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Venue: Riverside Stadium, Teesside
Premier League
 Friday 26 December 2008; 3:00pm
Middlesbro
0-1
 EVERTON
Half Time: 0-0
Cahill (49')
Attendance: 30,253
Fixture 19
Referee: Mike Riley

Match Summary

Leon Osman failed to recover sufficiently form that disgusting red card studs-up lunge by John Terry, and was sidelined for this, forcing David Moyes to blood Dan Gosling, his Premier League debut.  Yobo was also missing with the hamstring problem he picked up on Monday.

Everton dominated the game and had some good possession for the first 15 mins before Boro finally got a corner.  Pienaar was well involved with the better moves, but his touch would let him down sometimes.

Pienaar smacked the outside of the post near the half-hour, after a clever layback from Arteta.  Fellaini got his customary yellow card after his sixth clumsy foul... one more and it's a 2-game suspension.  Neville had a lot of time and fired in a good shot from distance that deflected off Pogatetz but no corner for the Blues.

Howard had to be very alert, a superb strike from O'Neill was well worth a goal as Boro made a rare foray forward.  Everton looked to have scored when Pienaar drilled his shot through a crowd of players but Riley had blown for another foul by Fellaini, and disallowed what looked to be a perfectly good goal.

Everton were threatening with each attack, and Turnbull was having a lot of trouble in the Boro goal, but was being given Securicor protection by Old Mother Riley, who spoke to Gosling at length. Pienaar played a great ball in for Gosling whose shot from a glorious chance was sadly pathetic.

As the Everton pressure increased up to half-time, Everton won a good free-kick that Baines smacked off the end of the wall.  From the corner, another glorious chance, this one for Lescott, but he kicked it AWAY from goal!!!

Tim Cahill finally got the goal Everton deserved, scrambling the ball over the line at the third attempt from an Arteta corner, after the Blues had deliberately stood off the over-protected Turnbull.  Southgate's response was to swap out Tuncay for Alves, much to the angst of the Boro fans.

Gosling somehow missed a fantastic chance at full stretch at the far post, blasting over after great work from Fellaini when it seemed easier to score. Everton were producing some excellent approach play, but the composure, quality or guile required for the final ball were too often lacking.  Riggott was booked for a block on Fellaini.

A fantastic cameo from Gosling saw him scampering alongside Aliadiere and executing a superb tackle to not only win the ball but retain it and turn the play back up the field... Brilliant!  Aliadiere was promptly hauled off, replaced by the lively Johnson.

Johnson did a beautiful dive after a tremendous run and it looked odds on Riley would award Boro a penalty, but incredibly he did the right thing and yellow-carded the Boro substitute, who had given Boro a frightening injection of pace down their right.  Any response to this form David Moyes? ... Boro kept coming in surge after surge, Everton well on the back foot. 

Gosling came so close to scoring for a third time with a very smart ghosting move between defender and keeper, but somehow he missed it completely.  Would Everton rue their profligacy in  front of goal? Riley was aggravating the crowd by blowing up for almost all contact.

Alves came so close to levelling it on the flick-on from a long ball as Everton looked to play down the clock, rather than build attacks with any conviction, as Boro picked up silly yellows with stupid niggly pulls and tugs. Instead, Riley gave Boro more chances as Everton gave away needless free-kicks.

In the 4th minute of added time, Moyes looked to bring on Anichebe but he didn't need to as the Blues ran off deserved winners, and moving up to 6th in the league.  Another excellent away win... but for fans of football, wouldn't be nice to actually see us win such games by scoring a hatful of really good goals?

For me, Gosling showed that he was well up for life in the Premier League, and that his failure to score was purely down to a lack of match sharpness at this level, which raises the question of Moyes — why hasn't the lad been given far more exposure and playing time as a substitute?

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Some interesting observations in our mailbag confirm that David Moyes appears to have finally overcome his qualms about being Everton manager in 08-09 and is knuckling down again, coming up with key changes that have admittedly been forced on him to an extent through yet another injury crisis, but were needed because the 4-5-1 thing had become so sour and lacking in ideas. 

So now we have 4-6-0, with Cahill nominally leading the charge but still really playing the only way he knows how,.  The biggest change, perhaps, has been brining Mikel Arteta off the wing and into the middle of the park, where he can exercise far more control.  Result: NO MORE HOOFBALL!!! Hibbert in at right back and defending like his life depends on it means the dreaded midfield role again for Phil Neville... which he actually almost excelled at on Monday! 

And the injury to Joseph Yobo means that Leighton Baines should surely get yet another chance to stake his claim loud and clear for the disputed left-back slot that goes almost by default to Joleon Lescott, who must now play his preferred centre-back role alongside the excellent Phil Jagielka (rare booboos notwithstanding). 

The weaknesses remain in Osman and Pienaar, who both have tremendous latent skill but seem equally unable to impose themselves in the Premier League, where they are so easily bundled or muscled off the ball by burley opponents. 

So.... who needs recognized strikers?  Oh yea.... that goalscoring thing... isn't that what the game is  supposed to be all about?  Zero conceded, one scored from 3 hours of 4-6-0.  Moyes must be having a very Happy Christmas.

Michael Kenrick

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Match Report

May appear here later

Author

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M'BORO (4-4-2)
  Turnbull
  Taylor :88'
  Riggott :66'
  McMahon :90'
  O'Neill (85' Emnes)
  Pogatetz 
  Aliadiere (70' Johnson :72')
  Mido
  Tuncay (53' Alves)
  Downing
  Arca :44'
  Subs not used
  Jones
  Wheater
  Huth
  Walker
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert
  Jagielka
  Lescott
  Baines
  Neville {c}
  Gosling
  Arteta
  Pienaar
  Fellaini :30'
  Cahill
  Subs not used
  Nash
  Rodwell
  Kissock
  Wallace
  Van der Meyde
  Anichebe
  Jutkiewicz
  Unavailable
  Yakubu (injured)
  Saha (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Osman (injured)
  Yobo (injured)
  Jacobsen (injured)

Premier League Scores
Friday 26 December 2008
Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Chelsea 2-0 West Brom
Liverpool 3-0 Bolton
Man City 5-1 Hull City
Middlesbro 0-1 Everton
Portsmouth 1-4 West Ham
Stoke City 0-1 Man Utd
Sunderland 0-0 Blackburn
Tottenham 0-0 Fulham
Wigan 2-1 Newcastle

Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Liverpool 42
2 Chelsea 41
3 Man Utd 35
4 Aston Villa 35
5 Arsenal 32
6 Everton 29
7 Hull 27
8 Fulham 25
9 Wigan 25
10 Bolton 23
11 Portsmouth 23
12 Newcastle 22
13 West Ham 22
14 Sunderland 22
15 Man City 21
16 Tottenham 20
17 Middlesbro 20
18 Stoke 20
19 Blackburn 17
20 West Brom 15
After 26 Dec 2008



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