The Sean Davis saga is bound to add an element of spice to a fixture
that, over the last few years, has inexplicably become a bit of a grudge
match. Given Davis's injury and the fact that Fulham still seem
unable to bring Reyna to Craven Cottage, their midfield, whilst being
very creative, is actually quite weak. If Gravesen continues his
excellent run of form, he could easily dominate [Unfortunately, he's
ruled out through injury — Ed]. Malbranque is an excellent
player but if you can shackle him you can keep him quiet. The loss
of the drive of Finnan will be sorely missed by Fulham this year.
The main concern for Everton, however, must again be our strike force.
Radzinski looked very sharp against Arsenal but, let's be honest, Nick
Chadwick was well out of his depth. Given that he was being covered
by the questionable Toure and unfit Keown, it is understandable why Moyes
has been keen to get someone else in.
Rooney will surely still be too ring-rusty to start so Chadwick should
get another go but I would suggest that Chadwick must show well in this
game or — given the impending return of Rooney, Ferguson and Campbell and
potential transfer of Jeffers (not to mention young Pascucci) — we may not
see much more of him.
At the back, we should have enough to keep Fulham quiet which will
hopefully be the bedrock for another slender home win.
As a thought, the signing of Davis would give us an excellent central-midfield partnership in Davis and Gravesen and the transfer of Jeffers may
delight with a perm 2 from 3 of Radzinski, Rooney and Jeffers; yet it
still does not solve the biggest problem we have which is lack of width. Seeing Pennant sign for Leeds on loan makes me wonder why we did not go
after that one — he has great potential. With McLeod moving to QPR and
Osman nowhere near the first team we look set to stick with Watson and
Pembridge on the flanks. Even now I am looking to next season to solve
Fulham are tipped for the drop by many pundits and, notwithstanding
their win last Saturday, they are there for the taking. Given what we have
got coming up, we need the 3 points... and we'll go and get 'em.
2-0 to the Blues and the season begins!
Wright 6 — Solid when tested with shots but flapped at a
couple of balls and probably should have been punished for it.
Needs to communicate better with his defence, but certainly the best
keeper (ok, bar Turner) at the club now.
Pistone 5 — A poor game, though in fairness to him Boa
Morte (twatt) was having a good game and Steve Watson seems to have
been told to play further up the park, leaving Sandro exposed at
Yobo 7 — Superb until Hayles came on, then struggled a bit
due to the physical challenge in the air. Got little support from
Stubbs 6 — Solid for long periods, then f**ks around on
the ball, putting himself into trouble on more than one occasion.
Unlucky not to score with a free-kick, but I wish he wouldn't take
them. We need someone else to partner Joey Yobo IMO, but its
not easy to come across decent centre backs as the rest of the
Premiership will probably testify. There are probably more
than one club in the Premiership that would happily have Weir or
Stubbs in their defences. Fulham for example...
Unsworth 6 — Same old, same old. Solid, but prone to
mistakes. Excellent finish for his goal and combined well with
Nace generally. The left side of the field wasn't bothered
Watson 6 — Right place at the right time. Solid if
uninspiring. Drifted out of the game in the second half but
one of the few players who put his foot on the ball when we were
Linderoth 7 — My MOM. Does nothing flash but must be a
nightmare to play against as he never gives in and hassles the
opposition into making a mistake. Just wish he had more
confidence when he goes over half way.
Pembridge 6 — Good first half, flagged towards the end.
A midfield of Pembo and Linderoth will struggle against more
physical teams without a doubt. Should have been replaced by
Li Tie in the last 20 mins.
Naysmith 7 — Great Goal, non-stop working, seems to have
improved his fitness over the summer. Should have got a second
goal and knew it. Still prefer him at left back though.
Radzinski 6 — Did the Radz thing, chased and harried and
gave the opposition no time at all. Struggled due to the lack
of quality balls he received. Didn't use him down the flanks
enough where he is very dangerous IMO.
Rooney 7 — Some may question this rating as he missed a
good chance and looked a bit off the pace but its obvious we're so
much better with him in the team. Takes at least two men with
him when he gets the ball and is always a great outlet for taking
the pressure off as he is so comfortable with the ball at his feet
and doesn't give it straight back to the opposition. Always in
the mind of the opposition also. Tired with 15 mins left as
might be expected.
Chadwick 6 — Chased and harried, did a good job at
relieving the pressure at a crucial time.
Good first half performance, but we will no doubt meet many
better teams than Fulham. And probably a couple of worse ones
too. They are good going forward but crap at the back.
Classic ‘game of two halves’ cliché stuff. The boys had
every right to cruise in the second half but I don’t actually think
that was the intention – they just got overrun by a big, physical
team who had nothing to lose and went for it.
Great start though; the first two goals – especially the second –
were sublime, and the third was nicely worked. Good to see the
midfield weighing in with a few goals – as they should when the
defence is busy trying to tie up the front two.
Naysmith was my man of the match – took his goal well, could have
had another, and kept running and trying to create all game, while
others around him were wilting in the second half. Linderoth
also did well for an hour or so. Yobo was, of course,
magnificent – and needed to be, to cover for Stubbsy who seems to be
struggling a bit. Might see Weir given a run sooner rather
The Boy was obviously well off the pace, although there were a
couple of signs of absolute class. The way he pulled the ball
down for the second goal and killed it dead was pure artistry.
Deserved better protection (as did the rest of the team) from a weak
set of officials who seemed to believe the tackle from behind had
been reinstated as a sound defensive tactic.
One slight concern about Moyes’s tactics – his reluctance to get
more subs on sooner. At 3-0, and with most of the midfield
coming off mid-week internationals, there was a clear opportunity to
give Osman a run second half, but he didn’t take it – even when
Pembridge in particular was clearly struggling for fitness.
Rooney was always going to come off before the end – but even he
stayed on the pitch 15 minutes longer than he should. Still,
I’m not going to argue with the Boss. And I hope Fulham go
down – they’re a dirty, narky bunch of mercenaries with no style or
substance. Horrible team.