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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 12 January 2008; 3:00pm
Everton 
1-0
 Man City
Lescott (31')
Half Time: 1-0
  
Attendance: 38,474
Fixture 22
Referee: Mark Halsey

Match Summary

Mikel Arteta was the most welcome sight, returning after a rather harsh three-match ban for raising his arm... something he does in every game!  Andy Johnson got injured in training and was a major absentee, along with Osman (broken toe) and of course the three key players off preparing for the African Federation Cup of Nations (AFCON).

A fairly quiet start in front of a packed Goodison Park. Everton lacked rhythm, and Cahill was playing in his typically clumsy manner that ref Halsey was unimpressed with, a yellow card being awarded to the exuberant Aussie within 12 minutes as Everton showed some uncertainty regarding just how they would penetrate and get the ball forward.

Lescott and McFadden finally got a look in after 15 mins with a couple of half-chances after a good overlap from Valente but Anichebe failed to make contact with his header. 

A lovely ball  chipped in by Arteta allowed Anichebe to set up Cahill and then McFadden who both had great shots that brought tremendous saves from Hart, as Everton finally threatened the City goal after 25 mins.  But the breakthrough finally came when Arteta, right hand side, drilled in a fantastic cross and and Joleon Lescott finished it off superbly, looking like the most accomplished of strikers!!! 

A nervous moment when ___ came close for City but with more confidence, Everton came forward, Neville driving in a low show.  Petrov had a chance getting in on Howard, but Hibbert blocked well and Howard was out quickly. 

In the second half, City looked stronger and stronger, with Everton again failing to close out a game in which they were ahead on more than just points at half-time.  Sven smelt blood and made a double substitution to do his best to change the game, and City pinned Everton back, piling on the pressure. 

A response was required by Moyes and he finally decided to swap out McFadden for Vaughan, who had had precious few opportunities since seemingly injuring himself through over-exuberance. For McFadden, this was to be his final appearance for Everton, his performance typifying in many ways the frustration this enigma (the Scottish Rooney???) had represented in four years with Everton. Carsley caught Corluka who went down like a ton of bricks in true foreigner fashion, kidding Halsey into booking Everton's stopper, and giving City a free-kick in a dangerous position.

City had better possession and more effective control of the ball and continued to push Everton back. There was no fluency form the Blues, who really had done very little to press on in the second half, a poor display overall.

Everton finally got a dangerous free-kick n the last 5 mins and Arteta floated in a nice ball for Cahill but he couldn't finish it off and City could build another attack once again.  Moyes did another time-wasting substitution, Baines for Anichebe... but with tree minutes of added time, the end was nail-biting. 

In the last minute, Man City went for it, Petrov firing in a fierce shot that Howard smothered brilliantly. 

With the heart of the team unnecessarily ripped away for the ridiculously timed African Cup of Nations (Why?), it's the result that matters, and only the result especially against one of Everton's only real rivals as pretenders to the lovely lolly earnt by Sky's "big Four".

Michael Kenrick

Stubborn Everton Edge It Over City

A solitary goal by Joleon Lescott just past the half hour and a resilient defensive stand after half time was enough to lift Everton over Manchester City, both on the day and in the Premier League table, and get the Blues back to winning ways after successive cup defeats. The result may have been hard-earned in a game of few genuine chances but it was an enormously satisfying one as David Moyes's side saw off the challenge of a side that spent the first half of the season in the top four of the Premier League and has been talked about in terms of breaking the monopoly of the "big four" on those Champions League places.

Already stripped of Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar because the African Cup of Nations and unable to field the returning Manuel Fernandes as he hadn't yet received international clearance, Moyes then found he would be missing Andy Johnson as well, the player most likely to lead the line in the 4-1-4-1 formation he elected to use. The striker had apparently picked up a knock in training and was replaced by Victor Anichebe.

Mikel Arteta made a welcome return in midfield and he was, unsurprisingly, instrumental in Everton's confident start to this game. In contrast to their disappointing first-half display at Stamford Bridge in the Carling Cup a few days ago, the Blues set about this first home fixture in the league since the Arsenal defeat in confident and fluid fashion.

With Arteta roving across the midfield, Tim Cahill putting himself about tenaciously and James McFadden always looking to spark something down the left with Nuno Valente, they were pinging the ball about nicely and it all came together nicely after 15 minutes with the game's first effort on goal. McFadden linked up well with Valente and he picked out Lescott in space just inside the area but his side-foot shot was blocked.

Ten minutes later, City — who were being hemmed into their own half and totally outplayed — were carved open again with one of the best moves of the match. Great work in the middle by Arteta allowed him to feed Tony Hibbert and get the ball back via Cahill and the Spaniard found Anichebe with his back to goal with a nicely-weighted chip into the centre. Anichebe controlled well and laid it back to Cahill whose shot low across Joe Hart was parried one-handed by the goalkeeper and Micah Richards beat McFadden to the loose ball. He could only push into the path of Cahill, though, and with the goal at his mercy, the Australian contrived to steer a first-time shot over the bar.

It was a gilt-edged chance — albeit perhaps more difficult than it first appeared — but a few minutes later it didn't matter. After his corner came back out to Phil Neville and was touched back to him, Arteta drilled a left-footed shot across goal where Lescott made no mistake, dispatching the ball through Hart's legs to make it 1-0.

It was just as well that the goal came when it did. The Blues had already begun to shift out of their promising pass-and-move mode by the time they scored, opting increasingly for the long ball as the first option, and referee Mark Halsey seemed to be doing his utmost to give City every advantage when it came to his decision-making.

And the visitors responded to going a goal down by finally coming to life themselves. Elano had Howard scampering across as his deflected free kick dropped onto the top of the net, Onouha was inches away from connecting with a Martin Petrov corner that fizzed across the face of the Everton goal, and Corluka ended a period of panic in the home defence, during which Hibbert had blocked brilliantly to deny Petrov, by blasting well over.

That pattern of dominance by Sven Goran Eriksson's side continued for the first 20 minutes of the second half and it had the Goodison faithful becoming increasingly vocal in their discomfort at the inability of their team to even get out of their half for long spells. City were exerting long periods of sustained pressure but somehow failed to threaten Everton in any meaningful way.

The Blues didn't seem able to keep the ball for... well, Toffee, but the defence repelled everything that was thrown at them, and Hibbert in particular was enjoying a good day at the office, tackling everything that moved and more or less nullifying Petrov as a threat down the City left. Indeed, the Sky Blues were having much more joy down their right where gaping holes were appearing in front of Valente, probably due to McFadden's more offensive role.

Eriksson used all three substitutions available to him as he went in search of an equailser but it was Moyes's change just before the hour mark that turned the tide back in Everton's favour. He removed McFadden and put James Vaughan on to patrol the front line alongside Anichebe and the additional threat to the City rearguard helped the home side reassert control over proceedings.

They didn't really look in any real danger until the final few minutes when Petrov finally forced Tim Howard into making a save when he drilled in a low shot after cutting in from the left flank. A goalmouth scramble deep into stoppage time saw Bianchi head meekly into the American's grateful arms before Halsey called time on a terrific win for Moyes's men.

On the pitch, the past seven days have been hard to stomach for Evertonians and while this wasn't a great performance by any means — though it did start out impressively enough — an under-strength team ground out an excellent result against one of the best attacking sides in the division. That they almost completely negated the threat posed by Petrov and Elano is testament to how well the defence played and the fact that the result pulls us level on points with Liverpool despite some of our best players being absent will be a massive confidence-booster going into next weekend's game at Wigan.

It was also fitting that after being vilified a year ago for seemingly dropping two points in this same fixture by disrupting the defence with injury-time substitutions, Moyes's 59th-mimute switch proved so key to claiming victory this time around.

Player Ratings

  • Howard — Really had nothing to do until the 89th minute but needs to work on his kicking. It's getting worse. 6
  • Hibbert — Hardly put a foot wrong all game and was vital in keeping Petrov, arguably the best out-and-out winger in the Premier League this season, quiet down the City left. Shaded Man of the Match for me from Arteta. 9
  • Valente — Started brilliantly but became a little sloppy as the game wore on. 7
  • Jagielka — Another fine display of dogged defending. 8
  • Lescott — Not always at his brilliant best at the back but deserves kudos for a well-taken goal. 8
  • Carsley — In the current climate of referees cracking down on two-footed, studs-up tackles he can count himself very fortunate not to have been sent off in the second half for catching Corluka's shin. As it is he picked up a yellow card for the third successive game, suggesting his discipline is slipping a little. 7
  • Neville — Personally, I thought his display at Chelsea was excellent, one of the few players in a white jersey to distinguish himself that night, and while he was good from a defensive point of view today, his distribution wasn't always great. Still, another solid display in midfield after struggling so much in that position at the start of the campaign. 7
  • Arteta — Reveled in his return to the side and effortlessly reclaimed the mantle of the creative heartbeat of the side. 9
  • Cahill — No surprise that he came to life again in a five-man midfield. Was in inspired form for the first half an hour and remained committed and inventive during those periods when the home side had the ball. 8
  • McFadden — Not everything he attempted came off — and, yes, he was guilty of making the wrong decision on a couple of occasions — but he gets good marks for effort and invention. 7
  • Anichebe — Put himself about admirably despite the fact that he was getting almost no change from the referee. Led the line well but was largely peripheral between the 35th and 65th minutes as City dominated. 7
  • Vaughan (on for McFadden) — His introduction swung the balance of play back in Everton's direction. Chased everything going and really helped take the pressure off the back line. 8

Lyndon Lloyd

Dont Gamble!

Arriving at the ground slightly later than usual, we also wasted more valuable pub time with the impulse purchase decision of the Wigan Athletic game next Sunday. Having sorted that we then stopped for a bite to eat and, much to Garys dismay, it was about 1:45pm by the time we got to the pub. Ah no, how am I supposed to force four pints down me in an hour was Garys devastated comment. Well he did!

Adam asked what I thought the score would be and I said 1-0 with Cahill scoring the goal. So sure was I of this in fact, I decided to put a bet on this, and with odds of 28-1 I thought a 3 bet was worthwhile. Alerted by this, Ste and Gaz decided to give gambling a whirl with Ste putting a whopping 1 bet on Lescott to score first at 25-1 and Gaz putting a 2 bet on Everton winning and Lescott to score the first goalwe set off to our seats.

As the teams came out it was clear that the rumour was true and that Andy Johnson was indeed injured so Everton started with Victor Anichebe up front on his own in the absence of Yakubu. With Yobo and Pienaar also away in Ghana this gave James McFadden another opportunity albeit on the left wing, and Nuno Valente a chance at left back with Lescott moving inside to centre half. As for Man City they included two Everton old boys Richard Dunne and Michael Ball. I, for one, was delighted to see Michael Ball doing well. I could tell Mark Halsey was the referee by that purposeful stomp forward of his. We won the toss and so attacked the Park End in the first half.

The game took a hell of a long time to settle with neither team getting into the rhythm of things. Tim Cahill should have put us ahead when Anichebe laid the ball back to him. Our Aussie struck it low only for Hart to make a smart save low to his left. The ball was bundled back to Cahill who then blazed over with an open goal from a fairly tight angle, though he definitely should have scored, and helped me out with my bet!

As it was Lescott helped the other lads out shortly afterwards. The blues were certainly in the ascendancy when we did go in front and the goal had been coming you felt at this point. A corner was delivered by Arteta and then cleared. The ball was played back to Arteta again, he took a brilliant first touch to give himself a chance to whiz the ball across the box. I knew we were going to score then and sure enough we did with Lescott tapping home smartly from close range to put us ahead. I thought (hoped) for a second it was Cahill as Joleon made a beeline for the corner flag but it turned out to be Lescott and Everton had the lead. Cha ching was the text from Ste.

We seemed to kinda shut up shop for the rest of the half with City doing the pressing, albeit without really creating anything and at half time it was advantage Everton. There were more smiles at half time as well with the news that Liverpool were getting beat by Middlesboro and some fella winning himself a car with the half time Hit the Bar competition.

The second half was a very absorbing battle. Whilst it was by no means a classic, I was certainly very enthralled. Man City had the ball for a long period of time and Everton just couldnt seem to get the ball back. McFadden appeared to have a bad attitude and couldnt / wouldnt get involved enough which certainly didnt help. As it happened, things improved dramatically when he came off for Vaughan. The busy striker didnt give Dunne a minutes peace and certainly helped Everton out a bit. This settled the team a bit and we were then back and track.

Thankfully City, with all their possession, failed to create anything and Everton still had the lead but as the game went on, it lead to a very, very tense last 10 minutes or so as Man City pressed hard. I thought theyd scored in injury time when Petrov drilled a low effort very hard but Howard saved well and managed to hold on to the ball. Everything seemed to stop for a second and I couldnt tell where the ball was until he got up.

There was still time for one more scare after that when a cross in was headed goalwards by Bianchi but thankfully landed straight into the grateful arms of Tim Howard. He planted on the ball, got up, booted the ball far and Halsey blew his whistle. Well battled Everton.

We met up later on and Ste claimed his winnings from the bookies. Gaz went to do the same but came back saying hed have to wait 20 minutes as the bookies had to open up the safeeverybody had put money on Lescott scoring at 25-1. Now why didnt I think of that?

Dont gamble kids!

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: They say its a sign of a good keeper when they dont have anything to do all game and then make a great save like that one at the end. 8
  • Valente: Defensively brilliant. Suspect with crosses sometimes but flawless in defence. 8
  • Lescott: Stood firm. Well taken goal also. 8
  • Jagielka: Stood firm. 7
  • Hibbert: Defensively sound though distribution was as bad as ever. 6
  • Neville: Covered a lot of ground in the middle and got stuck in. 8
  • Carsley: Put in the usual shift. Collected a booking also. 7
  • McFadden: Not bad in the first half I guess but didnt seem to want to know in the second half and we were much improved without him. 4
  • Arteta: My man of the match. Made the goal and covered so much ground. I love how composed he is on the ball. 8
  • Cahill: Missed a sitter and disappeared from the game quite a lot. 6
  • Anichebe: Battled hard. 7
  • Vaughan (for McFadden): Didnt give Dunne a minutes peace. Was certainly what we needed. Maybe he shouldve started. 7
  • Baines (for Anichebe): Not on long enoughcant judge.

Paul Traill

Match Preview

Everton's impressive pre-Christmas run that lifted them back into top-six contention at the halfway stage of the season brought into sharper focus the battle to either finish "best of the rest" or to be best placed to take a crack at breaking the so-called "big four's monopoly on the Champions League places.

With Portsmouth, Blackburn and Aston Villa faltering slightly, Manchester City — with their new-found riches and near-perfect home league record so far this season — currently stand between the Blues and that top-four, monied elite. That makes the first meeting between City and Everton this weekend all the more enticing. At stake for David Moyes is a chance to draw level on points with Sven Goran Eriksson's side and send a message to the rest of the Premier League that, even without their absent African stars, they are a force with which to be reckoned this season.

Of course, having now lost four of their last six, the Blues have plenty to prove to themselves let alone anyone else and the confidence that would come from turning City over this weekend would be invaluable.

At the time of writing, the bigger story isn't the absence of Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar — three of the team's best performers so far this campaign — but the imminent return to Goodison Park of Manuel Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder flew into Merseyside this week to tie up another loan move after a failed move to Valencia. If all went well, the completion of the deal to bring his back until the end of the season could be announced tomorrow and the player registered in time to play this weekend.

Of course, there's no guarantee he would march straight into the side, particularly given his lack of match fitness, but Everton are short of real flair in the middle of the park even with the very welcome return of Mikel Arteta, back after a three-match ban.

It is possible that Moyes will stick with the same formation that started at Chelsea and substitute Arteta for McFadden for Anichebe, or could be deployed as the lone striker. He should not need to gamble on the good Thomas Gravesen showing up or moving McFadden up front with AJ but we'll see.

At the back, Joleon Lescott is likely to move inside to partner Phil Jagielka, with Leighton Baines coming in on the left and Tony Hibbert and Tim Howard continuing at right back and goalkeeper respectively.


Manuel Fernandes: Will he be eligible? Will he play?

Just like the New Year's Day fixture at Middlesbrough, which followed the 4-1 home defeat by Arsenal, this matchup against City is an opportunity to bounce back and return to winning ways.

In their favour is the fact that Eriksson's side don't travel that well. Their 2-0 win at St James' Park in their last League outing was only their second of the campaign (the other came at West Ham on the opening day), although since being hammered 6-0 at Chelsea at the end of October they have lost just once, that a 2-1 loss at Spurs a month ago.

How the Blues deal without their African stars will be key. Yakubu is, of course, the club's top scorer but Andy Johnson has shown that with service he is in good scoring form. And the likes of Anichebe and James Vaughan are no doubt waiting for their chance to shine on the Premier League stage.

Hopefully, Moyes will be sending his men out with fire in their bellies and can score a morale-boosting win.

Lyndon Lloyd

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert
  Jagielka
  Lescott
  Valente
  Carsley :61'
  Neville
  Cahill :12'
  Arteta
  McFadden (59' Vaughan)
  Anichebe (90' Baines)
  Subs not used
  Ruddy
  Stubbs
  Gravesen
  Unavailable
  Yakubu (AFCON)
  Yobo (AFCON)
  Pienaar (AFCON)
  Johnson (injured)
  Osman (injured)
  Turner (injured)
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Fernandes (ineligible)

MAN CITY (4-4-2)
  Hart
  Corluka
  Onuoha
  Dunne (c)
  Ball
  Richards
  Hamann :39' (56' Gelson)
  Petrov
  Elano
  Vassell (68' Ireland)
  Castillo (56' Bianchi)
  Subs not used
  Isaksson
  Garrido

Premier League Scores
Saturday 12 January 2008
Arsenal 1-1 Birmingham
Aston Villa 3-1 Reading
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham
Derby 0-1 Wigan
Everton 1-0 Man City
Man Utd 6-0 Newcastle
Middlesbro 1-1 Liverpool
West Ham 2-1 Fulham
Sunday 13 January 2008
Bolton 1-2 Blackburn
Sunderland 2-0 Portsmouth
          
Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 51
2 Arsenal 51
3 Chelsea 47
4 Liverpool 39
5 Everton 39
6 Aston Villa 39
7 Man City 39
8 Blackburn 36
9 Portsmouth 34
10 West Ham 32
11 Newcastle 26
12 Tottenham 24
13 Reading 22
14 Middlesbro 21
15 Bolton 20
16 Birmingham 20
17 Wigan 20
18 Sunderland 20
19 Fulham 15
20 Derby 7
After 13 Jan 2008
 
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