<% Dim oMRTCs, oMRTRs, strSQL set oMRTCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oMRTCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/06-07/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos, Team ;" Set oMRTRs = oMRTCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb: Season 2006-07 - Arsenal vs Everton
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Venue: Emirates Stadium, London
Premiership
 Saturday 28 October 2006; 3:00pm
Van Persie (71')
Half Time: 0-1
Cahill (11')
Attendance:
Fixture 10
Referee: Mike Riley

Match Report

Everton came to Ashburton Grove for their first game at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium and left with a point that, despite a poor overall performance, could well have been more.  That they didn't steal all three points after frustrating the Gunners for much of the 100 minutes (more on that later) was largely down to referee, Mike Riley, whose preference for the big clubs shone through once more with the award of a free kick on the edge of the Everton area for a non-existent foul which allowed Robin van Persie to curl home with 20 minutes left.

Discussion among Internet fans on how to approach this game following the Arsenal-esque performance against Luton had dominated the build-up to this fixture.  Would David Moyes send his side out to try and match the Gunners pass for pass or would they settle for more of a harrying game with fewer frills?  In the end, whether it was because of how early Tim Cahill's goal came or a pre-determined strategy, it looked very much like the latter.

Everton were, unfortunately, pretty poor on the whole but still managed to grind out a draw thanks largely to desperate last-ditch defending and the poor quality of the final ball from their hosts who never abandoned their trademark style of fluid pass-and-move.

Moyes was able to name a strong line-up despite initial fears that his selection options were to be hampered by injuries to Joseph Yobo and Phil Neville.  Both played, as did Alan Stubbs who deputised in central defence for Joleon Lescott, once again an emergency left-back given the injuries to Nuno Valente, Gary Naysmith Alessandro Pistone and during the week Patrick Boyle.  Simon Davies retained his place in a five-man midfield behind Andy Johnson who was a spectator for long stretches of the match.  James Beattie, James McFadden and Victor Anichebe were all on the bench but Moyes made no substitutions so none of them saw action.

An early penalty claim on Phil Neville and a nice one-two between Henry and Rosicky that almost put the Czech midfielder through were the only incidents of note in the first 10 minutes as the two sides weighed each other up.

In the 11th minute, though, Everton took a shock lead.  Arteta won a corner on the right after his attempted cross was blocked and as he swung the ball in, Cahill met it awkwardly with his chest and blasted it into the roof of the net from close range. 1-0 and 80 minutes left to defend the slender advantage.

action photo
It's Cahill again: The Australian celebrates another goal with Phil Neville

Cesc Fabregas had the first chance to level the scores but fired across goal and wide before Henry stung the palms of Tim Howard with a vicious drive from 25 yards but the American parried the effort to safety.  Cahill, meanwhile, came within inches of connecting with an Arteta free kick but it skidded just in front of his boot; had he made contact, as the only player within yards of the ball he might well have doubled the score.

Everton's brief by this stage was to drop deep and rely on causing problems for Arsenal on the break through Arteta, Osman and Cahill.  Johnson was largely a bystander for the first half, chasing shadows as balls launched from the back by Howard, Stubbs and Yobo passed him by.  With insufficient numbers going forward, most of the Blues' attempts to breakaway came to nothing as they met a cluster of red shirts.

In one such incident, Arteta became entangled with William Gallas near the touchline and with some unnecessary tugging, pushing and a boot dangled in for good measure by the Spaniard, both players were booked.

Arsenal, meanwhile, kept probing away at the visitors' defence and in the 28th minute Yobo was forced into an emergency clearance on the edge of the six-yard box after Osman had carelessly lost possession and allowed Hleb to get in behind him to the byline.  From the resulting corner, Rosicky was almost in at the back post but a combination of Lescott and Neville shepherded it behind before Howard was forced into batting the ball behind for yet another corner as the Blues' defence just about coped with the pressure.

Indeed, apart from Howard spilling a swerving Toure shot from distance and the home fans baying for a penalty when Neville put the ball behind with his shoulder, Everton did manage to contain Arsenal without too much trouble.

Predictably, Arsne Wenger's side began the second half on the offensive once more.  Howard did well to paw a Henry header that was destined to creep inside the post behind for a corner within a minute of the restart and Rosicky had Evertonian hearts fluttering a couple of minutes later when he cut inside and curled a shot inches over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

Mathieu Flamini, on a substitute for Justin Hoyte who had hobbled off with a hip injury late in the first period, then had two chances to equalise, firing wide with the first when he should have done better after being picked out beautifully by Hleb and ballooning the second well over from 25 yards out.

With their passing game barely in existence and the defence far too reliant on hoofing balls out of defence, the Blues were reliant on Johnson foraging for scraps up front and winning corners by carrying the ball down the channels towards the byline.  Unfortunately, not much came from these set-piece opportunities and the Gunners kept coming forward.

Osman was booked for catching Hleb as he blazed past him and while the resulting free kick was blocked, the rebound fell to Rosicky who blasted a snap-shot into the side-netting.  Then Fabregas danced into space and fired goalwards but Howard was again equal to it with a one-handed block and when Van Persie crossed to the back post, Djourou could only let Everton off the hook by nodding wide.

Everton may not have been carrying much threat up front and may have been giving the ball away with reckless abandon but they were holding their superior hosts at bay with some dogged defending and a measure of luck.  They could not legislate, however, for referee Riley arguably the worst referee on the circuit and has been for years.  After incurring Moyes's wrath at the end of the first half by adding a full extra minute of stoppage time beyond that initially signalled by the fourth official, he handed Arsenal their path back into the game with 20 minutes left.

Not for the first time, Rosicky, a constant threat, raced towards the penalty area but Lee Carsley, who had an uncharacteristically bad game, put in a legal challenge, got the ball but sent the Arsenal man tumbling to the turf.  Riley, who had given Arsenal the benefit of the doubt on most occasions, awarded a free kick just outside the box and although Howard got a hand to his shot, it was too well struck and the Gunners were level.

With Theo Walcott already on the pitch and Moyes refusing to give any of his tiring players a rest with changes of his own, the home faithful no doubt sensed blood.  But, despite controlling the closing stages and going close with two far-post headers from corners through Gilberto Silva and Henry, they could not find the winner as Everton held firm.

Riley, though, gave them every opportunity by adding another extra minute on the end, a decision which again had Moyes out of his technical area and remonstrating, angrily pointing at his watch.  Riley marched over and dismissed him from the dugout and allowed a further half minute before calling time on a highly valuable draw where Everton are concerned.

It's hard to criticise a performance that earned a point away at Arsenal but Everton were not the team they promised they might be after the midweek victory over Luton.  Perhaps because both picked up knocks in the first half, neither Arteta nor Cahill were as influential as usual.  Indeed, both looked well below par while Carsley, Davies and Osman struggled to retain possession and were regularly exposed by the Arsenal players' superior quality.

Up front, Johnson's workrate was at its usual high but he had nothing to get his teeth into and didn't have an opportunity to test Jen Lehmann throughout the match.  That might have been different had Everton not scored so early, but once Cahill had given them the advantage, the gameplan was clearly one of containment.

It was at the back where the Blues earned this draw, with Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott and Neville doing enough to frustrate the home side with effective if unattractive defending and Howard doing almost everything right in goal he made one slip on 90 mins that could have been costly when he came for a corner but was beaten to it by Henry, whose header thankfully bounced wide.

Hopefully the visit to Fulham next week will see Moyes's side rolling out a more positive style of play and the Blues laying waste to another bogey, namely our away record at Craven Cottage.

Addendum: In his post-match comments, David said that Mikel Arteta and Lee Carsley have both been unwell with the virus that has swept through the squad and that Phil Neville played despite a hamstring strain. That goes a long way to explaining why all three looked well below par and emphasises what a good result this was.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

The stunning defeat of Tottenham at White Hart Lane in August laid to rest one of the most annoying hoodoos to have plagued Everton in recent decades.  Our away records at Manchester United and Arsenal are more frustrating — in the context of our fall from "Big 5" status — than annoying, and are not our longest-surviving bogeys... but the size of their respective scalps adds extra spice to fixtures on their turf.

Everton's first appearance at the Gunner's new Emirates Stadium offers another dimension to this weekend's game, of course.  Arsenal were slow to pick up their first Premiership win in their new digs — their victory over Sheffield United came a month into the season.  Unfortunately, that win was the point at which Arsne Wenger's side kicked into gear and their comprehensive dismantling of Reading last weekend is the last thing Blues fans would have wanted to see.

action photo
Mikel Arteta: Blues fans will be hoping he can carry his scintillating form against Luton through to this weekend's trip the Emirates Stadium

Which makes the Blues' own four-goal midweek romp and the nature of it somewhat reassuring.  Indeed, the terrific passing game that Everton unleashed against Luton has been compared to Arsenal's own lofty footballing standards... the difference, of course, being that the Londoners do it with regularity and David Moyes's side has yet to play that way in consecutive games.

Moyes still has selection decisions to make because of injury and illness before he names his team for this one.  Tony Hibbert is, of course, out of contention but Phil Neville should be fit to return after being rested for the Luton game because of flu.

Nuno Valente remains doubtful so Joleon Lescott will likely be pressed into service again at left back, with Alan Stubbs partnering Joseph Yobo in place of David Weir, who was knocked out on Tuesday and will not be selected for at least three weeks.

In midfield, where there will surely be five players deployed behind Andy Johnson, Moyes will probably go for Simon Davies, Leon Osman, Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Lee Carsley, leaving James McFadden and James Beattie on the bench.  Andy van der Meyde... well, what does matter?

Tuesday's eye-opening display has given rise to some debate among fans about the best way to approach Arsenal on their own turf.  Do we try to match their slick passing game or go with a more physical, high-energy pressing game, the like of which has hustled teams like the Gunners out of their stride on other occasions under Moyes in recent seasons?

The purists will obviously be keen to see the Blues duking it out with Wenger's aristocrats on their level but it remains to be seen if and how much Moyes's players will be daunted by this fixture.  And the re-match at Goodison looming in less than two weeks' time, always offers the opportunity to try the other tack if this weekend's strategy fails!

Naturally, a point would be a great result and given the way we've played against the better teams already this season, is certainly within our reach.  But every Blue will be hoping we can spring a massive surprise and use the occasion of our first appearance in Arsenal's new home to win our first fixture away at Arsenal since Andrei Kanchelskis was running around in the Royal Blue jersey!  Arsenal 1- 2 Everton (1996)

TW Betting Tip: There are some very attractive odds on Everton causing an upset this weekend. An away win is 7/1 and you can get some nice prices on goalscorer/result combinations. We like Andy Johnson scoring first and Everton securing a 1-1 draw at 18/1. Check out more sample prices from our online betting partner, Blue Square.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Match Report

May appear here later

Author

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

Key Links
  Everton TV
  Match Reports
  Home Teamsheet
  Everton Teamsheet
  Premiership Scores
  Premiership Table
  Match Preview
  Pre-Match Stats
Match Reports
2006-07 Reports Index
< Luton (H) Fulham (A) >
 Everton websites
 ToffeeWeb Summary
 Evertonfc.com Report
 When Skies Are Grey Report
 Bluekipper Report
 Everton fans' reports
 Lyndon Lloyd Report
 Paul Traill Report
 Other media reports
 BBC Sport Report
 4 the Game Report
 Sky Sports Report
 Sporting Life Report
 SoccerNet Report
 The Observer Report
 The Guardian Report
 Liverpool Echo Report
 Daily Post Report
ARSENAL (4-4-2)
  Lehmann
  Hoyte
  Toure
  Djourou
  Gallas :24'
  Silva
  Hleb
  Rosicky
  Fabregas :78'
  Van Persie
  Henry
  Subs not used
  Senderos
  Almunia
  Flamini
  Aliadiere
  Walcott

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Neville
  Stubbs
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Davies
  Cahill :72' 
  Carsley
  Osman :60' 
  Arteta :24'
  Johnson
  Subs not used
  Turner
  Hughes
  McFadden
  Beattie
  Anichebe
  Unavailable
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Pistone (injured)
  Naysmith (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Weir (injured)
  Valente (injured)
  Boyle (injured)

Premiership Scores
Saturday 28 October 2006
Sheff Utd 0-2 Chelsea
Arsenal 1-1 Everton
Bolton 0-4 Man United
Fulham 0-1 Wigan
Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa
Portsmouth 3-1 Reading
Watford 0-0 Tottenham
Newcastle - Charlton
Sunday 29 October 2006
West Ham - Blackburn
Monday 30 October 2006
Man City - Middlesbro'

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 25
2 Chelsea 25
3 Bolton 20
4 Portsmouth 19
5 Arsenal 18
6 Everton 17
7 Aston Villa 15
8 Liverpool 14
9 Fulham 13
10 Reading 13
11 Blackburn 12
12 Tottenham 12
13 Man City 12
14 Wigan 11
15 Middlesbro 11
16 West Ham 8
17 Newcastle 8
18 Watford 6
19 Sheff Utd 6
20 Charlton 5
After 2 Nov 2006
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