Filed: Thursday, 6th November 2008
By: Preview Percy
Next up we play host to the less irritating half of Liverpool as Everton make the journey south to the Boleyn. The Toffeemen sit in 7th place at the moment, two points ahead of ourselves. It is indeed a strange league and a strange season where a team sitting one place outside the European places can be a mere four points off the relegation zone but there you go.
The visitors’ season has been a little like ours in many respects. Like us they have missed out on points in matches where they might reasonably have expected to do a little better – defeats to Blackburn and Pompey spring to mind. However, they have managed to pick up a few draws from matches they might have lost in contrast to our own form which, until last week was either win or lose.
Everton fans have been concerned with the way the side have been playing of late and it appears that they have been less than convincing in victory, though since the creditable draw against Man Utd the mood has improved even if the subsequent wins against Bolton Wanderers and Fulham were less than pleasing on the eye. Last weekend’s win against Fulham came with a late winner that went in about the same time we were conceding to Boro’ and a brief undercover visit to Evertonian discussion forums suggests that the fans would like to see a bit more creativity.
The Toffees’ custodian this weekend will be former Man Utd ‘keeper Tim Howard whose original loan deal breached certain transfer regulations concerning third party influence on team selection. Both Everton and Man Utd escaped punishment when the authorities realised that the destination of that season’s Premiership trophy might have to be changed and a hastily cobbled-together non-investigation concluded that so-called gentlemen’s agreements didn’t count so that’s all right then.
The (n)ever popular Phil Neville appears to have been deputising at right-back for academy product Tony Hibbert whose recent career wasn’t helped by a medial ligament injury. Phil Jagielka has been playing on the left. We know two things about Jagielka. Firstly the mysterious and unnecessary handball he perpetrated in Sheffield United’s infamous final match against Wigan a couple of years ago was in no way responsible for their relegation, the resulting lack of points from the match being mere coincidence. Secondly, right up to the relegation that he had nothing to do with he was a player worth upwards of £8m. Yeah, right.
In the middle is Joseph Yobo, a strong player who always seems to have a stormer of a match against us. Yobo’s pre-season was disrupted for the entirely understandable reason that his older brother had been kidnapped back home in Nigeria. Thankfully the lad was released unharmed after a reported ransom of £20,000 was paid. Joleon Lescott completes the back four having yet to reach the goalscoring heights of last season.
The visitors will have to make at least one change to the starting line-up this week as record signing Fellaini picked up a yellow at Bolton the other week thus becoming the first player of the season to receive the automatic suspension that five cards brings. Nuno Valente may make a return to the side following recent injury. In the past the creative focus of the midfield has focused on Mikel Arteta. However there has been some disquiet in the ranks of Everton fans at a perceived lack of work-rate and some have suggested that the former Rangers man hasn’t been the same since an operation to cure a persistent stomach problem that hampered him towards the end of last season which is probably a cue for him to have the match of his life against us.
Steven Pienaar will also give attacking options having had his original loan deal from Borussia Dortmund made permanent during the summer. Aussie Tim Cahill has had an injury packed last couple of years at Goodison. Cahill has a habit of picking up goals and managed 10 last term despite missing a large chunk of the season in the physio room – his foot appears to be broken at regular intervals. Cahill is deceptively good in the air for someone of his height and he’ll need to be watched, especially at set pieces. Another academy graduate, Leon Osman is also likely to play a part in proceedings and it’s worth pointing out tha he’s picked up a goal against us in each of the last three seasons.
Up top the choices include Louis Saha – whose late winner brought home the points against Fulham, Nigerian international Yakubu and two more academy graduates in Vaughan and Anichebe. The latter two appear to be used more as late subs rather than in the starting line-up.
What about us? Well Scott Parker may be available after the calf muscle strain that seems to be this season’s “in” ailment – though Behrami and Noble will need a few more weeks yet. Following last week’s rot-stopping draw up at Boro’ I wouldn’t expect to see too many changes though – especially as there were signs that a strike force of Bellamy and Sears might just have something going for it so don’t be too surprised if we’re unchanged.
There were some encouraging signs up at Boro’ though the failure to make the most of the chances we created eventually cost us two points. I’m fairly optimistic about this and for some bizarre reason I can see us keeping a first clean sheet since the US Election started all those years ago. Let’s call it 2-0 to send us into Remembrance Sunday with a smile on our face.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: 0-2 Despite dominating for large periods of the match we fall foul to a couple of sucker punches….
Danger Man: Yakubu is the sort of player that traditionally gives us problems. Cahill picks up a goal or two as well.
Look out for: Away fans delivering a selection of arias from their favourite operas in celebration of Liverpool’s “City of Culture” status. Probably.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
by Simon Fell
08:50AM 8th Nov 2008
''I really think we will not get a clean sheet today Everton always seem to get something out of us.
I think a boring 0-0 or even 0-1 Everton's way.''
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