<% Dim oMRTCs, oMRTRs, strSQL set oMRTCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oMRTCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/07-08/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos, Team ;" Set oMRTRs = oMRTCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb | Season 2007-08 | Everton vs West Ham United
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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 22 March 2007; 5:15pm
 West Ham
Yakubu (7')
Half Time: 1-0
 Ashton (63') 
Attendance: 37,430
Fixture 31
Referee: Mark Halsey

Match Summary

First, the good news: 4-4-2, Anichebe declared fit and started; Cahill back in anger... Now the bad: No Johnson, No Yobo... NO PIENAAR!!!  (Pienaar was bedridden with a severe bout of gastroenteritis.) But still a fair number of creative and attacking prospects with Osman and Arteta behind Cahill, Anichebe and Yakubu.  Goals are what we wanted.... 3 points behind Liverpool, the derby coming up next weekend...  Everything to play for...

But there was an early scare for the Goodison faithful after just 5 mins when off a Hammers  corner, Tompkins had a looping header hit the bar. However, with just 7 mins gone, a Lescott backpass hoofed handsomely up the field by Howard saw Anichebe win the header and somehow get the ball forward to Yakubu, who controlled the bounce, advanced, and fired home with confidence and power... wham GOAL!!!  What a fantastic finish.  Feed, the Yak!!!  (Note to AJ: THAT is how you score goals...)

Cheers turned to tears on ten mins when Cahill damaged his foot and had to leave the field, replaced by Manual Fernandes.  It seemed to disrupt the Everton shape in midfield, but Anichebe did get the ball through to Yakubu, who was  NOT offside, played on by two defenders... GOAL!... disallowed, however, by Mark Halsey... We wuz robbed!

This ludicrous decision upset the Blues and a horribly scrappy game of football ensued for the rest of the half, ball retention simply shocking whenever they got it off West Ham.  Hoof, hoof, hoof... horrendous stuff.  Thank god the defence was solid, except for a  LescottJags mix-up when Ashton had the goal at his mercy...  missed! Phew!!!

For the most part, West Ham were playing the football, but all at distance, with Everton playing deep, defending solidly, blocking any meaningful penetration.  But the Blues were scrappy, poor, pathetic going forward.  Far too much hoofball. That was except for Fernandes who, after looking really rusty for the time he had been on, put a great through ball forward to Anichebe, who went 1 on 1, took perhaps an extra touch, enabling Green block. Really, really should have scored...

Just before the break, Halsey gave West Ham another dangerous free-kick that Ashton dispatched low and hard; Howard had it covered to his left but it deflected off Lescott's knee, and the Everton keeper produced a fantastic reaction save with his foot. 1-0 at the break.

Some much better football from Everton at the start of the second half, with almost constant pressure on the West Ham goal.  Everton nemesis Boa Morte was thankfully removed by Curbishley just after the restart, youngster Freddie Sears coming on.  Great work by Osman, turned nicely, drove into the box, fired and won a corner off Ferdinand. Arteta made a better delivery but cleared it was to Carsley, whose reaction shot was awful. 

A good move down the left, and a fantastic cross in from Baines, hard and low, saw the Yak under pressure from Ferdinand and he could only fire it at Green.  But WHU were getting back into it after being played off the park for the first 10 mins since the restart, and looked to really mount a threat to the Everton goal.

On the hour, Everton, unable to clear their lines, gave a way anther dangerous free-kick on the D won by a very tricky Sears, but it was delivered high wide and not too handsome by Ashton!  Carsley had another pop from distance.  Victor was causing plenty of trouble and won a free-kick for Arteta wide right that was delivered over everyone!  Fernandes was as bad, crossing over everyone!

But the warning signs had been there all game, and 1-0 was not enough.  A deep hopeful cross from Lucas Neill and Ashton got above Jagielka for a very strong and determined header; Howard pushed it onto the post and in: goal.

The Everton response was largely to huff and puff.  Plenty of effort but little or no finesse.  Few options for players with the ball going forward, not enough movement off the ball.  Then resorting to the good old hoofball yet again.  Poor, poor, poor.

Everton looking more stretched, end-to-end, the game saw plenty of changes in possession as both sides felt they could win this if only they could score another goal...

Jagielka produced a horrible faux pas in front of Howard after a really shocking backpass from Arteta (PLAY THE BALL FORWARD!!!) so nearly gave the goal and game away to Sears.  Osman lost his balance in the area and went down... never a penalty.  Meanwhile at the other end... Neville caught Sears across the face, and he crumpled in the area... lucky escape?  We've seen then given...

Noble then had a fierce shot after a brilliant setup by Solano.  Sears was next, through on goal from a nice Ashton flick, a nice clip past Howard... goal surely... No! off the foot of the post! Unbelievable stuff.... 3 mins of added time for someone to win this. 

Last minute, Everton corner: Nothing.  Everton forcing it but no opportunities forthcoming and in the end a very, very disappointing result.  Two points utterly squandered after another really poor display from the Blues.  So Fulham was just a blip, eh?  One of those things.  We can't win every game.  Blah, blah, fucking blah.

Watching this, it was as if they haven't trained all week.  They don't know how to pass to each other, they don't now how to move the ball forward with pace.  They don't have the guile to create decent scoring opportunities.  The only thing Everton did well was defend... well, expect for one crucial moment, and that's all it takes.  West Ham nothing to play for?  How come they played virtually all the football?  And took the game to Everton for most of the second half???

Absolutely not good enough form Everton.  But let the excuses roll...........

Michael Kenrick

Faltering Blues Drop Another Two Points

Three years ago when Everton defied the odds and the pundits, many of whom had tipped them for relegation following the sale of Wayne Rooney, to secure fourth place, a combination of their team spirit and the failings of their rivals, Liverpool, saw them stumble over the finish line into that Champions League qualifying berth as their form fell away in the second half of the campaign.

The Reds may yet falter again themselves this season, starting, we hope, with defeat at Manchester United tomorrow and then again in next week's Merseyside derby, but once again David Moyes's side appears to either be running out of steam, severely disrupted by injury or choking at a crucial juncture.

Certainly, the Carling Cup semi-final disappointment against Chelsea, the defeat over two legs to Fiorentina, and last weekend's awful loss at Fulham suggest that when the chips really are down, this Everton side comes up just that little bit short.  It's tempting to put it down to an inability to cope with the pressure of the "business end of the season" but fitness concerns and injuries played their part in today's frustrating draw with West Ham.

It all started well enough.  After a let-off at one end when teenage debutant Tomkins headed off the Everton crossbar from Freddie Ljungberg's fifth-minute corner, Anichebe flicked on Tim Howard's long clearance, Yakubu latched onto the ball and buried it past Robert Green with a thumping finish.  The consummate striker's finish from a player closing in on 20 goals for the season in all competitions.

And eight minutes later, the Nigerian had the ball in the net again but the linesman incorrectly flagged offside and, not for the first time this season, a perfectly good goal was chalked off.  Not only was Yakubu level with the last defender at the time of the last touch forward, that touch came off a West Ham defender, not Victor Anichebe.

Still, Everton were mostly in control, even if the visitors were playing the better football, and it seemed only a matter of time before the all-important second goal would be fashioned from somewhere, even if it was the result of "playing the percentages".

Instead, though, it was West Ham who should have scored when indecision between Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka gifted a chance to Dean Ashton but he lashed his shot wide with just Howard to beat.  Another let-off and then, after Green had foiled Anichebe when the young striker had been released brilliantly by Yakubu, came another; Ashton's low direct free kick took a wicked deflection off Lescott and Howard made a superb stop with his foot to maintain the Blues' lead going into half time.

Everton burst out of the gates again after the interval but although they came close on a couple of occasions, no clear-cut chances resulted until Anichebe finished a nice move by laying it off to Leighton Baines whose low cross found Yakubu, but Anton Ferdinand did enough to take the sting out of his contact and Green once again saved.

All too often, the ball was hoofed aimlessly forward or the final ball lacked accuracy, making for extremely frustrating fare from the home team.  They had lost Tim Cahill after only 10 minutes, the Australian seeming to roll his ankle, but though his replacement, Manuel Fernandes, had a nervy start he grew in stature as the game wore on.  At times, he and Leon Osman seemed to be the only players able to find another Blue shirt while Arteta struggled to dictate the game in the manner which was required.  Indeed, not the first time in recent weeks, the Spaniard was poor by his standards.

Alan Curbishley's side, meanwhile, were growing in confidence and when Lucas Neill swung in a deep cross to expertly pick out Ashton, there was an air of inevitability about the result.  The striker rose virtually unchallenged by Jagielka and powered a header that Howard could only palm into the goal off his left-hand post. 1-1 and an uneasy feeling began to grip the home faithful.

That dread only intensified as young substitute Freddie Spears started to get the measure of Lescott and Jagielka in the Everton defence.  With 13 minutes left he beat Lescott for pace but his weak shot was stopped by Howard.  Then, on 85 minutes, a howler by Jagielka handed him another great opportunity but again he was unable to capitalise, Howard smothering his effort.

The Everton defence completed the troika of lapses when Ashton beat Lescott in the air to flick the ball on for Sears, Jagielka was caught out and the youngster pushed it past the on-rushing Howard who could only look on in hope as his shot rolled off the face of the post and was hacked away from danger by Jagielka.  Somehow, Everton had got out of jail.

In a game they needed to win, should have won and, with a bit more of the composure and fluidity they showed before Christmas, could have won, Moyes's side were left clinging to a solitary point and thanking their lucky stars that they didn't lose a second successive game.

There is no question that injuries have taken their toll at a vital part of the season.  Though he was poor at Craven Cottage last weekend, Steven Pienaar's absence was felt keenly today.  It seems as though without him, it's route-one all the way.  Then there's Cahill whose impact when he isn't scoring is sometimes hard to pinpoint but whose return in the autumn coincided with that unprecedented 13-game unbeaten run and who has also missed all but 10 minutes of the last two poor results.

But then many fans always knew we would struggle as the season wore on with a squad that is strong with a fit First XI firing on all cylinders but that is found wanting when it comes to depth of quality.  Moyes appears to be surprised at his squad's inability to cope with the demands of this long season but when you're relying on players like Phil Neville, who can't consistently — sometimes can't ever — find a Blue shirt, or Lee Carsley, who is great at the one defensive dimension he does possess, to unlock an entrenched defence, then repeat Champions League qualification at a time when Liverpool have hit form looks massively optimistic.

Certainly, the mind-numbing hoofball on display again here today isn't helping and there's little hope of seeing much different at Anfield next weekend given the stakes and blood-and-thunder character of the Mersey derby.  With luck, the Blues will only be two points behind going into that one and we can only hope they display a good deal more cohesion, incisiveness and passing ability than was on evidence for long periods here against West Ham.  Otherwise, fifth place will be the goal and another season of building towards breaking into the top four next year...

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Having seen their Uefa Cup adventure come to an end in the cruelest of fashion and then letting both them and the fans down so spectacularly at Fulham last Sunday, Everton are at a critical juncture in their chase for that precious fourth spot in the Premier League.

That defeat in West London last weekend allowed rivals Liverpool to extend their slender lead in goal difference to three clear points as they edged Reading at Anfield. With Rafael Benitez's men facing a daunting trip to Old Trafford this weekend, however and Everton hosting a West Ham side struggling for form, the Blues have the perfect opportunity to wipe out the Reds' gains last weekend and set up a titanic Merseyside derby in a week's time.

David Moyes's biggest obstacle could be the fitness of his squad.  After losing Andy Johnson to a groin strain just a quarter of an hour into the game at Fulham, the manager had no option but to bring on a defender, Tony Hibbert, and go 4-5-1 as both James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe were injured — not even Goodison's forgotten man, Andy van der Meyde, was fit.

Johnson will be given a late fitness test to see if he can play any part against the Hammers but Anichebe should have recovered from a jarred hip and will at least give Moyes options up front.

match photo
Big Vic: expected to be fit after missing the Fulham game with a hip injury

In midfield, Tim Cahill remains doubtful with a hip complaint of his own, and neither Thomas Gravesen and Manuel Fernandes are expected to be fit enough to make the bench.  It's likely, therefore, that Moyes will go 4-4-2 with either Anichebe or Johnson partnering Yakubu, with Phil Neville moving back to right back and Hibbert dropping to the bench.

Having spent a fortune in the summer and being touted as potential European challengers, the wheels appeared to come off West Ham's season altogether in the last month or so.  They lost three successive games 4-0 at the beginning of the month before finally getting back to winning ways last week with a 2-1 win over Blackburn.

While Alan Curbishley's men have travelled pretty well this season, winning as many away from home as they have at home so far, it's that propensity to ship goals —not to mention the fact that the Blues have already beaten them twice this season — that will give Moyes cause for optimism as he prepares for this one.

With games running out and Liverpool facing arguably their toughest remaining test, victory for Everton is paramount.  Win while Liverpool lose and once again it will only be goal difference separating the two sides before next weekend's derby at Anfield.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

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Match Reports
2007-08 Reports Index
< Fulham (A) Liverpool (A) >
 Everton websites
 ToffeeWeb Summary
 Evertonfc.com Report
 When Skies Are Grey Report
 Bluekipper Report
 Everton fans' reports
 Lyndon Lloyd Report
 Paul Traill Report
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 BBC Sport Report
 4 the Game Report
 Sky Sports Report
 Sporting Life Report
 SoccerNet Report
 The Observer Report
 The Guardian Report
 Liverpool Echo Report
 Daily Post Report
EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Neville {c}
  Cahill (10' Fernandes)
  Subs not used
  Pienaar (ill)
  Yobo (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Johnson (injured)
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Turner (injured)
  Vidarsson (loan)
  Boyle (loan)
  Spencer (loan)
  Jutkiewicz (loan)
  Kissock (loan)

WEST HAM (4-4-2)
  Neill (c)
  Parker (81' Spector)
  Ljungberg (79' Solano)
  Boa Morte (52' Sears)
  Subs not used

Premier League Scores
Saturday 22 March 2008
Aston Villa 0-1 Sunderland
Blackburn 3-1 Wigan
Bolton 0-0 Man City
Everton 1-1 West Ham
Midlesbro 1-0 Derby
Newcastle 2-0 Fulham
Reading 2-1 Birmingham
Tottenham 2-0 Portsmouth
Sunday 22 March 2008
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
Man United 3-0 Liverpool

Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 73
2 Chelsea 68
3 Arsenal 67
4 Liverpool 59
5 Everton 57
6 Portsmouth 50
7 Aston Villa 49
8 Blackburn 49
9 Man City 49
10 West Ham 44
11 Tottenham 39
12 Middlesbro 34
13 Newcastle 32
14 Wigan 31
15 Reading 31
16 Sunderland 30
17 Birmingham 27
18 Bolton 26
19 Fulham 23
20 Derby 10
After 23 Mar 2008


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