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 FA Premiership (7); Villa Park, Birmingham; Sunday 22 September 2002; 2:00pm (TV)
   Hendrie  (7', 48')
 Dublin (84')
 
Attendance: 30,023
Halftime: 1-0

Facts
Reports
Radzinski (51')
Campbell (66')

Referee: Geoff Winter
 

Match Summary

Pundits had this down as a dour encounter with few, if any goals.  What is it about human nature that leads them to predict the future � and get it invariably wrong? 

And what is it about the nature of Everton that can cause you to scream in passion one minute at some exquisite football, only to tear your hair out in gobs moments later, and a lot more frequently, for witnessing crass amateurish  pub-league nonsense?

Yes, it was one of those games were Everton flatter momentarily to frustrate in spades.  Rooney was everywhere; the lad really is amazing.  But even he was powerless to organize a ragged defence that had Villa running in down an empty right-side channel from which Hendrie was set up for a perfectly executed chip that Wright could only flail at like a dying swan. 

That was on 7 mins.  The rest of the first half indeed looked like the game the pundits had forecast.  Dismal Villa generally looked the better team, which shows how dire Everton were � apart from the odd move where they really did look Brazil, passing the ball with skill and pace, using the width of the field, and crossing accurately from an advanced position.  Ho Hum...

Such moments proved to be rare aberrations, except for a 20-minute golden spell after half time, following Hendrie's second goal, when he was left in acres of space as Stubbs was guilty of ball-watching.  Once again, the Villian hit it beautifully and Wright stood not a chance.  

Almost immediately, Everton were transformed, scampering up the other end as if their lives really did depend on it.  But it looked like Gravesen was going down a cul de sacas he dribbled across the top of the area, however, he slipped a lovely little ball to Radzinski, who's composed turn and shot were executed with perfection � the ball passing beyond Enkleman's fingertips and just inside the post, in front of the massed Everton fans.  GAME ON!

Everton then took the game by the scruff of the neck, and anything looked possible.  It really did.  Another attack had Campbell heading a perfect cross from Gravesen? straight at Enkleman, who parried it away for a corner. 

The delivery of that corner from Gravesen was absolutely superb.  Hard, about 7 ft off the ground as it curled in to the goal area, and there was Campbell forcing his way in front of the lanky Crouch to angle the the ball in with aplomb.  The celebration in front of the fans was superb, involving all 10 outfield players going nuts over Campbell's genius. 

The fact that every other header he had made all game lacked any direction at all was completely forgotten, and all Everton needed now was Rooney to score the third for a superb comeback...

And so what happens next?  2-2, all to play for... and Moyes decides to make the now habitual Rooney/Alexandersson switch.  And there endeth the lesson.  Not only did Everton sit back and await the draw; they seemed to forget the basic rules of defence!  Lordy, lordy, GIVE ME STRENGTH! 

A needless corner, given away when the ball should have been whacked clear, and a comedy of errors by the blue-shirted mannequins saw Dion Dublin's bobbling effort bounce over a crumpling Richard Wright, who appropriately tumbled into the net along with the ball. 

England's next Number One?  My arse.

Michael Kenrick
 


Richard Wright: They shall
not pass...


Villa v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Villa  43
 Everton  24
 Draws  20
 Premiership  
 Villa  7
 Everton  0
 Draws  3
 Last Season:

Villa 0-0 Everton


Premiership Scores
Saturday 21 Sep
Newcastle 2-0 Sunderland
Arsenal  2-1 Bolton
Liverpool 2-0 West Brom
Man Utd 1-0 Spurs 
Middlesbro 1-0 Brum 
Sotton 0-0 Charlton
West Ham 0-0 Man City
Sunday 22 Sep
Villa  3-2 Everton
Blackburn 1-0 Leeds
Monday 23 Sep
Fulham 0-0 Chelsea
 


Match Facts
 Aston Villa  (4-4-2)
 Claret and Blue shirts, shorts, and socks
Everton   (4-3-3)
 Blue shirts, white shirts, blue socks
  Enckelman
Mellberg
Johnsen
Staunton (c)
De la Cruz (75' Leonardsen)
Kinsella
Hendrie
Barry
Samuel
Crouch (80' Dublin)
Vassell (80' Moore)

Subs not used:  
Postma, Angel,

Yellow Cards: �

Red Cards: �
Wright
Hibbert
Weir (c)
Stubbs
Unsworth
Gravesen
Li Tie
Pembridge
Rooney (77' Alexandersson)
Campbell
Radzinski

Subs not used: 
Gerrard,
Naysmith, Li Wei Feng, Linderoth

Yellow Cards: Rooney (18')

Red Cards: �


Unavailable:

(Injured:)
Pistone,
Rodrigo, Yobo
(Unfit:) Ferguson, Watson

 
Match Reports

 
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Julian Cashen Match Report
Links to Other Media Reports
BBC Sport Match Report
4 the Game Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 17
2 Liverpool 15
3 Chelsea 13
4 Tottenham 13
5 Leeds 12
6 Fulham 11
7 Middlesbrough 11
8 Man Utd 11
9 Blackburn 9
10 Aston Villa 9
11 West Brom 9
12 Birmingham 8
13 Everton 8
14 Man City 8
15 Newcastle 7
16 Charlton 7
17 Bolton 6
18 Southampton 6
19 Sunderland 5
20 West Ham 2
After 23 Sep 2002


Match Preview

Had It.  Finished.  Kaput.  What idiot said that about Kevin Campbell?

Well actually I'm not sure that's still not the case...  Pardon me for dampening the jubilant atmosphere but I do believe that Kev scored his first from 3 yards and his second just after Southgate had gone off injured and no-one had taken over the responsibility of marking him.

But three points are a marvelous thing.  Marvelous, wonderful, delightful, needed!

We travel to Villa after Villa have had arguably their worst result for 16 years.  A 3-0 loss to their city rivals Birmingham.  A team that we battered for 40 minutes with 10 men.

Villa will be smarting but do they have a team that is good enough to bounce back and keep them in the top half of the Premiership?  Well, thanks to the sales of Southgate, Ehigou and Boateng, the purchases of the likes of Baloban and the morale of Alpay and the (non-)commitment of Angel, you don't really hold out much hope for them.

They do have the very talented Darius Vassell upfront but the image of Dion Dublin hauling himself back on to the Premiership stage after nearly 12 months out is unlikely to give the Villa faithful heart.  Nor is the goal return so far this season of the aptly named Peter Crouch... well wouldn't you if you were 6-ft 7-ins?

For us, we have our usual injury nightmare update (Len Capeling may refer to crying rocking horses but then facts have never been his forte).  Rodrigo, after getting very close to his full debut, is now likely to be out for best part of 4 months and with it goes our hope for a creative spark. Richard Wright may still be unavailable and Yobo was not considered for the reserve game against Birmingham.

Big Dunc played the full 90 for the reserves but David Moyes says he still has a long way to go... queue a place on the bench?  Chadwick also played and scored a brace; his involvement in the first team squad would certainly spice up the competition � Moyes definitely likes this lad.

Vassell apart, Villa lack pace and, frankly, since Merson's journey to Portsmouth, lack creativity.  Lee Hendrie has not developed as was hoped and Kinsella is yet to establish himself.

Savage and Cisse dominated for 45 minutes against Villa and Gravesen and Li Tie are far superior to them.  If the two of them can start well rather than needing 45 minutes to warm up, as they seem to have needed so far this season, then 3 points are there for the taking.

Keep Villa quiet for 30 minutes and let the Villa unfaithful do the rest of the job for us.

At the back Villa are tall but not quick � Steve Staunton?  I say no more...

Rooney's dramatic entrance against Boro is likely to give him his first start outside Goodison and I think his pace could justify it.

I am still far from convinced about a 4-3-3 formation but, given Rodrigo's injury and Alexandersson's inability, you have to use what you have.  Given a solid start and lack of errors from Gerard (maybe I am asking too much now), that should be enough.

1-0 to the Blues and Villa stay down in the dumps.

BlueForEver



Last gasp Dublin ruins Moyes party

Having shown terrific fighting spirit to come back from a clumsily conceded 2 - 0 deficit, Everton once again contrived to disappoint their long-suffering supporters by conceding the initiative and allowing Dion Dublin to snatch a calamitous late winner at Villa Park.

I have been prevented from attending any matches by a late taken holiday and my wife's sudden illness; the opportunity to watch this televised game was my first chance this season to see the Blues 'live'.  So, while I wouldn't normally report on a match I'd not attended, at least this gives me the opportunity to make some observations and compare thoughts with those other Evertonians who have been reporting our progress so far this season.

The match itself was a typically depressing affair.  Having conceded an early lead to a sweetly struck curler by Lee Hendrie, which gave the recalled Richard Wright no chance whatever, Everton dominated proceedings over the first 45 minutes without creating one clear-cut chance. 

As so often in recent seasons, there was plenty of time to reflect on the depressing nature of the game being played out in front of us.  Here were two clubs, whose traditions and fan base deserve at least the ambition of a top-half finish, showing � after only 6 games of the season � the tension of sides already looking over their shoulders at the lower reaches of the league and the dreaded drop. 

Villa, having snatched the early lead and threatened briefly after that when Wright made an excellent save, seemed content to defend deep and try to hold on to what they had for the best part of 80 minutes.  Everton, on the other hand, despite the willing running of Rooney and Radzinski, suffered from having arguably the least creative midfield in the Premiership.  They held the ball for long spells but passed it across the park seemingly devoid of any ideas as to how to carve out a goalscoring opportunity.

Whatever Moyes had to say at half-time was swiftly rendered irrelevant as, within two minutes of the restart, some desperate defending saw Hendrie left in oceans of space at the far post with all the time in the world to smash a fine volley past Wright.  Goodnight Vienna.

But, astonishingly, this new blow seemed to galvanise the Blues.  Suddenly, not only were we dominating possession, but we actually looked like getting a goal.  Sure enough, the erratic Radzinski provided one through a fine strike. 

Tommy Gravesen set off on a dribble along the edge of the Villa box.  He looked for all the world as if he was in typical fashion about to disappear up his own arse, but instead slipped a nifty little ball to the Rad, who swivelled and hit it hard and low through the defenders legs and into the bottom corner. 

In this spell we had numerous chances and half chances and we really were battering them, with Radzinski's pace and Rooney's willing running causing most of the problems.  Then, with 65 minutes gone, SuperKev gets a perfect cross, just yards out.  Just our luck, the gaffe-prone Enklemann chooses this moment to redeem his derby match blunder with a brilliant reflex save.  But, from the resulting corner, SuperKev rises ahead of the �6.5M beanpole Crouch, and glances in a fine header.  Simply brilliant!

After their morale-sapping reverse to Birmingham, having a 2 - 0 lead slip at home, and with the home crowd on their own players' backs, particularly singling out the ineffective Crouch, Villa were there for the taking.  The three points were ours if we could simply keep up the pace and intensity of our game.

So what do we do?  We sit back, concede the initiative, replace the menacing raw talent of Rooney with the perennially underperforming Saint Nic, and allow Villa back into the game. 

The signs were there that we were about to throw this away when Vassel got free one-on-one with Wright and looped his header a foot wide.  Then, in the closing stages, woeful defending from a corner allows Dublin to scramble in an undeserved (on the 90 minutes balance of play) winner.  Desperate.

What this tells us, if we were to na�ve to think otherwise, is that we have another long hard season ahead of us.

Moyes, after an early impact, is stuttering a little.  His substitution of Rooney for Alexandersson was part of the reason why the initiative in this match was conceded.  Like the players, he seemed to lack the confidence to believe that the game was there to be won and was too happy to try and settle for a draw.

By my calculations, under Moyes we are averaging around 1.3 points per game including last season.  Smith's long term average was around 1.15, so there is no real sign there of a corner having been turned.  Of course, as has been observed on this website before now, 'you can't polish a turd', and Moyes was bequeathed a disorganised rabble of a squad. 

In terms of performances, Rooney, of whom too much was expected, offers options and the chance of doing something unexpected, but hasn't announced his arrival with the avalanche of goals that I think many of us were fervently hoping for.  Radzinski is looking half a decent striker this year other than his tendency to miss the proverbial barn door.

In midfield, we really are lacking.  Gravesen works hard enough and wins the ball, but, by God, his passing is woeful; most of his 'passes' in this game were punts which ended up in the arms of the Villa keeper.  Li Tie is also willing but limited; ditto Pembo.  At the back, Vassel's pace served to highlight our woeful lack of it; until the allegedly useful Yobo is fit, we will struggle.  Even the usually dependable Davie Weir had a 'mare � was he playing in carpet slippers?  He certainly spent most of the match slipping on his arse.

All in all, pretty depressing stuff.  However, we showed in brief patches, in coming back from two down, that there is enough there for us not to be too concerned about relegation this year if, and it's a big if, we can sustain that level of performance more often and for a full game.  However, considering we haven't played any of the top teams yet, a return of 8 points from 7 games represents a very average start.

I can only say again, fellow Evertonians: it's going to be a long, hard season.

Julian Cashen



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