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Fellaini's Absence — A Blessing in Disguise

By Tim Luke :  12/01/2009 :  Comments (35) :
In my books, Fellaini?s absence for the 2 derby games is a blessing in disguise. Don?t get me wrong, I think he?s a terrific player and we will certainly miss certain aspects of his game. But as the Hull game showed, he?s still immature and can?t control himself well. I?m sure David Moyes told him over and over again before the Hull game, and during halftime, that he must not get himself booked, and that he has to watch his actions at all times.

Yet, despite this instruction, Fellaini goes right out and plays like how he always does, that is, puts himself about and gives the referee every reason to book him. In fact, I was watching the game on TV and was shocked to see him elbow (or try to elbow) a Hull player in the face when jostling for an in-coming Everton corner kick. If the referee had seen this, it would have been a red card for him. And this coming from a player who?s been told to behave and who must known what was at stake.

Having Fellaini on the pitch for the Merseyside derbies would have had me on nerves end. If he can?t control himself for the Hull game, it doesn?t give me any confidence that he will be able to do so for the Liverpool game. Yes, he may score a goal, but it is also likely that he?d get himself red carded, which would leave us with 10 men against a Liverpool side who will most surely exploit the gaps that this sending off will cause. Not to mention the obvious morale-wretching effect that such a sending off would on the Everton team.

So, with Fellaini now out for both the derby games, where does that leave us. In a much better position if you ask me. I would keep the same team that beat Hull, but bring in Jack Rodwell to replace Fellaini. Rodwell may only be 18yrs old, but he has a good head on his shoulders. In the games that we?ve seen him play, he?s looked comfortable on the ball, distributes it well, and doesn?t get booked for petty, niggling fouls. Rodwell also acquits himself well in front of goal. He may not have scored a goal for Everton yet, but he?s come close a number of times. He?s good in the air and will help provide the height that we?ll miss with Fellaini?s absence.

Rodwell will also be a perfect partner for Neville. Both of them will play as defensive midfielders and will guard against the deep runs of Torres and Gerard. This will allow Arteta to call the shots from the middle of the pitch. Osman and Pienaar will provide the width and thrust down the flanks and through the middle, supported by the full-backs Hibbert and Baines. Cahill will continue to do what he does best, hold the line and attack from deep.

If we harry, pressurize and out-work Liverpool, we will have them on the back-foot. Liverpool like to pass the ball around. Stop them from doing this and give them little or no time to settle on the ball, and we?ll be in with a chance.

Reader Comments

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Tim Veitch
1   Posted 12/01/2009 at 15:27:56

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I’m not sure about Rodwell to replace the big fella. I rate Rodwell, but with Arteta also preferring and playing well in a defensive role, I think Tiny Tim would be a bit stranded with no support. Felli certainly gets forward a lot, and I don’t think Rodwell will be any substitute for that.

Perhaps Gosling? Perhaps Anichebe up front with Cahill in an advanced midfield role...also, I haven’t been keeping an eye on it, but there’s no possibility of a shock return for the Yak this w/e....???
Mark Lowery
2   Posted 12/01/2009 at 15:30:00

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Good post. Not seen much of Rodwell but I thought Gosling and Jutkiewicz acquitted themselves brilliantly against Sunderland and either could probably come in and do a job against the RS. I reckon you?re wrong about the only way to beat Liverpool. If we get an Evertonian to infiltrate the dj box at Anfield and play a bit of Barry Manilow through the tannoy, we could really get under Gerrard?s skin...
Ben Polak
3   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:07:03

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Surely it should be Yobo in if he’s fit. Move Baines to left midfield where he will do a job up and down and offer protecion. Have Osman supporting Cahill in effectively the same system as Saturday. This would especially be my team for the cup game as rememebr a draw would get them back to Goodison for a juicy replay with Felli and all.
Matt Byrne
4   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:09:46

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I?d go with Gosling, I think he could do a job there, he likes to get forward and have a go. My alternative is to play Yobo in midfield, tell him to sit on Gerrard. I was gutted, when Fella was booked, but now I think about it, I would rather have him available for the Arsenal and United matches. I am almost certain though that Moyes will go with Big Vic to replace Fellaini.
Terry Smith
5   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:25:53

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Me & my mates were saying the same thing Tim. It will probabaly be Vic upfront & Cahill just behind and the rest will be the same vs Hull. Our defence is solid at the moment and the midfield is looking good to. I fancy at least a point on Monday.
Ste Boileau
6   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:31:37

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Matt mate you must be having a laugh, I have seen Yobo play in midfield for us before and he stinks and would be run ragged by Gerrard. The only 2 options are Gosling or God Help Us big Victor. Gosling would allow Osman to move upfront, Victor would mean Cahill dropping into Fellaini’s role. My only issue with this is (apart from Victor being turd) is that we may pump too many long balls up the pitch.
Rob Jones
7   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:42:33

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You?ve sort of got a point Tim, everyone at GP thought at 2-0 he should have been pulled at half time.

Most sensible comment I heard regarding the elbow was Andy Townsend who basically said if a defender wants to grab a forward then he gets what he?s asking for.

Don?t think you can blame Fellaini?s lack of maturity on the actual booking ? don?t think it was even worth a free kick. You just knew that Atkinson would book him for something.
Ciarán McGlone
8   Posted 12/01/2009 at 16:50:51

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Baines in midfield?

This is getting ridiculous...has Moyes created some fascination with playing players out of position!

Neville is midfield is bad enough.
John Kelly
9   Posted 12/01/2009 at 17:24:21

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Dont know if you?ve been watching the games lately, Ciarán, but credit where credit's due ? lately, Neville has been doing a more than adequate job wherever he has been told to play.
Callum Wilson
10   Posted 12/01/2009 at 17:26:43

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Baines in midfield? madness! Forget about Yobo, the defence has been immaculate since his absence and Baines in defence offers more than he does in midfield. Yobo I think is a bit of a liability the amount of times a goal has been conceded through his lack of concentration is scary. If it works, stick with with it. Fellaini?s best replacement would be Gosling. I don't think Rodwell is ready just yet for a big game like that but Gosling slotted in perfectly. Let's get at Liverpool ? forget giving them any respect because they don't deserve it!
Gary dos Santos
11   Posted 12/01/2009 at 17:56:43

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Let's be honest, Cahill is a passenger we need a bit of pace against the shite so throw any new recruit up front because Cahill is so predictable and limited it is a joke in the Prem.
Andy Crooks
12   Posted 12/01/2009 at 18:07:52

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Fellaini will be missed but I can see your point Tim.A red card was waiting for him in the derby.Move Osman inside and play Gosling wide right to protect Hibbert.
Liverpool are a lucky,over-rated side with a coach whose freedom from abuse from the terraces is a perfect example of blind cretinous admiration.
We will knock them out of the cup,luck or no luck.
Ajay Timothy
13   Posted 12/01/2009 at 17:49:21

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I think that Gosling could do a job for us. I dont think that Castillo would be match fit by then and victor is just not good enough.

My starting eleven - Howard, Baines, Hibbert, Jags, Lescott, Pienaar, Arteta, Neville, Osman, Gosling with Cahil playing upfront.

I would have Castillo in for the last 20-30 minutes.

God help us if we get injuries.
Gerard Horton
14   Posted 12/01/2009 at 18:53:49

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I very much doubt that Moyes will play Gosling from the start in a derby game. He?s only played one and a half games for us this season! Anichebe will get the nod with Cahill dropping back into his most dangerous position behind the front man.

At least Anichebe has some experience and offers some physical presence in what is a small squad height wise. He just needs to get a rocket up his arse and put the centre-halves under more pressure.

If we can keep a clean sheet, we have a chance; if not, I don't think we have the options on the bench to get back into a game.
John Jennings
15   Posted 12/01/2009 at 19:02:16

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Spot on comments about Fellaini, Tim. I watched the Hull game and really wondered why he conducted himself like that. I guess it is just down to youth and inexperience. He is a raw young talent and hopefully will understand that 10 yellow cards just over half way through the season is not acceptable. Excuses about him being targeted by refs are just that - excuses.

I will be on the point of nervous exhaustion as it is against the RS without having to worry about Screech taking the long walk. If we are to beat them, we need 11 players on the pitch. Our recent record, even allowing for Twatenburg, is not good

Play a midfiled player in midfield. Full stop.
Ben Atkins
16   Posted 12/01/2009 at 19:11:50

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I’d stick Vic on the right of midfield and keep Cahill up front. Vic did well there against Liege he seems good at charging past people down the line. He can always alternate with Cahill if needs be. It also moves Ossie back in the middle where he’s more effective.
Lewis Austin
17   Posted 12/01/2009 at 19:46:08

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I think moving Osman into the middle would make us to lightweight. I?d move Cahill back and play Anichebe. I agree with people who say he has a bad attitude and doesn't look interested lately but I think now is a perfect time for Moyes to sit the lad down and give him a talking to. Then tell him he will be starting up front in the derby and we will be expecting nothing but 110% commitment and effort. He?s a young, local Evertonian and to be honest if he can't get himself up for this game then he doesn't deserve to be a footballer.
Jip Foster
18   Posted 12/01/2009 at 20:53:04

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I think Fellaini will learn his lesson when he?s in the stand on Monday night and the atmosphere that will be there ? he?s never going to want to miss another derby again. But then he will again the following Sunday. As Arteta once said ? it?s the game everybody wants to play in. Missing it twice in one week will bring it home to Screech.
James Wilheim
19   Posted 12/01/2009 at 20:53:54

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I take it it is between Gosling & Castillo to come in and take the place of the big man,who will be utterly missed.
Personally I’d love to see Gosling get a start. He was Immense v Boro and although this is an entirely different kettle of fish I would hope he could be just as good.
Castillo to do the job too though.
In my opinion Anichebe is simply not good enough up front and alone so I’d like to see Moyes carry on with Cahill leading the way.
Whatever he chooses,I really fancy us to take them. Come On!
Dick Fearon
20   Posted 12/01/2009 at 20:53:29

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At the first sign we might be in with a chance of winning at Anfield the joker, oops, their 12th man, er, I mean the Referee will come into play to send off one of ours.
Fellinis card was already marked but seeing as he is not there I guess the fall guy will be Hibbo, Tiny or Pip.

On the off chance that our 10 men might still be in with a chance we can expect Stevie La’ to use his powers of persuasion to get a penno.
If just this once or even twice we get an unbiased Ref these games have the makings of remarkable boil overs.
Matthew Lovekin
21   Posted 12/01/2009 at 22:08:46

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I hope that Big Vic doesn’t start. I think he has had his opportunity now and quite frankly isn’t good enough for Premiership football, let alone a derby of this magnitude.

Keep Cahill up front as that is what is working. That leaves Gosling or Rodwell to come in as the only real options with Arteta pushing forward and taking up Fellaini’s role.

I’d personally go for Rodwell. Ok, he hasn’t got much experience, but what he has got is more experience than Gosling. Rodwell also seems to have a very good temprement and looks a player who steps up for the big occasion. He is also better in the air than Gosling and therefore more similar to Fellaini.

Howard: Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, Lescott: Osman, Neville, Rodwell, Pienaar: Arteta: Cahill.

Kevin Spencer
22   Posted 12/01/2009 at 23:00:02

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It?s a somewhat funny thing I have noticed by reading the comments made by Everton supporters. People criticize Moyes for every possible reason but they all seem to trust all of his decisions anyway.

Take Gosling for example. A couple of weeks ago, nobody knew anything about him and no-one would have him in their predicted first team line. Then, when Moyes gave him a couple of run outs, many people here on the forum call for him to start against the shite. I have nothing against Gosling. From what I have seen, he is a more than capable player, but based on what we supporters see from our Everton players we should all want to see AvdM instead of all Goslings, Rodwells, Anichebes and the list goes on.

I have seen most of the matches AvdM have played for us and I have never seen him play badly. Actually, from my perspective, I believe he has been good when playing. About that time, every supporter wanted him in the first team, and then when he had his bust-ups with Moyes and didn?t feature in the team anymore, people seemed to more and more believe he was a bad footballer.

Same thing about Hibbert. When he burst through the ranks many years ago, fans shouted "Hibbo for England". Then when Neville made first team appearances for Hibbo rare, more and more fans just remembered Hibbo's bad sides, just like AvdM. Now when Hibbo is back in the team, fans on this site are having Hibbert in their favoured team selection for the recent matches.

People want to see Jutkiewicz instead of Baxter on the subs bench, just because that has been the case recently, and vice versa a couple of months ago. All of your predicted first team line-ups are so equal to that of Moyes?s, so most of you can not criticize him for his decisions.

This phenomenon also reflects on most fans favoured team formation. Even when we had all of our strikers fit, most fans opted for the 4-5-1 formation. And from what I have seen Everton play in recent years, that is the best formation, that gives us balance to the team. But if Moyes hadn?t come up with this idea, people would still field a 4-4-2 side if they were to pick the team.

I also believe Everton should improve their tactics. Other teams know what to expect from Everton. They have learned how to handle Arteta's corners. They also know Arteta is taking all of our free-kicks too. If it hadn?t been for his new style of striking the ball through the wall, everyone knew what would come from his freekicks.

Back in the days when we had that useless David Burrows playing leftback, nobody could have guessed that our second, sometimes third choice leftback, Hinchcliffe, bought from Man City many years earlier, would become a favourite and earning England call-ups, when playing by his abilities, by having a good header of the ball up front in big Dunc. In these days, when we have both Fellaini and Cahill, running from behind and the Yak (when fit), all with very good heading abilities. Saha, also for that sake...

We could very much benefit by playing a pacy winger that can cross the ball, like AvdM. Until I see a better winger at this club, or AvdM gets a couple of matches and show if Moyes is being right by not selecting him for a couple of years, I will not say "play Mr X" or "play Mr Y", just because Moyes does so. By doing that, that gives me no right to criticize him. That would be like criticizing myself.

A lot of people have very short memory. If a good player is not playing for a while, then people start saying we should get rid of that player, bla bla bla.... Like when Cahill was out. And now everyone talks of Cahill like a legend. BUT, I know what I expect from Moyes, and he has been good for this club, compared to many other managers during recent years. But he can still do one or two things better I think...

Tim Luke
23   Posted 13/01/2009 at 08:28:21

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Kevin, if I recall, AvDM was sent off the last time he played in a derby match, and that was only after 15mins of coming on. So I have my doubts about whether he has the temperment for such games. He’s also been out of action for a while. He’s only made one cameo appearance this season. A derby game is not the time to ’try’ him out. I think Rodwell or Gosling would still be better bets.
Steve Alderson
24   Posted 13/01/2009 at 08:52:10

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Unfortunately none of these tactical suggestions , good or bad have crossed David Moyes mind. I’m certain
his approach to the derby games , as usual against any of the big 4 will be not to lose , thereby lessening our chance of winning.

I know we’ve been playing well and winning recently and it’s hard to criticise the managers decisions but If I’m right Yobo will be back in the side with Neville in the middle and we will struggle to create scoring chances.

I really think that the Polish lad Jutewhatsisname deserves a chance to show what he can do , it wouldn’t do any harm to play him before Anichebe and Liverpool would have an unknown quantity to contend with instead of the predictable Everton side they’re already expecting.
Andrew Fletcher
25   Posted 13/01/2009 at 09:29:47

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I dont know why we are arguing this point. Obviously Davey will play Cahill deeper and Big Vic up front. Thats it, no surprises.
Franny Porter
26   Posted 13/01/2009 at 10:53:52

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Andrew Fletcher, unfortunately, I believe you are right. I myself would like to see Gosling come in on the right and see Osman pushed up behind Tim.

I dont think this will happen however, as Moyes really does seem to handle our youngsters with ’kid gloves’ (pardon the pun). I dont reckon Moyes would feel the time is right to throw Gosling or for that matter Jutkewicz in at the deep end in a Merseyside derby.

I dont rate Anichebe one bit, in my opinion, he dosnt put enough effort in, and seems to go to ground a bit too easy (like another Nigerian striker I know).

However, saying all this, I reckon the biggest mistake Moyes could make this week would be sacrifice Baines for Yobo. I fear this may happen so as to get the team average height back up. This would be a disaster in my opinion as I really like what Baines brings to the side.

Saying all this, whatever team he puts out is capable of beating those lot, this is a team who have struggled against lesser teams than us. Its not all doom and gloom is it?
EJ Ruane
27   Posted 13/01/2009 at 11:32:55

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Well it?s a fucking good disguise!
Steve Edwards
28   Posted 13/01/2009 at 10:59:50

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I was listening to Terrace Talk on Radio City last week and was interested to her Ian St John?s comment on Steven Gerrard. He mentioned something which I have thought about for some time and that is, why do teams not man-mark Gerrard? In my younger days this was something that I specialized in.

Now I?m not suggesting that David Moyes plays me in that role but I do know just how effective it can be. Let me be clear, when I say man-mark, I literally mean follow the guy all over the pitch and make sure you're never more than a yard or two away from him. No matter how good the player is, it is extremely frustrating for him. You find that other players are reluctant to pass to them due to the close proximity of the marker and when they do, the tackle goes in straight away. It seems to be something that has gone out of fashion in recent years. Just the fact that you're so close to them means they don?t get the ball anywhere near as much.

Now we know what Gerrard mean to the shite. Stop him and the job's half done. The player who does the marking has to be very disciplined and it has to be clear to other team members that the sole job of the marker is to stop their main man. Every time I watch the shite I can?t believe teams just let him go and do what he wants.

With Everton having the extra man in midfield, one of them, probably Neville, could be delegated to do this job... as I say I can?t remember anyone ever doing a proper man-marking job on him. David Moyes take note!

Brian Garside
29   Posted 13/01/2009 at 12:11:08

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I too had the same worries about Felli being sent off against Liverpool. However, my big worry is Nev!
He has performed reasonably in CM without having an opposing midfield to deal with. We all know that Liverpool has one with its center being paticulally effective. So move Nev and in with Castillo with Gosling replacing Felli.
Trevor Lynes
30   Posted 13/01/2009 at 12:40:13

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Unfortunately Castillo lacks PACE and our midfield would be over run with him in the side. It's a shame we missed out on Palacius who would compete with Gerrard and possibly be more effective. He is the best new midfielder I have seen this season and he is at WIGAN FFS!! How is it we miss these players and end up with crocks... the other Honduran Figeroa looks good too. Fellaini needs to go to tackling lessons ? he is just too clumsy.
Lewis Austin
31   Posted 13/01/2009 at 14:47:06

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Steve Edwards, I watched the shite play Bolton away earlier on this season, the game was on sky (we didnt play till sunday, Boro). Anyway, Muamba for Bolton man-marked Gerrard and done a brilliant job in the first half. He chased him everywhere and never let him settle, Gerrard wasn't in the game. The shite were still 1 up at half time but that was due to Bolton's shit defence. The second half started and Muamba never came out. Gerrard had the freedom of the pitch and dominated eventually getting the second goal that killed the game.

The reason I remember this so clearly is because the commentators made such a big deal of it during the second half and after the game. They where saying they couldn't understand why Megson took him off because, even though they where losing, they where still in the game and the shite's main threat was doing nothing.

I suppose it's a thought that we could do it but I think it would have to be Neville and I can't see him having the legs to run after Gerrard for 90 minutes. Alternatively, you could just tell Neville to go out and put him up in the air a couple of times in the first 10 minutes and get his mind on revenge instead of playing football. As they say, "There?s more than one way to skin a cat".

Peter Bourke
32   Posted 14/01/2009 at 07:55:32

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Am I the only person who has noticed the ridiculous comment above by "Gary Dos Noidea" about Tim Cahill???? It's got to be an attempted Gee Up. No one in their right mind could come up with what I would call one of the most outrages, incorrect, ludicrous, insane comments I have ever seen on TW.
Steve Edwards
33   Posted 14/01/2009 at 10:24:31

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Lewis - Yeh, I didn?t see the Bolton game and it's interesting what you say. For the life of me I can?t see why this tactic is not employed. I don?t think it would work against all teams, take Man Utd for instance. They have too many influential players / match winners and I think you would be hard pressed to man-mark them all. Now I?m not saying the shite are completely a one man band but their not far from it. I know you still have Torres to contend with but the Gerrard guy is the one that makes them tick and to have a chance of turning them over, you need to stop him.

If you try to analyse his game, he likes to receive the ball in space and then drive into the space in front of him... denying him the initial space makes his game nowhere near as effective.... You can tell I?ve thought a lot about this can?t you? Anyway I know what I would do if I were managering Everton.
Paul Mannix
34   Posted 14/01/2009 at 12:45:35

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Maybe it?s the time for Shandy Andy to show us what he can do?
Graeme Alder
35   Posted 14/01/2009 at 13:37:27

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Haven?t read the comments but the article itself is complete nonsense. I assume the writer has not been to many games recently or, if he has, he sits with his eyes closed.

Fellaini, after a shaky start, has become the attacking focal point of our team. The current formation depends massively on the roles he and Arteta perform. I would suggest his loss is catastrophic and Moyes will be privately devastated about it. I still think we will run them close in both games but I genuinely felt the games were ours with Fellaini playing.

As for his bookings, early on this season he didn?t help himself much but I agree with Moyes and Round that in recent games he has become an easy target for referees. How many times did Turner practically maul him at set plays and other balls up to Felli? Was he booked for ?persistent? fouling. Disgraceful decision and probably one purely to appease Benitez after he his comments about the same referee the day before. I find that coincidence a little too convenient.

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