Filed: Friday, 28th February 2014
By: Preview Percy
We managed to stop Preview Percy from laughing at the reaction of Southampton supporters to last weekend's result for long enough to get him to write this week's preview. We shouldn't have bothered really.....
Our next match sees us heading Northwest where we will be hosted by the good people at Everton. Kick-off is, yet again 3.00pm. Presumably they're saving up all the really annoying fixture changes for the end of the season. The trains seem to be behaving themselves for the weekend too.
The Toffeemen currently lie in 7th spot Their last six read WDLWLL, representing something of a blip in what had been a promising season thus far. The wins came against Norwich (2-0) and Villa (2-1) – both at home. The draw came courtesy of an away trip to West Brom (1-1) whilst the defeats came away at Liverpool (4-0), away at Spurs (1-0) and last weekend's home 1-0 reverse to the Chelsea diving academy, a result that saw boss Martinez bemoaning the visitors' use of the dark arts.
Whilst all this leaves them (incredibly) behind Man Utd on goal difference, they do have a game in hand on the Salford moaners. This came courtesy of a “spot of weather” the other week that saw bits of the ground falling down faster than Flores in a light breeze. Which was a bit of a blow for the chap who had flown over from Malaysia to see them play for the first time in 30 years. Still he got a nice guided tour of the ground out of it and, with the winds being so strong and all that night, the spotty work experience kid who does the research reckons that the bits of ground that blew way well end up in Kuala Lumpur anyway.
Here in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the bewildered we have a, well "soft-spot" is probably not quite the right word but you sort of know what we mean, for Everton. Basically we don't dislike them as much as we otherwise might for one really good reason. Which is this: They aren't Liverpool. However we were less than enamoured of their current golden boy Ross Barkley when they came to the Boleyn earlier this season. His horrible stamping challenge on Morrisson escaped the punishment it really deserved. There was one challenge that afternoon that merited a red card and it wasn't the one by Mark Noble on Barkley which was as sweet a tackle as you could wish to see. Guess which effort got the red. Barkley has recently missed a spell with a broken toe (and we're always pleased when it's described as thus rather than the poncey Beckham-inspired “metatarsal”) and reports suggest that he has been struggling a wee bit for form since his return.
Converting the free-kick given for the “foul” on Barkley at the Boleyn was Leighton Baines. Baines notched two free-kicks from just outside the box in that match so we'll need to be a bit careful, especially since we have one the worst of a spectacularly poor bunch of refs in charge this weekend.
One of life's more inexplicable mysteries is the presence of Romelu Lukaku in their squad. Not because he's a bad player – quite the reverse in fact. The big mystery is why any sane manager of football club, given the choice between Lukaku and Fernando Torres would send Lukaku out on loan for a season. Especially when the same manager keeps banging on about a lack of strikers. Bonkers in the nut I call it. Lukaku turned the game in the reverse fixture – Martinez having preferred Jelavic in the starting XI. That's not an error he repeated too much since, and Jelavic is now plying his trade at Hull. Lukaku has been missing for a few weeks through injury but is set to return to the squad this weekend. Just our luck.
Also available for selection is Antolin Alcaraz. Available though he may be, he’s not been had much of a look-in since his move from Wigan in the close season, having been injured for much of the time. He is listed as having now recovered from “muscle fatigue” a wimpy sort of injury that is only just above “an attack of the vapours” in the relegation zone of the “hard injuries” league table.
Definitely out of contention will be Phil Jagielka (he of the highly suspicious – and uninvestigated - handball incident that might have seen us relegated had we lost to Moan Utd at Old Trafford in 2007), who needs another week for a hamstring to heal, and Ivorian striker Lacina Traore, who turned us down, presumably because he finds the colour scheme in the Everton physioroom slightly more to his liking than ours. I believe the accepted phrase is “dodged a bullet”.
Us? Well a win is always satisfying. Those of you who noticed my general antipathy towards the so-called “city” of Southampton will not be surprised that I gained no little extra satisfaction from the victory. However, the win wasn’t just doubly satisfying, oh no. The smug levels were given a triple boost by virtue of the reaction of their support. This basically ran something along the lines of “boo hoo, it’s so unfair. We played just like Barcelona and lost”. Ignoring the fact that they are apparently the club with the stat for the most long balls in the Premier League, I have slightly different memories of Barcelona. When the spotty work experience kid last risked electrocution by doing something clever with paper clips to the Rest Home’s satellite dish so that we could watch Spanish football without matron having to pay, I watched Barcelona and I could have sworn that they went forward once or twice. Unlike last week’s opponents, whose main forays forward seemed to be performed with the express intent of hitting a predetermined spot 20 yards back behind the goal. Perhaps it was “hit the secret seat in Row Z and win a goldfish” week and nobody told us.
Injury- wise we’re down to three in the sick-room. For Boriello it may be another week, Joey O’Brien another month and Ricardo Vaz Te another club before we see any of those back on the pitch. The striker situation has eased slightly with the return of Andy Carroll – three wins in his absence was a rather good way of sticking two fingers up at Howard Webb who must be devastated that his attempts to influence the shape of the league table failed so dismally. I would expect that Carroll would slot straight back into the starting line-up for this one – he was in absolutely devastating form in the Swansea match before Webb’s idiocy curtailed his afternoon so, gamely as he has battled in the interim I expect Carlton to have his feet up for an hour or so of this one.
At the back there is an interesting selection problem where Winston Reid might just return to the starting XI after Ginge had a couple of rushes of blood last weekend. Prankster Collins has apparently been entered for the Miss Wales contest by revenge-seeking team-mates. The photo they submitted needs a bit of work though – the hair's fooling nobody guys, though I'm sure Ginge would love for such luxuriant growth – it having been quite some time since he needed to take two bottles into the shower.
Prediction? Well this is never the happiest of
hunting grounds and, over the years, Everton are opponents who have often prevailed even when we have been the better side. Certainly at the Boleyn I can recall leaving on a number of occasions shaking my head and wondering how on earth we lost that one. However, with our form of late being describable as “creditable” I think we’ll make a better fist of this match than we have done in recent years. I would have put the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s Piers Morgan Unemployment Hardship Fund on a 2-2 draw but when I opened the jar it only contained a note from Matron saying that the smug git still owed her for the losses on those shares he was touting a few years back, so I’ll be dipping my hands into my own pocket this week to stick £2.50 on a 2-2 draw. They’ll have change for one of those white fivers at the turf accountants won’t they?
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At
Goodison Lost 2-0. (May 2013)We were on a hiding to nothing from the start given that it was David Moyes' last home game in charge. Could have been worse but for a decent outing from Jaaskalainen.
Referee: Jonathon Moss Made game-changing errors against us in both the league matches he's done for us this season. They also gave him the league cup semi final (shudder). The fact that he gives twice as many penalties as the average ref seems to have escaped the authorities.
Danger Man: Romelu Lukaku -Turned the match on its head back at the Boleyn.
Daft fact of the week: Everton chairman Bill Kenwright once had a spell playing Gordon Clegg in Coronation Street. Despite this he has never been interviewed by police in connection with Operation Yewtree.
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.
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