The views in these blogs are those held by the individual blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton Football Club.
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My life obviously revolves around football fixtures and my diary is my constant companion. I’m due to take part in a Charity Golf Day at Formby Hall on 11th March and for those of you that know your fixture lists inside-out, you’ll be aware that this is the date for the first leg of the last 16 of the Europa League.
I accepted the Golf invite, making the hosts very aware that there could well be a number of withdrawals from those with Everton connections - as I had every confidence we’d despatch Sporting Lisbon........now I’m not so sure...........what a difference a goal makes! I wish we’d won the tie 1-0 not 2-1.
That away goal could prove very costly indeed.
Having said that, we have more than enough about us to find the back of the net at their place. Let’s face it, we could and maybe should have been 3-0 up prior to our defensive aberration. Sylvain Distin was caught unawares and I’m sure Jack Rodwell has apologised for the pass.
As David Moyes said later, we should have been playing forwards not backwards!
I do believe we’ll have to score over there to go through as yet again, we’ll have to start a game with another new central-defensive pairing. It should make for a great night of football, it’ll be played in a top, relatively new stadium and we’ll have around 3,000 supporters willing us to victory. The supporters of course by now know their way around the city of Lisbon.
I’m sure the bars and clubs are on standby for another Toffees invasion!
One bet I would take is that we don’t leave the Estádio Jose de Alvalade in the same manner we left the Estádio da Luz - we’re in far better shape now. We need to head there with confidence, as we have on many previous trips into Europe. Belief could well see us through, let’s face it we haven’t lost many games of late have we?
We’ll also require a similar attitude on Saturday at Goodison.
Manchester United are a quality side, but for me they are still susceptible at the back and we can score against them. The likelihood is we’ll have to score twice though to win as we did against Chelsea. Wayne Rooney’s on top form currently and will take some stopping.
I said in my last blog that I still hadn’t given up hope on us qualifying for Europe next season through our league position. I still hold that view, given the fixtures we have in the final couple of months of the season and despite the loss of Marouane Fellaini.
That is yet another major blow for us injury-wise. He had certainly found his best form since arriving at Goodison and was becoming one of the first names on David Moyes’ team sheet. Let’s hope he recovers in time for next season - he’ll know it’s a long, hard road back but will look to likes of Arteta, Anichebe and Jagielka and receive all the encouragement he needs.
So after the weekend (a tough one too!) it’s off to Lisbon again.
I know many of you will be looking forward to it immensely and really hoping it’s not the last European trip you’ll be making for a while. I’m exactly the same; I’d love us to progress all the way to the final of this competition.
On top of that, it’s far too cold for golf at the moment and the forecast is not too good long-term either.
Golf can wait. Everton and European football can’t.
Bring it on!!
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