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 Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool Premiership  Sunday 6 March 2005; 3:00pm
    Half Time: 0-0
  Stead (71')  
 Attendance: 32,406 (Fixture 29) Referee: Phil Dowd

Match Summary


The green grass of home
The Goodison turf has finally been re-laid

An unchanged team for Everton today, with McFadden appearing on the bench, Beattie still suspended.  Blackburn adopting the potentially stiffling 4-5-1 formation Everton have used to such good effect... but no Robbie Savage.

The new pitch positively glowed in the cold sunshine as Everton kicked off but the smooth control of last week was missing as the game started in a very scrappy and disjointed manner, with Blackburn clearly setting their store for a tough physical battle.

A dangerous throw from Pederson forced Pistone to hack the ball away off the line but Everton could not clear after the next corner, and Martyn had to make a very brave and timely interception to stop a certain goal for Dickov.  Dickov, who was being a bit of an arse, was forced off after just 15 mins as a result of the clash.

Mokoena then came in on Arteta with a flailing tackle that floored the Spaniard who hobbled off.  After a fabulous ball in from Carsley, Pistone completely skied a great chance.  Arteta came back on but was obviously crocked as Blackburn attacked with determination, having successfully unsettled Everton.  On came Ferguson in his place as Everton adjusted to 4-4-2 but worryingly kept conceding possession and getting pummelled in the increasingly physical battle.

Bent won a free-kick with some good running at Blackburn, but Carsley's curler was two feet wide with Freidel stranded. 

The first booking finally came for David Weir after a serious of tough challenges were allowed to go unpunished.  At the other end, Freidel was able to deny Bent far too easily after the big lad got around Mokoeana.  Once again, Marcus missed a great chance.

After 4 minutes of injury time, it was clear that, in terms of gameplans, Mark Hughes's was well in the ascendancy, spoiling any hope of Everton domination in what was turning into a rare old tussle ? great for the neutrals....

But it was much better stuff from Everton at the start if the second half, with Cahill pushing a ball hard across he area that Carsley just missed, then Osman rescuing a lost cause to set up Ferguson, who's difficult header went over.  Fantastic atmosphere for the Goodison fans, but anything from this rip-roaring game was going to be hard fought and well-earned: a classic English game of uncompromising fervour.

After 70 mins, Yobo, with a poor ball forward, allowed Blackburn to launch a rare attack down the right, and Stead's shot from out wide was good enough to beat Martyn for a potential repeat of last season's smash and grab by the visitors.

Everton tried their best, with Osman coming close, but it was simply not to be.  In the end, Everton were out-foxed and out-fought by a more physical, more determined, more committed, and yes, more skillful side on the day.  That wasn't meant to happen, now, was it?  So much for all that crowing over Liverpool's loss yesterday...

No doubt a number of Everton players will be critiqued for their performances (Hibbert was erratic; Osman invisible for long periods; Cahill a fraction off the pace; Carsley poor on his set-pieces; Kilbane too profligate with his wayward passes), but in truth Everton were beaten by a better overall performance essentially the footballing flipside of last week's wonderful display.

Michael Kenrick


Match Preview

Isn't it amazing what a performance like the one Everton put on at Villa Park last weekend can do not only for the morale of the club but just for your week?  I'm probably not alone when I say that I have been buzzing since Saturday, my head giddy with what this team might be able to achieve if they can maintain that level of form through the final 10 games of the season.

Of course, I'm an Evertonian who has lived through the past decade and a half of false dawns, so there is always that nagging doubt which makes me a little uneasy reading some fans' proclamations that Champions League qualification is virtually in the bag.  There is the small matter of Liverpool, a club who have done more than their fair share in denying us entry to Europe's elite competition in the past.

For that reason, with the Blues not in action until Sunday, Evertonian eyes will be trained on St James Park where the reds take on unpredictable Newcastle United, a game they probably won't be relishing following their Carling Cup heartbreak last weekend.  Defeat for Liverpool would be a massive step forward for us, but only if we do what we have to do against Blackburn.

The key for David Moyes's men will be not letting complacency enter the equation.  It could be argued that the Blues were still drunk on their derby success when they met Rovers at Ewood Park in December, and it showed in every aspect of what was a horrifyingly abject display.  They managed to scrape a point against a dire Blackburn team who were, truth be told, unfortunate not to steal a win when Brett Emerton hit the post late on.

Everton simply have to approach every fixture from here on in like a cup final and take the game to the opposition in the same way they did to Aston Villa last weekend.  That kind of "attack is the best form of defence" approach doesn't allow the opposition any opportunity to settle into their game.  Blackburn, who halted a three-game losing streak in the league with a win over Norwich in their last Premiership outing, would be particularly susceptible given their lowly position just above the relegation zone.

The good news for the Blues is that the midfield trio of Leon Osman, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill is gelling into a very effective attacking unit, supplementing Marcus Bent up front, assisted by the work Kevin Kilbane on the left flank and anchored by Lee Carsley in front of the back four.  With no injuries to any of the starting XI from last week so far, Moyes looks as though he will be able to field the same team.

Alan Stubbs, James McFadden and Steve Watson have all been training this week but none are expected to be fully fit by Sunday.  Stubbs is probably the most likely to make the substitute's bench, with McFadden perhaps replacing Guillaume Plessis if he can recover sufficiently from a back injury in time.  James Beattie serves the final game of his three-match ban.

More team news to follow...

Depending on what happens in the northeast on Saturday, with Liverpool possessing a game in hand (against Blackburn, funnily enough), we have to think of the gap between us and them as just five points.  That isn't a particularly wide margin for error, particularly with the Anfield derby coming up next after this game.

So, this, the first match to be played on the newly re-laid Goodison Park turf, is a must-win game because it's simple: if we keep on winning, no one can catch us.

Lyndon Lloyd


Matchday Stats

This will be the 147th meeting between Everton and Blackburn Rovers in all competitions, and the 76th at home.

Everton's full record against Blackburn is:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

21

8

3

10

21

27

Division One

106

44

23

39

200

182

Division Two

6

0

2

4

2

10

FA Cup

10

7

1

2

18

9

Charity Shield

2

2

0

0

3

1

ZDS Cup

1

1

0

0

4

1

TOTALS:

146

62

29

55

248

230

Our record at home to Blackburn is:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

10

4

1

5

8

12

Division One

53

32

12

9

120

62

Division Two

3

0

1

2

1

6

FA Cup

8

6

1

1

14

4

Charity Shield

1

1

0

0

2

1

TOTALS:

75

43

15

17

145

85

The last match between the sides was earlier this season on 18 December when the match at Ewood Park ended 0-0.  The last match between the sides at Goodison Park was on 24 April last year when Blackburn won 1-0.

There have been 4 Everton hat-tricks against Blackburn Rover.  The last was on 14 October 1933 when Tommy White got three at Goodison Park in a 7-1 victory.

The most common victory for Everton is shared between 1-0 and 2-1, both of which have happened 12 times each in Everton's 62 victories.  Blackburn?s most common victory over Everton is shared between 2-0 and 3-1, both of which have happened 8 times in their 55 victories.  The most common draw between the sides is 0-0, which has happened 10 times in the 29 draws between the sides.

Everton's record for 6 March is:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

1

0

0

1

0

1

Division One

11

3

2

6

17

22

Division Two

1

1

0

0

2

0

FA Cup

2

2

0

0

7

0

European CWC

1

1

0

0

3

0

TOTALS:

16

7

2

7

29

23

This is the third meeting between the sides on this day.  The first meeting (and also the first time that Everton played on 6 March) was in 1897, when Blackburn won 4-2 at Ewood Park with the Everton goals coming from Jack Taylor and John Bell.  The second meeting between the sides on this day was in 1965, when Harry Catterick?s side won 2-0, again at Ewood Park, with the goals coming from Fred Pickering and Brian Harris.  The last match on this day was in 2002 when Everton lost 1-0 at West Ham United.

Gary Rowett was born on this day in 1974 in Bromsgrove.  Signed from Cambridge United in March 1994 for ?200,000, Gary made just 4 appearances for Everton before being sold to Derby County just over a year later in July 1995 for ?300,000.  He eventually ended up at Charlton Athletic before back and knee injuries enforced an early retirement from the game in June 2003.

Dr Leigh ?Dick? Roose won his first Welsh cap as an Everton player on this day ion 1905 in a 3-1 victory over Scotland.

Milestones that can be reached in this game:

?          Although 40 points is seen as the safety mark, Everton can go into this game knowing that they are mathematically safe from relegation should Southampton fail to win at home to Tottenham on Saturday.   If Southampton win, then a win or draw for Everton will also see them definitely safe from relegation.

Steve Flanagan



Everton fall flat when it matters most

Once again, Everton came up against a side prepared to fight their fire with fire of their own and came off second best in one of the most important games of their season.  Blackburn approached this game with the clear intention of stifling their hosts' five-man midfield but left with all three points having frustrated David Moyes's below-par side and nicked the winning goal with 19 minutes to go.

For excited Everton fans who came into this one expecting their team to increase their lead over Liverpool by at least a point following the reds' defeat at Newcastle yesterday, this was a depressingly poor display and one that we can only hope won't come back to haunt us at season's end.  The Merseyside derby in a fortnight's time has now taken on mammoth proportions.

Moyes was able to call on the same starting line-up as he did at Villa Park last weekend while adding Alan Stubbs and James McFadden to the substitute's bench (at the expense of James Vaughan and Gary Naysmith) after both had recovered sufficiently from injury.  But the performance was a far cry from that heroic display against Aston Villa.

From the start, Blackburn looked the more organised, the more purposeful and the more committed of the two sides, and they signalled their intentions early on when David Thomson got in behind the defence but his first-time effort was foiled at point-blank range by Nigel Martyn who flung his body at the shot to make a great save.

It was a physical encounter from the first whistle and both teams lost potentially crucial members of their teams in the first 25 minutes.  First Paul Dickov had to leave the proceedings and then Mikel Arteta hobbled out of the game following a bad tackle by Aaron Mokoena.  While the Spaniard hadn't had much of an impact on the game up to that point, the effect on Blues' approach to the game was predictable when Duncan Ferguson came on his stead.  With their midfield efforts choked by Blackburn's tenacity, the natural tendency was to look for the long ball to the front two.

Ironically, it was route one that nearly gave Everton the lead eight minutes before the break.  Martyn kicked long, Ferguson flicked it on and Bent muscled his way around Mokoena to set up a one-on-one confrontation with Friedel.  Unfortunately, the American was quick off his line and spread himself wide to block Bent's shot.  A harsh critic might blame Bent for not flicking the ball up and over the advancing 'keeper, but that might be harsh.  Bent would be the first to admit he's no Thierry Henry.

On either side of that chance, Carsley had a couple of efforts from direct free kicks; the first flying a couple of feet wide with Friedel rooted to the spot and the other sailing harmlessly over.  At half time and the score at 0-0, though, the Blues had laid the platform for their customary second-half charge.

That charge did come, but it was short-lived and nothing to write home about.  A good spell of pressure forced a corner that was wasted and created a chance for Ferguson after Osman had twisted and turned down the right flank but the Scot headed his cross well over under heavy pressure from his marker.  At the other end, Thompson got on the end of a long ball from the Blackburn defence but his first-time effort went wide of Martyn's post.

The game then lapsed into a pattern of niggly fouls which referee Phil Dowd met with a flurry of cards but there was precious little goalmouth action beyond a Ferguson header that glanced wide and a Stephen Reid effort from distance that didn't troubled Martyn.

But with 19 minutes left, Rovers made the crucial breakthrough.  Joseph Yobo's lazy ball forward was cut out by an opposition midfielder who pinged it straight down the channel to substitute John Stead.  In plenty of space, he advanced to the edge of the area before cutting a perfectly-placed shot past Martyn's out-stretched hand and just inside the post.

Moyes responded five minutes later by bringing McFadden on for Pistone, who had had a very poor game, but the Scottish international looked a little clumsy and short of match sharpness.  He didn't have as many opportunities as Blues fans might have hoped to deliver telling balls into the box for Ferguson although one aerial assault did end in the ball falling to Osman, but, distracted by an incoming tackle, he volleyed wide.

It's hard to put into words how disappointing this performance and result were after a week of looking forward to us advancing our claim for a Champions League berth.  With Liverpool losing at St James Park, the opportunity was there to put an almost unassailable lead between us and them.  But right through the team, the Blues failed to meet the challenge posed by a Blackburn side who out-fought and out-thought their supposedly superior hosts.

Credit must go to Blackburn, though, who came with a plan and stuck to it.  They clearly came to play Everton at their own game and succeeded in not only winning the physical battle, they also managed to play the better passing football overall.  They hustled the Blues out of their stride and left them little room to get the kind of fluid movement going that was so successful at Villa.

Osman and Cahill struggled to have any effect on proceedings, while sloppy distribution and a general lack of guile and direction meant that Everton never really looked like winning this one.  And when the killer blow came, they couldn't find a way back into the game. 

How much of an effect the loss of Arteta, who really has made a difference since arriving on loan from Real Sociedad, had on the direction of the game is hard to gauge. His availability for the derby will be crucial, however, and today's display made a timely case for the re-introduction of James Beattie who will be eligible again following a three-match ban.yh

Lyndon Lloyd

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Martyn
  Hibbert
  Yobo
  Weir {c}
  Pistone (75' McFadden)
  Carsley 64'
Osman
  Arteta (25' Ferguson)
  Cahill 80'
  Kilbane
  Bent
Subs not used
  Wright
  Stubbs
  Plessis
  Unavailable
  Beattie (suspended)
  Stubbs (unfit)
  McFadden (unfit)
  Watson (unfit)
  Li (injured)

BLACKBURN (4-4-2)
  Friedel
  Neill
  Todd
  Nelsen
  Johansson
  Mokoena 63'
  Reid
  Flitcroft
  Thompson
  Pedersen
  Dickov (15' Stead 64')
  Subs not used
  Enckelman
  Short
  Tugay
  Gallagher

Premiership Scores
Saturday 5 Mar 2005
Aston Villa 2-0 Middlesbro'
Arsenal 3-0 Portsmouth
C Palace 0-0 Man Utd
Fulham 0-0 Charlton
Newcastle 1-0 Liverpool
Southamptn 1-0 Tottenham
Norwich 1-3 Chelsea
Sunday 6 Mar 2005
Everton 0-1 Blackburn
West Brom 2-0 Birmingham
Monday 7 Mar 2005
Man City -v- Bolton




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