Sunday, January 13, 2008

Everton 1 City 0

It was a disappointing return from the game yesterday, in a game which I really thought we would be value to get a point, and with Liverpool slipping up it would have been a real boost to have put some space between ourselves and Everton and stretched our lead from the final Champions League position.

It was not to be though, and reflecting on the game it was little wonder given that it was not until injury time until we really tested Tim Howard in the Everton goal - from a Petrov shot which was well handled, and a tame Bianchi header.

Sven started the game, not with Castillo making way for Elano but with Elano shifting to the right hand side of midfield - the position he occupies for Brazil, but I don't think the reshuffle deployed worked to any great effect, and by the hour mark it was 'as you were' as far as the tactical line-up was concerned.

It was a frustrating game to watch, as the amount of possession that we wasted was remarkable and time and again the build up play was good and a move was developing only for it to break down in the final third. Any half-chances that fell around the area always seemed to fall to Corluka as opposed to an Elano or Petrov, who it's fair to say would be better positioned.

Sven was particularly frustrated with the amount of long balls which were being hit - '17 or 18' apparantly, and it became even more apparant (as each game goes by I think) that a top class striker with presence and pace (not to mention goals) is a necessity to help us maintain the position we have got ourselves in.

This is something we have suffered from in the past when we face teams who are compact and organised, and we struggled yesterday against an Everton side - perhaps because of the absences of a couple of creative players from their side, who were happy for us to dominate in terms of possession but willing to shut us down in the areas where it mattered and it was also a factor that they were first to much of the 'second ball', and with the pace they have on the break this suited them fine.

Both sides clearly have Champions League aspirations this season looking at the current standings, and whilst we may have more financial clout before the transfer window, Everton have a side who David Moyes has built into an effective outfit, put together over a number of seasons now and this can only stand them in good stead.

Despite Liverpool's best attempts to make the fourth spot a very open and closely fought contest, I don't think either ourselves or Everton quite have enough (this season) to snatch it, but from all of the sides I have seen this season I think both teams are clearly in the driving seat (and my tip) to pick up the two guaranteed UEFA positions.

A busy week ahead for us now with a pair of games against West Ham back on home turf, and it is vital that we get a couple of wins under our belt before some tricky fixtures ahead - perhaps even moreso in the Premier League rather than the FA Cup given Saturday's score?


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Anonymous said...

What a fair, intelligent and well-written piece.

Good luck to City for the rest of the season.


Anonymous said...

Hi, im an Everton fan and i completely agree with your analysis of the match and your analysis of how the rest of the season will pan out, however i disagree on what you said about either team not finishing 4th. I think Liverpool rely way too heavily on Gerrard and Torres, and they will drop points away and even at home. I feel that your away form will be be balanced out by your outstanding home record, but it is obvious that you aren't extremely poor away from home, you just simply lack a goalscorer, and players like Petrov and Elano who are normally so influencial at home, don't seem to be up to the task away. Petrov made it way too easy for Hibbert, who to be fair played very well. I feel that our all round form away and home will eventually push us further away from any chasing pack, followed by you. But it could go either way, with our record against teams in the top 10 not so good. Personally, i think we will collect a lot more points away from home than you, and i can't see any more matches that we will lose at home. Obviously it is unlikely that we will go unbeaten at home for the rest of the season, but we will only lose 2 more matches at the most when we have our creative players back. I can almost guarantee that Villa and any other dangerous teams will not keep up with our boys, and therefore, i think it will go down to the wire between 4th, 5th and 6th place between, Liverpool, Everton and City. And who knows, if either of our teams can make 4th, why can't the other make 5th? Leaving the Shite in 6th.

Anonymous said...

From ToffeeBlue - not so sure that there are two "guaranteed" UEFA places Dan. Like last season, it's 1-4 in the CL and only 5th guaranteed a UEFA spot. The Prem league is granted 4 CL places and 3 guaranteed UEFAs (another two may be gained from the Intertoto and by winning the Fair Play ballot).
Spurs got the guaranteed UEFA spot last season by finishing 5th. Though we finished 6th, we only qualified because the two FA Cup finalists (Chelsea and Utd) gave-up their UEFA places.
Likewise with Bolton who finished 7th, who only qualified due to the fact that the two Carling Cup finalists (Chelsea and Arsenal) forewent their UEFA places.
Blackburn qualified via the IT.
A good result for you (but not me, obviously) would be for Arsenal and Chelsea to both progress to the Carling Cup final next week. Providing both finish in the top 4 (nailed on) the UEFA prize for winning the Carling will spin down to the Prem league.
If Spurs win the Carling, though, then they will nick one of the three UEFA slots.
Similarly, if the FA Cup Final is contested by at least one team outside the top 4 (could be you!) then they will get another of the three UEFA places, regardless of whether they win the pot.
Sad to say it, but short of Everton winning the Carling and City winning the FA Cup (or at least runners-up) then we'll all be served well by the "monsters of rock" contesting the two domestic finals again. Perm any two from four.

Danny Pugsley said...

Thanks for the correction re the UEFA spots.

Sorry Evertonians,but here's hoping for a Chelsea or Arsenal win in the Carling Cup final then..