What The Papers Say - 28 December
Everton's coverage in today's papers.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Phil Jagielka insists Everton FC have got plenty more homework to do
HISTORY suggests it is a daunting prospect, but each time Everton FC continue to avoid defeat at Goodison this season they move a step closer to a remarkable achievement.
Almost 50 years have passed since the Blues went through an entire league campaign without losing a match in front of their own fans.
But while Phil Jagielka admits that he would like David Moyes’ men to emulate the feat of Harry Catterick’s 1962/63 title winners, the defender insists that his eyes remain on a more meaningful prize.
Chelsea on Sunday represent a huge test of Goodison’s fortress credentials, but with the Blues only two points behind Rafa Benitez’s men Jagielka prefers to focus on where beating top sides like the Londoners could take them.
“We can’t look too far ahead in terms of going unbeaten at Goodison all season,” says the 30-year-old.
“It’s all about picking up the points. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve not lost at home and there have been some good performances, but it’s only half way in the season.
“If we were to lose a few at home between now and May but pick up lots of wins which got us into the top four I’d take that. Finishing as high up the table as possible is more important than any record really.”
Jagielka says every Premier League player sat up and took notice of Chelsea’s formidable demolition of Aston Villa, and he is aware that the free-scoring Stamford Bridge side will take some stopping.
“I watched the 8-0 game and there’s no doubt they’ll give us a big test,” he says. “But to come to Goodison will be an interesting prospect for them. One thing I’m sure about is the manager will be looking into every way to stop them and he’ll have us up for it.”
There will be a familiar face in the dug-out on Sunday which Evertonians are sure to associate with an even more heated fixture.
As a former Liverpool manager Benitez is unlikely to have many admirers in L4, but Jagielka says his influence cannot be underestimated.
“I’ve played in a few derbies when Benitez was Liverpool manager but this’ll be slightly different away from that derby atmosphere,” he says. “The game has moved on since then and Chelsea play with a lot of attacking flair. Their team is packed with players who can potentially beat you one on one so we know we’ll have our hands full. You wouldn’t expect anything else with the money they’ve spent.”
Everton FC captain Phil Neville targets three more seasons at the top
PHIL NEVILLE says he wants to keep playing for another two or three years after passing the landmark of 500 Premier League appearances.
The Everton skipper is now closing in on 700 career appearances in total and although he turns 36 next month, he still feels he can offer something to the side.
Neville, who won plaudits for managing to return from a serious knee injury three weeks ahead of schedule when he faced West Ham last weekend, said: “The win against Wigan was more important but the 500 appearances is something I have been aiming for for the last couple of seasons. I knew it would probably come this season and I have been striving for it, trying to keep myself fit.
“When it came I thought ‘dear me, I am getting old’. When you get to my age, these landmarks keep coming – my next aim is to get another 14 games to get to 700 career appearances.”
“The pleasing thing is that I have still got the hunger and desire to play on for two or three seasons. I want to play in every game and as long as I retain that hunger I will be happy. I want to train every day, I want to play every game and I want to play my part.
“When you get to 35, and I am 36 next month, the key bits are: one, your fitness and how your body feels – my body feels good, and two, can you still make a contribution to the team – and I think that I am contributing.
“The minute that stops or my body starts wailing I will have to look at myself in the mirror.”
LEON OSMAN believes the form of Victor Anichebe could save David Moyes from having to use scant resources to sign a striker in January.
The powerful Nigerian international scored in his first game since returning to full-fitness against West Ham on December 22, and then started in the Boxing Day victory over Wigan at Goodison.
David Moyes would like to add fresh attacking impetus to his squad when the January transfer window opens, but with other areas he would also like to strengthen and a limited budget, Osman believes the 24-year-old could solve a problem for his manager.
He said: “Of course he could save the manager some money in January. That would be great for the manager I’m sure.
“He was a real handful for West Ham. He put himself about and was just a physical as they were. He surprised them with how strong he was and held the ball up well for us at times.
“If we can keep him fit he’s a great weapon to use whether it’s from the start of the game or coming off the bench.”
Anichebe has scored four times already this season, but has once again had his progress interrupted by injury – a streak of misfortune which Osman believes must change if the striker is to fulfil his undoubted potential.
“He’s shown when he’s fit he can be a handful for any side,” said the 31-year-old.
“But he has found it difficult to stay for long periods of his career so let’s hope he gets a bit of luck with that now.”
Osman was on the scoresheet himself against Wigan with a strike which deflected off Latics skipper Gary Caldwell on its way past Ali Al Habsi.
But after having already seen a legitimate header ruled out at West Ham in the previous match, the England international was in no mood to concede his latest effort.
“It’s mine,” he said. “I don’t know about ‘claiming it’; it is a shot that was going on target which has gone in the other side of the goal. As far as the rules go, it’s my goal.”
The goal helped Everton to six points so far over the festive period, and Osman is delighted with the timely shift in turning draws into wins.
He added: “It’s a great sign of the character we have. We were picking up draws and we needed to find a way of turning them into wins and we have done that in the last couple of games.
“Wigan made it difficult for us and played some really good stuff at times but the hectic Christmas period is all about picking up as many three points as you can and we did that.
“Chelsea have been strong over the years and increased their firepower this year. It is going to be difficult but we are full of confidence and we make it a tough game for anyone to come to Goodison, so hopefully we will do that again.”
David Prentice’s Ever-Pool XI for 2012: Which Everton FC and Liverpool FC players are in?
TIME flies when you’re having fun. And the annual knockabout fun which is my Ever-Pool selection is now in its 10th year. So you all should know the drill by now.
I pick a highly personal team of Everton and Liverpool players based purely on performances in the calendar year 2012 – and you abuse me for my selections.
And to repeat the decision which always causes most ire, it’s Ever-Pool, not Liverton, because E comes before L in the alphabet, and the name has a pleasing four letter split.
That’s the phonetic reasoning.
The tactical ‘reasoning’ behind some of my selections may be more difficult to defend. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
So without any further ado....
FOUR to choose from, but none have enjoyed vintage years. Pepe Reina’s usual impeccably high standards which have seen him named in every team since Nigel Martyn hung up his gloves, slipped a little in 2012.
Brad Jones and Alex Doni enjoyed respectable, but unspectacular cameos, while Tim Howard was the only man in either squad to play in every single match his team contested in the calendar year – but not without the occasional mishap. Howard made 47 appearances, Reina 44 – and both kept 14 clean sheets. Not a vintage year for goalkeeping, but Tim Howard just gets the edge – surprisingly for the first time – by virtue of slightly greater consistency.
He’s only played 23 games in 2012 at right-back, but that’s because Glen Johnson’s versatility means he’s been equally at home on the opposite flank. But Johnson has been a Rolls Royce performer in a defence which occasionally looked more Morris Minor. And throughout he has oozed attacking class – and that old myth about him not being a good enough defender is just that, a myth. Across the park Phil Neville, Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert all saw either injury or loss of form end their chances.
If Glen Johnson was imperious in 2012, Leighton Baines was regal, authoritative, commanding, supremely consistent and utterly, utterly outstanding. The best left-back in the country, in a country which still boasts Ashley Cole, and one of the best chance creators in Europe. Saw off a concerted challenge from Jose Enrique.
Martin Skrtel enjoyed an outstanding 2012, where he even found a hitherto-hidden eye for goal to add to his robust and resilient defensive qualities – including one vital strike in a cup final. All Daniel Agger needed was consistency of appearance to add to his Hansen-esque qualities, and he found that in 2012. Phil Jagielka’s early season dip marred an otherwise excellent year, while one Wembley howler blotted Sylvain Distin’s copybook.
Raheem Sterling was a neon-bright performer, but like a firefly only flitted onto the scene in August. Kevin Mirallas was similarly incandescent, but again illuminated the Goodison firmament all too briefly. For the right midfield spot I’ve gone for a performer whose consistency throughout the year, down the right, left and centre, was such that he earned an England call-up at the age of 31 – Leon Osman.
Not as tough a call as you’d imagine. Lucas Leiva has been injured for much of 2012, Joe Allen not as impressive as his manager would have us believe. Jonjo Shelvey has been impressive in flashes, but my two picks have been consistent throughout the year.
Quite simply Darron Gibson’s influence cannot be overstated. When he plays, Everton rarely lose. Injury restricted his appearances in 2012 to 23 starts – but Everton lost just two, and one of those saw him limp off after 19 minutes. Now who to partner him?
Injury meant that Steven Gerrard endured a 2011 from hell, but in 2012 he was back and made 47 appearances. Some say his influence is not as enormous as it once was, but he still scored a first Anfield derby hat-trick for nearly 80 years, captained his team to a League Cup triumph and was one of the few England performers to impress at Euro 2012. Still a class act, he’s still Ever-Pool’s captain.
A tough call. Steven Pienaar showed Evertonians just what they had been missing during his sabbatical in London, but only from August. Jose Enrique was often excellent – but only for half a year. Stewart Downing was in, and out, then back in again, while we haven’t seen enough of Fabio Borini to show if he could even be considered a wide-left player. Everton’s South African creator’s 19 appearances in 2012 is just about enough to edge him in.
Luis Suarez spent the first eight games of 2012 suspended – and still scored 23 goals in the calendar year. His demeanour divides opinion, but his quality is unquestionable, and he walks into the Ever-Pool team. But who to partner him?
Nikica Jelavic’s year was split into two contrasting halves – and if the second half of the year (six goals from August to December) was anything like as prolific as the first (11 goals from March to May), he’d have walked in. But it wasn’t, which saves me a difficult decision. Marouane Fellaini was always going to waltz into the team, but central midfield would have necessitated a tough call between Gibson and Gerrard, so the Belgian comes in at the position he has excelled in since August.
There you have it. A sensible, controversy-free selection, isn’t it?
A Happy New Year to you all.
WEST HAM BOSS SAM ALLARDYCE SEES RED
FURIOUS Sam Allardyce accused blunder referee Anthony Taylor of costing his side vital points after Carlton Cole’s red card was overturned.
Taylor sent off both West Ham striker Cole and Everton midfi elder Darron Gibson in the Toffees’ 2-1 win at Upton Park on Saturday.
But the FA ruled Taylor got both decisions wrong and rescinded the two dismissals after appeal and scrapped the duo’s three-game bans Hammers star Cole – now available for tomorrow’s Reading clash – saw red for a high challenge on Leighton Baines with 23 minutes left.
Allardyce said: “I believe we lost what would have at least been a point. I am convinced that we wouldn't have lost the game against Everton if we’d had Carlton on the field and it had remained 11 against 11.
“I am delighted that we have probably got a bit of justice as it deserved to be turned around.
“While you can say the foot was high, it was a genuine attempt and Carlton kept his eye on the ball. It’s a really good outcome for us.”
Everton appealed Gibson’s red card for a similar 90th-minute challenge on West Ham’s Mark Noble on Christmas Eve.
That left the Republic of Ireland star free to play in the Toffees’ Boxing Day win over Wigan and he is now clear to continue after his ban was quashed.
PHIL JAGIELKA reckons Everton’s back-to-back wins without banned Marouane Fellaini have underlined their top-four credentials.
The Toffees lie in fifth, within two points of third-placed Chelsea — and the Londoners visit Goodison Park on Sunday.
And festive 2-1 victories over West Ham and Wigan without their big-haired Belgian talisman have left England defender Jagielka full of confidence.
He said: “Felli has been a massive player for us for the first part of the season, but we’ve done OK while he’s been suspended so far — which really bodes well.”
The stats back Jagielka’s view. Everton’s 68-point haul during 2012 is at least three more than Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham or West Brom, their rivals for a top-four spot.
LEIGHTON BAINES has emerged as a shock £15million target for moneybags French outfit Paris St Germain.
PSG have increased their interest in the Everton left-back as they fear losing out on Chelsea’s Ashley Cole.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti is no longer certain that Cole will arrive from Chelsea on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Baines, 28, would be a perfect back-up option. His performances have been just as impressive as Cole’s over the past 12 months.
The England international still has 2½ years left on his Everton deal.
Goodison boss David Moyes says it will take a massive offer to lure away any of their stars.
But £15m for Baines would be a £9m profit on a player they signed from Wigan five years ago.
David Beckham is still considering an offer to join PSG.
Freedom! West Ham and Everton win their appeals against Cole and Gibson red cards
Carlton Cole has been cleared to face Reading this weekend after his Everton red card was overturned.
But West Ham boss Sam Allardyce claimed referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to dismiss the striker still cost his team a point.
Cole and Everton’s Darron Gibson were both sent off by Taylor for high tackles at Upton Park on Saturday.
Allardyce and his Everton counterpart David Moyes said they would appeal – and the FA has now rescinded both red cards and cancelled the attached three-match suspensions.
Allardyce said: “While you can say the foot was high, it was a genuine attempt and Carlton kept his eye on the ball. It’s a really good outcome for us.
“The way he is playing at the moment, he would have been a massive loss for us. He’s been outstanding since Andy Carroll got injured.”
Cole went off with the scores level while Gibson saw red in stoppage time with Everton winning 2-1.
“I believe we lost at least a point,” Allardyce added.
Cole responded to the FA's decision by tweeting: "Great news that the red card got overturned, @FA done a great job. Well done! Time to make all the aggro worth it on Saturday if selected!"
A statement from the FA said: "The FA can confirm that red cards shown to both Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson have been rescinded.
"Both players were sent from the field of play in the Premier League fixture between West Ham United and Everton at Upton Park on Saturday 22 December.
"Their three-match suspensions have been withdrawn immediately and written reasons will be provided at a later date."
Gibson could still miss Everton’s next three games with a thigh injury.