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Watson (30')
Radzinski (58')
Gravesen (61')
(1-0) Hadji (68')
Schmeichel (90')
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Match Reports

Everton v Aston Villa:
Prior League Games
 Everton 44
 Aston Villa 22
 Draws 21
 Everton 2
 Aston Villa 4
 Draws 3
 Last Season:
 Everton 0-1 Aston Villa

With a full squad to choose from, Walter Smith put Ferguson, Gemmill, Gascoigne, and Unsworth on the bench and overlooked Moore, Tal and Stubbs as modern squad rotation finally reached Goodison Park.  Villa arrived unbeaten in the League this season, with the stingiest defence, having conceded just 3 goals...

Villa started very strongly and pushed Everton onto that dreaded back foot from the start.  Everton did break and Gravesen managed a stinging snap-shot but it was straight at Schmeichel.  Everton weathered a rough ten minutes and started to give Villa a game.

After 27 mins, a brilliant Gravesen ball released Naysmith but he could not produce the shot needed to beat Schmeichel as Everton turned up the pressure and started to play some real football.  And Steve Watson finally got on the end of a ping-pong Everton move across the Villa box, nodding home from close range.

Just before half-time, another horrendous miss form Campbell, who blasted over the bar form 4 yds with Schmeichel beaten.  But it was an excellent first half overall for Everton.

More magic from Gravesen deserved a goal after half-time, but Schmeichel saved well.  Everton pushed hard, but Radzinski volleyed wide when he should have scored.  Then, Naysmith intercepted some poor defensive work from Alpay, and placed it perfectly for Radzinski to score!  2-0!!!

Just minutes later, Everton should have had a penalty, but the mad ref gave an indirect free kick in the box for dangerous kicking!  No matter: on the second attempt, Gemmill to Gravesen: GOAL!  Pandemonium!!! 

Everton almost inevitably relaxed ... and Hadji stepped in unmarked to score.  The changes were rung as Everton clung on desperately to their two-goal lead.  In added time, Schmeichel came up for a late Villa corner... and scored with a great volley to make it 3-2!

More nail-biting nervousness followed as Villa threatened to equalize with yet another corner but the whistle finally blew and Everton had scraped a very important win.

M A T C H    F A C T S
  Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 9
3:00pm  Saturday 20 October 2001
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Rob Styles
Att: 33,352
Position: 8th
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Gerrard; Naysmith, Xavier, Weir, Pistone, Watson; Gravesen (79' Gascoigne), Pembridge (41' Gemmill), Alexandersson; Radzinski (76' Ferguson), Campbell. Simonsen, Unsworth.
Unavailable:  Nyarko (on loan) 
Aston Villa Schmeichel, Delaney, Alpay (62' Samuel), Staunton, Wright, Hadji, Taylor, Boateng, Hendrie (76' Ginola), Vassell, Angel (62' Dublin).  Enckelman, Barry.
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 3-3-2
Aston Villa: Silver shirts; black shorts; sliver socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton: Naysmith (56')  --
Aston Villa: Dublin (67')  --

Premiership Scores
Arsenal  3-3 Blackburn
Derby  1-1 Charlton
Everton  3-2 Aston Villa
Leicester  1-4 Liverpool
Man Utd 1-2 Bolton
West Ham 2-0 Sotton
Fulham  1-1 Ipswich
Leeds  0-0 Chelsea
Newcastle  0-2 Tottenham
Middlesbro  Mon Sunderland

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Leeds 19
2 Arsenal 18
3 Man Utd 17
4 Liverpool 16
5 Aston Villa 15
6 Bolton 15
7 Chelsea 14
8 Everton 14
9 Tottenham 14
10 Newcastle 14
11 Blackburn 13
12 Sunderland 12
13 Charlton 10
14 Fulham 8
15 Middlesbrough 8
16 West Ham 8
17 Ipswich 7
18 Derby 6
19 Southampton 6
20 Leicester 5
After 22 October 2001
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
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When Skies Are Grey Match Report
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Everton Fans' Reports
Rob Burns Vote New Walter!
Julian Cashen It's Just Like Watching Brazil
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Match Preview

Everton will need Mad Dog Gravesen to play and produce the form he was showing before his recent rib injury, if they are to make an impression on Aston Villa this weekend.  The expected return of Paul Gascoigne will also be a welcome addition in midfield.

But Everton need to reverse the bogey that has prevented victory against the Villans for the past six seasons, as described by Lyndon Lloyd in his Viewpoint column wouldn't it be nice to continue the good work laid down against West Ham and really give John Gregory something to moan about?  

Unfortunately, that also involves bucking another annoying trend the difficulty Everton have had in recent seasons capitalizing on big wins and using them as a springboard for mounting a sustained challenge on the Premiership.  All to often, a big win has preceded a depressing slump in form, as Lyndon has also documented in an earlier column.  But this time it will be different, won't it!

In the dizzying whirl of team selection, will Walter Smith drop the "talismanic" (arrrgh!) Duncan Ferguson to the bench, where he so obviously belongs?  After all, he surely cannot play three up-front again...  And Duncan has been well out of sorts in recent games, failing all season to score a single goal from open play.

Meanwhile, Joe-Max Moore continues to be overlooked, and not even considered as a striker any more, despite producing some good goalscoring form for his country.

With all the chances Everton created against Ipswich, expectations will no doubt be high that a win can finally be secured against Villa, even though they are riding pretty high in the Premiership right now...  Let's hope their elevated position does not precipitate the usual sense of defeatist resignation we have seen far too often this season from Walter Smith and his irritating tendency to give superior opposition (Liverpool, Man Utd) far too much respect.

Unleash the Dogs of War!

Vote New Walter

by Rob Burns

A game of intrigue, skill and tireless work by both teams resulted in what can only be described as 'breathtaking' stuff at Goodison Park as Walter Smith finally did what he has been paid to do for nearly four years he successfully channeled the wealth of skill and ability that exists within the Everton squad to become the first team to beat Aston Villa this season.

The game had pace, vision, movement and passing worthy of two teams that belong in the top 8 of the Premiership and the result was as thrilling as it was intriguing.  Everton prior to kick off were surely the team who hoped to 'hold on' despite being the home side but given a poor record against the midlanders and their early season form it was not unexpected. 

The game's start was testament to this as Villa worked neat passes and harassed in midfield to shut out the blues for the first 10 minutes.  For their part, Everton's passing was slack with Alexandersson in particular struggling with the notion of marking in the opposition half and playing a number of wayward passes.  The form suggested a frustrating day for Radzinski who saw little of the ball despite his sprightly movement up front.

The other half of Everton's much-debated-but-never-in-doubt forward line was a rejuvenated Kevin Campbell.  For the second home match on the trot, behind them was a midfield four of Alexandersson, Pembridge, Tommy Gravesen and Gary Naysmith.  The defensive show came from Pistone, Weir, Xavier and Watson - and the improving Paul Gerrard in goal.

The workrate was certainly there from Everton and it was much needed just to live with Villa, playing in a silver kit and black shorts very similar to our own away uniforms.  Pembridge and Gravesen were second to the tackle as Boateng and Taylor forced the issue.  Darius Vassell was a mirror image of our recent hero Radzinski as he switched from side to side making countless openings, supported mainly from the left by Hendrie and Wright who were running that side of the field. 

But The Blues began to see their luck change as passes found men and Gravesen, still enthusing from his excellent performance against West Ham, ducked and swerved past three men and hit a superb drive from 30 yards that only Peter Schmeichel could take the sting out of.  Radzinski began to get the rub of the green and after screaming down the left flank he selflessly played in Naysmith who hit a poor shot with his weak right foot. 

The signs were certainly there and you could really feel that Villa were rocking - like a boxer who has seen a cut as they poured on the pressure - a quick free-kick by Tommy G was flicked off the feet of the waiting Campbell who was by the penalty spot - the ball found Alexandersson whose cross from wide right found Naysmith on the far post - Watson stooped low to convert the pass.  1-0 and a real sense of relief throughout the crowd.

Pembridge left the field early with a hamstring injury just before half time but there was still an opportunity for Campbell to blaze a shot over the bar of an open goal - in fairness the cross from Radzinski was hit like a rocket and was easily misdirected as KC made an enforced effort with his first touch.

The second half saw another distinct period in the game - Everton were out of the blocks like a greyhound (the animal, not the bus as in previous weeks!) whilst Villa were still in the changing room.  Villa simply melted as Gravesen took charge in the middle supported well by Gemmill - on for Pembridge. 

Alexandersson had certainly found his feet in the first half and was back into the swing of taking men on and getting beyond the defenders to cross.  On the opposite flank, Naysmith grew in confidence and played like a winger.  His workrate was enormous as he flew back time after time to assist Pistone. 

Radzinski ran every inch of the turf and Campbell has certainly found a new extra-sensory partner in the Polish-Canadian as he turned provider on many occasions.  If Campbell can continue this form, he will more than pay for the oft-criticised contract signed in the summer.

Naysmith and Radzinski combined for the second goal.  After excellent work on the left, the Scot took it right to the goal line and slid a cross through that Radzinski converted.  

The third was more of a soap opera.  Gemmill ran into the area with the ball dropping in front of him.  As he attempted to control with his head a foot came up and caught him in the face.  An indirect free kick was awarded which Gravesen pushed sideways for Steve Watson to shoot.  But the early movement of the wall led to a retake. 

Pistone pushed Gravesen; Gravesen pushed Pistone while Gemmill (I think) stood by.  Like three school-kids they 'discussed' who would be the taker as their one move had been given away.  Gravesen looked to the bench as if to say "Dad tell him its my turn" - Dad Knox, looking for a quiet life, said OK. 

"Play nicely Alessandro!"  So he did - one touch and Tommy rocketed the ball under the wall and away from the outstretched Schmeichel.  Gravesen ran the length of the pitch, past the bench towards Gwladys St - I reckon he wanted to see himself on the big screen!  He was a man possessed and his current form is giving a new dimension to the side - skill, creativity and agility - a powerful, accurate shot and an ability to turn - these are rare qualities in a defensive midfielder!  He is the man to turn our season and he is totally hooked on his rapport with the crowd.

Villa showed how a top side should behave at 3-0 however, and rallied; the game took a further turn as they regained the toughness of the first 20 minutes.  Xavier was a rock - some great recoveries of seemingly lost balls and a calmness in the face of the repeatedly backing in Vassell and later Dublin.  It's hard to tell whether the big man is settled with us now, but he shows the class of a world footballer more and more these days and he is certainly a major asset to our squad. 

Alongside Abel's leadership, Weir was assured and confident, strong in the tackle.  Pistone was also cool and collected, and seems to jog everywhere but keep pace with his man.  His distribution is accurate and intelligent - he is a player transformed as far as I - one of his biggest critics last season - am concerned. The 4-4-2 system complimented both defence and midfield and there was an understanding of roles and responsibilities that has been a rarity when the back five have played.

By no means dead, John Gregory's side replied first with Moustapha Hadji from the right with a header - no fear - we swallowed as I began to play closer attention to the floor than to the drama unfolding...  Action on the bench as Ferguson and Gazza stripped.  The main danger man Radzinski was the sacrifice to the boos of the crowd.  

In a testament to his loyalty for the manager, Tommy duly felt his hamstring and left to a huge ovation - as did Gravesen minutes later for Gazza, our favourite geordie comic.  

Everton had understandably begun to cruise - after all every side who comes to Goodison and concedes tends to roll over.  Not Villa, who played to the last.  Three minutes of extra time and two corners - a goal from their 'keeper and sporting applause from the Everton faithful for his persistence and the perfect execution of the shot.  If he'd have repeated the feat of course he'd have been booed! 

Gazza's efforts to play a holding role looked strained as if what he really wanted to do was entertain.  By contrast Ferguson took it slow and steady and showed restraint as he help to pin the advancing Villains back, but less effective against those corners.

Everton once again put on a convincing display and showed that they are serious contenders for a top-six finish.  It is still very early in Walter Smith's re-birth and bearing in mind Ipswich last week he is not fully committed to the 4-4-2 system yet.  He can't ignore players like Alexandersson, Xavier and Pistone however, who are looking increasingly comfortable in their rightful positions and showing the form that he must have expected when he bought them. 

The only real drawback from today is that you notice the vulnerability of our squad - the real disadvantage for Walter - in that we are unable to replace a Gravesen with a Gravesen, or a Radzinski with a Radzinski - until there is money or movement in the market we should fear injuries.

It's Just Like Watching Brazil

by Julian Cashen

Well, not to get too carried away...  I said after the West Ham game that one god result doesn't make Wally a good manager, any more than the defeat at Blackburn made him a bad manager.  But let's put this result into context.  Not only are Villa a major bogey team for us undefeated at Goodison since 1996 but they are this season's surprise package, undefeated in the premiership until yesterday and having conceded a miserly 3 goals in 7 games. 

And not only did we beat them but, other than an uncertain opening 15 minutes and a jittery last 10, we played them off the park with the type of passing game that all Evertonians love but which has been virtually absent over the past 5 or 6 seasons.  This result was an excellent one for us though it is typical that the headlines will be stolen by the goal scored by a certain red-nosed Dane.

The Line Up

For once, no surprises.  Gerrard in goal; the increasingly secure looking back four of Watson, Weir, Xavier and Pistone. Midfield; Niclas, Pembo, Mad Dog and Naysmith; Super and the Rad up front.  Good for Wally in having the guts to relegate Dunc to the bench where, with Gazza also present, we have some subs actually capable of changing a game when we're behind, as opposed to the usual desperate ploy of throwing Unsie into the fray...

First Half

During the long drive up from Ipswich, listening to the radio and Villa being talked up and Everton getting barely a mention, I was feeling increasingly glum and hoping for a point, probably from a nil - nil.  And in the opening 10 minutes, I'd have gladly settled for such an outcome.  

Villa came out of the blocks at a charge, with the confidence bred from their good start to the season, while we were hesitant, second to the ball, misplacing passes all over the park.  During this spell the Villans nearly opened the scoring through a great strike by Lee Hendrie that just cleared the angle.  Vassel looked lively in this opening phase too, though as has been remarked, his pace well outstrips his ability.  Mind you, Angel - 9M??  Makes Bakayoko look a snip.

Gradually we came in to the game and this was largely due to Tommy Gravesen.  I am virtually lost for words at the transformation in this player this year.  We saw in all too brief patches last season, particularly early on, the type of player he could be, but his energy, determination, and most of all his range of passing have been a revelation this season. 

He grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck and virtually controlled proceedings for the next hour.  After 20 minutes or so, he made a brilliant pass to Naysmith that should have resulted in a goal, but the youngster, in unfamiliar territory, hesitated and then snatched a weak shot straight at Schmeichel. 

No matter.  On 30 minutes we took the lead.  A quickly taken free kick on the angle of the box seemed to have come to nothing but we fought to retrieve the situation, a great cross went in from the right, Naysmith nodded it back across, and there was Watto, plunging to power a header in from the edge of the 6-yard box.  Get in!!!  Pick the bones out of that one, Red Nose!!!!!!!!

Unbelievably, rather than retreat into our shell and try to see the game through to the half, we continued to storm in to them.  Alexandersson was proving a real threat down the right with Rad, looking like a stronger Jeffers without the glass ankles, providing no end of willing movement.  

On the stroke of half time, surely it's two; the Rad breaks loose, drills across a great ball, SuperKev surely only has to connect: he does, and we look for the expected billowing of the net......... argh!!!!!  He's somehow managed to balloon it over from four yards, which doesn't bode well for his confidence in front of goal after the misses at Ipswich.

Second Half

Whatever John Gregory said to his team at half time had virtually no effect.  We continued to batter them, with Tommy letting fly shortly after the restart with a great 25-yarder that Schmeichel did well to turn over.  

Just when I was worrying that the pressure wouldn't turn into goals, along come two in the space of three minutes.  First, Naysmith shows brilliant alertness to take advantage of some horrible dithering by a couple of Villans, heads for the bye line at great pace, cuts it back, and finds Rad who buries it joyfully first time, though in truth he had so much time and space he could have controlled it, had a cup of tea and still scored.  What a beauty, and Rad's instant rapport with the fans is an absolute pleasure to see.

Minutes later it gets even better.  Gemmill, going in to the box, gets his head virtually removed from his shoulders by a flying Villan boot.  Mystifyingly the ref opts to give... not a penalty for violent play, but an indirect kick for 'foot up'!!! 

We line it up.  The Villan wall is max 5 yards away.  99 times out of 100 we balls these up and either hit the wall or an unlucky punter in row Z.  There's a bit of argy bargy as to who'll take it.  Finally we're ready.  Sharp intake of breath.  It's rolled to Tommy who lashes it through a shaky wall in to the bottom corner!!  Yes!!  And last years clenched-fist headless-chicken completes his transformation into the man of the season so far, celebrating with almost as much abandon as the most hysterical supporter.

It wouldn't be Everton if we couldn't have a nervous ending.  Whether it was tiredness or what, a couple of substitutions for Villa, and the game swung away from us.  Dublin made a nonsense of his manager's preference for Angel.  As to Ginola, he always makes me nervous after beating us single handedly in a poor Spurs side in the 3rd HK era - a game where Ginola just about had the beatings of his marker, Mitch Ward.

Anyway, their first goal was a looping header of the kind that always makes a keeper look flat footed.  The second, as perhaps any readers of this report may have heard, was scored by their Keeper.  In fairness, Schmeichel's goal was well applauded by the Goodison crowd.  I suspect that had it come 10 minutes earlier it may have been met by a different sound - that of 33,000 people suffering an involuntary bowel movement.

But we hung on, and thoroughly deserved the win.


I'm determined not to get carried away but, for an hour of this game, we played some excellent football.  Pleasing as the 5 - 0 scoreline against the Hammers was, the calibre of the opposition makes this by far the more satisfying result.  To see us actually passing the ball, using the width, moving off the ball - it's such a contrast with the dross that's been served up over recent years that it really rekindles the enthusiasm.

We're by no means world beaters but some of our players are really coming into their own and in particular I am pleased for Xavier, Pistone, Alexandersson and Gravesen, all of whom have had their doubters, myself included.  

Xavier and Pistone are looking real class at the back, strong when defending, comfortable on the ball, good tacklers and excellent readers of the game.  Alexandersson, lost when we play five in midfield, has come in to his own in a 4-4-2 formation and offers an outlet and a real threat though the final ball could still improve.  As for Gravesen, a couple of real class performances from him have made him one of our most influential players.

Next Up - the Barcodes

Another real test for us.  Similar to Villa, Newcastle have moved on a lot this season under the guidance of the apparently senile but still motivational Robson.  The opportunity to barrack Shearer is one to relish but, other than their has-been Number 9, the Barcodes have been a strong attacking side this year and it will be a test for us to contain them.  However, assuming no injuries, recent results have to have bred confidence... 

Prediction: Home Win!!

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