So here we are ? just 4 days away from what will be our 24th semi-final but incredibly our first for 14 years. It has been quite the journey we have had to this semi. If someone had said to me at the start of this season that I will be going to Wembley to watch Everton, I would have said we don?t have a hope of making it further than the 3rd round ? never mind as far as the semi-final. I can feel cup fever running through my veins.
But I for one have been taken by surprise. Now in all honesty, I find it ridiculous that semi-finals are played at Wembley. It ruins the prestige of the competition when you can play at the Wembley without having to make the final. The whole point is meant to be the want to make it to the final because then you made it to Wembley. By staging semis there, it eases the pain should you lose because you have seen your team play at Wembley while not suffer the indignity of losing in a final. With that being said, since I have a ticket for Sunday, I am not complaining now but I am sure many can see my point. This will be better than going to watch the Milan Derby (which I would recommend to anyone) but hopefully this will not be as good as it gets. Hopefully we will be back there on May 30th.
The thing is, can it be done? United as of late have been very shaky, to say the least, and if ever there was a time to beat them now it is. They cannot stop conceding goals at the moment and, while they may be the best team on the planet on paper, at this moment they are certainly not playing like it. They no longer have that invincibility about them; it has been replaced with vulnerability. It was only a couple of months ago you could bank on United winning with a clean sheet, they looked unbeatable. But now the tables have turned and they are there for the taking. Their weaknesses must be exploited.
For me the main weakness in their team at the moment is Patrice Evra. He has been caught dallying several times as of late and that?s where Dan Gosling comes in. He is the one to combat Evra?s attacking threat and exploit his defensive weakness. Forget a slow, plodding Leon Osman ? he will hand Evra a field day. A young, energetic Gosling on the other hand will be a pain in the arse. With him playing Evra will probably get frustrated with someone constantly up his arse put pressure on.
Of course I would be silly to suggest Moyes will actually do this but, as far as I am concerned, if Osman plays we may as well kiss our hopes goodbye. If Moyes decides it is time to drop this clown and play a youthful Gosling, then we have a shot.
Another player that is worrying me at the moment is Howard. He has consistently been making mistakes for a few months now and against Villa in particular he had a shocker. It was around the time of the United game that he started a couple of great months; let us hope he rediscovers his form Sunday.
However, there are positives to take into the game. Cahill usually delivers when it counts, Saha has tremendous quality and Fellaini may have found form at the right time. The Mancs cage has been rattled and we can rattle it further.
We have waited long enough to get here but let it be the first of many great moments to come. I don?t think people really give us a hope and being the huge underdog will do me just fine. We were underdogs in '66 and '95 when we played United and look what happened. When I toured Wembley back in December and touched the FA Cup, I said ?Phil Neville will be lifting this in May?. And the tour guide, some no-mark player from the late 70s replied ?Phil Neville, haha?.
And while I am at it I wouldn?t recommend the Wembley tour either ? it was just easy for me because it was cheap as I was on a college trip and didn?t have far to travel. But it is nothing exceptional and certainly couldn?t hold a candle on our tour that is for sure.
The feeling we will all get if we win Sunday will be indescribable, I wonder if we will release a cup final song? I say if we get there forget a repeat of All Together Now, that is history. Elton John?s - I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues would be fitting especially since we had that to sing in 84. Or maybe Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Hey, doesn?t everybody want to be the best? That song probably wouldn?t be out of place either. However, that is just a dream but as the song says we can dream (Everly Brothers - Dream in case anyone gets confused).
I am so excited I can feel cup fever running through my veins and one way or another this will be a day none of us will ever forget.
COME ON YOU BLUES ? WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
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1 Posted 15/04/2009 at 16:37:53
2 Posted 15/04/2009 at 17:50:15
Gosling is nowhere near ready. I hope one day he will be, but this week or next isn’t it. He played well against the poorest Boro side in memory (but still showed a lack of composure to miss three sitters) and had a half hour cameo against a tiring 10 man RS at home. He has shown a considerable lack of ’know-how’ in all the other games he’s played. He’s not ready for a game this big and to throw him in would be a gamble of enormous proportion.
I’d stick with Osman who has played well of late (including at Villa). We will need all our expereience if we are to get through. Possession of the ball is going to be the key on Sunday and like it or not Osman is more comfortable in possession that Gosling. Even going forward, I’m not sure how a rookie right back will steal a march on an established French international.
In fact, the pressure point to attack is their right back whoever it may be. That is the weak link so this may just be the game for Pienaar to produce the goods instead of flattering to deceive. Follow on from Villa please and we may just be smiling come Sunday night.
3 Posted 15/04/2009 at 18:50:55
4 Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:12:00
If Osman does play on Sunday then we effectively take to the field with 10 men ? that's how serious this is. We need every player at the top of his game to stand a chance and we can not afford passengers. Leon has been a passenger all season and doesn't deserve a shirt.
Why have a go at James when he is making a valid point just because none of you have any ammo to defend Osman with?
5 Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:37:46
It may be a bridge too far for Gosling but I agree just about anyone would be an improvement on Osman in that position and who knows Gosling may just seize the opportunity. I suspect Moyes may well have a rethink following the weekend debacle with Hibbert who unfortunately became the fall guy. He may well opt for five in the middle in an effort to accommodate Osman and to compensate for his shortcomings.
6 Posted 15/04/2009 at 20:51:08
Osman scored one of the best goals I’ve ever seen at Goodison park .In the absence of Arteta he is the only player we have who can provide the little passes that can put someone through.Most importantly,despite the stick he doesn’t hide.I believe that on Sunday he will answer his critics and at least,Tony,I know you are a man who will admit he was wrong.
7 Posted 15/04/2009 at 22:38:24
Guess it all depends on Saha ? if he?s not fit then we may be reverting to 4-6-0 with Rodders coming into the middle with Capt Pip. If Saha is fit then 5 man midfield with Rodders missing out. Same back four who started against Villa.
8 Posted 16/04/2009 at 00:30:32
So if we play Osman, we lose, but if Gosling plays, we’ll win. If only it where that simple. Mate, give it a rest will you.
If Gosling was that good, he’s be playing instead of Osman. Moyes sees these guys in training everyday, watches them play each game. He get’s paid the big bucks to make these decisions, so shouldn’t we trust him to?
I’m not sure where all this animosity towards Osman comes from, but it seems like he’s the fall guy whenever we have a bad game. Nevermind there’s 10 others.....
I agree that Evra is their weak link, but Fergie will probably sort that one out before the semi, so he may not even be playing.
9 Posted 16/04/2009 at 02:54:38
Osman played very well against Wigan, scoring one, getting an assist, and providing the telling ball for the other two, and whilst he was not as good at Villa, he still offers our team a lot, both going forward and back. I do agree that this is an area of the pitch we need to strengthen if we are to move forward (though I also think Osman will and should continue to be a major part of our squad), but FFS, playing an amateur in a Cup semi final instead of a proven Premier League player ? who let's these people post shite like this???
Tony ? I know you are not a fan of Osman?s, and you?re entitled to your opinion, and have had good reason at times this season to hold that opinion, but realistically, at this moment in time, who is the better option? Please don?t say Gosling or VdM cos I always read your articles and comments with interest and whilst I usually disagree, I can see your point and have respect for that ? playing either of these two would be suicide.
10 Posted 16/04/2009 at 09:13:31
If he continues to play below average then Osman can expect to warm the bench next season if a couple of midfield recruits arrive in the close season. Between now and then I fully expect him to play on Sunday and pray that he has a stunner.
11 Posted 16/04/2009 at 09:39:07
To suggest we take the field with only 10 men if Leon plays is ludicrous, I’ll say it again absolutely, completely ludicrous nonesense.
One thing is for sure none of our squad nor the United squad nor SAF will be looking on Leon as a waste of space. Far fom it.
12 Posted 16/04/2009 at 09:41:41
Personally I find it amazing that anyone could have gone to either of the last two games and not seen the good side of Leon Osman. He was terrific against Wigan and played well against Villa as well. He is a very good short-range passer, has bundles of energy and he is good at retaining possession against the odds.
He is never going to try a 75-yard Hollywood pass, but he is capable of a goal of real quality. Remember Watford away a couple of season ago, Portsmouth at home the year before that. Sunderland at home last season and the two goals in Europe?
Osman is a good player. I actually prefer him to Fellaini, but then I appreciate someone who works hard and never gives up and ? for all the goal-scoring ability, aerial prowess and technique ? willingness to put in a shift is not an attribute Fellaini appears to possess.
13 Posted 16/04/2009 at 10:22:05
This is evident against the likes of Stoke, Blackburn, Pompey & Newcastle. Maybe that was a tactic used by Moyes so let's not have a go at Leon. In our last two games against Wigan & Villa. He hasn?t been as deep as usual and so there as been more space in the midfield to pass it about. Against Villa, we passed it around brilliantly and it was a joy to watch.
Obvisouly Leon hasn?t showed the form like he did last few seasons were he would take on people with his quick feet and get on the score sheet. I may be wrong but I?m sure he is carrying an injury ? but should he be playing then if he has an injury??? Hopefully he will rise to the occasion and have a good game and shut those boo? boys up at Goodison.
As for the debate of Wembley as a semi-final. I don?t mind it too much but would rather it would of been played at Villa Park or City?s ground. It takes the excitement out of the final now with the semi-final being at Wembley. The reason is obvious that they need to pay for Wembley. In other words, its been ruined by money.
Finally, I?m in disbelief to see that they have Arsenal and Chelsea playing on the Saturday when they live in the same city as Wembley when United and Everton fans have to travel all the way down and hurry back home to get to school/work on time for Monday. Would've made much more sense switching the games but NO, Setanta, ITV and the FA had other ideas.
14 Posted 16/04/2009 at 10:37:42
Ossie has been on pretty poor form, fair enough, but he did well against Villa and he’s far more likely to create or score that Gosling is. Gosling has looked average at best, even against the shite, but that goal suddenly makes him a world beater.
15 Posted 16/04/2009 at 11:09:28
Hibbert Jagielka Lescott Baines
Gosling Fellaini Pienaar
Most may disagree with me here, especially with putting Osman so deep in the centre of midfield. But does anyone remember where he was playing when we went on that great run of games last season? He was pretty much next to Carsley in front of the back four, giving the defenders an option to play the ball along the floor instead of the hoofball.
While where on the subject of hoofball, and all those people that moan about it on here, did anyone see we only play the 10th most longballs in the league. The redshite were top.
16 Posted 16/04/2009 at 11:55:51
Like most players Osman has limiations. But he also has virtues. He has struggled with an injury all season and only in the last 2 weeks has he been able to train on 2 consecutive days. Oddly enough, this has coincided with him playing well in 2 important games for us.
It is odd that a number of Evertonians blame him for everything except global warming. Even more odd that a manager who yet again is in competition for Manager of the Year, and almost every good football writer that I read (I don?t do tabloids) consuders Osman?s role to be pivotal in Everton?s new expansive & passing football style.
Clearly all these professional observers, and indeed our own manager who sees him every day (if he can train) are wrong. I just don?t understand why David Moyes doesn?t call you guys regularly to ask for further advice on picking the team. I thought he?s played really well last 2 games & is an important creative source for us. Just shows what I know.
17 Posted 16/04/2009 at 12:28:45
He?s been supwerb in many other seasons (awesome the season we finished 4th). Do you remember last season when we started playing shite? Who was injured? Osman. Before that he was playing great in that midfield alongside the others.
Some of you moaning about Osman haven?t got a clue. Good player, look forward to seeing him play at Wembley. As I said in a previous post, thank fuck some of you lot don?t pick the side and that Moyes does. Let?s stop moaning for once and get behind the boys. COYB.
18 Posted 16/04/2009 at 13:26:44
However, the point of my post is... callling him a CLOWN is well out of order. Those two Rangers players are clowns. Barton is a clown. Osman might not be doing it for you but he has done nothing to deserve insults. He?s on our side, you know....
19 Posted 15/04/2009 at 23:44:10
Cardiff Arms is a fantastic stadium and was a great substitute during Wembley's interim period. Murrayfield and Twickenham also appear quality stadia. Surely some financial arrangement could be agreed with the other three stadia? A three year rotation whereby each stadium hosted a semi-final two years every three. A neutral, quality, national venue each time ? but not Wembley.
Some may argue the semi-final is possibly the best chance they have of seeing their club play at Wembley and that would appear true in the current climate. Even our fans are hyped up for Wembley albeit for a semi-final. What does that say?
To me it says the Wembley venue is more important than the actual match. That Everton or any other team reaching the semi-final, the game is insignificant. We went to Wembley regardless of the final result. That is not good enough to me. Not as an Everton supporter and not as a football fan. Wembley should be a place to be revered. To be the ultimate goal ? not the penultimate. Fail and you can say you went to Wembley. Succeed and you can say you went to Wembley ? again ? to succeed or fail.
As a fan I was only able to attend a single semi-final match at Villa Park on that fateful day in April 1989. The anticipation of seeing my team at Wembley for a final was immense. I somehow feel the aura of Wembley has been lost but more so the anticipation that accompanies the semi-final matches?
20 Posted 16/04/2009 at 14:46:11
21 Posted 16/04/2009 at 16:24:42
The manager knows his best team and as he has stated Ossie is one of the first names on it.
People go on about Neville?s leadership qualities, Cahill?s drive and enthusiasm. Well, IMO, Osman has both and a fair bit of skill to go with it. He was supposed to have his ankle operated on mid-season and elected to wait until the end of the season, which was obviously not for his personal gain!! He has been able to train normally only for the last 2 weeks and despite playing out of his best position has to most of us acquitted himself well.
We always pride ourselves as Evertonians that we are born not manufactured so let's stop this need to pick on individuals and support the blues whoever pulls the shirt on.
22 Posted 16/04/2009 at 12:27:15
"Tell me mar, me mar, to put the champagne on ice, we're going to Wembley twice, tell me mar, me mar."
Come on the blue boys, do us proud and tonk the Manure 2-nil. COYB
23 Posted 16/04/2009 at 16:34:04
I have been forgiving of him this season as he has been injured but this is all the more reason why he should be dropped, he is a liability. Gosling has looked 10 times the threat and seems to have a lot more energy and drive, always busting a gut to get in the box.
I try to bite my tongue because Moyes tends to get it spot on IMO and is very loyal to his players, which I like, and Ossie seems like a genuine enough lad... but sometimes it's so frustrating, he has been the weak link in the side for years and somehow continues to walk into the side.
In Moyes I Trust... I suppose, but this has been my only difference of opinion with the great man, so I guess I'll just shut up for another season and hope I start to see in him everything Moyes must see in him in training.
24 Posted 16/04/2009 at 17:18:14
25 Posted 16/04/2009 at 20:47:58
United will start as favourites, just as in 1995, and look what happened there. I fancy a repeat but maybe 2-1 instead of just a solitary goal being the difference. I would've liked to have been there among the blue masses this weekend but, whatever happens, I will be keeping track of events and hopefully we may just pull it off. Probably Chelsea in the final if we can make it, but then again it may just be the same line up as this year's European Cup final teams.
I wish everybody going to London to have a nice and safe day out and I look forward to seeing on here all the replies and thoughts about the game in the days after.
Also, I can?t stand anything red, but I have to give my sympathies and thoughts to the families and relatives of all involved at Hillsborough 20 years on. A tragic day that should never have happened. You have to let rivalries go at a time like that. RIP the 96.
26 Posted 17/04/2009 at 11:03:22
27 Posted 17/04/2009 at 17:18:27
28 Posted 18/04/2009 at 02:21:02
29 Posted 18/04/2009 at 14:39:16
You must be on drugs or very drunk every game because the Leon Osman I have been watching this season has been a poor excuse of a footballer. Two goals in 6 months, one of which was a tap in and hardly an assist.
How many times does he got caught in possession or knocked off the ball? Also add to the fact he cannot head and has little to no pace whatsoever I think I am entitled to say he is shite. And all this "he tries so hard, he loves Everton", blah blah blah.
My grandad would gives his all if he played for Everton but does that mean he should be picked? Fuck No. Everyone must be at their very best tomorrow and I do not see any signs that it will be the case with Osman. Hopefully he will make me eat my words.
30 Posted 19/04/2009 at 06:22:34
31 Posted 19/04/2009 at 19:06:13