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Venue: Madejski Stadium, Reading
Premier League
 Saturday 18 August 2007; 3:00pm
READING 
1-0
 EVERTON
Hunt (44')
Half Time: 1-0
  
Attendance: 22,813
Fixture 3
Referee: Steve Bennett

Match Summary

David Moyes would have liked to name an unchanged line-up for the third match of the season, his 400th professional game as a manager, but an injury to Joseph Yobo prevented him from traveling.  Nuno Valente makes his first appearance, which allows Joleon Lescott to move inside and partner Stubbs in the back line.  Three new boys on the bench: deals for Fernandes and Yakubu not yet complete.

It proved to be a difficult first half for Everton, who found a strong and determined Reading side playing them at their own game, closing down, pressing, working hard, making it important that Everton made the best use of the ball when they had it... which they did not.  Arteta's deliveries were poor; Anichebe's contact and hold-up play were poor, Everton's retention of possession at clearances from their own defence was poor... and the price was eventually paid when the excellent Stephen Hunt danced in and delivered the ball beyond Howard.

WAKE UP, EVERTON!

No changes from David Moyes until Anichebe injured himself losing possession (again!) and Pienaar came on.  But Everton had started the second half pretty much with the same issues showing.  Johnson is our biggest threat but he really is not doing what Moyes wants him to do: strut a little and impose himself on the game.  AJ needs to play a much stronger, more forceful game.

Some moments typified the game:  Hunt dazzling the Everton defence only to be disposed by a superb Hibbert tackle but a poor lazy clearance by Hibbert gives the ball straight back to Reading!  WE MUST RETAIN POSSESSION!!!  Valente was a chief culprit in the profligacy but there was no sign that Baines would come on, it being too soon (apparently)) for him to be risked (so why the fuck is he on the bench?).

Hibbert, Everton's only effective counter to Hunt's wizardry, was sacrificed for McFadden as Moyes made a bold attempt to change the game, which entered a critical phase in the last quarter.  The changes seemed to swing things Everton way for a while and Coppell responded by bringing on former Blue, John Oster.

With the tension gripping, Everton did their best to raise the tempo aand take the game to Reading, spending lonng periods in their half, but hardly a single memorable attempt on goal as Reading's superb defenc4e countered everything

McFadden booked quite rightly for diving in the area, trying to win a penalty.  Definitely NOT the Everton Way! McFadden did so much better minutes later, chipping superbly and hitting the bar laying it on a plate for Johnson who scuffed his first attempt and then could only scoop his second chance onto the post. Unbelieveable!

It was a great response in the end from Everton, but the damage had been done in the main body of the game, when basic errors and poor individual performances failed to counter the very strong challenge presented by Reading, who were full value for the win.  Everton will have to do far better to consolidate the promise and expectation generated by those first two wins that had put us on top of the table. Ho hum.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Two games, two wins, five goals and first place in the embryonic Premier League table going into this weekend's round of fixtures. Not a bad start to the new season after a summer of anxiety brought on by frustration in the transfer market and fears of being left behind by the League's big-spenders.

The performance by David Moyes's team at White Hart Lane midweek was magnificent. Certainly the the midfield link-up play that was exhibited on Tuesday was highly encouraging, as was the passing game that was central to a devastating opening 45 minutes spell.

In just the second game of the campaign — when free-flowing football and team cohesion are still supposed to be in the process of being ironed out —Everton sent a message to the rest of the division that an unchanged team from last season means business.

Of course, like last season, having set the bar so high, the onus is on the team to play to that level week in, week out. Consistency across a season has thus far eluded the Blues under Moyes but the fans will be hoping that a settled core team coupled with some key additions will lead to a consistent level of performance and results.

This weekend they're away for a second successive game, with Reading the hosts. The Royals couldn't have asked for a more daunting start to the season; they started at Old Trafford on the opening day and earned a terrific point despite playing the last quarter of an hour with ten men, and then ran Chelsea close but lost 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium in midweek.

Steve Coppell's side were one of the surprise packages of last season and were in the running for a Uefa Cup spot almost up to the last week but Everton beat them comprehensively on their own turf last December.

Moyes will, of course, be hoping for a repeat of that 2-0 win and if Mikel Arteta, whose away form will be crucial this season, can bring the form he's already shown in the opening two games into this one then the manager will have every chance of bagging another three points. If he does, it'll mark only the second occasion since the inception of the Premier League that the Blues have won their first three games — the last time was 14 years ago.


Mikel Arteta: His away form will be crucial

Moyes will, no doubt, be hoping to field an unchanged line-up and that might depend on the condition of Joseph Yobo who appeared to strain his groin after just a couple of minutes at Spurs but ended up finishing the game looking none the worse for wear. There has as yet been no word on whether he suffered any further reaction after the game or whether he'llo require a late fitness test.

And the manager could have another face to consider if Manuel Fernandes' proposed transfer from Benfica is sewn up. Word is he will undergo a medical in the morning and, if successful, he could be registered in time to be eligible.

If so, he'll probably join quite a healthy array of talent vying for the four outfield places on the bench, not least Steven Pienaar and Phil Jagielka, both of whom have already made their debuts in substitute appearances.

James McFadden is likely to be in contention after recovering from a foot injury but Leighton Baines is probably a week away from being ready for his first game.

Reading will definitely be without Kalifa Cisse who was red-carded against Chelsea and will probably have to do without defender Michael Duberry who picked up an injury in the same game.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Everton Slip Up at Reading

Whatever your thoughts on moving to Kirkby, it sure is interesting gauging everyones opinion on the subject.  In the pub on Saturday, I bumped into some Blues who, a bit like our little rabble who attend games, were very split on the proposal.  The same could be said I guess of many of the Blues I spoke with / overheard at Reading yesterday. 

The three-hour-or-so journey up was supported by a four-pack of Fosters, a newspaper and a mobile phone to fend off the tedium of travelling so far, but the journey was hassle-free and I arrived at Reading and headed straight into the Three Gunnies pub at around 12:15pm.  Here I just sank a few more ales whilst the pub filled out with other Evertonians.  Before you could say the word Kirkby the pub was pretty full with Everton fans singing pretty much every song in the vocabulary, with my favourite being a new one about our to-be new signing Manuel Fernandes:

He danced to his left, he danced to his ri-------ght, Manuel Fernandes, you make Arsenal look shite!

At a little after 2pm, I set off to get the bus to the ground when a fella who was a good few years older than me sat next to me and got chatting about the Kirkby debate, stating hed voted Yes but was quite surprised by the reaction of the people.  He said he felt the older generation would generally be the ones wanting to stay at Goodison, whilst the younger generation would be keener on the move, although he was surprised that this wasnt necessarily the case.  Its a good point, and one for another day, but from what Ive seen so far, this ballet is going to run very, very close.

Off the bus and on foot to the ground, I checked the internet on my phone for team news and found that our Portuguese left-back Valente was starting in place of the injured Yobo, but it was otherwise as you were for the team that performed so well at White Hart Lane last Tuesday night.

By the time I got through a wave of steward checks for tickets and finally muscled my way into the ground, the teams were already out, with Everton wearing their very smart navy kit.  We attacked towards the opposite end in the first half.

I thought we did very well in the first half really.  We certainly had the measure of Reading, with Osman clipping a couple of efforts high and wide and Anichebe at one point drilling into the box and fizzing an effort wide.  We also forced a number of corners although unfortunately and this was to be the theme all game really Artetas delivery wasnt quite up to scratch.  As the half wore on, Reading got themselves more and more into it, but you felt Everton generally had them at arms length and Tim Howard, a bit like his American counterpart Hahnemann at the other end I guess, was generally untroubled.

As we approached the last 10 minutes or so of the half, Stubbs began to get a little erratic, taking touches when he shouldve booted it etc.  You could see in his face he looked a little bewildered with himself.  Sadly he couldnt quite get it out of his system before the break and on 43 minutes Reading capitalised.  With Everton on the attack, a Reading player got a boot in and somebody hoofed a rather hopeful ball over the top of Lescott.  He followed it well though and clipped it into touch for a throw in for Reading.  From this, a long throw into the box was somehow missed by Stubbs who completely switched off and Hunt was onto it.  He nipped between Stubbs and Hibbert (who had also switched off), got a touch and nabbed the ball into the goal.  It was such a shame to go and concede such a soft goal.  That was pretty much it for the first half and we now had it all to do in the second half.

How we failed to grab ourselves a point from this after the second half display is simply beyond me.  I scarcely remember seeing us dominate a half so well (especially away from home).  We had all the possession in the world yet somehow failed to convert it into enough chances to score the required goals.  Reading only had two real attacks from memory, one early on in the half when somebody shot wide and another from a corner when somebody overhead volleyed goalwards only for Lescott to block smartly, and then with the ball in the air Doyle simply clattered into Howard as he gathered the ball with the referee blowing for a free kick.

Otherwise, it was all Everton.  Arteta, although not at his best, was a constant thorn in Steve Coppells side.  Countless balls over the top always somehow just evaded Johnson (through a poor touch or last ditch frantic defending by Bikey).  Crosses into the box were always somehow fisted behind by the keeper as Everton laid siege on Readings goal.  Anichebe got injured and was replaced by Pienaar, moving Osman up front with Johnson.  This didnt really work and so McFadden, with about 20 minutes to play, entered the fray replacing Hibbert, moving Neville to right back.  We then produced more flowing football with McFadden simply exceptional in his time on the field.

You kind of knew it wasnt going to happen when, with about 5 minutes to go, we blew our big chance.  McFadden cut inside onto his left foot and looped the ball towards the goal with an exquisite chip.  At first I actually said thats shite, thinking it was an over-hit cross, but the ball bent back so well, leaving Hahnemann stranded and lamped back off the post.  The drama wasnt over however.  First it seemed that Bikey handled in what seemed a good penalty shout, even then the ball broke back to Johnson who completely missed his kick, which somehow opened up into an even easier chance for him, but from four yards out he somehow hit the inside of the post and the ball span away.  When that happens, you know you're not getting anything from the game.

In a final throw of the dice, Jagielka was brought on to replace Osman to try and win some headers up front but it werent to be. Mindful of catching my 18.:10 train home, I left a minute or to before the end of stoppage time to beat the traffic.  After some bizarre reversing antics by the bus driver, we were away and I was actually able to catch an earlier train and was home for 9pm.  Overall, it was disappointing not to get anything from this one as we certainly deserved a point.  I guess it was just one of those days.

Bring on the Yak!

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Seriously untroubled all game.  This just makes the result even harder to stomach.  Distribution good.  7
  • Valente: Struggled to get into the pace of the game in the first half but settled quite nicely in the second and got forward well in support.  6
  • Stubbs: All at sea for a while in the first half which cost us the goal.  He did stabilise well in the second however.  5
  • Lescott: Fine.  Got booked for descent though.  7
  • Hibbert: Was doing well until the goal.  Unfortunately he was also culpable for this and he wasnt quite the same in the second half.  5
  • Arteta: Not at his best.  Distribution from set-plays was not what hes capable of, although I guess its unfair to expect it from him week-in, weekout.  5
  • Carsley: Did quite well in the middle and passed the ball around confidently in the second half.  6
  • Neville: Had a very commanding game in the middle and coped fine at right back as well when shifted there late in the game.  7
  • Osman: Dug in well, especially in the first half, but drifted in and out of the game a bit too much in the second when he was needed.  6
  • Anichebe: Hate to say it, and I know hes young but seemed a little out of his depth to me.  4
  • Johnson: Missed an absolute sitter (twice) and although he consistently caused problems for Bikey, his touch let him down on quite a few occasions.  5
     
  • Pienaar (for Anichebe): Danced around a lot and showed some good touches but also gave the ball away quite a few times.  5
  • McFadden (for Hibbert): My man of the match.  I know its ridiculous as he only had 20 minutes or so but he caused so many problems with his skill and flare.  Was extremely unlucky not to score with that audacious chip.  My only criticism would be in getting booked for diving although it seemed as though he slipped to me as he was in a good position to attack.  8
  • Jagielka (for Osman): Not on long enough to give him a realistic rating.

 

Paul Traill

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READING (4-4-2)
  Hahnemann
  Murty (c) (34' De la Cruz)
  Ingimarsson :75'
  Bikey
  Shorey
  Ki-Hyeon (71' Oster)
  Harper
  Gunnarsson
  Hunt (79' Convey)
  Doyle
  Long
  Subs not used
  Federici
  Fae

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert (66' McFadden :84')
  Yobo
  Stubbs
  Lescott :74'
  Arteta
  Carsley
  Neville
  Osman (89' Jagielka)
  Anichebe (58' Pienaar)
  Johnson
  Subs not used
  Ruddy
  Baines (injured)
  Unavailable
  Cahill (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Turner (injured)
  Van der Meyde (suspended)

Premier League Scores
Saturday 18 Aug 2007
Birmingham 0-1 West Ham
Fulham 1-1 Middlesbro'
Newcastle 0-0 Aston Villa
Portsmouth 3-1 Bolton
Reading 1-0 Everton
Tottenham 4-0 Derby
Wigan 3-0 Sunderland
Sunday
Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Man City 1-0 Man United

Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man City 9
2 Chelsea 7
3 Wigan 6
4 Everton 6
5 Portsmouth 5
6 Newcastle 4
7 Arsenal 4
7 Blackburn 4
7 Liverpool 4
10 Reading 4
11 Sunderland 4
12 Tottenham 3
13 Fulham 3
14 Middlesbro 3
15 West Ham 3
16 Man Utd 2
17 Aston Villa 1
18 Birmingham 1
19 Derby 1
20 Bolton 0
After 19 Aug 2007


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