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 Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool Premiership  Saturday 24 September 2005; 3:00pm
    Half Time: 0-0
  Francis (46')  
 Attendance: 37,189 (Fixture 6) Referee: Rob Styles

Match Summary

James Beattie: still sidelined by a niggling toe injury

David Moyes rang some unusual changes in an effort to freshen things up and give Everton a new perspective in this vital game.  Neville relieved Hibbert of further embarrassment at right-back, with Valente returning for another chance at left-back at the expense of Ferrari.  Cahill, the change everyone expected, was not rested and gets to play yet another game despite being clearly knackered. 

But the biggest change was upfront, with Bent and Ferguson both benched in favour of the untried pairing: Osman and McFadden!

It was clear McFadden relished the opportunity, making a few lively runs in the early minutes, with Osman right there behind him.  It was a bright start for the Blues, with every sign of intent you could wish for.  But the first shot on goal came from Wigan, Roberts firing over from 25 yds.  Davies was booked for a second strong challenge that Rob Styles didn't like. 

A nice Arteta corner after 13 mins was met perfectly by Kilbane but it came off the crossbar.... unlucky!  At the other end, Valente headed off the line after Chimbonda got on the end of a Wigan corner.

More good football got Osman into the are and won another corner after a shout fro a penalty.  But it was an open game, with Camara and Roberts scampering up the other end to create another dangerous Wigan chance.

Everton attacked again, with Davies getting in behind the keeper; however, he wanted a second touch and the chance was gone.  Everton's bright football was really whipping up the crowd, and another corner put more pressure on Wigan, but a worrying failure to convert their chances continued.  Davies had a pop from distance but it failed to dip onto the target.

Arteta had a free-kick chance on the edge of Wigan area, with a big wall in front of him, but he curled it over the bar.  The pattern of the first half continued, but Everton could not score, which was really disappointing considering the excellent performance put in by the Blues before the break.  Davies had another chance after being set up brilliantly by McFadden, but he snatched at it and screwed it wide. 

Wigan came out like tigers, dancing up to the Everton goal from the kick-off, Camara shooting, Damien Francis following up: how to score a goal.  A huge body-blow to Everton, who looked stunned and struggled to recapture the mood of the first half as Wigan surged forward with the bit between their teeth.

Bent came on for Kilbane but Roberts really should have scored Wigan's second, Neville desperately clearing the ball away.  Everton were back to their old ways, looking float, not making runs, failing to create movement... all we needed now was the return of the hoof-ball... Welcome, Duncan Ferguson!

McFadden did well again to create a great cross-shot which Bent  so nearly connected with but it sliced wide of the Wigan goal as it looked that Lady Luck would not smile sweetly on the Blues.

With barely 10 mins left, Cahill and Bent combined to get the ball in the net off a great Arteta cross, but Cahill was pushing and the ref ruled it out, much to the chagrin of every Evertonian.  With 5 mins left, Filan pulled off an incredible save after another fantastic piece of work by McFadden. 

With Ferguson being penalized for every minor contact, primarily with De Zeeuw, there was no way he would be allowed to participate in a goal-scoring move.  He was booked in the last few minutes.

What would Everton have to do to score a goal?  Not enough animals and virgins sacrificed to the football gods, obviously! Queue a lot more disgruntled Evertonians venting their sorely swollen spleens....

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

If we went into the Arsenal game expecting to lose, most fans will be going into this home fixture expecting to beat newly-promoted Wigan Athletic and get our season back on track before it's too late.

Unfortunately, there are two rather large obstacles impeding a routine victory.  Firstly, the Latics are not an easy proposition.  New to the Premiership they may be, but Paul Jewell's team are well organised and not afraid to attack which means they will be no pushover.

Secondly, there is Everton's well-documented attacking crisis and the hit on their confidence that has come with it.  This is a must-win game (sorry, Ed) but it is going to take more than the huff-and-puff, route one approach that has epitomised the Blues' start to the season.

David Moyes clearly wasn't willing to change his strategy for the visit to Highbury in the manner that many fans had been hoping but if the manager refuses to abandon the 4-1-4-1 formation for a winnable home game and demonstrate that he is willing to adopt a more attacking way out of the current mess, he will surely incur further frustration among many of the Goodison faithful.

And the chances of him opting for 4-4-2 are even less given the fact that Duncan Ferguson missed training late this week with a back injury and that the manager is refusing to acknowledge James McFadden as a striker.

Certainly, from these eyes, a Bent-McFadden pairing is long overdue for a trial and while James Beattie's continuing toe problem makes him very doubtful, this would be the ideal opportunity to try it... but I could bang on about alternatives to the tried, tested and failed and it won't make a jot of difference because Moyes is in charge.

Also not part of the equation are Alessandro Pistone (out for the season), Lee Carsley, Gary Naysmith, Per Krldrup, James Vaughan, and Andy van der Meyde.  John Ruddy has gone on loan to Walsall.

The ceiling won't fall in if Everton lose this match but if panic hasn't already set in among players and fans, it probably will if they don't get three points from this game and get some goals on the board.

The loss of precious points will only be half the equation — the apparent inability of the manager to turn the tide on a horrific run of form could be equally damaging.

So, there's nothing for it but for the Blues to go out and go hell for leather for the victory.  Let's hope they do...

Lyndon Lloyd


Lyndon Lloyd

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EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Davies :11'
(69' Ferguson :90')
  Kilbane (58' Bent)
Subs not used
  Naysmith (injured)
  Krøldrup (injured)
  Carsley (injured)
  Beattie (injured)
  Pistone (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Li Tie (unfit)
  Ruddy (on loan)
WIGAN (4-4-2)
  De Zeeuw :63'
  Camara (86' Connelly)
  Subs not used

Premiership Scores
Saturday 24 Sept 2005
Birmingham 2-2 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
Everton 0-1 Wigan
Man Utd 1-2 Blackburn
Newcastle 1-0 Man City
West Brom 1-2 Charlton
West Ham 0-0 Arsenal
Bolton 1-0 Portsmouth
Sunday 25 Sept 2005
Middlesbro 0-2 Sunderland
Monday 26Sept 2005
Tottenham 1-0 Fulham

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Chelsea 21
2 Charlton 15
3 Bolton 14
4 Tottenham 12
5 West Ham 11
6 Man Utd 11
7 Man City 11
8 Arsenal 10
9 Wigan 10
10 Newcastle 8
11 Middlesbro 8
12 Blackburn 8
13 Liverpool 7
14 Birmingham 6
15 Aston Villa 6
16 Portsmouth 5
17 Fulham 5
18 West Brom 5
19 Sunderland 4
20 Everton 3
After 26 Sep 2005

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