to South America in June. There is time yet for him to change Hodgson’s mind, and he will know the best way to do it is by shining ever brighter in Everton’s final 12 games of the season. That means instead of being pitched into a friendly in midweek against Denmark when he would be charged with making an impression at all costs, he will be at Finch Farm safely removed from the increased risk of injury ahead of the Blues’ biggest game of the season yet – that FA Cup quarter final at the Emirates. The Brazil incentive could equally work in Everton’s favour for those who will be involved at Wembley on Wednesday. Leighton Baines is virtually assured of his place, but the call-up of Southampton’s talented left-back Luke Shaw will be a timely reminder that he cannot afford to let his standards drop in the coming weeks. The chance of a run-out for his country could also shake Ross Barkley out of the slump in confidence which has perhaps naturally afflicted a player of such tender years in recent weeks. For his part, Barry will watch events against the Danes with interest from the comfort of his couch. It will be a shame if he does not get a chance to prove himself at all for England before the summer, but for now it could well be a blessing in disguise for the club paying his wages.
Pienaar gets Active in Ellergreen Lifestyles
Steven Pienaar will be visiting the Ellergreen Lifestyles centre in Norris Green after training on Tuesday to find out more about Active Me, a National Lottery Funded initiative.
The event will serve as the official launch to Active Me, a three year scheme to encourage adults with learning disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing and blind and partially sighted, to get involved in a variety of sporting activities. Pienaar will be meeting various representatives from partner organisations as well as the Lord Mayor before finding out more about handball, one of the sports on offer.
Figures show that only 22.6 per cent of people living in Liverpool with a limiting disability – around 3,200 – are involved in physical activity once a week. Active Me will target this sector of the community, with the intention of increasing interest in sport and recreation and aims to get 200 adults into an active lifestyle by offering them weekly sports sessions in a safe and comfortable environment. Everton In The Community runs the largest and most respected disability football programme in the world, which provides football and physical activity opportunities for thousands of disabled children and adults each year. One game for Blues...then a call-up for Germany
Remember Shkodran Mustafi?
If you’ve just scratched your head and answered no, then don’t worry you’re in the majority.
He only ever made one substitute appearance for Everton and was released on a free transfer by David Moyes in 2012. Although comfortable on the ball, the German lacked the height Moyes preferred in his central defenders and largely spent his time on Merseyside playing for the U21s under the guidance of Alan Stubbs. Eyebrows were raised when Sampdoria snapped him up next.But that is nothing compared to the surprise behind the scenes at Finch Farm to the latest development in his career. Mustafi has just been handed a surprise call up to the Germany squad by Joachim Low. Football, as ever, retains its capacity to surprise and beguile in equal measures.
Musical appeal in Goodison Park fanzone
The fanzone outside Goodison Park will have its usual melodic appeal today.
This week it’s the turn of talented local singer – and passionate Bluenose – Gary Barker, who will entertain fans with his cover versions with a twist. The vocalist and guitarist, who usually serenades drinkers at popular city centre pub The Liverpool on James Street, is due to start his set at 1pm.
If you like what you hear, Gary has an EP out on iTunes in the coming weeks
Romelu Lukaku comes off bench to rescue Everton against West Ham
Richard Jolly at Goodison Park
Saturday 1 March 2014
This was a sequel to savour for Everton. Roberto Martínez has used Romelu Lukaku as a substitute twice. Both have come against West Ham. On each occasion, he has struck. They have proved twin winners. Six months after his scoring debut, the Belgian staged an action replay to end the Hammers' best run of the season and ensure that consecutive league defeats have not derailed Everton's campaign. Lukaku's first goal of 2014, expertly converted from a similarly fine cut-back from Leighton Baines, illustrated how much Everton suffered during a month when their only prolific finisher was first injured and ineligible. His presence on the bench for almost an hour was the consequence of a chest infection that delayed his comeback further. It was, too, the result of strategic thinking by Martínez. "I knew he would be more effective finishing the game rather than starting," said the Spaniard. "The last few minutes become harder to defend with Romelu's freshness and power." So it proved. Lukaku excelled as an impact substitute for West Bromwich Albion last season while Martínez has an uncanny habit of sending on game-changing replacements.Combine both factors and there was an inevitability about the outcome. "It was a wonderful move," said Martínez. Rarely restrained in his praise, he was especially effusive about Lukaku. "You are not going to find a better striker around the world in terms of having that power, that strength, that back-to-goal ability. He has got everything. Romelu is someone we have missed for a long time." Martínez's ability to derive a positive from every scenario was tested during Lukaku's absence, but he added: "That injury is exactly what he needed. In January, he was starting to feel tried. Now he is fully refreshed. We are going to see the best of Romelu until the end of the season." Lacking their spearhead, Everton were rarely at their most fluent, although Gerard Deulofeu threatened to score a magical goal with a wonderful solo run and a shot that went narrowly wide. Thereafter, the only incisiveness came from a familiar channel with the left-sided axis of Baines and Steven Pienaar combining to trouble West Ham. Identifying their danger is altogether simpler than nullifying it argued the West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce, and Baines was twice the South African's supplier when he came close. A first shot was goalbound before a diving Adrián touched it on to the post; a second was skied over. Both were involved in the goal. "Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar were at their very, very best," Martínez said. "Their understanding and their chemistry was clear." West Ham failed to gel, as Allardyce admitted. After four successive victories, he opted not to change a winning team but, within half an hour, he sent for Andy Carroll and sacrificed Carlton Cole. "I didn't get enough hold-up play off Carlton," he said. If Carroll represented an improvement, opportunities were few and far between and, when one appeared to materialise, West Ham's most potent force was tugged to the turf. Allardyce was aggrieved by Gareth Barry's method of halting Kevin Nolan just outside the Everton box, which owed more to the Six Nations than tiki-taka. "Kevin would have perhaps scored another goal because of the form he is in," Allardyce said. "It looks like he is stopping a goalscoring opportunity and a red card. I am really disappointed." Martínez argued otherwise. "I didn't feel it was a free kick," he said, arguing that Baines was also providing cover. The referee, Jon Moss, did not award West Ham anything and, when their redoubtable defence threatened to earn them a point, Lukaku compounded their disappointment.
Everton 1 - West Ham 0: Lukaku strikes late to end Hammers' winning run
ROMELU LUKAKU came off the bench to secure victory for Everton over in-form West Ham at Gooidson Park this afternoon.
By Nick Lustig 1st March 2014
So step up substitute Romelu Lukaku who was finally introduced to the brain-numbing proceedings after almost an hour of crying out for someone of his clinical calibre. Lukaku did not disappoint manager Roberto Martinez with a winner of sheer quality in the 81st minute – the on-loan striker’s tenth Premier League goal of the season – to move Everton above David Moyes’ Manchester United in sixth spot. Martinez’s rival boss Sam Allardyce thought he had pulled off a masterstroke himself by sending on his own sub, Andy Carroll, after serving his three-match suspension. But no such luck as Everton made it 12 league gams against the Hammers without a solitary defeat. There was little, though, to entertain the crowd with the only early excitement reserved for a "fan cam" scanning the stadium for a lucky Evertonian to win the prize of lunch with Martinez. It went downhill from there. Too many passes went astray and too many moves broke down before they really started in a lacklustre first 45 minutes of humdrum football. Steven Naismith was a nudge away from nodding home and Gareth Barry had a pop from 30 yards. Naismith also had an angled shot saved by Adrian.
Kevin Nolan furiously complained that he was dragged down by Barry just outside the area but referee Jon Moss refused to listen to his protests. But there wasprecious little else to report with Carroll introduced as early as the 28th minute to replace Carlton Cole and inject some urgency.
That plan did not work out either – although supporters did shuffle closer to the edge of their seats when Gerard Deulofeu got on the ball. His jinking runs were a constant menace and one mesmerising dribble through the Hammers’ massed ranks ended with a left-foot curler just wide. Everton were oh so close to taking the lead a minute after the break when Leighton Baines pulled back for Steven Pienaar who steered towards the bottom corner. But Adrian somehow got a glove to the ball, palmed on to the post and Deulofeu bundled the follow-up into the keeper’s arms.
At least Everton were now showing some pace and purpose, although West Ham hit back when Carroll let rip with a left-foot screamer which keeper Tim Howard gratefully pushed over his bar.
Nolan, too, went close but Everton stepped it up in response and Baines’ free-kick was whipped into the box for Sylvain Distin to miss the target. Carroll thought he had made the breakthrough in the 74th minute but he could not keep another blockbuster below the bar and looked to the heavens for help. The gods did smile down, though, on Everton as they finally went ahead thanks to Lukaku on his comeback after a mouth out with an ankle injury.
Baines powered into the box before drilling across for Lukaku to ram the ball home with venom.
No doubt Gareth Barry should have seen red, claims West Ham boss Sam Allardyce
March 1 2014 The London Standard
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce felt hosts Everton should have been reduced to 10 men in the opening period, before going on to end the Hammers' unbeaten run with a slender 1-0 victory at Goodison Park. Substitute Romelu Lukaku scored the winner in the closing moments as the Toffees kept the heat on fifth-placed Tottenham. But the main talking point was Gareth Barry's challenge on Kevin Nolan in the first half, when the Hammers captain looked like he would have a clear run into the penalty area . Barry appeared to haul Nolan down but match official Jon Moss did not spot an infringement, infuriating Allardyce. "There's no doubt about that in my mind," the West Ham manager said. "Gareth Barry was at the time, from my position which was behind the referee, there was no obscured view of Gareth Barry pulling Kevin Nolan down. That was a key moment."Kevin would have been perhaps scoring another goal because of the goal-scoring form he is in; he's scored four in the last five. "It looks like he (Barry) is stopping a goalscoring opportunity and a red card. I am really disappointed in that but I can't control that." Allardyce withdrew Carlton Cole on the half hour as he did not think he was getting enough from the striker and replacement Andy Carroll, who dislocated a finger at one point in the game, made a difference. "We couldn't get out of our half and Andy had to come on to get us out of our half more because Carlton's hold-up play wasn't as good as it normally is. Andy held it up more," said the Hammers boss. Of Carroll's dislocated finger, Allardyce said: "Andy didn't seem to have much trouble with the physio popping it back in for him."It made me wince but it didn't make Andy."
Martinez: West Ham winner can be Lukaku's springboard
1 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues striker put injury lay-off behind him to bag vital late winner
By Chris Beesley
Roberto Martinez is backing Everton to get the best out of Romelu Lukaku in the final three months of the season. The fit-again striker came off the bench to grab the winning goal against West Ham yesterday to take his tally this term into double figures and the Blues boss believes the sky’s the limit when it comes to the 20-year-old’s potential. He said: “It’s really important to get Romelu back for this stage of the season. You don’t want to lose players through injury but I think that break is what he needed. “At 20 this is the first season that he’s started to play 90 minutes consistently, leading the line and taking responsibility for the team. “Around January he was starting to feel a little bit tired and he was suffering through the demands of the league. Now he is fully refreshed and he is desperate to help the team and we’ll see the best from Romelu Lukaku between now and the end of the season.” Martinez added: “He can be as good as he wants. It’s clear you’re not going to find another striker around the world in terms of that power and strength and he is proving to be a very clinical finisher in front of goal. “In terms of a thinker, he can bring instructions into play – he’s got everything. “Some players at 20 have very few experiences but Romelu has already been an important player in Belgium, then he got a massive move to a Champions League-winning team and then he had to find a way to be effective in the Premier League and scoring goals.
“Then he has come to Everton and become a 90 minutes player in our league. He has the kind of experience that some players don’t get until they’re 25 years old. “I’m very impressed with how he’s developed this season and I think we’re going to see a very influential player in these last 11 games.”
After being ineligible against parent club Chelsea the previous weekend, many had expected to see Lukaku back in the Blues starting line-up but Martinez explained his decision to use the Belgian off the bench. He said: “Romelu had a bit of a chest infection and I knew that Romelu would be more effective finishing the game than starting the game. “When you play against a West Ham side and they’ve got lots of bodies behind the ball in the last 10 minutes, they become harder minutes to defend than earlier on. “Romelu with his freshness and power would be more effective for us to finish the game. I’m just glad Steven Naismith did a phenomenal job and the team are starting to get options which is good.” Martinez is also tipping a big finish to the season for his other exciting on-loan youngster, Barcelona’s Gerard Deulofeu, who made just his third Premier League start of the campaign against the Hammers. He said: “It was very difficult for Gerard. He got to a good level and got injured. Now he’s ready again. “The first 10 minutes were very demanding for him then he grew into the game. “He’s a really special footballer for us. He played 70 minutes and that’s really important for us to ensure he’s fit and strong for the rest of the season. “I was very pleased with his contribution considering how he had to suffer to get that match fitness. I think we’re going to get the reward for that between now and May.” Martinez’s opposite number Sam Allardyce felt that Everton should have been reduced to 10 men early on after Gareth Barry tangled with Kevin Nolan but referee Jonathan Moss waved the incident away and the Catalan was similarly unconvinced.
He said: “I think it is just a straight flick-on and he gets into the path of the player. There is a bit of contact, Leighton Baines is recovering and I don’t think that is an incident the referee can give as a free-kick. “Unfortunately you get situations where you’re looking for actions too much and referees do the right thing in playing on. When I was watching it live I didn’t think it was a free-kick."
Blues 1 West Ham 0: Supersub Lukaku sees off the Hammers again
March 1 2014 The Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Striker returned from injury lay-off to come off the bench and grab late winner
Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring the winner against West Ham
Romelu Luaku's second-half goal on his return from injury got Everton back to winning ways after a tense encounter with West Ham. The Blues responded to consecutive Premier League defeats with a dominant display, although the well-drilled Londoners had their moments on the counter attack at Goodison Park and limited the hosts to few clear-cut chances. Victory, however, meant Roberto Martinez's side edged back up into sixth place in the Premier League table, ahead of Manchester United who do not play this weekend. Barely three minutes had passed when Steven Naismith, who kept his place in the starting line-up ahead of Lukaku, got his first sniff at goal. Stand-in skipper Leon Osman flicked on Leighton Baines' cross and the Scot flashed a header just past the far post.
The Blues typically dominated the early possession, with some slick passing and found pockets of space behind West Ham's midfield. Gareth Barry, fresh from his latest England snub, unleashed a fierce 25 yard strike after one such fluid move. So far so good. But West Ham showed their danger on the counter when one such move broke down, and Stewart Downing blazed upfield and almost created a chance for Kevin Nolan with a low cross that had to be deflected out for a corner. Nolan is a player in form and might have had a free kick on the edge of the area when Barry appeared to shove him over as he lurked with intent. Fortunately Jon Moss waved play on, and at the other end Naismith again went close, this time forcing a save from Adrian at the near post.
Then it was Gerard Deulofeu's turn, as the youngster confidently glided past five challenges into the area, ignored the better placed James McCarthy, and still managed to curl a delicious strike inches wide. The persistent problem for Martinez's men in recent weeks has been their inability to turn their dominance into goals. So it went, as half time arrived with the game still finely poised.
Everton were playing all the eye-catching football though, and they looked to step it up a gear at the re-start. A wonderful move down the left involving Sylvain Distin led to a sharp one-two between Baines and Pienaar, and the South African's first time shot had Adrian beaten but came back off the post. In fitting with the see-saw pattern of the contest, undeterred West Ham went up the other end and forced Tim Howard into action, as he tipped Carroll's vicious 20-yard snap-shot over the bar.
Martinez wasted little time getting Lukaku on for Leon Osman, and the big Belgian began to lead the line as Naismith dropped into the hole behind him. Then Aiden McGeady was charged with trying to find a way past Allardyce's supremely well-marshalled defensive unit. With 12 minutes left time was running out, but Lukaku took his chance with aplomb when it arrived. More fine work from Baines and Pienaar resulted in a low ball across the six yard box that West Ham failed to clear, and the 20-year-old pounced to ram it home. Galvanised, he lashed another attempt over the bar from close range as the Blues remained on the front foot. A few hearts were in mouths when the Hammers won a late free kick in a dangerous area. Allardyce furiously urged his men forward and the resulting set-piece was fired at Carroll, but the Blues – led flawlessly by Distin - dealt with it.
They had earned their victory and the ground they clawed back on fifth-placed Spurs, and departed with a spring in their steps ahead of a trip to the Emirates in the FA Cup quarter final which may yet see their season re-ignited on both fronts.
Ian Doyle: TV times making fans switch off
2 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Situation suits nobody apart from television viewers
When it comes to television, knowledge truly is power.
Schedulers make their millions through being aware of who their target audience is and what those people want. Demographics is the fancy name for it. And TV executives are the prime exponents of the art. So having splashed out billions of pounds to show live football, you’d have thought there would be one group of people both Sky and BT would want to keep onside.
The ones who hand over their hard-earned on a monthly basis to watch their favourite sport. Football supporters. Yet whoever decides where and when live football is shown seems to be doing their best to wind up the average match-going fan. How else to explain the reasoning behind the latest raft of Premier League broadcasts? At last viewing, Southampton was a long way away from Merseyside. Yet that hasn’t prevented the schedulers from asking any Everton FC supporters who wants to attend the game to traipse down on a Saturday morning for a 12.45pm kick-off.
Then there’s one of Sky’s new-fangled triple headers on April 20, featuring Manchester United manager David Moyes’s first return to Everton and Liverpool FC’s trip to Norwich City.
There are 35 miles between Goodison and Old Trafford. There are 256 miles between Carrow Road and Anfield. No prizes for guessing which one kicks off at noon, then. Obviously, Sky will argue that on a Sunday it is perhaps better to be home earlier than have the luxury of not having to set out for East Anglia at about 5am in the morning. But the situation suits nobody apart from the television.
Elsewhere, Cardiff fans must travel all the way up to Sunderland for a noon Sunday kick-off while Newcastle are at Arsenal on a Monday night. The riches from television revenue have helped turn the Premier League into football’s most successful football brand.
Everybody accepts the days of regular 3pm Saturday matches have long gone. But there will come a point when enough is enough. When fans fall out of love with the game, so the Sky and BT subscriptions start being cancelled. And with supporters railing against increasingly eye-watering ticket prices, the days of packed grounds, let alone huge travelling followers, are in genuine danger of coming to an end. There are few more jarring, uglier sights in a televised game than swathes and swathes of empty seats. The all-knowing TV companies acknowledge this.
So it’s about time they started wielding that supposed power for the long-term good of the game – and themselves.
Blues eye Capital gain
Everton FC fans will be forgiven for reaching for their Oasis albums and affecting a Mancunian drawl for a few hours this afternoon. Victory for Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final would free up a European qualification berth in the Premier League. At present, only fifth place is enough for a Europa League spot. But if City, who are certain to qualify for the Champions League, beat Sunderland at Wembley today, sixth place will then become available.
Of course, the FA Cup remains a route to Europe for the Blues.
But the more roads that lead there, the better.
Striker light is not right
With each week, so the failure to buy a new striker in January returns to haunt Everton. And, much like last season, the fear among Blues fans is they will once again miss out on Europe.
The news Lacina Traore could soon be sent back to Monaco because of his hamstring injury was met with a certain sense of inevitability from the Goodison faithful.
Traore was always a gamble.
But the real risk was in allowing Nikica Jelavic depart without having lined up a permanent replacement. The money for the Croat was too good to turn down. But that doesn’t make it any more annoying that Jelavic – again, with a certain sense of inevitability – has been knocking in the goals for Hull. Whether Everton’s season can ultimately be decreed a success will most likely now fall on their ability to have Romelu Lukaku fit and firing again. Sure, Roberto Martinez will – well, should – have money to spend in the summer. But if the Blues aren’t in Europe, it makes them a lot less attractive.
Lee Carsley: Super subs like Lukaku can play their part in grandstand finish to Everton’s season
2 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
Strength in depth that we now have in squad which was shown by the kind of options we had with our substitutes
Yesterday was a massive three points for Everton FC – we just needed to win.
We’ve had a couple of setbacks of late but it was crucial that we did the business against an in-form West Ham side and we had to show patience to do it. What was particularly pleasing for me was the strength in depth that we now have in the squad which was shown by the kind of options we had with our substitutes. I can’t remember seeing an Everton bench with that amount of quality on it for a Premier League game but it displays just what kind of talent Roberto Martinez has at his disposal now. People might have looked at the Blues team sheet yesterday and wondered why Romelu Lukaku wasn’t starting but Roberto Martinez works with these players all week and he knows what he’s going to get out of them.
There’s no point trying to get an average 90 minutes out of someone when they might give you an effective 30 minutes and that was just the case with Lukaku.
He looked hungry when he came on and hopefully he can have that fire in his belly for the rest of the season. You’ve got to remember that he’s still a young lad who needs to keep learning.
It’s a big thing being first choice centre-forward at a club like Everton as opposed to being at West Brom. It’s important that both he and the rest of his Blues team-mates can now go on a bit of a run for the rest of the season.
Big Stepping Stones for young defender
The FA Cup quarter-final at Arsenal next weekend is obviously huge for us so it’s great to keep a clean sheet going into that game. Given his hamstring injury we might have to go to the Emirates without our captain Phil Jagielka which would be a massive loss. Jags has been struggling with a few niggles for a while but it’s testament to his attitude as skipper that he’s played through those knocks for the good of the team – but sometimes there comes a point where you’ve got to be sensible about these things. Young John Stones came in against West Ham and with the experienced Sylvain Distin alongside him to help, he came through the match unscathed.
There’s more responsibility on young players like Stones when they’re in central defence but he hardly put a foot wrong.
It’s the same with all these young players we’ve got and Ross Barkley is just the same.
They’ve come through under Alan Stubbs and have been schooled well.
Fans mark my big day with jokes
For those of you not aware, it’s been a big week for me as I’ve turned 40.
I’ve done all the usual stuff like going out for a nice meal with the family but it’s been great to receive literally hundreds of messages – many of them from Evertonians – on Twitter, remarking on me reaching the big 4-0. There’s been plenty of sarcastic remarks like “Hey you’re 40 – you’re going to start losing your hair now!” Yeah, well done mate, the ones who have come up with that.Seriously though, it’s great to be remembered by all the fans. There are many sayings out there along the lines of ‘once a blue, always a blue’ and ‘once Everton has touched you...’ etc but they’re true. We are a special club and we look after our own. Apart from my birthday, another major talking point has been Alan Pardew’s headbutt of Hull’s David Meyler. He got sent off for it but to be fair I just thought the two of them went head to head.
You’ve got to remember the kind of pressure these managers are under – I’ve been there.
Sometimes you want to take things into your own hands but obviously you can’t.
Alan came out straight away and spoke about it. He was honest and admitted he’d got carried away and made a mistake.
Nice to see Li Tie
It was nice to see my old team-mate Li Tie back at Goodison yesterday.
I played alongside him in the Everton midfield and despite the language difficulties he and his fellow Chinese international Li Weifeng had, they were both great lads. Li Tie was very popular and could have gone on and become a terrific player for the Blues. It was such a shame he picked up a serious injury.
Negative West Ham deserved to lose to Everton
March 2 2014 London24
Hammers blogger says that West Ham got what they deserved at Goodison Park
It had to come an end sooner or later didn’t it? The glorious winning run is over.
The performance at Goodison wasn’t an inspiring one and in the end Big Sam’s gang got exactly what they deserved for a very negative performance. It was clear Sam ventured up to the blue half of Merseyside to contain Everton and sneak a 0-0 and for 80 odd minutes it was working a treat as the Hammers dealt very comfortably with the majority of Everton’s attacks. However just as at Upton Park in the first fixture contested between the two clubs this season; it was the introduction of Romelu Lukaku that swung the game in Everton’s favour. The performance at Goodison was good from a defensive point of view; apart from Lukaku’s winner Everton rarely looked like scoring, but from an attacking standpoint the Hammers were woeful. Over hit/under hit crosses were the order of the day from Messrs Downing and Jarvis and whether it was Carlton Cole or Andy Carroll leading the line; the service from our wide men was truly woeful. Ball retention in general was extremely poor from the away side. When you’re on a winning run, it’s very difficult to make changes to the side, ‘never change a winning team’ is a cliché doled out by managers the length and breadth of the country; the trouble with this stance is that you cannot make a change until you lose.
Now that we have lost I hope Sam gives a chance to the likes of Pablo Armero and Antonio Nocerino as they’re players who can definitely add some verve, guile and quality to the team.
We’re seven points clear of the drop zone with 10 games to go; a position that seemed unlikely at the start of the year when we were losing limply at Craven Cottage. We still need a couple of wins to be sure but it’s very hard to see us falling back into trouble from this position.
The frustrating thing is that with the Hull game being postponed we now have no game for two weeks; so this result and performance will fester with the squad up until a tricky looking fixture at the Britannia on March 15. I’m confident we’ll see an improved performance at Stoke; big Sam seems to sit back against certain teams away from home and take the game to others...Stoke will definitely fall into that latter camp, so here’s hoping we get back to winning ways in the Potteries.
Everton 1 West Ham 0 match report: Lukaku heals Blues pain
3 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’keefe
Striker back to provide perfect Goodison tonic
It was perhaps fitting that Romelu Lukaku was the one to provide pain relief for Everton .
After being left dazed and confused by West Ham earlier in the season, the burly Belgian striker found the cure for their headache with one sweep of his left foot. Everton had been the nearly men in recent weeks, making-do without the services of a recognised striker and finding themselves falling off the pace in the hunt for the Champions League. But as he did at Upton Park in September, the on-loan forward came off the bench to breathe new life into a side which was dominating as usual but struggling to find the all-important cutting edge. Lukaku broke Hammers’ hearts in the capital and did it again on Saturday as he converted Leighton Baines’ cross to hand the Blues a perfectly-timed boost. And this time he’ll even remember his crucial intervention. These had been trying weeks in the formative reign of Roberto Martinez . The calculated risk to sell Nikica Jelavic and replace him with an injured Lacina Traore had been compounded by the Ivorian’s fresh hamstring concerns. Fortune had not been smiling on the Toffees recently, but maybe that’s about to change.
If fit-again Lukaku can effectively begin again and turn the clock back to September when he started his Everton career like a man possessed, it could prove the difference in turning a thoroughly decent season into a good one. The goal he smashed past West Ham keeper Adrian took him belatedly to double figures, but cast your mind back to the autumn and it seemed like Lukaku was on course to reach that milestone far earlier. The talk was about how Martinez had found something Goodison has not witnessed for too long – a 20-goal-a-season striker. In a Premier League when the really top sides are winning games and winning them with floods of goals, it seemed back then like Everton had the potential to do likewise. That reckoned without the slump in form and subsequent fitful displays of the young Chelsea loanee, who had been struggling to make an impact for some time before he suffered that costly injury in the Anfield derby. But Lukaku made the difference on Saturday. A point just would not have been enough from this contest, regardless of how well-drilled Sam Aallardyce’s side were Victory was crucial to keep the Toffees within range of fifth-placed Tottenham, and perhaps even keep the race for fourth a barely conceivable possibility, even if it’s an unlikely one. More importantly it sends Martinez’s men down to the capital for the FA Cup quarter final tie which could define their season so far with their tails-up, and the belief that they can rediscover the form which even briefly had them discussed as potential title contenders in early December. Typically they had dominated proceedings against West Ham. The possession statistics as ever suggested comfortable control of the game, but when it counted they lacked punch in the final third. It came as a surprise to nobody who has watched Everton lately, and the lingering fear began to bubble under that they would be crushed again by a late set-piece from a team which specialises in them. Then Martinez brought on a striker, a real striker who is comfortable in the number nine role, and those worries dissolved. The Catalan knows full well the difference it could make if Lukaku can end the campaign on a high. “He is refreshed and desperate to help the team,” he said afterwards. “He has accumulated the experience of being so effective with us already this season and now he is fully refreshed for the last 10 weeks of the season. “Romelu is somebody we’ve missed for a long time and he pops up with a clinical touch. “It is important to have him back now. You don’t want to lose players through injury, but I think in a strange way it is what he needed. “This is the first season he has played 90 minutes consistently in the Premier League, leading the line and taking responsibility for the team. I felt in January that he was starting to feel tired and suffering from the demands of this league.” In the long-term it remains debatable whether a player who is unable to complete a full season is worth the £20m it may take to prise him from Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku is likely to become a truly world-class centre forward one day, but the jury is out on whether he is what Everton should splurge a club record fee on. Those doubts will certainly be eased if he starts dominating defenders and imposing himself on games like he hinted at previously.
For such a big, powerful forward Lukaku needs to stop drifting out to the flanks too often leaving the space where a number nine should be unoccupied, and appearing reluctant to take contact from centre backs. He has all the main attributes at his disposal, and if he is as galvanised and ready to start using them as Martinez senses, the goals may yet start to flow again for the Toffees. It wasn’t just in attack where there is hope Everton are ready to click again. Leighton Baines produced a compelling performance, at times swaggering in his Samba-style link-up with Steven Pienaar. There was an over-due assist too, which suggests the influential left-back is ready to become the dynamic force everyone knows he can be again. With their heads clear at last Everton seem ready to shrug-off their mini-malaise. Roll on the Emirates.
‘Phenomenal’ Baines one of best in Europe, says Martinez
3 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Assist from West Ham was left-back's first assist of season but boss believes Kirkby-born defender will finish season strongly This time last season Leighton Baines had created more goalscoring opportunities than any other player in Europe. On Saturday against West Ham the Everton left-back was credited with his first assist of the season. But boss Roberto Martinez believes the man now established as England’s premier left-back is about to enjoy a ‘phenomenal’ end to the campaign.
Baines enjoyed an outstanding afternoon against the Hammers, the 81st-minute cross converted by Romelu Lukaku just one of a stream of chances he supplied. Martinez enthused: “As a left-back I have always said he is one of the best in European football. “When the season gets tighter and the margins are smaller because players are getting physically tired, I think he has that extra margin because he is such a strong player. “He has had a little interruption but I think Leighton can have a phenomenal end to the campaign.” The Blues boss admitted the transfer speculation earlier in the campaign was a distracting influence, but having signed a new long-term contract that the 29-year-old was ready to sparkle again. “I think we have seen Leighton having a lot of influential performances – Swansea at home, even the FA Cup,” added Martinez. “It’s been a difficult season for him because of the transfer speculation at the beginning of the season. “It does not matter how experienced you are that will affect you. I think Leighton now is performing as good as I’ve seen this season. “His partnership with Pienaar is as good as you will see in the league. It was good to see the assist but he has been effective in many other ways.”
Lukaku keeps Blues' bid for top four spot alive with late goal
3 Mar 2014 Liverpool Post
By Neil Jones
Belgian's strike sinks West Ham and secures vital three points at Goodison
Super-sub strikes again. And this time, Romelu Lukaku will remember his match-winning intervention. For the second time this season, the Belgian emerged from the bench to sink West Ham United. For Upton Park in September, read Goodison in March, only without the concussion.
After back-to-back defeats on the road, the Blues found comfort at home. Hardly a vintage performance by any means, but an important three points. With a big FA Cup tie at Arsenal on the horizon, this victory keeps the Toffees’ Premier League campaign alive. Lukaku, again, proved the difference between success and failure. The 20-year-old had missed his side’s previous four games with an ankle injury, but his introduction on the hour mark here turned a tight game in Everton’s favour. When the decisive blow came, nine minutes from time, it was he who struck it. “We have missed him,” said Roberto Martinez afterwards. “It was a clinical touch.” A clinical touch, and one which an error-strewn contest scarcely deserved. The highlights package for this one will not have taken long to put together. For an hour, it seemed as though Everton would again pay the price for a lack of cutting edge in the final third. Steven Naismith, deployed again as the lone striker, was one of their better performers, but offered little by way of a threat. Goodison, quiet throughout, was beginning to creep towards restlessness. Indeed, at that point it was West Ham who were looking the more dangerous, with Andy Carroll showing the value of a true, genuine No 9. Lukaku, though, changed things. He unsettled James Collins and James Tomkins with his physicality, and pushed the visitors’ defence back with his pace and running power. And when Leighton Baines’ cross fell to his left foot in the dying minutes, he finished with aplomb. The strike takes him to double figures for the season. How Everton need him. It is no coincidence that their recent dip in form came with Lukaku sidelined. The on-loan Chelsea man may still be raw, he may still be flawed, but there are few like him around. If Everton are to finish the season successfully, in both league and cup, then Lukaku will be key. He had started on the bench here, having suffered with a chest infection during the week. More surprising, perhaps, was Martinez’s decision to rest Kevin Mirallas for the first time this season, with Gerard Deulofeu preferred on the right of midfield. John Stones deputised for injured skipper Phil Jagielka, and did so in accomplished fashion. The pattern was set early, Everton dominating the ball without creating too much of note. Naismith was unable to get a telling touch after Leon Osman had flicked on a Baines cross, while Gareth Barry drilled a speculative 25-yarder wide, but their threat was limited. Indeed, they were indebted to a terrific recovery challenge by Deulofeu, which prevented Stewart Downing’s pass reaching Kevin Nolan on the counter, and to the leniency of referee Jon Moss, who turned a blind eye when Barry pulled back Nolan as he looked to nip in on goal soon after. On another day, Barry might have been in trouble. Naismith drew a save from Adrian, the West Ham ‘keeper, with a snap shot to the near post on 21 minutes, whilst the Hammers replaced Carlton Cole with Carroll before the half-hour mark. Cole, who wasn’t injured, looked nonplussed as he left the field, though Carroll would prove a far more effective target man thereafter. Deulofeu, eager to impress, curled a decent effort inches wide six minutes before the break, though James McCarthy was irked that the Spaniard had failed to release a simple pass in the build-up. It was a common theme with Deulofeu’s performance, though on this occasion he was justified in going for goal himself. Everton had enjoyed more than 80% possession throughout the first half, with Barry alone completing only five fewer passes than the entire West Ham team. The home side’s dominance, though, was largely sterile. After the break Adrian produced a fine fingertip save to turn Steven Pienaar’s effort onto a post, after some typically incisive play between the South African and Baines down the left. Pienaar then had a penalty appeal waved away – correctly – as he tumbled under Downing’s challenge. Carroll forced a rare save from Tim Howard with a piledriver on 54 minutes, and Nolan saw a shot deflected wide moments later. Martinez responded by replacing Osman with Lukaku, but there was little initial impact. Sylvain Distin couldn’t manage a decent connection with a terrific Baines free kick, while Carroll sent another powerful strike into the Park End after Nolan’s knock down. At that point, the game was in danger of petering out into the most forgettable of stalemates, but there was a sting in the tail in the final 10 minutes.
After West Ham had for once failed to clear their lines, Baines was able to work his way into the box and send a low ball across for Lukaku, who steered a calm finish through two sliding defenders and past Adrian from 14 yards.
It sent a wave of relief around Goodison, and indeed Everton could have finished with a further floursh. Lukaku volleyed over, while Ross Barkley, another substitute, struck a long-ranger wide in stoppage time. In truth, that would have put an unfair gloss on the scoreline. Everton have played better, far better, this season, but victory here was vital. It reverses the downward momentum, and sends them to Arsenal next weekend with confidence restored. And with Lukaku back and firing, they will surely fancy their chances. It could yet be a glorious season at Goodison.
Arsenal boss only has eyes on Everton after Stoke loss
Monday, March 3, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is aware of the importance Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Everton.
The Gunners have not won a trophy since the 2004/05 FA Cup and Wenger is in no doubt as to the importance of the encounter with the Toffees, but he dismissed the idea that the Stoke loss had made it any more vital. He said: “The FA Cup game is important because it is our next game, but you do not fight the whole way and throw the championship away just because you want to play the FA Cup. “Stoke was a big game. We have fought since the beginning of the season to be in that position, and of course it was a big game.”
Steven Naismith: 'We need to learn to be more patient'
3 Mar 2014 Daily Post
Blues' Scottish forward says controlling the game key to securing more home wins
Forward Steven Naismith believes learning to play a waiting game is something Everton still need to improve on but a return to winning ways against West Ham proves it is a strategy which works.
Substitute Romelu Lukaku returned from a month-long absence to score the only goal nine minutes from time. Up to that point the Toffees, who have been beaten just once in 22 league matches at home, had created little in the way of genuine chances. But they kept to the principles instilled in them by manager Roberto Martinez and the winner came from a good move down their left.
“We need to learn to get better at being patient at home,” said the Scotland international.
“It is about controlling the game and not feeling you need to go more direct and we showed that.
“As long as you get the goal that puts you in front you are going to be happy. “We worked hard, kept plugging away and had a few chances but as the game went on the chances became more frequent and big Rom stuck one away. “It is about being patient and waiting for the right opportunity because you can snatch at shots as the clock ticks down. “This is just another example that it does work. If you play the game in the right manner the chances will come along. “We had a couple of disappointing away results (at Tottenham and Chelsea) after good performances so it was always important to win yesterday. “It was big and we knew that coming into the game.” The win moved Everton to within nine points of fourth-placed Manchester City, who have a match in hand.Martinez has still not ruled out the prospect of Champions League football, although three defeats and a draw in their previous five league matches did much damage in allowing their top-four rivals to open up a significant gap. “We want to win every game. If we can win every game, why not?” said the Toffees boss on qualifying for the Champions League. “There are 33 points to play for. In football it is not that straightforward. “This league has many twists and turns. All we want is to be as good as we can.” With Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu both returning to fitness Everton just need captain Phil Jagielka to recover from a hamstring injury and they should have their strongest squad – long-term injuries to Arouna Kone, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo and the uncertainty over loan signing Lacina Traore’s own hamstring problem notwithstanding – available for the remainder of the campaign. The bench against West Ham had Lukaku, Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Aiden McGeady on it, giving Martinez a number of attacking options. Lukaku’s introduction and subsequent match-turning contribution shows what can be done when the manager uses such positive alternatives. “Throughout the season, with the subs as well, the manager has shown he will go for it and Romelu gave us more presence in the box,” said Naismith. “He is a big player and his goals have been vital for this season. “It is good to see and shows the strength in numbers we have got here. “Gerard is back in after a long time out, Aiden has joined in January so there is a very healthy competition for places and that can only benefit us going to the end of the season.
“We have just got to go into each game and get the points and when it comes down to the last five or six games we’ll have a look if we are there or thereabouts. “It was important we just keep ticking along and getting the wins.” West Ham boss Sam Allardyce put the ending of his side’s four-match winning streak down to failings in attack. “We won the last four games by two clear goals because our final-third play was so much better,” he said. “When we got down there we just didn’t find the right ball sadly.”
Everton 1 West Ham 0: Five things we learned
3 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Trigg
Check out the five things we learned from the Blues’ narrow victory over the Hammers
Romelu Lukaku is still the main man
Welcome back, Rom. It wasn’t quite the same without you. The big Belgian showed Everton fans what they have been missing when he came off the bench to fire home the game’s 81st-minute winner. Others led the line in his absence, but there is no player on the Blues' books quite like Lukaku. Blues boss Roberto Martinez says he is ‘irreplaceable’. He even managed to squeeze in a comparison with the great Lionel Messi. “There are certain players in certain squads that can’t be replaced,” said Martinez. “Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world but when they have not got Messi the team suffers.” Lukaku was on the pitch for 31 minutes. The Opta stats show he made only 11 passes, at an accuracy rate of 63.6%, and won only 25% of his aerial duels. But the only stat that matters is under the ‘goals’ column. Lukaku (1). Game won.
John Stones is a more than able defensive deputy
With Phil Jagielka nursing a hamstring injury, it was down to Stones to pair up with Sylvain Distin at the heart of Everton’s defence. The young Englishman excelled. Hammers striker Carlton Cole lasted just 29 minutes up against Stones and Distin. “I just felt he wasn’t holding the ball up,” moaned West Ham boss Sam Allardyce. Enter Andy Carroll from the sub’ bench... But he also got no change from Stones, who won 71.4% of his aerial duels on the day. The versatile defender shows a maturity beyond his 19 years. Blues boss Roberto Martinez acknowledged the former Barnsley man’s contribution after the final whistle. “If you want to find the hardest test for a centre-half, it’s playing away at the Britannia Stadium. The next one is when you face West Ham,” he said. “I thought he (Stones) was terrific. His decisions, his distribution, the way he was commanding, his partnership with Sylvain Distin - it was all terrific.” The future of the Blues’ defence looks in safe hands.
Roberto Martinez loves a super sub
Time and time again, the Blues boss has made inspired substitutions - and he was at it again on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku is a useful ace to have up your sleeve. Returning to the squad after a month out, the on-loan Chelsea man was kept on the bench before being unleashed on a tiring Hammers defence for the final 30 minutes. The stage was set for Lukaku, who duly pounced late on to earn a priceless win for Everton. Martinez’s tactical changes have won matches for the Blues all season and it was a knack he displayed from his earliest games as manager.
Back in September, Lukaku came on for the second half at Upton Park inspired Everton to a 3-2 success. In October, Steven Pienaar came off the bench and scored the winner just 27 seconds after entering the fray. In the very next game, the introduction of Leon Osman at Aston Villa was pivotal as he set up the first and scored the second in a 2-0 success. Martinez has masterminded plenty of other turnarounds, with another recent example coming in the FA Cup tie against Swansea City when Steven Naismith kick-started the Blues and helped secure them a place in the quarter-finals.
Martinez, it seems, is a man with the Midas touch.
The Baines-Pienaar partnership is firing again
They were THE chief source of scoring chances under David Moyes, but have not been quite as prominent under Roberto Martinez. The Everton boss likes his teams to attack from all areas of the pitch - so the workload is shared more evenly. Despite not making so many headlines for the Blues under Martinez, the Baines-Pienaar pairing was back in the old groove on Saturday, combining superbly for Lukaku’s winner. Leighton Baines was credited with his first assist of the season - a staggering statistic when you consider that, this time last year, the left-back was credited with creating more goalscoring opportunities than any player in Europe. “I think Leighton now is performing as good as I’ve seen this season,” said Martinez. “His partnership with Pienaar is as good as you will see in the league.” Great news for Evertonians everywhere.
The Blues like to leave it late
It used to be Manchester United, but now Everton are the Premier League’s late show kings.
When Romelu Lukaku struck to sink the Hammers, it was the 12th time the Blues have scored in the final 10 minutes this season. Those late strikes garnered 11 points - the difference between 10th spot and sixth.
Snods: Blues can make FA Cup semi-finals
3 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
In his ECHO column, Snods says the semi-finals are more than achievable for Roberto Martinez's men
Everton legend Ian Snodin believes the Blues are capable of beating Arsenal and making the FA Cup semi-finals. Roberto Martinez's side travel to north London hoping to reach their third FA Cup semi-final in five years. In his ECHO column, Snods says: “I [also] know that Everton are capable of going to The Emirates and getting a result. “That’s not the heart ruling the head, I genuinely believe the Blues can come back from London in the draw for the semi-finals.” Everton managed a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in December – and were the better side for large periods. “We went down there in December when Arsenal were playing some of their best football of the season – and comprehensively outplayed them,” he adds. “And they have a Champions League second leg a few days after Saturday’s Cup tie which may just distract them a little.”
EFC analysis: How Roberto Martinez's substitutions have inspired Everton this season
4 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Blues boss introduced a goalscoring sub for a remarkable TENTH time on Saturday
Roberto Martinez confirmed his status as the Premier League’s great game changer on Saturday.
The Blues boss introduced a goalscoring substitute for a remarkable TENTH time this season – and the second time Romelu Lukaku has been brought off the bench against West Ham to swing the match his side’s way.
Here are Martinez’s benchmark master-strokes – and one which didn’t go his way.
Everton 2 Stevenage 1
Score at time of change: 1
Everton were struggling to break down League One Stevenage Borough in a frustrating Capital One Cup tie at Goodison Park, when Roberto Martinez replaced Ross Barkley with Marouane Fellaini in the last minute of normal time.
Twenty-five minutes later the big Belgian scored a matchwinning – and farewell – goal for the Blues.
West Ham 2 Everton 3
Score at time of change: 1-0
With Everton trailing to Ravel Morrison’s first half goal, the Blues boss made two significant half-time changes.
James McCarthy immediately gave Everton more control and direction in midfield, while Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal for the club just 20 minutes after coming on.
Everton 2 Hull City 1
Score at time of change: 1-1
Even Roberto Martinez couldn’t have anticipated a switch to produce such instant results when he called on Steven Pienaar in the 56th minute against Hull City.
Everton were being held 1-1 when Pienaar scored with his first touch, just seconds after running on.
Aston Villa 0 Everton 2
Score at time of change: 0-0
The Blues were struggling at Villa Park and clinging onto a point only courtesy of Tim Howard’s stunning penalty save.
Then Leon Osman came on after an hour, created a goal for Lukaku and scored a second himself. Game, switch, match.
Arsenal 1 Everton 1
Score at time of change: 1-0
Another instant impact sub by Martinez.
The Blues had just gone a goal down to the Gunners when Gerard Deulofeu was introduced – but the Spaniard took just five minutes to draw the match level with his first goal in the Premier League.
Everton 4 Fulham 1
Score at time of change: 1-0
The Blues were pegged back by Fulham soon after Kevin Mirallas was introduced as a 64th-minute substitute, but the Belgian went on to have a significant impact on proceedings.
Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley gave Everton a healthy lead, then Mirallas wrapped up the points with a goal in the final minute.
Stevenage 0 Everton 4
Score at time of change: 0-3
Not a switch which meant that much, with Everton already leading 3-0 when Magaye Gueye was brought on for Kevin Mirallas.
But just three minutes later the Frenchman was celebrating his first goal of the season.
Everton 2 Aston Villa 1
Score at time of change: 0-1
One of Martinez’s most masterful switches. The Blues trailed to Bacuna’s first half goal and, just days after the Anfield derby demolition, were staring at demoralising back to back defeats.
But Steven Naismith scored just four minutes after coming on – then Kevin Mirallas fired an 85th-minute free-kick to swing the match on its head.
Everton 3 Swansea 1
Score at time of change: 1-1
Everton were looking at a tricky replay in South Wales, or worse, before Martinez shook things up with a double substitution – introducing Leon Osman and Steven Naismith.
Naismith scored four minutes after coming on and won a penalty, while Osman had a significant impact in midfield as Everton earned an FA Cup quarter-final place.
Everton 1 West Ham 0
Score at time of change: 0-0
The Blues were struggling to break through the Hammers’ well organised rearguard when Martinez asked Romelu Lukaku to repeat his supersub antics from earlier in the season against Sam Allardyce’s men.
He did just that with the latest substitution to bear fruit.
Osman made the difference at Stoke
It isn't just goalscoring substitutes who have influenced Everton’s season significantly.
Leon Osman didn’t score at Stoke on New Year’s Day, but it was his introduction after 72 minutes with Everton trailing which turned the match.
He immediately started to knit the Blues play together – and was fouled in the final minute for Leighton Baines’ point-saving penalty.
Then earlier in the season, with Everton trailing a mental Mersey derby and about to lose influential Leighton Baines to injury, Martinez ignored the claims of defenders John Stones and Johnny Heitinga, introduced young forward Gerard Deulofeu – and opened up a game which half an hour later Everton led!
Of course it doesn’t always work out.
At White Hart Lane last month Everton introduced Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Aidan McGeady – and looked worse. But more often than not, Martinez has proved himself to be the super-subber!
Ian Snodin: Blues can relive magic of the Cup
4 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
"I genuinely believe the Blues can come back from London in the draw for the semi-finals"
I have always believed that the FA Cup is a magical competition. And I have always believed that Everton have a special affinity with ‘the’ Cup. As a result I can’t wait for this weekend’s quarter-final at Arsenal. I won’t be travelling down to London, I’ll be working in the tower – but I know I’ll be as nervous as anything – and I also know that Everton are capable of going to The Emirates and getting a result. That’s not the heart ruling the head, I genuinely believe the Blues can come back from London in the draw for the semi-finals. Yes, I know Everton haven’t won at Arsenal for nearly 20 years. And I know Arsenal are above us in the table and playing at home. But I genuinely believe we can go there and win. Arsenal have lost momentum in recent weeks and were beaten at Stoke on Saturday. We went down there in December when Arsenal were playing some of their best football of the season – and comprehensively outplayed them. And they have a Champions League second leg a few days after Saturday’s Cup tie which may just distract them a little. Plus, of course, we will have thousands of fans inside the stadium doing their best to inspire the Everton players and make it feel like more of a home match than an away game. Of course there should have been another three or four thousand more travelling fans inside the Emirates – something I’ve written about before – but the supporters who do get in will certainly make their presence known. People says the FA Cup has lost some of its sparkle since the days when we’d sit in front of the TV from 9 o’clock in the morning watching the build-up. But it still means a huge amount to football fans – and certainly Evertonians. I’m not a fan of semi-finals being staged at Wembley, but my lads went down there for the semi-final against Manchester United in 2009 and described it as one of the best experiences of their lives. The atmosphere, the occasion, the manner in which Everton won on penalties all contributed to an incredible spectacle – and we can be part of something like that again if we can overcome The Gunners on Saturday. I believe we can, especially now that Romelu Lukaku is back off the treatment table and scoring goals again. Arsenal are definitely fearful of big, powerful centre-forwards and that’s exactly what Lukaku is. I have no doubt that he will start on Saturday and he will be ready and raring to have a real go. Everton can beat the Gunners on Saturday and get to Wembley. Trust me!
Traore out for two months but staying with the Blues
4 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
Ivorian striker can play part in hectic run-in
Lacina Traore is likely to be sidelined for two months but will remain at Everton in the hope he can play a role during the last few weeks of the season. The on-loan striker suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury before the Blues defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 10 days ago.
It had been feared he would require surgery and Roberto Martinez was ready to terminate the 23-year-old's loan and send him back to Monaco if that was the case. But further review of his complaint and talks with the French outfit's medical staff confirmed he can still figure for the Toffees this campaign. And with the chance Martinez's men, who are still in the FA Cup and have a game in hand in the league, will have a hectic run-in to the season, it is believed that retaining the Ivorian's service could be worthwhile. Martinez said: "He should be back in the next seven to eight weeks so it's not the end of Lacina at Everton. "We're excited about that and he's delighted. He was in the dressing room devastated at Stamford Bridge after the warm-up. "Now he wants to show he's ready to help the team and if he can participate in the last two or three weeks of the season it will be a major bonus."
Postponed Newcastle-Everton game rearranged
March 4 2014
The Shield Gazette
NEWCASTLE United’s postponed Premier League game against Everton has been rearranged.
The fixture, postponed because of Everton’s involvement in the FA Cup this weekend, will be played on Tuesday, March 25 (7.45pm kick-off).
Newcastle were beaten 3-2 at Goodison Park by Roberto Martinez’s side earlier this season.
Sixth-placed Everton are five points ahead of United in the table.
Teenage kicks: the teen sensations in Blues history
4 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
After John Stones was praised by Roberto Martinez, the ECHO looks at some more teenagers who made a big impact at Goodison Park
John Stones, at the age of 19, did something on Saturday that defenders far more senior have failed to in the past – keep both Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll quiet. Roberto Martinez was full of praise for the Barnsley-born defender, although it should have come as little surprise – Stones was also excellent at centre-back against Stoke on New Year's Day, a team whose skill-set is similar to West Ham United's. “He showed that we have a future England international at senior level and someone with an immense, immense career,” said Martinez. Promising teenagers at Goodison Park is no rarity. Of the 10 youngest Premier League goalscorers, three of them achieved the feat at the Blues, including the youngest of them all, James Vaughan. The club have also given debuts to seven 16-year-olds – with Jose Baxter the youngest, starting against West Brom in August 2008 aged 16 years and 198 days. Here are four more teenage sensations for the Blues.
It can be forgotten amidst his 388 goals for the club that the Blues paid £3000 to Tranmere when Dixie Dean was 18. Six months later, still an 18-year-old, Dean scored two hat-tricks in the space of a week against Burnley and Leeds. He ended the season with 32 goals, but suffered a motorcycle accident that summer which doctors feared could end his life, let alone his career. Dean's skull and jaw were fractured, but it did not stop him from heading the ball with trademark ferocity. Such was his popularity amongst Evertonians, 30,000 turned out to watch his return for the reserves. Some going for someone not yet 20. Dean would go on to become one of English football's greatest strikers.
Joe Royle became the club's youngest player to play for the club (at the time) aged 16 years, nine months – but his debut was met with discontent after the 2-0 defeat to Blackpool.
But after time in the reserves, Royle was called back up to the first-team, and scored three goals in four games at the end of the 1966/67 season. Aged 18, Royle was handed the number nine shirt at the start of the following season. He would go on to score 20 goals in just 41 appearances, firing the Blues into the FA Cup final, which they would lose after extra-time to West Bromwich Albion.
Royle would enjoy a good career at Everton, both as player and manager - winning the FA Cup as manager in 1995.
Not many teenagers have a Merseyside derby remembered for their contribution, but Danny Cadamateri – and 'the Cadamateri derby' – will always be fondly remembered by Blues.
The dreadlocked kid who had defences in a tangle, Cadamateri had the world at his feet. It was when the ball was at his feet that excited most -and he excited straight away on his debut, at home to Chelsea, aged 17. But it was against Liverpool where he truly exploded onto the scene, not a week after his 18 birthday, causing havoc amongst the Reds defence with his direct running.
He would score the second of a 2-0 win, dispossessing Bjorn Tore Kvarme before slotting past David James. But Cadamateri would never recapture the buzz of his teenage days and now plays for League One side Carlisle United.
Such is our inclination to remember goals and strikers better than others, it is testament to central midfielder Jack Rodwell that he is remembered so fondly. Even before he became the Blues' youngest player to play in European competition, aged 16 years and 284 days, against AZ Alkmaar, Rodwell was spoken of as the club's next big hope. He did not explode onto the scene in the same manner as his striking ancestors, but that was not his game; he was a midfielder, previously a defender, of a more refined style. That David Moyes included him in the Blues' opening day fixture against Blackburn in August 2008, aged 18, shows how highly he was regarded. That the result ended in a 3-2 win for Blackburn was no reflection on him. There were goals, too, if not many. It was a goal against Manchester United in February 2010 that gave him nationwide recognition, but the talented teen had been known about for years at Goodison Park.
The spotlight brought him a move to Manchester City in 2012.
Gerard Deulofeu wants to return to Barcelona at the end of the season
5 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
"My dream is to find a place in the Barcelona attacking line-up and to do that I am progressing in the Premier League" Gerrard Deulofeu has revealed that he wants to return to Barcelona at the end of the season. The 19-year-old joined Everton on a season-long loan from the La Liga champions last summer, and the prospect of him remaining on Merseyside for another season has been discussed.
But Deulofeu, who has scored twice in 15 Premier League appearances this season, is keen to go back to his parent club and cement a place in their starting line-up. “I am working every day to get back to Barcelona next season,” he told Catalunya Radio. “I watch all their matches and believe that they are having a good season. “My dream is to find a place in the Barcelona attacking line-up and to do that I am progressing in the Premier League. “I accepted the challenge last summer and I am happy with my decision. Now I am more mature as a person and as a footballer. “Perhaps people at Barcelona do not have confidence in me, but that is normal. “I am a young player and normally the coaches do not believe in the young players.”
Naismith happy to play anywhere
5 March 2014
Dundee Evening telegraph
Steven Naismith has relished his recent spells at centre-forward for Scotland - but he knows the competition for the lone place is so tight that he might have to be content playing elsewhere.
Naismith played in the lone striker's role in victories over Macedonia and Croatia but Steven Fletcher has since returned to the fold and Leeds forward Ross McCormack has made that place his own at Elland Road. Leigh Griffiths is also pushing for the place following his first hat-trick for Celtic on Saturday Warsaw in a friendly on Wednesday night. The Everton player said: "It's probably where I feel most comfortable. I grew up playing centrally, whether it be a lone striker or just off the front."But when it comes to playing for your country, you will play anywhere. If the manager sees fit to play me elsewhere I will do my best. "But it's not just me, every training and Naismith will be happy to shape up anywhere when Scotland take on Poland in session and match you need to prove your worth to the squad. "It shows when guys that miss out like Jordan Rhodes, Leigh Griffiths only got a late call up. Up front, as everywhere else that I'm familiar with playing, it's very tough to get a game. "I'm fortunate to be in the squad and competing and all I want to do is my best."
Steven Naismith: "I've learned more this season than I did under any manager previously"
5 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
"I'm really interested in the way he works," says the Scottish international of his current manager
Everton’s Steven Naismith has praised his manager Roberto Martinez for upping his game as he prepares to line-up for Scotland against Poland. The 27-year-old joined the Blues before the start of last season, under David Moyes, but has admitted that his time playing for Martinez this season has been an eye-opener. He said: "For me, he's been great. I've learned more this season than I did under any manager previously. Every day there is something new. "He's totally different to any manager I've worked with in terms of his methods, philosophies and the way he wants us to play. It's been a big learning curve, but more down to the fact that he sees it as a squad game.
"He doesn't have players he thinks will play every week. We were due to play Crystal Palace recently and the game got called off. There were three of us who were in the team that night but then didn't play against Swansea a few days later. "That sums up the way he works. He treats every game differently and has a game plan. Normally, in pre-season, you run and then get the footballs out. He's a different type of manager. It intrigues me and I'm really interested in the way he works."
Naismith believes that Martinez's influence has helped his international career as he fights to get a place in a national squad that he says is the best yet. He continued: "With Scotland I think I've put my case forward to be considered for the main striking role but one thing I've learned from Roberto Martinez this season is that a team needs everybody. It's not a case of the manager picking one striker to go with in every game. In my international career, this is as hard a squad to get into as there has ever been." Naismith also reserved special praise for his fellow Scot and Everton legend Duncan Ferguson after he was promoted to work with the senior staff. He said: "Duncan is a massive figure at the club with the fans, he brings a lot of passion and has worked well with me. I've enjoyed the small things he does. We do shooting drills with him. He takes a lot of them and has been good to work with. He was always someone I looked up to. I vaguely remember him at Rangers, but more so his Everton career.
"The fans love him. Everybody talks about 'big Dunc this' and 'big Dunc that'. Everton's most recent success came when he was in the team and the Evertonians still remember that. "You hear a lot of stories about him, so it was good to have a chat. He's actually a really quiet guy and he doesn't give much away until you sit down with him and have a good talk.
"Now he's working with us you see him as a coach, not as a young guy trying to be a coach. He's good and I don't think there's a better club for him to be at. The whole set-up is fantastic."
Welcome back: Cahill return to England with Australia brings back Blue memories
5 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
With Tim Cahill playing a friendly at Millwall with the Australian national side, the ECHO reminisces on some of his best moments as a Blue
At £1.5m, Tim Cahill's transfer from Millwall to the Blues must be one of the best pound-for-pound signings in Premier League history. For that £1.5m, Everton got more than a talented goalscorer of 56 league goals and 68 in all competitions; they got a talisman, a representation of what the club were about, a player who created big moments at crucial times. It is no wonder he is revered by Evertonians. Cahill, whose season with Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls begins on Saturday, returns to England for an international friendly between Australia and Ecuador.
Unfortunately for Blues, he won't be running out at Goodison Park, but at the stadium of another former club – The Den at Millwall. But with the Aussie no more than a two-hour train journey away, what better time to remember some of his finest moments for the Blues.
Cahill essentially seals Champions League football
There were a lot of heroes in the Blues' 2004/05 campaign, but none more so than Cahill.
With Everton on the brink of clinching fourth - needing a win against Newcastle to go within a point of it with two games to go - it was only right his goal made it 2-0.
That was his 10th league goal of the season in a remarkable campaign; one which began with little expected of either club or player. But Cahill had been the signing of the season, surprising top-flight defences with his movement and stunning spring when challenging for headers. He made David Moyes' 4-4-1-1 system possible. His goal against Newcastle was different, running onto Mikel Arteta's through ball and slotting in. But his impact had been felt long before that.
Season-changing intervention at Sunderland
The following season, 2005/06, had gone horribly wrong for the Blues.
After elimination by Villarreal in the Champions League qualifier, and Dinamo Bucharest in the UEFA Cup a month later, the Blues travelled to Sunderland on New Year's Eve in 17th, three points clear of the relegation zone. But there was a feeling Everton were in free-fall. They had embarked on six-game losing run without scoring a goal earlier in the season; now, as they travelled to bottom club Sunderland, they had lost four from four. Step – or jump – forward the Australian. Having been second-best in the second half, but managing to keep the game goalless Cahill met Kevin Kilbane's corner in stoppage time to score a dramatic winner and relieve any relegation worries.
It was a vital goal. The Blues would lose just one in the next 10, climbing up to ninth by March, with their season transformed by Cahill's late goal at the Stadium of Light.
Cahill denies Liverpool - again
It is no surprise that a player loved by Blues has such a fine record against their biggest rivals – Cahill, with five goals, is Everton's record post-war derby goalscorer. No goal gave the Blues more delight than the late equaliser at Anfield in January 2009. The Reds needed a win to move back to the top of the Premier League – something Steven Gerrard's second-half strike looked poised to do.
But with two minutes remaining, Cahill stole in at the front post and nodded home a free-kick to keep the Reds off top spot. It also showed their rivals that they could come to Anfield and match them, which they did a week later in the FA Cup, before winning the replay thanks to an extra-time strike from Dan Gosling. Cahill had been a vital part of the Blues side which reached the FA Cup final in 2009, scoring a nerve-ending goal against Aston Villa in the fifth round and putting in an excellent performance in the semi-final against Manchester United – although he would miss the shoot-out's opening spot-kick. But with his career at Goodison Park winding down, he had one final telling contribution to make.
Everton had been drawn at home to Sunderland in the FA Cup quarter-final in 2012, with many expecting them to breeze into the semi-finals and a return to Wembley, three years after losing the final to Chelsea.
Heads up on another Wembley trip
early first-half goal tore up the script.
With the Black Cats in the ascendency, Everton needed somebody to turn the tie back in their favour – and up popped the Aussie, diverting Nicika Jelavic's header beyond Simon Mignolet, for his penultimate goal as an Everton player. That goal would force a replay, which Everton would win 2-0 – and the Blues were off to Wembley once more.
Player ratings: Republic of Ireland 1-2 Serbia
March 5 2014
A poor second half from Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, where a James McCarthy own goal and mistake from Seamus Coleman let Serbia turn a defeat to a victory.
Shane Long had given Ireland the lead in the first half.
David Forde – Well marshalled by his defence but faultless when called up, especially with an acrobatic first half save from Tadic. Some other good stops and at fault for neither goal. Rating: 7
Seamus Coleman – Had more to do in attack than defence, and his pace frequently troubled Branislav Ivanovic in the first half. The second half was a different story and Coleman erred badly for Djordjevic’s goal. Never looked happy once Tosic came on for Serbia. Rating: 5
Richard Keogh – Capable, marshalled the defence well, justified his call-up and wasn’t at fault for either Serbian goal. Rating: 7
Marc Wilson – Composed in the first half and could have made it 2-0 with a header on 25 minutes. Looked shakier after the break without doing anything disastrous. Rating: 6
Stephen Ward – Did well not to concede a penalty in the first half with a handball, while his last minute block on Basta prevented an equaliser just before half-time. Replaced. Rating: 6
Aiden McGeady – Utterly anonymous in the first half. Not much better in the second. Replaced. Rating: 4
James McCarthy – For a player so highly rated, he rarely makes the Hollywood pass and his scoring record is non-existent. We know he’s important, but we can never really tell why. Ireland’s Michael Carrick? An own goal doesn’t help his rating. Rating: 5
Glenn Whelan – Took his volley brilliantly in the opening minutes, after which the game seemed to pass him by. Had the opportunity to lob Stojkovic after a poor kick-out, passed the ball backwards instead, typical Whelan really. Rating: 5
James McClean – Showed more in defence than going forward, where his final product remains lost somewhere in 2012. Better in the second half and tried to drive Ireland forward once they went behind. Rating: 6
Wes Hoolahan – Was justified for sticking out a boot to prod in Whelan’s early volley as he was onside at the time. Pivoted brilliantly in the first half and almost set Long through for a second, and did the same in the second with an even better through ball. Ireland’s best player. Rating: 8
Shane Long – Took his goal well in first half and defended well from the front. A poor attempt when set from by Hoolahan on the half hour mark, and an even worse effort from another Hoolahan throughball after Serbia equalised. Rating: 6.5
Ciaran Clark (on for Ward) – Barely noticed him.
David Meyler (on for McCarthy) – Headed over from a McGeady corner when it looked easier to score.
Anthony Pilkington (on for Hoolahan) – Not on long enough to rate.
Daryl Murphy (on for McGeady) – No chances as Ireland were pegged back late in the game.
Jon Walters (on for Long) – See previous rating.
We're not giving up in race for top four, says Roberto Martinez
5 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Everton currently lie sixth and are guaranteed European football if they finish there
Roberto Martinez has a message for Everton FC’s top four doubters – “We’re not giving up.”
The Blues have largely been written out of the race for the final Champions League qualifying slot, after a run of results which saw them fall nine points behind current fourth-placed club Manchester City. Everton are sixth and their hopes of European football next term have been boosted by City’s Capital One Cup triumph last weekend, which means the team that clinches sixth spot in the Premier League will earn a place in the Europa League providing Manuel Pellegrini’s side finish in the top five.
But while holding on to their present position could potentially earn the Toffees a European run for the first time since 2009/10, Martinez is adamant he wants his side to aim as high up the table as possible.
He said: “The gap is not insurmountable. We have a game in hand and we look at it as the start of a mini league of 12 games and we need to get as many points as we can. The group is the strongest we’ve been this season. “I think we’re going to be very strong finishing the season. We’ve never had it in our aims to finish sixth. “Obviously when the season finishes, you sit down, see where you are in the table and see where that leaves you. But I would never look at this season as one where we’re trying to fight for sixth position. “We are sixth now and over the season it’s about as low as we’ve been. In terms of results, I don’t think the table reflects the season we’ve had. We’ve had a game postponed and, among others, we’ve had two results recently (Tottenham and Chelsea) that didn’t match the performances. “You always get ups and downs in a season of 10 months, and with the amount of players we’ve been missing lately combined with playing well in some games but not getting results it has made us stronger. So we are aspiring to finish the season as strong as we can and with as many points as we can. I don’t think our aim will be finishing sixth at this present time.”
Before they resume their league campaign against Cardiff City on March 15, the Toffees head to the Emirates stadium for a crunch FA Cup quarter final showdown with Arsenal.
And Martinez was equally bullish in his assessment of Saturday lunch-time’s tie.
His side were full value for their 1-1 draw when they travelled to north London in the league three months ago, but the Blues boss can also call on the know-how gained from a 2-1 win over the Gunners while manager of Wigan Athletic in May 2012. “It’s important for everyone to go somewhere and have a clear picture of what’s needed,” he said. “The worse thing in football – and probably life – is the unknown. “The fixture in December gave us all a clear indication of what’s needed if you want to be successful at the Emirates, and I think it’s reaching that level of perfection to which we aspire. “In the past, when a team has been able to be successful at the Emirates, it’s because they’ve been very clear in what they’re doing and are perfect with it. It’s going to be a fascinating game from every angle you want to look into. We all know Arsenal have been an outstanding team for many years now and this season, apart from the setback they had at the weekend [when they lost at Stoke City], they’ve been very, very consistent.
“Playing at home is a major factor for them and they’re going to try to take advantage of that and bounce back from the weekend. If you wanted to find a bad time to play them, now is probably the moment. But if you want to be successful in any competition, you need to be able to adapt and find a way in the hardest moments. We’re excited about that and we’ll focus on ourselves to try to reach the level of perfection we’ll need to if we want to get through.”
Blues will need shopping spree if they qualify for Europe says Martinez
March 6 2014 The Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
Everton will need to significantly boost the size of their squad if they qualify for Europe next season, says Roberto Martinez. The Toffees have one of the smallest groups of senior players in the top half of the Premier League table, and their manager believes they would currently be “stretched” by the prospect of either Europa or Champions League football. Martinez also revealed how a return to continental action for the first time since the 2009/10 season would also influence his policy in the transfer market this summer. The Blues boss has largely preferred to target signing youngsters with potential, but he admits he would also need to add a further influx of experienced senior players if Europe was on the agenda. He said: “Europe is obviously an aim we need to fight for. To be able to compete in Europe would stretch us massively in terms of the squad. “100% we’d need to increase the size of our squad. “Europe has different demands and that has to be reflected in the numbers you have in the squad and the type of player you bring in too. “Sometimes you need to bring in experienced players at an international level." Even clubs such as Tottenham, who have an abundance of experienced squad players, have felt the strain of participating in the Europa League this term, and Martinez has already been preparing a strategy if that scenario unfolds for his outfit.
That’s what we would do in the summer,” he said. “It would be completely different planning but something internally we’re prepared for. We’ve always had that scenario at the back of our minds because we want to get into Europe.” Despite his side currently sitting sixth in the table and pursuing a European place on both the league and FA Cup fronts, the Catalan insisted he is taking nothing for granted. “It’s a step we have to take as a club in the coming seasons,” he said. “You want to be as strong as you can in the domestic competitions but it’s quite a unique experience in Europe. “We’ll fight as hard as we can to try and achieve it. If we don’t do it this season then we’ll fight just as hard next season to get there.”
Everton FC can run Arsenal close but Gunners should have edge
By Tamworth Herald March 06, 2014
SLIGHTLY off the title pace and on the verge of a Champions League exit, Arsenal might not be so keen to ring the changes as they entertain Everton in the FA Cup, which now represents the Gunners' best chance of ending the campaign with some silverware. Similarly, the Toffees will head to North London with all guns blazing having seemingly slipped out of contention for a top-four berth. Subsequently, the Emirates Stadium contest could be an absolute cracker, just as it was when the pair met at the same venue in the Premier League. That one finished 1-1, a score-line that BetVictor rate at 7/1 on this occasion, it's 13/5 courtesy of Stan James for the tie to require a replay and bet365 post 5/1 against the teams being inseparable at the end of each half.
Nevertheless, in light of their formidable home record, the Gunners are considered odds-on favourites by bet365 at 4/5. And, as Roberto Martinez's men, 4/1 shots via William Hill have acquitted themselves well but failed to score when on top in recent matches at similarly high-quality oppositions in the shape of Chelsea and Tottenham, those odds seem fair.
Like those games, however, this should be close so BetVictor's 11/4 about an Arsenal victory by one stands out, Winner.com chalk a 1-0 victory for Arsene Wenger's troops up at 15/2. And for punters expecting Everton to have more cutting edge following the goal-scoring return of striker Romelu Lukaku (12/5 with Skybet to notch), a 2-1 home victory is 8/1 (Ladbrokes). Last year's FA Cup finalists Man City and Wigan renew hostilities at Eastlands but the Latics aren't expected to stun their neighbours again, Stan James making them 16/1 outsiders. Manuel Pellegrini's troops collected the Capital One Cup on Sunday and it's easy to see why they are just 3/20 at betway to edge closer to lifting this trophy as well. Paddy Power post 11/10 against City in the handicaps, where they start two goals behind the cup holders, it's 6/1 (Ladbrokes) for the hosts to net three times without reply and fit-again front man Sergio Aguero is 14/5 via BetVictor to break the deadlock. Beaten in the League Cup final last weekend, Sunderland would love to return to Wembley but with bookies expecting Premier League survival to be the Black Cats' priority, Stan James rate them as 11/4 outsiders ahead of the last-eight clash at Hull (6/5, Paddy Power).
Meanwhile, at Bramall Lane, in-form League One outfit Sheffield United are a generous 5/4 courtesy of bet365 to see off Championship strugglers Charlton.
Jack Wilshere reveals extent of injury ahead of Everton FA Cup clash
March 5 2014 London24
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere revealed he suffered no ill effects from a heavy knock to his ankle in a challenge with Liverpool defender Daniel Agger during England’s 1-0 win over Denmark at Wembley on last night. The 22-year-old shrugged off the knock to play an hour of the final friendly before Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson names his provisional World Cup squad.
There was, though, no major injury scare for a player set to be crucial to Arsenal’s run-in, which continues with an FA Cup quarter-final against Everton on Saturday. “It is a bit sore, but just a bruise. I have had a scan already and I will be alright,” Wilshere said. Hodgson, meanwhile, maintained Wilshere - who has been a through a string of injury setbacks - was never scheduled to play the whole match. “It was always the plan to replace him just after half-time, not least of all because Arsenal have some important games coming up, a lunchtime kick off [against Everton on Saturday] and then Munich [away in the Champions League],” the England manager said.
“We had that in mind not to keep him on the field for too long.” Wilshere was substituted after an hour, and replaced by Southampton’s Adam Lallana, whose cross set up Daniel Sturridge for a late headed goal to finally beat Kasper Schmeichel, the Leicester goalkeeper. The Gunners ace knows every England World Cup hopeful faces a “crucial” two months to keep their dreams alive of being on the plane to Brazil by maintaining their club form. The 22-year-old accepts dreams of a summer in Brazil will now depend very much on what all players can produce on a regular basis at club level.
“We have all been working hard in training trying to impress the manager, but at the end of the day, it is your club form which will get you in,” he said. “These next two months are crucial, it is a big time of the season and then when the England squad is announced, you can only perform to the best of your ability.” Sturridge had started on the flanks as part of a fluid front three alongside Wayne Rooney and Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling, before moving into a more central role following changes in the second half. Rooney, replaced by fellow Manchester United forward Daniel Welbeck on the hour, felt the experiment had been worthwhile. “We play a different system with me, Daniel and Raheem more interchanging a little bit, and I thought it worked quite well, [but] obviously there is room for improvement,” he said. So long England’s talisman, Rooney would be many people’s first choice to lead the World Cup attack. However, the 28-year-old will not rest on his past achievements. “This was the last game before the manager names his squad, there was 29 of us here and we all wanted to show what we can do - that is from me through to everyone else, we all want to show him what we can do.” he said. “I am sure the manager has got a bit of thinking to do now. He has got some tough decisions, but that is what he is here for, to make them.”
Wenger won’t let Everton stand in the way of fifth FA Cup success
March 6 2014
Arsene Wenger has his eyes set on lifting his fifth FA Cup as Arsenal manager despite playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League just a few days after the quarter-final tie. Often accused of not taking the competition as seriously as many would like, most seem to ignore the fact that Wenger has won four FA Cups during his time as Arsenal manager. Although the last win was back in 2005, Arsenal’s last trophy [in case you hadn’t heard that mentioned anywhere] he is hoping that 2014 will see Arsenal lift the trophy for the 11th time. Just one game away from a semi-final at Wembley and two from the final itself, the boss believes that the team have learned from last year’s defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers when they had one eye on Bayern Munich and won’t be distracted when Everton come to town on Saturday morning. Speaking to the Arsenal magazine, Wenger said Yes, I have been lucky enough to win it four times, but unfortunately we haven’t won it for a long time now, so in fact I’m even more focused to do well in this competition. I would love the Club to win the FA Cup again. Unfortunately sometimes the scheduling clashes with the Champions League. For example last season we had Blackburn at home in the FA Cup just before playing Bayern at home in the Champions League, so it was difficult to focus the attention completely on the Blackburn game. Hopefully we have learnt from that though, and this year we won’t be distracted.
Mark Clattenburg confirmed as referee for Everton's FA Cup clash with Arsenal
6 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
The controversial official has taken charge of just three Everton games since the 2007 derby with Liverpool. Mark Clattenburg will be tasked with taking charge of Everton' s FA Cup quarter-final clash with Arsenal on Saturday lunch-time. The 38-year-old from County Durham has overseen just three of the Blues' matches since officiating a fiery derby in 2007. That game was marred by several controversial incidents including Dirk Kuyt's kung fu kick style tackle, for which he was awarded just a yellow card, on Phil Neville and the sending off of both Tony Hibbert and then Neville.
Clattenburg then failed to award Everton a last-minute penalty from what appeared to be a clear foul as Jamie Carragher manhandled Joleon Lescott in the six-yard box. It was a decision so baffling that it led to David Moyes being charged by the FA for his post-match comments.
Clattenburg has been a figure of controversy off the pitch as well, the High Court investigated his financial affairs after the winding up of one of his businesses for unpaid debts of around £60,000. He lost his job with the FA because of the investigation but was reinstated in 2009 after clearing his name. The Blues played 162 matches in a five-year spell before he was once again handed officiating duties of Everton at Aston Villa in 2012. The game passed without incident but it was only this season that Clattenburg once again refereed Everton , returning to Goodison Park for a 2-1 victory over Southampton. During that game Clattenburg clashed with Southampton's Adam Lallana with the south coast club reporting him for allegedly telling Lallana, "You are very different now, since you’ve played for England - you never used to be like this." However the official was cleared of any wrong-doing. He once again earned himself the ire of Blues fans at White Heart Lane in February when he denied Everton a last-minute penalty for an Etienne Capoue challenge on Seamus Coleman in a 1-0 defeat. Clattenburg's appointment for such a pivotal match in Everton's season is sure to upset Blues fans as they bid to reach the semi-finals at Wembley.
Arsenal must beat Everton to save their season, says former Gunners star
Match 6 2014 London24
Arsenal’s FA Cup quarter-final with Everton on Saturday lunchtime is now their biggest game of the season.
That is the do-or-die claim from former Gunner Stewart Robson following Arsenal’s recent defeats to Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Stoke. With Arsene Wenger’s side stuttering, Robson says the FA Cup can still save the Gunners’ season – but insists the Frenchman must play his strongest side against the Toffees. “We cannot win the Premier League and we cannot win the Champions League,” Robson declared. “But the FA Cup can be our salvation. It is all there for us. We can win the trophy without even having to leave London. “We have had home ties every round and if we get through the semi-final is at Wembley – as is, of course, the final. “Arsene Wenger simply must choose the strongest side at his disposal, no rotation, no resting key players, just put his strongest XI on the field. “The fans have stood by this team and they deserve a trophy for their remarkable support. Arsenal supporters, I’m afraid, are getting really fed up.” Robson, a star midfielder at Highbury between 1981 and 1986, has become a vocal critic of Wenger’s lack of success in recent seasons – polarising fans with his strong views. And he says the Frenchman must treat the FA Cup with respect. “For some managers the FA Cup is not so important, but then they tend to be managers who have won a trophy in recent years! “But Arsenal haven’t. It has been eight and a half years since their last trophy and I am surprised so many people still feel the need to defend that record, because it is not good enough. “Six years ago I wrote an article in which I said the team is ill-prepared in defence and doesn’t earn the right to play. In that time, nothing has changed.” Robson claims Arsenal’s recent poor form is down to the fact they are too one-dimensional and struggle to change their style of play. “They play some wonderful football, believe me,” adds Robson, who was Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1986. “They play great high tempo football and can defend well on the front foot. But once that high tempo play drops, as we have seen due to injuries and loss of form, they have no new game plan to counter that. “I believe Wenger plays off-the-cuff football but his sides have to be more flexible. “They believe they have earned the right to play the way they want before a ball is kicked – and it doesn’t work like that. “You have to fight the opposition, battle and work hard. But they believe they can dictate things from the off – we saw this at Southampton, Liverpool and Stoke and we got one point from those games, and were lucky to get that.” But Robson remains adamant this season can end in glory. “As I said, we have an opportunity in the FA Cup. For me – and most fans – it remains a wonderful competition, particularly at these latter stages with Wembley looming. “We are at home and can beat Everton this weekend. I just hope we take this chance and finish the season positively.”
FA Cup preview: Roberto Martinez has come a long way since 1995
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keefe
“We’ve got a real opportunity now. I feel the team is ready"
It is a year Evertonians recall fondly.
A sunny day in May, Joe Royle beaming. Duncan Ferguson’s blue nose, Dave Watson holding the gleaming trophy aloft, and a fifth success in the world’s most famous club knock-out competition.
1995 will always have a special place in the memories of Blues fans. But just along the Mersey estuary, the club’s current manager was beginning his own love affair with the FA Cup.
“I paid extra special attention to the cup that year,” says Roberto Martinez, recalling how he arrived in England as part of the ‘Three Amigos’ with compatriots Isidro Diaz and Jesus Seba and promptly scored for Wigan in the cup. “Funnily enough it was in Runcorn – my first game in the competition with the two other Spanish players and it was just round the corner,” he says.
“I followed it through with interest to the later stages and was pleased when Everton won it. So it’s a strange coincidence that ‘95 was the last time they won it.” So began Martinez’s special affinity with the cup, and today he has fresher memories of the sweet taste of success than followers of his current club. Last year he masterminded Wigan’s eventual triumph via a quarter final 3-0 embarrassment of Everton at Goodison. And although he would never consider Everton as underdogs this time around, he sees some similarities between the tasks facing the respective away teams then and now. "In any quarter-final you’ll find it difficult to see the away team as favourites,” he says. “Being the home side in the FA Cup gives you an incredible advantage and here Arsenal are still involved in the title race and the Champions League. “But we don’t go there to play them, we go there to play our game and be ourselves which is what Wigan did 12 months ago.” For inspiration when his side arrive at the Emirates tomorrow, the Catalan will ask his players to indulge in a spot of ‘blue-sky’ thinking. “We will take the performance we had in December against Arsenal and judge ourselves by that,” he says. “If we can get a good performance in front of goal we can do it. “Sometimes thinking about coming to beat Arsenal is a big ask, a blue sky. But we need to be very clear in what we want to do and control our performance. "It has not been an ideal week to prepare for the game but that’s been the same for both teams. “We’ve got a real opportunity now. A quarter-final is a significant event, with something promising around the corner. I feel the team is ready. “We’ve felt a feeling of unfairness coming away from London lately. I think football will give us something back though.” As supporters elsewhere often take pleasure in reminding Bluenoses, it has been 19 years since their side won a trophy. Too long for a club the size of Everton according to Martinez. But he knows there is mitigation for that barren spell: “It’s been too long since the club won a trophy but I think that tells you how difficult it is to win silverware,” he says.
“There are six clubs who should be competing for silverware every season because of the budgets they work on. You’ve got three competitions; the league and the two cups, so there will be three of those top six missing out never mind those with less money below. “So it is a difficult task but in the same way we’ve got the right to compete with anyone because of our history and heritage.
“We need to put that in our mind and visualise it. It must be our drive and dream, what we work towards every day.”
Howard Kendall: Blues can capitalise on Arsenal's lack of leadership
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
"Roberto Martinez's men have more character than the Gunners"
Everton go to the Emirates tomorrow with plenty to be positive about ahead of an important game in the context of their season. Yes they can take heart from the impressive display there before Christmas which had the critics purring, but more importantly I believe the Toffees have the edge in one key area. Roberto Martinez’s men have more character than the Gunners.
Arsenal are blessed with some supremely talented technical players, brought in by Arsene Wenger for their suitability to the quick one-touch, flowing style he likes his sides to play. But the current crop of Arsenal players seems to lack real leaders; players in the mould of Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira or Ray Parlour. You can’t criticise the Frenchman for the job he has done over the years, but his side does lack that presence and spirit that can make the difference when a game is not going in your favour. By contrast, and especially if Phil Jagielka recovers from his hamstring injury to play in the tie, the Blues have plenty of leadership. That’s why I’m very confident that Everton can either force a replay and get the Londoners back to Goodison or book themselves a place in the semi-final at Wembley at the first time of asking tomorrow lunchtime.
If they can match Arsenal and stop them from being at their fluid best I don’t think the Gunners will be able to respond. Unsettle the hosts and they seem to struggle to recapture their rhythm.
The cup is important to both clubs and it will be a time for big hearts and bold players to stand up and be counted. Everton are better equipped to do that.
Martinez the master motivator
Roberto Martinez is a master motivator who has proved how he can get the best out of players by harnessing their powers of self-belief this season. I know psychologists are in vogue for teams at the moment after Roy Hodgson announced that England will use one in Brazil, but I doubt the Blues need one with Roberto’s savvy approach. One thing I have noticed however is that occasionally, in a well-intended move to boost his players, he strays into going a bit over the top. He called Romelu Lukaku “world class” after his goal against West Ham, and as important as that strike was I think it was a bit premature to resort to those adjectives. He spoke in similar terms of Leighton Baines’ performance but I don’t think Leighton had his best game in the victory over the Hammers. For me he was not quite up to his usual sky-high standards. Then the Blues boss was effusively glowing about John Stones – although in that respect I agree with every last word. Stones was superb when asked to step-in for Phil Jagielka and deal with a side with a real set-piece menace, and the threat of Andy Carroll.
Like everyone I was stunned to see Newcastle manager Alan Pardew head-butt Hull’s David Meyler last Saturday, although none more stunned than Meyler I’ll bet. However it has surprised me that the Magpies boss is likely to escape with little more than a rap on the knuckles, a touchline ban and a fine. I recall all too well how Duncan Ferguson was thrown in jail for something similar. Back then the Scottish Football Association used previous misdemeanours to make an example of Dunc, and he paid his dues. But Pardew has got history of bad behaviour too, so can’t point to a squeaky clean record. Never mind calling for him to be sacked as Alan Shearer has – I say throw him in jail!
Kevin Ratcliffe: Roberto Martinez just like Howard Kendall
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
In the build-up to arguable Everton's most important game of the season, Blues legend Ratcliffe has likened Martinez to his old mentor Kendall. Kevin Ratcliffe has likened the impact Roberto Martinez has made at Everton to that of his former manager Howard Kendall. Ratcliffe, who captained the Blues during the most successful period of their history, says that Martinez has given his players much more responsibility and helped Everton play with no fear. He said: “We had Howard Kendall come in and all of a sudden we were boys who were treated like adults. “He threw a responsibility towards us and we reacted and that is what Roberto has done. “The game is a little bit different and I don’t know what Roberto is like off the field but he has given players responsibilities and they have responded to that really well. “I think he has given them a non-fear factor. Under David Moyes I don’t know whether they were fearful - fearful maybe of a Dave backlash after the game.
“Roberto wants you to have balls under pressure and not to be afraid to lose it and I think that is the difference. He is encouraging you to get the ball again rather than being afraid of making a mistake.”In order to truly be thought of in the same light as Kendall, Martinez must lead the Blues to silverware. He managed to win the Cup with Wigan Athletic and he will hope to complete back-to-back feats this season - that will start with beating the Gunners at the Emirates. When Arsenal line up against Everton they would be forgiven for making a few jealous glances towards the Blues midfield. That's because Gareth Barry, on-loan from Manchester City, would have fitted in perfectly at the Emirates according to Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe has been suitably impressed with the 33-year-old's contribution since he made the switch from Manchester and hopes Everton find a way of making his loan permanent in the summer. He said: "No doubt about it, Barry is the best piece of business Roberto has done .It would be nice to think Roberto can sign him next season but the kind of performances he has put in this season (means) other clubs will be in for him."
By others clubs, he means Everton's opponents on Saturday lunchtime.
He continued: “You would think he would slot into Arsenal’s team as it is one position they have not filled. They are playing Mikel Arteta there when he’s not a holding midfield player.
"He wouldn’t go amiss at Arsenal. He is that good a player you would think they would want that type of player.” Ratcliffe, who captained Everton to FA Cup success, hopes that Everton can also add to their forward line as well as agreeing a contract with Barry "If a player is out of contract, the money he is looking for should be acceptable because you are not paying a fee for him. That means there should be some leeway in which Everton can compete with the bigger payers.
“But I don’t think Everton will be able to afford £20million for a player unless they are looking at selling someone and when you are talking figures like that you are looking at Ross Barkley.
“We do need a striker and while there are still things missing in Lukaku’s game he is built for the Premier League.”
Everton FC's Steven Pienaar willing to play the waiting game
7 Mar 2014 Daily Post
Whether it is the waiting for a return to the scoresheet or that elusive piece of silverware the South African is being patient Patience is a virtue – just ask Steven Pienaar. With one of the sudden grins that occasionally lights up his otherwise poker face, the South African explains how he has become accustomed to the waiting game. But whether it’s the wait for a long-overdue goal, the perseverance required to function as part of Roberto Martinez’s Everton passing machine, or the ongoing desire for success at the club he calls home – some things are easier to go without than others. Consider first the desire to add to his solitary one-goal tally so far this term. An instinctive first-time finish against Hull City at Goodison in October was the last time the midfielder wheeled away in celebration. So what would he do if he netted in the Blues’ FA Cup quarter final tie at the Emirates tomorrow – or even managed a goal as memorable as his wonder-chip in a snowy North London back in 2010? “I said last week to the assistant manager if I score I’ll ask you to take me off so I can go home,” he laughs. “I don’t know what I’ll do because it’s been a while. Maybe I’ll just run around the stadium. “I admit I sometimes watch that goal back on video. It would be great if I could repeat it on Saturday in an even more important game.” Pienaar’s exquisite finish four years ago was a moment of magic, just what may be required to unlock a contest against a side the Blues drew with in December. “You need something to open up those kinds of games sometimes so it’d be nice if I could conjure up the same,” he says. “For us it’s important we go there and give everything we can to get to Wembley.” Opening up Arsenal will not be simple, but then Pienaar and his team-mates have become used to biting their lips as they work to overcome opponents lately.
“It’s totally different under the new manager,” he says. “Our style now takes a lot of patience but to be honest I enjoy the patient game. “You don't always have to be the creator of it as long as you’re bossing possession and dictating the game. That’s what the manager wants and in that way it suits me. “It reminds me of Ajax (where Pienaar spent six years) in a way. A lot of build-up, less direct play. “The season has been a bit stop- start for me playing catch-up after being out then coming back and something crops up again. That’s been really frustrating for me. You don't get to build up the momentum properly.” Last weekend’s triumph over West Ham, says Pienaar, was a case in point – some things are worth the wait. “It can be frustrating when you have a lot of possession but can’t open a team up. Sometimes you get irritated on the field and you want things to happen but the manager implies we have to be patient until the very end. “You can break a team down in the last second of the game. It will come, you just have to keep doing it. “Look at West Ham. We had so much possession but you get annoyed because you hear the ‘oooohs’ and ‘ahhs’ in the stand and you want to get the first goal quickly too because you’re playing against a side that has come to get a point. “But the patience paid off. “One moment got us the three points.” When it comes to his ultimate dream though, Pienaar knows time is finite. The playmaker, who turned 32 last month, wants to be remembered in the Goodison history books and believes that helping the club win some long-overdue silverware is the best way to go about it. “You want success more when you’ve been at a club for so long,” he says. “When you leave you want to make sure people remember you. The only way to do it is by winning a trophy. “The memory won't stay so long if you just finish fifth, or sixth or qualify for the Champions League even. “It’s about the silverware and that’s what we all want. It’s important we don’t think too far ahead on Saturday. We can’t be carried away by the occasion and hopefully by the grace of God we come out the better team on the day.”
Pienaar clearly means business, and he insists that it is therefore pointless to dwell on how well Everton played at the Emirates in December when it comes to business time tomorrow.
“It will be a different game on Saturday,” he says. “The past is the past. It doesn’t help to dwell on the last game. “We could go there and have a shocker – we can’t rely simply on the fact we played well there in December. “We have to be sharp and mentally prepared.”
David Prentice: Brilliant Baines needs no assistance
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
"Leighton Baines has been outstanding for the past few months, pre-assist or no pre-assist"
Roberto Martinez introduced a new word into the ever-growing lexicon of football-speak this week.
Into a footy thesaurus that now includes ‘false nines’, ‘inverting the pyramid’ and ‘between the lines’, we can now add the ‘pre-assist.’ Irked that people were pointing out that his outstanding full-back only had one assist to his name this season, Martinez pointed out that Leighton Baines “has probably been involved in every move leading up to all our goals. Call it a pre-assist if you like”.
So if a pass which leads to a pass which leads to a goal is a pre-assist, it begs the question, what is an actual assist? Luis Suarez’s spin, run and pull-back for Raheem Sterling at St Mary’s on Saturday night was undeniably an assist. But could it have happened without Steven Gerrard’s perfectly weighted defence-splitting pass which put him away? So why doesn’t Gerrard get a statistical pat on the back? And what of the player who can produce a moment of mesmerising skill to put a chance on a plate for a team-mate, only for the opportunity to be spurned – like Luis Suarez’s shimmy and pass for Joe Allen? A disassist perhaps?
Then there are penalties.
A player can turn an opponent inside-out, lure a desperate challenge – and present a goalscoring opportunity on a plate for a reliable penalty taker. Like Leon Osman at Stoke City or Luis Suarez at St Mary’s – but neither contribution will figure in anybody’s assist charts. Statistics can be a useful tool, especially when it comes to dispelling myths. Marouane Fellaini’s loping style gave people the impression he was lazy. Yet stats showed he covered more ground than any other player.
People believed Jordan Henderson wasn’t suited to a possession-based style. His ball retention figures are excellent. But the best tool for assessing a player’s worth is the evidence of your own eyes. Leighton Baines has been outstanding for the past few months, pre-assist or no pre-assist.
Mark of disrespect
Mark Clattenburg was comfortably the most insensitive appointment the FA could have made for tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final – unless Pierluigi Collina fancied coming out of retirement – but they’re nothing if not consistent. When Clive Thomas controversially ruled out an FA Cup semi-final winner against Liverpool in 1977 – the official in charge of Everton’s very next FA Cup tie was...Clive Thomas. When Everton next faced neighbours Liverpool in an FA Cup tie the official in charge of the high octane rematch was...Clive Thomas. The good news for Blues fans fearing the worst from Clattenburg is that both times – against Aston Villa in 1978 and Liverpool in 1981 – they won.
Everton's quarter masters
Arsenal are officially Everton’s least favourite opponents.
Of all the sides the Toffees have faced on four or more occasions since 1878, Arsenal are their most formidable foes.
But if you’re looking for inspiration ahead of tomorrow’s trip to North London, check out the calendar.
Since the First World War Everton have played three FA Cup quarter-finals on March 8. And their record is impressive. They came from two goals down on the plastic pitch at Luton to draw in 1986, came from a goal behind to beat Middlesbrough in 2009 – and on Saturday, March 8, 1980 scored the unlikeliest of Cup upsets. Just a month earlier Ipswich Town had come to Goodison and, to put it politely, absolutely mullered the Blues. The final score was Everton 0 Ipswich 4. Cushions rained down on the Goodison turf at the final whistle – and when defeated but defiant manager Gordon Lee declared, “I hope we draw them in the FA Cup”, people thought he’d taken leave of his senses.
He got his wish – then watched Ipswich warm up by beating Manchester United 6-0.
But Lee had a tactical masterstroke up his sleeve. Rampaging right-back John Gidman was asked to play a central midfield role to track the flitting runs of Eric Gates – an early prototype of today’s “false nine” – and cause whatever mayhem he could going forward.
Ipswich couldn’t cope.
He crossed – from the left touchline – for Bob Latchford to open the scoring, was man of the match and helped Everton triumph 2-1. Of course if calendar coincidences don’t do it for you, just think back to Everton’s outstanding display at the Emirates in December, Arsenal’s miserable match at Stoke last weekend and the return to the teamsheet and the scoresheet of Romelu Lukaku.
Everton can come away from the Emirates in the draw for the semi-final.
Arsenal duo step up recoveries but won’t make Everton clash
March 7 2014 London24
Arsenal midfielders Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and deadline-day loan signing Kim Kallstrom (back) are stepping up their rehabilitation but won’t be available for tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter final against Everton. The Gunners will be without England midfielder Jack Wilshere (fractured foot), who is sidelined for around eight weeks. France defender Laurent Koscielny faces a fitness test on a hamstring problem also sustained while away on international duty, so captain Thomas Vermaelen is on standby to deputise. Full-back Nacho Monreal (ankle) will also be assessed as manager Arsene Wenger looks to utilise his squad.
Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby remain long-term absentees.
Provisional squad: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Cazorla, Rosicky, Ozil, Sanogo, Szczesny, Giroud, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, Koscielny, Monreal, Jenkinson, Bendtner.
Neville Southall: Everton can match Arsenal all over the pitch
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
Big Nev believes the Blues having nothing to fear from the Gunners
Neville Southall says Everton can approach the FA Cup quarter final clash with Arsenal tomorrow with no fear. The former Blues goalkeeper says the Blues can match Arsenal across the pitch - but lack the same depth up front. He said: "There’s no reason why Everton should fear the game at the Emirates because we can match Arsenal all over the pitch. They’ve a squad full of similar midfield-type players but they lack a bit of depth up front. "One things for sure though is that they’ll likely come out and attack us and that will suit our counter-attacking style. We’ve got pace down the flanks and players who can score." Southall heaped praise on Steven Naismith for his performance against West Ham last weekend and believes Arsenal's approach will reflect their place in the Premier League. "I was at the game last weekend against West Ham. John Stones was fantastic and Steven Naismith won so many headers against the Hammers’ giant defenders it was unreal. He’s got a great spring. "Arsenal’s approach will depend on how seriously Arsene Wenger is taking the FA Cup this season – and it could be very telling either way. "If Arsene Wenger plays his strongest side he must think that the Gunners chance of winning the Premier League is gone. Everton will go there and play their usual game – go on the attack and try to get a result. "But they must start well because Arsenal are a very good side.
"It should be a proper game of football with both sides looking to pass the ball and trying to get players forward. Everton are playing well again." Southall was part of the Everton team that won the FA Cup in 1984 and the upcoming game brings back good memories of Highbury.
He continued: "Highbury was a proper old football ground. It was the first place I went to where they had under-floor heating in the dressing room. When you opened the windows you heard the crowd outside filing past. It was a brilliant atmosphere. We actually won an FA Cup semi-final there against Southampton in 1984 when Adrian Heath headed the winner in extra time. And we beat Watford 2-0 in the final. "The Emirates is a fantastic stadium but a club loses something - a sense of their history maybe - when it moves."
Three key questions: the talking points before Everton take on Arsenal in the FA Cup
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
The ECHO asks three key questions before the Blues’ trip to the Emirates
Who will win the Barry v Ozil battle?
The two midfielders have plenty of previous. Ozil tormented Barry when Germany humbled England at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, famously leaving him trailing in his wake to set up his country’s fourth goal. When the pair came face-to-face at the Emirates in the Premier League earlier this season, with Barry wearing the blue of Everton and Ozil the red of Arsenal, the Englishman made his mark on the German schemer - twice. He clattered Ozil on two occasions in the first half, earning a booking on the second. Barry also won widespread plaudits for his display as the Blues earned a 1-1 draw, snuffing out Arsenal’s midfield maestros with a typically disciplined performance in front of the back four. Ozil escaped his attentions to score in the 81st minute, but sub Gerard Deulofeu snatched a deserved equaliser. It was not quite 90 minutes of redemption for Barry, but it went some small way to banishing those painful memories from 2010. As his boss Roberto Martinez said: “Football is a game of errors. It’s about how you react and learn from those errors that matters.”
Ozil’s form has dipped since December, but Barry’s battle with the £42m man will be one of the decisive duels at the Emirates. If Ozil is selected...
How important is the FA Cup to the Gunners?
There is no doubt Everton will field their strongest XI tomorrow, but what about Arsenal?
Of the three competitions they still have a chance of winning this season, the FA Cup looks to be their best hope. They are only five points off the summit in the Premier League, but Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City (who have two games in hand on the Gunners) look better bets.
In the Champions League, Arsenal trail Bayern Munich 2-0 after the first leg of their knockout tie and face an almighty struggle to overcome the holders at the Allianz Arena next week.
So Arsene Wenger’s team-sheet tomorrow will contain some clues as to where the FA Cup ranks in his list of priorities. And the Blues will be ready to pounce on any weakness.
Rotation could be the name of the game for the Gunners in March as they face one big test after another. After tomorrow's game, they go to Munich for the second leg of their Champions League tie. Then they head to Spurs for a North London derby in the Premier League before travelling to Chelsea the following weekend. The month ends with games against Swansea City and Manchester City. So who will get the nod to face Everton? And will any big names be rested with that trip to Munich looming? If so, Everton will be ready to capitalise.
Will the curse of Clattenburg strike?
Evertonians groaned a collective sigh of disappointment when Mark Clattenburg was named as the referee for tomorrow's big game. It all dates back to 2007 when the official from Tyne and Wear enraged Blues with his performance in a derby at Goodison, won 2-1 by Liverpool. He sent off Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert - appearing to change his mind with the latter, producing a red card after initially reaching for a yellow - and failed to dismiss Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt for a dangerous lunge on Neville. He also denied Everton a late penalty for an apparent foul by Jamie Carragher on Joleon Lescott. David Moyes got into hot water with the FA for his post-match criticism of Clattenburg, who did not take charge of an Everton game again until 2012.
The Clattenburg controversy flared again in February when he turned down another late penalty appeal in the Blues’ 1-0 Premier League defeat at Tottenham. Hopefully he will not be the centre of attention again tomorrow.
Flashback: When Gordon Lee’s ‘young lions’ spiked the Gunners
7 Mar 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Trigg
With Everton and Arsenal ready to lock horns at the Emirates tomorrow, we look back to the last FA Cup meeting between the sides
You have to rewind more than 30 years to find the last FA Cup duel between Everton and Arsenal, to a time when Gordon Lee was in his final season as manager and a young defender by the name of Kevin Ratcliffe was showing signs of being a future Goodison great. The teams have not met in FA Cup combat since January 3, 1981. Injury-hit Everton ran out 2-0 winners at Goodison Park that day, with a Kenny Sansom own goal and a 90th-minute effort from Mike Lyons booking a fourth-round meeting with neighbours Liverpool. “Gordon Lee’s young lions did him proud on Saturday,” was how the ECHO’s Ian Hargraves opened his match report, under the headline “The Young Stargazers”.
Both goals came inside the final five minutes. “I’m sure our young lads will have learned from the experience,” Blues boss Lee told the ECHO. “I was pleased they managed to keep their composure under all the pressure.” Ratcliffe was joined in the Blues’ line-up by fellow youngsters Billy Wright, Joe McBride and future England international Steve McMahon, who won the man of the match honours for his ‘truly brilliant performance’. They ‘gave an exciting glimpse of what the future has in store’ wrote Hargraves in his report. The outcome of the fourth round draw, which took place on the following Monday, was splashed all over the back page of that day’s ECHO: “Everton v Liverpool - it’s a cup shocker”. “The 100th FA Cup threw up a centenary stunner today when Everton and Liverpool were drawn in opposition in the fourth round,” wrote Charles Lambert.
Geoff Nulty, Lee’s number two, told the ECHO man: “It’s not the tie we would have picked, but I’m sure the same goes for Liverpool.” Despite Nulty’s reservations, Everton would go on to beat their city rivals later that month, winning 2-1 at Goodison thanks to goals by Peter Eastoe and Imre Varadi. They conquered Southampton (following a replay) in the fifth round before bowing out of the cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 3-1 in a replay at Maine Road having drawn 2-2 at Goodison. Blues fans everywhere will be hoping their side can go a few steps further this season - and Roberto Martinez’s men will be aiming to summon up the spirit of ‘81 when they head to the Emirates.