<% 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 - Everton vs Aston Villa
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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
 Saturday 11 November 2006; 3:00pm
Half Time: 0-1
Sutton (41')
Attendance: 36,376
Fixture 12
Referee: Phil Dowd

Match Summary

Nuno Valente failed a late fitness test so Alan Stubbs started as Jamie McFadden began a two-match suspension for foul and abusive language to Graham Poll on Wednesday.  Aston Villa showed from the off that they were here to play, and they set about Everton with some gusto, to match the very windy conditions that seemed to prevent the home side from settling into any sort of rhythm.

Ex-blue Gavin McCann was booked early on for upending Arteta with a poor late challenge, and Cahill did well to win a corner off the fee-kick. But the game was disrupted by a blustery wind that played havoc with high balls and created very broken play.

Carsley incredibly managed to injure Tim Cahill so seriously on 20 mins that needed a stretcher, with James Beattie coming on once Cahill had been removed form the pitch.  He had been pretty active in the first quarter, and Everton would definitely miss his niggley involved presence in the forward/central part of the pitch.  It seemed that Carsley pushed up to compensate, with Everton playing more 4-3-3 than 4-4-2.

The football was horrible to watch but that may have been because Villa were all over any Everton player in possession, making it very difficult for the Blues to create anything.  Angel booked for a bad challenge on Arteta and Stubbs was booked for a silly late sliding tackle that looked a lot worse than it was, as both teams struggled with the horrible conditions although the burly Villians looked more suited to the hustle and bustle than Everton's generally lightweight midfield and attack.

But minutes before the break, another Villa attack finished with the ball in the net after Lescott forced Abonglahor wide but he backed off to create space for making a good ball across to Osbourne.  He was not closed down either, allowing him time to look up and float an excellent ball in for Sutton to flick deftly past Howard with a skilful glancing header. A well-constructed goal facilitated in the main by Everton's failure to really close down the Aston Villa players when they were in possession. 

And that was the real contrast in this game, as Everton, when in possession, kept running into brick walls in the shape of big solid defenders who were on top of them at the very first instant.  On just one occasion before the break, Andrew Johnson broke free of the defensive straight-jacket and bore in on Sorenson, the ball bobbling a little awkwardly such that his final shot was not perfectly executed.  It sliced just enough to strike the outside of the post, and Everton's best chance of the game was gone.

It looked at the start of the second half as if a bollocking by David Moyes at half-time caused the much-needed reaction ratcheting up the intensity of the encounter for the first 15 or 20 minutes.  Everton came out with serious intent and took the game to the Villains but clear-cut chances were not really forthcoming despite good possession that pinned Villa in their own half.

Moyes then decide to change the game by bringing on Anichebe, and going 4-2-4, given Carsley's increasingly bizarre forward role. And to be honest,. it all went a bit flat up front, with Beattie and Anichebe getting in eachother's way and most of the half-decent chances falling to Lee Carsley of all people!  Needless to say, he fluffed them dreadfully.

And so it went on, with Everton struggling increasingly to create anything meaningful and Arteta in particular being utterly wasteful with free-kicks and corners, while Neville's crossed were simply dreadful.  And as for Simon Davies.... Arrrrgh!!!!  Can there ever have been a more frustrating player wearing the Royal Blue?

So, with the early season mini-revival now definitely consigned to the dustbin of history, Everton slipped to the third 1-0 los in eight days.... so much for "bouncing back".  We're still in the top half of the Premiership, but for how long?  That's just one Premiership win now in the last two months. 

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

David Moyes promised a spirited bounce-back this weekend after two narrow but demoralising defeats in the space of five days but spirit — and there was a measure of it, particularly in the second half as they chased the game — was not enough to bring Everton anywhere close to winning this game.

The Blues lost their third straight in all competitions and extended their recent slump to just one Premiership win in the last two months with a woefully toothless display against an organised Aston Villa side. The rampant derby win seems an awfully long time ago.

Nuno Valente failed a late fitness test forcing the manager to reshuffle his pack at the back, drafting Alan Stubbs in central defence alongside Joseph Yobo and pushing Joleon Lescott out to left back once more. James McFadden was, of course, suspended following his controversial dismissal by Graham Poll in midweek, so Simon Davies returned to a five-man midfield, deployed wide left with Mikel Arteta in the middle.

Villa's recent run of one win in five games was as much a disappointment as Everton's fall from grace but Martin O'Neill's team stagiarted in far more positive and cohesive fashion. They bossed the opening 10 or so minutes, passing with purpose and accurancy while Everton struggled to find their feet in blustery conditions.

As early as the first minute the visitors threatened Tim Howard's goal when Osbourne, one of Villa's clutch of youth products, drifted a left-foot shot not far over the bar from the edge of the area. A minute later, a good move on the edge the box created an opportunity for Stilian Petrov to force Howard into a save before Gavin McCann became the game's first booking for clattering through Arteta.

The Goodison faithful had to wait until the 13th minute for the first chance to open up for the Blues when a mix-up between two Villa defenders allowed Johnson to race away towards goal but he ran into trouble and failed to see Davies completely open in the other half of the area. As he tried to bring it onto his left foot, it was taken away from him by a defender and the chance was lost.

The game wasn't even 20 minutes old when Everton lost Tim Cahill to what looked to be a serious injury. Lee Carsley went in with another of his knee-high tackles, missed the ball and caught Cahill awkwardly in the upper part of his shin. The Australian went down in agony and required lengthy treatment that prompted fears he had broken his leg but, after being stretchered off and replaced by James Beattie, word came through that it was probablt a twisted knee.

As the two teams adjusted to the new "lay of the land" things turned scrappy for a time, with referee Phil Dowd suffering a lapse in consistency in his treatment of a succession of bad tackles by both sides. Osourne received merely a talking to for a foul on Johnson almost identical to that which had earned McCann a yellow earlier, while both Juan Pablo Angel and Alan Stubbs were booked for late tackles.

The proceedings pointed towards a goalless score at the interval but, three minutes before the end of regulation time in the first half, Villa made the breakthrough. Agbonlahor beat Lescott wide on the left before passing it back to Osbourne who had time to pick out Chris Sutton with a dinked ball intio the area. Sutton, whom Joseph Yobo had neglected to pick up, had all the space he needed to glance the ball on and into the far corner past Howard's dive.

Everton might have levelled the score within six minutes (five minutes were added to the first half to account for Cahill's injury) when Johnson was put in on goal by Beattie's flick-on but as he bore down on goal he could only fire off the outside of the post under the close attentions of his marker.

Villa had the last word of the half, though, when Petrov advanced with Lescott backing off and unleashed a deflected shot that Howard did very well to fingertip past the post.

Everton were clearly given a stern sermon in the dressing room because they came out of the break with much greater purpose and could have equalised within three minutes of the restart but when Carsley found himself with just the 'keeper to beat from just inside the area, he sliced a side-footed effort wide of the upright.

But for all their forward momentum and increased tempo, Everton had very little to show for their efforts. Arteta had been shifted to the left and Davies moved inside after half time which helped give the Blues some width and allow the Spaniard a bit more room in which to move but his distribution from set pieces was atrocious, meaning that any potential advantage from free kicks and corners was lost when the ball sailed well over everyone and harmlessly out of play or was headed clear by the first man.

Indeed, it spoke volumes of the home side's lack of invention and incisiveness in the final third that their first shot on target, one of only two — three if you count a shot by 69th-minute sub, Victor Anichebe, in injury time that was blocked almost as soon as he'd struck it — they had all game long, arrived as late as the 71st minute. Beattie despatched a well-struck volley from the angle but Sorensen had it covered and his block went behind for another corner that came to nothing.

Four minutes later, more good work by Arteta — even well below par he was the best player in Blue on the day — fed Carsley but he could only roll a shot meekly in the 'keeper's arms from 15 yards out.

Villa, meanwhile, continued to exploit the gaps that opened up as Everton pushed forward and after Beattie had conceded a free kick close to his own area that was cleared to McCann, the former Everton midfielder unleashed a superb shot that Howard got enough of a hand on to divert it wide and Stubbs cleared it behind. Later, Sutton threaded a delightful ball through for Petrov but Howard was once again equal to the task.

And that was pretty much it apart from a late flurry in injury time. Once again, the Blues had no answers up front and the manager seemed to have nothing as Plan B except throw balls into the box looking for the heads of Beattie and Anichebe. Against Villa's well-marshalled defence, it was doomed to failure and the home side got the result they more or less deserved.

With their excellent start already a distant memory, Everton are staring down a long winter's road as injuries and suspension betray the shallow squad and dearth of genuine talent that Moyes has at his disposal. Anichebe aside, the manager really has no game-changing options beyond his starting line-up. And of the players who form the core of the first-team, a few of them have already somehow lost the form they showed in the early going, not least the likes of Osman, Carsley and Neville. (Davies never got going and, despite a decent performance today, looks several shades short of the calibre of player we need.)

Their insistence on pumping long balls downfield — Stubbs, in this respect a glaring relic of the old days, is the biggest culprit — utterly wastes Johnson's presence and means that he spends his life chasing scraps and lost causes.

Beattie, a player who at times last season, not least in this fixture, really looked like he was starting to justify the massive fee Moyes paid for his services, is similarly lost when hoof-ball is the dominant tactic. He too likes balls delivered low into the box or at head height from the byline but has spent much of the time playing the Duncan Ferguson role as the target of raking balls out of defence.

And without space to run at players in the manner in which he thrives, Anichebe is not going to be able to make the impact either he or the fans desire from the bench.

All in all, much to mull over and few answers revealing themselves. What is apparent, though, is that Everton must start stringing a few wins together or another frustrating mid-table struggle — or, God forbid, worse — beckons.

And the cold light of day betrays another false dawn...

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

With all the controversy over penalties not given, glaring offsides missed, and needless red cards dispensed by self-aggrandising referees, Everton can legitimately feel hard done-by so far this season.

Their current slide cannot, however, be entirely attributed to poor officiating and a perceived "witch hunt" of Andy Johnson. The Blues have struggled to make their dominance tell in most of the games they have played so far this season, last weekend's depressing defeat at Fulham being a case in point.

Back at home after two Premiership fixtures on the road, the Blues have another opportunity to make the advantage of Fortress Goodison pay-off with the visit of Aston Villa.

Boosted by the arrival of Martin O'Neill and the successful takeover by Randy Lerner, the Villains made a spectacular start to the season and were the last of the top 92 clubs to record a loss.  Like Everton, though, they have faltered of late, winning just once in their last five games and crashing out of the Carling Cup in midweek on the back of a 4-0 drubbing by Chelsea.

The result is that the two teams are within a place and a point of each other going into this weekend's game which should make for an interesting contest.

Having made his first start of the campaign against Arsenal in the Cup this past week, James McFadden finds himself sidelined again immediately thanks to the automatic red card he received for attempting to dent Graham Poll's ego.  The Scot, who scored the opener in this fixture last season, serves a three-match ban starting this weekend and that may open up the chance for James Beattie to stake another claim to a regular starting berth alongside Andy Johnson.

match photo
James McFadden: scored in a 4-1 win in this fixture last season

That is if David Moyes elects to go 4-4-2 again as the success of playing AJ up front on his own wanes significantly.  If he does deploy two up front, it would likely mean a midfield foursome of Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and Lee Carsley and a back line of Phil Neville, Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott and Nuno Valente.  Tim Howard, of course, will keep his place in goal.  A 4-5-1 formation would likely see the return of Simon Davies to the midfield.

Moyes has promised that his team will bounce back after back-to-back defeats in the past seven days but it will be no easy task against what is a talented side.  The much-improved Gareth Barry and Aaron Hughes are doubts for O'Neill while Gary Cahill is expected the deputise for Martin Laursen who is ruled out.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

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

Key Links
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Match Reports
2006-07 Reports Index
< Arsenal (H) Bolton (H) >
 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
EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Neville {c}
  Osman (67' Osman)
  Cahill (21' Beattie)
  Subs not used
  McFadden (suspended)
  Pistone (injured)
  Naysmith (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Wright (injured)
  Boyle (injured)
   Mellberg (c)
  Angel (75' Agathe)
  Sutton (90' Davis)
  Subs not used

Premiership Scores
Saturday 12 November 2006
Sunday 13 November 2006
Monday 14 November 2006

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