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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premiership
 Saturday 30 Dec 2006; 3:00pm
Anichebe (9', 58'), Neville (62')
Half Time: 0-0
 
Attendance: 38,682
Fixture 21
Referee: Dermot Gallagher

Matchday Summary

Andy van der Meyde gets only his third start of the season in something of a surprise line-up that features three of Moyes's favourites Davies, Beattie and McFadden all warming the bench while Victor Anichebe also gets another start.

And Van der Meyde launched in a great cross early on that forced a corner from Given when Anichebe could perhaps have launched himself at it.  A great piece of football got the ball in to Anichebe, who perhaps could have found Johnson but instead he earned a corner.

On the corner, played bzck to Neville, he floated in a nice cross that Yobo headed down into a crowd in the goal area and there was a bit of a scramble, with Lescott looking for the ball but it was Victor Anichebe who poked his foot out and drove the ball  across the line for the opening goal, and Anichebe's first Premiership goal of the season.  A just reward for the lively and purposeful approach shown by the Blues going forward.

A lively response from Newcastle saw three corners for them in succession, but all were defended well, while the Everton players were working hard.  Emre caught Yobo and his name became the first entry in Dermot Gallagher's little black book.

More good play from Everton saw Johnson whip the ball in, but Solano defended it well, and Osman looked to create an opening off the rebound but his shot was not as good as his first touch.  But Everton were playing well with all the team working for each other, and they looked more inventive than previously around the opposition penalty area.  Huntington caught Arteta when the Everton player turned into him, and Dermot was there with his yellow card again.

Some lively football and great work from Arteta, who crossed in but it was cleared to Neville, and he fizzed the ball back in for Johnson to fire off a shot that went just wide.  Great football from Everton. Good work both on and off the ball, with decisive passing and good pressure on Newcastle whenever they have possession.

On a Newcastle attack, the cross reached Martins whose header needed saving by Howard for a corner.  Everton got a chance to break, but Arteta picked the wrong option and the chance was gone.  Peter Ramage was then withdrawn for Newcastle and Antoine Sibierski came on in his place, with Nicky Butt moving to centre-half!

Anichebe was shoved in the chest three times by Nicky Butt on a free kick and was booked for not retreating.  From the free kick, Dyer went down under a challenge from Osman and it was a clear penalty but then it all kicked off with Emre and Lescott the flashpoint. Lescott had reacted very strongly to Emre providing unwanted advice to the Ref regarding the need for a card for Osman, and everyone else piled in for handbags all round. By rights, Emre should have least got a yellow for this, but the experienced Gallagher decided he didn't really want to send Emre off, and just gave him a good talking to.  Emre then did the rounds, apologizing to the Everton players he had offended. but Lescott was having none of it

Obafemi Martins finally took the penalty but it was terrible!  He fired it yards over the crossbar, much to the delirious delight of Goodison Park, and justice was done.

Glenn Roeder must have had a few choice words for his Geordie boys and they indeed came out after the break with more intent than Everton.  But Johnson, Osman and Van der Meyde combined nicely for the Dutchman to shoot, forcing another Given save. 

Newcastle were really up for chasing the equalizer, doing to Everton what the Blues had done to them in the first half, with the Blues pinned back and unable to get out of their half for extended periods of play, the lofted ball coming straight back at them.  Milner forced a wonderful save from Howard, but Taylor and Martins got in each other's way and could not follow-up on the lose ball. 

Everton did finally break out after 10 mins of the second half and, and some excellent footwork from Arteta down in the corner finally won a corner from three attending Toonies. From Arteta's brilliant corner, Johnson flicked-on at the near post and Anichebe headed it onto the underside of the crossbar and looked like it might have crossed the line, but the ball squirmed back out and Victor Anichebe was the quickest to react, making sure it had, despite a serious lunge from Solano.  Another goal!!! And a perfect time to score, when Everton were on the back foot.  Ironically, Anichebe's play generally had been poor but the lad had scored both goals to set Everton up nicely.

Soon after, Everton were 3-0 up: an Arteta free-kick was driven across goal, Phil Neville swung at it, scuffed his shot off the other boot, and he watched in amazement as the ball looped over Given's lunge and into the net!  Goodison was in fine Holiday mood!!!

Van der Meyde did some good work and had a pop from 25 yards.  Beattie & McFadden than came on in place of Anichebe & Johnson! David Moyes deciding to rest his attackers in readiness for another big Premiership game on Monday.

Lescott really should have scored off a superb Arteta delivery but it skipped off the turf in front of him and went harmlessly wide.  Later, a left-footed half-volley from Simon Davies on a cutback from Arteta off the corner, was just inches wide.

A convincing result, built on the back of a very good first-half performance and some luck finally going Everton's way in front of goal.  The end of a good year for Everton at Goodison only beaten on three occasions over the 12 months the last time that happened was 1990!

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Despite the disappointment and frustration at Everton's failure to score against Middlesbrough, four out of six points are in the bag so far for this holiday season, and three more are on offer this afternoon as Goodison Park plays host to the most overblown club in the land, and their equally over-inflated supporters.  What better way to put them in their place than with a win?  After all, this is a massive mid-season mid-table six-pointer another litmus test of Everton's ambitions and the resolve behind the many fine words and good intentions that have again been voiced by the players this week.

Phil Neville is back in contention after serving a one-game but Alan Stubbs, who has missed the last two with a knee injury, will have a late fitness test. That will likely mean changes in the Everton starting line-up where Simon Davies, a makeshift fullback on Tuesday, will surely make way for Neville, and Nuno Valente could replace Gary Naysmith on the other side of defence after coming on for the Scot as a sub after an hour against 'Boro.

The rest of the team may go unchanged which would mean another start for Victor Anichebe alongside Andy Johnson and more bench-warming for James Beattie. Alessandro Pistone claims to be fit and ready, but Moyes is unlikely to press him into action quite so quickly.

Newcastle stumbled through their start to the season but, recent defeats against Bolton and Chelsea aside, seem to have found their stride.

The Blues' challenge in this one will be two-fold: to keep free-scoring Obafemi Martins quiet and rediscover their own goalscoring touch which seemed to desert them on Boxing Day. Martins has scored six goals in the Magpies' last seven matches in all competitions and, of concern to David Moyes, he notched two away from home in a 3-1 win at Blackburn recently.

It's hard to predict how this one will go. From Everton's perspective, with Yobo and Lescott having formed such an impressive partnership much will depend on the level of service to the Blues' front men... and whether Dermot Gallagher can see past Johnson's unfair reputation as a "diver."    

Michael Kenrick and Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Everton close out 2006 in style

Everton ended 2006 the way they began it, scoring three goals and earning a convincing home victory. The victims on 2nd January were Charlton Athletic when David Moyes's side ran out 3-1 winners with goals from James Beattie and Tim Cahill but neither player was on the pitch at the start of today's wonderful victory over Newcastle United that closed out the year in fine style.

With Phil Neville and Nuno Valente back in first-team contention following suspension and injury respectively, the manager made changes from the team that was so frustrated by Middlesbrough and the referee in the Boxing Day stalemate four days earlier. Both full backs were drafted back into their familiar berths, with Simon Davies dropping back to the bench.

Also benched was James McFadden, replaced with Andy van der Meyde who had come on as a substitute after an hour against 'Boro and was looking to cement his rehabilitation as a long-term prospect at Goodison Park. The attacking partnership of Andy Johnson and Victor Anichebe was again Moyes's preferred spearhead, with James Beattie again forced to play the role of £6m bench-warmer.

The opening few minutes served as an accurate barometer for the rest of the match, with both teams playing some entertaining football and taking the game to the opposition. Everton in particular seemed keen to erase the memory of the Middlesbrough draw with some nice probing moves in the early stages, Johnson meeting Anichebe's second-minute cross with an unseen push on his marker before looping a header over the bar, and Van der Meyde almost finding Anichebe with a peach of an angled ball from wide left, the like of which is seldom seen at Goodison Park.

And after Scott Parker had forced the first save from Tim Howard with a dipping shot from 30 yards, that same trio of Everton forwards should have fashioned the first goal for the home side but Anichebe perhaps betrayed his youth when, having done the hard part by beating his man to the byline, he tried to thread a low cross through two defenders to Van der Meyde when Johnson was better placed a few yards behind.

All was forgiven a few seconds later though when, from the resulting corner, Yobo's header dropped into a crowd of legs in the six-yard box and Anichebe, reacting the quickest, swung a boot at it and got enough on it to roll the ball into the corner to open the scoring in the 10th minute.

Buouyed by the early goal, the Blues, who so often seem to be a confidence team, settled into a nice rhythm for the remainder of the first half, relying on the flair of Mikel Arteta — back to his imperious best on this evidence —the ability of Anichebe to hold things up and bring others into the game and, of course the pace and running of Johnson.

Newcastle, no slouches themselves and boasting the dynamism of Emre, the midfield energy of Parker and the explosive threat of Obafemi Martins, were also doing their part in an entertaining encounter and came within a whisker of equalising when the last of three successive corners fell to Emre just inside the right side of the area and he lashed a shot off the thigh of Valente and into the side-netting.

However, the Turk's greatest impact on the game was ultimately in disciplinary matters and he was yellow-carded in the 21st minute for catching Yobo late, while makeshift full-back Huntingdon followed him into the book six minutes later for pole-axeing Arteta in midfield.

Everton, meanwhile, continued to threaten. First, Neville found Osman in space but his left-footed effort was tame and easily gathered by Shay Given. Then Arteta chased a ball to the byline and cut it back to Neville, having his best game for weeks, who fired a great ball across goal but Van der Meyde couldn't make proper contact at the back stick and the ball bounced harmlessly wide. The Dutchman was in an offside position when the ball was struck but there was no flag so the goal would have stood if he's made more of the chance.

Neville, meanwhile, kept up his efforts to score his first goal for three years when he tried his luck from 20+ yards but Given was equal to it, and Howard made his best save of the game at the other end when Martins leaped above Yobo to head downwards and goalwards but the 'keeper dived across his line to push the ball around the post in superb fashion.

Everton may have been playing perhaps as well as they have all season but there were still occasions when terrific opportunities were spurned, not least when they broke, three on two and with Peter Ramage struggling with an apparent hamstring strain, with speed eight minutes before half time. Arteta, however, chose Anichebe over Johnson and ended up punting his throughball way downfield and out for a goal kick.

And when Nolberto Solano's pass inside found the run of Kieron Dyer, Osman clattered through him and referee Dermot Gallagher pointed to the spot, it looked as though the Blues might pay for not making the most of their opportunities. It was a couple of minutes before Martins was able to take the penalty kick. Emre's appeals to the referee to card Osman for the challenge incensed some among the Everton ranks — Lescott was especially livid, but after some pushing and shoving between a clutch of players, Martins was given the go-ahead.

With six goals in his last seven outings, the Nigerian was the man to fear coming into this one but, thankfully for the Blues, he made a complete mess of the spot kick, sending it high, wide and into the stands with Howard diving in the opposite direction.

So, despite riding their luck at times during the first 45 minutes, the home side went into the half-time break a goal up and looking good value for it.

Not surprisingly, the Magpies came out of the interval with an escalated sense of purpose and took the game to Everton in the opening few minutes of the second half. It was Everton, though, who might have scored first when Johnson burst down the right and saw his cross from the byline cleared only as far as Osman who dinked it back to the back post where Van der Meyde couldn't power a free header past Given.

The visitors did fashion another great chance 9 minutes into the half, though, when Milner's stinging drive was parried one-handed by Howard but as the ball dropped invitingly for Martins and Taylor, the pair got in each other's way and the defence was able to hack it clear.

At this point, Everton were playing more like the away side, relying increasingly on the counter attack, and soaking up the increased pressure from Glen Roeder's side. The Blues' second goal, therefore, came at just the right time. An Arteta corner from the right was flicked on by Johnson, Anichebe's header cannoned off the underside of the bar and the 18 year-old again reacted quicker than anyone to turn home the rebound.

And, after Arteta had spotted Van der Meyde's perfectly-timed run but just overhit his ball over the top, Everton put the game firmly out of reach with a third in the 62nd minute.

Familiar Johnson perseverence earned a free kick by the touchline deep in Newcastle territory but instead of delivering it into the box, Arteta slipped it back to Neville whose shot from 20 yards bobbled off his other shin and into the top corner via Given's out-stretched glove. It was the No. 18's first goal in Everton colours and capped a terrific all-round display that was most welcome after a patch of poor form.

A couple of minutes after that it could well have been 4-0. A long ball from the back bounced onto Johnson's plate as he tracked the flight of the ball into the area but he was foiled in a one-on-one situation with the 'keeper as Given got a crucial touch to block his shot at point-blank range.

That was more or less it bar the shouting. Mindful of a trip to Eastlands in two days' time, Moyes withdrew Johnson and Anichebe in favour of Beattie and McFadden with 19 minutes left and then threw Simon Davies on for Van der Meyde in the 78th minute. And while Newcastle kept huffing and puffing with little end product, Everton kept on popping up with genuine chances.

A superb Arteta delivery in the 80th minute deserved a better touch from Lescott with the goal at his mercy at the back post, Valente almost connected with Yobo from a similar position six minutes after that but the ball bounced agonisingly out of the Nigerian defender's reach, and Davies had the last shot of the game when he lashed Arteta's corner narrowly wide from the edge of the box in injury time.

Overall, the scoreline might have been an injustice to Newcastle based on the way they played over the 90 minutes, but, at the same time, you could argue that Everton deserved their goals and the margin of victory. They created more and better chances and, crucially, took three of them on the back of a very good all-round display.

Anichebe showed tremendous striking instincts to double his tally for the season and while Johnson will be kicking himself for not converting the one chance that fell his way, he can be satisfied with another terrific effort on the part of the team. Seeing as the game was won by the time they entered the fray, it may be harsh on Beattie and McFadden to compare the effectiveness of their partnership with that of the more productive Johnson-Anichebe pairing but, suffice to say, the latter demonstated why they have been the manager's first-choice duo in recent matches.

It is also worth noting that together with some great work down the right by Neville, this was a more productive and cohesive midfield display than we have seen for a while. Carsley quietly got on with breaking things up in front of the back four, leaving Osman, Arteta and Van der Meyde to build attacks further forward. As already noted, the Spaniard was excellent and while Van der Meyde was a largely peripheral figure in the first half, he showed a pleasing willingness to pop up in attacking areas to supplement the front two. With better finishing, he might have scored his first Everton goal as well!

If this is what we have to look forward to for the remainder of the campaign, roll on 2007!

Lyndon Lloyd

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EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Howard
  Neville
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Valente
  Carsley
  Arteta :77'
  Osman
  Van der Meyde (77' Davies)
  Johnson (71' Beattie)
  Anichebe :42' (71' McFadden)
  Subs not used
  Wright
  Weir
  Unavailable
  Stubbs (injured)
  Cahill (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)

NEWCASTLE (4-4-2)
  Given
  Solano
  Ramage (37' Sibierski)
  Taylor
  Huntington :21'
  Milner
  Butt
  Parker :86'
  Emre :27'
  Dyer (78' Pattison)
  Martins
  Subs not used
  Srnicek
  Edgar
  Rossi
 
Premiership Scores
Saturday 30 December 2006
Charlton 2-1 Aston Villa
Blackburn 2-1 Middlesbro
Bolton 3-2 Portsmouth
Chelsea 2-2 Fulham
Everton 1-0 Newcastle
Man Utd 3-2 Reading
Tottenham 0-1 Liverpool
Watford 1A1 Wigan
West Ham 0-1 Man City
Sheff Utd -v- Arsenal

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Premiership Table
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