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Everton v Chelsea:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 33
 Chelsea 10
 Draws 19
 Premiership
 Everton 3
 Chelsea 2
 Draws 4
 Last Season:
 Everton 2-1 Chelsea

 
Well, what can you say that is in any way positive about a match of unmitigated crap that was totally lacking in quality and managed perhaps three moments that would pass for excitement?

Students of Walter Smith's team-selection process will have groaned knowingly and painfully at the sight of a line-up that  featured no less than six defenders, with one of them – Steve Watson – pressed forward into an ultimately pointless attacking role.

The first half was as bad as it gets in terms of Premiership football, with bouts of head-tennis and "I can make more bad passes than you can" episodes, punctuating a prolonged session of Chase the Monkey.  At least the babbling Ranieri had the footballing nouse to acknowledge this at half-time and make two changes which gave Chelsea the edge in a barely improved second half.  Pay-per-View?  Mugs, the lot of us!

For Walter Smith, it was a case of hoping for the best, having demoted Gascoigne – one of Everton's most creative players – to a bench that included the injured Ferguson but not Tal, Cadamarteri or Moore.  Why does Smith even bother retaining them if he is not going to play them in games like this?  And Gascoigne was presumably knackered after a tough mid-week game for the Reserves?  Then, to have him warm up and strip down for the 6 mins of added time?  We do have a great manager, so I'm told...

Gravesen and Gemmill huffed and puffed but nothing really came off.  Radzinski's pace was neutralized by the be buffeting tactics of Terry and the immensely long legs of Gallas.  In the end, Everton's hero (if this game warranted such an overworked epithet) was Simonsen, who repeatedly denied the increasing threat that Chelsea posed, culminating in a superb finger-tip save of a Zola free-kick deflecting it onto the bar when it would have beaten most other keepers.



M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 12
2:00pm  Sunday 18 November 2001
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Mark Halsey
Att: 30,555
Position: 12th
PPV
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Simonsen; Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth; Alexandersson (74' Ferguson), Gemmill, Gravesen, Naysmith; Watson, Radzinski. Gerrard, Xavier, Gascoigne, Pembridge. 
Unavailable:  Blomqvist, Ferguson, Pembridge (unfit); Campbell (injured); Nyarko (loan). 
Chelsea Bosnich (80' Cudicini), Babayaro, Melchiot, Terry, Gallas, Dalla Bona (46' Stanic), Petit, Lampard, Jokanovic (46' Zenden), Hasselbaink, Zola.  Le Saux, Gudjohnsen.  
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 5-3-2
Chelsea: White shirts; blue shorts; white socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton: Gravesen (20') --
Chelsea: Jokanovic (41'), Melchiot (45'), Babayaro (90') --


Premiership Scores
Saturday
Aston Villa 0-0 Middlesbro
Blackburn  1-1 Liverpool 
Derby  1-0 Sotton 
Fulham  3-1 Newcastle 
Man United 2-0 Leicester 
Tottenham  1-1 Arsenal 
Sunday
Everton  0-0 Chelsea 
Ipswich  1-2 Bolton 
Sunderland  2-0 Leeds 
Monday
Charlton  4-4 West Ham


Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Liverpool 23
2 Leeds 23
3 Aston Villa 22
4 Man Utd 21
5 Arsenal 20
6 Newcastle 20
7 Chelsea 19
8 Bolton 19
9 Blackburn 18
10 Tottenham 18
11 Fulham 17
12 Everton 16
13 Sunderland 16
14 Middlesbrough 15
15 West Ham 15
16 Charlton 14
17 Derby 10
18 Leicester 9
19 Ipswich 8
20 Southampton 7
After 19 November 2001
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
Lyndon Lloyd Lifeless Everton let two points slip
Matthew Fearon In Safe Hands
Richard Martland A Cagey Affair
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
Daily Post Match Report


Match Preview

Another bizarre kick-off time: 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, courtesy this time of Pay-Per-View.

Injury doubts continue to dog Campbell and Ferguson, as fitness once again becomes a constraint on Walter Smith's choices from what we are told this week is a small squad.  Myhre, a totally unused player, has been replaced by Blomqvist, a barely fit player, but he least we know from past practice that the last thing he will experience at Goodison is being frozen out by Walter Smith.

So who will play up-front?  With Chadwick injured, Radzinski possible tired after playing for Canada on Thursday, Cadamarteri persona non grata (but surprisingly playable) and Joe-Max Moore down at the bottom of the list... time for Walter to go with one up front at home again, I fear. 

Midfield should see Naysmith, Gravesen, Gascoigne and Alexandersson appearing as perhaps our strongest combination in the absence of Pembridge, but that leaves no room for the under-sung Scott Gemmill.

Other quandaries include who to play in the back line, now that Xavier is allowed to return following his concussion, threatening Stubbsy's brief renaissance.  What's the betting we see both of them out on the field, with Watson, Weir and Pistone in that much-feared (not!) 5-4-1 formation Walter sometimes like to spring on us? 

And obviously Steve Simonsen will continue in goal, since Paul Gerrard turned out for the reserves last Tuesday.  Then again, second-guessing a Walter Smith formation is a lot like doing the pools...

Chelsea have Marcel Desailly out through suspension as well as the injured trio of goalkeeper Ed de Goey, Jody Morris and Jesper Gronkjaer.

Last season saw a welcome 2-1 win over Chelsea, with Danny Cadamarteri surprisingly on the scoresheet... will history be repeating itself??? 



Lifeless Everton let two points slip

by Lyndon Lloyd

Had the Everton that scored confident victories over West Ham and Aston Villa - and so nearly against Bolton two weeks ago - turned out in front of the pay-per-view cameras this afternoon, Walter Smith would have been savouring another home victory and a Top 10 berth.

As it was, an insipid performance that could not be blamed entirely on the injury crisis up front was matched only by Chelsea's dreary display, although Everton had emerging goalkeeping talent Steve Simonsen to thank for the point they did earn.  The 21 year-old 'keeper, making his home debut, tipped a goal-bound Zola free-kick onto the cross bar late on with his out-stretched fingers to produce one of the afternoon's rare pieces of magic.

Stripped of Kevin Campbell's services because of a back injury and without Duncan Ferguson yet again due to an ankle complaint, Smith chose to field defender Steve Watson as an emergency striker rather than play Joe-Max Moore alongside Tomasz Radzinski.  Even for Walter Smith, this was a baffling decision and one that surely sends a clear signal to the American; that if he can't get a game ahead of a defender, then Smith plainly has no confidence in him to produce the goods.

Watson was effective insofar as he was playing out of position but still managed some neat passes, provided a physical presence and at times displayed wonderful control.  But his lack of pace and striker's instinct meant that Radzinski was effectively ploughing a lonely furrow up front.  Had young Nick Chadwick been fit, even he would have been a better choice, but Smith was robbed of that option - and, let's face it, probably would have played Watson up front anyway!

The game was a singularly dreary and uninspiring event.  Everton's best chances fell to Radzinski who was sent clear twice but dragged his shots across the goal and wide of the advancing Bosnich.  Scott Gemmill had a deflected shot well saved and Watson saw a looping header soar inches wide early on.

Chelsea barely made an impression on the game until early in the second half when they slowly emerged from their shell and Zola engineered enough space for a shot which flew over from 20 yards.  Niclas Alexandersson saw a speculative half-volley just clear the bar at the other end and then Zola went close again for the visitors when he latched onto the ball when Simonsen spilled it and fired a cross from the angle which, thankfully, ricocheted off Stubbs and out of danger instead of into the goal.

Whereas Everton had been the better side during the first period, it was a more even affair in the second and the two sides continued to occasionally trade half chances.  Zenden caused the odd scare down the left wing and flashed a shot across goal while David Weir saw his powered header off a corner palmed over by the 'keeper.

Duncan Ferguson's introduction with 15 minutes left did little to change the pattern of the game and it was Chelsea who finished stronger, with Haisselbank blazing over from 16 yards in injury time.

Ultimately, it was a bore draw that did little credit to either side.  Had Everton been in a higher gear, Claudio Ranieri's men would have been there for the taking.  Unfortunately, whether it was due to the unsettling effect of not having a recognised strike force or some other mystery factor that seems to afflict the Blues, they failed to take the opportunity and demonstrated the kind of attitude that may well see them fail to challenge for a UEFA Cup place this season.



In safe hands

by Matthew Fearon

Traipsing out of a dilapidated crumbling building, 4 o'clock on a Sunday, feeling numb, dulled, uninspired and slightly hoarse from less than rigorous singing, it took a momentous effort to convince my brain that I hadn't just sat through a two-hour church service.  Alas!  For me there was to be no salvation.

The stadium announcements of the team are becoming intrinsic for setting the level of crowd excitement.  Today was no exception, Walter had wisely decidedto stick with the promising and highly productive 4-4-2.  However, this is where Walter's clarity of thought dwindles into a messy quagmire: only Smith could select 3 natural left-backs in a 4-4-2 and, to further highlight his tactical genius, of the 10 outfield players 6 (Yes, that's SIX), were defenders.

Surely not even Walter could mistake Goodison for Stamford Bridge!  Think again reader.  Poor old Radzinski was to be employed as a lone striker against the two gargantuan Chelsea centre-halves.  But fear not, Walt wouldn't be that inept, he'd give Tommy some help up-front?  Indeed he did, and that help personified itself in the form of our resident right-back, Steve Watson.

Quite understandably, the crowd appeared on the bemused side of incredulous, and this same confusion clung onto the players as they ran out to face a faltering Chelsea side there for the taking.  I don't like to sound so vehemently anti-Smith, but doesn't simple football intelligence dictate that you play players in the positions that they play best in, as follows: Watson to right-back, Pistone to left-back, Unsworth to Macclesfield, Ferguson upfront instead of on the bench for 75 minutes and Gemmill, who was clearly lacking match fitness, replaced by Gascoigne, who in contrast is fit and hitting another purple patch.  But then, what do I know??

The five minutes we had to discuss this lottery of selection proved to be considerably more entertaining than the ninety to follow.  Radzinski was clearly a marked man; in the opening ten minutes he was twice on the verge of showing Terry and Gallas a clean pair of Canadian heels only to be cynically body-checked to the floor.  Both times the referee waved away appeals but when, a few minutes later, the same thing happened to the same man but in a less threatening position, we were awarded a free-kick.  This was just one of many frustrating inconsistencies that threatened to ruin a potentially exciting fixture. 

There is little to recollect from the first half, apart from two Radzinski efforts, the second of which he should have at least hit the target with.  Then lovely dancing feet from Watson on the edge of the Chelsea area, he fed Gemmill, who did well to squeeze a shot away but Bosnich saved well.  We gave Chelsea too much room throughout the match, yet they displayed all the attributes that have made them the most expensive laughing stock of the country.

Gravesen, as ever, was tireless – the only midfielder to consistently hassle and harrie the opposition – he linked play astutely between both sides of the pitch.  Alexandersson was unusually subdued, and Naysmith is not a winger; he is much more at home tracking back and making tackles and pushing up from a defensive position.  

Unsworth and Pistone were both ‘solid’ in the first half, but whereas Pistone grew in class and stature in the second-half, Unsie deteriorated into a heap of flab capable of merely finding touch with an accuracy that would make Johnny Wilkinson fear for his position.  The glaring shining light of the first half, and ultimately the match was Steve Simonsen.  Unlike Gerrard, Simmo is well aware that the ‘keeper can use his hands outside the six-yard box. He dealt with every snap shot, every cross, every kick and he was always looking to distribute the quick ball.

The first half had demonstrated that this match could be ours, we just needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and ‘make something happen’, as it happened we gave them even more space to spray the ball across the park with ease, and Gazza was left idle on the bench for the whole ninety.  This is Exhibit X in my case to prove that Walt had a stinker of a game, if such a thing is possible for a manager.

The blades of Goodison turf, the wooden beams that hold up Gwladys St, the man asleep in row KK, the game, the players, were all screaming at the top of their exasperated lungs for a little piece of magic to spark the match.  They were all bloodcurdlingly yelling for the introduction of Gascoigne (what else do we pay him 30K-a-week for??)

Smith ignored these pleas, with the result that the game was on the verge of petering out into a timid 0-0, until……

87th minute… Lampard dives… wins a free-kick… 25-yards out… Zola emblazoned all over the ball… it was going to be one of those games, like Villa last season… one bit of magic… sweetly struck… right-footed curler… flown past the wall… top corner… CROSSBAR… via the immaculate finger-tips of Simonsen!

Nil-Nil.  Not the end of the world but, in all honestly after watching Chelsea, that can be classed as points dropped.  Pondering the match on the train home, it reflects as a mirror image of last-season: we lose a few players, Smith panics, goes defensive, plays players considerably out of position, we have no shape, and there is a distinct lack of action on the bench until it is too late, if at all!

Smith appeared to be on the brink of lucid tactical insight.  After the Newcastle game, despite the result, I was full of optimism; the Bolton game did nothing to temper my optimism; but today Smith abandoned this season’s progressive attractive football for last years’ banality.

Today’s match posed a number of questions that I think need addressing:

  • How can a team play six natural defenders in a home match?
     
  • Why was Gemmill left on the pitch for 90 minutes when he was quite clearly shattered, and we had 2/3 midfielders on the bench?
     
  • Why on his return from injury was Watson played grossly out of position, when we clearly had other options, Tal, Ferguson, Moore, Chadwick?
     
  • Where on earth are Tal, Hibbert and McLeod?
     
  • Why has it taken 3 years for Simonsen to make his full debut, despite his obvious talent?  Today he was my man-of-the-match!  It was tight between him and Weir, but you have come to expect it of Weir and Simmo did not put a foot wrong, commanded his box, claimed crosses both high and low with a minimum of fuss and, when called upon to excel himself in the closing minutes, he did just that!!!

A lack-lustre performance that can easily be forgotten by claiming maximum points from our next two matches: Leicester (a) and Saints (h).  Congratulations Simmo!



A Cagey Affair

by Richard Martland

Preview

I guess that this was one of those games where a win could be described as desirable rather than essential.  We are on a run of form whereby we are playing quite well without really picking up the results and points.  This has seen us drift down the table a little and, whilst we are a long way from flirting with the relegation zone, sooner or later we are going to have to pick up some points to avoid that prospect.

Memories were still fresh of last years unexpected win against Chelsea.  Last season rather summed Chelsea up - undeniable talent but very inconsistent.

After his largely competent display against Bolton, it was only right and expected that Simonsen would get the nod again today.  Another who kept his place after a decent performance at Bolton was Alan Stubbs, I fully expected Xavier to replace him today but Stubbs, as the man in possession, kept his place.  

The real eye-opener was Steve Watson partnering Radzinski up front.  Quite rightly it was deemed that Dunc's fitness only warranted a place on the bench but to keep the shape of the 4-4-2 we needed a physical prescence up there.  We have often been told that Watson had played up there for Newcastle, so it was time to see if he could, a la Hutchison, do a job up there for us.

First half

We undoubtedly had the better of the first half.  We weren't especially good but we passed it around fairly well and looked pretty comfortable.  Radzinski looked to be our best bet for a goal.  We managed to put him clear through the channels on a number of occasions.  On two or three occasions his shots were either scuffed or pulled wide, on at least two occasions his runs were unceremoniously blocked, without punishment, by Chelsea defenders (throughout the game in fact the referee seemed to have a strange, inconsistent interpretation of the shoulder charge/obstruction law).  Probably our best chance fell to Gemmill; good work by Watson gave him the opportunity but his too-precise shot was well saved by Bosnich.

At the back, we were doing pretty well.  Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was reduced to a whinging irrelevance; Zola was sparking intermittently but to no real great effect.  We seemed to be following the pattern of recent matches, doing OK without being really truly convincing.

Half time

After a big build up, our new signing, Jesper Blomqvist, was introduced onto the pitch.  Said it all about our current state really - trumpeting the arrival of a free transfer signing with a bad injury record....

Second half

Chelsea made two changes at half-time bringing on Zenden and Stanic.  It changed the face of the game.  Suddenly they had an outlet through Zenden and they were playing with a new sense of conviction and purpose.  In the first half, they had made a lot of pretty passing patterns, but that was in their own half.  Now they were doing it in our half and we were chasing shadows.

It seemed to be heading towards a Chelsea goal.  Shots were coming in, not overly taxing on Simonsen but they were testing his handling and positioning.  He was doing OK but then he spilt one and was very fortunate to get away with it.  The goal never came; we continued to defend well and Chelsea lacked the killer touch to really force the issue.

Later on in the half we seemed to stem the tide.  The game became a bit fragmented thanks to injuries.  Without us really getting a grip, a bit more of the game was being played in their half.  Our passing was still woeful and it was a surprise that neither Gascoigne nor Pembridge were called upon.

Weir had a header well saved by Bosnich; Zola had a free kick destined for the top corner touched onto the bar by Simonsen.  Despite this, real chances were few and far between.

Summary

This was a largely cagey affair where neither side really did enough to justify victory.  We had the better of the first half; they had the better of the second.  A draw was fair and not to be sniffed at – it was a clean sheet, another point in the bag and a continuation of our decent, if not exactly stellar, run of form.

Player ratings 

  • Simonsen 7 An absolutely top-draw save to deny Zola's free kick and a generally assured, competent display.  He had a couple of fumbles catching the ball and one bad mistake when he spilled a shot into the path of Zola.  Those mistakes shouldn't be overlooked as they could have proved costly, but overall earnt the right to continue his run in the side.
  • Pistone 8 Another assured performance, this time at right back.  Doesn't seem to matter where he lines up in defence.
  • Weir 7 Good steady game.
  • Stubbs 7 Thoroughly justified his selection ahead of Xavier.
  • Unsworth 6 Defensively did his job, came in for the usual stick over distribution but I think that was slightly unfair as the whole side had lost their way in terms of a passing game.
  • Alexandersson 6 Not his most effective game but plenty of work rate and at least a couple of dangerous attacking moments.
  • Gravesen 6 Regular students of my match reports, if indeed there are any, may have picked up the impression that I'm not totally convinced about Thomas.  This is a true impression.  I don't think that Thomas is anywhere near as effective as some of his press would leave us to believe.  I don't think for one second think that he is a bad player, but I feel that at his worst he is just rushing about to little real effect.  What he has is the ability to pull the crowds heartstrings effectively.  There will be a couple of thumping challenges, there will be a couple of dribbles, a couple of shots and a bit of fist clenching exhortation to the crowd.  All very good but in the context of the game not necessarily that useful.  Today he seemed to lose the plot midway through the first half, harshly booked he then made a couple of rash challenges that he could conceivably have walked for.  In the second half as we lost our passing game I thought he largely disappeared.
  • Gemmill 6 Not one of his better days. Did OK first half but seemed to give the ball away rather a lot in the second.
  • Naysmith 6 His usual diligent, unfussy display.
  • Watson 7 Did pretty well, made a nuisance of himself, held up the ball and used it, for the most part, with some intelligence.
  • Radzinski 7 In need of a goal. Did plenty of running but just seems to be lacking that bit of confidence and sharpness. Had a few sightings which a top quality striker should really have made better use of.
  • Ferguson 6 Came on and made a bit of an impact. Looked eager and up for it and had a couple of good moments.

Team 6 OK first half but the wheels came off after the break when our passing game just fell to pieces.

Man of the match The contenders were all defenders but I reckon Pistone was the pick of them.



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