COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Everton 2 - 1 Chelsea
Pessimistic about our chances all day following the weekend's derby loss, I saw nothing to change my mind en-route to the game when I got flashed and pulled over by the police as I approached Liverpool. I'd overtaken the policeman earlier on a dual carriageway and he'd followed me since before eventually pulling me over. “Are you the owner of this vehicle sir?” he asked. “Yes. Here's my driving license” with it already nervously in hand. After a good look at it…”Ahhh. That explains it. Your post code is the same as that of an unregistered driver. Nothing to worry about”. And off he went. Maybe it might just be our day afterall…
Having grabbed Ste we parked up and met Gary in the pub about 7pm. Stu made a welcome appearance and was in good form as we haven't really seen much of him since last seasons FA Cup Final. Simon also joined us completely out of breath having legged it here from Kirkdale but unfortunately we were onto and into the ground shortly afterwards.
Two changes from the derby, both enforced. With Fellaini still injured Arteta came in to make his first start of the season. Great to see him getting as much game time as possible. The other change was bringing Bilyaletdinov back in for the suspended Pienaar. As for Chelsea, in-the-spotlight John Terry played as expected, partnering Carvalho in defence, Lampard played in midfield, Anelka and Drogba up front…quality all over the pitch. We swapped ends before kick off. The referee was Alan Whiley.
The game began very lively with both teams getting into it though it was Chelsea whom seized control of the game, dominating the play in the opening 20 minutes or so though with just a miss-queued Lampard effort to show for it. Strangely it was only once Everton had put their best spell of football together that Chelsea scored. Annoyingly the goal was an incredulously soft. A long hoof forward from a free kick, a flick by Drogba, Malouda in the wrong side of Neville and an effort across goal and into the net. Bollocks. Just when we were starting to put a few things together.
If anything this goal seemed to
galvanize Everton and though we were still stunned for a few minutes we hustled our way back into the game, Osman not to far away with his long range effort from a Cahill lay-off.
The equalizer came when Donavon won a corner off Cole. Taking it himself, the American whipped an outswinger into the box, over the head of Lampard, but nicely onto the head of Saha who'd timed his run to perfection, the Frenchman heading down and into the goal to level the scores. Come on you Blues!
We kept up the intensity in our play with a lot of committed tackles and harassing from the Everton players though were always susceptible to a Chelsea sucker-punch and it nearly came when Anelka skewed a great chance past the post.
At the right end of the pitch we had a decent chance of ourselves, Saha getting the wrong side of his defender, controlling a lovely floated Donavon ball and smashing goalwards though Cech was off his line quickly to smother.
Still, he had an even greater chance just on half time when Donavon was felled in the box by Carvalho. Saha stepped up. Arteta also wanted it but Saha took duty though failed, smashing it to close to Cech who parried it away. Is it just me who never feels confident any time Saha steps up take a penalty? Half time 1-1. What a golden chance that was and you felt you just have to take those chances against Chelsea.
With no changes by either team at the break both teams locked horns again for the second period and it was more of the same. Everton giving it a right good go and Chelsea showing their class making for an intriguing contest. The crowd played their part too, really getting behind the boys. The game was ultimately settled when Saha unleashed a half volley from just inside the box which just flew past Cech. Perhaps he might have saved it but who cares, he didn't. Saha had come close before that also and certainly deserved his second goal himself though with time still on the clock, Chelsea weren't finished yet.
They came close a few times too, with Lampard forcing Howard into a decent stop, tipping the ball round the post, though Drogba came closest, planting his header onto the crossbar from a corner. At one stage the amount of pressure exhorted on our team by Chelsea was unbearable but we defended it heroically, as though our life depended on it. There was always someone there to get that last clearance away as the crowd urged the team on.
5 minutes of stoppage time presented by Alan Whiley wasn't enough to save Chelsea as the blues hung on tight. You kinda sensed it was game over when Drogba, trying to clip the ball back into the box sliced it horribly out of play for a goal kick to us. I think that was cheered as loud as the full time whistle!
Excellent stuff from Everton and what a way to respond from the weekends performance. I can't have been the only one so negative going into this one, but with steady progression in the Europa League, a point against the Champs and three points against stuttering Spurs and you just never know, we might pull 6th / 7th place out of the hat yet.
What a difference a game makes.
Howard: Made a couple of decent stops whilst his catching and punching was first rate. 8
Baines: My man of the match. Countless interceptions, tackles and clearances defensively and excellent offensive work to support it. Good work Leighton. 8
Distin: Seemed as though he had a point to prove after a fairly shambolic display at Anfield. Like Baines, sterling, no nonsense defensive work when it was needed. 8
Heitinga: Surely the toughest game he's had yet in a blue shirt as he had quite a battle with Drogba. Still, coped well and didn't let himself get intimidated by the giant Ivorian. Decent distribution also. 7
Neville: At fault for the goal but was pretty solid otherwise and got forward a lot more than he did last Saturday. 6
Arteta: Did quite well and showed nice flashes of skill but the game seemed a bit too much for him at times. Still, nice to have him back and getting more precious game time. The more he plays the quicker he'll be up to speed. I'll be interested to see how he gets on next week in the generally slower tempo against Sporting Lisbon. 6
Bilyaletdinov: Worked hard but Christ was he knackered by the end. Was surprised how long Moyes left him on for when he evidently had nothing left in the tank. Hopefully next season we'll see better of Diniyar. 6
Donavon: His ability and knack of taking players on is a major asset. We really should try and keep him at least until the end of the season. Think how much his price may escalate should he have a good World Cup. Works tirelessly. 8
Osman: Perhaps had a point to prove also after Saturday and also proved it, getting into the game, in their faces and was rather industrious throughout. Good game. 8
Cahill: Worked tirelessly and used the ball well. Is a menace quite frankly. 8
Saha: Classic Saha we just need that more often. Took his second goal brilliantly and held the ball up superbly. Just take him off penalties though eh! 8
Rodwell (for Arteta): Adapted into the game fine and did what he had to – get stuck in! 7
Gosling (for Bilyaletdinov): Was desperately needed as Bilyaletdinov had nothing left to offer. It was all defensive work I think but it was certainly needed. 6
Senderos (for Saha): Was only on for time wasting purposes so can't really judge.
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1 Posted 11/02/2010 at 06:01:27
There follow the first words of praise I have ever either said or written about Osman: good God, so you can play!
2 Posted 11/02/2010 at 09:04:43
3 Posted 11/02/2010 at 12:17:27
Just because everybody has a major dislike of Neville and thinks Arteta is some sort of football deity.
Look objectively and apportion blame accordingly. Yes, Neville was at fault, but Arteta should have dealt with it first and not put him in the position.
4 Posted 11/02/2010 at 12:30:35
Just joking, playing devil's advocate.
5 Posted 11/02/2010 at 19:10:10
6 Posted 11/02/2010 at 21:44:41
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