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  (0-0) Wiltord (62')
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Everton v Arsenal:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 35
 Arsenal 23
 Draws 22
 Premiership
 Everton 1
 Arsenal 4
 Draws 4
 Last Season:
 Everton 2-0 Arsenal

 
Walter Smith unexpected chose to play his two new signings from the start, as rumours that Gravesen would make a reappearance for the Blues were proved well wide of the mark.  Duncan Ferguson was the missing man, making up a total of 10 senior Everton players missing for one reason or another.

And Ginola made an instant impression in the first minute, dummying a great through ball and then picking up the return to unleash a fantastic shot that took a favourable deflection which helped the Arsenal keeper save on the near post.

Ginola was definitely up for this one, and demanded to take the first free-kick awarded on the edge of the Arsenal box.  A beautiful curving strike deserved so much more than to clip the outside of the post, with Richard Wright well beaten.  But Everton were later to rue that close shave as Ginola continued to inspire a bright first half, with Everton making but tellingly failing to convert a number of good chances.  

Naysmith picked up an injury making a very silly challenge, running across the line of an Arsenal player, and it looked like he would go off.  But he surprisingly ran it off, as Smith preserved with the formation that had done reasonable well to contain a mediocre Arsenal side that was also missing 10 first-team players.  That included Lee Carsley making a solid and accomplished debut for Everton, going some way to deflecting the unfortunate "journeyman" tag.

The start of the second half was the time when Everton should have capitalized on the good foundations established in the first half.  A tactical substitution Gascoigne for almost anybody would have surely injected additional creativity and verve just when it was needed.  And Campbell alone up-front was dying for some support from a player like Joe-Max Moore.

But instead of making any changes that could have dictated the game, our dour Scotsman remained faithful and true to his unchanging nature, waiting until Everton were behind before doing anything, and thus losing the entire momentum that had been built up to half time.

Arsenal grasped the lost initiative, and played better football in the first 20 minutes to push Everton back and deny them vital space in midfield.  Then, one of countless poor balls out of defence (a new Everton trademark?) was quickly chipped back in to the advancing Wiltord, who flicked up a strange looping angled lob that completely defeated Simonsen.  In agonizing slow motion, he seemed convinced it was going wide as he back-pedalled to cover it.  Only when he realized the awful truth did he make an accelerated attempt to reach the ball, but by then it was too late and Arsenal were in front.  A lunge, a dive, anything would have stopped the goal, but the flight of the ball was very hard for Simonsen to have judged properly given the angles.

And the game was up.  Everton tried to rally, with Gascoigne finally coming on, but by that time Ginola was seeing less and less of the ball, and having less and less effect on the game.  Some promising touches brought Everton back into the play for the last 20 mins as Smith made two more belated and (for him!) relatively aggressive substitutions but, as usual, it was all too little, too late.  It was no recompense that Arsenal bizarrely ended up collecting five yellow cards and a nice fine from the FA this was far from a dirty game.

Make no mistake: this was a game Everton could and should have won or at least drawn.  That we didn't is once again down to poor decisions and tactical failings of our manager, Walter Smith. 

And a recorded attendance of only 30,000+ ????  With just a few seats in the corners empty...  Something fishy is going on.... 



M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 26
4:00pm  Sunday 10 February 2002
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Jeff Winter
Att: 30,859
Position: 15th
TV: Sky Sports
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Simonsen; Clarke (86' Moore), Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth (69' Gascoigne), Linderoth, Carsley, Blomqvist (77' Pembridge), Naysmith, Ginola; Campbell (c). Gerrard, Cleland.
Unavailable:  Alexandersson, Cadamarteri, Chadwick, Ferguson, Hibbert, Pistone, Radzinski, Watson (injured); Gravesen (overlooked?); Nyarko (loan).  Suspended: Gemmill. Debuts: Carsley  Ginola, Linderoth
Arsenal Wright, Upson (31' Dixon), Campbell, Stepanovs, Luzhny, Parlour, Vieira (c), Bronckhorst, Grimandi, Wiltord, Henry.  Seaman, Jeffers, Edu, Inamoto. 
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-5-1; 3-5-2
Arsenal: Red & white shirts; white shorts; red socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton:   --
Arsenal: Campbell (17'), Stepanovs (25'), Parlour (45'), Luzhny (79'), Henry (90'). --


Premiership Scores
Saturday
Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea
Bolton 1-0 West Ham
Derby 0-1 Sunderland
Fulham 2-0 Blackburn
Ipswich 0-6 Liverpool
Middlesbro 2-2 Leeds
Newcastle 3-1 Sotton
Tottenham 2-1 Leicester
Sunday
Everton 0-1 Arsenal
Charlton 0-2 Man Utd
 


Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 54
2 Liverpool 52
3 Newcastle 52
4 Arsenal 51
5 Chelsea 44
6 Leeds 43
7 Aston Villa 38
8 Tottenham 35
9 Fulham 35
10 Charlton 33
11 Sunderland 31
12 West Ham 31
13 Ipswich 30
14 Southampton 30
15 Everton 28
16 Middlesbrough 28
17 Bolton 28
18 Blackburn 25
19 Derby 22
20 Leicester 17
 After 10 February 2002
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
From The Terrace Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Squire of Beckenham That's it; we're down
Richard Marland Added spice not enough
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
FA Premier Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
The Times Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report


Match Preview

Great!  We're in trouble and here come Arsenal!

Last weekend there were rumours that Arsenal would be shorn of Pires, Ljunberg, Viera, Henry, Cole, Keown, Adams, Seaman, Dixon, Lauren, Kanu, Bergkamp and our own ex-Jeffers.... even then I was still worried!!

As it is, Viera is now rated likely to play, Henry's disciplinary hearing has still not been given a date and he will definitely play, and even Franny hopes to be on the bench.  No Pires or Bergkamp though.

When you see the list of players that they have missing and then see the quality of the players that they will still put on the pitch, you realise just how poor our 1st team squad is.  They have no Kanu or Bergkamp so they play Henry and Wiltord - the World Champions' strike force.  We lost Campbell and Ferguson and played a fullback upfront!

But enough!  What straws can we grasp at?

Well, we beat them 2-0 last season.  Southampton drew 1-1 with them last Saturday.  They've scored in their last 27 league games so they must draw a blank eventually!!

Our team?  Not got a clue!  I guess the back four will be Weir, Stubbs, Clarke at fullback and Unsworth on the other flank.  Midfield is a bit more difficult.  Is Gravesen fit?  If so, why on earth isn't he playing??  We are in trouble and he's our best player.  If Smith hangs for anything he may hang for that.

Linderoth?  The lad can only be half-fit.  Pembridge? He can't even be half-fit!  Likely line-up I would think would be Naysmith left-mid; Linderoth and Pembridge/Gazza in the middle (Gemmill is suspended) and Blomqvist on the right.

Upfront the immobile Donkeys oh sorry the Bruise Brothers (yeah right!) Ferguson and Campbell will probably start with hopefully Radzinski making the bench and coming on.  Our front line is woefully short of pace and movement; whilst Rads' scoring record hasn't been great, he has shown a threat to defences.

INTERJECTION...   GINOLA !!!!!

I do not know whether to laugh or cry!   I think I'll laugh and then I'll remember the fact that, despite his penchant for fancy hairstyling adverts, the guy has one of the best deliveries of crosses in Europe and yes I do mean that.  He's overweight and lacking match fitness BUT he has class and we don't!

If, 6 months ago, I had said we would have Blomqvist on one wing and Ginola on the other, we would never have believed it but personally I think it can work.  Suddenly, purchasing Carsley is not such a shocker.  Two tough-tackling, terrier, workman like central midfielders are not so bad when you place Jesper and Daveed wide of them. 

At Derby Carsley looked a quality player and Kendall was very keen just before he got the boot but, at Blackburn and then Coventry last season, he seemed out of his depth and he is hardly the player to bring flowing football back to the club.  We now have enough average hard working players in the middle of the park, Linderoth we are told is a defensive midfielder, but know we where the ideas are going to come from.  

Suddenly, the creativity even if for only 60 minutes in a match has arrived.  Ginola is lazy, Ginola is overweight, Ginola was player of the year 2 years ago and possess more ability in each of his feet than any other player at Goodison (excepting Gazza of course).

Suddenly we could look at a midfield of: Ginola, Linderoth, Gazza,
Blomqvist with Carsley and Pembridge on the bench (oh and Unsworth as well as Naysmith drops back).

Ginola has hardly played this season and Carsley has been plying his trade in the 1st division... BUT this is an improvement.  Will Gravesen apologise and say what needs to be said?  If so then we have a midfield that, if Viera is missing, may hold its own.

Suddenly I am, irrationally, more optimistic.   Signings lift clubs.  Ginola has a "je ne sais quoi" about him and boy can he cross.  If Dunc can't do something with his crosses then he really really is finished.

Come on lads, let's get irrational; lets grab at straws.  Goodison roar.  Ginola shine; Dunc strut.  Believe me, the game is there to be won.  If Viera doesn't show, we can win; it if he does... well, damn it, we still can.

I love the Blues.  I'll be at Goodison, lets roar them home !

BlueForEver (even if it does hurt..)



That's it: we're down

by the Squire of Beckenham

Well, that's it then... we're down. And it doesn't matter what we do now. 

Lets get the signings out the way: Carsley, I thought, had a good steady game, and has nothing to be ashamed of.  He was there to hold the midfield and get stuck in, and in doing so he was more than a match for the fist-shaking Dane (who must surely be on his way to Hamburg by the end of the week for a nice nifty profit to please the bank temporarily).

Ginola, my friends, was pure class.  Not everything he did came off, and you may think that he tired towards the end of the second half.  But he still looked head and shoulders above any other Everton player on show today in terms of ability and vision.  There were times when his flicks completely wrong footed the Arsenal defence and if wed had anybody with a bit of pace wed have been into the open spaces like barracuda.  Im just waiting for the first f@ckwad to suggest that Ginolas a lazy cunt for confirmation that we do indeed have the most knowledgeable supporters in the game (My arse!).

And therein lies the problem; you have soooooper Kev, up front, holding the play (and being held; more of which later) and no fecker there to feed off him.  We have no pace anywhere in the side, other than (perhaps) Naysmith out from the left-back position.  The glaring obvious symptom of this is the tendency to defend in depth because youre too scared that a pacy team is going to get around the back of you (as Arsenal did in the last 20 mins).

Until this is addressed, were fecked; and its going to take more than a fit Radzinski to do anything about it.

Watch Arsenal: they pressure and snap at the opponents from every position on the pitch, because they know that if they do lose out then theres plenty of pace elsewhere on the field to compensate.  They usually dont defend any deeper than a third of the way up the pitch because they dont have to.  But not us; oh no, cautious Walter wont have any of that; when was the last time you saw us defend goal kicks from up by the halfway line?

The thing that really got me today though, and the thing that really makes me think that were destined for the drop, is the unreal conspiracy of events in that game (and Im not just talking about Wiltords goal, possibly the jammiest goal Ive seen in an Everton v Arsenal game since Pat Rice floated in a 50-yard free kick past Nev at Highbury in about 81). 

A special mention here to the referee, Jeff Winter.  As if the unpunished shirt pulling on Campbell by Stepanovs wasnt bad enough, the rugby tackle on Wier by the same player would surely have resulted in a penalty from any referee of a decent standard assuming, that is, the cunt wasnt 30 yards away from the play

The highlight of his performance, though, was the treatment of Thierry Henrys tackle on Wier in the 89th minute.  OK, its all well past us by then which makes the intent in a two footed tackle launched from the other side of the pitch even more glaringly obvious.  He pulled up Henry, and by any interpretation of the laws of the game, which these cunts keep spouting at us whenever then seek to excuse their f@ck-ups, he had to go  But no, says Winter, Ill just book him instead.  

Add to this Walters tactical acumen (Clarkes getting made a show of by Henry et al, and Campbell badly needs some support up front so the obvious switch is to bring Joe-Max on in the 86th minute????) and the way that every 50-50 ball broke to them, and you have the recipe for a side that is staring into the abyss.

It wouldnt matter now if somebody gave us 200M to spend, and we bought Figo, Kluivert, Rivaldo and any other player that you could name were in the Nationwide next year.  Sure, somebody along the way will get malleted 5-0 by us in a false dawn (probably West Ham in three weeks), but everyone else is gonna either completely bladder us or grind out a flukey win, a bit like today.

Oh well I hear Gillinghams very nice in autumn can David Moyes come out to play please?  Think I'm just gonna get pissed up for the rest of the season and forget about it!

(Incidentally, I found out today that I'm not the only Evertonian in Beckenham, there's at least three more... plus the pub was full of ManUre and Totternham fans who cheered Ginola's every move!)



Added spice not enough

by Richard Marland

After the disheartening and damaging defeat against Ipswich, and bearing in mind our current run of form (lets be honest - it's relegation form), it was important to get things going again.  Coming up against Arsenal wasn't exactly what we wanted and, even though they were shorn of a number of players, they were still able to put out a star studded team.

Added spice was given to the match by our recent flurry of transfer activity, in particular the arrival of Ginlola.

Team

I was intrigued before the match as to how, exactly we were going to line up.  As it was, decisions were largely made for Walter by the absence of Dunc, the suspension of Gemmill and the continued absence of Alexandersson and Radzinski.  I make it eight players who would probably have been in the squad being missing.

After a couple of mediocre performances, Gascoigne was the only person dropped.  Ginola was asked to partner Campbell up front, Blomqvist had to fill in on the right, and we had a brand new central midfield pairing of Linderoth and Carsley.

First half

We undoubtedly had the better of the first half.  Ginola was playing like a man with a point to prove.  Within the first couple of minutes, he had produced a good save from Wright.  This was followed by a free kick which grazed the outside of a post with the 'keeper beaten, and finally a wasting of our best chance of the game when he had a clear sight of goal but sidefooted wide.

During this first 45 minutes everyone showed a little bit.  Carsley got forward to good effect on a couple of occasions (it was he who had laid on Ginola's missed chance), and was also getting stuck in.  Linderoth showed himself to be a neat and tidy player, who could invariably find a blue shirt.  It wasn't brilliant but it offered encouragement.

Second half

I suppose an Arsenal reaction was only to be expected.  All their serious title rivals had won over the weekend it was imperative that they did so as well.  They noticeably upped their tempo in the second half and we began to look distinctly second best.  Ginola faded from the game, Carsley and Linderoth went very quiet in midfield.

Our defending, even if a little desperate at times, kept them at arms length, and just when I began to think that we may have ridden out the storm, they pounced.  The warning signs of a goal had been there but, when it did arrive, it was cruel in the extreme.  Viera chipped a ball in towards Wiltord.  Wiltord was being closely shepherded but as it dropped over his shoulder he swung his leg at it and the ball looped off his shin, over Simonsen and into the net.  From my distant vantage point it was one of those horrible, almost slow motion affairs.  The ball looped up, seemingly going nowhere but ending up nestling in the goal.

After the goal we did drag ourselves back into the game.  We never really looked convincing but at least we stemmed the Arsenal tide.  Gascoigne came on for Unsworth with Naysmith reverting to left back, Blomqvist switching over to the left and Gascoigne going to the right.  A bit later, Blomqvist was withdrawn for the returning Pembridge.  The final throw was Moore coming for Clarke as we went to a back three.  It was all to no avail; we did try but barely created a chance worthy of the name.

Summary

The bottom three seems to get ever closer and the edginess will only increase from here on in.  There were positives to be taken from the game.  All three debutants made a contribution, Pembridge made a welcome return, and it is to be hoped that Radzinski can come in to profit from some of the quality we have on the pitch now.

I personally think that all of the signings are excellent; they all did alright yesterday and they should all improve with familiarity and additional match fitness.  If we can get Radzinski out there and Alexandersson back to provide balance down the right and allow Blomqvist to revert to the left, then there is distinct promise there, and we do still have plenty of time left to sort things out.

Ratings

  • Simonsen 7  One good save but not his busiest game.  Not sure whether he has any blame for the goal, he did seem a bit casual when running back for it, but it was a bit of a freak.
  • Clarke 6  A huge step on the learning curve as he spent much of the game marking Henry.  Did OK for the most part but his distribution must improve gave possession away cheaply on far too many occasions.
  • Weir 7  As composed and as reliable as ever.
  • Stubbs 7  As composed and as reliable as ever.
  • Unsworth 7 Did his usual competent defensive job.
  • Blomqvist 6  Had a number of good moments but can't help feeling he'd be better down the left.
  • Carsley 6  Did more in the opposition half than I expected.  Did pretty well first half but disappeared a bit in the second.
  • Linderoth 6  A tidy little player.  Got good, quick feet.  Promising.
  • Naysmith 6  Don't take this the wrong way but I'll be glad when someone like Ginola or Blomqvist can take over his left wing duties.  He doesn't do anything wrong he just doesn't pose a real, proper attacking threat.  After all he's really a left back.
  • Campbell 6  Not happening for him at the moment, but undeserving of some of the stick he is getting.
  • Ginola 7  Made a big difference especially when he was fit enough to make a real contribution.  He was trying to do too much at times taking the ball off teammates, taking free kicks he probably should have left to Stubbs.  But at least that showed his eagerness to impress.
  • Gascoigne 6  Made a few little runs but didn't have too great an impact.
  • Pembridge 6  Got in a few thumping tackles.  Remains my first choice for centre midfield.
  • Moore -  He may not have even touched the ball.

Team 6  Definitely something to build on.  There was commitment there, there was organisation. We deserved something from the game.

Man of the match  Ginola deserves consideration but in the end it goes to old dependable Davey Weir.



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