<% Dim oCs, oRs, strSQL set oCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/02-03/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos ;" Set oRs = oCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb: Liverpool v Everton, Premiership Season 2002-03
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 FA Premiership (19); Anfield, Liverpool; Sunday 22 December 2002; 4:05pm
Attendance: 44,025
Halftime: 0-0


Referee: Graham Poll

Match Summary

The pace of the first half was excellent, with Everton playing some wonderful football and talking the game to their loveable hosts at every opportunity. 

Of course, Graham Poll was doing his damnedest to ruin it for the blues, temporary blindness being the only reason why he failed to award a penalty after 14 mins for the most blatant handball (by Henchoz) that you will ever see.

Poll again demonstrated his incompetence when Stubbs on a surging run was scythed down in the 23rd minute.  It was bad enough for the trainer to be called on, but not bad enough to be called a foul by this idiot of a referee.

Dirty Redshite: Steven Gerrard demonstrates the "Liverpool Way"

If anything, Everton were playing the front men too wide and deep, Campbell and Radzinski often too involved in some of the excellent build-up play, with the result that the Liverpool penalty area lacked sufficient Blue presence when the ball was finally delivered in.

Poll continued to ignore Liverpool's transgressions, failing to card Taore again when he deliberately elbowed Campbell in the back of the neck. 

But some tremendous work by Everton just before the break should have seen them take the lead.  Carsley was released into acres of space on the Liverpool left, and just failed to float the ball over Kirkland from an acute angle. 

Everton then worked a nice routine from a throw-in, with Stubbs flicking the ball back to Radzinski, who failed to collect cleanly and could not deliver the required shot.

A period of sheer panic then ensued in the Liverpool area, with Everton playing the ball around superbly and only a panicked clearance saving the day for the dirty Reds. 

Talk about softening up the opposition... SEND FOR THE BOY!

Well, the second half saw the atmosphere and tension rise above the stratosphere as Houllier soon made two key changes, bringing on Smicer and Heskey, and prompting Moyes to respond with an early showing for the boy wonder, Wayne Rooney.

As the half developed into an intense and finely balanced  battle of wills, it became clearly that the momentum was swinging back towards Liverpool as their refreshed line-up finally succeeded in breaking up Everton's flowing and incisive football.

But, despite the game becoming much more even, Wayne still got his chance, and it so, so nearly came off.  A moment and glimpse of goal is all it takes.  As he lined up to shoot from the edge of the area, it seemed he only had Kirkland to beat, but somehow Henchoz got his leg in the way and deflected the ball up on to the bar... chance gone.  And somehow you knew that Liverpool, putting two or three players around Rooney whenever he came close, would not let him get another chance. 

Liverpool, of course, being the dirtiest bunch of bastards on the planet, knew of only one way to fight: dirty.  Baros stamps on Pembridge's face; Gerrard dived in with a two-footed challenge on Naysmith's gonads...  And where was the incompetent Mr Poll?  You guessed it. 

"I meant to pull out of the tackle."
Yeah, it really looks like it, Steven.

Liverpool succeeded in keeping a rapacious Everton team at bay, and escaped with a thoroughly undeserved 0-0 draw.  And Stephen Gerrard was subsequently called up by the FA Disciplinary Committee and banned for three games.  Mr Poll's punishment  for missing the blatant and atrocious foul?  More plaudits and support from Philip Don.  Plus ça change!


Wayne Rooney:
Came within inches of a historic winner

Liverpool v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Liverpool 35
 Everton 23
 Draws 35
 Liverpool 4
 Everton 2
 Draws 4
 Last Season:

Liverpool 1-1 Everton 

BBC Match Preview
Electronic Telegraph

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

Match Facts
 Liverpool  (4-4-2)
 Red shirts, red shirts, red socks
Everton   (4-4-2)
 Blue shirts, white shirts, blue socks
Hyypia (c)
Traore (50' Heskey)
Diao (50' Smicer)

Subs not used:
Dudek, Diouf, Biscan

Yellow Cards: Taore (9'), Henchoz 43'), Carragher (67')

Red Cards: —
Hibbert (59' Watson)
Weir (c)
Radzinski (53' Rooney)

Subs not used:
Simonsen, Li Tie, Gemmill

Yellow Cards: Gravesen (22'),Weir (81'), Campbell (84'), Naysmith (89')

Red Cards: —


(Suspended:) Unsworth, Yobo
(Injured:) Alexandersson, Ferguson,
Gerrard, Linderoth, Rodrigo
(On leave:) Wei Feng
(On Loan:) Nyarko, Osman, Pilkington
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
Lyndon Lloyd Blues retain 4th with moral victory
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
4 the Game 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
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 39
2 Chelsea 37
3 Man Utd 35
4 Everton 33
5 Liverpool 32
6 Newcastle 32
7 Tottenham 31
8 Southampton 28
9 Blackburn 27
10 Middlesbrough 26
11 Charlton 25
12 Man City 24
13 Birmingham 24
14 Fulham 22
15 Aston Villa 22
16 Leeds 21
17 Sunderland 18
18 West Brom 16
19 Bolton 15
20 West Ham 14

After 23 Dec 2002

Match Preview

Welcome to Anfield.

Welcome to Wayne Rooney, Liverpool.

After Rooney's early exposure to the Premiership, Moyes decided (quite rightly) that he did not have the team to play 4-3-3 and was wasting both Radzinski and Rooney, forcing them out wide.  Consequently he made the very brave decision of reverting to a two-man front line, benching Rooney and letting Radz show his close season improvements.

Cue a unprecedented run of Everton Premiership victories and sparkling cameo roles from the young star.

Last Saturday may well mark the end of that stage as, facing a potential watershed in Everton's excellent season, Moyes elected to give Rooney his lead in a two-man front line.  And what a response.

Undeniably brilliant, Rooney took on the backline at every opportunity, scored one fantastic goal and created another one with a cracking swivel shot against the post.  As hard as it was before for Moyes to bench him it will only have got harder after that! One place where he will not be resting him is Anfield.

I don't think I have looked forward to a Derby so much since Joe Royle took over — then it was with unfounded, blind, new-manager first game induced optimism.  Now it is based on a sustained period of very good football providing us excellent results.  Now as we near the halfway point of the season it is based on us having more points in the bag than they have.

Bringing us back down to earth is the news that the backline will be shorn of its most impressive performers: Yobo, Unsworth (suspensions) and Hibbert (injury) are all missing.  Watson and Pistone will probably fill in at fullback and the old pairing of Stubbs and Weir will be reunited in the Premiership for the first time since Yobo made his debut.

Elsewhere, the midfield picks itself again and our one true hope and Young Personality of the Year (despite never having been interviewed!) will play alongside a comparative old-stager Super (because he is again) Kev.

For them - well given Houllier's pathetic, result induced panic attacks, God knows what the team will be.  Good news for us is Hamann will be out — he is essential to making them tick — and will be replaced by Diao. How Diao reacts to the the pace and frenzy of this match could be key.  Personally I thought he was poor against Villa last night.

At the back?  Upfront?  Hyppia is expected to play and Heskey is available again.  Traore or Riise, please not Riise!  Lets hope Smicer retains his place — one less for us to worry about!

Our biggest concern must be if Baros partners Owen and how we cope with their pace.  Without Yobo we will be forced to once again defend deep, making our midfield drop and leaving Rooney and Campbell isolated.

Liverpool, after 1 point from their last 18, are definitely there for the taking.  Owen is very short on confidence, Gerrard is playing abysmally and Hyppia far far from his imperious best.  Even Kirkland got his place in default from Dudek and must be considered a weak point early on.

BUT, we all know what happens to form books etc when a derby comes around.  Liverpool are wounded — badly so but that is likely to provoke a very aggressive and animated response.

Weir and Stubbs will have a massive part to play and Wright as he competes against the latest "Future England keeper" must win that battle.  Gravesen and Li Tie will need to give a full 90 minutes (please no Gemmill) but I think we all know where we will be looking for inspiration.

It appears that the nation are all talking about Rooney.  Being based in London, all I hear is how Everton are a one-man team and as much as we argue it we all know there is a semblance, at least, of the truth.  On Sunday I would be more than happy for the Blues to be seen as one man — as long as that One Man helps us walk away with three points.

This game is going to be manic.  We mustn't concede early.  We must still be in it with 30 minutes to go.  If we are ...... ROONEY

Blues retain 4th with moral victory

It was obvious as soon as it was announced that Graham Poll was to referee this match that there would be controversy, and true to form, Hertfordshire's-Most-Hated did enough to prevent an Everton victory, just as he did a few years back when he bottled a decision to allow a Don Hutchison goal by pretending he'd blown the full-time whistle before the ball crossed the line.

A scrappy and goalless affair eventually hinged on a 14th-minute aerial challenge in the Liverpool area between Stephan Henchoz and Tomasz Radzinski. Henchoz clearly handled the ball and there was no doubt that it was intentional, but Referee Poll took the easy way out and awarded a free kick against the Everton striker.

However, as the game boiled over into the usual derby face-off in the last ten minutes, two deliberate acts of violence that illustrated the new Liverpool modus operandi — in the absence of the ability to win matches, hinder the opposition by taking their players out — went apparently unseen and therefore unpunished by the match officials.

First, Milos Barros ran his studs down the face of Mark Pembridge as the Welshman lay prone under his challenge and then Stephen Gerrard lunged in late with both sets of studs into Gary Naysmith's crotch; this latter incident sparked a shoving match between Gerrard and first Naysmith, then Campbell and Rooney but, in the only sensible piece of refereeing Poll managed all afternoon, the incident passed without any further entries into the book.

Earlier, the dreadful Traore had been booked for poleaxing Lee Carsley while a similar body check of Alan Stubbs by the equally laughable Diao went unpunished, and Henchoz was also shown yellow for hauling Radzinski down by the neck after the Pole had beaten him for pace. Predictably, some of this unsportsmanlike treatment was reserved for Rooney: often double-marked, the 17 year-old dynamo was professionally fouled by Jamie Carragher and he too was rightfully booked.

What little good football was played probably came out even. Everton enjoyed greater possession in the first half but had only a scuffed Radzinski effort from 8 yards that went wide and a Carsley cross-cum-shot that Chris Kirkland did well to palm over to show for their efforts. For Liverpool, Riise had three shots saved by Richard Wright and Michael Owen (who never does well against his boyhood team) headed wide from a free kick.

In the second period, it was the Reds who were the more incisive, particularly after Smicer and Heskey had come on for Diao and Traore just after half time. Heskey saw a diving header fly wide at the far post from a free kick and should have done better one-on-one with the 'keeper after being picked out by a long ball, while Smicer despatched a shot from distance that Wright fumbled momentarily but eventually managed to smother.

Everton, on the other hand, moved up a gear with the introduction of Rooney in the 54th minute. Kirkland dropped a corner at Campbell's feet but the Blues' number nine couldn't dig out an opportunity and Stubbs headed another corner just wide as David Moyes's men threatened from set pieces. In the 73rd minute, though, fortune favoured Liverpool as Rooney was denied in the best chance of the game. Picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area, he took aim and fired but his low shot deflected off Henchoz, onto the crossbar and over for a corner. So close to following the script that everyone at Goodison and the media had written for him.

As the game entered its final stages, Everton began to lose theri compusure in the face of Liverpool's increasing threat. Weir was booked for a check on Owen, Campbell was righly carded for a late tackle on Gerrard but when the out-of-form midfielder exacted his retribution on Naysmith, no action was taken. When Naysmith took his own revenge by catching Smicer late with a minute to go, though, he went into Poll's book. Such is the equality adhered to by Graham Poll.

Overall, Everton are better than this performance suggested and they could, with a bit more attacking invention, have come away with all three points against a sorry collection of Liverpool players who, in their new route-one guise, are a shadow of the team that was so successful in the 1980s. However, with Jospeph Yobo and David Unsworth out and Tony Hibbert only lasting an hour because of his gashed leg, Moyes will be grateful for the clean sheet that was made possible by a towering performance by David Weir and especially Alan Stubbs. Allessandro Pistone was also magnificent at left back, bringing back memories of his sterling displays at left back when Moyes first arrived.

The midfield remains Everton's biggest problem. Gravesen had a good first half, despite his penchant for giving the ball away, but he was totally anonymous in the second half. With the workmanlike Carsley and Pembridge fulfilling their pressing roles, the Blues relied on the Dane for inspiration and, as is often the case, he failed to deliver. It is this lact of craft in the middle of the park that Moyes must try and address (assuming he can) when the transfer window opens next week.

The important thing was that we didn't lose and a point from Anfield is always good, especially when you can come away with a moral victory, knowing that with better refereeing, the Blues may well have won what was ultimately a disappointing derby encounter.

Lyndon Lloyd

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