VIEW FROM THE BLUE:: 09/04/2012
Everton 4-0 Sunderland
There may be plenty to the old adage that the form book goes out the window for Merseyside derbies but there is something to be said for the confidence gleaned from a rich vein of form and Everton are in the midsts of a pleasing run of results that can only help as they prepare for Saturday's showdown with Liverpool at Wembley.
True to form established in recent years, Everton's form has taken off since the turn of the year and even though David Moyes made a number of expected changes, the Blues still dominated and then summarily put to the sword a Sunderland side that is by now surely sick of the sight of them. Goodison's faithful was treated to the biggest win of the season so far and in-form striker, Nikica Jelavic, wasn't even in the squad; the Croatian watched from the stands alongside attacking partner, Tim Cahill, as their teammates dismantled the Black Cats' with a four-goal blast in the second half.
With his side playing their second game in three days, Moyes chose to make a number of personnel changes, handing starts to James McFadden, Denis Stracqualursi and Magaye Gueye, moving Phil Neville to left back, partnering Phil Jagielka with John Heitinga and resting the aforementioned forwards as well as Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin and Darron Gibson. Leon Osman returned after missing the draw at Norwich with a knock, partnering Marouane Fellaini in central midfield now liberated by the yellow card amnesty.
Pleasingly, the standard of pass-and-move football that has been a hallmark of the Blues' last five games, was barely diminished by the much-changed starting XI and the home side established a casual dominance in the first half. It yielded few clear-cut chances but with Martin O'Neill's side curiously subdued, it allowed Everton to control the game without overly exerting themselves.
Indeed, Sunderland's insipid display must have infuriated his manager. Whether it was revenge for the cup replay which Everton navigated so masterfully to end the Wearsiders' Wembley dreams or the knowledge that were coming up against a below-strength team with one eye on a semi-final date this coming weekend, the Black Cats had plenty of incentive to be "up" for this Easter Monday match-up but were largely tame throughout. No sign, therefore, of the team that romped to a 3-1 lead at the Etihad Stadium in their last away game and held on for a 3-3 draw against expensively-assembled Manchester City.
Tim Howard had as easy a time of things in the first half as he did against West Bromwich Albion here nine days previously and only a spectacular overhead kick by Stephane Sessegnon gave him cause for alarm before the break, the Benin international's effort flying a couple of yards wide.
By that point, Everton had fashioned a few half chances of their own. Pienaar combined nicely with Gueye but skied a left-foot shot when the Frenchman returned the ball to him with a square pass inside the box and Fellaini made a mess of a first-time effort at the end of a patient passing move orchestrated nicely by Osman who delivered the final ball that the Belgian sliced wide.
Only McFadden managed to test Simon Mignolet in the visitors' goal before the break when he faked to shoot with his right foot, cut the ball back into his left and fired low forcing the 'keeper into a low save.
Having coasted through the first half, Everton had energy in reserve for the second and they started on the front foot, with a succession of corners, two won by the tigerish Tony Hibbert and one of those led to the opening goal. A defender's header dropped to Pienaar on the right side of the area and when his header found Jagielka, he laid it back to Osman to drive an accurate shot goalwards from 18 yards that Mignolet could only parry to his right.
Luckily Gueye came steaming in on the follow-up to smash the ball home from the angle and record his first goal in Everton Blue. The overdue milestone clearly meant a lot to him and it was rich reward for his quiet emergence as a viable first-teamer in the last few weeks.
After a brief injury scare for Heitinga who went down clutching his ankle in a fair amount of distress after 52 minutes, Sunderland were briefly roused from their torpor and the match momentarily threatened to pivot on one moment of disarray in the home defence with a quarter of an hour to go. Heitinga ill-advisedly left a deep cross from the left that was scooped up off the byline by a Sunderland man to the opposite post but Jagielka scrambled the loose ball away from a vulnerable spot in front of his goal before anyone could pounce on it.
A minute later, Everton doubled their lead. Royston Drenthe, who had replaced the eager but ultimately ineffective McFadden 10 minutes earlier, cut in swiftly from the right and rolled a square pass along the 18-yard box to Gueye who tapped it to Pienaar and the South African was able to pick his spot with a sweeping right-footer that curled around the fingertips of Mignolet and inside the far post.
A further minute later, Osman collected Gueye's dinked ball forward and advanced to almost the same spot from where Pienaar had scored and emulated his teammate with aplomb, spinning a perfectly-struck shot in off the same far post to make it 3-0.
And a third goal in five minutes quickly followed. Victor Anichebe had only been on the pitch three minutes after relieving Fellaini before he profited from great work by Pienaar by the byline that saw him keep the ball despite stumbling under a defender's challenge and then skip into the box and cut it back to the danger zone.
Anichebe mis-kicked initially but had the awareness to swivel onto the bouncing loose ball and his half-volleyed shot deflected off Jack Colback's chest and past the wrong-footed goalkeeper to make it four.
Game, set and match Everton and a fourth win in five games with 10 goals scored, four clean sheets and just two goals conceded. You couldn't ask for much better form at this stage of the season and going into an all-important Wembley date in five days' time. With hopefully no longering knocks and his first-choice starting XI refreshed, the Blues will be well prepared for what will be a nailbiting clash with the neighbours in London on Saturday.
Player Ratiings: Howard 6, Hibbert 8, Jagielka 7, Heitinga 7, Neville 7 (Coleman -), Fellaini 8 (Anichebe 7), Osman 8, Gueye 8, Pienaar 8, McFadden 6 (Drenthe 7), Stracqualursi 7 (just; for effort, really). Man of the match was a toss-up between Pienaar and Osman.
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652 Posted 09/04/2012 at 19:46:28
658 Posted 09/04/2012 at 19:48:43
A balanced report as ever Lyndon, but why only a 6 for Howard? What did he do wrong? He was totally efficient all afternoon (sleeping in his hamock)!!
659 Posted 09/04/2012 at 20:01:24
It's hard not to gush about the way we're playing right now. The style of football we're exhibiting is superb at the moment. I only hope we carry it through to the semi-final at the weekend because that is the way we'll beat them.
Forget the fire and brimstone derby approach, beat them with fast-moving, passing football. Shit, I'm nervous already...
662 Posted 09/04/2012 at 20:04:35
Never had a better chance.
667 Posted 09/04/2012 at 19:55:34
684 Posted 09/04/2012 at 20:40:17
Much better to watch and much harder to defend against. And as today showed, we are even having a few shots from the edge of the box. Someone pinch me!
692 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:12:01
693 Posted 09/04/2012 at 20:50:17
Pienaar was simply unplayable at times and its such a pity that he won't be gracing Wembley - twice. I don't think Arry cup-tied him out of spite because he thought he was keeping him anyway. Gawd knows what happened in that last half-hour of the transfer window.
And great to see Drenthe back, totally determined to prove his worth. We were good value for the 1-0 lead and instead of defending it Royston was unleashed. Amazing.
695 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:16:47
698 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:19:52
699 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:27:35
711 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:57:53
FFS what has this lad got to do to convince people that he is a class player and is essential to Everton's future at the moment.
Felli was not only immense today (hence the standing ovation when he went off) but has been immense for the last 6 weeks or more. The lad is a fucking genius who can break up play, get the ball on the deck and set up attacks.
712 Posted 09/04/2012 at 21:58:40
713 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:04:31
715 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:01:39
Let's keep eleven on the pitch and just keep things tight without getting into any personal vendetta's.
Cahill has to watch himself and so does Felli and Heitinga.
COYB's this is our final.
717 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:15:56
If the game does descend into blood and thunder, we're going to want Tiger Tim in there. Plus, he is still a threat from set-pieces with a knack for scoring important goals against the red horde!
For me, the team that started at Sunderland should be the team that starts Saturday.
721 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:22:45
Cahill has got to start v the shite. He hates them as much as we do, and they hate him as much as we hate Gerrard.
Their midfield cannot contend with him and his runs, never a better wind up merchant either and he is coming into form and linking up well with Jelavic as a foil.
We really do owe them a good twatting.
723 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:22:01
724 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:17:53
For me, we appear, now, to have a squad, not just a best 11, and only cost us Â£119,137.98
"are you watching..."
732 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:53:02
With Osman you are never sure if he is on the pitch.
If Ossie guaranteed a performance like tonight then fair enough but past experience tells you that he is a gamble too far.
734 Posted 09/04/2012 at 22:57:45
And Dave Roberts, you got it absolutely right.
742 Posted 09/04/2012 at 23:32:51
757 Posted 09/04/2012 at 23:48:14
760 Posted 10/04/2012 at 00:06:07
Goodison is 112 x 78 yards (According to the club website)
So Wembley is slightly narrower but three yards longer
761 Posted 10/04/2012 at 00:00:48
762 Posted 10/04/2012 at 00:09:45
It's five yards longer and a yard wider than Goodison (115x75 versus 110x74 according to Wikipedia, so not sure who is right; it's been 112x78 for as long as I can remember) so not that much bigger but the size of the stadium always makes it feel a lot bigger.
If it's a hot day, as was the case in the 2009 Final when we just appeared to wilt, that can magnify the impression that it's a vast playing surface. Looks like the forecast calls for scattered showers in London on Saturday so heat is unlikely to be an issue, thankfully.
766 Posted 10/04/2012 at 00:15:38
I sense fear in the old boys?
A good sign indeed!
767 Posted 09/04/2012 at 23:59:05
Aside from the flanks, the line-up seems obvious. Drenthe/Secret Weapon or Osman/Coleman ?
801 Posted 10/04/2012 at 06:04:05
I mean, even though Jamie Mac may not mean that much, but he was able to feed good ball to Hibbert which in turn was crossed into dangerous areas.
802 Posted 10/04/2012 at 06:05:48
I admit it's not anything close to world class, but they get the basic things taken care off.
That made us looked balanced.
I'd play Jamie Mac on Saturday along with Hibbert
803 Posted 10/04/2012 at 06:07:52
He's the best after Jelavic and we need to sign him permanently.
822 Posted 10/04/2012 at 08:14:32
Simply put.....awesome. As Toffeemen and women we have suffered more than our fair share of disappointments. However, I cannot remember the last time that we rotated our team in such an effective manner or for that matter were actually able to do so with one of the smallest squads in he league.
The most pleasing part for me in all this is having my father, who supports the Dark Side having had trials for them in his youth, turning to me and saying "How is it that your lot are above us in the league with all the money that we have spent?" My glib and somewhat smug reply was, "We deserve to be there as opposed to thinking that we should." This resulted in a tirade about King Kenny blah blah blah... needless to say, I won't bore you with it.
However, I like the rest of us, hope that all this hard work and endeavour is not undone on Saturday. My thoughts in respect of the team selection are:
Baines, Distin, Heitinga, Neville at the back.
Guyeye, Felli, Osman, Drenthe in midfield
Jelly and Cahill up top.
My final thought is that, with Moyesy having 10 predominately successful years in charge, let's bag some silverware and put the icing on top of the cake for once.
824 Posted 10/04/2012 at 08:43:18
827 Posted 10/04/2012 at 08:58:51
Neville should play right back as at Sunnerlan.
Mcfadden is bench fodder no more no less.
841 Posted 10/04/2012 at 09:29:21
Horrible bastards, all 3 of them.
845 Posted 10/04/2012 at 10:16:04
We have to keep the ball, no hoofballs from the likes of Howard, Neville, Hibbert, we have to keep the ball on the ground... ESSENTIAL!!!
860 Posted 10/04/2012 at 11:19:37
861 Posted 10/04/2012 at 11:15:28
I have no doubt he will start on Saturday but does he deserve to?
881 Posted 10/04/2012 at 13:03:23
I only skirted through but it appears you don't think Jelavic should play on Saturday?
Or were you referring to the team that put Sunderland out the cup?
887 Posted 10/04/2012 at 13:51:35
890 Posted 10/04/2012 at 13:59:54
891 Posted 10/04/2012 at 14:14:43
What in gods name have you been smoking mate ?
Playing JMc would be suicidal, he's shite.
892 Posted 10/04/2012 at 14:20:06
I can tell you that most people in Holland think Webb is an absolute disgrace since the WC final ;-)
894 Posted 10/04/2012 at 14:28:53
I would imagine that the only possible position for debate would the flanks where personally i would go with Gueye and Osman. The same team as vs Sunderland basically...
I'm not sure i trust Drenthe not to do something stupid and would rather have him on the bench to bring on later in the match hopefully as a counter attacking threat when we are winning but if not then to make something happen....
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