Everton 1, Manchester City 1 (Echo)
Oct 2 2006 By Dominic King
ONLY a game as ridiculous as football can evoke such feelings. Everton remain unbeaten yet it seems as if the sky has collapsed on their breathless beginning to the season. Turn back the clock 12 months to when David Moyes' side tackled Manchester City on the corresponding weekend and recall the emotions triggered by a 2-0 defeat at Eastlands. Emptiness, despair and frustration overwhelmed.
Fast forward to the present day and those sentiments are consuming Evertonians once again, but for different reasons. The players know it, so do the management and supporters: the Blues have missed a glorious chance to make a sound start spectacular.
When fans began studying the fixture list to see where points may accrued and frittered away, few would have thought that Everton would have yet to taste defeat by the second international break. With games against Spurs and Liverpool amongst others, to suggest that the Blues would have negotiated their first seven fixtures without a blemish would have required a huge leap of faith. Yet here they are, sitting pretty in fifth place, having taken the scalps of both Spurs and their neighbours and emerged unscathed from a daunting trip to St James' Park, but it seems as if it counts for nothing. Last minute sucker punches tend to do that. Not for the first time in this campaign, Everton finished a game without the rewards they deserved. This time, though, they can't count themselves unlucky or blame an act of larceny.
On this occasion, carelessness cost Everton dear. Bereft of confidence and unable to win on the road, Manchester City should have been dispatched with the minimum of fuss but were able to keep themselves in the game. In the end, they deserved a point.
It is the manner in which they acquired their bounty, however, that will grate Moyes until Everton return to Premiership combat on October 14 at the Riverside Stadium. The contest should have been over when Micah Richards scored. Hardly surprising, then, that Moyes looked as furious as he has done in a long time as he briefly held court afterwards. Head bowed, brow furrowed, his monosyllabic answers confirmed the manager was smouldering with rage. "We are disappointed as it's a game that we should have won," was one of his more loquacious opinions on the afternoon. "We should have seen it out." Nobody could dispute that opinion. Despite not getting anywhere near to scaling the heights they have done in recent fixtures, Everton appeared to be in firm control once Andrew Johnson had put his name on the score sheet for the sixth time in seven games just before half-time. But the longer this wretched contest progressed, the deeper Everton defended and it somehow became impossible for them to do something basic as hoof the ball into the stands to alleviate pressure. So while it galled to see Richards hammer his equaliser past Tim Howard in the 94th minute, it was hardly a surprise. A disgruntled few booed at the final whistle, furious that referee Andre Mariner had played 60 seconds longer than he should have done. Some, looking for scapegoats, pathetically tried to blame substitutes Simon Davies and David Weir. Absurd. They hadn't even been on the pitch long enough to make an impact, so to single them out as the cause of everything that went wrong is both unfair and stupid. These model professionals will be distraught that their club squandered two priceless points. A more accurate reason for why Everton never looked as lively as they have done in recent weeks could be down to the change in tactics. Reverting to a four-man midfield did the Blues few favours. The personnel currently at Goodison Park is perfectly suited to playing with a lone front man but things go askew when tactics are tinkered with. Tim Cahill, in particular, sees his influence diluted. Ditto Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta. But it was understandable why Moyes shuffled his pack with Tony Hibbert suspended and Gary Naysmith injured.
They are honest and brave but City are not one of the Premiership's more formidable ensembles. How could they be, with a strike force of Georgios Samaras and Bernado Corradi? To think Samaras could have become an Everton player. Chronically short of goals in January, Moyes considered making a bid for the Greek international but chose to bide his time and waited for Johnson in the summer. Had he bought Samaras, Johnson would not have arrived in the summer. Clearly, short-term pain has had long-term gain as Everton's club record signing continues to prosper. If only the same could be said about James Beattie. The one time England star could not be faulted for effort but his contribution was minimal. Whether he was trying too hard or was betrayed by nerves, only he knows, but things did not work out for him all day. It was no surprise when he made way for Victor Anichebe late on. Beattie faces a big challenge before the Middlesbrough game to prove to Moyes he deserves another chance and it will be interesting to see how he responds. One of the more popular members of the dressing room, Beattie will receive plenty of encouragement from his team-mates. He needs to be ready to take his next chance. Likewise Everton. Boro and Sheffield United are next on the agenda before the biggest test yet of the campaign arrives in the shape of a trip to Arsenal. It is feasible the Blues could still be unbeaten before heading to the Emirates Stadium. Play like they did against City, however, and thoughts of matching the club record start of 17 undefeated matches in 1978 will quickly evaporate.
Lessons must be learned from this most unsatisfactory episode.
EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Nuno Valente, Osman, Carsley, Cahill, Arteta (Davies 89), Johnson (Weir 90), Beattie (Anichebe 81). Subs: Wright, Van der Meyde.
BOOKINGS: Cahill, Nuno Valente.
MAN CITY: Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Sinclair, Barton, Hamann (Reyna 77), Ireland (Corradi 57), Miller (Beasley 66), Samaras. Subs: Hart, Dickov.
BOOKINGS: Barton, Sinclair.
REFEREE: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Everton Res 1, Sheffield United Res 1
Oct 4 2006 Daily Post
DAVID WEIR and James McFadden both played the majority of Everton Reserves' 1-1 draw with Sheffield United hours before joining up with the Scotland squad ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifiers against France and Ukraine. The duo played around 65 minutes before being replaced as former Everton keeper Paul Gerrard gave an inspired performance to earn Sheffield United a point. A double save in the first half from Gerrard prevented Everton from taking the lead but chances were few and far between and the first 45 minutes ended goalless. McFadden had Gerrard working hard again just a minute into the second period with a low drive which the keeper palmed away. Then Gerrard held on to a vicious Victor Anichebe shot. Anichebe's strike partner James Vaughan was back in action and came close to opening the scoring with a good turn and shot on 57 minutes. Everton made the breakthrough on the hour mark when Andy van der Meyde was fouled and Everton were awarded a free-kick. The Dutchman took the kick and Mark Hughes drove home at the far post.
Van der Meyde came close again on 63 minutes but his shot squeezed wide of Gerrard's post. McFadden was replaced by John-Paul Kissock and Weir by Jack Rodwell as David Moyes looked to help his fellow countryman and Scotland manager Walter Smith. Sheffield equalised on 69 minutes when after being awarded a free-kick the ball fell to David Sommeil on the edge of the box and his deflected shot beat Turner. EVERTON RESERVES: Turner, Irving (Kearney 81), Molyneux, Hughes, Weir (Rodwell 69), Phelan, Van der Meyde, Vidarsson, Anichebe, Vaughan, McFadden (Kissock 65). Subs: Jones, Agard.
Everton Reserves 2, Liverpool Reserves 1
Oct 11 2006 Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves followed up their Barclays Premiership derby success with victory in the mini-derby over Liverpool Reserves at Halton stadium.
The game was a lively affair with Jerzy Dudek was sent off for throwing a punch at Everton's Victor Anichebe. Lee Molynuex put the Everton ahead with a spectacular free-kick from 20 yards out after just eight minutes of the Barclays Premiership Reserve League Northern Section fixture. He curled the ball around the helpless Dudek to the delight of the large crowd. Liverpool were level just before the half-hour mark when Moroccan Nabil El Zhar scored his first goal for Liverpool from the penalty spot after being brought down by Mark Hughes. The young Moroccan stepped up to fire past Richard Wright. Liverpool should have taken the lead before the break when Bolo Zenden was also brought down in the box. El Zhar looked to be taking the penalty before Zenden took the ball off him and then missed the spot-kick.
Anichebe thought he should have been awarded a penalty in the second half but the referee waved his protests away. Just after Liverpool were down to 10 men when Dudek was sent off and again it involved young striker Anichebe. The Everton striker stretched for a ball and the polish international was not happy, he raised his hands to the striker's face and a red card followed abruptly. A 10-man brawl followed that incident and the referee handed out six yellow cards in all. Everton made their numerical advantage pay soon after, as teenager James Vaughan latched onto a long kick from Wright to slide the ball past substitute goalkeeper David Martin.
El Zhar tried in vain to level the game but Everton stayed strong to earn the victory.
EVERTON RESERVES: Wright, Hibbert, Molyneux, Irving, Hughes, Phelan, Connor, Kearney, Vaughan, Anichebe, Morrison (Agard 83).
LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Dudek, Smith, Warnock, Antwi, Paletta, Mannix, Flynn (Martin 60), Zenden, El Zhar, Guthrie, Aurelio (Threlfall 45). Subs: Hobbs, Roque, Darby.
Middlesbrough 2, Everton 1 (Echo)
Oct 16 2006 By Dominic King
THERE'S only one thing worse than going to Middlesbrough. That's going to Middlesbrough and seeing your unbeaten record smashed to smithereens.
Given its location - plonked in the middle of industrial wasteland, next to factories which continually belch out huge clouds of toxic smog into the atmosphere - rarely is a trip to the Riverside Stadium an enjoyable experience. So imagine,then, how the hordes of supporters who made the long trek to Teesside felt as they headed home on Saturday after seeing Everton's colours lowered for the first time this season.
Exasperation and frustration were probably the two most dominant emotions of those who spent 90 minutes bellowing their heroes on. But compared to the players whom they had travelled the best part of 150 miles to see, they would have been positively jovial. As they shuffled from the changing rooms to the team bus, each member of David Moyes' squad sported wistful looks. They knew, as did the manager, that another golden chance had gone begging. This time, though, they had nobody to blame but themselves. Absurd refereeing decisions may have scuppered Everton's ambitions against Newcastle and Manchester City and it could be argued that Mark Halsey failed to cover himself in glory at the weekend. The Blues certainly had solid claims for one, maybe two, penalties. To say, though, that Halsey was culpable for Everton ending a wretched day with nothing to show for their efforts would be farcical. That they lost for the first time into this hitherto promising campaign was simply down to Middlesbrough being the better side. Everton showed plenty of huff and puff in the second half and virtually set up camp in their hosts' 18-yard box during the 10 final, frantic minutes. So why did they need to fall two goals behind before starting to play with real purpose? Strange. Prior to Tim Cahill pouncing for the fifth time in eight games, Everton had been completely out of sorts, especially so in a kamikaze period before the interval when they conceded once and looked vulnerable almost every time Middlesbrough attacked. Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott have been rightly praised for their efforts so far but neither will look back on Saturday with fondness, as Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Mark Viduka caused havoc. Likewise, it is fair to say both Nuno Valente and Phil Neville will enjoy better days in Royal Blue. Both looked as if they were feeling the effects of injuries picked up on international duty.
Contrast that to the assured way Middlesbrough's rearguard performed - Robert Huth, who Moyes looked at in the summer, was outstanding in keeping Andrew Johnson quiet -and it is easier to see why Everton slipped up. That they still had a chance of snatching something in the dying moments was largely down to Tim Howard's heroics. True, he was culpable for conceding the penalty from which Yakubu put Boro ahead, yet redeemed himself with a superb stop from a second Yakubu penalty after 65 minutes, awarded after Lescott was adjudged to have handled when tussling with the Nigerian international. He then excelled in parrying a Lee Cattermole thunderbolt.
Of the three players Moyes brought to the club during the summer, Howard has attracted the least headlines but this, perhaps, was his best game for Everton as he overcame ashaky start to the contest. Quick and nimble around the box, he plays almost like an American football quarterback would do when he looks to launch an attack. Aside from that, and being an excellent shot stopper, the keeper has caught the eye with the way he handles crosses. At least three times Howard was tested when balls were flung into his six yard box and on each occasion he managed to pluck the danger from the air. Encouragingly for Moyes, the on-loan Manchester United man will get better the more games he plays. Howard and the midfield apart - Cahill's energetic efforts were remarkable considering he only arrived back in England from Sydney on Friday afternoon - this was a ragged, disjointed performance, the first time they have really disappointed. Surprise, surprise, though, the man many irate fans wanted to hold accountable on post-match phone-ins was Simon Davies. Ridiculous, not to mention grossly unfair. No matter what he does, it will never be good enough for the majority. The Wales international would be the first to admit that things have not gone according to plan since his £3.5m arrival from Spurs, but in the 39 appearances he has made how many times has he actually played in his best position, wide on the right? What the future holds for Davies, only Moyes knows but there are few players who deserve a break at present more than he. It was indicative of the way things are going for him that a left-footed goal bound volley in the first half crashed into Huth. If Leon Osman recovers from the injury that prevented his inclusion at the Riverside, few would bet against Davies dropping down to the bench against Sheffield United next week but whoever the manager picks will know that standards need lifting again. Everton have made a fine start to the season and Moyes was right when he said after the game that the current squad is better than the one that he took to Teesside in April and won thanks to James McFadden's late goal. But if proof were needed that Everton are still awork in progress,it arrivedinthis bleak, bleak corner of the North East. It is also worth noting that since the riotous derby day success on September 9, Everton are without a win in four Premiership matches. Only afool would suggest thatmeans progress has stalled but certainly everyone would feel much better if that statistic was blown out of the water when they return to action.
When in need of lift, where better place to find comfort than at home?
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Schwarzer; A Davies, Huth, Pogatetz, Taylor; Cattermole (Parnaby 83), Boateng, Euell, Downing (Arca 90); Viduka, Yakubu. Subs: Turnbull, Rochemback, Maccarone.
BOOKING: Cattermole (foul).
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert (Beattie 33), Lescott, Yobo, Valente (van der Meyde 90); Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Davies (McFadden 75); Cahill; Johnson. Subs: Wright, Weir.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey.
Blackburn Res 1, Everton Res 0
Oct 17 2006 Daily Post
A ROSTYN Griffiths goal just before half-time was enough to send Everton Reserves to their first defeat of the season against Blackburn Rovers Reserves.
Everton had Andy van der Meyde in their side as the Dutchman continued his efforts to get full match fitness but in fairness the home side did most of the attacking in the first half. Raffaele de Vita saw an effort flash over the bar in the first five minutes and then Matt Derbyshire followed up with an effort minutes later. Andrew Taylor should have put Rovers ahead on 26 minutes but he somehow managed to head over the bar from Derbyshire's intelligent pass. Van der Meyde then had Everton's first chance of the half, firing a low shot just wide of Encklmans goal.Just after, attacker Bjarni Vidarsson sent in a header which was saved well by the former Aston Villa goalkeeper. Despite Everton's pressure the home side took the lead four minutes before the break Griffiths picked up the ball 35 yards out and hit a half-volley past Turner and into the Everton net. If Blackburn dominated the first half, the second was definitely Everton's with van der Meyde, James Vaughan and Alan Kearney all testing the Rovers goalkeeper. However, Turner had to be alert in the Everton goal when De Vita struck on the counter attack, the Blues keeper turned his shot round the post.
Everton huffed and puffed but couldn't find the equaliser.
EVERTON RESERVES: Turner, Irving, Molyneux, Dennehy, Hughes, Phelan (Harper 80), van der Meyde, Kearney, Vaughan, Anichebe, Vidarsson. Subs: Agard, Jones, Elder, Morrison.
BLACKBURN RESERVES: Enckleman, Nolan, Matteo, Henchoz, Taylor, Griffiths, O'Keefe, Hodge (Dadson 77), Olsson (King 80), Derbyshire, De Vita. Subs: Garner, Fielding, Thomson.
Everton 2, Sheffield Utd 0 (Echo)
Oct 23 2006 David Prentice At Goodison Park
EVERTONIANS old enough to remember when Goodison Park was a School of Science cherish Mikel Arteta. In an age of power, pace and precision, he produces the qualities old school blues hold dear. He can kill an awkwardly falling ball with one sure touch of either foot. He can shimmy and dazzle his way past markers with a blur of intricate footwork, and he can unpick agricultural defences with cultured, laser-precise passes. So a curiosity of Everton's upwardly mobile season so far has been his lack of impact. It is widely accepted that so far this campaign Everton have played better, more polished passing football than they have managed for years. But they have done so without the influence of their most naturally gifted ball-player. It's not that Arteta has performed badly, he just hasn't performed to the levels he showed for much of last season. That changed on Saturday. Buoyed by the confidence generated from a rare headed goal, the Spaniard started to show us tricks from his extravagant repertoir. Just a glimpse, mind. But enough to overcome a limited Sheffield United side. And enough to leave the purists purring in admiration. The Blades possessed all artisans, but Everton boasted the artist. And after heading the first goal, his beautifully understated outside-of-the-boot pass through to Andy Johnson exposed the visitors fatally to win the match-ending penalty kick. James Beattie buried it, Claude Davis was dismissed and the match was effectively over. Predictably Neil Warnock chose to highlight that moment afterwards, rather than his team's wastefulness in front of goal in the 58 minutes which remained. Contact from the centre-back christened Claude - an appropriate moniker for a flat-footed defender if ever there was one - was minimal.
But there was contact. If Davis hadn't felt the need to tug at Johnson's jersey, the striker couldn't have fallen down. But it was still an unsatisfactory award.
What Warnock's protestations have ensured, however, is that Andy Johnson will see more clear cut appeals turned down away from home in future, as happened at Ewood Park earlier this season. Fling enough mud and some always sticks - and Warnock was lashing tons of the stuff on Saturday night. Johnson's importance to Everton was underlined when he dramatically collapsed again in the penalty area six minutes beforehalf-time and lay clutching his ankle. Goodison Park held its collective breath for several seconds until he limped gingerly to the touchline before continuing.
The Blues squad is small in numbers , and another left-backinjury, plus a virus running through his squad - Tim Cahill, James Beattie and most severely, Tim Howard, were all affected - meant a recall for David Weir. He performed with his usual, undemonstrative poise - but he was out-shone by performers on either flank.
Phil Neville was outstanding at right-back. If Tony Hibbert is a more dogged defender than the England international, Neville offers much more going forward.
His 15th minute cross which picked out Arteta's unmarked dash into the penalty box was outstanding - not quite as good as the one which embarrassed Tottenham at White Hart Lane, but not far off. And it wasn't a solitary moment. He produced a series of penetrating balls throughout a first half when Everton were just about in charge.
Tim Cahill directed one over the Gwladys Street crossbar, while another fell fractionally behind Johnson.
On the other flank Simon Davies produced a performance which suggested he may finally have found a role he can call his own - even if he was asked to finish the match as a right-back. Everton have lacked a natural left-sided midfielder since they cashed in on Kevin Kilbane. Davies is clearly more comfortable on the right, but a very good performance on the opposite flank showed he can adapt. And with no obvious challengers for thatrole - Arteta, Naysmith and Osman have all played out there since Kilbane was sold - he could make the position his own. Always wanting to cut in, he still managed to trouble the Blades with some purposeful running and passing.
On the stroke of half-time it was his burst and pass which played Johnson clean through on goal. The striker had far more time than he might have imagined and hurried a left-footed shot against the base of a post. That was Everton's last threatening moment of the match until three minutes from time. It wasn't the end of the goalmouth action, though. Sheffield United showed spirit and enterprise to overcome their numerical deficiency, but found Tim Howard in the kind of superb form he has showed all season, while Hulse blazed two fine chances wide of the target. With the match effectively won, Everton's second half display was drab and sub-standard. Alone, plaintive cry rang out through the Main Stand midway through the half. "Moyes, this is crap!" he bellowed. It was a little harsh, but it underlined the increased expectation levels now coursing through Royal Blue veins. Standard 2-0 home wins over relegation threatened teams are not considered good enough.
Victories now have to be achieved with a swagger. With Mikel Arteta starting to stir again that looks an increasingly likely prospect.
Man of the Match
Scored one, had a hand in the other and put on a performance that had the purists purring
Everton 4, Luton Town 0 (Echo)
Oct 25 2006 By David Prentice
LEAGUE Cup ties used to be like this - but not since the days when Luton defenders wore headbands and bubble-perms and Everton strikers sported shorts tighter than Speedo tr unks. Both The Toffees and The Hatters turned back the clock last night to when the League Cup meant something. They took last night's third round tie seriously, named two full-strength teams, attracted a decent sized gate which created a lively atmosphere - and the reward was a supremely entertaining evening's football.
Four goals, a missed penalty, numerous goal-line clearances, the woodwork rattled and goalkeepers forced into back-breaking saves - all in half-term week when many parents took advantage of the reduced prices to bring the kids. The only hard part now will be for harassed dads to explain why it isn't like this every week. There was even a chant from the Gwladys Street of "Kenwright, Kenwright gives us a wave!"
Support for an Everton chairman from the home end? It really was that sort of night.
The tone was set the moment the team-sheets dropped. Sure, Iain Turner made a rare appearance in goal, but otherwise the Blues line-up was packed with familiar, experienced faces. Joseph Yobo and Phil Neville were the only significant absentees, while the selection of this season's lion rampant, Andy Johnson, showed exactly how seriously David Moyes wanted his squad to take this competition. Johnson might not have scored, but he still tormented the Hatters' harassed defence all night. And Mikel Arteta's poor 41st minute penalty kick means he will have every chance of boosting his goals tally yet further this season -provided he can beat James Beattie to the ball to future awards.Johnson had the first on-target shot of the evening in the fourth minute. It was the prelude to both goals being peppered with an array of shots, headers and crosses - created largely as the result of quality, passing football.
Against physically imposing Premiership midfields, a Cahill-Arteta axis can look lightweight. Against a decent Championship engine room, however, they were mesmerising. More intelligent, more incisive, more technically accomplished, their football was a joy to watch. The only surprise was that the opening goal came from a set-piece. Arteta clipped the ball to the far post, Lescott cleverly headed it back across goal and Cahill produced his party-piece, arriving late to bury a diving header.
We had to wait a full 11 minutes for the next goal - during which time McFadden skipped through on the left and pulled his shot across goal, Feeney hooked Luton's best chance over the bar and Simon Davies showed what he's been desperate to displayever since he arrived at Everton, that when he plays wide on the right he can deliver top quality balls into the box. Three times he obliged in the opening half-hour, all from the alien position of right-back. But the second goal came from the opposite flank when Johnson accelerated through the gears to leave Foley trailing, before pulling the ball back for a desperate Davis to crash the ball against Keane and into his own net. The chances continued to pile up. Morgan curved an impressive effort narrowly over Iain Turner's crossbar, Beresford made a flying save to parry Arteta's header, Davies hackedthe ball offhis own goal-line from Feeney then Keane made the fatal mistake of challenging Johnson inside the penalty area. A penalty kick was awarded, but after loitering around the penalty spot like a child waiting to be asked to join in a playground game, spoilsport Arteta claimed the spot-kick responsibility - and fluffed it. That was four minutes before the interval, time enough for Robinson to slice aclearance into the side-netting, Morgan to bend a free-kick over the wall and onto a goalpost and David Weir to sustain a shocking head injury in an accidental clash of heads. The second period started just as the first half had ended, with skilful attacking football. The match-killing goal came in the 52nd minute, Arteta predictably slicing open the Luton defence, Cahill clipping the ball backunselfishly and McFadden stroking into the net. But even then there was no let-up in the entertainment. The goal of the night was denied by Beresford's outstretched fingers, snatching the ball off Johnson's toes. McFadden's header was spectacularly saved by Beresford, Arteta drilled a shot against the post then Feeney's near-post shot was pushed over by Turner. By this time the hour-mark had just been reached.
Right. Sit down. Pause for breath. Time to go again. Acombination of keeper and covering defender kept out Davies' well controlled shot, Victor Anichebe - eventually allowed on after an over-officious fourth official refused to believe Simon Davies had already limped off - crashed a fierce drive over, then the engagingly enthusiastic youngster dashed down the left channel and drove a fierce drive under Beresford for the fourth. The end of the action? You're joking, surely. McFadden turned sweetly inside the six yard box, poked the ball past Beresford but saw the ball hacked off the line, then in the 92nd minute Tim Cahill rose at the far post but headed narrowly wide.
It was a treat for an enthralled Goodison - and a reminder of the kind of entertainment the League Cup used to offer when Everton were capable of reaching its latter stages.
The fourth round takes place in a fortnight. We can only hope it's half as good as this match.
EVERTON: Turner, Davies (Anichebe 67), Weir (Hughes 45), Stubbs, Lescott, Arteta, Cahill, Arteta, Osman, Johnson (Beattie 67), McFadden. Not used: Vidarsson, Howard.
LUTON TOWN: Beresford, Foley, Davis, Bell, Barnett, Edwards, Robinson (O'Leary 79), Keane, Morgan (Brkovic 79), Feeney, Vine (Boyd 79). Not used: Emanuel, Brill.
REFEREE: Mr S J Tanner.
BOOKINGS: Keane (41 mins) foul
GOALS: Cahill (22 mins) 1-0, Keane own goal (33) 2-0, McFadden (52) 3-0, Anichebe (77) 4-0.
Arsenal 1, Everton 1 (Echo)
Oct 30 2006 By David Prentice
NORTH London . . . two short words crammed somewhere between Clive Thomas and Ian Rush in the Everton compendium of catastrophe. Yet after what seemed like a life-time of disappointment and despair in the twin capital arenas of Tottenham and Arsenal, Everton have reinvented themselves this season at their twomost daunting venues. In August, the Blues secured their first triumph at Tottenham in more than 20 years. Their performance that afternoon is still the model they strive to emulate.
But on Saturday they secured perhaps an even moreimpressive result - and they had to do it in a very different fashion. After outplaying Spurs in a football contest, Arsene Wenger's extravagantly gifted side took Everton back to school. But the Blues dug in, and in a performance full of resolve, character and steely determination, prised a point from their first visit to the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger was right to point out that his team boasted 70 per cent possession and that Everton scored from their only shot - on or off target - all afternoon. But he failed to point out that for all their classy approach play and mesmerising passing patterns, Arsenal didn't carve out one single goalscoring opportunity which could be described as gilt-edged. That was down to the quality of Everton's defending, whichstarted from the front with Andy Johnson once again chasing lost causes all afternoon. Osman, Davies and Carsley worked tirelessly in midfield, while the redoubtable Stubbs was acalm and reassuring leader at the heart of the defence. But it was impossible to understate the contributions of the two Tims
David Moyes has asked Tim Cahill to re-invent himself this season - to become more of a latter day Paul Scholes if you like.
But to ask the little Australian to become more of a rounded midfielder would be to take away the remarkable quality he has of arriving with impeccable timing in opposition penalty boxes.
Cahill has played almost as a subsidiary striker this season, and Saturday's strike from Arteta's corner now puts him out in front as the club's top scorer.
But it is Cahill'sattitude on the pitch which has been most impressive.
His football commitment has been almost total for three solid years now.
After playing in the Olympic Games during the summer of 2004, the Confederations Cup the summer after, and then the World Cup this year, he could be forgivenfor complaining of burn-out and a jaded palate.
Yet his zest and enthusiasm puts other players to shame and after lashing in the opening goal after 10 minutes, he was inches away from connecting with another quick Arteta free-kick 11 minutes later.
Moyes joked afterwards that if that had gone in, Arsenal's onslaught would simply have intensified.
Perhaps. But such was the quality of Everton's defending there's every chance the Blues would have held out, too.
Tim Howard was beaten only once after that, from Van Persie's fiercely driven free-kick generously awarded for a Carsley challenge on Fabregas. But his handling and his shot-stopping was impeccable both before and after. The pick was a stretching, finger-tip save from Henry's header back across goal, but most of the time Arsenal's shots fizzed and whistled wide of the target. Henry even resorted to handling the ball into his path to fire a shot over. Referee Mike Riley smiled, gestured a handling offence and awarded a free-kick. Poor Simon Davies was dragged in front of the official and given a stern dressing down when he had the temerity to allow a fierce shot to strike him on the arm in the first-half. Perhaps Simon needs to start doing TV adverts before he can impress the Old Mother. Alan Irvine's angry reaction at the end of the first half, when Riley added more than a minute onto the advertised two to allow Arsenal to take a corner, and then blew just as Johnson was about to break away, was understandable.
So too was manager David Moyes' ironic gestures in the fifth minute of added on time at the end of the match, which saw him sent to the stands. At least the seats will have been padded and spacious. So what of the new stadium? Stunning. Like some vast space age amphitheatre which has been transported into the midst of old fashioned Victorian streets, the Emirates Stadium is aesthetically pleasing, boasts impressive facilities and is undeniably a thing of beauty. Yet there is something antiseptic about the whole thing. The 60,000 crowd sat and waited patiently even when their team was a goal down and struggling to break down their resilient visitors. I even witnessed two young men, Arsenal fans, chase a steward to complain about neighbouring Gunners fans who had been "winding them up!" Arsene Wenger complained afterwards about the direction football was taking. His bleating was understandable.
But equally, there's something a little soulless about the whole Emirates experience which was just as disconcerting. There was nothing soulless about the visitors' solid, traditional, back to basics approach, however. David Moyes believes this crop of players is capable of taking Everton back into the higher reaches of the Premiership once again. With such commendable self-belief, it's difficult to disagree.
ARSENAL (4-1-4-1): Lehmann; Hoyte (Flamini 39), Toure, Djourou (Walcott 67), Gallas; Gilberto; Hleb (Aliadiere 79), Rosicky, Fabregas, van Persie; Henry. Subs: Almunia, Senderos.
BOOKINGS: Gallas (foul) and Arteta (dissent).
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Davies, Carsley, Osman; Cahill; Johnson. Subs: Turner, Hughes, McFadden, Beattie, Anichebe.
BOOKINGS: Arteta and Osman (both fouls).
REFEREE: Mike Riley.