Everton Logo Everton 0 - 2 Arsenal
Half-time: 0 - 1
Arsenal Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 29
Saturday 13 March 1999
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 38,049
« Blackburn Rovers (a) Ref: Uriah Rennie Manchester United (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 16th Premiership Results & Table
Arsenal: Parlour (16'), Bergkamp (pen:69') 
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Myhre; Dunne (25' Grant), Watson (c), Materazzi, Ball; Weir, Dacourt, Unsworth, Barmby (74' Jeffers); Hutchison (18' Sent Off!), Bakayoko (74' Cadamarteri).
Unavailable: Oster, Collins, Cleland, Bilic, Farrelly, Ward, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Degn (ill); Gerrard (on loan); Milligan (International Duty).
Simonsen, Short.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Keown, Winterburn, Parlour, Petit (61' Sent off!), Vieira, Overmars (88' Upson), Bergkamp, Anelka (63' Vivas). Manninger, Kanu, Diawara.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Dacourt (42'), Unsworth (69'). Hutchison (18')
Arsenal: [Petit (25', 61')], Adams (45'). Petit (61')

Steve Bickerton A Totally Dishonest Performance
Jenny Roberts Erratic in the extreme
Richard Marland Thank you very much, Uriah Rennie
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Two sent off as Arsenal display class
by Trevor Haylett
THE SUNDAY TIMES Arsenal victory marred by Petit
by Louise Taylor
Parlour game is too taxing for Everton
by Richard Slater
THE INDEPENDENT Wenger bemoans Petit loss
by Guy Hodgson
THE TIMES Disillusioned Petit threatens to leave
by Stephen Wood
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the latest Match Report

THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 A Totally Dishonest Performance
Steve Bickerton
There were two ways to look at this game. Firstly, we were not expected to take anything at all from the reigning champions, as their recent form (no defeats in 16) when shown against ours over the same period (5 wins in 16) meant it was a one-horse race. Secondly, taking that old cliche "It's a funny old game", we were due a win, especially on the back of the away win at Blackburn in midweek. Either way, a point would be a useful addition to our current tally and three would border on the impossible come true.

The promised return of Dacourt and the news that Barmby would be fit boded well. A combative midfield of Dacourt and Unsworth, facing up to Vieira and the returning Petit, was something to look forward to, but the promise of Watson in for Short, against the lightning pace of Anelka and Overmars was just a little disquieting. Maybe Bakayoko could threaten the aging pairing of Adams and Keown. It promised to be an interesting game. The line up was again 4-4-2:

First Half

The game started very quietly. Arsenal controlled the early exchanges quite comfortably, passing the ball about neatly and showing sublime confidence. Everton, in contrast, were hurried and impatient, eager to push the ball forward, but inexpert in the execution of the simple ball.

The difference was all brought visibly into contrast by the simplicity that was the first goal. A cross-field ball from Overmars finding Parlour in acres of space beyond Ball. The Arsenal midfielder struck an accurate drive past Myhre and turned gleefully to the travelling Gooners as the ball struck the net. Call me picky here, but another near-post goal past Tommy seems to be exposing something of a weakness.

The game was then brought into imbalance two minutes later as Hutchison was dismissed for an elbow-led challenge on Keown. The referee had no hesitation in showing red to a disbelieving Everton player. The crowd and the Everton players were not best pleased, but more of that later. Treatment meted out to Richard Dunne saw him retire from play, to be replaced by Tony Grant, with Weir dropping back.

The rest of the first half was a bit of a nondescript affair, with Arsenal not seeming to want to do to much other than to protect their lead and Everton seeming incapable of any real invention. True, there were forward forays and Bakayoko in particular caught the eye with one or two interesting runs, which culminated in shots on the keeper.

The only real shot of note was from Weir who, from some 20 yards out, hit a firm drive low and to the keeper's left, but Seaman just managed to push the ball around the post. But what could be expected of 10 men against the champions? Half-time arrived with Arsenal leading 0 - 1 and stewards surrounding the referee. But more of that later.

Second Half

The second half started at a frantic pace, with Everton trying to nullify their numeric inferiority by pressurising Arsenal. The midfield was something of a battleground, with tackles flying in from all around. Bookings for Petit and Vieira for Arsenal were matched for Everton by Dacourt. At one point Everton were down to 8 men on the field, with both Barmby and Materazzi off the field after receiving treatment. Materazzi's absence was the most infuriating as the referee had insisted he be taken off, to return to the field of play, from behind the Everton goal, playing all the Arsenal players onside at a time when they were pressing forward. Thankfully nothing came of it, but the referee will not be receiving many Christmas cards from Everton fans this year – but more of that later.

The frantic pace continued, Barmby being an example of perpetual motion as he chased everything. Invariably though the decisions he craved went against him – but more of that later. Eventually Adams too, was booked and a clumsy challenge by Petit saw him find the referee in unforgiving form and his marching orders followed. This mollified the crowd a little, but not much. Too much damage had preceded the event, but more of that later.

Once Arsenal went down to 10 men, the game changed. Gone was the fire and the passion. Back came indecision and uncertainty. We relaxed and paid the penalty, literally. Parlour was played through a flat-footed Everton defence, left exposed after Materazzi had made a burst upfield, that wasn't adequately covered. Unsworth, chasing back, tried to clip the ball away, but succeeded only in bringing down Parlour, just inside the penalty box. The challenge brought a booking. Anything else might have brought a riot. More of that later.

The non-flying Dutchman, Bergkamp stepped up and coolly slotted the ball home from the spot. 0 - 2 and game over. Eventually Barmby succumbed to injury and was replaced by Jeffers, with Bakayoko being replaced by Cadamarteri. But to no avail.

Further chances fell to both sides before the end, with Unsworth striking a blistering drive from 18 yards that saw the stretching Seaman just divert the ball onto the bar. At the other end, Myhre made a fine save from substitute Vivas. But no more goals and not much more to say.

Man of the Match: Again a close run thing between the revitalized Barmby and the solid Materazzi, with the Italian just edging it.

Team Performance: Difficult to evaluate this after the early dismissal. There were signs that we might have been able to make progress against this strong Arsenal side, but it wasn't to be. Invention is what's missing. Grant had an excellent game after he replace Dunne, but wasn't able to make that telling pass, Barmby was industrious and tried to make things happen up front. When Marco Materazzi was called upon he was there, always looking to play the team game. Yet we were found lacking again. We weren't a poor side though, on this performance, just not as good as one of the best. There has to be some comfort in that.

Now for "that" Referee:

Uriah Rennie has a reputation as one of the Premiership's best referees. I've always been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt when he's been to Goodison, as he's never been as poor as the worst we've seen. Today was different. It wasn't that he made poor decisions. It wasn't that he didn't play to the rules. It was the manner of him doing it.

Don Hutchison's sending off was the decision which infuriated the crowd. There might have been just cause, as an elbow raised can never be condoned. But I didn't see the elbow, and judging by the post-match TV comments, neither did either of the Managers. Neither did many of the Arsenal players, as when Hutchison challenged Keown in the air, the ball dropped cleanly to Adams and he played on.

The only event which was obvious was Keown swinging a foot at Hutchison, who was by now chasing the ball. Rennie stopped the game and to the amazement of almost everyone in the ground, didn't produce a yellow card, but a red. Keown's obvious delight didn't help matters. He's one of the few former Blues who isn't welcome back at Goodison. That will never change, now. His later sarcastic wave to the crowd, accompanied by a sardonic grin will stay in my mind for a long time.

Back to the comment though.

It may be, that the decision with Hutchison was the correct one. What followed did Mr Rennie's reputation no good whatsoever. Every time Keown went up with Bakayoko, a leading elbow reached the Everton forward first. No whistle, no caution, no dismissal. When Vieira went ploughing through the back of Dacourt, lifting him off the ground and expecting a free kick, Mr Rennie waved play on and gestured Dacourt to get up. The same action by Dacourt on Petit saw Dacourt enter the book. Adams flattened Bakayoko with an elbow in the face, last man in defence, a stern talking to and a yellow. A repetition of the offence, this time on Cadamarteri later, saw Rennie duck a red. Petit repeatedly late in the challenge, nothing said.

Eventually the crowd's derision shamed him into a card. The catalogue of one-sided decision making was beyond belief. There was one incident where there was a foul against Anelka. He waved play on only to see, two or three passes later, an Everton interception of a shot. He pulled play back and ordered the free kick taken. When a similar situation happened at the other end, the free kick was ordered straight away. Petit's continued transgression, finally bringing down Dacourt again, saw him go. Too little too late.

The point I'm trying to make, is that in general he made the right decision, when the decision went against Everton. I've no qualms about that. What was the most annoying thing about the whole display was the one-sided nature of this decision making process. It's as if he had been told to "watch out for Everton", or "Arsenal are challenging for the title, so go easy on them". I know when we've been challenging in the past, there have been decisions go for us which have changed the course of matches, indeed of cups or championships, but they've generally been the odd one. Never have I seen such a one-sided display of refereeing which saw so many non-decisions in a single match.

The only problem with this outpouring against Uriah Rennie, is the colour of his skin, not that that, itself, is a problem. There will be those who will point to the fact that this was Goodison Park and he is a black man. The outrage of the crowd might well be blamed on the prejudicial nature of the beast. I hope not – as nothing could be further from the truth. This appeared to me to be a display, not of ineptitude, but a totally dishonest performance, from a referee who is generally held in high esteem.

 Erratic in the extreme
Jenny Roberts
Much as back-to-back league wins would have been well received, nobody really imagined that we could match the League Champions. However, we fielded a relatively strong eleven, which provoked optimistic hopes of at least a point.

Initially, I too was pleased that Uriah Rennie would be officiating, as he would have a chance to redeem himself after his last Goodison outing. How wrong I was. Right from the beginning, he made several decisions which can only be described as erratic.

We lost the toss, which meant that we would be shooting towards the Street End during the first half. The game began with little incident. Arsenal settled down particularly quickly, although we took slightly longer. There were some messy, ugly encounters in midfield, with Bakayoko being shoved off the ball by Petit. Such an incident would usually merit a stern reprimand from the referee, but Rennie chose not to speak to the players involved. This only encouraged the scrappy nature of the game, and even at that stage, a sending off seemed inevitable.

We could keep possession in midfield, and as the team began to gel, we looked perfectly capable of competing with Arsenal for the full three points. Neither team appeared to dominate, although Arsenal were much more relaxed. Our approach was far more hectic and urgent. However, with our next two matches against the current League leaders and our local rivals, we can hardly afford to sit back.

We eventually managed to push forward. The move was executed by Don Hutchison, who battled forwards, despite three challenges. He went down under the third, from Keown, but we still kept possession. The ball came to David Weir, who unleashed a fierce, low shot. Seaman dived frantically to his left, and managed to divert it. Although others impressed, such as Barmby and Bakayoko, this was definitely our best chance of the half.

Just a few minutes later, Marc Overmars spotted the lurking Parlour, and supplied a perfect cross-field pass. Even if Bally's marking on Parlour had been tighter, I think the ball would still have found him, such was the quality of the pass. Tommy flapped as the ball flew past him into the back of the net.

To concede at that point was disheartening, as we had dominated for the majority of the last few minutes The fans were reluctant to get behind the team at first, compared to how quickly they had reacted at the Blackburn game. The team became sluggish, and heads dropped.

Just a few minutes later, the ball came into midfield, towards Keown and Hutchison. Rennie blew, and we gazed in astonishment as he called Hutch over. Suddenly he reached for his book, and brandished the red card aloft. Most assumed that he had spied an off-the-ball incident, and that both Hutchison and Keown would go. But only Don had to undertake the long walk back down the tunnel. A tidal wave of furious incredulity swept through Goodison, to the extent that Rennie deservedly received a police escort off the pitch at half-time.

The situation was improved a little by the introduction of Tony Grant, who actually prospered in the team. He looked excellent when going forward.

The second half was even more physical than the first and, with reckless challenges flying in from Adams, Vieira and Petit, it was surely only a matter of minutes before Rennie would even the numbers. All three could have walked, but few referees would have the courage to send off four players in one match. We were forced to wait until after the hour mark until Petit's clumsy two-footed challenge on Dacourt earned him his red card.

The Everton physio made several appearances, and at times we were down to as few as eight or nine players on the pitch. Materazzi was forced to wait after treatment while Arsenal attacked, which unsurprisingly angered the Evertonians, as he was undisputedly the best defender we had.

Despite the even numbers after the Petit incident, Arsenal still looked the better side. Perhaps this was because Everton had been forced to play against eleven men for so long, and were rapidly tiring. In the 68th minute, Unsworth made a clumsy challenge on Parlour, and conceded the penalty. Unsworth made no contact with the ball, and as Parlour stumbled, there was no argument. However, had Michael Ball tackled Parlour properly when he first came into possession, perhaps Unsworth may not have picked up another booking, and the scoreline may have stayed 1-0. Myhre tried, but failed to save Bergkamp's spot-kick.

The game continued with very little interest for the Evertonians. Unsworth, trying to compensate for the penalty, whacked a shot against the crossbar, but Weir's pitiful effort with the rebound was ineffective.

The substitutions meant that Jeffers and Cadamarteri made appearances, but at 2-0 down, with so many tired team-mates, they came on too late.

The final whistle came, and Uriah Rennie was accompanied off the pitch with police officers and a generous chorus of boos and jeers. He will not be welcome here again.

Man of the Match: Although Barmby played well, and Myhre made several superb saves to keep the scoreline in good shape, there was only ever one contender – Marco Materazzi. He makes Everton worth watching. If he does not get into the Italian National team, then they must have a selection of the world's finest defenders. He is 25, and if we can just keep hold of him, imagine how many years of world-class defending we will watch (especially if he continues as long as our Waggy).

Perhaps we can appeal against the sending off on the grounds of insufficient evidence. It seems that the only people inside the ground who actually 'saw' the incident were Mr. Rennie and Arséne Wenger. How convenient.

 Thank you very much, Uriah Rennie
Richard Marland
Well I guess it was the scoreline that most of us expected, in fact it was somewhat better than my worst fears, however, if the result was predictable the route to it was anything but. It would be nice to say that that was because of the football. Alas it wasn't, it was all to do with the referee. Thank you Uriah Rennie.

Despite the ready-made excuses for Walter – a lack of central midfielders, no right sided midfielder, a surfeit of fit centre-halfs – he once again resisted any temptation to revert to 5-3-2. When are people going to give him some credit for going 4-4-2 and staying 4-4-2? Our latest rag-tag lineup consisted of Myrhe in goal, a back four of Dunne, Watson, Materazzi and Ball. A midfield quartet of, from right to left, Weir, Dacourt, Unsworth and Barmby, and a front pairing of Hutchison and Bakayoko. The bench comprised Simonsen, Short, Cadamarteri, Jeffers, and Grant.

First Half

For their part Arsenal lined up at full strength – absolutely no-one missing – ominous to say the least. The way they started the game was also ominous, for the first five minutes or so they had almost total control of the ball. They didn't get a proper sight of goal but the way they controlled the game was impressive and worrying.

Fortunately, we eventually started to pick up. We began to see a bit of the ball and spend a bit of time in their half. Weir had a good long-range shot scrambled round the post for a corner; we had a couple of corners. Nothing too dramatic but at least we were getting ourselves into the game.

Then Arsenal do what good teams do. They weathered our little storm and punished us in quite devastating style. Seaman collected a corner, he bowled it out to Overmars who advanced down our right. Overmars then hit a quite wonderful crossfield ball over Ball's head, right into the path of Ray Parlour in the left-hand corner of our box, Parlour took one touch and shot into the roof of the net. Simple, brilliant devastating stuff.

I now started to fear the worst. Barely 15 minutes gone and Arsenal in control. If we thought we were in difficulty that was as nothing after Mr Rennie's main contribution of the day. Keown and Hutchison had a coming together in the middle of the field. It seemed to be no more than jostling for position I didn't see Hutchison do nothing out of the ordinary but I did see Keown aim a kick at him. Rennie blew up and once he indicated a free kick to Arsenal I knew we were in trouble. True enough he sent Don off, indicating that it was for an elbowing offence. To add insult to injury Keown wasn't even spoken to never mind penalised in any way for his, hardly blameless, part in the affair.

I now had visions of an Arsenal landslide, but in a strange way the sending off spared us that. Suddenly it was a fractious, disjointed, messy match. The crowd was still seething, hardly helped by Keown sarcastically waving at the St End. We showed commendable spirit, organisation and sheer workrate, none more so than the dynamic Nick Barmby. We even had to accommodate another reshuffle when Dunne had to go off injured. Grant came on for him with Weir going to right back. Half time was reached without any further goal scares.

Second Half

The first part of the second half was much the same. Rennie's bizarre refereeing continued to confound and infuriate, it seemed only a matter of time before someone else received their marching orders. It should have been Adams; already on a yellow, he scythed Bakayoko down from behind. The foul went our way and he should have walked – it was a clear yellow card offence. Eventually it was Petit who walked, a two-footed challenge on Dacourt (so much for any entente cordiale between those two) saw him take the inevitable red card.

There was a sudden surge from the crowd and the team. Now we had a lifeline. Quite how we were going to score was another matter, but for a while we could but hope. Our new found hope didn't last too long. Again Arsenal caught us napping, Parlour was played through into the box, Unsworth made a desperate sliding tackle to try and save the situation but only succeeded in tripping Parlour. A clear penalty and one of the few decisions Mr Rennie got right. The fear now was that Unsworth could well walk, fortunately Rennie saw sense and only booked him. Myrhe very nearly got to the resultant penalty from Bergkamp, he guessed right but Bergkamp's penalty was perfect, just grazing the inside of the post.

There were actually still 30 minutes to go, plenty of time to try and sort things out. However, it was never going to happen, we already looked a well beaten side. There was still time for Unsworth to hit the bar with an absolute scorcher from outside the box, and for Myrhe to save well from Vivas. But, all-in-all, the remainder of the game was a fairly muted affair with two teams more or less going through the motions. So, the result that was widely anticipated. We certainly weren't disgraced, in fact with ten men we acquitted ourselves fairly well, but it was always a damage-limitation exercise, we never looked like actually scoring.

Player Ratings

  • Myrhe 7 Can't be blamed for the goal. One excellent save in the second half.
  • Dunne 5 Looked all at sea against Overmars. His substitution probably spared him a very uncomfortable afternoon.
  • Ball 6 Another rather lacklustre performance.
  • Watson 7 Despite the pace of Arsenal's front line, he was never really exposed.
  • Materazzi 8 Getting better and better. This performance was approaching imperious. I really loved his confrontations with Bergkamp: where others backed off for fear of what Bergkamp would do to them, Marco challenged him with gusto and invariably came away with the ball. In the intro to Match of the Day they focused on centre halfs, mentioning Desailly, Stam, Ferdinand, Adams, and even Des Walker, Marco should have been mentioned as well.
  • Weir 6 Looked rather lost at right midfield. Looked somewhat better at right back where he performed quite well.
  • Dacourt 6 Thought he seemed a little out of it today. Got the feeling that he was a little fazed by facing his compatriots.
  • Unsworth 7 Penalty aside this was another good performance in unfamiliar positions. Don't get the idea that he is cutting it as a central-midfield player. He isn't, but his attitude and commitment are exemplary.
  • Barmby 7 Worked unbelievably hard today. Hampered by his injury – two trips to the sideline for treatment, but despite this had a good afternoon.
  • Bakayoko 6 Definitely an improvement on his recent performances but after Hutchison went off, he became a somewhat isolated figure.
  • Hutchison 5 Had shown some good touches prior to his sending off. Will be badly missed during his suspension.
  • Grant 6 Did OK without doing anything startling.
  • Jeffers 5 Looked out of his depth against Keown and Adams. Really does need Hutchison and Barmby alongside him to be at his best.
  • Cadamarteri 5 No real opportunity to show himself or influence the game in any way.

Team 6 Under the circumstances performed quite well. The gulf in class was clearly shown but we performed with some character.

Man of the match – Unsworth is worthy of consideration as is Barmby but Materazzi was our best player on the day.

 Two sent off as Arsenal display class
Trevor Haylett, Electronic Telegraph
ARSENAL emerged from an afternoon of controversy and high temperature with a convincing victory that lends more impetus to their ambitions of a historic Double Double. True, they were helped by Don Hutchison's early sending-off, but even when reduced to 10 themselves through Emmanuel Petit's second yellow card, they remained wholly in command.

Ray Parlour's early strike and Dennis Bergkamp's second-half penalty ensured that Arsenal maintained the pattern of their past three visits in scoring twice here. David Unsworth smacked a shot against the bar but the game only revealed the disparity in class between two teams holding different objectives at opposite ends of the table.

The midweek victory at Blackburn has supplied a welcome filip for Everton after surrendering their FA Cup place at Newcastle with only the prospect of another traumatic relegation fight to fill the remaining weeks of their season.

They needed every ounce of morale they could muster; the visit from the champions is to be followed by away games against Manchester United and Liverpool. Olivier Dacourt was free to start after completing a suspension, but with Unsworth and David Weir as company the Everton midfield had more of a confrontational look about it than one of creativity.

Arséne Wenger was able to select his strongest 11 for the first time in five weeks; the result of Petit recovering from an ankle injury. Nigel Winterburn, missing against Sheffield Wednesday, also resumed and it was clear from the start in the delicious reverse pass Bergkamp played for Parlour and the drive the Dutchman curled over from the ensuing corner, that Everton's hands would be kept full.

When Petit's vision sent Bergkamp away, Nicolas Anelka was closed down by a posse of blue shirts before he could shoot. The moment said a lot about Everton's weakness and strength: pulled apart by the superior technique of their opponents and then spiritedly combining to get themselves out of trouble.

They could not hope to last 90 minutes like that, indeed they did not sustain equality beyond the quarter-hour. A glorious cross-field pass from Overmars found Michael Ball less than vigilant and Parlour took one touch for control before dispatching his volley high between Thomas Myhre and his near post.

Two minutes later a tussle between Hutchison and Keown was halted by the referee, who immediately showed the Evertonian the red card, indicating at the same time that an elbow had been used. It did nothing for Everton's hopes of getting back into the contest apart from adding more intensity to their fires. Soon after they were further handicapped with the loss of Richard Dunne through injury.

Walter Smith's side offered nothing more than nuisance value to the Arsenal defence. Any threat that there was came chiefly through the persistence of Ibrahima Bakayoko although Nick Barmby was a lively counter-attacker and Unsworth strove manfully to out-muscle the Gunners' strong men.

Apart from a Weir shot that was deflected, forcing the goalkeeper to shovel the ball away low down, David Seaman's main area of concern in the first half lay with the strong sunshine. Hutchison's removal had cost Everton dear in terms of penalty-box potency.

The game evened up, in numerical terms at least, on the hour when Petit paid the price of his second heavy challenge on Dacourt and was ordered off. However within eight minutes his team had doubled their advantage with Bergkamp scoring from the spot after Unsworth had brought down Parlour.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Arsenal victory marred by Petit
by Louise Taylor, The Sunday Times
EVERTON, Arsenal and Uriah Rennie on the same pitch was always inviting controversy and so it proved. Sure enough, the feisty collision of two teams who are no strangers to indiscipline and a referee anything but coy about law enforcement resulted in two red cards – for Don Hutchison in the first half and Emmanuel Petit after the break.

Debilitated by Hutchison's early exit, Everton were better than the scoreline suggested. The impressive Nick Barmby did not deserve to finish on the losing side but his colleagues had no answer to Ray Parlour's opener and were finally silenced by a Dennis Bergkamp penalty.

The Dutchman's 13th goal of the season enhanced North London title aspirations, but Arséne Wenger's charges could have done without Petit's suspension, his two bookable offences – both tackles on fellow Frenchman Olivier Dacourt – presaging a three-match ban which will sideline him for the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.

Although the afternoon was heavily punctuated by pleasing evidence of Everton's burgeoning passing game, Arsenal took a 17th-minute lead. The unmarked Parlour cut in from the right and curled the ball into the top corner after connecting with a glorious crossfield pass from the counter-attacking Marc Overmars.

It was a splendidly executed goal, but considering Everton kicked off fielding six recognised defenders, Walter Smith's rearguard had been bisected with embarrassing ease. The manager's woes were quickly exacerbated when Mr Rennie sent Hutchison off after apparently spotting the stand-in centre-forward elbowing his marker, Martin Keown.

This was a shame, because Everton had started in enterprising fashion, with David Unsworth and Dacourt making life hard for Patrick Vieira and Petit in the centre of midfield and the rejuvenated Barmby proving a constant menace on the left.

Indeed, watching Barmby nip impudently past Lee Dixon on the outside and Unsworth dispossessing Petit, the initial impression was that it just might be Everton's day. They nearly scored an early goal through David Weir but David Seaman did well to stop the Scot's vicious low shot from outside the penalty area.

Ibrahima Bakayoko had his chances too but the Ivory Coast striker persistently fell foul of the visiting offside trap.

Once Hutchison – a player who frequently operates on the fringes of the laws and was arguably lucky to stay on the field in last week's FA Cup defeat at Newcastle – had departed, Smith swiftly introduced Tony Grant in midfield, an adjustment which prompted Richard Dunne's withdrawal and Weir's relocation to right-back.

Creditably, Everton refused to fold but they remained horribly vulnerable to Arsenal's counter-attacks – for which Merseysiders seemed to hold the referee wholly responsible.

Having spotted that Keown required no treatment in the wake of Hutchison's widely unseen indiscretion, Mr Rennie was subjected to a barrage of foul-mouthed abuse, the essence of which was that he had ruined the game.

Afterwards Smith – whose side top the Premiership bad boys chart after collecting 73 bookings this season – appeared inclined to side with the punters: "I didn't see a mark on Keown," he said, rather pointedly. "Hutchison must have very soft elbows." Meanwhile Wenger countered with: "The referee did very well."

Minimal damage may have been inflicted but with Rennie detecting definite intent, the unbiased interpretation had to be that Hutchison's impetuosity had induced unnecessary Evertonian self-destruction.

At least Barmby, now operating to Bakayoko's right, did his best to repair the resultant mess. Despite his side's straitened circumstances, he frequently looked the best player on view.

Tony Adams experienced a bad moment when he fouled Bakayoko, conceding a free kick early in the second half and then, judging by his sheepish countenance, remembering he had already been booked. Mr Rennie beckoned Arsenal's captain and Goodison held its collective breath, but the referee opted for leniency, letting him off with a talking-to.

Petit did not escape so lightly in the 61st minute – and rightly so. The ponytailed Frenchman collected his second yellow card for a two-footed tackle on Dacourt. It was Petit's third dismissal of the season.

Presumably opting for containment, Wenger – who claimed "Manu" had merely "mistimed two tackles" – responded by replacing the disappointingly anonymous Nicolas Anelka with a defender, Nelson Vivas. Such outward appearances were to prove deceptive, though, and Arsenal swiftly doubled their advantage when Unsworth felled Parlour in the box and Bergkamp converted the ensuing penalty.

Unsworth almost atoned with a ferocious left-foot volley which threatened to break the bar as it rebounded off it, but Everton had goalkeeper Thomas Myhre to thank for an acrobatic save which somehow denied Vivas.

By now the limping Barmby had been replaced by young Francis Jeffers in a double substitution which also saw Danny Cadamarteri replace Bakayoko. Unfortunately such alterations proved academic and left Everton with the unenviable task of galvanising themselves for tricky impending visits to Manchester United and Liverpool.

With his suspension not taking effect for a fortnight, Hutchison will be available at Old Trafford, where Smith would be advised to Sellotape those elbows to his sides.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Parlour game is too taxing for Everton
by Richard Slater, The Independent on Sunday
FOOTBALL lore has it that teams who carve comfortable victories from modest performances are, at worst, in with a shout for honours. Much, of course, depends on what their nearest rivals for the title achieve but Arsenal's impressive run – unbeaten since December – certainly puts them in this category.

That they have managed this despite the enforced, prolonged absence through injury and suspension of the influential Emmanuel Petit suggests a strength of character as well as squad. He looked just a little off the pace, and his sending-off for two clumsy fouls on his compatriot Olivier Dacourt now means three more missed matches.

"It will certainly be a problem for us," said Arsenal's manager Arséne Wenger. "But we have had to learn how to manage without him."

But it was, in fact, the midfield axis of Marc Overmars and Ray Parlour that broke the deadlock and maintained the visitors' stranglehold. Just after the quarter-hour, Overmars, free on the left and a little beyond the halfway line, floated a pin-point crossfield ball to the unmarked Parlour on the right wing. His control was sure and the volleyed finish thundered past a flailing Thomas Myhre.

A minute later, Arsenal's advantage applied to players on the pitch as well as goals scored when the referee Uriah Rennie showed his first red card of the afternoon to the Everton striker Don Hutchison for the use of an elbow on Martin Keown.

Everton's manager, Walter Smith, clearly felt the decision harsh but was more concerned with its effect on his team's performance than on the loss of a key man for the long run-in. "It was going to be a tough match anyway; after losing Don so early it was a real struggle for us even to get involved," he said.

Despite being a man up, Arsenal seemed happy to bide their time. As Wenger said: "We dropped our pace, and while we were always in control we were never really dangerous."

Indeed, the wide men and Bergkamp allowed themselves the luxury of roaming the park, but to little effect. After the break, a galvanised Everton hustled hard to squeeze back into the game using a combination of the midfield muscle of David Unsworth and Dacourt and the guile of Nick Barmby and the substitute Tony Grant.

Dacourt's return to the enforcing role in a midfield shorn of much talent because of long-term injuries, was welcome to an Everton side knowing they need to battle to stay alive. His effort and persistence could not be questioned, and will be valued as the season progresses, but his rumbustuous tête-à-tête with Vieira and Petit proved fruitless – a sending-off excepted.

Instead it was left to Barmby, Everton's only real threat, to proffer the kinds of sparks needed to put Everton back in the game. His incessant forays down the right and in support of the lonely Ibrahima Bakayoko went unrewarded, even after his team achieved parity with Petit's dismissal. After he departed, the game picked up as a spectacle with Arsenal seeking to press their territorial advantage. The deserved killer blow came as Parlour raced into the box with the ball under close control only to be upended by Unsworth's ungainly challenge. If there were question marks over Rennie's decision to dismiss Hutchison, there were no complaints about the penalty award and Bergkamp duly doubled the advantage, pushing the strike low to Myhre's right.

With the game now more open, flowing space was found in abundance by both teams. Arsenal could afford to enjoy this period and an audacious volley by the substitute Nelson Vivas from the corner of the box was nimbly tipped over by Myhre. Everton's late thrusts, in marked contrast, were born more of a desperate urgency. While Unsworth almost made amends for the penalty with a volley that rattled the bar, Dacourt's effort from a similar range was hit and hope.

So Everton's fight for survival continues, while their loftier opponents, without the "hindrances" of the European adventures to be enjoyed by their championship sparring partners, may begin to feel this unwanted lighter schedule will prove decisive.

Report © The Independent

Wenger bemoans Petit loss
by Guy Hodgson, The Independent
The conjecture after this match revolved around Arsenal's pluses and minuses. Did the loss of Emmanuel Petit for three matches thanks to his third sending-off of the season wholly negate the victory that kept them within four points of the Premiership leaders, Manchester United? Even Arséne Wenger seemed unsure.

The Arsenal manager described the outcome as "three important points" but then proceeded to bemoan at length the loss of his French midfielder whose two bookable offences had ensured he will miss two Premiership matches and the FA Cup semi-final against United. The double Double has been undermined by an unwanted treble.

Only the previous day Wenger had said the Gunners would need Petit and compatriot Patrick Vieira working in tandem for the rest of the season if they could confidently train their sights on honours this season and the statistics bear him out. Arsenal have lost just nine Premiership games in the last two seasons and the two Frenchman have started in only four of them together.

So Petit's loss for three out of a potential 11 fixtures is a grievous one, particularly as it is likely to take time after his ban for the Frenchman to tap into his full power. He was making his first start for six weeks and pertinently both his bookings arose because his first touch let him down, causing him to lunge dangerously after the ball.

"The big concern for me is that he doesn't get into the pace of the game," Wenger said. "You could see today that he'd missed some games and his reactions were not right which is why he was sent off. The two yellow cards were not for bad fouls, they were just a little bit late."

Petit's dismissal may or may not dictate Arsenal's fate this season but there was no question the rhythm of Saturday's game was affected by red cards. Arsenal began superbly, took the lead with a goal from Ray Parlour that had been created by Marc Overmars sublime 50-yard pass and then, when Don Hutchison was sent off, dozed off secure in the knowledge they could win the game whenever they wanted.

Hutchison's crime was elbowing Martin Keown in the face off the ball and as the television and most of the crowd missed the incident the referee must be correct although the Everton manager, Walter Smith, added wryly: "There were no physical marks. Hutchison must have soft elbows."

Whether Mr Rennie remained so for the rest of the afternoon is debatable because he was booed off the pitch at half and full-time and unfavourable critiques later filled a large part of Radio Five Live's Six-O-Six. It was difficult to find fault with the sendings-off in the current climate but it was easy to lament the inconsistencies that littered the legislature of this game.

Why, for example, did Tony Adams not receive a second yellow card when he clearly scythed through Ibrahima Bakayoko from behind when Sepp Blatter and Fifa were encouraging red cards for this offence during the World Cup? How did David Unsworth stay on the pitch when he brought Ray Parlour down in the area when the Arsenal player had a clear run on goal?

Good sense dictated neither player should go but that quality is singularly absent from the dictates coming from Fifa and you could hardly detect much leniency in either Hutchison or Petit's dismissals. Follow the letter of the law by all means, but spectators become angry and bewildered when officials pick and choose when to stray off that path and if there had to be two red cards on Saturday then there should have been four.

The mathematics also equated to the number of goals because Arsenal's second, scored by Dennis Bergkamp from the penalty spot, was the least their superiority deserved. The champions looked tired, Wenger said afterwards and, as he noted with a smile, "Manchester United keep winning, unfortunately".

This week, though, United have to fly to Milan while Wenger's team have the week off. If tiredness does become a factor, it will favour Arsenal. Even without Petit.

Report © The Independent

 Disillusioned Petit threatens to leave
Not really a Match Report by Stephen Wood, The Times
THE policy may be win at all costs, but those costs are beginning to spiral out of control and the efficacy of Arsène Wenger's rationale is being seriously undermined. How much longer he can balance indiscipline at his club and the wherewithal to claim important victories remains to be seen.

Three points from a fascinating encounter at Goodison Park on Saturday may have kept Arsenal in touch with Manchester United at the head of the FA Carling Premiership, but it also brought their seventh red card of the season, the 21st under Wenger's management and, worse still, exposed the disenchantment simmering within Emmanuel Petit.

Petit, the midfield player, is experiencing some difficulty in adjusting to a season that, after the thrills of last year, when Arsenal achieved the Double and France won the World Cup, is rather mundane. Injury had sidelined him for six matches before he regained his place in the starting line-up on Saturday. The return lasted little more than an hour, whereupon he was sent off for the third time this season after committing a second bookable offence.

Petit, therefore, is facing another three-match suspension which, considering the influence he brings to bear on the Arsenal midfield in partnership with Patrick Vieira, could be a savage blow in their quest to defend the league title and FA Cup. One of the fixtures Petit will miss is the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United next month.

However, there may be even more serious repercussions. Petit trudged down the tunnel, threw his shin pads away in disgust and was heard to say, in English: "That's me finished with English football." Arsenal will hope that Petit regrets what, in all probability, was a heat-of-the-moment comment.

"We hope that it does not drive Manu away from our game," Martin Keown, the Arsenal defender, said. "We will sit him down this week and try and pick him up."

However, there remains a theory that Petit, who is growing tired not only of the debilitating Premiership campaign but the frequency at which he is penalised by referees, could be tempted by a move to Italian football this summer. Petit's actions at Highbury have often been viewed as embodying the general lack of discipline engendered by Wenger since he arrived 2½ years ago. It is an appalling record, but when you are successful, the desire to change is not particularly strong.

On this occasion, neither Wenger nor Petit could be held totally responsible. Petit's challenges, on Dacourt, the Everton midfield player, were mistimed rather than malicious. Uriah Rennie, the referee, had long since lost the faith of the players while the home crowd, incensed after the earlier dismissal of Don Hutchison, their striker, were baying for Rennie to even things up. Wenger acknowledged this, as well as Petit's lack of sharpness, when he said that he would not be fining his player. "I think Petit was just frustrated with himself," Wenger said. "and the Everton supporters wanted every one of our team sent off."

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, will follow Wenger's example and not take any action against Hutchison, who surprisingly was shown the red card after colliding with Keown after 21 minutes.

"I did not have a clue why I was sent off," Hutchison said. "Keown said I caught him in the Adam's apple, but it was nothing." Keown confirmed that his opponent was unfortunate to be punished so severely when he said: "It was not serious enough to damage me, and these things happen every week. The sending-off was harsh." The England defender has offered to speak on Hutchison's behalf if Everton, as expected, launch an appeal to get the red card overturned. However, as things stand, Hutchison will miss three matches – including the Merseyside derby against Liverpool.

For Arsenal, two moments of class – both involving Parlour – were enough to win the game on Saturday. After 15 minutes, Overmars found Parlour in space on the right and he placed his shot wide of Myhre.

Midway through the second half Parlour exchanged passes with Overmars and tempted Unsworth into a rash challenge inside the area. It was a clear penalty and Dennis Bergkamp duly dispatched it.

Parlour's contribution will have done his hopes of earning a call-up for to the England squad, to be announced on Thursday, no harm. Nor has it hampered Arsenal's ambitions although, ultimately, they may yet prove to be their worst enemy.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 RESULTS  (Game 29)
Saturday 13 March 1999
Chelsea               0-1  West Ham United          34,765
                           Kitson (75)              
Coventry City         1-1  Blackburn Rovers         19,701
Aloisi (22)                Wilcox (67)             
Derby County          3-2  Liverpool                32,913
Burton (12)                Fowler (pen 36, 57)      
Wanchope (44,50)                                  
Everton               0-2  Arsenal                  38,049
                           Parlour (16) Bergkamp (pen 68)        
Leicester City        1-1  Charlton Athletic        20,220
Lennon (60)                Mendonca (90)            
Newcastle United      1-2  Manchester United        36,776
Solano (15)                Cole (24,50)            
Tottenham Hotspur     1-0  Aston Villa              35,963
Sherwood (88)                                       
Wimbledon             1-3  Nottingham Forest        12,149
Gayle (79)                 Rogers (21) Freedman (59)            
                           Shipperley (83)         
Sheffield Wednesday   0-2  Leeds United             28,142
                           Hasselbaink (4) Hopkin (72)             
Sunday 14 March 1999
Middlesbrough       3 - 0 Southampton       33,387
Beck 44, Ricard 45, Vickers 63

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 14 March 1999 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            29   17    9    3   65   30   35   60
Arsenal                      29   15   11    3   40   13   27   56
Chelsea                      28   14   11    3   41   23   18   53
Leeds United                 29   14    9    6   45   26   19   51
Aston Villa                  29   12    8    9   39   34    5   44
Derby County                 29   11   11    7   31   28    3   44
West Ham United              29   12    7   10   32   39   -7   43
Wimbledon                    29   10   10    9   33   41   -8   40
Liverpool                    28   11    6   11   52   37   15   39
Tottenham Hotspur            29    9   12    8   34   34    0   39
Newcastle United             29   10    8   11   38   39   -1   38
Middlesbrough                28    8   12    8   37   39   -2   36
Sheffield Wednesday          29   10    5   14   35   32    3   35
Leicester City               28    8   10   10   28   37   -9   34
Coventry City                29    8    7   14   31   40   -9   31
Everton                      29    7   10   12   22   32  -10   31
Charlton Athletic            29    6   10   13   33   40   -7   28
Blackburn Rovers             29    6    9   14   29   41  -12   27
Southampton                  29    7    5   17   27   56  -29   26
Nottingham Forest            29    4    8   17   26   57  -31   20

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Last updated: 16 March 1999