FA Premiership (4); Goodison Park, Liverpool; Saturday 30 August 2003; 12:30pm
 
 
 
Attendance: 40,200
Halftime: 0-1

Facts
Reports
Owen (38', 53')
Kewell (80')

Referee: Mike Riley
 

Match Summary

Under Joe Royle and Howard Kendall, success in the Merseyside derby was all we had to take from dark days spent at the wrong end of the Premiership table.  Under David Moyes, with our Premiership fortunes looking decidedly more positive, three consecutive defeats to Liverpool on home turf today turned into four as Gerard Houllier's much-maligned side ripped through the Blues' defence to claim their first win of the season.

With Richard Wright picking up a knock in the midweek draw at Charlton and Paul Gerrard leaving on a three-month loan at Sheffield United, Steve Simonsen was handed the goalkeeper's jersey, while Thomas Gravesen had to settle for a place on the bench, probably because of a lack of match fitness.

From the beginning, things didn't bode well for Everton.  With less than two minutes gone, Gary Naysmith was booked for a reckless Gerradesque challenge on El Hadji Diouf, which set the tone for a niggly performance by the Blues and, for once, a more restrained and meaningful approach from the Reds.

However, for the first 20 minutes, Everton were at the centre of all the attacking action and Tomasz Radzinski could have scored from either of two opportunities by the time Harry Kewell had sent Liverpool's first chance over the bar from 12 yards out.  First, Wayne Rooney nodded on to Radzinski in space but his long-range shot was ballooned high and very wide.  Then, another wonderful Rooney layoff sent the Canadian clear on the right but, with defenders closing in, he sent a shot fizzing across the face of goal.

Mark Pembridge then took centre stage, first bending a free kick just inches wide, then floating a delicate ball over the back two to Radzinski but Silvain Biscan made a terrific saving tackle.  Pembridge tried a similarly floated ball to Rooney but he too was crowded out by the Reds' defence before Naysmith found himself free 20 yards out but he was unable to replicate his goal against Fulham and his tame shot was saved.

Seven minutes before the break, Liverpool, who had played the better football without really creating much, carved the home defence open and Harry Kewell evaded a sliding tackle to nip the ball to Michael Owen who fired in off the post to give the dark side the lead.

Everton's response was almost immediate but, after Rooney had done well to pick out and the receive the ball back from Steve Watson following a threatening run, the 17-year-old couldn't dig the ball out for a shot in front of goal and another opportunity went begging.  Straight up the other end, Owen nearly beat Simonsen in the same corner he'd found a few minutes earlier but the 'keeper did just enough.  And he had to be at his best a minute later to palm a Kewell effort over the bar and to safety.

Half time. 0 - 1, but still everything to play for...

Moyes wisely withdrew the abysmal David Unsworth in favour of Gravesen for the second half but it was Pembridge who nearly created an equaliser with a stinging free kick that Dudek spilled in front of Radzinski, who just couldn't dig it out of the 'keeper's grasp sufficiently to create a goalscoring opportunity.

At the other end, Biscan motored onto the end of an Owen layoff but was foiled by a Simonsen parry before Kewell pole-axed Alessandro Pistone, leaving the Italian prostrate and referee Mike Riley with no choice but to book the former Leeds turncoat.

Within two minutes, it was 2-0.  Baros easily skinned Yobo down the left before cutting inside and laying a perfect ball off to Owen who couldn't miss from close range.  Everton hearts sank, and their hopes of a quick reposte were dashed when Dudek pulled off a point-blank block from a Rooney header off an excellent inswinging Gravesen corner.

Gravesen turned provider again with a wonderfully weighted ball into the channel, but Rooney pulled his shot wide from the edge of the area with two defenders in attendance.  Ten minutes later, the Dane's cross found Rooney again but he could only glance a header wide of goal.  At the other end, Simonsen had to pull off another spectacular save from Owen, finger-tipping an 18-yard shot over to deny the pint-sized forward his hat-trick.

With 19 minutes left on the clock, Moyes pulled the ineffective Linderoth off and threw Duncan Ferguson on — and the Scot was at the centre of the pivotal moment of the game.  With Pembridge and Stubbs hovering over a direct free kick from 20 yards, Ferguson stepped up and whipped a shot off the crossbar that bounced agonisingly in front of the goal-line with Dudek transfixed before it was cleared to safety.  Had that surprise effort crept under the bar, it would have changed the whole face of the game.  At 2-1, you would have fancied home field advantage and momentum to have propelled the Blues to find an equaliser.

Instead, Liverpool compounded the misery three minutes later when Simonsen dashed to the edge of his area towards Owen but had to pull out of a challenge for a ball that was heading out of the box.  When the striker crossed, Stubbs could only nod the ball straight to Kewell who fired into the empty net.

That was pretty much that.  Rooney's frustration finally boiled over in the 82nd minute and he was booked for foul and abusive language — to be fair to referee Riley, he had shown uncharactersistic tolerance with The Boy up to that point — and Naysmith, staring a red card in the face, made a tremendous last-ditch tackle as the last defender on Owen to deny the Reds an undeserved fourth.

All in all, this was a desperately disappointing result for a whole catalogue of reasons: We didn't manage to score for the first time this season; it kick-starts Liverpool's season; and it condemns us to a fourth-successive home derby defeat for the first time in our history.  At the end of a miserable week in the transfer market when we had to watch Barry Ferguson, John Carew and Steve McManaman all sign for other clubs, the last thing we needed was to have our lack of quality and inability to compete financially rubbed in our faces.

And that really was the defining aspect of the game.  Liverpool have the money to buy a host of creative players who, when they're on song, can beat almost any team they face.  David Moyes doesn't have that luxury and it was cruelly illustrated today.  And, of course, there's no sign that he will have enough money to transform his squad any time soon.

Hopefully he will have learned a few things from his players today.  Firstly, that David Unsworth's time is up.  The derby, of all games, is where he usually shines, but he was shocking for 45 minutes and was rightfully withdrawn at the interval.  Secondly, Tobias Linderoth, while being a tidy player, is not going to be the tough-tackling ball-winner that our game requires.  Thirdly, the lack of width that defined the Walter Smith era and appears to be being perpetuated under Moyes needs to be addressed somehow.  Relying on lofted balls down the channels as the only mode of attack just won't cut it for a 9-month-long season.

Which brings us full circle back to the lack of transfer funds and the fact that Moyes has to make do with what he has.  The manager has two days left to try and bolster his squad before the transfer window closes at 5pm on Monday; even if that means securing Delaye and Torrado on loan for the season, he has to do something or it's going to be another difficult autumn.

The one positive to take from today?  Houllier's job is safe for a while, and that can't be all bad!

Lyndon Lloyd


Tomasz Radzinski: Had chances to give the Blues an early lead


Everton v Liverpool:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 31
 Liverpool 26
 Draws 27
 Premiership  
 Everton 4
 Liverpool 3
 Draws 4
 Last Season:

Everton 1-2 Liverpool


Premiership Scores
Saturday 30 Aug
Aston Villa 3-0 Leicester
Bolton 0-0 Charlton
Chelsea 2-2 Blackburn
Everton 0-3 Liverpool
Middlesbro 2-3 Leeds Utd
Newcastle 0-1 Birmingham
Tottenham 0-3 Fulham
Wolves 0-0 Portsmouth
Sunday 31 Aug
So'hampton 1-0 Man United
Man City 1-2 Arsenal
 


Match Facts
 Everton   (4-4-2)
 Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks
 Liverpool   (4-4-2)
Red shirts, red shorts, red socks
  Simonsen
Pistone
Yobo
Stubbs
Unsworth (46' Gravesen)
Watson
Linderoth (71' Ferguson)
Pembridge
Naysmith
Rooney
Radzinski

Subs Not Used:
Turner, Weir, Chadwick

Yellow Cards: Naysmith (2'),
Watson (33'), Rooney (88')

Red Cards: —

Unavailable:

(Suspended:) Li Tie;
(Injured:) Campbell, Carsley, Gemmill, Hibbert, Wright
Dudek
Finnan
Hyypia
Baros (72' Heskey)
Kewell
Diouf (89' Riise)
Owen
Smicer (73' Murphy)
Gerrard
Carragher
Biscan
 
Subs Not Used:
Kirkland, Diao

Yellow Cards: Kewell (51'),
Finnan (54'), Baros (64')

Red Cards: —
 
Match Reports

2003-04 Match Reports Index


Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Julian Cashen Match Report
Featured Media Reports
The Observer Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
4TheGame Match Report
Soccernet Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 12
2 Man Utd 9
3 Portsmouth 8
4 Man City 7
5 Chelsea 7
6 Birmingham 7
7 Fulham 6
8 Southampton 6
9 Blackburn 5
10 Liverpool 5
11 Charlton 5
12 Leeds 5
13 Aston Villa 4
14 Everton 4
15 Tottenham 4
16 Leicester 2
17 Bolton 2
18 Newcastle 1
19 Middlesbrough 1
20 Wolves 1
After 31 Aug 2003


Match Preview

Four points from our first three games should put us in pretty confident mood as we play host to our near neighbours.  With only a narrow defeat to Highbury blotting our 2003-04 copybook at this early stage, we will enter the game far more confident than a stuttering Liverpool who were actually booed off the Anfield pitch against Spurs — music to our ears!

But, warning to all Blues — please don't get too carried away.  I would love to wax lyrically that the speed and movement of Radzinski and Rooney will totally flummox the slow moving monuments that are Hyppia and Henchoz; that the drive and workrate of Watson and Naysmith will keep Riise and Finnan pegged back.  I'd love to suggest that (the returning) Gravesen and Linderoth's commitment, and no mean amount of skill, will dominate the want-away Gerrard and Murphy, leaving the undeniably pacey (but ultimately headless) Diouf and Baros starved of quality ball.  I'd be delighted to exclaim that the emperor's clothes of Houlliers French intellect have at last been revealed and that Moyes's more British style and nous will suffocate and flummox the confused red hordes.  I'd happily do all this if it weren't for 3 reasons:

  1. Gerrard — he'll be the best midfielder on display.  Denied the injured Sean Davis and the costly Barry Ferguson, we will have no-one to match his strength, even if his passing when put under pressure can be particularly wayward — in fact, when not focussed, his passing in an empty field runs the threat of being intercepted;
     
  2. Kewell; and
     
  3. Owen.

Despite Houllier's best efforts, he still has three wonderful talents at his disposal.  My greatest hope is that he will continue to completely misuse them.  Pushing Kewell in to no-man's land; encouraging Gerrard to launch the ball 50/60 yards and leaving Owen isolated, living off scraps and slowly growing more frustrated.  If this does happen, then the game is there for the taking, Blues — there for the taking; but if he gets his head in order and realizes that genius is not necessarily doing something that no-one else agrees with but is rather simply doing the right thing, well then: Do we have a game on!

Three match-ups should give us a pretty solid idea of where the points are going to go:

  1. Yobo v Owen
    Stop Owen and you stop Liverpool... a simplification?  Undoubtedly but still with elements of truth.  Owen is, unfortunately, world class — but then so is Joey!  One slip and St Michael can pounce but if Joey is on top form then there won't be a slip, Owen won't get a sniff, and long-range efforts will be the order of the day.
     
  2. Gravesen v Gerrard
    We need Gravesen back.  Linderoth and Pembridge have their strengths but simply not enough of them.  I was amazed at Highbury how well Tommy competed against Vieira; he'll need that form to push Gerrard back.  With Hamann missing, Gerrard must help protect his backline — if we can keep him occupied with that role, we can cut back his punishing surges, hence enabling us to carry the fight to them.
     
  3. Radzinski v Hyppia
    Not Rooney?  Nope!  Radz actually causes just as many problems in his own way.  His electrifying pace constantly keeps defenders pinned back and nervous.  Hyppia is dominant in the air but very questionable on the ground; if we can let Radz run at him early on anything could happen — and I fancy our Canadian wonder to notch in this game.

Obviously allied to all those above are the two potential match-winners — Kewell and Rooney.  Both have stunning ability.  Rooney, however, has displayed it a few times this season whereas Kewell is yet to shine for his new employers — maybe his mind is on his new bank balance or he's feeling guilty at being the ultimate football rat.  If Rooney can go one better than the crossbar rattler of last season's Anfield derby, then we can definitely keep the 3 points at Goodison; if Kewell shines, then Pistone down our right flank will have a massive role.

Latest transfer and injury gossip suggests that Wright may be injured but we wont be seeing Nelson, the Portugese keeper.  Talks appear to be ongoing concerning McManaman and now Jon Crew but both deals seem some way off and the very best we could hope for is that they are in the ground to watch us batter the Reds!

Even without these possible additions we know we carry a very real goal threat: five goalscorers already this season — all from open play — is testament to the all-around threat that Moyes is keen to develop.  Even though Sky have tried to ruin it with a ridiculous kick-off time, this should still be a belter.

We can win this and really we should win this; Moyes has yet to win a Derby — that will be another stat blasted away by young Wayne come 2 o'clock Saturday:

2-1 To the Blues; Radz and Rooney.

Lee Doyle


Owen’s Sharpness sinks wasteful Blues

I finished my last match report by saying that, were we to sign Ferguson and McManaman, we could look forward to the season with real expectation.  With neither player choosing to join Everton, a disappointing week off the field was fittingly rounded off by a disappointment on it in the shape of an appalling 3 – 0 scoreline in favour of the horrible reds.  The story of the game really was that Michael Owen gave a finishing masterclass, while our strikers gave what I could cornily term a "miss–terclass".  This, combined with some calamitous defending and a little bit of bad luck, meant that the result confounded the optimism that was almost universally felt by Evertonians prior to the fixture.

The strange kick-off time meant that the stadium was late to fill up, as supporters struggled to down their usual pre-match alcohol quota in about a quarter of the usual time.  Once the stadium was full, however, there was the usual rumbustuous atmosphere and I’m not sure Z-Cars was even played, such was the noise (and the poor quality of the PA in the Lower Bullens).

Two minutes after the start, Naysmith, presumably still smarting from Gerrard’s tackle last season, mistook the target of his retribution and flew into a ‘tackle’ on Kewell which rightly earned him an early card.  Other than this, the game was relatively free of serious foul play, but this did not stop the referee incurring the increasing wrath of Evertonians by falling for every little bit of cheating and transparent gamesmanship on behalf of the reds.  Not that they gained any advantage from the numerous free kicks around the edge of our box; ignoring their obvious aerial supremacy, they instead preferred to try out their poncey training ground routines, to absolutely no avail.

The decent chances of the half fell mostly to us, notably when Radzinski was released brilliantly by Rooney and sprinted goalwards with defenders trailing in his wake.  The shot, well enough hit, flashed across goal.  His second chance was more difficult, the ball hit over the top and refusing to sit down for him to get in a decent strike.  In between, Naysmith had a really good sight of goal but with the ball on his ‘wrong’ foot, hit a tame shot which was easily saved.

We’d had the better of the half but, just as we were wondering whether the missed chances would cost us, up stepped Owen with the answer.  Released by Kewell, he just instinctively stabbed the ball goalwards and it bobbled agonisingly in off the post.  Cue an irritating hands behind the ears celebration.  It’s a pity he wasn’t nearer to me – he might have heard what I had to say to him!

Almost immediately we should have equalised with arguably our best chance of the game after possibly the best move of the game.  A great move down the right, with the ball being exchanged at speed, ended with Wayne with the goal apparently at his mercy just yards out.  However, fatally, he seemed to hesitate, possibly trying to make sure, and allowed Dudek to make a smothering save.

Second Half

Gravesen came on for Unsworth.  The hapless Unsie had had a stinker.  Diouff had looked dangerous on the right for them, but then, faced with a defender of Unsie’s capabilities, my maiden aunt would look dangerous.  However, why we didn’t move Tommy to the middle where he is more effective, and move Pembo to the left, is a mystery to me.

Anyway, whatever Moyes said at half time was undone after sloppy defending by Yobo allowed Baros to beat him easily and drag a cross back for a comfortable second from Owen.  Yobo looked insecure all game and this gift of a goal, following a stinker against Charlton, must put Davey Weir in the frame for a recall in an attempt to revert to last year’s habit of clean sheets.

At 2 – 0, the game was up; though substitute Duncan Ferguson struck the bar with an astonishingly well hit free kick (I guess he’s had all the time in the world to practice them) and Dudek made one or two decent saves, we never really threatened a revival.  Instead, there was time for another defensive calamity, Simonsen haring out wide for a ball Owen was always going to reach first, leaving the net unguarded when the ball finally dropped to Kewell.

In the dying minutes, we had a corner in front of a now half empty stadium.  It was cleared to Owen, mid-way inside their half, with only Naysmith between him and Simonsen.  I wouldn’t have swapped places with Naysmith at that moment for quids.  Owen ran on, Naysmith backed and backed to the edge of our area; just when you thought a humiliating fourth was on the cards, Naysmith flew in with a perfectly timed and executed tackle to save us further embarrassment.

Verdict

A goal for us when we were marginally on top in the first half, could have dented their fragile confidence and led to a different outcome.  However, as Moyes has said, mistakes at both ends, together with the excellent finishing of Owen, cost us dear.

In goal, I thought Simmo did all right other than for the third goal, but this just illustrates that being a good shot-stopper is not sufficient to make you a decent keeper at this level.  In defence, Pistone was in my view excellent, though I think he slowed a bit after almost being chopped in half by a scandalous Kewell challenge.  Stubbs is slow but solid; Yobo is a mile away from the player we hoped he would be while Unsie is just Unsie – a limited player whose best days are behind him.  As I said after the Charlton game, if Hibbert is fit, I can’t see why he isn’t playing right back, with Pistone or Naysmith on the left.

In midfield we did all right – their expensive quartet certainly never dominated – while up front, we just need to hit the target more.

Ultimately, this result kept Houllier in a job.  I certainly believe he’ll be out by Christmas, but hopefully any chance they have of winning anything will be long gone by then.

Even as I type, at last we have a new face.  Make that an old face.  The prodigal Ears returns, and it will be interesting to see what will be the pecking order among the strikers.  I was always a fan of Jeffers, I don’t blame him for moving, and I’m prepared to bet that he’d have converted some of the chances we missed on Saturday.  Personally I’d play both him and the Rad, with Wayne ‘in the hole’.  However, much as I like Radzinski, his ratio of goals to chances is poor, and I fear he may find himself warming the bench.  Presumably, this spells the effective end for Big Dunc, the overpaid underplayed ‘Club Captain’.

The other new face is also an old one, the arrival of Nigel Martyn signalling the effective end of the Everton careers of Paul Gerrard and Steve Simonsen, though how we get them off the payroll now the transfer window is closing, is beyond me.

Next Up – the Under Performing Bar Codes

Jeffers's return should herald a few goals being scored.  With Newcastle struggling, and ourselves likewise lower in the embryonic league table than we would like, this is a big game for both sides.  A home win, Jeffers to score on his return.

Julian Cashen



Owen strikes to lift Liverpool blues

Paul Wilson in The Observer

'The reds are not dead yet,' a relieved Gérard Houllier said with a grin.  Hard to say on this evidence.  A safer conclusion might be that the Blues are slipping into a coma.  The Liverpool manager is entitled to enjoy his moment of respite after a fourth win in a row away to the old enemy.  Houllier said all along that more goals would follow once his team finally managed their first from open play and he must be hoping that the same principle will apply to victories now the immediate pressure has been lifted.

Liverpool have still not lost a derby match this century and by the end of the 169th they were queueing up to score.  Michael Owen could have had a hat-trick had Emile Heskey spotted him in injury time.  It should not have been that difficult. Owen had just about the whole of the Everton half to himself.

The only problem for Liverpool is that they will not be allowed to play Everton every week. The travelling fans made it plain that they would like to, taunting the Everton crowd with a confidence that belied the apprehension with which they started the match.  Goodison Park suffered in silence.  Everton's anaemic display was way below the standards David Moyes sets for his team and inexcusable in a Merseyside derby.

Home fans could scarcely contain their glee before kick-off, when they discovered the gauche Igor Biscan was to accompany Sami Hyypia at the centre of Liverpool's defence, yet Everton failed to put the emergency pairing under any sustained pressure.  Perhaps more surprisingly still, Liverpool were allowed all the time and space they needed to settle their nerves.  There was no snap or snarl to the underdogs, none of the usual raucous atmosphere whipped up by the crowd.  Everton did not seem to believe that they could win the match, began like an away team looking for a draw and ended up meekly accepting their usual punishment.  Liverpool would not have been flattered by one or two more goals, but they will not play many more accommodating teams this season.

It is not difficult to see why Everton are so desperate to sign a midfielder.  Their starting line-up featured four full-backs and there is no linking player to bring Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne Rooney into the game.  Consequently, most of Everton's long passes forward kept coming back and they were on the defensive almost from the outset.

Certainly, when the first goal arrived shortly before half-time Everton had spent 15 or 20 minutes barely able to break out of their half.  That is a dangerous game to play when opponents have finishers as clinical as Owen.  All it took was one pass from Harry Kewell, who perhaps should have been more decisively dealt with by Alan Stubbs, and the England striker was bearing down on Steve Simonsen with a wholly predictable result.

Everton only had themselves to blame.  Apart from defending too deep, they had missed the few chances that came their way.  As Moyes acknowledged, they cannot afford to do that. 'We gave goals away at one end and failed to take chances at the other,' the Everton manager said.  'That's a recipe for disaster if ever I heard one.'

There was room for argument over Moyes's assertion that his team had created more chances than Liverpool, although the outcome could have been altered had not Radzinski pulled a presentable chance wide in the first half and Rooney done the same in the second. Jerzy Dudek was on top form, too, making two important stops from Rooney seconds after each of Owen's goals.

That makes the match sound evenly contested, but it was nothing of the sort. Simonsen also made excellent saves from Kewell and Owen, Steven Gerrard effortlessly bossed Everton's non-existent midfield to keep Liverpool going forward looking for more and El Hadji Diouf had a field day against first David Unsworth and then Gary Naysmith.  Oh, and from half a dozen or so clear chances, the visiting team managed to put away three.

The otherwise impressive Joseph Yobo was far too casual in letting Milan Baros get goal side to set up Owen's second after 52 minutes, then when Stubbs and Simonsen missed Owen's run down the right 10 minutes from the end, Kewell kept his head and kept his shot low to score his first league goal for the club at the far post.

Everton threw on Duncan Ferguson for the last 20 minutes in what looked like desperation. The tall Scot made no difference in attack and little impression on Hyypia, although he was unlucky with a free-kick that crashed back from the underside of the bar.

While Liverpool did the professional thing and played out time, Rooney spent the last 10 minutes trying to get sent off, first getting booked for arguing about an offside decision, then attempting to pick a fight with the blameless Kewell.  Someone needs to tell England's teenage tearaway that this is not big and it is not clever.  'In a derby you need emotional maturity,' Houllier said.  Most of the time he is right.  This particular derby was strangely low on emotion.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Steven Gerrard This was not one of his barnstorming performances by any means, but an intelligent and effective display by a player who was sent off on this ground last season. With his well-timed tackling and intelligent distribution, he is just the sort of midfield presence Everton could have done with.



* Unfortunately, we at ToffeeWeb cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.




About these ads

Recent News

Recent Articles

Talking Points, Messages & The Game

Everton in the Community

About these ads