<% Dim oCs, oRs, strSQL set oCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/02-03/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos ;" Set oRs = oCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb: Arsenal v Everton, Premiership Season 2002-03
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 FA Premiership (31); Highbury, London; Sunday 23 March 2003; 4:05pm
   Cygan (8')
 Viera (64')
Attendance: 38,042
Halftime: 1-0

Rooney (55')

Referee: Alan Wiley

Match Summary

Tomasz Radzinski sustained a groin injury in training and so Wayne Rooney made a rare start.  And David Moyes finally recognized the recent inadequacy of Naysmith and Gemmill, who were replaced by Pembridge and Li Tie.

Everton slipped to 6th before the game, as arch-rivals Liverpool easily disposed of Leeds 3-1 on Peter Reid's first game as manager of the Yorkshire club in crisis.

Everton won a free kick in a critical position inside the first 2 mins but the routine was poorly executed as Rooney thumped it into the wall.  The failure to capitalize on such rare opportunities was drilled home in typical Arsenal fashion when Cygan scored an easy goal a few minutes later off a great Henry corner.

The goal stunned Everton and it took the players another half-hour before they even started to look like a football team, with Arsenal dominating possession, playing exhibition stuff, and putting together some breath-takingly fast moves that got them close to goal, but thankfully not close enough to score a killer second. 

Then, in the last 10 mins, Everton came to life, coming very close to scoring on three occasions as they pushed the Gunners back.  Superb work from Rooney down the right saw him pull away from two defenders to get in a superb cross that was just too far ahead of Campbell but Pembridge following in got an insufficient touch.  

A Pembridge corner was superbly delivered and it might have been Campbell's header that flashed inches wide of the far post, although the corner that ensued was utterly wasted by Gravesen, who was given his typical hot-and-cold display.

Then, Pembridge with a very cheeky free-kick from way out wide right, tried to curl it into the far top corner of the goal, and barely missed by a foot, with Taylor well-beaten.  

The second half started well for Everton, with Campbell threatening when Rooney pulled the ball back from the goal-line after a great ball from Unsworth, but SuperKev's strike was inches wide and hit the side netting.  It was a warning however, as Campbell returned the favour, pushing the ball out to Rooney from a deep midfield position.  Rooney stepped a gear in one of those situations he relishes, pushing into the area and beating Taylor with an excellent shot between Cygan's legs that hit the net just inside the left post, and nicely placed for the massed Evertonians, who went suitably mad.  Great execution, superb finish; exquisite goal.

But Everton once again failed to really press and an unfortunate series of bad luck defense let Vieira drill the ball past Wright to put the Gunners back in front, somewhat undeservedly.  

And that's how it stayed, despite Everton's best efforts.  Li Tie, Gravesen, and Pembridge were Ok in midfield but not really good enough to create all that much, with Rooney desperate to receive another killer ball he could run on to.  Gemmill replaced Li Tie, who had a good game really and was on a yellow card.  

And Ferguson was given barely 15 mins (including 4 mins of stoppage time) to show he was fit enough to mix it in the Prem.  In one exchange with Rooney, he so nearly got his foot to the ball, but you could tell it was not to be as Arsenal pulled out all the cynical tricks, fake dives, and time-wasting to run down the clock and deny Everton a chance on the ball.

So, behind Liverpool again after all that crowing.  And the Champions League slipping away with every game...  Ho hum.

Duncan Ferguson: Now that McBride has gone, will we see
a comeback for the Big Yin?

Arsenal v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Arsenal 53
 Everton 16
 Draws 12
 Arsenal 8
 Everton 1
 Draws 1
 Last Season:

Arsenal 4-3 Everton 

Premiership Scores
Saturday 22 Mar
Birmingham 1-0 West Brom
Man Utd 3-0 Fulham 
Chelsea  5-0 Man City
Middlesbro 1-1 Charlton 
Newcastle  5-1 Blackburn 
Southampton 2-2 Aston Villa
West Ham 2-0 Sunderland
Sunday 23 Mar
Liverpool  3-1 Leeds 
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Monday 24 Mar
Bolton 1-0 Tottenham

Match Facts
 Arsenal  (4-4-2)
 Red shirts, white shirts, white socks
Everton   (4-4-2; 78': 4-3-3)
 Blue shirts, blue shirts, blue socks
van Bronckhorst
Vieira {c}
Pires (68' Parlour)
Bergkamp (86' Toure)

Subs not used:
 Jeffers, Wiltord, 

Yellow Cards: Lauren (51'), 
Henry (87')

Red Cards:
Weir {c}
Watson (78' Ferguson)
Li Tie (73' Gemmill)

Subs not used: Simonsen
Naysmith, Carsley

Yellow Cards: Li Tie (62')

Red Cards:


Injured:- Hibbert, Linderoth,
Pistone, Radzinski
On Loan:- Chadwick, Clarke, McLeod

Match Reports

Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Lyndon Lloyd Arsenal too strong for lacklustre Blues
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
4 the Game Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 66
2 Man Utd 64
3 Newcastle 61
4 Chelsea 54
5 Liverpool 52
6 Everton 50
7 Charlton 46
8 Blackburn 46
9 Southampton 44
10 Tottenham 43
11 Middlesbrough 42
12 Man City 41
13 Fulham 38
14 Aston Villa 36
15 Birmingham 35
16 Leeds 34
17 Bolton 32
18 West Ham 30
19 West Brom 21
20 Sunderland 19
After 24 Mar 2003

Match Preview

Arsenal.  The quadruple apparently...  Well, that was last week.  "Triumphant and Overconfident," says Ferguson Kettle, pot, black?  A draw against Chelsea in the FA Cup; a defeat to Blackburn in the Premiership; and now defeat and out to Valencia in the Champions League.

Seaman, Keown and Cole definitely out; Viera and Campbell doubtful.  If Campbell were unable to start a second game in 5 days, then their centrebacks could be Cygan and Silva with Toure at left-back and Stuart Taylor guarding the nets (third choice when Wright was at Highbury).  I'd take our back-line, thank you very much!

Still, they will likely have Pires, Bergkamp, Ljungberg and the mercurial Henry running at us up-front.

After those three disappointing performances, Arsenal are likely to be very fired up against us.  However, we have already seen this season that Arsenal can go off the boil.

The first 30 minutes will be key.  United may well have gone top early on Saturday, which will be a huge blow to an Arsenal team that will have crashed out of the Champions League; struggled in the FA Cup and surrendered superiority in the Premiership all in the space of 8 hectic days.  Their confidence will be sorely tested as will that of the Highbury crowd.

If we can stay in touch up to half-time, the concerns for the home side will begin to mount.

Although Everton's West Ham performance was simply terrible, we have lost just once now in our last 8 games.  The losses of Hibbert and Pistone are a real blow but the amazing strength-in-depth that Moyes appears to have created will simply see young Yobo step back into the 1st team albeit slightly out of position.  Elsewhere, Li Tie's cameo against West Ham should see him start alongside Gravesen please, Moyes Gemmill just is not good enough!

Brian McBride will likely start on the bench in his last appearance for Everton, with Campbell starting.  Ferguson had another 90 minutes (3 games for the reserves now in 3 weeks...) but Moyes may hold fire until McBride has gone and until we are playing at Goodison Newcastle in two weeks?

A cracking game is in prospect.  Forget that Arsenal have Chelsea 48 hours later in the Cup that will mean nothing during this game.  On top form, they could blow us away but that is unlikely.  The first 30 minutes will be so important.  If we are within 1 goal with 20 minutes to go, then Arsenal may well start to be concerned if a certain Rooney is then on the pitch, those concerns will mount.  After Ian Wright tormented us so many times, how delightful would it be if Rooney could return the favour!

1-1 with my heart and a point for all the overseas Evertonians watching this one *live* on TV.


Lee Doyle

Arsenal too strong for lacklustre Blues

Going into what along with Manchester United away is Everton's most feared game of the season, David Moyes's side had to deal with the grim realization that they had dropped to 6th position following Liverpool's comfortable win over troubled Leeds at Anfield.  The enormity of the failure to deal with West Ham last week is beginning to hit home as the Champions League slips out of the Blues' grasp and the target for the remainder of the season becomes merely retaining a UEFA Cup spot.

The worst team news on the eve of this daunting encounter was that the Blues would have to do without their top scorer and chief attacking outlet, Tomasz Radzinski, who missed his first game of the season with a groin injury.  That meant a new strike partnership of Kevin Campbell — in for the now-departed Brian McBride — and Wayne Rooney, making his first start of the year.

Elsewhere, an ankle injury to the unfortunate Tony Hibbert meant that Joseph Yobo was given a rare start at right back, Scot Gemmill was replaced by Li Tie, and Mark Pembridge came in for the increasingly ineffective Gary Naysmith.

Although it was Everton who were given the opportunity for the first effort on goal in the second minute — Pascal Cygan bundled Campbell over just outside the area but Rooney's shot went into the defensive wall — Arsenal got their customary early goal after eight minutes when Cygan charged in unmarked and powered home a header from a corner.  Too easy.

The Gunners took control of the match and Bergkamp had an effort after a quarter of an hour that Richard Wright, playing at Highbury for the first time since his big summer move to Merseyside, spilled at Thierry Henry's feet but the 'keeper did enough at the second attempt to deflect it out for a corner.  The Frenchman himself had a snapshot from 25 yards out ten minutes later that had Wright scrambling across goal but it bobbled past the far post to safety.  Soon after that, Henry was put through down the left channel but his tame angled shot was blocked comfortably again by Wright.

By this stage, Arsenal had laid bare all of Everton's limitations: the over-reliance on Radzinski's pace and creativity; the complete absence of width or ability to attack down the flanks (Unsworth banging aimless cross-field balls from the left sideline doesn't count); the appalling distribution and glaring absence of a creative central midfield; and Thomas Gravesen.  The Dane did his best headless chicken act for much of the first half and didn't make his first successful tackle until the 12th minute but the odd attacking contribution once again illustrated why he is so frustratingly erratic.

Worst of all for David Moyes, Wayne Rooney simply wasn't in the game in any shape or form.  A lack of service from the midfield was compounded by his own lack of sharpness — in particular, his apparent refusal to come and meet passes made to him meant that the home defenders were continually stepping in to steal possession.

Around the half hour mark, however, Everton started to make their presence felt in areas other than the defence which, through numerous men behind the ball, were containing Arsenal's off-key attack reasonably well.  Gravesen had the Blues' first shot but it flew high and wide off his left foot and the first and second Everton corners followed three minutes later, but both were wasted.

The long-awaited first piece of Rooney magic didn't arrive until the 40th minute when he cheekily beat two defenders on the touchline and fired in a dangerous cross but no Blue shirts were anywhere near to capitalize.  The 17-year-old was almost put in by his strike partner a couple of minutes later but he just couldn't get on the end of Campbell's flick-on.  From the resulting corner, the ball flashed inches wide of the far post, although it was hard to tell who made the final touch on Pembridge's wicked in-swinger.

The Welshman also had the last word of the first half with another dangerous in-swinging free-kick that flew half a yard wide of Stuart Taylor's post.  Half time: 1-0 to Arsenal which is where the smart money would have been before the game.

The interval yielded no changes from either side, but there was the greater sense of purpose that Everton displayed in the last quarter hour of the first period was pleasingly carried through into the second, Moyes no doubt sensing that although the home side were weaving plenty of pretty patterns, they were still lacking their trademark cutting edge.  With Campbell dropping further back, he fed Rooney who bolted past Lauren and the defender was booked for catching the Everton No. 18 very late.

A minute later, Yobo was in the thick of the attacking action in the Arsenal penalty area and he did well to find Watson on the right side of the box but, again, no one was there to connect with his cross.  A minute after that, Stubbs picked Rooney out with a wonderfully weighted ball over the top but when the teenager cut it back, Campbell couldn't make full contact and all he could find was the side-netting.  Still, it was a clear signal that the Blues had found some ingenuity going forward and that they were capable of scoring.

That was merely confirmed inside four minutes.  Campbell found Rooney midway inside the Arsenal half and ran purposefully at the defence, pulled his closest marker slightly to the right and fired past Taylor into the far corner for a wonderful equaliser.  Very reminiscent of his priceless winner at Leeds, it came out of nowhere and got Everton back on level terms at a great time.

Rooney and Everton were re-energrised.  He made space in the area once again a couple of minutes after his goal but shot wide from a tight angle and then displayed another moment of class on the touchline, drawing his marker into the challenge before clipping it past him to make room for a cross that was just too far for Pembridge on the by-line.

Out of the blue once again, though, Arsenal were back in front in controversial circumstances.  Unsworth and Bergkamp contested a bouncing loose ball in the penalty area and the Dutch striker appeared to hold the defender back as he tried to clear and Vieira was on hand to thump it past Wright.  It was against the run of play and more than a little unjust because of it.  Such is life against the Champions.

With 17 minutes to go, Moyes made the sensible change of taking Li Tie off, who had been booked for one infringement too many and looked prematurely spent, and replacing him with Gemmill who, if nothing else, could add a bit more creativity in the centre.  Five minutes after that, Watson made way for Duncan Ferguson to make his first league appearance of the season.  The big man had 12 minutes to make a difference but he entered the fray at a time when Arsenal were enjoying periods of comfortable possession without really threatening to extend their advantage.

That changed, however, when Freddie Ljunberg found himself free on the left side of the area with just Wright to beat from the angle, but, thankfully for Everton, he blasted over the bar.  In terms of chances, that was pretty much it.  The second goal had knocked the wind out of what self belief the Blues had generated through an improved second half and another equaliser looked a distant possibility despite Ferguson almost getting a shot in from 12 yards, but he was crowded out by a clutch of defenders.

In truth, this was another disappointing performance by Everton.  Again, they picked things up in the second half but were left to rue a poor first 45 minutes, during which they looked overawed and daunted by the prospect of taking on an Arsenal team wounded by recent results.  Key injuries did not help Moyes's task and the fact that the goal came from Rooney's natural ability and self-confidence merely illustrated that without him and Radzinski, the Blues struggle to score goals.

Moyes has to regroup his team and concentrate once again on their strengths, namely commitment, confidence and fitness.  The former two have been missing recently and getting out of the blocks early and commanding an early advantage is going to be key in the coming matches.

Lyndon Lloyd

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