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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
League Cup
 Wednesday 8 November 2006; 8:00pm
McFadden (sent off:19')
Half Time: 0-0
Adebayor (85')
Attendance: 31,045
Round 4
Referee: Graham Poll

Match Summary

Everton started slow against the kids of Arsenal, with McFadden joining Andrew Johnson up-front and  James Beattie not even on the bench; but no start for Victor Anichebe.

Everton had a couple of chances early on with McFadden doing well, and Johnson missing an opportunity to run in on the ball.  Arsenal meanwhile looked to be prepared to play their usual football and, with the early tentative exchanges out of the way, the game was settling into a good-looking contest between a couple of decent footballing teams. But you just knew, with Graham Poll in the centre, something had to happen... and it did bigtime!

With all the nonsense flying about regarding AJ: Diver or Not? on 17 minutes, Johnson dinked into the Arsenal area, cut back behind Senderos, out comes the defender's left leg, and over goes Johnson.  A blatant stonewall penalty as Johnson went down. Result? Instant red red card for James McFadden!!! Foul and abusive language, no doubt.  What on earth did he say that would merit that, beyond calling the Poll the Prat a fatherless cheating bastard for denying the obvious penalty.

Everton recovered well from this devastating and ridiculous decision, taking the game well to Arsenal when they had possession, but the question really was how long could they now withstand the yellow horde?  From a corner, Yobo headed fractionally wide with Lescott coming very close to connecting at the far post. More good football led to a free-kick when Aliadeire was rightly booked, and a great move followed from the free with Neville setting up Cahill for a good strike on goal but was there to save.

There were a few more frightening chances for Arsenal as the first-half came to a close, with Howard saving well to keep the scoreboard blank after some excellent football from both sides, despite the attempts of Poll to pervert the course of justice. 

After the break, Mart Poom came on in goal in place of Arsenal captain Almunia, who may have been a bit dazed.  Johnson looked increasing isolated up front as Everton needed to defend. But from a free-kick for a foul on Carsley, Johnson's turn and sweet shot after a nice Cahill flick-on saw Poom forced into a very good first save.  

Valente gave away a free-kick, taking down Song on the edge of the area but Aliadiere could only wellie it high onto the stand.  Meanwhile, off the ball, Osman ran into Eboue who lashed out in response, then collapsed in a heap clutching his face!  Another disgraceful Arsenal cheat goes unpunished.  Johnson got a chance but was clearly obstructed by _____; nothing given, of course.

Everton had done well to match their illustrious guests for the hour, but limitations were becoming more obvious as rare time on the ball for the Blues was increasingly squandered with the ball being hoofed aimlessly up the field to nobody, so that Arsenal could pick it up and come straight back at them.  Eboue then  tried to get Valente booked for a perfectly good challenge and clearance that Denilson got in the way of. 

Aliadiere went on a blinding run, in on Yobo who stuck his foot out.  Over he went, cast-iron penalty? Not given.  At the other end, the first really good Everton attack of the half involved a great run for Yobo after Cahill held the bal up well, but Poom was there to cut a very dangerous ball out to deny Johnson.  Everton kept the ball well for a while, numerous sideways and backward passes without making progress, and it finally went back to Howard, who did what? Hoofed it up the field again!

Adebyor got a deflection that fooled Howard, and he nearly scored as the tension in the game became increasingly palpable with little more than 15 mins left of normal time.  Another cut in by Johnson, but instead of shooting on sight, took it a little far and went down, but this one was much less likely to be called.  A goal seemed increasingly likely, but it was unclear who it would be for as the action switched back and forth with rare cup-tie momentum.  A good free-kick from Walcott nearly set up Djourou at the far post. 

Another Arsenal attack saw Flamini bearing down on goal, and Carsley got back but Howard carried the ball out fro a corner, and Aliadiere headed well over.  But the next corner, and it was so easy for Arsenal.  Adebayor was there unmarked to nod the ball into the net with less than 5 mins remaining.  Curtains.

A superb chance, Osman doing brilliantly on the touchline, the ball flicked in by Lescott, and Johnson connects but not that well, allowing Poom to sdave for a corner?  No, goal-kick, says Poll.  On the next attack, Everton did finally get a corner and tried to force the issue but Arsenal broke quickly.  Johnson got another chance, but the Arsenal defence was too good for him and forced his shot over the bar.

The 10 men of Everton, to give them credit, had put in a tremendous display, but a moment (and it only takes a moment) of poor defending, poor marking at a set-piece, had undone them.  Nevertheless, they tried and tried to rescue the lost cause.

Oh look: 90 mins, and Victor Anichebe gets his big, big chance!  All 2 minutes...  Instead, it was Aliadiere who fired his gift of a chance well over the bar, with time for Everton seriously running out.  Free-kick from Arteta, Johnson misses an open goal, with Poom off his line, and an open net, Johnson headed it wide! 

Final whistle: Everton out of a cup competition yet again, after a heroic but ultimately ineffective performance.  After scoring in all 12 consecutive games since the start of the season. this was the second game in succession without an Everton goal, Johnson increasing the depth of his personal goal drought, with an open goal missed at the death.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

The fourth round of the Carling Cup arrives rapidly on the heels of Round 3 but much has changed in the intervening fortnight.  Following their impressive dismantling of Luton Town at Goodison, Everton looked for all the world as though everything had clicked into place under David Moyes.

A gritty but maligned — by Arsne Wenger and the media at least — display at the Emirates Stadium, followed by a desperately disappointing defeat at Fulham later, and the uncertainty over where the Blues are heading has returned.  Not ideal circumstances in which to prepare for another match-up against Arsenal, particularly as they will have been stung by defeat at West Ham at the weekend and will be looking to make amends.

match photo
Honours even 10 days ago: Tim Cahill scores at the Emirates as the Blues draw

Uppermost in David Moyes's mind will no doubt be concern over his side's lack of cutting edge and ruthlessness in the final third of the field.  Wholly dominant at Craven Cottage for the first half on Saturday, the Blues passed Fulham off the park but had very few clear-cut chances to show for their efforts and, of course, no goals.

Having stifled Arsenal on their turf 10 days ago by pulling men behind the ball and attempting to disrupt the Gunners' legendary passing game, Moyes faces a dilemma over how to approach this cup tie at Goodison Park.  Does he try and play the visitors at their own game or opt for more of a containment strategy?  Most would expect the Blues to play their way at home irrespective of the opposition but the manager will be wary of risking elimination from a competition he has identified as a high priority this season.

Then there is the question of Andy Johnson, who not only hasn't scored for five games now; he has become the target of what is becoming a campaign against him by some Premiership managers and referees to brand him as a serial diver and a cheat.

Does Moyes play James Beattie, a player who looks as big a misfit now as at any time since arriving as the club's record signing almost two years ago, or Victor Anichebe to take the pressure off AJ or stick to the lone-striker strategy that has, on balance, proven to be the most effective tactic so far this season?

Of the walking wounded, David Weir has been cleared to return to action after suffering concussion in the last round against Luton.  Nuno Valente returned to the bench on Saturday and while he didn't play at Fulham, he could well figure against Arsenal if Moyes feels — as one would hope he does — the need to restore the Yobo-Lescott partnership in central defence.

The midfield conundrum is as it always is when Phil Neville is filling in at right back, Andy van der Meyde is injured — which is always! — and the manager is playing 4-5-1: play Simon Davies, a player struggling to prove his worth to Everton, or try James McFadden wide on the left?  If the latter, what effect does that have on Tim Cahill's ability to get forward?  Plenty of questions ahead of this one...

With bigger fish to fry than the League Cup, Wenger will probably give some of his second string a chance to impress, but that won't make things any easier for Everton as our comprehensive defeat at Highbury against the Arsenal reserves two seasons ago proved.

As such, the Blues have to approach this as one of the most important games of the season as they bid to progress to the fifth round of this competition for the first time in almost two decades... when they were eliminated in the semi-finals by none other than... Arsenal!

Remember: The match is all-ticket and you must buy your ticket before the blox office closes at 6pm.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Match Report

May appear here later

Author

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Nuno Valente
  Neville (c)
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Arteta
  Carsley (90' Anichebe)
  Osman
  Cahill
  Johnson
  McFadden  19'
  Subs not used
  Turner
  Stubbs
  Weir
  Davies
  Unavailable
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Pistone (injured)
  Naysmith (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Wright (injured)
  Boyle (injured)
i
 
ARSENAL (4-4-2)
  Almunia (c) (46' Poom)
  Senderos
  Djourou
  Traore
  Eboue
  Denilson
  Song Billong  :15'
  Flamini
  Walcott
  Adebayor  :58'
  Aliadiere :27'
  Subs not used
  Connolly
  Garry
  Perez
  Randall

Carling Cup Scores
Tuesday 7 November 2006
Chesterfield 3-3 Charlton
Notts County 0-1 Wycombe
Southend 1-0 Man United
Watford 2-2 Newcastle
Wednesday 8 November 2006
Birmingham 0-1 Liverpool
Chelsea 4-0 Aston Villa
Everton 0-1 Arsenal
Tottenham 1-1 Port Vale