VIEW FROM THE BLUE
I hate the derby. Except, of course, when we win. Then I feckin' love the derby. We release DVDs and make desktop wallpapers of our derby triumphs because they're so rare these days. A win over Liverpool is something to be cherished... but mostly derbies are a source of utter dread and I'm glad that there are (usually) only two a season.
That, of course, partially stems from the intensity of the local rivalry, the recent bitterness of which gets dissected and beaten death by the media every time an all-Mersey clash rolls around. Losing to Liverpool just hurts more than any other defeat — unless of course it's a game of significance like last season's Cup Final loss to Chelsea which was just plain agonising, particularly given how much it meant to us — and it's that fear of losing that keeps your heart in your throat and your stomach tied in knots for 90 long minutes.
What drives the forboding nature of this fixture more than anything these days, though, is the infrequency with which we actually beat the Dark Side — for Heaven's sake, even after battering them for 90 minutes at Goodison earlier this season, they still managed to score two goals from about as many chances and come away with the most underserved of wins. Oddly, I couldn't even muster up the energy to be gutted about it — we'd given it our best and just been unlucky.
As they have consolidated their status among the Sky Four and the Europan cartel of "G" clubs in the past 10 years or so, our successes against Liverpool have become harder to come by. Six wins and a glorious five-year unbeaten stretch in the 1990s contrasts starkly with our paltry two Premier League victories in this last decade. Last season's FA Cup replay triumph was magical because, shorn of strikers as we were at the time, it felt like we'd triumphed over both Liverpool and adversity, but we're still owed some more joy against them by the footballing gods and they know it.
As this season's Anfield derby looms, there's much talk of the Blues' recent form, how it contrasts with that of the Reds and how it might portend the first Everton victory at Anfield since 1999. But, as any seasoned derby observer knows, such analysis is pure folly. That five-season unbeaten stretch we enjoyed in the second half of the 90s coincided with a genuinely dark period in the club's history whereas under the patient David Moyes evolution and the revival in our Premier League fortunes, we've lost nine of the last 15 league derbies. The old cliche, "the form book goes out the window for derbies" is so often true of these matches; just as apt is the feeling that they usually beat us when it matters.
It's true: with Fernando Torres out, the Reds in turmoil off the pitch, Rafael Benitez under mounting pressure after his team fell out of the top four this season and were then turfed out of the FA Cup by Reading, and Everton without defeat in the League since the Goodison derby last December there could be no better time to play them. But at the end of the day, it'll all be about what happens during the 90 minutes... who wants it more, how fair the referee is, and even then, as the first derby this season showed, the better side might not win.
Setting aside the pessimism that comes from watching derby clashes throughout the 2000s, though we've not won on ememy territory in ten seasons now, we've not actually done too badly in away derbies and are unbeaten in our last two visits there in all competitions. Importantly, our Talisman of this fixture with the last three goals scored by an Everton player at Anfield, Tim Cahill, is back on form and scoring vital goals. Having terrorised Liverpool last season, Tiger Tim will either be at it again or at least take up so much of Liverpool's focus that it'll open up opportunities for the other stars in the Blues' line-up to etch their name into Mersey derby folklore. I'll say it again: we're due success in the belly of the beast and we know we have the talent to achieve it.
There's a wider significance to the derby, however, as we enter this so-called "month of death". The Blues' record against the Sky Four since the inception of the Premier League shows that we've earned significantly more points against Liverpool than against Chelsea (26), Arsenal (24) and, in particular, Manchester United (just 14) and that speaks volumes for Everton's approach to games against the old enemy. Whereas we've consistently been tentative and conservative against the other three Big Four teams, particularly under David Moyes, the more gung-ho attitude that the derby provokes has reaped greater dividends.
Furthermore, it's no accident that a more attacking formation and less restrained approach led to Everton being the only team to score three goals at Stamford Bridge so far this season; likewise, the Blues came within an injury-time minute of beating Arsenal on their own turf having take the game to them from the first whistle.
If nothing else, these recent results, combined with the team's overall form in the League since the debacle at Hull in November, should be used as the foundation for how Everton approach the upcoming tests against Chelsea, United, Sporting and Spurs this month. For this weekend's derby, that should go without saying but we need to shed this inferiority complex against the big sides and adopt the self-belief that usually pervades in derby games. A first win at Anfield in a decade and we may well have the catalyst for cheating the "month of death."
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1 Posted 05/02/2010 at 07:53:12
2 Posted 05/02/2010 at 09:09:21
I’ll be sitting in front of my TV for this one — I really hated going to Anfield.
In one sense we’re lucky the fixtures have panned out in the way they have: if we beat Liverpool or play well, it will set the tone for the rest of the month; lose badly and Moyes will need all his resources to pull the team out of a post-derby slump.
However, the omens are good: the last couple of seasons we’ve ground out results against Liverpool... now we have a team to really outplay them.
My only nagging doubt is Senderos — I know he’s not had a chance to bed in yet and I know we should give the lad time to settle down. Unfortunately, I’ve watched him play for Arsenal and have not been impressed in the slightest. I’m so glad the ladyboy isn’t playing as fully fit he’d have ripped him to shreds.
I hope I’m wrong and Moyes can turn Senderos from a defender who once had lots of promise but has looked error prone and pedestrian in recent seasons, to an Everton/Moyes style central defender.
3 Posted 05/02/2010 at 09:37:02
4 Posted 05/02/2010 at 10:00:39
However, the bookies don’t seem to share our view and let's face it they are as unbiased as you can get.
RS win - $1.80
Draw - $3.40
EFC - $4.50
5 Posted 05/02/2010 at 10:24:29
Saturday will be no exception: every Blue will have interest in only the score, the niceties of the game will be secondary to that all-important win. How we get it isn’t the point, just get it and fill County Road with a mass of singing scarf-waving Blues and the rest of the season will get back to normal and take care of itself.
UP THE BLUES!
6 Posted 05/02/2010 at 12:28:23
7 Posted 05/02/2010 at 12:34:17
8 Posted 05/02/2010 at 13:07:16
9 Posted 05/02/2010 at 13:14:03
I’m still not happy that we’ve got it right defensively and Senderos or Distin both give me concerns. Also, Neville has been playing badly and while it is a team game, you’re only as strong as your weakest links.
I’ll be happy with a draw and delighted with an overdue win but feel we’ll have to score a few goals to do it. Also hope Atkinson is not too swayed by Carragher and Gerrard.
10 Posted 05/02/2010 at 13:29:50
11 Posted 05/02/2010 at 14:41:49
12 Posted 05/02/2010 at 15:09:35
As Michael always says, we put up the team crest of the next opposition with every preview and treat that lot the same as every other team. Over the last couple of derbies, I’ve used photos from previous derbies instead and we’ve lost them both (I think I used the FA Cup for those two games last season) so I’m doing a little exercise in superstition here. If we win, it’ll all have been worth it!
13 Posted 05/02/2010 at 15:32:09
14 Posted 05/02/2010 at 15:55:52
Why do our supporters (and sometimes Manager) start off with a big inferiority complex when playing certain teams?
On our day, we can have good go at anybody. We should always EXPECT to win.
If you are scared of playing anybody then you should not be playing.
15 Posted 05/02/2010 at 16:49:38
My concerns for the game
1/ Osman, goes missing against better opposition, if Arteta fit, play him from the start, if not play Pienaar central Bily left, Ossie sub.
2/ Senderos, not had time to develop with Heitinga , if Distin fit would rather see him esp for pace.
3/ Saha, i almost want to see Vaughan start, then bring King Louis on to face defenders who have had to deal with Vaughan and Cahill for 45 mins and are totally fucked, it could work the other way round of course, but Saha the good is vital we dont want Saha the not really up for this one as i only got 7 hrs sleep last night and i usually have 8hrs, and i cut my finger on thurs so i dont feel right.
Getting worked up already , Fucking GET IN.
16 Posted 05/02/2010 at 17:06:09
17 Posted 05/02/2010 at 21:22:11
I dont want to pick up the paper on Monday and have Gerard and Carragher saying that all this talk motivated them to beat us on Saturday.
Nice to be confident but their form is as good as ours recently and they do have that deal with the devil that spurs them on.
18 Posted 05/02/2010 at 21:29:40
19 Posted 05/02/2010 at 22:02:21
I completely agree we should be aiming for wins in this month not draws, not plucky performances and half arsed platitudes. There are no more excuses we are in good form,we have a virtually full strength squad plus the top four are weaker than ever.
This season alone the likes of Wigan,Burnley,Fulham and Portsmouth have all mamged to do something Everton have not done in three years and beat one of the CL cartel. Even Leeds and Reading are getting in on the act.
Those clubs dont see it as a big deal they dont freeze and blow their chance so why the hell should we.
It is high time the team abanded this attitude of being happy with a point and keep it tight. This month the manager and the players have the perfect opportunity to once and for all prove that we can compete on the pitch with anybody.
If we display an attacking intent identical to the City game in each match that we play In February we will win more than we lose.
20 Posted 05/02/2010 at 21:51:28
A main difference between him, very good manager that he is and a truly great manager, is the ability to recognise, often before anyone else, if and when to make a change.
I agree with everyone who would rather our players ceased their childish boasting, shut their gobs and save it till after.
21 Posted 05/02/2010 at 23:05:54
Might be interesting to see how Moyes approaches this "month of death". Fucking go for it! Starting with a win against the shower of pricks across the park.
22 Posted 05/02/2010 at 23:16:56
We’ve got to be in their faces from the first whistle, this is the first time in 25 years that we can say our midfield is better than theirs. I thought the derby at GP despite losing is the 1st one I’ve seen which we totally dominated, I’ve seen us get played off the park on numerous occasions, or in the 80’s even steven and that what made the result all the more hard to take.
Come on Davey go for the win, as someone said we ain’t getting relegated so we might as well go for broke. COYB
23 Posted 06/02/2010 at 00:36:05
24 Posted 06/02/2010 at 03:20:01
Mordor - hilarious. If we’re the Fellowship of the Blue, who’s wearing the ring of power? Gotta be Cahill — looks a bit like a hobbit. He’s gotta destroy it by knocking it with his head into the fire pit / LFC goal.
We have to win — I hate them so much it’s palpable. I never thought any team could surplant the NY Yankees as the most hated team in the free world. It happened - hate the RS that much more.
Into Hell in the name of all that is Holy!
25 Posted 06/02/2010 at 03:24:48
But this time, this time surely, is the one.
I have no sympathy for the Devil and refuse to give him his due.
And now for something completely different... under the ’Only a woman could think of it’ heading. The wife has just come in with a packet of red!! reddish, well chestnut hair colour. WTF.
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