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 FA Premiership (4); Maine Road, Manchester; Saturday 31 August 2002; 3:00pm
  Anelka (14', 17', 84')
Wright Phillips sent off (26')

Attendance: 34,835
Halftime: 2-1

Unsworth (pen:29')

Referee: B Knight

Match Summary

Everton got off to an abysmal start, allowing Niclas Anelka to score two goals before the match was 20 minutes old.  

The first goal came from a free-kick with Anelka's strike taking a wicked deflection that fooled Steve Simonsen in the Everton goal.

David Moyes reacted to the poor start by pulling off Li Tie, who was having trouble getting into the game, and bringing on Tobias Linderoth.

It all kicked off when Gary Naysmith was scythed down by Shaun Wright-Phillips as he was though on goal.  Penalty.  Red Card to Wright-Phillips for 'foul and abusive language'!  David Unsworth dispensed the spot kick with aplomb and Everton were back in the game.  

The incident changed the game, with Everton now giving as good as they got after an absolutely dreadful start.

Everton started the second half brightly with some excellent football shaping probing attacks that tested Schmeichel and the City defence.  Chances came and went in quick succession with numerous chances, including a glorious attack that saw Unsworth hit the post, and Campbell just fail to connect on the corner. 

Everton used possession well but lacked the guile and craft needed to convert the final ball.  David Moyes decided on some changes after the hour mark, bringing on Rooney and Rodrigo for Alexandersson and Unsworth.  

Everton pushed and probed but City's 10 men looked more and more dangerous on the break as Everton stretched the play.  Rodrigo, who had a great shot that when just wide, seemed to be having some positive effect, but wasted an excellent free-kick chance.

But disaster struck a few minutes form the end as Gary Naysmith lost possession, Anelka grabbed his chance and drilled the ball home for his hat-trick.  

Everton's dominant possession throughout the second half came to nothing.  The clear advantage of playing against 10 men, with a star attacking formation featuring Campbell, Radzinski, Rodrigo and Rooney, proved woefully inadequate to produce the right result in the Premiership caldron. 

It all goes to prove: You can't polish a turd.

Thomas Gravesen: Still not doing for us what he did for Denmark in the World Cup

Man City v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Man City 38
 Everton 14
 Draws 17
 Man City 3
 Everton 2
 Draws 0
 Last Time:

Man City 5-0 Everton 

Premiership Scores
Saturday 31 Aug
Birmingham 2-1 Leeds Utd
Man City   3-1 Everton
Middlesbro' 0-0 Blackburn
Sunderland 1-1 Man Utd
Tottenham 1-1 South'ton
West Brom 1-0 Fulham
West Ham  0-2 Charlton
Sunday 1 Sep
Bolton 1-0  A Villa
Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal
Monday 2 Sep
Liverpool  2-2  Newcastle
Tuesday 3 Sep
Man Utd  1-0  Middlesbro'

Match Facts
 Manchester City  (4-4-2)
 Sky blue shirts, black shorts, black socks
Everton   (4-4-2)
 White shirts, blue shorts, white socks
Sun Jihai
Wright Phillips (26' Sent Off)
Berkovic (66' Horlock) 
Huckerby (80' Tiatto) 

Subs not used:  
Nash, Dunne, Goater

Yellow Cards: Benarbia (78')

Red Cards: Wright Phillips (26')
Unsworth (64' Rodrigo)
Li Tie (25' Linderoth)
Alexandersson (64' Rooney) 

Subs not used: 
Gerrard, Li Weifeng 

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards: �


Injured: Chadwick, Ferguson, Moore, Pistone, Watson, Wright, Yobo
Sick: Pembridge

Match Reports

Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Guy McEvoy Match Report
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 Observer Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Tottenham 10
2 Liverpool 8
3 Chelsea 8
4 Man Utd 8
5 Arsenal 7
6 Leeds 6
7 Charlton 6
8 Man City 6
9 Middlesbrough 5
10 Blackburn 5
11 Sunderland 5
12 Everton 5
13 Newcastle 4
14 Fulham 4
15 Birmingham 4
16 Aston Villa 3
17 Bolton 3
18 West Brom 3
19 Southampton 2
20 West Ham 1
After 3 Sep 2002

Match Preview

4 hours there, 4 hours back. Home for 2.30am.  Lovely.  All so that I could see a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City.  Why oh why did I expect any different?

Well the best thing about being a Blue is that after one bad game hope will always spring eternal and there were some good points to take from Wednesday night's game.

Hibbert gave an assured and competitive display.  Rooney showed flashes. Li Tie fulfilled all the good reports.

So what of our visit to Maine Road?

Man City have been typical Keegan.  Flashy but ultimately lacking against Leeds (3-0 loss); brilliant against Newcastle (1-0 win); poor and drab against Villa (1-0 loss).

Which will we have the pleasure to visit?

City have got some great ball players in the middle of the park: Berkovic and Bernarbia appear as talented as any players in the Premiership.  Upfront they have bags of pace in Anelka and Huckerby. However the team appears unfulfilled.  The players always seem to lack one facet. Huckerby and Anelka are not prolific goal scorers, in particular Huckerby is a poor finisher; Bernarbia and Berkovic lack pace and stamina and "do not like it up 'em".

At the back they have the old guard Scmuch who is protected by the pacey but positionally challenged Distin!

It will be a tough game.  City at home will be quite a proposition for any team this year. Yobo and Wright are still likely to be missing and I can see Stubbs struggling to cope with City's pace upfront.

Li Tie and Gravesen will have to get involved and I for one would like to see us revert to a 4-4-2 and find space for Rodrigo.  We were far too narrow against Birmingham and the midfield gave the ball away far too freely, against Man City this could be disastrous.  Rodrigo even in the few minutes that he was on looked exceptionally comfortable on the ball.

This would probably mean Rooney again dropping to the bench but that may be a common occurrence this year and at 16 it must surely be the right thing to do.

Overall I see a tight game but the Blues should be able to keep their unbeaten record - 1-1 and we hit September unbeaten.


Report from Guy McEvoy

In my last few trips to City I guess I�ve been lucky.  The seat has always been in the North Stand.  There is the Law of Averages though, so it had to happen eventually � for this one I was finally in the dreaded  UU Block.  For those of you who haven�t seen this, the structure is a monument to why they�re moving grounds.  A sort of giant piece of wobbly scaffolding bunged in one corner far from the pitch.  Exposed to the elements, you are given a plastic mac by the stewards on the off-chance the heavens will open.  Thank God we got this fixture in August then.  That they dare charge full price for these seats says something about them.  That we choose to pay full price for these seats probably says more about us...

Moyes wisely decided that he wouldn�t risk a three man midfield again so Rooney swapped places on the bench with Alexandersson.  Other than that, it was the same team as in mid-week against Birmingham.

To say we started badly probably understates it.  The extra midfielder made no difference as none of the four started well.  Gravesen carried on from where he left off; Alexandersson was ball shy; I�m not sure what Unsworth offers as a midfielder; and even Li Tie (or Lee Tear as the announcer insisted on calling him [� err... that is the correct pronunciation of his name � Ed]) was passing to nothing.

While City probably did deserve to go ahead, the goal that started it was lucky.  A nothing free-kick.  Anelka speculatively hit it, and it took two deflections.  Nothing anyone can do about that.  Plain bad luck.

Moments later, though, we were two down � and this time we were culpable.  They had a corner, we gave them space, Anelka took his opportunity to score a �proper� goal, and then we had a mountain to climb.

We piddled about for the next five minutes or so.  Moyes decided to change something around, and brought off Li Tie for Linderoth.  I�m not sure why he picked on Tie, he was no worse than any of the others and more likely to make things happen when he found himself.  Still, Moyes is the manager and that was his call.  In any case, it seemed to work, because Everton finally joined the game.

We had a solid patch were Gravesen, Linderoth and even the previously inept Alexandersson looked as though they may after all practice with each other from time to time...  Radzinski was looking particularly lively and the main threat, the only frustration being his tendency to look like he would made a fast break, then he would suddenly decide to hold the ball up and wait for support � usually to then be tackled.  He should leave that kind of play to Campbell and concentrate on pushing through to goal at every opportunity. 

Eventually, Gravesen carried the ball forward, looked up, saw the advancing Gary Naysmith, played a perfect ball into his path, Naysmith was then brought down by Wright-Phillips.  No doubt from where I was sitting � a penalty and red card to go with it [although the red card was evidently for 'foul and abusive language' � Ed].  Unsworth confidently slotted the ball in.  Game on!

It stayed 2-1 until half time.  By then, they�d done enough to leave us in a confident mood.  Maybe it was the effect from Wednesday; certainly the thought of the extra man...

Make no mistake, Everton had far, far more of the second half and by far the clearer of the chances.  We had long, long periods of possession � passing in triangles, switching the play, neat one-twos, and so on.  All of which was pretty enough but, with no-one making meaningful breaks into space or trying anything likely to open City up, the Mancunians were able to shrug off their lack of possession.  There is no problem in the opposition having the ball the whole game, so long as you are winning and they don�t dare advance more than midway into your half, and habitually cross into an empty box.

Don�t get me wrong, we did get some chances, just not as many as our possession should have provided.  Campbell only had to get a scuff from anywhere on one cross to see the ball in: he missed.  Unsworth blasted inches wide.  Rodrigo had a first timer whistle wide.  Rooney looked on to score but his touch deserted him (the later two having come on for Unsworth and Alexandersson).

I think the sense of those there was that we would still do it somehow.  That was until Naysmith lost his head for the first time in the game and was dispossessed by Anelka.  With no-one to beat but Simonsen, Anelka was never going to miss and drilled the ball home for his hat-trick.  There were still a few minutes to go but the psychological damage was such that it was game over.

In terms of performance, it was virtually identical to our showings during all three earlier games so far this season.  For some periods of the game, we were good; for others, we were simply unacceptable.  If you do that over four games you can expect to loose at least one of them � and probably be grateful if that is all you have lost.  In that sense, this result was just.

So, baring a cup-tie, that is that for us and Maine Road.

Individual Performances

  • Simonsen 7 � Fine.  Nothing he could reasonably be expected to do about any of the goals.  Those apart, he did some good work, make two very good saves, and always looked comfortable from corners and crosses.
  • Hibbert 7 � Thought he had another decent enough game; his confidence is growing and it is reassuring to see him willing to take men on as he has a good touch and clearly more flair than I used to give him credit for.
  • Stubbs 6 � I thought he looked whipped for pace a couple of times.  We will not be worried by his suspension if it is timed with Yobo recovering.
  • Weir 6 � I was thinking on the way home, maybe it is all very well having a �solid pro� as captain but, in games like this, maybe we would have been better off with a �character�.  Not that there was anyone in our team who meets that description... it was just a thought.
  • Unsworth 6 � We know all about his bottle and commitment; I�m just not sure they are enough in this midfield role.
  • Naysmith 6 � Lots of positives, most notably winning the penalty.  Still in the habit of going forward very well, looking so at ease advancing with the ball, then knocking one in to nowhere and no-one.
  • Li Tie 6 � No worse than anyone else in midfield at the time of the change so I was confused by his substitution.  Still � credit to Moyes � it did seem to work.
  • Alexandersson 5 � Only very briefly in the game.  Work shy, and no positional sense.
  • Gravesen 6 � Started off awful, but found himself again for a chunk before and after half time.  His rediscovering himself was pivotal in our threatened revival.  He was also the key man in the move that led to the penalty.  Oh, for some consistency.
  • Campbell 6 � Had a couple of half-chances that, at his best, he would have put away.  Missing from the box time and again when we finally did put the ball in the area.
  • Radzinski 7 � Again, he looked by far our greatest threat, at least in terms of opening them up to create chances, if not actually converting them.  Looked reluctant to shoot a few times, which is worrying because, if he gets in a doubtful mood, I�m not sure what opposition we will offer!
  • Linderoth 6 � Certainly did nothing wrong.  But it was noticeable that he kept it numbingly simple (passing to the man next to him first touch) which too often added nothing.  We need flair and vision from midfield; I think that, with a bit of a kick, this lad could offer that.  Take a risk every now and then Toby.  Dare ya!
  • Rodrigo 7 � This bloke was willing to take a risk, and some paid off and created chances to justify them.  I like him.  I think he�s due a start.
  • Rooney 6 � Quietest game to date. Not that he was given much to work with.

Guy McEvoy

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