Everton (0) 0 - Leeds
United (0) 0
Everton: Southall, Barrett, Watson, Short
(43 Unsworth), Hinchcliffe (62 Branch), Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Grant, Speed,
Booked: Barmby, Unsworth.
Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Rideout, Stuart. Unavailable:
Leeds United: Martyn, Kelly, Palmer, Radebe (Jackson 36), Wetherall,
Sharpe, Rush, Deane, Bowyer, Beesley, Halle.
Subs Not Used: Wallace, Beeney, Yeboah, Ford. Booked: Palmer, Halle, Kelly.
|Ref: G R Ashby||Att: 36,954||League Position: 7th||Results and League Table|
Previous Match: Derby County v Everton -- Next Match: Middlesbrough v Everton
SoccerNet: Leeds have become extremely hard to beat but they are also equally hard to watch. They put a firm clamp on Everton and Joe Royle's side rarely looked like breaking free from it.
It was Leeds' fifth game without conceding a goal, equalling their Premiership record, and their third goalless draw in a row. That says a lot about their tightness at the back and an equal amount about their desire to win games.
To be fair it was up to the home side to break them down but Everton were just not good enough on the day. Their danger man Duncan Ferguson was well policed by David Weatherall and Nick Barmby had one of those days when nothing would go right.
Nigel Martyn, booed each time he touched the ball for rejecting Everton for Leeds, enjoyed an easy passage. A flying save from Andre Kanchelskis just before the break being his only real exertion.
Neville Southall at the other end was busier although never forced into action by Ian Rush who had done so much derby damage to Everton in the past. The veteran Welshman had a glorious chance to win the game at the death, but his shot was blocked. David Unsworth played the ball back to him but this time Rush's effort was wide and Brian Deane slid in to steer the ball against a post.
Deane had earlier missed a great chance when through on his own but opted to chip and put the ball over the bar while Gary Kelly also nearly got the vital breakthrough when his 25 yard free kick beat Southall but hit the crossbar and went over.
Guy McEvoy: The proceedings started with a Leeds wind-up. When the teams appeared they sent out Messrs Martyn and Rush a subtle five seconds before the rest of the squad, giving the Park Ender's ample chance to make their displeasure at the presence of these two clowns vocally known. It is ridiculous that a 35-year-old, old man, with only one goal to his credit in goodness-knows-how-many starts still makes me so nervous... But there he was, big-nose himself, veteran of many at Goodison looking as cocky as ever. It required a glance at our goal to see the even more age-defying Southall to calm the nerves.
Unsworth made way for Short, Grant rejoined the starting line-up and so Branch also had to start the game on the bench.
Straight from kick-off, it was clear how George Graham has imprinted his bastardised version of the beautiful game on the Leeds team. Defence-intensive, with men packed in their own half, concentration on man-marking, always going for the simple and rarely for the flair, patiently waiting for the option of a swift incisive counter-attack to make the break-through. Boring, boring Leeds. Boring, but frustratingly effective.
The way the Leeds players worked to narrow down all options for Everton men on the ball stifled all Everton's efforts to create a clear attempt at goal. The harder we pushed, the more men we got exposed too far forward and Leeds were always ready to pounce with swift interchanging passing (though not notably the long-ball) when the gaps presented themselves (now I know why other teams cringed at Everton when we were pulling ourselves away from relegation not so long back). Consequently, despite Everton laying claim to more possession, it was Leeds who created the better chances.
There were two reasons why Leeds weren't ahead at half-time:
For all the possession Everton only created one clear-cut chance in the first half. Right before the whistle, Kanchelskis darted his way to the middle of the box, got a glimpse of goal and let rip. His powerful shot could be no more than parried by Martyn. The rebouind found it's way to Andrei and, with Martyn still lying prostate, all he had to do was get direction and power... the power he managed, unfortunately his direction was orbital.
The pattern of play remained constant after the restart. There was very little atmosphere -- that which there was came mainly from the away contingent ("Gary Speed, is a warter, is a whineer", seems an odd way to treat someone instrumental in winning you a championship). In the meantime, Leeds sporadically broke the boredom to create the odd chance. They hit the bar from a free kick created after Unsworth had made a last-ditch foul on Deane.
Only in the last 20 minutes or so did Everton look capable of taking any points and were the crowd able to find anything to shout about. Branch came on for Hinchcliffe and a sense of urgency returned to the blues. Finally, some positive play resulted with headers finding Ferguson, Barmby and Speed, none of whom could manage to hit the target. The best chance again fell to the liveliest man on the day, Kanchelskis, who took a flick from Duncan, turned on a sixpence, and saw it drift just wide.
However, any thoughts of us doing a Derby were quashed when right at the end big-nose found himself with the ball on the edge of the box. "No! not you, not you!" was the instinctive cry, as it happens his shot was going wide but Deane slid in and made contact from about two yards in front of an empty goal. How he hit the post is beyond me. Suddenly we were all mighty grateful for the point and the referee duly blew up to confirm it.
Lyndon LLoyd: Everton failed to score for the first time since losing 1-0 at home to Aston Villa as they were held to a goalless draw by George Graham's newly resilient side. The Yorkshiremen had not conceded a goal for 360 minutes of football prior to today's match-up and the hosts could not break them down.
In fact, the better chances fell to Leeds as Everton's dismal home form continued with Brian Deane squandering two guilt-edged chances in the second half before Gary Kelly hit the bar for the visitors. It was a day for gaining ground on the leaders with just Manchester United and Arsenal in action among the top six but United hammered Sunderland 5-0 while Arsenal provided the Toffeemen's only cheer when they went down 2-1 at basement boys Nottingham Forest.
Joe Royle will reflect on another dour showing by his Goodison charges and will surely have cause for concern over the side's poor home form. On the evidence of Everton's last three performances, no one in their right mind would consider them title contenders; the fortunate nature of Monday's win at Derby should not be discounted.
Tony Grant and Craig Short started today's game as the two additions to Monday's team with Michael Branch and David Unsworth dropping to the bench. Rhino found himself on the pitch by the end of the first half, however, after Craig Short twisted an ankle. depending on the severity of Short's injury, this does not bode well for the coming matches against Blackburn and Swindon when Unsworth will be suspended having reached 21 disciplinary points.
Rightfully, the home side had the better of things in the first half. While Ian Rush was foiled by Southall from close range and Kelly had a header flash just wide for Leeds, Andrei Kanchelskis and Duncan Ferguson went closest for the hosts. The Ukrainian had a fierce drive parried by Martyn and blasted the rebound over while the Scot failed to even hit the target with two good chances.
Having been virtually anonymous (as is becoming worryingly predictable lately) in the opening period, Kanchelskis was inspired after the interval setting up Ferguson again but the tall target man headed just over. Grant crossed for Barmby but he headed wide while Gary Speed had a chance of his own saved. Kanchelskis was then unlucky to screw a shot wide from the opposite side of the six yard box, though.
However, it was Leeds who were the more productive outfit during the second half. Deane was put clean through by Rush but although his shot beat Southall it also cleared the Everton bar to the relief of the home faithful. Then, Deane slid in to poke the ball inexplicably onto the post with Southall seemingly beaten again just two minutes from the end.
George Graham's side came away in the end with a third consecutive 0-0 draw and their fifth clean sheet in a row; Joe Royle will have the most to think about in the five days before Thursday's away trip to troubled Middlesbrough. Duncan Ferguson has been struggling to hit the target let alone find the back of the net lately and has scored just three goals this season. Surely the excuse that he is not yet fit cannot run forever. Everton are lacking inspiration up front and, depending on how high Royle's sights are set, something is needed quickly.
Matrin Searby, Sunday Times: A FIFTH consecutive clean sheet for Leeds, a record for them in the top flight, brought the first goalless draw between these sides at Goodison Park in 14 games since 1974, but there was nothing sterile about a consistently gripping tactical battle which had plenty of goalmouth incident.
Leeds, offering little positive in two previous barren games, contributed much to the entertainment with swift breaks mainly led by Lee Sharpe, which imperilled a far-from-confident Everton defence. Gary Kelly hit the bar with a curling free-kick, Brian Deane contrived to hit the post from a yard out and Lee Bowyer, in his best performance since joining Leeds from Charlton, twice ran into sound positions only to waste the opportunities.
For Everton, Duncan Ferguson headed on to the top of the bar and Andrei Kanchelskis squeezed a shot on the turn agonisingly wide of Nigel Martyn's right-hand post. If Leeds were struggling for a goal, Everton were desperate to re-create their away form on home turf. Tony Grant, whom Joe Royle, the manager, considers so important, returned to midfield to link up with the ultra-combative Joe Parkinson.
Graham chose five defenders plus Lucas Radebe, who did well when man-marking Fabrizio Ravanelli and Teddy Sheringham in the two previous games. But after a collision with Ferguson in the opening minutes, Radebe was taken off on a stretcher, causing an immediate upset to the Leeds tactical plan. Everton almost exploited their problem as Ferguson ran through only to be foiled by Martyn. Radebe battled manfully until the break but Mark Jackson came on to replace him in the second half.
Leeds might have gone in front when Sharpe, back after injury, put in a shot after work, more combative than skilful, by Ian Rush and Deane and he might have scored against a lesser goalkeeper than Neville Southall. A 30-yard volley from David Wetherall startled Southall and, when the resulting corner was not properly cleared, Deane's cross from the left gave the unmarked Rush a golden opportunity that he squandered like a novice.
At the other end, Ferguson's good turn caught Leeds out and, had he squared the ball quickly to Barmby, there might have been a decisive opening. Instead he carried the ball wide and Palmer tackled him.
In view of Rush's lack of incision, the man the Leeds followers wanted to see was Tony Yeboah, who has the ability to conjure goals out of nothing. Now recovered from his knee injury, he was back on the bench for the first time since March. The calls for him became even louder when Deane, clear on goal after an extraordinary mix-up between Dave Watson and David Unsworth, attempted to chip Southall, only to clear the bar by two feet.
But, though their attack lacks bite and their defence does not always look comfortable, Leeds are proving a dreadfully tough nut to crack.
Report Copyright The Sunday Times
Russell Kempson, The Times: GEORGE GRAHAM exuded a warm glow, on a bitter afternoon, and allowed himself a smile, almost a smirk. "I'm enjoying it," he said. "Enjoying every minute of it." He could have been pontificating at Highbury, with Arsenal, after a bland victory; instead, he was at Goodison Park, with Leeds United, after a dour draw. Little has changed.
Graham derives pleasure from any degree of success - from the tactical annihilation of opponents to the sneaking of a point, or three, in the final minutes. If the result is good, then the display cannot have been all that bad; if it has been done in style, too, then that is a bonus.
Thus, on Merseyside on Saturday, Graham emerged contented. It was his sixteenth match since returning from exile to take charge of Leeds, of which only five games have been won, yet it was his side's fifth successive clean sheet, a club record in the top flight.
"What really pleased me was that we created a lot of chances as well, probably more than them," Graham said. "We looked dangerous on the break, very dangerous. Perhaps we should have retained the ball a bit better, but, overall, it was pretty good."
He stopped a fraction short of gloating - after all, it was no more than a draw - but the smooth, often smug, persona of old was lurking only millimetres from the surface. Leeds, with a more balanced blend of youth and experience, with the Elland Road casualty list at last having eased, are becoming tough cookies.
Palmer, Wetherall and Beesley provided the solidity, with Jackson, 19, enhancing it after replacing Radebe at half-time. Kelly and Halle patrolled the flanks, up and down repetitively and effectively, while Sharpe and Bowyer flitted to and fro in unison, supporting the defence and supplying the attack.
Had Rush's sad demise up front not continued, and Deane's radar been switched on, Leeds could have won at a canter.
Everton also had their chances. When Ferguson finally escaped the suffocating clutches of Wetherall, he nodded wastefully wide; Kanchelskis, an intermittent threat throughout, clearly needs a compass for Christmas; and Martyn, the Leeds goalkeeper, elegantly and athletically dealt with anything else.
"It was a fair result, I can't really complain," Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said. "All the stars were defenders. It was a 0-0 game, a 0-0 sort of day."
Report Copyright The Times
Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph: A STEADY rather than exciting climb to seventh place in the table was halted in a further demonstration of Leeds' defensive strength. It was the visitors' fifth successive clean sheet, a record for the Yorkshire club in the Premiership.But both sides had their chances, Ian Rush failing two minutes from the end to celebrate his return to Merseyside with the goal the game had always needed to lift the excitement level above the ordinary.
Defender Gary Kelly could be excused for missing an early chance of ending United's goal shortage. Gunnar Halle's cross was inviting and the unmarked Kelly was allowed a free header which he steered wide of an upright from a few yards. With Everton in menacing mood (23 points from the previous 10 games), a goal from Kelly in the 24th minute of cautious sparring would have been a welcome bonus for a team going into the match without a goal for 260 minutes. Ian Rush's first for Leeds against Chelsea was the last.
Four clean sheets before yesterday underlined the defensive tightening up under George Graham since he took over in September. But Carlton Palmer, Lucas Radebe and David Wetherall often had to be at their sharpest against the dangerous partnership of Duncan Ferguson and Nick Barmby.
Nigel Martyn, booed by a section of fans at the start, presumably because he chose Leeds and not Everton, was marginally busier than Neville Southall in the first half. But the Welsh international was forced to dive to push aside a sloppily hit 30-yard shot by Wetherall which bounced awkwardly. An earlier block to end a threat by Lee Sharpe underlined Southall's mobility and courage.
A minute from half-time, Andrei Kanchelskis missed two chances in one movement. First Martyn blocked the Russian's sharply struck shot and then Kanchelskis, to the annoyance of his team-mates, hit the rebound over the bar.
Craig Short's comeback for the home side failed to last until the halfway mark. The burly centre-half, recalled at David Unsworth's expense, stayed down after a seemingly innocuous challenge from Brian Deane and, despite attempting to hobble on, had to be replaced by Unsworth four minutes before the break.
Deane wasted an even better chance than that spurned by Kanchelskis two minutes into the second half. Sharpe and Rush combined to unhinge the Everton defence and leave Deane with only Southall to beat. The striker's attempt at a lob sailed a yard over the bar as the goalkeeper advanced eight yards from his line. With the game needing the injection of a goal, Southall prevented Deane from making amends with a thrilling save after the Leeds striker had sped past Dave Watson.
In fact, Deane's pace often caused problems for Everton. Unsworth's desperate challenge was penalised by the third caution of the match from referee Gerald Ashby, officiating in the Premiership for the first time this season.Kelly then clipped the angle of post and crossbar with a cleverly flighted free-kick.
At the other end, Ferguson was tightly marked by the Leeds defence but escaped in the 63rd minute, only to head Unsworth's cross over the bar.
Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph
Robbie "The Red" Newton: They say that it's a sign of a good team if you play badly and win. They say almost the same of a side that plays badly and gets a result. But when it happens at home for about the fifth time, this cannot be a valid statement.
Erling Saevik: Some of the things Robbie Newton writes really piss me off. The way he goes on about Barrett, Speed and of all people Kanchelskis is nothing less than a disgrace! Sadly I don't get to see too many matches over a season but I did see the Leeds match. And yes I was very disappointed that we didn't get the win.
This was a match we had to win, but then again that's the way I feel about most of our games. Still there's no need to go slaging off most of our players in this manner. And I'll tell you here and now; if you can't see the potential in our side at the moment then you know sadly little about the game. The potential is huge. No doubt about it.
RN: Everton were quite apalling against Leeds. Let's stop all these false claims. Everton are far from a championship-challenging side. And yet the title could still come to Goodison if Everton manage to win every remaining home game -- a difficult task if teams only as good as Leeds can muster a result there.
ES: No we were not apalling. I'm not saying we were good, but we were certainly better than i.e. Liverpool were against Sheffield Wed the other week. And then again, who's said we are a championship-challenging side yet. Not Royle anyway. When you think of what state we were in just two seasons ago, don't you dare criticize Joe Royle! If we didn't have Royle we would most likely have been in the same sorry state as Man City are at the moment.
RN: It's ironic that some of the qualities Everton are lacking now are qualities they've rid in their quest for class.
Lyndon Lloyd: At last! Someone who actually goes to the games on a regular basis speaking his mind and finally admitting the short-comings of our side. I for one am glad you have taken your frustration out on Cyberspace as certain things need saying. The team is basically a good one and when it is on fire and functions as a whole it can be devastating but it happens once in a blue moon (pun intended I think on this occasion!).
RN: Leeds, on the other hand, lacked just a good finisher. Make no mistake, Leeds fully deserved their draw, and perhaps even more. But Everton were very poor. That means as a defence, a midfield, up-front and as a team.
Alexander Unhjen: Did we see the same game? How do you expect us to outplay a team that constantly has 7 players in defence, and wacks the ball as far as possible when they get near it? The Leeds team is a disgrace to football, as is George Graham, the man who has created it. His tactics at Arsenal where bad enough, but the Leeds team we saw today was awful.
RN: The Everton team today was virtually the same side that tonked Southampton 7-1, played Liverpool off-the-park, and gained a classy away win at high-spirited Leicester. So what's gone wrong? One would automatically point the finger at Joe Royle and Willie Donnachie and say: Why has a GOOD PASSING team of just five weeks ago evaporated into a BELOW-PAR CLUELESS team of now? I for one would rather see Everton passing their way to success than winning the league in the same way Blackburn acheived it.
LL: It is so frustrating when the side obviously doesn't click for games on end. Let's face it, against Derby we were lucky, against Chelsea we were lucky, and against Sunderland and Coventry we got our just desserts. There is no killer instinct. In order to challenge for the major honours, we have to be turning in Championship-worthy peformances. Look at (and I hate to say it) Man United and Liverpool who are hammering anything in sight at the moment. They have creative outlets all over the park and yes they've had their moments of disaster lately but you can bet they'll be there come May. I can't think the same of Everton (as much as I'd like to ) with the current line-up.
RN: Anyway, onto today. Everton were mediocre in the first half. Not one player in a blue jersey was willing to pick the ball up and run at the opposition in order to create havoc. Our only outlet was Andrei Kanchelskis, and even he wasn't utilised often enough. Leeds looked menacing on the break, with Lee Sharpe looking as enthusiastic as a 6-year-old kid opening his or her presents on Christmas Day. Ian Rush worked tirelessly and Brian Deane was a pain in the arse to Watson and Short.
AU: I suppose you were at Goodison, and couldn't see the telly pictures, but George Graham's gleeful grin whenever Palmer or Wetherall hit the roof over the stands says it all as far as his football philosophy is concerned. The performance the Leeds players gave us today has got nothing to do with football.
RN: Chances were few and far between in the first half, but the best clearly fell to Andrei Kanchelskis. He picked the ball up on the right to a huge roar of encouragement to attack the opposition goal. This he did. He shot from 20 yards and almost knocked Martyn into the back of the onion-bag with the ball - unfortunately neither crossed the line. Martyn somehow managed to parry the ball out and keep his balance. Kanchelskis raced onto the rebound and smashed the ball over from just six yards.
RN: If you haven't heard by now, which I'm sure you have, it was an abysmal miss. Gone have the days when the Russian Assassin would stroke the ball home with confidence and conviction. Now he snaps at any opportunity he is given - and usually misses. Today was no different as another chance in the second half went wide when he should really have hit the target.
RN: Leeds started to see more of the ball in the second half and Deane started to impose himself on a goal-needy game. Leeds could have taken the lead on the hour, until the bar intervened. Unsworth, who replaced Short on 43 minutes, gave away a free-kick uneccessarily and Bowyer clipped the ball just over the wall but fortunately for us, just too high. It's hard to think of any other chances Everton had - there was simply no creativity.
RN: It's getting very predictable once again. Get the ball out wide and bang it in the box. Give the ball to Watson and let him hoof it forward a la Gary Ablett. Then a significant moment on 75 minutes: Branch replaces Hinchcliffe. Branch re-ignited Evertons attack, or should I just say "Branch ignited Everton's attack" as it hadn't been ignited in the first place. He injected pace, and more importantly LIFE into the attack, but wasn't given the ball often enough. His attributes weren't utilised. Far too often he had to come and get the ball by dropping back, whereas he should really have been getting balls played over the top for him to run onto.
RN: In the end, Everton can be grateful for a point, and grateful that Ian Rush is now 35. Rush could and should have wrapped up all 3 points for the visitors. Clear through on goal with 2 minutes to go he shot straight at Southall. Then from the rebound Brian Deane hit the post from 1 yard. If Kanchelskis' miss in the first half was abysmal then Deane's was quite laughable. In fact it was bloody hilarious. Although I didn't laugh at the time -- I couldn't help but shake my head at the woeful defending.
RN: The final whistle went shortly afterwards to a chorus of boos and rightly so. Everton fans deserve better than what is currently being served up by the team. Unfortunately, there was more than just one Christmas Turkey at Goodison today.
Robbie Newton: This result shows no need for panic. We drew at least - some consolation can be taken from that. A vast improvement is needed, however, if Everton are to challenge for a title that could already be lost.
ES: Wise words at last! No reason at all to panic. We have - potentially - a championship-winning side.
Alexander Unhjen: Will someone please take George Graham away from Britsh football before he single-handedly completes its downfall. I for one hope we'll never again see a team like today's Leeds. It's got nothing to do with top flight football.
Lyndon Lloyd: It breaks my heart, as I'm sure it does Robbie's, to have to say these things about our team but there is now a certain level of expectancy at Goodison these days. Gone are the days where we have to settle for scrapping our way out of relegation. We are clearly in the hunt for honours but we the fans may be working to a different schedule to that of Joe Royle. He seems intent on taking 5 years to evolve our boys into a top side but what do we do in the meantime?
Erling Saevik: I'll end with a little bit of praise for you Robbie. Your home-page is very good and you've got some good ideas there. What you have to learn about being an Evertonian though is to be more patient.
You can't expect us to turn around a sinking ship (that was very much what we were two years ago) in no time at all. It does take time. I don't think ANY manager in the world could have done a better job than what Royle has done so far.
With most managers we would have been in the Nationwide Div 1, having a side with great players like Paul Holmes, Brett Angell and Stuart Barlow to name a few. Now we wouldn't want that would we? From what I've seen of Royle so far we've got a lot to look forward to in the coming seasons.
It would however help if you priviliged people that have the opportunity to go to the matches are behind the team 100 %. It's up to you!
Monday, 23 December 1996
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1-1 LIVERPOOL 36,570 Shearer(28) Fowler(45)
Sunday, 22 December 1996
ASTON VILLA 5-0 WIMBLEDON 28,875 Yorke(38,86) Milosevic(42,75) Taylor(61)
Saturday, 21 December 1996
CHELSEA 3-1 WEST HAM UNITED 28,315 Hughes(6,35) Zola(10) Porfirio (11) EVERTON 0-0 LEEDS UNITED 36,954 LEICESTER CITY 0-2 COVENTRY CITY 20,038 Dublin(12,72) MANCHESTER UNITED 5-0 SUNDERLAND 55,081 Solskjaer(35,48) Cantona(pen:43,80) Butt(59) NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2-1 ARSENAL 27,384 Haaland(67,89) Wright(63) SOUTHAMPTON 3-1 DERBY COUNTY 14,901 Watson(9) Oakley(13) Dailly(8) Magilton(pen:89) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 30,996 Nielsen(29) Nolan(16)
Table after 23 December 1996
Club P W D L GF GA GD Pts Liverpool 19 11 5 3 36 18 18 38 Arsenal 18 10 5 3 35 18 17 35 Wimbledon 18 10 4 4 30 22 8 34 Aston Villa 18 10 3 5 27 15 12 33 Manchester United 18 8 7 3 37 25 12 31 Newcastle United 18 9 4 5 28 20 8 31 ***EVERTON*** 18 7 7 4 26 20 6 28 Chelsea 18 7 7 4 28 27 1 28 Sheffield Wednesday 18 6 8 4 19 20 -1 26 Tottenham Hotspur 18 7 4 7 18 18 0 25 Derby County 18 5 7 6 20 22 -2 22 Leeds United 18 6 4 8 15 20 -5 22 Leicester City 18 6 3 9 17 24 -7 21 Sunderland 18 5 5 8 17 26 -9 20 West Ham United 18 4 6 8 16 25 -9 18 Southampton 18 4 4 10 27 33 -6 16 Coventry City 18 3 7 8 14 24 -10 16 Middlesbrough 18 3 6 9 21 33 -12 15 Blackburn Rovers 17 2 7 8 16 22 -6 13 Nottingham Forest 18 2 7 9 16 30 -14 13
This League Table Update provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey