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Venue: Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League
 Sunday 5 May 2013; 1:30pm
0 0
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 44,991
Fixture 36
Referee: Michael Oliver

Match Report

Just as the first did back in October, the second Merseyside derby of the season ended all square but almost all the drama and excitement appeared to have been used up at Goodison Park as the flat Anfield edition ended goalless.

There should have been a winner, though, and it will come as no surprise that it was Everton who were robbed of it. Referee Michael Oliver whistled for a non-existent foul by Victor Anichebe, presumably on Pepe Reina, at a second-half corner and Sylvain Distin's headed goal was not allowed to stand.

Liverpool, of course, will point to Luis Suarez' goal that was chalked off in the reverse fixture, one that saw Steven Gerrad humiliate himself with an 80-yard run and celebratory slide for nothing, but that would overlook the fact that the Uruguayan could been sent off twice by that point for disgusting fouls on Distin and Kevin Mirallas in that game.

It was a rare error by Oliver who otherwise supervised proceedings effectively and dispassionately, although he was aided by one of the tamest Merseyside derbies in memory. Indeed, there were just three yellow cards shown all game and one of those was for dissent by Anichebe protesting his innocence in the disallowed goal incident. It was an unusually subdued affair that had the air of a meaningless, end-of-season fixture which, from the perspective of Everton's European hopes, it certainly was not.

Not that you'd have gleaned that from the Blues demeanour. They started slowly and never really got into anything resembling high gear, even in the closing stages when a goal could have nicked the points and kept Tottenham and Europa League qualification within reach.

Liverpool carried the greater threat in the opening stages and despite Darron Gibson being restored to the starting XI after returning from injury, Everton's midfield lacked conviction and didn't really get going until midway through the first half. Marouane Fellaini almost fluked the opener when he missed the near post by inches with his out-stretched leg from a free kick and Mirallas fired a low shot from the edge of the box, one that Reina gathered and which would prove to be the visitors' only shot on target all game.

Prior to that, the greater danger to the deadlock had been Daniel Sturridge and the Reds' quicker, more accurate passing which occasionally threatened to unlock Everton's back line. Sturridge was wayward with his shooting, though, dragging a tame left-footer wide in the sixth minute and blasting well over after Steven Gerrard had piicked him out with a raking pass from deep.

The Liverpool captain might have been the first player to trouble Tim Howard after half an hour but Phil Jagielka, who was practically immaculate throughout, dangled a leg back and blocked his shot. And the Blues' skipper was on hand again just before half time with a perfectly timed, last-ditch tackle on Coutinho.

For a rather lacklustre Everton, Gibson sailed their only other real chance of testing the goalkeeper over the crossbar from 25 yards after Daniel Agger had tripped Mirallas.

If Moyes had tried to gee up his men to now take command of this derby against a fairly toothless Liverpool, there was little evidence of it in the second half. Resorting to far too many long balls, precious few of which found or were won by Anichebe, there a general dearth of creativity about the Blues.

Normally composed in possession and insightful with his passing, Gibson struggled to find his range all afternoon; Mirallas was a mostly peripheral figure, Steven Pienaar was too often left looking for support in the final third; only Leon Osman looked capable of splitting the home side's back line but he wasn't able to do it often enough to create the crucial breakthrough.

Liverpool again began the stronger side and, after Fellaini's attempted backheel near the halfway line was intercepted by Coutinho, Sturridge looked odds on to score in a one-on-one situation with Howard but the American did brilliantly to close him down, hold his ground and usher the striker away from goal where he managed to dig the ball away to safety.

Easily the most contentious moment of this most calm of derbies was the scandalously disallowed goal after 55 minutes when Distin rose above Jamie Carragher and headed home Leighton Baines' corner. The referee, though, had held up the set piece to talk to Anichebe for jostling with Reina and appeared to have made up his mind before the corner even came in that an infringement was inevitable. There was none.

Mirallas' last attempt to break the stalemate was an attempted curler that lacked the bend to bring it back on goal and he was eventually replaced by Nikica Jelavic with 15 minutes to go but the Croatian wouldn't get a sniff, particularly as a succession of late free kicks by Baines were planted straight into Reina's hands.

For Brendan Rogers' side, Gerrard stole in behind the defence but was denied by Distin who knocked his attempted ball across the six-yard box behind and Agger glanced a late header wide.

And that was that. Both derbies would end all square and though the draw means that Everton will likely finish above Liverpool for a second successive season, the lack of determination and passion for a victory that would have kept hopes, however small, of Europe alive was a touch disappointing. Whether it was fear of losing another derby or general late-season malaise was unclear.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

Everton kicked off in the Liverpool sunshine and played fairly well up to the Liverpool area throughout most of the first half, where their lack of ideas was compounded by a poor quality in the execution; only a fick by Fellaini coming close. Distin scored from a corner in the second half but it was harshly ruled out although Anichebe was no longer wrestling after a warning. Another criminal refereeing decision denies Everton the win.

Everton kicked off and nervously put the ball out of play, squandering possession but the first free kick went their way when Coutinho was crowded out but the ball sailed over Fellaini's head. The pace of the early game was frenetic... almost frantic as no-one was granted any time on the ball, Lucas crashing into Osman late and later getting a warning as Oliver played advantage.

Twice, Everton players got good chances to cross but both Coleman and then Gibdon wasted them before Pienaar looked to shoot but it went wide.

Pienaar won a free-kick off Johnson wide left that Fellaini ficked just inches past the post. Then Mirallas powered in a great low cross but no-one was anticipating it. Gibson then picked out Mirallas but the Belgian had strayed offside As Everton enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession. Gerrard came inches away from decapitating Osman with a high kick.

Coleman won the first corner, overlapping well, Baines putting it on Anichebe's head but he was almost too close to Reina. Gibson got a talking to for a foul of frustration after he was outwitted by Coutinho. But in the first quarter of the game, Everton had given a good account of themselves, showing no fear or inferiority. But as ever, the final ball was too often disappointing.

Jagileka made a fantastic block to deny Gerrard after Liverpool's second attack. Gerrard then curled a free kick over the angle after Fellaini tangled with Lucas. Liverpool then won their first corner, defended away. But Distin had to stretch to deny Henderson.

Mirallas was getting good opportunities to advance with the ball but his control and choices were unusually poor. But another excellent set piece chance came after Agger tugged Fellaini's shirt, a perfect distance for Gibson but his execution was severely lacking.

More unbelievable blocks by the Everton defence denied open scoring shots by Henderson and then Coutinho, again some brilliant timing by Jagielka. But then Pienaar failed to dig out a promising ball, but Gibson's long distance shot won a corner taken short, then deep, but Baines's cross was shockingly poor.

Half-time and Everton had played really well up to the Liverpool area, where their lack of ideas was compounded by a poor quality in the execution.

Fellaini was winning a fair number of the hoofed long balls after the break, but Anichebe was not at the races, then a ridiculous backheel giveaway by the big man in midfield when he had space and time to go forward gifted Coutinho who laid it on a plate for Sturridge but Howard did very well to deny him. But Everton had allowed the Reds to take the initiative after the break and were playing too much on the back foot.

When they did put a move together, Coleman needlessly played it into touch. But Mirallas did win a corner, that saw Anichebe and Enrique wrestling stupidly, while Distin headed home cleanly at the far post but Anichebe was presumably deemed by referee Oliver to have continued to foul either Enrique or Howard (he did neither) and the perfectly good goal was chalked off, much to the anger of the Everton players, the big Nigerian getting booked for it. At the other end, Coutinho had a chance to shot but Howard saved it.

A clear example of Everton's paucity was Osman's lame run and even lamer shot as the quality of play continued to disappoint. Passing moves came to nothing. Osman conjured up another llame shot that screwed wide, then Mirallas tried to curl one that went beyond Reina's far post.

Anichebe's control on a bouncing ball was pathetic, but not as much as his poor run to nowhere that was followed by a blatant dive. Everton were giving away free kicks that allowed the Reds to swing dangerous balls in but the Blues defence was holding firm... despite Coutinho looking to curl one in. Gerrard then came close after rounding Howard but Distin was there to clear it behind as Jelavic replaced Mirallas.

Everton then had some more promising forward play but that final ball was so, so frustratingly poor. Osman was unfairly called for a non-handball and Agger came very close to glancing the all into the Kop net as the game entered the final 10 mins.

Pienaar looked to play in Jelavic but the paucity of either the ball or the Croatian's anticipation or effort was hair-tearing, while Borini came close to connecting at the other end. Gibson then did the same thing, passing to no-one... then Pienaar did worse in midfield.

Anichebe somehow dug out a deflected shot that almost looped into the corner and needed Reina to save. Then Borini floored Baines and was carded. Reina caught his free-kick with ease. Fellaini then played a brilliant ball to Jelavic but he could not pull off the control required.

Another Baines free kick, wide left but again, straight into Reina's grasp. Osman got booked for a late tackle on Coutinho but Everton again defended it competently without carrying the ball out of defence. And that was it. The disallowed goal, the only shot on target.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

The Anfield derby. Much like our record at Old Trafford, there aren't many more ways to describe how abysmal our recent of results has been at the ground that was once our home.

Every air-breathing Blue knows it's been over 13 years since we won there and that, just like at the afore-mentioned Theatre of Broken Blue Dreams, Stamford Bridge, Highbury or the Emirates Stadium, David Moyes has yet to oversee a victory on Liverpool's home turf.

Where Joe Royle had the Indian Sign over the Reds, Moyes has overseen the apparent growth of a worrying psychosis where derby games are concerned that has become a self-perpetuating vortex of doubt and anxiety when it comes to playing our neighbours, regardless of what the form book or the League Table say.

The remedy? A victory at Anfield. It's that simple.

As he sets out to break that hoodoo — some are billing it as his last chance given the possibility of him leaving Goodison Park this summer — Moyes could have a virtually fit squad and, unlike the embarrassment Blues fans were subjected to last year, no cup distractions to justify a weakened line-up.

Phil Neville is ruled out through injury and Darron Gibson once again has "a chance" of being involved as he battles his thigh problem, but Everton will otherwise be at full strength.

In terms of a starting XI, it's likely to be similar in shape to the team that performed so limply at Sunderland two weeks ago, with Victor Anichebe preferred to Nikica Jelavić up front. Phil Jagielka missed the defeat at the Stadium of Light with the reopening of his ankle wound but is expected to play this weekend.

It's in midfield where Moyes has decisions to make depending on whether Gibson is passed fit and how adventurous the manager feels. Marouane Fellaini has performed well in his more natural defensive midfield role alongside Leon Osman and Moyes may feel comfortable persisting with that pairing if Gibson doesn't make it, while deploying Ross Barkley behind the striker as he did at Arsenal. Should Gibson play, it's probably a toss-up between Fellaini and Osman over who plays in the more advanced role.

In the larger scheme of Everton's record against Liverpool, particularly at Mordor, and their European aspirations (Tottenham are just three points away, while Chelsea have to play at Manchester United so the European race is not over), a win is the only result that would be good enough.

A draw — essentially the avoidance of defeat — is never a bad result from a local derby and a point would virtually assure the Blues of finishing above the Reds for a second successive season but that shouldn't be the goal from the outset.

Can we just go out and bloody win this one for a change?

Lyndon Lloyd

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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2012-13 Reports Index
< Fulham (H) West Ham (H) >
 Everton fans' reports
 Lyndon Lloyd Report
 Paul Traill Report
  Downing (79' Skrtel)
  Henderson (66' Borini booked:88')
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Mirallas (75' Jelavic)
  Osman booked:90+1'
  Anichebe booked:56'
  Subs not used
  Bidwell (loan)
  Gueye (loan)
  Lundstram (loan)
  Barkley (sick)
  Neville (injured)

Premier League Scores
Fulham 2 - 4 Reading
Norwich 1 - 2 Aston Villa
QPR 0 - 1 Arsenal
Swansea 0 - 0 Man City
Tottenham 1 - 0 So'hampton
West Brom 2 - 3 Wigan
West Ham 0 - 0 Newcastle
Liverpool 0 - 0 Everton
Man United 0 - 1 Chelsea
Sunderland 1 - 1 Stoke
Man City 1 - 0 West Brom
Wigan 2 - 3 Swansea
Chelsea 2 - 2 Tottenham

Team Pts
1 Manchester United 85
2 Manchester City 75
3 Chelsea 69
4 Arsenal 67
5 Tottenham Hotspur 66
6 Everton 60
7 Liverpool 55
8 West Bromwich Albion 48
9 Swansea City 46
10 West Ham United 43
11 Stoke City 41
12 Fulham 40
13 Aston Villa 40
14 Southampton 39
15 Sunderland 38
16 Norwich City 38
17 Newcastle United 38
18 Wigan Athletic 35
19 Reading 28
20 Queens Park Rangers 25

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