COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Liverpool vs Everton
My girlfriend was probably pretty relieved that I left the flat when I did as I can’t have been much fun for anyone pre-match. I had one or two things to do in town before the game but this didn’t take as long as I anticipated and so I was around Goodison Park at 10:30am. I had to go the ticket office and walked past The Brick which was already open so once I’d sorted out tickets I popped in there for a pint. I thought it would be pretty quiet in there at this hour but I obviously underestimated Everton fans derby day drinking requirements as it was chocker and I saw a few familiar faces.
After just the one pint I headed on to the Oak which was pretty quiet though once I sat down it instantly went manically busy as we geared up for the big match. I heard the team news in the pub and the only change from the win at Wigan was Distin being recalled to the starting line-up with Senderos dropping down to the bench.
At about 12:30pm I made the trek across Stanley Park. One lad had a USA flag in hand and I overheard another fella on his phone…”I’ll meet you at the gates…what gates? You know, the gates…I don’t want to swear I mean The Shankly Gates”. Made me titter anyway.
The queue for the Anfield Road End was pretty long so we had to wait for a while before entering the ground. This gave everyone an opportunity to goad the Liverpool fans all exaggeratedly dressed in red and white…”Fuck Off to Norway, the city’s all ours” was the general message.
I had a restricted view seat so was quite far back in the corner. You’ll Never Walk Alone was well drowned out by a chorus of boos from our section. Big Evertonian and general power-tripper Martin Atkinson lead the teams out. We won the toss and so switched ends before kick off. Everton support was boisterous, Liverpool’s wasn’t. I felt we started brightly, forcing a corner early on though it didn’t take long for Liverpool to level things up with a few attacks of their own though all without much end product from either team though tackles were flying in everywhere.
We began to get a grip on the game with Fellaini orchestrating from the middle and Donavon, Pienaar and Baines trying to work attacks on the flanks. Saha and Cahill hustled in attack. Baines probably came the closest so scoring in the opening 20 minutes or so with a free kick, though it was quite comfortably tipped over by Reina.
The real flashpoint of the first half, probably of the game, came when Kyrgiakos got himself sent off for a two-footed challenge on Fellaini. I’ve seen it since and thought it was a bit harsh. Anyway this gave us an advantage, at least numerically, though we failed to capitalize on this gift of an opportunity. Fellaini received some lengthy treatment on the sidelines as Everton sort to get the giant Belgian back into proceedings but this failed to materialize and Arteta was thrust into the action a lot early than planned. Incidentally, we probably had our best passage of play in the whole game during the time it was 10 vs 10.
A Gerrard special (i.e. going over in a heap when hardly touched) won himself a free kick which he bombed onto the top of the bar from quite far out, but our real gift of an opportunity was missed by Cahill of all people in first half stoppage time. A ball from the left arrived with the Australian only around six yards out but he missed the target, heading narrowly over the crossbar. At the time I didn’t realize how clear an opportunity it was, having seen it since it turned out to be a game-changing moment. What a chance!
At half time I pondered what might be of the second half. My mind cast back to the 2005-06 Anfield derby when Gerrard was sent off early on in the game though Liverpool went on to win 3-1. I feared a similar story with Everton just not capitalizing on the opportunity.
My fears turned to reality in the second half as Everton just didn’t come out of the traps at all. We were obstructed in our quest by Atkinson however. Fine, you could say he did us a big favour sending a player off for Liverpool but from then forth he seemed to feel as though he had to even things up a bit and in the second half gave everything to Liverpool and nothing to Everton. This made it difficult to get any rhythm or fluency to our passing and the rest of the game was truly awful. Not a good example of football for ‘the best league in the world’.
This was epitomized by the goal…a routine corner by Gerrard not dealt with and Kuyt nipping in between Howard and Neville to head home. Sloppy defending by Everton. The Liverpool fans then finally woke up, the scarves came out, more decisions went Liverpool’s way and things became more and more difficult for Everton as Liverpool sat back. The substitutions didn’t do a lot to change things either. Yakubu and Anichebe replaced Saha and Osman, though Yakubu did make something out of nothing, turning and getting his shot away though it was relatively comfortable for Reina. That was pretty much it. Very, very disappointing from Everton.
There was time for one last moment of madness from Atkinson though, completely unnecessarily sending off Pienaar for absolutely nothing when Gerrard went down clutching his head as the two jumped together. Watch that again and show me where Pienaar connected with Gerrard’s head. If that’s a yellow card we’d be out of players after 7 minutes. It was farcical though Pienaar should have been sent off in the first half I guess. Again, it was reminiscent of 2005-06 when Dowd sent Van Der Meyde off for a similar non-foul.
So where to next? Chelsea and Man Utd at home and Spurs away in the next three league games. We really need four points minimum from the home games and three at Spurs to have any chance of getting into the mix otherwise the tall order becomes a mountainous one.
More positively the day and night did get better. I went for a few beers in The Wilmslow with Gary and then went to watch the rugby in town before seeing Ocean Colour Scene at the O2 Academy. If Everton put in half the effort they did last night we’d have won comfortably!
- Howard: Should have done better with the goal but had little to do otherwise. 5
- Baines: Supported well in attack but just didn’t see enough of the ball. 6
- Distin: Had a shocker. I thought he looked mustard when he first arrived but seems to be going backwards at the moment. 4
- Heitinga: Fine. Though I lost count of how many diagonal balls he played up to Saha. Was like the old Unsworth-Campbell tactic. 6
- Neville: Was also culpable for the goal. Otherwise he didn’t support Donavon enough in attack when he really oughta to have done given how long we played against 10 men. 5
- Fellaini: Was doing well until he did his ankle. Apparently it’s not too serious. Hopefully this is true as we need him at his best against Chelsea and Manchester United. He did look quite funny when spread out on the stretcher though given the size of him. 6
- Pienaar: Ineffective until sent off at the end. Didn’t get going. 5
- Donavon: Had a go at least. A bit headless-chicken esque at times but put more into the game than most. 7
- Osman: Didn’t get into the game and was rightly subbed. 5
- Cahill: Worked but missed that crucial chance. Who knows what would have happened had that gone in. 6
- Saha: I was disappointed to see him subbed as I thought he did more than most though was desperately starved of service. 7
- Arteta (for Fellaini): Unfair to ask so much from him but he kept things ticking over and kept on probing. Shame his teammates where nowhere near on the same wavelength. My man of the match. 7
- Yakubu (for Saha): Had one good effort, creating a chance out of nothing. Time for him to really kick on now following the African Nations Cup. 6
- Anichebe (for Osman): Failed to produce anything really. No impact on the game (apart from pushing everybody amidst a melee). 6
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1 Posted 07/02/2010 at 18:15:12
Gutted Moyes didn't show more balls and throw two up front after Felli was injured. Maybe the Yak (who should be almost match fit by now) instead of Arteta. Didn’t need 5 in midfield when they went down to ten men.
2 Posted 07/02/2010 at 19:34:49
Thought it then - think it now.
3 Posted 07/02/2010 at 22:01:21
These days my own match day experience starts when my wife retires to bed after watching the ’Bill’. The time is between 9:30 pm and 2:30 am. My Evertonian sons and the nearest pub are too far away leaving just me and our two dogs to watch the game. I guess you could say I was in good company.
My wife bought a gadget that relays TV sound to headphones. I crank up the headphone volume put the big screen HD TV on mute and I’m ready to go.
Here in Aus we are lucky in having TV Viewers Choice. At the touch of a button I can watch in real time whatever PL game I fancy. From the comfort of my favourite recliner I see all major incidents and offsides from every angle and in slo-mo.
But you know what, I would swap my match day experience for yours any day. Keep up the good work.
4 Posted 08/02/2010 at 06:36:57
5 Posted 08/02/2010 at 08:27:51
Now set for 2 years of no effort, the contract signed, watch the sicknotes fly.
The sickening thing about all this is Liverpool are currently a top 10 side at best, WE have given them 6 points this season which has got them nicely into a top 4 position and a £20m guaranteed revenue from the CL.
The season for me is a total anti-climax after the excitement of last season, the Anfield Derby symptomatic of Everton FC and its total lack of ambition.
6 Posted 08/02/2010 at 20:16:57
We played better when they had 11 men. The DJ basher was always going to rally his men and do a few of his 5 star dives
Fact of the matter is we werent good enough on the day
Teams practice so much with 10 men these day..Moyes didnt have the tactics or maybe the balls to capitalise on it
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