Yet, despite this instruction, Fellaini goes right out and plays like how he always does, that is, puts himself about and gives the referee every reason to book him. In fact, I was watching the game on TV and was shocked to see him elbow (or try to elbow) a Hull player in the face when jostling for an in-coming Everton corner kick. If the referee had seen this, it would have been a red card for him. And this coming from a player who’s been told to behave and who must known what was at stake.
Having Fellaini on the pitch for the Merseyside derbies would have had me on nerves end. If he can’t control himself for the Hull game, it doesn’t give me any confidence that he will be able to do so for the Liverpool game. Yes, he may score a goal, but it is also likely that he’d get himself red carded, which would leave us with 10 men against a Liverpool side who will most surely exploit the gaps that this sending off will cause. Not to mention the obvious morale-wretching effect that such a sending off would on the Everton team.
So, with Fellaini now out for both the derby games, where does that leave us. In a much better position if you ask me. I would keep the same team that beat Hull, but bring in Jack Rodwell to replace Fellaini. Rodwell may only be 18yrs old, but he has a good head on his shoulders. In the games that we’ve seen him play, he’s looked comfortable on the ball, distributes it well, and doesn’t get booked for petty, niggling fouls. Rodwell also acquits himself well in front of goal. He may not have scored a goal for Everton yet, but he’s come close a number of times. He’s good in the air and will help provide the height that we’ll miss with Fellaini’s absence.
Rodwell will also be a perfect partner for Neville. Both of them will play as defensive midfielders and will guard against the deep runs of Torres and Gerard. This will allow Arteta to call the shots from the middle of the pitch. Osman and Pienaar will provide the width and thrust down the flanks and through the middle, supported by the full-backs Hibbert and Baines. Cahill will continue to do what he does best, hold the line and attack from deep.
If we harry, pressurize and out-work Liverpool, we will have them on the back-foot. Liverpool like to pass the ball around. Stop them from doing this and give them little or no time to settle on the ball, and we’ll be in with a chance.
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