<% Dim oMRTCs, oMRTRs, strSQL set oMRTCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oMRTCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/07-08/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos, Team ;" Set oMRTRs = oMRTCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb | Season 2007-08 | Everton vs Birmingham City
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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 3 November 2007; 3:00pm
Everton 
3-1
 Birmingham c
Yakubu (9'), Carsley (92'), Vaughan (93')
Half Time: 1-0
 Kapo (79') 
Attendance: 35,155
Fixture 12
Referee: Mike Riley

Match Summary

Arteta and Pienaar were selected despite lingering injury concerns, while Neville started in the right-back role at the expense of Hibbert who was dropped.  Yakubu led the line in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Cahill performing his usual advanced role.

Everton started brightly and got an early corner after good work from Pienaar and Arteta, showing the right intent form the off.  A nice move started by a great reverse ball from Stubbs to Pienaar allowed the South African to centre fist time low to Yakubu, who won another corner.  Nice move!

And with just 9 mins gone, Pienaar a lovely one-two with Arteta, then a nice 10-yard pass in along the ground with the outside of the foot to Yakubu , left-footed finish.... GOAL!  Feed the Yak and he will score!!!

Birmingham responded strongly and came close when a ball in deflected off two defenders and could have gone anywhere.  Howard was called upon to save well from Kapo and he did so with confidence.  But Everton were forced to make an early substitution, with Stubbs coming off after just 19 mins, replaced in the back line by Jagielka (was this his first opportunity since arriving from Sheffield United to actually play centre-back for Everton?).

Yakubu did well to get around the Birmingham back four, had a chance to make it two, but Taylor was out quickly and Cahill could not get control of the rebound.  More nice work, Arteta and Yakubu set up Carsley but he only side-footed a golden chance straight at Taylor.  Cahill was then set up nicely by Yakubu but his first-time shot was not on target. 

Birmingham made Everton look anxious at the back as the half-time whistle and started to revert to type, giving the ball away cheaply and putting unnecessary pressure on the Blues defence.  Tim Howard made some key saves and ended up turning the air blue swearing at his wayward defenders.

Everton almost totally dominated the first half, playing some nice football, and really should have done more to consolidate their obvious superiority.  The slick passing, however, that had been a feature of the early exchanges and delivered the goal, was no longer evident by half-time.

After the restart, a quick free-kick from Arteta nearly set up Yakubu but it was too fast for him as well.  The second half really dragged, with Everton holding on to what they got, Moyes, nervously unwilling to change things while ahead  and very little inspiring action to report. Yakubu was doing his best but he shot straight at Taylor as he was muscled off line.  O came Forssell and on the corner immediately, Jerome nodded it home Everton paying the price for their hesitancy with 11 minutes to go. 

Finally, Moyes bought on James Vaughan with just 10 minutes left and two points potentially lost.  Everton should have been out of sight at half-time, but it's the familiar story under David Moyes: no need to press on an seal the advantage with a shedload of goals. 

Lively stuff from both sides in the last 10 mins,  Pienaar playing a superb ball in to Vaughan who did well under pressure to win  a corner.  Last (belated?) throw of the dice from Moyes was Gravesen on for Pienaar, who had had another good game.  But it was end-to-end stuff as both teams looked for the winner... And it was a fantastic one:

Cleared out of the Birmingham box, Lee Carsley smashed it with absolutely perfect control and execution to send an absolute rocket into the Birmingham net, and moments later it was 3-1 with James Vaughan scampering away onto a ball played over the top and firing in Everton's third, a lovely finish into the bottom left corner!  YES.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

With three straight victories under their belt, qualification for the last eight of the League Cup for the first time in two decades earned at Luton on Wednesday, a much-anticipated foray to Nuremberg on the horizon and key midfield personnel gaining much-needed match practice, there is plenty about which to be optimistic at Goodison going into this weekend's match-up with Birmingham City.

They may have failed to get going at all in the first half against the Hatters and relied on the predatory instincts of Tim Cahill in the end to get them out of a potentially embarrassing predicament but the result was paramount and there was plenty of scope to attribute a largely uninspiring performance to the five changes made by the manager.

No such luxury on Saturday with all-important Premier League points up for grabs and it will likely herald more changes as David Moyes brings back some of his more potent personnel.

Yakubu, who didn't figure at all at Kenilworth Road but has been markedly improved since starting in the Merseyside derby a fortnight ago, could get a recall and lead the line in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Cahill, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Lee Carsley across the middle. That would, of course, raise a dilemma for Moyes: do you persist with Phil Neville in central midfield — a position in which few fans have much confidence he is the right fit — deploy him at right back and demote Phil Jagielka to substitute, or do you leave your club captain on the bench?

Update: Pienaar is a slight doubt, apparently, and that may be reason enough for Moyes to deploy Neville in midfield instead of the South African.

match photo
Phil Neville: is there a place for the club captain in the starting XI this weekend?

Neither Arteta nor Joseph Yobo were in the squad for the Luton tie but both are expected to return this weekend, despite the Spaniard apparently suffering a slight calf strain at Derby on Sunday. With Leighton Baines a week away from returning due to an anlke injury, Yobo could partner Alan Stubbs as Joleon Lescott deputises at left back once more.

Update: Stubbs also slightly doubtful for this one. If he doesn't make it, Valente may play at left back with Lescott partnering Yobo in the middle.

Birmingham's struggles away from St Andrews — no wins since beating Derby 2-1 at Pride Park on 25th August — on their return to the top flight augur well for Everton. Steve Bruce's side have lost their last three away games in all competitions and scored just once in the their last five on the road.

They did get a morale-boosting 3-2 home win over Wigan Athletic last weekend, though, and held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield three weeks ago.

Everton's last home game, of course, was wrecked by galling refereeing injustice and with Mike Riley's name on the match programme for this one, it could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. In Everton's favour, though, is the fact that they're not playing any of the big four — Manchester United in particular — so there is some consolation to be drawn from that. But not much...

With morale high and the likes of Gravesen, Cahill and Yakubu finding their groove, this is one Moyes's boys should win as they try to gain ground on the top six. 

Lyndon Lloyd

Everton Leave it Late

With friend Gaz seemingly in no great hurry to get to the game today, I made my way towards Goodison Park quite early in a dash to catch the Arsenal vs Manchester United game in a pub.  Over the last few years weve gotten used to going to The Spellow but, given its location right next to the ground, it doesnt half get busy towards kick-off so I thought Id try elsewhere, so I went to The Westminster for a few pints whilst I waited for the troops to arrive with Gaz.

What Ive now learnt is that, when 35,000 or so people descend upon a place at the same time, everywhere is generally going to get busy, and this proved to be the case in The Westminster, and then also in the Royal Oak for which we moved to once the lads arrived.  We also stayed there a bit longer than we should have as we generally discussed travel arrangements for Nrnberg and as a consequence missed the kick-off by a couple of minutes.  I think well revert to The Spellow next time!

As we sat in our seats, I realised wed won the toss with and so attacked the Park End in the first half.  Lescott played at left back with Stubbs and Yobo in the centre and Neville at right back.  It was a bank of four across midfield with Arteta, Osman, Carsley and Pienaar all featuring from left to right.  Tim Cahill played just off Yakubu up front.  On the bench we had McFadden, Vaughan, Jagielka, Gravesen and Wessels.  Birmingham used a similar formation with Cameron Jerome up front on his own and Kapo playing just off him.

We started the game at a high tempo and got into Birmingham from the off.  The warning signs were certainly there for Birmingham and it was no big surprise to anyone I dont think when we took the lead.  It was a nice goal as well with Arteta and Pienaar combining well resulting in Pienaar galloping free into the box.  He played a lovely ball inside for Yakubu who finished smartly to give Everton an early advantage.  It took Birmingham quite a while to settle but before they did Jerome turned outside of Neville and forced a decent save from Tim Howard.  Meanwhile at the other end Tim Cahill came close with a decent half-volley that whistled past the post from about 20 yards.

After the Luton Town game in midweek, I read that Alan Irvine was saying how well Stubbs had done to get through the game whilst carrying two injuries, so I was surprised to see him start and thought Nuno Valente might have gotten the nod at left back instead.  As it was he didnt even make the bench and when Stubbs had to come off injured early in the first half, Jagielka replaced him at centre-back.  Now Stubbs is out of the Nrnberg game and this really could have been avoided you feel.

Anyways Everton were generally comfortable although did get a bit panicky in the final ten minutes of the half as Birmingham applied a bit of pressure.  Thankfully we saw it out until half time and went in 1-0 to the good at the break.

In the second half we performed well, passed the ball around cutely in midfield, dominated possession, created chances but failed to score and boy did it nearly cost us.  Carsley had come close with an excellent long-range volley and some terrific and brave blocking from Djourou and Ridgewell denied Everton a second goal to kill this one off.  As it was, Birmingham broke on the counter attack and Carsley blocked a long-range drive brilliantly to hand Birmingham a corner.  ONCE AGAIN Everton switched off from a set piece and Kapo had quite a comfortable goal as he headed in from the corner.  With 10 minutes to go, it seemed all our hard work was undone.

Moyes now rang some changes in a bid to win this one with Osman coming off and being replaced by Vaughan almost immediately.  Pienaar scurried forward and laid a lovely ball into Vaughans path, but again Ridgewell made a superb block and Everton failed to score.  Pienaar was then visibly knackered and was hence subbed for Thomas Gravesen in Evertons final change. 

The clock ticked on. Substitute Garry OConnor went down with an injury and Birmingham played on.  Everton won the ball back and with OConnor still down injured Cahill kicked the ball out for a Birmingham City throw-in.  Once OConnor was off the pitch, Birmingham took the throw-in and Kapo got the ball, ran it forward a few yards and then played the ball out to a throw-in to Everton right down by our corner flag.  Kapo ran away sheepishly afterwards but was greeted with widespread condemnation from the crowd and some Everton players, Cahill and Carsley in particular. 

Bizarrely, this whole episode appeared to spur the crowd and Everton on as we attacked.  The referee's assistant indicated four minutes of stoppage time.  Everton won a throw in down by Birmingham Citys corner flag.  Neville launched it into the box but it was cleared out to Lee Carsley at the right edge of the penalty area.  He controlled it and smashed it goalwards. Taylor got a hand to it but couldnt keep it out and the net bulged.  The crowd went insane as somehow wed pulled this one off.

We werent finished though and Carsley attacked a Birmingham ball forward with his head. Such was the pace on the header the ball looped over a flat-footed and ultimately deflated Ridgewell, leaving Vaughan through on goal against Taylor.  He took a touch and side-footed calmly into the corner to make it 3-1 in what was a mad minute or two.

The whistle went shortly after this leading to somewhat over-the-top celebrations from the players, although you could certainly feel the elation.  Thats four wins in a row now and with the players back from injury, and seemingly straight back to form, it seems we might now have turned the corner.  Now let's carry this form into Nrnberg on Thursday.

On the way back we all met up and Gary, with a mouthful of a greasy pie, said Did we win?  I left before the end, we informed him of what had happened and had a natter as went into the swarm of human traffic.  Gary finished his pie, rolled the paper bag it came in into a ball, and kicked it.  Unfortunately it went straight into the face of a girl who was walking past in the other direction.  It was simply hilarious!

Viva Nrnberg!  I just cant wait!

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Really didnt have much to do at all. 6
  • Lescott: Comfortable as always, whether thats at left back or centre back. 6
  • Stubbs: Was doing fine before coming off. Probably shouldnt have been risked. 6
  • Yobo: Fine. 6
  • Neville: Useful at the back and got forward well also in what is clearly his best position. 7
  • Arteta: Had a good game and caused them problems all day long. 7
  • Carsley: My man of the match. Not just because of his excellent goal but he held the midfield together and made countless important blocks and interceptions. Also passed the ball around quite nicely. 8
  • Osman: Was very clever and useful in central midfield. Quite clearly his best position. 7
  • Pienaar: Full of running and it was no surprise he was knackered by the end. Had a good hand in the first goal and should be very useful in Nrnberg on Thursday, particularly with his experience playing for Borussia Dortmund. 8
  • Cahill: Weve missed him so, so much, but he seems to have added a bit more passing ability to his game now also. 7
  • Yakubu: Another goal and now seems to be working a bit harder for the team as well. Rarely misses when given an opportunity. 7
     
  • Jagielka (for Stubbs): Coped just fine. 6
  • Vaughan (for Osman): Well taken goal but still looks generally a little rusty, although that was to be expected really having been out for so long. 6
  • Gravesen (for Pienaar): It didnt really work for Tommy in this one. 5

Paul Traill

Match Report

First of all, a few points to make. E-ticketing is not easy, it proved beyond me and my partner and she also found it difficult to navigate the Everton website for seating and ticketing information. Secondly, there was according to official figures 35,155 at the match. Two of the four tickets I purchased had some of the worst restricted views I have encountered. If the rest of the 5,000 tickets yet to be sold were similar then it is about time we moved ground, preferably somewhere where I can park within a mile of the ground given my legs.

I know I sound like Victor Meldrew but I do worry about the ground issue. I don’t like the thought of leaving the city but I do think that the failure to develop the ground has reached criminal proportions (I’m surprised the ground still gets its fire certificate to tell you the truth). The Kirkby issue sounds to me like a done deal, the success of the new ground will depend on the quality of the football played there I’m sure. Perhaps the board know better than me. Would I still come and watch the Blues at a new stadium in Kirkby? Of course I would. Would I be disappointed to leave the city of Liverpool’s current boundaries? Yes I suppose so but in truth local authority boundaries will change again and again and it’s risible to hear the Liverpool fans taunt Everton fans about leaving the city to them when most of them live in Luton or Torquay or Oslo or Reading or even Healing where I live.

I am very disappointed that the City of Liverpool Council has never come up with a viable plan for an alternative site following the King’s Dock fiasco, maybe all the trust was broken on that issue. I listened to Sir Terry Leahy’s letter to Evertonians, he said there was a bond of trust between himself and his representatives and the Everton board and I must admit if that is the case, well then they will almost certainly do business.

On to the match and despite the limited view I could see that Moyes was to persist with a 4-5-1 combination. I’m not against it tactically as long as the midfielders get forward but I think they failed to do that in this game. It was the first time I had seen Yakubu in an Everton shirt in the flesh, an impressive specimen I thought and one that clearly wanted the ball playing to his feet. Isn’t that what Evertonians want?

In the first half an hour there appeared to be only one team playing any football at all. In truth after this period we should have been 3-0 up. There was a great goal walked into the net by Yakubu after super play by Pienaar and Arteta. Pienaar impressed me so much so that I thought it might signal an end to Van der Meyde’s Everton career. He was quick, skilful and intelligent and played very well in support of Yakubu. Osman played well in this period as did Stubbs, who read the game superbly and made one thrilling gallop down the left which probably led to him pulling a hamstring. Jagielka came on and did well without ever convincing me central defence was his best position.

They did have one good chance at the other end and Howard made a good save from Kapo after we had scored on 10 minutes but apart from this they hardly had a kick in the first half. It was to their credit though that they defended well enough to stay in the game and I didn’t think that they were actually that bad, just that we were so much better than them. Cahill had a header and a speculative snapshot and made an excellent run into the box but his cross was to a non-existent far post header and Everton went in at half time worthy leaders 1-0.

I take my hat off to Birmingham and Steve Bruce after the break. We had more good chances without really threatening to score, a fine Yakubu/Arteta combination from a free kick that cried out for an attacking run to the far post and a good piece of football that resulted in a Neville cross to Cahill’s head, the part of his head that wasn’t pointing towards the corner of the net. Ridgewell, a player I must admit not to liking that much as it appeared to me that he always gave away too many fouls when he played for Villa, did well against Cahill all day in the air, and I thought he might well turn out to be like another player I despised yet admired, Martin Keown.

As the game went one I became more and more alarmed. To his credit Bruce threw on more forwards at the expense of his midfielders, eventually finishing up with Kapo, Jerome, Forsell and O’Connor (four forwards who, according to the Bluekipper website, had all been linked with a move to Everton at some stage of their career). Everton seemed to me to lack urgency. Osman seemed to disappear from the game, Arteta miscued numerous freekicks, corners and passes amidst some other sublime footwork.

The seemingly inevitable happened. Birmingham scored a goal, a poor one from a corner, but given the size of their team and their encroaching confidence at the 1-0 scoreline, not a surprising one. On the telly later that night I thought Jerome fouled our goalie or impeded him enough to put him off. 1-1 and at this point my thoughts turned a little black. It seemed to me that every time I brought my partner to the match we draw 1-1 (three times I could remember), perhaps I could blame her. Immediately we were about to kick off however, Moyes reached for his substitutes. It seemed obvious to me and to all the people around me that this was like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Well maybe Moyes knows better than me and he can point to the result and say that he was right all along but on this occasion I think he got lucky. The fact was that he was indecisive when it was obvious to everyone in the ground that the team needed freshening up. Imagine if we had gone away from this fixture with a 1-1 draw with a visit to Chelsea around the corner. Napoleon said, give me generals who are lucky and I believe in this strategy. I admire David Moyes and pay homage to him for the incremental progress we have made.

On Sunday Supplement one of the most experienced journalists compared us to the Tottenham and Newcastle situations very favourably. They are two teams with inferior traditions but with much greater recent investment and resources. The Tottenham situation is risible. The comedy defending of the Newcastle team this weekend is a source of great concern to their fans and to their manager. I think our squad compares very favourably with these two teams despite the almost obscene amounts of investment they have received compared to ourselves. I hope we continue to have more luck but I would prefer it if we were at times a little bolder.

Kapo started our recovery. He annoyed the crowd and the Everton players intensely by demonstrating cynical bad sportsmanship in kicking the ball away following an uncalled for sporting gesture by Cahill who booted the ball out whilst a Birmingham player was helped from the field with a sock injury. The crowd went ballistic, Vaughan barged Kapo (Vaughan had an almighty reception from the crowd in the first half just for warming up!) and the referee spoke with a number of the players (I thought the officials were excellent by the way – a marked contrast to that twit Clattenburg who made another howler at the Fulham vs Reading game. I was only saying to my Liverpool supporter colleagues that I could not understand Rafa Pugwash’s rotation policy in their Champions League fixture away at Besiktas, how could he leave Clattenburg out of the squad?).

The whole atmosphere changed. Vaughan was fantastic. He was only on ten minutes, he whacked Ridgewell to the ground, barged Schmitz in trying to get a header, upset Kapo, had a shot deflected that I think was going in and eventually scored. But not until after Carsley had banged in a superb 25 yard thunderbolt and silenced the ebullient Birmingham fans next to me in the Lower Bullens. The way they trudged away, winless in 50 years at Goodison was pitiful.

A great finish to a frustrating game but one that I feel underlined our progress. I think Birmingham will do quite well and comfortably avoid relegation. They showed some potential but I have to ask myself, “Would I have any of their players?” Honestly, Ridgewell aside, no. I thought we were superior in nearly all of our personnel, without wishing to disrespect them. I feel that with the current side we really could break into the top four again or win one of the cup competitions. If only we can be a bit bolder, starting with the visit to Chelsea.

Player ratings

  • Howard 6 – good save in the first half, good urgent body language but partially at fault for the goal.
  • Neville 6 – some good tackles and professional defending but lost his footing at a critical moment and was not altogether convincing with his distribution. Better than Hibbert though this year so far.
  • Lescott 7 – impressive attacking and defending throughout the game. The Birmingham fans jeered him but I bet they wish they had him.
  • Yobo 7 – good defending on several occasions, quietly effective against an impressive young centre forward.
  • Stubbs 8 – good leadership and superb reading of the game early on. We missed his confident approach to the game when he left.
  • Arteta 6 – some sublime moments but strangely out of sorts with some of his passing. Still better than all of their midfielders and most of ours.
  • Cahill 7 – worked tirelessly but just seemed to lack a little sharpness. Gave away seven fouls without getting booked. Some typical piratical runs and headers.
  • Osman 6 – drifted in and out of the game. Made some really professional interceptions and tackles but might be a bit better wider or further forward.
  • Carsley 7 – intelligent holding play, scored a great winner and made a superb assist for the Vaughan goal. Some aimless passing and erratic or optimistic shooting.
  • Pienaar 7 – clever and laudable footwork to retain possession on occasions, an assist for the Yakubu goal and some clever passing. Promising wide play.
  • Yakubu 7 – scored and made several chances for himself and others. Does not chase lost causes. Intelligent play at times but went quiet at a critical stage of the game.
     
  • Jagielka 7 – looked nervous but made some vital interceptions at the end when Birmingham were playing with four attackers. Passed well from the back.
  • Vaughan 9 – heroic substitute play. Annoyed the life out of them and nearly scored twice. Superb attitude, aggression and brilliant finish. Limitless potential.
  • Gravesen ? – completely fooled me as I thought he had scored the goal and made Vaughan’s goal with a superb defensive header. On both occasions it turned out to be Carsley. This made me think that perhaps Carsley should have gone to Real Madrid or that one of them should have their head painted blue so we can tell them apart. Great body language but one overly ambitious pass.

Kevin Gillen

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EVERTON (4-1-4-1)
  Howard
  Neville (c)
  Yobo
  Stubbs (19' Jagielka)
  Lescott
  Pienaar (82' Gravesen)
  Osman (79' Vaughan)
  Carsley
  Arteta
  Cahill
  Yakubu
  Subs not used
  Wessels
  McFadden
  Unavailable
  Baines (injured)
  Johnson (injured)
   
BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2)
  Taylor
  Ridgewell (c)
  Kelly :38'
  Schmitz
  Djourou
  De Ridder (78' Forssell)
  Muamba
  Nafti (75' McSheffrey)
  Larsson (51' O'Connor)
  Kapo
  Jerome
  Subs not used
  Kingson
  Danns

Premier League Scores
Saturday 3 November 2007
Arsenal 2-2 Man United
Aston Villa 1-0 Derby
Blackburn E-E Liverpool
Everton 3-1 Birmingham
Fulham 3-1 Reading
Middlesbro' 1-1 Tottenham
Newcastle 1-4 Portsmouth
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea
Sunday 4 November 2007
West Ham 1-1 Bolton
Monday 5 November 2007
Man City 1-0 Sunderland

Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 27
2 Man Utd 27
3 Chelsea 24
4 Portsmouth 22
5 Blackburn 22
6 Man City 22
7 Liverpool 21
8 Everton 19
9 Aston Villa 18
10 Newcastle 17
11 West Ham 15
12 Reading 13
13 Fulham 12
14 Birmingham 11
15 Sunderland 9
16 Middlesbro 9
17 Tottenham 8
18 Wigan 8
19 Bolton 7
20 Derby 6
After 5 Nov 2007


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