Date:Saturday May 3 2008
Just after the Sunday roast
With a United win this morning, our title challenge came to a mathematical end, and with two games left there is nothing more than pride to play for and maybe a chance for our young squad players to prove their worth to the team. Everton visits Ashburton Grove tomorrow with Europe to play for, and they realistically only need a point to secure fifth spot and a UEFA cup birth for next season.
At times in our win against Derby on Monday we looked sharp and in top form, but other times we looked like we were already thinking about the bus ride home. If we play with so many mental lapses in defense, Everton will surely make us pay. Though our opponents have been off form too lately, with only one win in their last five games, and that was an unconvincing 1-0 win against the three point ATM machine that is Derby County. However the results today worked in their favor with both Aston Villa and Portsmouth losing 2-0 to mid-table opposition. David Moyes will certainly have his team fired up for the game tomorrow because of those results and Europe almost in their grasps.
Arsene wants his side to finish strong and with dignity. 'The Premier League was very tight but we want to finish focus on finishing well now,' said the 58 year old. 'We would like to get 83 points. That would be a big improvement.'
'We have played well the whole season and we don't think we have been rewarded for the efforts we have put in. We have been consistent, losing just three games, and nobody expected us to do that at the start of the year.'
He also predicts Manchester United will win the title this year, 'I think Manchester United will win the title and they will be worthy winners. Chelsea has a disadvantage right now because of course they depend on the result of their opponents.'
David Moyes wants his team to be tough and continue their development. ''I want us to be strong and continue to progress but we need to have an even stronger squad.
At the start of this season we strengthened the squad and I think it showed by our performances but since January it has been a bit of a drain.
Quality will always be first but I think quantity as well is required.'
Everton captain Phil Neville said 'We need to relax, we need to enjoy it and that is the main thing. It is tremendous that we have come to this part of the season and we are right in there in the mix. In past seasons we have been playing the last two games for nothing. Now we have got a real fight on our hands, I`m excited for the next two games.
'You can look at it two ways: You can get despondent, you can look that we are going down to the Arsenal and we are going to get a good doing or you can say lets go down there and give it a right good go. Lets win the game and not just draw it and that`s what we are aiming to do.'
Robin Van Persie will be rested with a precautionary thigh strain, which I feel Robin doesn`t want to risk it with the Euro's coming up. Hleb is still suspended while Diaby and Djourou join long term absentees Rosicky, Sagna, and Eduardo. Flamini might be on the bench.
I thought about putting Denilson here, but I couldn`t pass up this man. This just might be our longest serving player, still on the squad, last home game. He has been a great servant for this club and has played terrific in many big games for us. The game that I remember more than any other for Gilberto was the Real Madrid Champions League game at the Bernabeu where he completely shut down Zidane. If this is indeed his last home game I expect a hero's applause for the Brazil captain.
Everton will be missing Arteta for the rest of the season while Cahill and Vaughn will also be out for this game. Andy Johnson and Steven Peinaar are major doubts.
The U-21 Portuguese international has immense ball skill, good passing range, a fierce shot, and very good on dead ball situations. He has all the tools to become a great player in this league. He hasn`t yet rediscovered his form that he showed on loan to Everton last season, but his class has been exposed in glimpses this campaign.
Alan Wiley - Let's just say Mr. Wiley isn`t a hit with the Everton faithful.
2-1. Adebayor with a brace and Lescott to score on a badly defended corner by us.
Date:Saturday May 3 2008
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