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Arsenal 4 - 1 Everton

Half-time: 1 - 1

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FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #35
3pm Saturday 21 April 2001
Highbury, London
Att: 38,029
Liverpool (h) Ref: Dermot Gallagher Bradford City (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 16th [ Results &  Table ]
Kevin Campbell Everton gave up their customary early goal after an innocuous free kick, with Gerrard again flapping at the ball.  But ex-Gunner Kevin Campbell had the perfect reply just three minutes later as he banged in a half-cleared shot that Gravesen set up for him with a sublime lob that beat the perennial Arsenal offside trap.  

Into the second half, and Everton were resisting the pressure reasonably well until a corner which Grimandi headed in.  You may have expected Wally to throw on one or two more attackers at this point... Dream on!

Soon it was 3-1 as Wiltord strode through to score easily while Everton collapsed in disarray.  Soon after the goal, a very unhappy Everton fan got on the field and went nuts at Nyarko who was so upset he left the field, to be forced back on by the Everton bench.

Then, with 11 minutes to go, Xavier was sent off after getting his second yellow card.  It just goes from bad to worse.  And the final nail came from Henry who "simply walked in the fourth as Arsenal passed Everton to death" (so said the BBC!).  It leaves Everton level on points with Derby and Middlesbrough just 5 points above the drop-zone, with three left to play...

No doubt Walter will feel "disappointed" yet again...



Arsenal: Ljungberg (21') Grimandi (55'), Wiltord (67'), (Henry (87')
EVERTON: Campbell (24')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Arsenal: Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Adams, Cole; Pires (76' Silvinho), Grimandi (64' Vivas), Vieira, Ljungberg; Wiltord, Henry. Stepanovs, Manninger, Malz.
EVERTON: Gerrard; Ball, Weir, Pistone, Xavier (80' Sent Off!); Gemmill, Gravesen, Nyarko (74' Moore), Pembridge (82' Hibbert), Alexandersson (74' Tal); Campbell.
Cleland, Ferguson, Gascoigne, Gough, Jeffers, Naysmith, Unsworth, S Watson (injured); Myhre (on loan)   
Simonsen, Jevons.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Arsenal: Red and white shirts; white shorts; red socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-5-1
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: [Xavier (47', 80')], Tal (90') Xavier (80')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats   


Squire of SE26 Who's up for Nyakro's testimonial then?
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Grimandi's rare goal cures Arsenal's hangover
by Roy Collins
THE SUNDAY TIMES Nyarko quits Everton after confrontation with fan
by Brian Glanville
THE TIMES Smith baffled by Nyarko's grievance procedure
by a Times Reporter
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 Who's up for Nyakro's testimonial then?
Squire of SE26
Theres an old saying in football circles, which goes something like never bait an opposing supporter if you sport a mullet.  Unfortunately, a guy over the other side of the very narrow segregation in the Clock End forgot this pearl of wisdom, and his baiting was well and truly usurped by the attentions of the visiting Bellies, with the final fatal hole below the waterline coming when one of the lads broke into a rousing rendition of Mullet of Kintyre for the benefit of the hapless Gooner fashion victim.  Sadly for us, this was at 3-1 down and was the highlight of an otherwise dire afternoon, capped by possibly the most bizarre incident Ive ever seen on a football pitch after 70 minutes.  And we all know what that was.... but more of that later.

A fairly sparse turnout of Bellies met up at the Worlds End for pre-match medication; the Widnes Bus had been ravaged by illness, with the veteran Durkin (aka Mickey Blue Eyes) failing a late fitness test.  However, Terry had declared himself fit for the afternoon (and thank fuck because he had all the tickets).  Dom managed to ignore his better judgment and we were joined by the on-loan Wycombe trio of Dave, his mate Chris, and my bird Lil now known as Septic Peg due to her uncanny ability to predict Arsenal goals.  Though, given the state of our defence and the law of averages, maybe thats not such an uncanny ability after all...

I love Highbury; in many ways it reminds me of Goodison a compact stadium in the middle of a heavily populated residential area, a ground which has seen better days but retains what they call in classic-car circles a rich patina.  I know that stadia such as this are no longer adequate for the purpose for which they were built, but no new stadium anywhere can capture the indefinable something that makes places like Highbury special.  Call it character, call it atmosphere, whatever... well never see its like again.

However, one thing that I wont miss about Highbury is the regular malletings that we collect when we go there, and this was no different.  They started like an express train, and the absolute chasm in class between the sides was immediately apparent.  

Walters tactic for this game appeared to be to pack the midfield and hope that something broke for the lonely SuperKev.  This was soon exposed as the combined midfield talents of Alexandersson, Gravesen, Nyarko, Gemmill and Pembridge were outfought by the powerful, combative Vieira, perplexed by the footwork of Ljungberg and pulled all over the place by Pires.  Pires, in particular, had an absolute blinder and gave Xavier, playing at right back (eh?) a really torrid time.

It was only a matter of time before the goal came, and just as Lil said someones gonna score here the Everton central defence obligingly opened up like the legs of a Mount Vernon dollybird allowing Ljungberg to blast the ball past Gerrard.  

Bizarrely though, this seemed to give the side a collective kick up the anus and we actually started to string one or two passes together.  Strangely, Gravesen took this moment to perform a passable impression of a professional ball-kicker of the middle rank, and a dinked lob from him in the box was picked up by SuperKev, who smashed the ball into the net on the second attempt from a narrow angle.

Id have loved to have heard Walters team talk; judging by the second half performance, it must have been something like give them the ball at every opportunity and dont defend any further up than eighteen yards.  Ill spare you the agony, other than to say that they completely took the piss at every turn. 

The facts were: Grimandi put a bullet header past a stranded Gerrard from a Pires corner (yet again we cant defend a set-piece); Vieira powered his way past a bunch of static, watching bellies to give the ball to Wiltord, who turned his marker beautifully and smashed in the third off the bar; and a deflected pass found Henry, who completely wrong-footed Gerrard, went round him and slotted home.

Joe-Max Moore and Idan Tal came on far, far too late, and Xavier took the walk after clattering Cole wide on the right.  Tony Hibbert came on to take up the right-back role and get roasted a few times.  By then, though, we all had something else to talk about.

On about 70 minutes, we actually contrived to win a corner.  As Nyarko jogged up to join the attack, a guy with a bald head and a very hairy back indeed took the opportunity to run up to him and swap shirts, showing his displeasure at what he thought was Nyarkos laziness.  I thought it was a bit unwarranted, as Nyarko was no more of a spectator by that point than Gravesen, Pembridge on anyone outside Gerrard and the back four. 

The guy was shepherded off by Seaman and (the ever impressive) Adams, but you could see that the effect was profound; Nyarko was visibly shaken.  He then walked right across the field toward the dugout and demanded to be taken off, to the audible displeasure of the watching Bellies.  Play continued for a few minutes (presumably after Walter had issued tactical advice like PISS OFF), with Nyarko looking completely uninterested and pleading to go off.  Eventually he got his wish when he and Alexandersson were replaced by Tal and the little Yank, and a huge crescendo of boos followed him off the pitch.

Now, Ive got mixed feelings on this one; I can understand Nyarko getting some stick on the basis of his season to date, and no professional footballer should react like a petulant child in the way that he did.  However, he was no worse (or better) than anybody else on the Everton side yesterday, and I understand his feeling frustrated at being held to blame for a woeful team display for which, Walter Smith was far more culpable than Alex Nyarko.  What has really got to me, though, is another classic piece of Everton PR with Smith slagging his player off, publicly, when a firm no comment should have sufficed, with the matter being dealt with internally.  Maybe we should have gone for John Gregory after all...

So, it was a suitably muted set of Blues in the Worlds End after the game, with drunken reflections centering on Nyakro.  Never has good honest Aussie VB tasted so lifeless...  

Positives?  Well, Bally had another good game, and Tony Hibbert looked lively when he came on.  Oh, and apparently the Arsenal stewards reported Vieira for giving we Bluebellies the Nescafe handshake in the second half, although I missed it (I would have found that hilarious to see, frankly...).

Other than that, forget it and look forward to Bradford and the potential return of the Greenwoods-trousered Geordie.

Oh, and pass the Panadol, me ferkin heads killing me.

   Up to Reports Index ]
  Grimandi's rare goal cures Arsenal's hangover
Roy Collins, Electronic Telegraph
ALL THE tell-tale signs of a hangover were there in the opening 45 minutes - the glassy eyes, the unco-ordinated movements and the long pauses between anything approaching coherent expression.

Shirt swap: Tony Adams is confronted by a pitch invader at Highbury on Saturday One can only assume that Arsenal's players, still suffering that morning-after feeling following their Champions League defeat in Valencia on Tuesday, were handed a stiff bloody mary at half-time. Not that they were much better after the break, just that they managed to rouse themselves long enough to score the goals that brought a precious three points in their quest to finish second in the Premiership for a third successive season.

That, of course, would earn them another automatic entry into the Champions League, though they will struggle to get as far as the quarter-finals next season unless Arsene Wenger was making one of his jokes when he said that he did not need to strengthen his squad.

A look at Arsenal's bench, which normally bristles with indignant multi-millionaires, was enough indication that Wenger needs to spend and spend big in the summer.

Instead of Dennis Bergkamp, out injured (again) and Nwanko Kanu, for whom Arsenal might need to send another search party when he finished playing for Nigeria (again), there was Igors Stepanovs and the almost forgotten Stefan Malz.

With Lauren also away on international duty, Wenger did not have anyone resembling a striker to bring on, which was just as well for Sylvain Wiltord.

Otherwise, his woeful display would have seen him sitting in his tracksuit long before he drilled the 67th-minute goal which put the contest beyond doubt before Abel Xavier's 80th-minute sending off for Everton.

Arsenal's second had come from the most unlikely source of all, a first of the season from Gilles Grimandi, whose versatility does not normally include the ability to score headed goals. But he met Robert Pires's corner in the manner of his astonished skipper Tony Adams, who was standing behind him.

Adams, reflecting on the European defeat in his programme notes, wrote that this was not the time for any player to jump ship, no doubt a coded message to Patrick Vieira.

If Vieira has had enough of north London, his display here certainly did not give a hint of it. He was once again the man driving his players forward and trying to lift the spirits of players numbed by disappointment.

Arsenal's funereal mood was not helped by a minute's silence for referee Mike North, who died after suffering a heart attack while officiating a game at Southend. Arsenal fans made the silence last almost 22 minutes, when Freddie Ljungberg finally woke them with a scuffed shot that Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard should have saved.

Henry, perversely considering Arsenal's lack of firepower, spent most of his time playing as a left winger, though he finally got into the box to provide the final goal three minutes from time.

Everton, with only former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell up front, had clearly decided that they would be unable to inflict a second successive home defeat on a side who were unbeaten at Highbury for a year before Middlesbrough came knocking.

But Campbell, like many forwards, has a habit of biting the hands that used to feed him. So when Thomas Gravesen scooped the ball over the Arsenal back four, he shot past David Seaman at the second attempt.

Arsenal looked to be in for a long afternoon, and possibly an even longer season after that. But Grimandi's goal did more to restore their spirits than a bloody mary or an Alka Seltzer.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Nyarko quits Everton after confrontation with fan
by Brian Glanville, The Sunday Times
IN THE end, Arsenal won it at a canter, but as their manager, Arsne Wenger, admitted, it took time. It usually does, he confessed, after the exertions of a midweek European game which saw their departure from the Champions League. Before that, there had been the disaster of the Middlesbrough match when they crashed 3-0 at Highbury. So, as Wenger said, the three points were enormously important in view of Arsenal's need to hold on to second place and another crack at the Europe's premier competition. Walter Smith, the Everton manager, was disappointed but realistic. "The first half of the game," he said, "we knew we'd be under a lot of pressure. I thought we handled that okay. We came back after losing a goal. But the second half of the game, we really deserved no better than we got after Arsenal scored the second goal, which was poor defending by ourselves."

Not quite as poor, perhaps, as Arsenal's first goal, the result of a deplorable goalkeeping error. Not to mention the Gunners' fourth goal, which went in after 87 minutes, the consequence of a wretched back pass by the Italian Alessandro Pistone, gratefully exploited by Thierry Henry, who rounded Paul Gerrard in goal and found the empty net.

You could hardly blame Gerrard for that, but he had to take the blame for Arsenal's ridiculous first goal. The ball went from Henry to Fredrik Ljungberg, whose straightforward shot somehow went through Gerrard's grasp and into the Everton net.

That might have been enough to demoralise any team, but to Everton's credit, they did come back to equalise. Deprived, for the umpteenth time, of the formidable presence of Duncan Ferguson, who would surely have given Arsenal's central defensive pair of Tony Adams and Martin Keown more to think about, they deployed a formation which had only the former Arsenal striker, Kevin Campbell, up front. But Campbell it was, illustrating yet again the "law" that former players inevitably score against their old teams, who got Everton's only goal.

It was nicely engineered, too, Alex Nyarko finding Thomas Gravesen, who, from the right, cleverly floated the ball over the Arsenal defence to a solitary Campbell. Seaman saved his first shot, but the ball ran loose, Campbell gathered it again, and shot home. At this point, you were wondering if and when Arsenal would raise the pace of their game. Like Everton, they were without a number of key players, and you certainly felt they missed the subtleties of Dennis Bergkamp in attack. And while Ljumberg is a willing performer in any position, including the right flank, he hardly has the winger's traditional gifts of pace and elusiveness.

As for Nyarko, the game would end sadly for him in peculiar circumstances. Midway through the first half an evidently disgruntled Everton fan emerged from the Clock End and threw his shirt at Nyarko. The fan was hustled out of the ground, bare-chested, by the police, but Nyarko seemed inconsolable. Over to the bench he went and demanded to be taken off, a request which was eventually gratified. Nyarko then, remarkably, announced his retirement. Walter Smith said: "I've never seen anybody ask to come off. There's a lot of questions come up. He's obviously showing a lack of strength mentally."

Obviously. Then there was the case of Abel Xavier, who managed to get himself sent off 10 minutes from the end after a second yellow card, having clumsily fouled Ashley Cole.

Arsenal's second goal arrived 10 minutes into the second half, a straightforward yet spectacular affair, Gilles Grimandi meeting a corner from the right from his compatriot Robert Pires with an irresistible header. But, as Wenger said, Arsenal had been looking up already, not least when Vieira found Pires, whose through-ball was bravely cut out at Henry's feet by Gerrard. Wenger was at pains to assert that Vieira isn't going anywhere. Including Internationale. On reflection, Vieira, who once played (though very seldom) for Inter's Milanese rivals AC Milan will be making a very debatable move if he did join that chaotic club. Ask Robbie Keane, who was back in England in the blink of an eye.

In the second half, it soon became clear that Arsenal in general and Sylvian Wiltord in particular had found the range. As Wenger said: "Wiltord in the second half was much better," praising the Frenchman for his determination to keep coming forward. "After he got his goal, it was easier for him."

That goal had been threatened midway through the half when Wiltord, receiving from Pires, thumped a shot which was knocked down by Gerrard. Shortly after that, after one of Vieira's characteristically powerful runs through the middle, Wiltord took his pass, spun, seemed to have let the opportunity go, then struck a ferocious right-footed shot high and wide of Gerrard.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Smith baffled by Nyarko's grievance procedure
by a Times Reporter

PLAYER power rules the game like never before.  The pampered performers of the Premiership get what they want, when they want it, and get out when they want.  Chairmen and managers pander to their every whim, a 100,000-a-week wage cannot be far away and the rich get richer.  Anarchy is at hand.  Yet rarely has a player gone on strike, effectively tendering his resignation, during a game.  Most disclose their discontent via an agent, carefully placed words in the media or on a personal website.

Not Alex Nyarko, the Everton midfield player.  Not the sensitive Ghanaian, a 4.5 million purchase from Lens, the French first division club, during the summer.  Nyarko set a new standard when he signalled his intention to leave English football in mid-match at Highbury on Saturday.

Everton were losing 3-1 to Arsenal when, in the 69th minute, a podgy fan waddled on to the pitch, stripped to the waist, offered to exchange shirts with Nyarko as if to say I could do better than you and was ushered away by stewards. It was a strange incident, mildly amusing even.

Not for Nyarko.  He consulted Steve Hardwick, the Everton physiotherapist, on the touchline and confirmed that he was not injured but merely wanted to leave the pitch.  He had had enough.  Three minutes later, he got his wish, with Idan Tal replacing him.

This has happened before and Im finished with football, Nyarko said.  I cant live my life like this.  I can live without football and thats what Ill do.  Walter Smith, the Everton manager, was bewildered.  It was not the greatest example to set, he said.  Ive never really experienced this and I doubt if other managers have.  A lot of questions arise, about Alexs commitment to the club and his mentality to handle criticism.

While Smith conceded that it would take about five seconds for him to consider Nyarko for selection for Evertons next outing, the first sprig of conciliation was proffered yesterday.  Obviously, Alex was upset, Alan Myers, an Everton spokesman, said.  We will sit and talk with him when the situation has calmed down.  Those talks will take place today or tomorrow, when some agreement over the players future will be reached.

Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal midfield player, gets emotional, too.  In the wake of the clubs exit from the European Cup in Valencia, he had waxed lyrical about the need for squad strengthening and intimated that, were it not done, he might have to consider his position at Highbury.

Imaginative reporting, allied to alleged interest from Inter Milan, and apparently Vieira was already off to the land of the lira.  No, no way, Arsne Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said.  I am not interested in any offer for Patrick of any amount.

Vieira also poured scorn on the notion I never said I was unhappy here, I was just making a point and in an infinitely more acceptable manner than Nyarko, too.

Although Fredrik Ljungberg had given Arsenal the lead with a decisive finish, sloppy defending allowed Kevin Campbell an equaliser before Arsenal prevailed in the second half to stay ahead of Ipswich Town in the race for the second automatic place in the Champions League. 

Gilles Grimandi powered in a header, Sylvain Wiltord lashed in a shot via the crossbar and Thierry Henry danced around Paul Gerrard to guide in the fourth.  Abel Xavier did the Everton cause no good by fouling Ashley Cole and receiving a second yellow card, followed by red.  Rash though his action was, he lasted eight minutes longer than Nyarko and departed only when instructed.  The shame was not his.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
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Last updated: 01 December 2008

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