After the euphoria of the THAT goal � and THAT performance �
we now need to refocus ourselves on a very winnable game against
In the past, we have had good results against the better sides
that we have then wasted by losing against weaker opposition the
next week. Two years ago we beat Chelsea and then Arsenal in
back-to-back home games before losing 2-0 to Sunderland and then 5-0
to the soon-to-be-relegated Man City and spent the rest of the
season struggling. Three years ago a 1-0 win at Anfield was
followed by a depressing 1-1 draw at home to Coventry.
However, you have to believe that Moyes is unlikely to let
complacency slide in; Alan Irvine has already come out and warned
the players that a lack of focus could easily see us trip up.
Upton Park � the scene of young Hibbert's debut 2 years ago in
a 2-0 win � has been one of our happier hunting grounds and West
Ham on the whole have often been on the end of our better
performances over the last few years: a 6-0 home win and 4-0 away
win being the highlights. Overall, in the last 5 seasons,
Everton have taken 20 points from the 30 on offer.
We go to West Ham also nearly fully equipped; only Ferguson and
Rodrigo are unavailable through injury and Weir through his
suspension due to his sending off at Old Trafford. Pistone and
Watson both played in the reserves 2-2 draw at West Brom on Monday,
alongside Stubbs who is likely to replace Weir.
Chadwick also continued his comeback with his third goal in 4
reserve games and he must be surely pushing for a place on the
bench. Apart than Stubbs for Weir and maybe Chadwick on the
bench, I would be surprised to see any more drastic changes to the
starting 11 or the benched 5.
West Ham reported only Kanout� unavailable for their game
against Fulham on Wednesday night (he is also unlikely to be
available on Sunday). Despite this, their 1-0 win (last minute
Di Canio penalty), added to their 1-0 away win at the Stadium of
Light last Saturday, means that they will be very confident going in
to Sunday's game. Nonetheless, the Hammers are yet to win at
home this season and are still only 14th in the table; if we can
start well then the pressures on them may begin to mount.
Yobo will have a very different proposition to cope with in Di
Canio than those he has faced so far... but if Di Canio doesn't want
to know or if Yobo can effectively shackle him (which I truly
believe that he can) then West Ham are half a team. Joe Cole
will inevitably show moments of brilliance; Trevor Sinclair had a
good World Cup and Jermaine Defoe is an excellent player...
But, this year, West Ham seem rather fragile in the centre of
midfield and their defence will be very stretched by the excellent
Radzinski and rejuvenated Campbell � who's record against West Ham
Three points is distinctly possible though West Ham won't roll
over. 2-1 to the Blues though maybe we won't have to wait quite so
long this time - and maybe Blue Bill will get to see the winner!
Carsley header seals
all three points
Lee Carsley was the unlikely hero as Everton ground out a
precious 1-0 victory at Upton Park in a scrappy affair that was
affected by very high winds. The Irish international powered a
far-post header past David James from David Unsworth's cross with 20
minutes to go, rewarding the Blues' superiority and earning David
Moyes his second successive victory.
The conditions appeared to have an overwhelmingly negative effect
on the proceedings as both sides struggled to find any cohesion or
carry an attacking threat. Indeed, it took 26 minutes for the
first real chance to arrive, Kevin Campbell latching onto Carsley's
well-weighted through-ball but his effort was well saved by the
advancing James to maintain the deadlock.
Both sides then tested the respective goalkeepers in the wind
with long-range efforts but both Scott Minto for the home side and
Tony Hibbert for the visitors saw well-struck efforts smothered.
As an uneventful first half wound down, West Ham finally began to
create chances, two for Defoe that were dealt with well by Richard
After the break, it was Everton who emerged from the dressing
room with the greater purpose. Tomasz Radzinski had a chance
within seconds of the restart and Mark Pembridge hit a tame free
kick from 35 yards before Kevin Campbell header inches over the bar
from another free kick, this time getting pummelled by James and
spending a few minutes down getting treatment for a knock to the
head. At the other end, Ian Pearce headed a Paolo Di Canio
corner into the side-netting.
The hour mark signalled the inevitable arrival of Wayne Rooney
and his chance for more glory came just five minutes later, Campbell
threading a lovely pass through the defence for the youngster to
chase but, under the attention of two defenders, he scooped his shot
narrowly over from 12 yards out.
Five minutes after that, though, came the decisive moment.
Unsworth played a one-two with the industrious Mark Pembridge on the
left before lifting a high, outswinging cross that Carsley buried
into the net between James and the far post to make it 1-0. It
took Glenn Roeder's side a full ten minutes to recover, but the
final ten were a little nervy for Moyes whose side did just enough
to hold on against a woeful home attack.
First Joe Cole battled his way through a crowd of players and
opened up for a shot that Wright saved, then the same player met a
Di Canio corner with a fierce volley that was deflected wide; then
Defoe wasted a half chance by slicing high and wide from the angle.
With time ebbing away, Everton tried a quick counter-attack that
very nearly paid rich dividends, but after Pembridge had found
Campbell on the edge of the area with a square pass, the Blues' No.
9 fired a shot that was going wide until it deflected off Carrick
and out for a corner and an opportunity to eat more seconds off the
The Hammers then had two injury-time opportunities to snatch a
draw � one by Defoe, a deflected effort that the 'keeper did well
to adjust for, and one for Cisse, who half-volleyed weakly � but
both ended up in the grateful arms of Wright.
As team performances go, it was a singularly unimpressive one
but, given the conditions and the victory, Moyes will hardly be
worried. Disjointed and sloppy during the first half, his side
noticeably stepped up a gear in the second 45 minutes and were
rewarded with Carsley's first goal since scoring at Highbury on the
final day of last season.
The partnership of Li Tie and Tobias Linderoth (in for the
injured Thomas Gravesen) looked vulnerable on paper but while Li had
a relatively disappointing game (despite nearly scoring at end of
the first half from an impossible angle after he had beaten James to
the ball and left the 'keeper stranded), Linderoth was busy and
effective in the middle to balance it out.
At the back, Alan Stubbs did well enough despite not inspiring
much confidence at times, but Joseph Yobo was a solid rock alongside
him, constantly frustrating the home side with brilliantly-timed
interceptions and tackles.
In the end, a second away win of the campaign and three
hard-fought points that move Moyes's side up to 8th in the
table. Not a bad evening's work.
What a difference 6
Last time I was at Upton Park (or is it the Boleyn Ground?) it
was for Walter Smith's last league game in charge. As I said
in my match report
at the time, Everton put on a truly desperate performance that was
the final straw for most Evertonians so far as Smith's tenure was
concerned. Indeed to quote from my report: 'Supporters can
only take so much and this performance was dross of the first order
and a disgrace to the name and traditions of the Club we all support
with such fervour. We were spineless, passionless,
The difference Moyes has made in little over six months with
relatively few changes in personnel has been remarkable. I'll
confess to harbouring doubts myself only a few games ago when we
lost in depressingly familiar style to Aston Villa, but this result,
moving us to 8th in the table, and setting the seal on a great week,
really does suggest that we may finally be turning the corner which
has remained tantalisingly out of reach over recent seasons.
Let's not dress this up as a great game � it certainly
wasn't. But it was the result we needed to show that the
defeat of Arsenal was not a flash in the pan, that our progress is
genuine. The Arsenal result could easily have heralded just
another false dawn. Instead, defeating a poor West Ham side
has breathed belief into everyone connected with the Club.
Personally I have not dared to allow myself so much cautious
optimism in years.
Upton Park has historically been a happy ground for us. The
weather cast my attendance into doubt but, after being cheated out
of attending the Arsenal match by my son having to attend a party, I
wasn't going to miss this one and duly took my seat high up in the
Doc Martens stand. The 'Appy 'Ammers have built a smart ground
(other than the grotesque plastic castle adorning the main stand)
but you have to wonder whether (like Southampton) in sacrificing the
compactness and intimacy of the old ground, they have lost something
of the atmosphere that used to intimidate visiting sides.
As to the team selection, no real surprises other than the
absence of Tommy G. However, we now have a bench that actually
looks quite strong and gives the manager options. We are,
unbelievably, on the verge of having a full squad fit!!
To be honest, the first half was no classic in blustery
conditions. Wrighty made a decent save early on but other than
that we didn't have a scare to speak of. For us, the best
chance came when a super little ball from Carsley put SuperKev in,
but he opted to blast it rather than dink it over the keeper, and
James spread himself well to make the save.
Then, with the half time cup of tea beckoning, we really should
have taken the lead. The ball was dinked into the box, Li Tie
sprang the offside trap, and James made a complete hash of things to
leave Li Tie with an open net but a very acute angle. To be
fair to the keeper, Li Tie seemed to motion to knock the ball past
him with his hand, which may have distracted him. Whatever, we
were left with a great opportunity for either a brilliant finish or
a pull back to The Rad in acres of space on the penalty spot.
To the accompaniment of groans from the Everton contingent and a
huge sigh of relief from James, Li Tie's cross? - shot? went
harmlessly across the goal and the chance was lost.
The second half saw more of the same � we were dominating
without creating any clear-cut opportunities. Boy Wonder
replaced the Rad, who'd not had his most effective afternoon's work,
and was quickly into the action. Set loose by a decent through
ball, he held off the three defenders converging on him but struck
his shot a foot too high. It's a mark of the expectation on
the young man that everyone in the ground was surprised that he
Shortly afterwards we were deservedly in the lead. Unsie,
whose last appearance for us at Upton Park represented one of the
low points of his career, whipped in a great cross and there at the
far post was journeyman-clogger turned goalscoring-hero Lee Carsley
to bullet home a header giving the keeper no chance!!!
Yes!!! Get in there!!! I must confess to a nervous
glance at the ref, for such was Carsley's determination that he
seemed to power right through the defender, who ended up face down
on the turf. But no foul, and we're delirious!!!
And that, really, was that. We had a couple of chances to
get the second, they came on strong as you'd expect towards the end
and, being Everton, hearts were in mouths; but in truth the Hammers
didn't really create a worthwhile chance, and Wrighty dealt more
than comfortably with everything they had to offer.
The final whistle, for once not nerve-wrackingly delayed, set the
seal on a hugely satisfying performance. There were positives
all over the pitch. Wrighty is coming in to form, and the
defence looks consequently a lot more confident. Joey Yobo is
a real class act and kept Di Canio quiet for most of the game.
Tony Hibbert is really growing in to the role on the right, where
there will be an interesting contest between him and Steve Watson
for the regular starting role. Midfield is not our most
creative area but we are rock solid with Li Tie doing really well
after looking a little out of his depth against Arsenal (according
to the reports I read). I was also pleased to see Linderoth
get a chance and put in a really steady performance.
Up front though, both Radzinski and SuperKev are a revelation
compared to last season. The Rad was less effective than in
recent games but Super vied with Li Tie and Yobo for man of the
match. The lumbering, heavy legged Not-So-Super of last season
is completely rejuvenated, winning all the headers, looking lively
and generally making a nuisance of himself. He really deserved
As a team, we are performing, at last, at a level greater than
the sum of our parts. Credit for that goes to Moyes, who �
more than anything � has completely transformed the mood of the
Club. We know he hates to lose and wants to win. For
him, 'nil satis nisi optimum', actually means something.
We now go to Leeds where we surely have our best chance of a win
in many years. Moyes, we can be sure, will have no time for
stories of 'bogey' grounds and will send the team out to win the
game. How different from Smith, who seemed to go to places
like Elland Road simply trying to contain the margin of
defeat. I'm not yet brave enough to predict a win; I don't
think we'll lose though, and that would be progress. Come on