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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 15 September 2007; 12:00pm
Everton 
0-1
 Man United
Half Time: 0-0
  Vidic (83')
Attendance: 39,364
Fixture 6
Referee: Alan Wiley

Match Summary

Tim Howard failed to make the game, suffering a dislocated finger while playing last week for Team USA, giving Stefan Wessels his Everton debut.  Thomas Gravesen was unable to make his Goodison return after picking up an injury in training. 

Everton started brightly with some great work form Baines in particular, whose mazy run ended in what looked like a penalty but was in fact a free-kick just outside the area.... wasted by a poor Arteta shot.  And  it soon became clear that Arteta was well off-song, the story of the first half becoming one of wasted opportunities created by some great build-up play and good movement of the Blue shirts.  It was the final ball, however, that was continually and frustratingly wasted. 

Jagielka had a couple of chances for long-range shots but his need to get the ball on his right foot meant he was not set right for balls from his right. Man Utd looked threatening whenever they got the ball because they played forward at pace, had plenty of options in midfield, and always seemed to have support for the next play.  But the Blues' back-tracking was disciplined and competent, such that the nearest they got to goal were snapshots that Yobo did well (twice) to deflect for a corner.

Scholes was finally booked for dissent and things looked like they might get nasty after Nani (on for Silvestre, who twisted his knee countering a nice Arteta shimmy) feigned a sore back after throwing himself recklessly at Hibbert in a challenge for a high ball. 

Honours even at half-time, but it was not clear what Moyes could do (if anything) to squeeze the win out of a tight encounter...

Jagaeilka had a nice chance, this time set up from his left, that he powered wide just after the break and a far better corner from Arteta produced a superb header from Johnson that beat Van der Sar hands down but Ronaldo cleared off the line. 

And that was really it for a disappointing second half in which neither side really did enough to merit the win. But as the game fell into a lull, a corner whipped in by Nani was firmly headed into the Gwladys Street net by Vidic. 

A last move of desperation from Moyes was to finally bring on goal ace McFadden.  Arteta won a good free-kick chance with 3 mins left but it was Vidic who defended it well.  McFadden in to test Van der Sar but neither Anichebe nor Yobo could convert the rebounds.  4 mins of added time but it was not enough for Everton and this must go down as a missed opportunity against a lack-lustre Man Utd side.  Disappointing...

Michael Kenrick

Opportunity knocked

Sitting third in the table coming into this game and with the pre-match rhetoric suggesting that they would do all they could to make amends for throwing three points away in the same fixture last season, the opportunity was there for Everton to prolong Manchester United's wait for their first away win of the season and underline their own intentions to break into the top four come May.

Unfortunately, the performance on the day didn't match expectations and United, looking decidedly below par themselves (although their passage to victory was smoothed somewhat by poor officiating by referee Alan Wiley who gave Alex Ferguson's men almost every 50-50 decision), came away from Goodison Park with yet another victory thanks to a late headed goal by Vidic.

While David Moyes managed to strengthen his squad over the summer, it is in the key area of central midfield where a crucial lack of strength in depth remains, a fact underscored by the absence of Thomas Gravesen due to a knee injury sustained in training.

The manager clearly has bodies from which to choose — today Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville got the nod ahead of Lee Carsley — but still lacks a player capable of dictating a game and providing the inspiration required when the rest of the side is out of ideas, Mikel Arteta is marked out of the game, or the Spaniard's delivery is off-key... as it has been for a few weeks now, for some reason.

That absence of command in the middle was perhaps at the heart of a lacklustre display by the Blues that yielded precious few scoring opportunities and eventually led to them losing their first home game of the season.

It started promisingly enough. Yakubu, making his first appearance at Goodison as an Everton player following an £11.25m move from Middlesbrough, raked a left-footed shot not far wide from 20 yards out after chasing down a clearance by Arteta with just a couple of minutes gone. Then, the Nigerian was involved in terrific play by Leighton Baines who tricked his way past three red shirts and played a one-two with Yakubu before being clipped right on the edge of the box by Michael Carrick. Arteta wasted the direct free kick, though, by belting it over the bar and into the Gwladys Street End.

In between, Patrice Evra had Blue hearts in their mouths when he powered a shot into the side-netting but apart from a Cristiano Ronaldo shot that deflected inches wide off the boot of Joleon Lescott and back-to-back corners, the second of which fell to Vidic but he fired wide from close range, United didn't really threaten in the first half and it was fairly even.

Trouble was, the home side weren't creating much either. Arteta, so often the heartbeat of the side, was unable to assert any kind of influence but was not helped by too many balls pumped forward and too many passes going astray in the middle, Neville being the principal offender in that regard. The Blues' best player on the day was Baines who was almost flawless at the back and often looked the most threatening player going forward. But his promising forays down the left were few and far between, meaning that once again an Everton side failed to exploit the advantages afforded by getting fullbacks down the wings on the overlap and behind the opposition defence.

As they had in the first period, Moyes's side started the second half with purpose and after Jagielka had dragged a shot wide from distance, Johnson met an Arteta corner with a glancing header that beat Van der Sar but was hacked off the line by Paul Scholes. The midfielder might have been lucky to still be on the pitch — a minute before the break he was booked for throwing the ball away but let off by referee Wiley when he scythed Arteta down less than 60 seconds later — but was on hand to deny Everton with what would prove to be their best chance of the game.

And the England man could have compounded the sense of injustice in the 56th minute when he collected a Giggs flick and found himself with just debutant Stefan Wessels to beat but he volleyed narrowly over the bar. With Tevez blasting over by a smilarly tight margin and Ronaldo collecting a booking for diving inside the box, it looked as though the Blues were going to successfully frustrate their better endowed opponents.

Unfortunately, though, despite the introduction of Steven Pienaar for Leon Osman, who had struggled to get into the game, and Victor Anichebe for the increasingly shackled Yakubu, the home side just couldn't get it together for long enough periods to force any clear openings.

Instead, they conceded a soft goal at the other end when Vidic lost Joseph Yobo and powered Nani's corner home with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

Moyes responded almost immediately by throwing on James McFadden for Neville and the on-fire Scot nearly made a telling impact from the bench when, with two minutes left, he picked up the ball outside the box and unleashed a superb curling shot that Van der Sar did well to palm away. Anichebe turned the loose ball back to Yobo but despite some impressive and very un-defender-like footwork, the Nigerian international finished with a very defender-like shot that sliced wide.

Despite four additional minutes, that was to be the Blues' last chance to rescue the game and they succumbed on home turf for the first time this season.

Few could argue that David Moyes has now assembled the best Everton squad since the Championship-winning side of 1987 but the current pool of players is crying out desperately for a Bracewell or a Reid or tactics that involve the kind of attacking full-back play epitomised by Stevens and Van den Hauwe.

Nevertheless, we've given better United teams more to think about with far a inferior team of our own in recent years and it is perhaps the apparent lack of fire and urgency — not to mention all-round threat given the presence of the likes of Yakubu up front — in evidence today that was so disappointing.

Having contained the Champions to the point where Wessels didn't have a shot to save all game, it was galling to lose the match from a routine corner with the one effort with which the German didn't have a prayer seven minutes from the end.

If this is to be the season where Moyes's Everton ram home their top-four aspirations or at least tread water in the top six while maintaining a decent run in the Uefa Cup, it's going to take a lot more than they showed with performances like this and those against Reading and Blackburn. By failing to land Manuel Fernandes or a creative midfielder in his mould, some might have argued that those aspirations were doomed from the start, but the manner in which Spurs were brushed aside and the fact that we were third at the start of play today suggested otherwise. Now, Moyes and his men have to prove all over again that progress has indeed been made and that they can trouble any of the top four on their day.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

The first interruption to the season in the form of an international break out the way, Everton return to the business of the Premier League with what is perhaps the second test of their current strength.

The trip to White Hart Lane was arguably the first and the Blues came away with another emphatic victory that had some proclaiming, perhaps prematurely, Moyes's side as top-four material.  The visit of the Champions, Manchester United, for a police-decreed 12:00pm kick off will really put that assertion to the test.

With so many internationals in the Everton squad, injuries to players while on duty for their country are becoming more of a risk.  And as it proved with Tim Howard dislocating a finger playing for the USA.  The week's other casualty, Thomas Gravesen, on the other hand, managed to injure a knee in training at Bellefield.

Reports that the Dane would be out for as long as three weeks were premature, though, and it looks as though he could even be passed fit for this weekend.  Howard is rated as more doubtful and that could pave the way for new signing Stefan Wessels to make his debut.

If Gravesen doesn't make it, Moyes could field an outfield line-up very similar to that which started in the 2-1 win at Bolton a fortnight ago, with Phil Jagielka at right back and Phil Neville in central midfield.

The fact that Steven Pienaar struggled somewhat at The Reebok may mean he drops to the bench in favour of Leon Osman and then there's the selection conundrum in central defence between the comparative youth and speed of Joleon Lescott (whom, rumour has it, Moyes prefers as a left back) and the dependable but more pedestrian Alan Stubbs.

Up front, Andy Johnson and Yakubu will get the chance to shine once more as the Nigerian makes his home debut.  Both he and Joseph Yobo picked up a knocks in training for their country last week but neither are expected to miss out this weekend through injury.

match photo
Thomas Gravesen: has an outside chance of being passed fit

For United, ex-Blue-turned-badge-kissing-Red-Devil, Wayne Rooney, is itching to be fit to play some part in the game after almost completing his recovery from another foot fracture.  He scored in United's gutting victory in this fixture last year and most Blues will be hoping this game comes a week too soon for him.

Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have plenty of other weapons in their arsenal but have not yet gelled, hence Everton sitting five places and two points better off than their better endowed rivals from along the M62.  The likes of Nani and Carlos Tevez have added flair to an already impressive squad but United have failed to win away from home thus far while the Blues are unbeaten at home.

Moyes's summer shopping significantly improved the choices at his disposal but the acquisition of Gravesen was as close as he came to filling to creative void in central midfield.  If his team are to topple United for the first time since the epic Duncan Ferguson-inspired victory two years ago, Mad Dog's presence may be crucial.

But the mere presence of Yakubu and the pressure he relieves from the shoulders of Johnson may prove equally important for the Blues' chances, particularly if they can stay tight at the back... so often a problem against the hordes from Old Trafford.

A draw would take Everton top for a couple of hours but victory really would set the cat among the pigeons and re-establish the Blues as dark horses for another top-four finish come May.  Everything to play for and rich dividends to be reaped with a stellar display in front of the Goodison faithful.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

The 177th meeting between Everton and Manchester United sees Everton trying to retain their current place in the top four, against a team they have beaten just 3 times in the 30 Premier League contests between the sides.

Everton's record against Manchester United:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

30

3

4

23

24

64

Division One

126

49

33

44

204

178

FA Cup

10

5

0

5

8

8

League Cup

3

2

0

1

5

3

Fairs Cup

2

0

1

1

2

3

Charity Shield

2

2

0

0

6

0

Screen Sport Super Cup

2

2

0

0

5

2

League Centenary Trophy

1

0

0

1

0

1

TOTALS:

176

63

38

75

254

259

The last match between the sides was on 28 April at Goodison Park, where United won 4:2 on the way to their 16th League Championship, with Evertons goals coming from Alan Stubbs and Manuel Fernandes.

Our home record against Manchester United:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

15

2

1

12

13

32

Division One

63

35

16

12

140

71

FA Cup

3

2

0

1

5

4

League Cup

1

0

0

1

0

2

Fairs Cup

1

0

0

1

1

2

Charity Shield

1

1

0

0

4

0

Screen Sport Super Cup

1

1

0

0

1

0

TOTALS:

85

41

17

27

164

111

This will be Evertons 23rd match on 15 September:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

2

1

0

1

4

5

Division One

17

7

4

6

28

37

Division Two

1

0

0

1

1

3

League Cup

1

0

1

0

1

1

Uefa Cup

1

0

0

1

1

5

TOTALS:

22

8

5

9

35

41

The last match Everton played on this date was the 1:5 defeat against Dinamo Bucharest in the Uefa Cup in 2005.

Milestones that can be reached this game:

          If he starts, then James McFadden will be making his 50th League start for the club.  However, if he starts or comes on as a sub, the he will be making his 100th League appearance for the club.

Steve Flanagan

Nothing in it at all

With our regular driver Gaz unable to make this game, we were reliant on Richie, who doesnt get the chance to go to many games, for our lift this time around.  Mindful of an insane 12pm kick-off, we agreed to set off at 9:30am from mine.  Having had a late one myself the previous night, I struggled out of bed and was ready to go at 9:30am. At 9:45am I got a call from Richie saying he was about to set off; then a call from Adam saying hed stayed over and slept in at a mates in Wallasey so was also running late, and then at about 10am another call from a rather concerned Gary who was conscious of getting to the pub for very early doors.  After all this we parked up and were in the pub for about 11:15am.

After somehow stomaching a few ciders, we set off for the ground and took our seats.  First of all, it was evident that Rooney hadnt made the squad and wasnt in the 16.  Secondly, it was evident that Tim Howard wasnt declared fit and so the unfamiliar figure of Stefan Wessels took place in goal for this one.  Yakubu and Johnson led the line with Jagielka and Neville playing central midfield, Arteta and Osman supplying the attacking threat from the flanks, with Baines and Hibbert the full backs and Yobo and Lescott at centre. Carsley, McFadden, Pienaar, Anichebe and Turner completed the substitute bench.

Man Utd lined up with Giggs and Teves up front, Ronaldo and Evra on the flanks, Scholes in attacking midfield, Carrick in defensive midfield, Ferdinand and Vidic the two grocks at centre-back and then Silvestre and Brown at full back.  Edwin Van Der Sar was in goal and Saha and Nani amongst the substitutes.  Incredibly, despite a relatively controversial game last time around, Alan Whiley was the match official.  Everton lost the toss and so attacked the Lower Gwladys in the first half.

The match began, and remained, at quite a fast and furious tempo as both teams tried to get a grip of proceedings.  In the first half, I felt Everton had this more so than Man Utd, although the Mancs did look pretty dangerous on the counter-attack.  However, the end result of all this was pretty much nothing.  No real shots, no real opportunities and neither keeper with too much to do at all. This was to remain for most of the game.

Bizarrely, and despite all this, it was a thoroughly absorbing contest and one which I very much enjoyed.  The only real chances of note in the first half were a Giggs header which sailed comfortably into Wessels arms; an Arteta free kick which went comfortably over the bar; and two Yakubu efforts from distance which were scuffed harmlessly wide.  Paul Scholes got booked for protesting although somehow didnt get booked for either of two reckless tackles.  Silvestre got injured and had to be stretchered off allowing Nani to join his pointless-stepover compatriot Ronaldo.  For the first half, a few efforts that Man Utd drilled wide aside, that was pretty much it.

As for the second half, well it was pretty much more of the same, although Man Utd did have a lot more control and a lot more of the ball, albeit without punishing Everton as the blues held firm at the back, whilst always posing a threat up front with Johnson and Yakubu.  Paul Scholes volleyed over from about 18 yards when you really expected him to score; Ronaldo got booked for diving and Teves smashed one over the bar from distance, but that was pretty much it.  The closest Everton came was a Phil Jagielka drive that flashed wide and an Andy Johnson header, which was cleared just short of the goal line.

With nothing really happening both managers tried to change it a little with Alex Ferguson first replacing captain Ryan Giggs with Louis Saha, and shortly afterwards Moyes slightly bafflingly replacing Yakubu with Anichebe, and also replacing the leggy Osman with Stephen Pienaar.  I wanted to see McFadden introduced here after his exploits for Scotland over the last week.  Despite all this, nothing seemed to be happening until

Hibbert did well to block Nanis cross and get it out for a corner to Man Utd.  From this, Hibbert, who seemed to switch off, missed a routine corner at the near post, and Vidic, ever reliable in the air, gleefully headed into the net. With Man Utd certainly no better than Everton throughout, it was very galling to concede so late on and to such a soft goal.

With still a little time left, Everton had a chance I guess... although you sensed it wasnt to be.  McFadden replaced Phil Neville, whod been a bit unfairly cautioned, as Everton went for broke.  We in fact nearly got the goal as well when McFadden cut inside and let fly from about 20 yards.  The ball took a deflection and Van der Sar saved.  Anichebe tried to follow up but Ferdinand snuffed it out.  The ball came back to Yobo who fainted a shot, turned, and drilled into the side netting from a relatively tricky angle.  I actually thought hed hit the base of the post here at first but this wasnt the case.  In the end, and with the four minutes of stoppage time Everton were unable to make the breakthrough and Man Utd held on to win when in reality there was absolutely nothing in this game at all.

Player Ratings:

  • Wessels: Although he had pretty much nothing to do he looked comfortable, capable and composed. Looks like weve got quite a steady No 2 there. 7
  • Baines: He had a cracking game both in attack and defence. Doesnt let players intimidate him or get the better of him and has pace to burn. 9
  • Yobo: Was on a mission today and will be disappointed to lose to a soft goal like that. Certainly didnt deserve to. My man of the match. 9
  • Lescott: Fairly quiet in the first half but much more commanding and solid in the second. 8
  • Hibbert: From my position I felt the goal was his fault but cant be sure. Otherwise he was fine. 6
  • Osman: Was never really in the game and tired before being subbed. 5
  • Jagielka: Had a much-improved second half and held his own commendably. 7
  • Neville: Had a decent, solid game. 7
  • Arteta: Worked hard but couldnt get into the game too much. He often got in good positions but his final ball was lacking more often than not. 6
  • Yakubu: Very clever on the ball and full of running. I dont think he should have been subbed as he still appeared to have plenty of energy and was but you never really know and he could well have had a knock I guess. 7
  • Johnson: Also full of running. Will be disappointed not to have had a single chance all game. 7
     
  • Anichebe (for Yakubu): Put himself about which was all he was really asked to do I guess. 6
  • Pienaar (for Osman): Lively and full of running but just did a bit too much when a simple ball seemed easier. None more so than the last action of the game when he beat his player but only ran the ball out of play for a goal kick. 5
  • McFadden (for Neville): Caused instant problems and calved out Evertons best chance. Was also there with the long throws into the box. I think we need to start playing him from the off and give him a good run in the side because hell just leave if were not careful and I reckon we could have something special there. Moyes has to find a way to accommodate him. Why not try 4-3-3? Gotta be worth a go hasnt it? 7

Paul Traill

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

Key Links
  Everton TV
  Match Reports
  Home Teamsheet
  Everton Teamsheet
  Premier League Scores
  Premier League Table
  Match Preview
  Pre-Match Stats
Match Reports
2007-08 Reports Index
< Bolton (A) Metalist (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)
  Wessels
  Hibbert
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Baines
  Jagielka
  Neville :68' (84' McFadden)
  Arteta
  Osman (73' Pienaar :82')
  Johnson
  Yakubu (74' Anichebe)
  Subs not used
  Turner
  Carsley
  Unavailable
  Cahill (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Gravesen (injured)
  Howard (injured)
  Stubbs (injured)
  Anderson (loan)
 
MAN UNITED (4-4-2)
  Van der Sar
  Ferdinand
  Brown
  Silvestre (41' Nani (85' Pique))
  Evra
  Vidic
  Carrick
  Giggs (63' Saha)
  Scholes :43'
  Ronaldo :71'
  Tevez
  Subs not used
  Kuszczak
  Gibson

Premier League Scores
Saturday 15 September 2007
Everton 0-1 Man Utd
Portsmouth 0-0 Liverpool
Birmingham 1-0 Bolton
Sunderland 2-1 Reading
Tottenham 1-3 Arsenal
West Ham 3-0 Middlesbro
Wigan 1-1 Fulham
Chelsea 0-0 Blackburn
Sunday 16 September 2007
Man City 1-0 Aston Villa
Monday 17 September 2007
Derby 1-0 Newcastle

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


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