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 FA Premiership (10); Villa Park, Birmingham; Saturday 25 October 2003; 3:00pm
Attendance: 36,146
Halftime: 0-0


Referee: Andy D'Urso

Match Review

Wayne Rooney has, of course, dominated the limelight this week with his 18th birthday on Friday.  He got the present he was looking for from David Moyes with a starting role alongside Kevin Campbell at Villa Park.  Elsewhere, injuries to Lee Carsley and Steve Watson forced the manager to shuffle the midfield, handing Li Tie his first start of the season and restoring Tobias Linderoth alongside Thomas Gravesen.  Alan Stubbs, who returned to full training during the week, had to be content with a place on the bench as David Weir lined up alongside Joseph Yobo.

Everton's best effort of the first half came around the 20-minute mark when Kevin Campbell rose to connect with a corner but planted a great header agonisingly against the post.  The Blues' striker had another close effort on the half-hour mark when he curled a left-footed effort just over the bar.

With 35 minutes gone, the home side rattled the woodwork themselves when Pete Whittingham drove a log-range shot against the base of the post and to safety as far as Everton were concerned.  Indeed, Villa finished the half the stronger side but the Everton defence held firm with the help of poor finishing by Juan Pablo Angel.

0-0 at half time.

Despite Villa taking the game to them in the opening stages of the first half, Everton were rarely troubled by a series of corners and long-range shots, in particular by Thomas Hitzlsperger.  However, Moyes's side were offering precious little at the other end of the pitch, with Rooney unable to create any magic at all.

Around the hour mark, Duncan Ferguson was thrown into the action at the expense of Campbell, pitting him against Dion Dublin, who was being employed in defence by David O'Leary. erhaps the pacier Francis Jeffers would have been a better option to ruffle the feathers of the largely untested Villa defence.

With Li Tie fading with 10 minutes left, Stubbs was introduced to central midfield as a substitute. However, while both sides carried their own small momentum into the closing stages, neither side showed any real signs of stealing all three points and the game petered out to a boring 0-0 final score.


Wayne Rooney: Birthday Boy now a Man!  He gets to start a game for Mr Moyes

Aston Villa v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Aston Villa  44
 Everton  24
 Draws  20
 Aston Villa  8
 Everton  0
 Draws  3
 Last Season:

Aston Villa 3-2 Everton 

Premiership Scores
Saturday 25 Oct
Aston Villa 0-0 Everton
Bolton 0-1 Birmingham
Chelsea 1-0 Man City
Liverpool 3-1 Leeds Utd
Man United 1-3 Fulham
Newcastle 3-0 Portsmouth
Southampton 2-0 Blackburn
Wolves 4-3 Leicester
Sunday 26 Oct
Charlton 1-1 Arsenal
Tottenham 0-0 Middlesbro

Match Facts
 Aston Villa  (4-4-2)
 Claret & blue shirts, blue shorts, white socks
Everton   (4-4-2)
 Amber shirts, white shorts, blue socks
Kinsella (46' Hitzlsperger)
Barry (82' De la Cruz)

Subs not used: 
Postma, Allback, Ridgewell, 

Yellow Cards: 

Red Cards:
Li Tie (80' Stubbs)
Campbell (70' Ferguson)

Subs not used:  Wright
Jeffers, McFadden

Yellow Cards: Ferguson ()

Red Cards:


(Injured:) Carsley, Gemmill, O'Hanlon, Pistone, Simonsen, Watson

(On Loan:) Gerrard
Match Reports

2003-04 Match Reports Index

Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
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Everton Fans' Reports
Andy Wilson Match Report
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Electronic Telegraph Match Report
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Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 24
2 Chelsea 23
3 Man Utd 22
4 Birmingham 19
5 Fulham 18
6 Southampton 16
7 Man City 15
8 Newcastle 15
9 Charlton 15
10 Liverpool 14
11 Portsmouth 12
12 Tottenham 12
13 Everton 10
14 Aston Villa 10
15 Wolves 9
16 Blackburn 8
16 Middlesbrough 8
18 Bolton 8
19 Leeds 8
20 Leicester 5
After 26 Oct 2003

Match Preview

Everton's overall form coming into this match, indeed, the team's form since the beginning of 2003, has been hardly stellar, and puts us barely above the bottom three overall. 

Somehow, David Moyes has to start rekindling some of the enthusiasm and never-say-die attitude mixed in hopefully with just a few more basic skill that brought the team so many marginal victories last season.  Otherwise, there seems to be little that can stop Everton sinking ever more deeply into the morass of mediocrity that comprises the lower two-thirds of the Premiership.

Well, thank God this one is not on television.   The live cameras have not bee kind to us so far this season, with one point from five televised games and that coming from the embarrassingly cringe-worthy display against Southampton. 

Moyes clearly needs to shake things up changing the team is all he can really do in the hope of finding some combination  that functions together a little better than what we have seen in recent games Leeds apart. 

Rooney to start?  Surely he has to be given a leading role, but how about putting him on in that deeper position, hopefully giving him some room to play and control the game.   A direct swap for Gravesen would be suitably radical but, I daresay, too radical for Mr Moyes, who is starting to show just a few too many conservative celtic traits that were to prove so maddening under the previous regime.

Is Stubbs really fit enough to return?  Perhaps a place on the subs bench, but how does Moyes choose between Naysmith and Unsworth for that left-back slot?  Naysmith should combine better with McFadden down the left, as are Hibbert and Watson on the right combnations that should be seeing us cutting balls back into the area from deep positions.  But this only seems to work for us if we play it on the ground after winning possession at the back, and we are quick on the breakaway.   Can't we play Radz and Franny upfront and give our ponderous attacks some pace?

It was good at least to see Martyn throwing the ball short a couple of times last week and at least giving us the opportunity to build.  I expect him to keep his place, although Davie does seem to rate Wright very highly.

Villa have dispensed with the services of Turkish Agent Provocateur, Alpay, so he won't be tormenting our Wayne...  Apart from that, I don't have much idea about them. 

I'm a one-team man, me! 

Michael Kenrick


Well, we didn't lose; Dion Bloody Dublin didn't score (all those corners near the end were making me nervous...), and it was a slight improvement on the last two games.  However, it was ultimately frustrating as Villa were poor and there for the taking if only we had even the slightest cutting edge but we never really looked like scoring all day.

We were listening to 606 on the coach home. Alan Green was inviting people to phone in and tell him how much Rooney stank today (and a couple of Villa fans duly obliged).  A bit harsh that as he was starved of any decent service and had to drop deep to try and make things happen.  The only way we were going to score was if Rooney beat 4 defenders for a wondergoal, which he can't do every week. 

Given the dearth of creativity in midfield, surely Moyes now has to experiment with pulling Wayne back into the role he plays for England for at least a game or two.  He's the only one in that team with real vision and creative ability so how can we utilise him properly if he's reliant on service from a non-existent midfield sorely lacking in those departments?  He came on against Boro at home last year and played that role to good effect and he's done it for England too.

Most 'disappointing' of all today was the Walter-esque substitution, when, as we all waited for McFadden or Jeffers to come on to go for the kill with 15 minutes or so, Moyes takes off Li Tie and brings on Stubbs?!?!  Is a point against a lower mid-table side like Villa the sum of our ambition for the season?

Anyway, the ratings:

  • Martyn - 6 - good save with his feet first half. As for his distribution, he is good at setting off counter-attacks with Schmeichel-esque throw outs but his punts down field are pretty aimless
  • Hibbert - 6 - I've seen the comment below about Hibbert being 'run ragged' by Villa's winger and he was in trouble once or twice but it was only because the soft Danish berk kept vacating his bloody position the whole time, leaving a gaping hole in front of Hibbert. For me, he had a decent enough game in the circumstances, apart from a couple of wayward passes which nearly landed us in it second half.
  • Weir - 6 - OK defensively but he's only got one pass - the ineffective 'sandwedge' chip over the top to no-one in particular
  • Yobo - 8 - my EFC MOM today (Dublin was the real star in Villa's defence). Mopped up effectively at the back time again and showed real poise and technical ability.
  • Naysmith - 6 - got forward well a couple of times and made a few timely interventions. In short, he's better than Unsworth but nowhere near as good as a fully fit (yeah, I know...) Pistone
  • Kilbane - 6 - Did OK. Not as skilful as McFadden but less erratic and more solid defensively. Had a couple of good opportunities and looked reasonably dangerous at times. He was the only one tall enough to get his head on any of Martyn's punts.
  • Linderoth - 7 - he's never going to offer anything creatively but as a defensive midfielder, he was very good today, making a lot of decent tackles
  • Li Tie - 6 - flitted in and out but he had his moments. One lovely ball in the second half to Rooney on the edge of the box but it came to nowt.
  • Gravesen - 4 - Tommy's match rating writes itself these days I'm afraid but today he proved he can't play on the right either. Too many simple balls going astray and his positional sense was woeful (see comments re Hibbert above). Much like his free kick at the end of the Southampton game, he had a 'bloody Gravesen' moment near the end when he played a truly dreadful ball down the wing which Hibbert never stood a chance of getting to. He then tried to blame Hibbert but the Evertonians near the touchline let him know in no uncertain terms who was to blame.
  • Campbell - 5 - started well and had a header tipped over (or possibly hit the bar) early on but he looked off the pace and barely won another header all game. Give him the benefit of the doubt on fitness grounds.
  • Rooney - 6 - had a few bright moments but generally ran down blind alleys. Showed exactly how much faith he has in those around him second half by trying a Pele chip from 45 yards when he had 'runners' (amblers more like) on either side.

In short, the major plus points were another clean sheet and the performances of Yobo and Linderoth but we've got serious problems in midfield (as we all know) and this was not an away point to get excited about.

Andy Wilson

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