Everton 1 - 0 Arsenal

When I booked my tickets and travel, it was a 3 pm start so bringing it forward to 12:30 was a bitter blow to my beauty sleep – albeit I’d get back home with some of the evening left. The alarm went off at 4 am and I snook out of the house without waking Jane or our two fearsome guard dogs!!

A 45-minute drive to Taunton was the first item on the agenda and James defied all expectations and was there on time. Being a vegan, his choice of food for the day was in stark contrast to that of PC for our last game – James's effort was healthy eating personified whilst PC seemed to be doing his utmost to have a heart attack! Each to his own!!

There was very little traffic on the M5 and we made excellent time, arriving at Stanley Park around 10:30 with plenty of time for a few beers. The Royal Oak was eerily empty for a while but then filled up with a pretty vibrant atmosphere. Our tickets were in Bullens Road upper tier, the first time I had been there for some 40 years – and neither of us have worn well! Roll on BMD!

I could smell the tension in the air (or was it that vegan food?) as we kicked off with the three seats in the Directors Box empty again. Sean’s formation was a very solid 4-5-1 and, looking down from the stand, it was clear that he had grasped the problem of the gaps in our centre, bringing Iwobi and McNeil back to support the full-backs, meaning that the three centre midfielders were relieved of covering the flanks and could therefore present a three-man barrier to Arsenal trying to pick their way through our defence. This worked great all game, with Saka and Martinelli kept very quiet and Arsenal badly missing the injured Jesus.

I thought we played very well all game. Gana was breaking up play, Doucouré had his best game alongside Onana who was absolutely outstanding and he gets better every game. Calvert-Lewin gave a great effort, albeit he should have scored at least one, and the much maligned Maupay gave a horrible performance (from an Arsenal perspective) and didn’t let their defenders alone.

The back four were all excellent and whilst Onana was voted Man of the Match by 50% of the coach on the way home, there was one player who stood out for the improvement to the extent that he was unrecognisable. Dwight McNeil was outstanding, tackling back with gusto, passing well, great corners, and showed a fine turn of speed for a player written off by so many as having no pace. Is this the Dyche effect? One of the lads on the coach was sat next to someone “in the know” who told him that Dwight had been pulled out of training a few times in the week for putting it about too much! If he can keep this going, he will be an absolute asset to us –well done, son!!

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The atmosphere was electric with the crowd back to what they were at the back end of last season. It is so crucial to keep the crowd on board and we can start by performing at a similar level next week against our vulnerable neighbours. 

The trip home was great on a very happy coach and I am now on an unbeaten run of four games at Goodison without defeat. I will return – and soon!

Reader Comments (41)

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:03:02
As a fellow travelling Blue for whom every home game is an away day, as well as away days, great account Dave.

Totally with you. Onana took the plaudits and will get even better,

With our two young full-backs, we have promising young players backed up with the nouse and experience of the likes of Coady, Tarkowski, Gueye and the warrior that is Seamus, who simply won't stop giving. It is a good balance that I hope this manager can organise better that the last one.

The midfield was much more compact and Onana gave Odegaard, one of the players of the season so far, a torrid day. He ripped him a new one. He was literally chasing his shadow.

But McNeil played very well and he, himself, is only 23. He can still develop and improve in the right team and give him something to aim for and he can deliver, as we all saw.
Dyche knows that. It's why he put him straight in the team.

Dave Williams
2 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:08:36
I was in a rush to finish this article before dinner and forgot my ratings:

Pickford: commanded his box well - 7
Coleman: Didn't give Martinelli a kick - 8
Mykolenko: Saka won't have enjoyed that - 7
Coady: great block on the line and was always in the right place - 7
Tarkowski: won everything and scored too - 8
Iwobi: excellent as a full-back and as a winger - 7
Gana: broke up play well and never stopped working but held his position - 7
Onana: immense- marvellous little trick he's got with that little jump to the side - 9
Doucouré: best game for the club; disciplined and worked so hard - 8
McNeil: see my report - 9
Calvert-Lewin worked hard, gave their defence something to think about- 7
Maupay: what a pain in the rear! If I was a centre-back, I would have hated to play against him

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:19:43
Can't argue with that Dave and agree on Maupay.

You forgot one though. The supporters. 12 out of 10.

Let's take it to that place and make them rip up seats.

Dave Williams
4 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:25:58
Quite right, Danny. Did you get a ticket in the end?

It makes such a difference when the crowd is like that.

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:28:47

I wish I knew you were going to be in The Upper Bullens. I would have liked to meet you and say hello to a great Evertonian.

About your ratings, Dave, I would give Iwobi some constructive advice: he never once tried to use his speed and go past the Arsenal full-back but at least twice going backwards he gave the ball away and put Arsenal on the attack.

I know it's a bit late but try and be braver and attack down the wing then look up before you put your centre across. It's only a game of football there's nothing to be frightened of and you and the team will benefit from it.

Lenny Fisher
6 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:29:25
Great report, Dave.

Was talking to a few Mancs in the pub before the game. They were on Merseyside visiting a sick parent…

They were raving about Garner, saying he will be a great addition to our team.

Hope so.

Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:42:34
I did, thank you, Dave, courtesy of the very kind Peter, who persevered with me being late due to train problems coming out of the Capital.

Good for Anfield so maybe see you there?

Peter Carpenter
8 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:47:31
What about the ref? 10 for him because he was useless! For once, we got in his face and seemed to sway him our way a little. The Maupay-inspired squabble in added time took up about 90 seconds but he only added 30. Nice to see we are not so passive now.
Michael Lynch
9 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:48:48
It's only the first game, I know, but we've been crying out for a Sean Dyche to sort the team out. It's simple, it's clear, it's old fashioned in many ways, but it can be so effective.

There are always going to be those who think we're too good for Dyche but, right now, it's the other way round. We're lucky to have him and, if this is anything to go by, I hope he stays for a good few years. I will happily watch that mix of intensity, fight, direct play, and the odd bit of fantastic skill. If I never see us fannying about at the back again, I'll be delighted. Along with VAR, that thing of splitting the centre backs to receive the ball and play it out is the worst invention of the modern game.

What an atmosphere on Saturday, almost makes the pain of the last few months worthwhile! Almost.

Dave Williams
10 Posted 06/02/2023 at 10:50:50
Danny- I’m away for the Anfield match which is just as well as I get way to tense watching us against them. I will get the commentary on Everton radio which is even worse than being there in many ways. Like you and probably everyone else on this site I hate them with a passion and am delighted that we now have a guy in charge who won’t be scared and will give them a hard time.
Dave- that’s a shame- next time out perhaps?
Brent Stephens
11 Posted 06/02/2023 at 11:06:20
More detail c/o The Guardian
"Manchester City have been charged and referred to an independent commission by the Premier League over alleged breaches of its financial rules.

The alleged breaches span a period from the 2009-10 season to the 2017-18 campaign. The club are alleged to have breached league rules requiring provision “in utmost good faith” of “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”.

A Premier League statement said: “In accordance with Rule W.82.1, the Premier League confirms that it has today referred a number of alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules by Manchester City Football Club to a Commission under Premier League Rule W.3.4.”

In 2020, City had a two-year ban from European club competitions overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). Uefa had previously ruled that the club committed “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.

Manchester City have not yet responded to the statement at time of writing."

Raymond Fox
12 Posted 06/02/2023 at 11:14:53
Did not get to game, been in bed with stomach trouble for days now.

Brilliant result and performance, I've seen MOD and snatches online and it looked like we played just like we need to. Dyche is just the sort of manager that we need, no messing, abrasive, experienced and savy.

Liverpool won't faze him, the juries out though about whether or not it's a good time to play them. I expect Klopp will have them given them a rocket, I don't expect them to be poor again.

Funnily enough I said I felt we would win the Arsenal game 3 weeks ago, daft as that sounds. Sometimes as the senior ones on here will probably agree, if you have been around long enough events have a habit of occurring when it goes against common sense. Arsenal were due for a fall, everything has been going their way.

Now I'm not taking that away from a new manager and the great performance, as I have said he's the perfect manager for us.

Can we now please keep him long-term regardless of a rocky road that will likely occur from time to time.

Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 06/02/2023 at 11:27:02
Dave, you're probably in a safer position. I spend most Derbies not being able to look at the pitch or arguing with Kopites –
family included.

Brent, that's going to be an interesting one to see how that works out. Especially as it's second time around.

Eddie Dunn
14 Posted 06/02/2023 at 11:31:39
Michael@10, I agree as regards Dyche. Let's hope he gets some leeway when things don't fall into place.

We are lucky to have him -many managers would have turned us down in the current financial predicament and turmoil about the place.

I do think we missed a trick not acting much sooner as for me, Lampard was getting everything wrong for most of his tenure last season, not just this one.

On Saturday the players seemed to have grown an inch taller. Now we will have to see if that resolve can be put to similar use at our old ground.

Peter Carpenter
15 Posted 06/02/2023 at 12:16:23
Raymond, I suspect and hope that Kloppy gave them the rocket some time ago and it hasn't worked. I think he is just now into full rant mode with no particular purpose.
Did you see his weird press conference after the Wolves game? Repeated 'this is not allowed' endlessly, refused to take a question from a journalist he doesn't like and got someone else to ask the exact same question instead (double weird, that).
I am fully expecting him to go into full Basil-Fawlty-thrashing-his-car mode soon, maybe next Monday. He'll be seen running out of Anfield and returning with a branch of a tree, bursting into the home dressing room and thrashing his startled players with it.
I've said it for some time, he's your best friend when he's winning and a very nasty piece of work when he's not.
Barry Hesketh
16 Posted 06/02/2023 at 12:40:29
The Echo at it's Reddest!

Liverpool's rivals Manchester City have responded to a string of Premier League charges, with the club saying they are 'surprised' by today's allegations.

In a club statement issued following the news this morning, City claim they are surprised by the charges - which relate to alleged breaches of profit and sustainability regulations.

And the champions, who claim that they can provide a "comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence" have vowed to put the matter to rest when the allegations considered by an independent commission.

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:27:30
Barry, City will stand up to it like they did previously.

Did you have to get me going with the Red Echo? I'm trying to stay calm.

"Liverpool's rivals"? Have they seen the league table?

When we beat them, they are closer to us.

Raymond Fox
18 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:30:17
Peter your probably correct, I hope so. They have not been the same since Mane left, but they also don't seem to be organised as they were.
Stephen Vincent
19 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:41:11
Brian, Jim, Bill and I were talking about this in the Oak on Saturday and wondering if they would ever be charged.

I think City are in the shit over this, 98 charges I believe - one relates to every year of the investigation. The UEFA charges were only thrown out on a technicality (they became time barred). Plus I think with government legislation on the horizon the PL may have an appetite to actually do something, it does make our position slightly more parlous. No doubt City will get their legal eagles on the case and drag it out for years. But unlike the UEFA case there is no time scale and no possibility of appeal.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:46:59
That's interesting Stephen.

I hope you're well.

Stephen Vincent
21 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:52:51
Getting there Danny.

I was going to head to The North Western on Saturday but the 75 I was on broke down at the bottom of Kings Drive. Are you coming up for Leeds?

John Hall
22 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:57:08
Good to see you back on line Stephen.

Keep well.

Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 06/02/2023 at 13:58:58
I had a nightmare with trains myself. Both on the way up and way back.

I'm not sure about Leeds yet but will let you and the gang know.

Just checked. Leeds and Villa already sold out.

They really don't deserve us.

Eric Myles
24 Posted 06/02/2023 at 14:33:34
Try StubHub Danny, I got some from there a few seasons ago when I was over from Thailand. Picked them up from the ticket office at the ground. Only £10 dearer than face value.
John Flood
25 Posted 06/02/2023 at 14:50:27
Danny / Eric, They don’t use StubHub anymore, but there is now an official club resale site for season ticket holders who can’t go to the game to sell their seat. Tickets sold at normal match price on there as well. https://resale.evertonfc.com/content?lang=en. It is worth keep retrying as some do come up nearer the game.
Danny O’Neill
26 Posted 06/02/2023 at 14:52:38
Thank you Eric. I'll look that and other options..

Right now, I'm getting very focussed on the Derby.

I am already arguing with family. I've realised how much of my extended family are dark side. Fortunately most of my immediate family are on the right side of the alter.

In fairness, they follow them religiously so I can have a decent conversation with them.

It's going to be a long build up, but we can take these. Off back to argue with the cousins.

Stephen Vincent
27 Posted 06/02/2023 at 15:27:01
Thanks John, I was worried for a while but the NHS is wonderful when the chips are down.
Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 07/02/2023 at 10:29:17
I didn't realise that Jeff, but there is likely to be an obvious reason. Trying to give them time to get someone out of the game.

Seriously, there was 15 minutes of added time?

I was in panic mode when they put the board up at Goodison on Saturday. I'd have fainted had they shown 15 minutes and that poor young lad next to me would had to recover me!!!

Jeff Spiers
29 Posted 07/02/2023 at 12:18:54
Danny, I spoke to my mate. He said it was more like 18 mins!! Need to call Wolves.
Barry Hesketh
30 Posted 07/02/2023 at 12:27:03
Jeff @29
That's 20% of a full game added. there must have been a serious delay due to an injury, surely.
Is there a site which gives the amount of added time for every match? it would be interesting to compare each Premier League game.
Jeff Spiers
31 Posted 07/02/2023 at 12:34:45
Barry, trying to find one…
Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 07/02/2023 at 18:56:46
Barry (30),

The reason for the delay was because someone was flying a drone over the pitch and the referee took the players off for their safety.

Barry Hesketh
33 Posted 07/02/2023 at 19:15:14
Thanks for that, Dave @32,

I had no idea about the drone.

Tony Abrahams
34 Posted 07/02/2023 at 19:23:44
I've seen fans smashing seats before, but the pictures of Liverpool fans putting smashed seats inside their coats and then zipping up their coats to take them home was absolutely unbelievable.
Colin Glassar
35 Posted 07/02/2023 at 19:36:50
I've just seen the footage from the dugout cam and I must admit it's very refreshing to see a manager NOT celebrate with group hugs or fist punching or other slightly homoerotic gestures after scoring a goal.

All this prancing around on the touchline, diving into the crowd, running up and down like a lunatic has become very stale and boring. Well done, Mr Dyche.

Will Mabon
36 Posted 07/02/2023 at 19:42:01
"or other slightly homoerotic gestures..."

I'm concerned that you would be familiar with such, Colin.

Colin Glassar
37 Posted 07/02/2023 at 20:17:34
I’m concerned that you are concerned, Will.😂😂
John Austin
38 Posted 07/02/2023 at 22:52:53

You won't know me but you can have my season ticket in the main stand for the Leeds game on 18th February. I can't go due to a family commitment.

Danny O’Neill
39 Posted 08/02/2023 at 07:41:50
Thank you John. Drop me a message.


0796 600 7546

Jeff Spiers
40 Posted 08/02/2023 at 11:11:50
Barry@30. Thanks for clarifying that
Neil Copeland
41 Posted 08/02/2023 at 12:34:07
Stephen #21, good to hear you are on the mend. If you ever need a lift to the game, let me know as I can go that way as opposed to the M53. It’s not a problem so don’t be shy!

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