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  (0-0) Giggs (78') 
van Nistelrooy (84')  
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Everton v Man Utd:
Prior League Games
 Everton 36
 Man Utd 19
 Draws 17
 Everton 1
 Man Utd 7
 Draws 1
 Last Season:
 Everton 1-3 Man Utd

Not too many surprises in the team line-up: a full home debut for Jesper Blomqvist; Gazza back on the bench (after failing to impress since Southampton); and Big Dunc back on the bench (after his two-week..., er, sorry two-month layoff). 

It appeared that Watson was to be used up-front again but when they kicked off it was Gravesen who played the forward role... albeit briefly: a wicked sliding tackle from Gary Neville left the Mad Dog hobbling and he was soon withdrawn so that Joe-Max Moore could hopefully continue his scoring run.

But it wasn't to be: Everton failed to score, despite playing relatively well for most of the match, and for once not giving the impression that they were over-awed by the dazzlingly expensive and skillful stars of Man Utd.

Some close misses came early on.  A Gemmill blast stung Bartez into action on 9 mins, parrying the ball high in the air for it to descend just the wrong side of the crossbar.  Three minutes later, a stunning and costly miss by Unsworth from the heart of a goalmouth mle, which flashed wide when it was easier to score.

But the worrying signs were there underlying a stirring and improved Everton performance: poor use of the ball in possession; poor clearances straight to the opposition; poor first touch on promising through balls; inability to take a quick and useful throw-in.  These were just a few of the factors that pointed to a gulf in class all afternoon.

Everton defended well throughout, with Xavier an imperial colossus in the centre alongside Weir, and seemingly dealing with everything.  The change came close on the heels of another Walter Smith masterstroke: the removal of Blomqvist, who was doing a fine job, to be replaced by a patently unfit and demonstrably useless Duncan Ferguson on 73 mins. 

Within 5 mins, Everton were behind to an absolute gem of a goal from a superb, brilliant Beckham cross that fizzed off Giggs's head and flashed past Simonsen to break the deadlock.  It was a classic goal simply unstoppable.

Ferguson played far too deep as did most members of Everton's toothless attack to be effective in threatening the untroubled Bartez.  The result was perhaps inevitable, and Everton slide FOUR places into the depths of the lower half of the table!!!

No doubt Walter will once again be "disappointed", or will this be another where we long-suffering fans can have "no complaints"???

M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 19
3:00pm  Wednesday 26 December 2001
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Uriah Rennie
Att: 39.948
Position: 13th
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Simonsen; Watson Xavier, Weir {c}, Unsworth, Naysmith; Alexandersson (82' Gascoigne), Gemmill, Blomqvist (Ferguson 73); Gravesen (8' Moore), Radzinski  Gerrard, Tal 
Unavailable:  Campbell, Pembridge, Pistone, Stubbs (injured); Cadamarteri (on trial at Barnsley); Nyarko (on loan)  
Man Utd: Barthez, G Neville, Blanc, P Neville, Silvestre, Butt (56' Beckham), Veron, Keane, Giggs, van Nistelrooy, Solksjaer. Carroll, Wallwork, Yorke, Irwin
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Man Utd: Red shirts; black shorts; black socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton:   --
Man Utd: G Neville (31')  --

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

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Newcastle 39
2 Arsenal 36
3 Liverpool 36
4 Leeds 35
5 Man Utd 33
6 Chelsea 30
7 Tottenham 27
8 Aston Villa 27
9 Sunderland 26
10 Fulham 24
11 West Ham 24
12 Charlton 23
13 Everton 23
14 Blackburn 22
15 Bolton 21
16 Middlesbrough 19
17 Southampton 19
18 Derby 16
19 Ipswich 15
20 Leicester 15
 After 26 December 2001
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Lyndon Lloyd Still a League Apart
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

What a superb Christmas present United come to town.

Predicting the Everton team is about as difficult as working out what Walter will be thinking i.e. nigh on impossible, though given our injury situation I think Walter may have very few choices.

Last season saw United cruise into a 3-0 lead at half-time before a degree of pride was restored as we won the second half 1-0 (Gravesen) no, honest, we were really trying.  Alex Ferguson declared it to be the Reds best away performance of the year .... which is roughly what he said the year before that, oh and before that as well!

We really don't seem to be able to get fired up as much as I'd like for these games.

Do the players just accept the gulf in class?  Do the fans frighteningly contemplate the game as unwinnable?  And perhaps whisper it oh so quietly as a game which at least if we lose helps United stay ahead of the other team in red?

It would be nice to think that this year will be different.  Despite normal service being resumed in the treatment room (it's full) we will still have the same number of people on the pitch as United at the start.  Our new injuries are hitting the one area that we have cover in full-backs and centre-backs and Weir will be back for this one.

United's defence is porous and also decimated by injuries so much so that Keane may again be forced to centre-back which would simply leave a midfield of Beckham, Scholes, Veron and Giggs... look, don't even think about it !

Previewing this game is both difficult and demoralising.  I struggle to contain memories of Ole Gunnar scoring four; of Yorke waltzing through us; and Beckham taunting the Gwladys Street.

If I may offer up a Christmas prayer, it is that the boys fight and show some spirit.  United are awesome, but not unbeatable and the very least we should hope for is a hard-fought draw.  Let's get at that defence because it is undeniably fragile and if we score then who knows what can happen (...and don't say that they can score 4... )

2-2 and Barthez is the final Christmas turkey...


Still a league apart

by Lyndon Lloyd

If Everton were ever to break their shameful run of form against England's best team of the past decade, this season would have been the time to do it. Manchester United have enjoyed astonishingly easy success against Everton since the Premier League began, a trend not altered at Old Trafford in September when the Blues rolled over and took a 4-1 pummelling with little resistance bar a Kevin Campbell consolation.

Since then, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have been showing signs of complacency - with six defeats already they have shown themselves to be beatable this season by a team with enough will and teeth in attack. Sadly, while Everton had the will, from the first whistle to last, no less, they constantly failed to produce the goods in the final third of the field and it cost them another three points.

In a game that featured few clear-cut scoring opportunities, Everton could have been 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes after United had had the better of the initial exchanges. First Gemmill picked up a lay-off by Radzinski and unleashed a fierce longe-range drive that Bartez only just managed to parry up and agonisingly over the bar. Then Unsworth missed the chance of the game, belting the ball wide from 8 yards out with a snatched left-foot shot.

The Blues did not, for once, seem daunted by the calibre of the opposition and they harried when the visitors were in possession and displayed some lovely touches when they did have the ball. Particularly impressive were Gemmill and Blomqvist, the latter making his full home debut despite being fully match sharp.

Walter Smith's side kept United at bay easily in the first half, restricting them to a stinging Veron drive that Simonsen handled well, a Silvestre header that looped harmlessly over, and a Solskjaer effort that was well saved by the legs of Simonsen.

At the other end, Radzinski was cynically scythed down by Gary Neville - the Reds defender was booked - on his way to goal and Joe-Max Moore (who had come on after only 7 minutes to replace the injured Gravesen who had been playing up front alongside Radzinski) forced a good save from Bartez with an overhead kick.

The second half picked up where the first had left off, although there were few chances of any note. United, however, were visibly growing in confidence and the introduction of David Beckham 10 minutes after the interval proved to be the decisive stroke.

With 13 minutes to go, the England international swung in a trademark cross which was met by the rising Ryan Giggs who glanced a header past the helpless Simonsen to make it 1-0.

Everton, who had already withdrawn Blomqvist for the dubious attacking strengths of Duncan Ferguson, threw Paul Gascoigne into the fray but he had barely had time to settle in when the visitors had sewn up the game. Bartez's quick release sparked a rapid United counter-attack, Giggs whipped in a cross that eluded everyone except van Nistlerooy who buried the ball past Simonsen. Game over.

Simonsen was forced into one last finger-tip save in the final minute as United pressed for a third, but the game finished 2-0.

The home side had shown no shortage of effort or skill in the first two-thirds of the field, but were sorely lacking when it came to the final ball. There were precious few scoring opportunities for the strikers and had Gravesen stayed on the field, it is unlikely the outcome would have been any different. United were simply too good on the day - as they always are - but some consolation can be taken from the fact that Everton were at least up for the fight on this occasion.

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