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Everton In The Community celebrates 25th birthday
by Neil Jones, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
AWARD-WINNING charity Everton In The Community celebrated its 25th birthday with a special event at the club’s training ground. Blues skipper Phil Neville joined staff and participants at Finch Farm to mark a quarter of a century of life-changing work. The 36-year-old was greeted by more than 100 guests, all of whom have benefited from the work of the Goodison Park club’s official charity. Speaking at the showcase event, Neville said: “I would like to congratulate Everton In The Community on their 25th anniversary. This event has been brilliant and I have enjoyed meeting everyone involved. “It is vitally important that football clubs help their communities and as players we must support this activity.” Everton In The Community chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale introduced Neville to participants as they shared their inspiring stories. The former England international met a group of young people who have taken up non-traditional sports thanks to the Blues’ Premier League 4 Sport programme. Over the past three years, it has given more than 3,500 young people across Liverpool and Knowsley the chance to try sports such as judo, badminton, volleyball and table tennis. Neville also chatted to a group of ex-Forces personnel from Everton’s Inside Right initiative, met up with two teams of disabled footballers, and joined in a lesson with the club’s free school pupils. Dr Barrett-Baxendale said: “I am extremely proud to be celebrating our silver jubilee and more importantly the impact the charity has made in the last 25 years.
“These wonderful achievements would not have been possible if it were not for the hard work, dedication and expertise of my staff, who strive to make a difference seven days a week, 365 days a year. “Their impact has helped us to achieve local, national and international recognition for our work and more importantly improve the lives of thousands of people.” Everton chief executive Robert Elstone added: “It really embodies everything the club is about. “It tells the world what we stand for, how we behave as a football club and I am really proud of the work they do.” Everton In The Community is now asking 40,000 supporters – the capacity of Goodison Park – to raise just £25 each to help achieve a target of £1m. The landmark birthday will be celebrated at the Blues’ home fixture against Aston Villa on Saturday, which has been dedicated to the charity. Ahead of kick-off, Everton In The Community will be hosting activities to thank fans for their support. The fun starts from 1pm, at the Everton Fan Zone in the Park End car park.

Everton FC striker Victor Anichebe is maturing nicely says Leighton Baines
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
VICTOR ANICHEBE is maturing into a key performer for Everton, insists Leighton Baines.
The Nigerian international forward won the penalty which Baines converted to seal the Blues’ victory over West Brom on Wednesday, and has provided some hard-working performances in recent weeks. And Anichebe’s newfound focus has not gone unnoticed by his team-mates, says Baines.
“Victor has been brilliant this season,” he said. “He has really come on and made a difference. You’ve seen this year a shift in his mentality, his head is on grafting and really working hard for the team. “He has come up with some really important moments for the team, whether it’s scoring goals or winning the penalty against West Brom. He’s developing into a really important player for us. “By starting games rather than coming off the bench it helps his development, and we have seen that. “He has taken a massive step forward and he has almost started to become aware of how good he is. “We know as team-mates because we see him every day. The most important thing is that he believes it as well. I think now he does and we are seeing that in his performances.

Goodison pitch may be ropey but Everton FC in good shape to capitalise on home comforts says Leighton Baines
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
THE Goodison pitch may not have its usual lustre – but Leighton Baines is confident Everton are in good condition as they bid to capitalise on home advantage again on Saturday. David Moyes and his players were less than impressed with the surface at the Old Lady during their win over West Brom, but took consolation from the fact that the hosts managed to thrive regardless. And with another Midlands outfit, Aston Villa, up next, Baines is hoping that the Toffees can achieve a rare set of back to back league victories in L4. Everton have played at home in consecutive games eight times under David Moyes and have never won both games, something their left-back is determined to help change at the weekend. “The pitch at Goodison has been in better condition but it’s the same for both teams,” says Baines. “We won’t complain and hopefully it won’t hinder us too much. We’re at the stage of the season where we’ll be playing a lot more games on it. “Character is going to be very important between now and the end of the season, especially at home. “West Brom came to hit us on the break more out of hope than anything else. We’ve seen that more and more over the last few seasons. “In those games, we’ve probably come up short. I can remember us dropping points at home against teams we’d normally beat in the past but now we are showing we can win them. It’s an important step forward. “We don’t want to be dropping points from winning positions. We’ve got a bit better at it. “It’s never easy when you are a few goals ahead and the opposition gets a goal and it puts their tails up. “You have to weather the storm and that’s something we have been learning over the last few years and we’re improving on that.” Baines insists Everton cannot afford to underestimate second-from-bottom Aston Villa, who showed some latent fighting spirit in the second half of their defeat by Newcastle on Tuesday. “Villa might do not be doing so well but you can’t underestimate anyone,” he says. “Particularly in this league, as it has thrown up some strange results this season. “Villa have been struggling for a little bit now, but we know they will be fighting and we’ll have to be on our game. “We have some big games away from home still to come, so these home games are the ones that we have got to be winning. “We don’t want to be dropping points in home games because it will be put extra importance on the tough away games.
“The onus is on us when we play at Goodison. From the kick-off, West Brom signalled their intent by sitting back behind the ball, and we have to find ways of scoring goals and winning games.
“We all want to get into the top four. In different weeks, there will be different players who come to the fore for us. That’s how it has been for us all season.” Baines certainly came to the fore himself on Wednesday with a brace which was just about enough to see off the Baggies, and he is targeting more goals before the end of the season. “On Wednesday I got a couple of goals, but the important thing is that somebody does it. In the main, we have done that,” he says. “Scoring isn’t at the top of my list of jobs to do, but at the same time it’s something I want to be a part of. I want to chip in with a few and I’m on the penalties as well, so I’d like to think over the course of the season I would get a few.” And whether or not Everton have fresh recruits in their squad by Saturday’s game, Baines has complete faith in the personnel currently at Goodison. “We thought we had someone in but then it wasn’t to be,” he says reflecting on the collapse of the club’s £8.6m bid for Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer. “Sometimes things come out of the blue. Felli, one of our best players, was a last-minute arrival a couple of years ago. “If we get some extra faces in, then great. If we don’t, then we have a good squad here that’s maybe a bit thin on the ground when we get a couple of injuries, but we have players coming back so I’m sure we will be fine either way.”

Leighton Baines believes he is doing all he can to get a regular place in the England team
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
LEIGHTON BAINES believes he is doing all he can to get a regular place in the England team – but admits he will soon face more than just Ashley Cole for competition. The Everton left-back feels he can only keep performing at recent high levels to convince Roy Hodgson he should replace Chelsea star Cole on a permanent basis. But even if he manages to do that, the 27-year-old is humble enough to reiterate that there are others breathing down his neck. Baines, who is in the Three Lions squad to face Brazil in a friendly next Wednesday said: “I’m doing what I can my end to get into the England team, but the decision isn’t mine. It’s with the manager. “Myself and Ash are regulars in the squad, but there’s also Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs has had a great season and Luke Shaw at Southamp-ton is going to be a fine player in the future. “The good thing for England is that there are a number of options. If it’s ever been a problem in the past with there being only one strong option, I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”

Everton sign England U19 defender John Stones but fail to add midfield and attacking reinforcements
Greg O'Keeffe
Feb 1 2013
EVERTON bolstered their defensive options with a £3m deadline day move for promising England U19s defender John Stones – but failed to land the midfielder and striker David Moyes had targeted to boost his top four bid. The Blues hijacked talks between Barnsley and Wigan Athletic to land the highly-rated 18-year-old right-back, who signed a five-and-a-half year contract at Goodison last night. Stones came through the ranks at Oakwell before making his first-team debut in December 2011, and had been tracked by a number of Premier League clubs after impressing in the Championship. The 6ft 2ins full-back has taken his tally of appearances for Barnsley to 28 this term, scoring his first goal in a 4-3 League Cup victory over Rochdale in August last year. After agreeing personal terms, the Barnsley-born player said he had been impressed by his meeting with David Moyes after opting to join the Blues over Roberto Martinez’ relegation strugglers. “I’m very happy,” he said. “I was waiting for the call. It was Everton and Wigan who were in for me and we decided on Everton. It’s a great club with a great manager. “I’ve met David Moyes. He’s a nice man and I’m looking forward to working with him. “ I can’t wait to come into training and go from there. “It’s such a good club. I feel that I can learn from the manager and the players who are here. I will benefit from that. “What a good place for me to be at. Let’s see where it goes from here. It’s down to me. Now the hard work begins.” While Moyes is understood to rate Stones as one for the future, he would also consider including the youngster in his first-team squad as much needed cover at right-back, with Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert currently injured. Although the Blues boss hoped Stones would be one of three new recruits yesterday, he ultimately failed in his ambitious bid to land Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo, who instead captained and scored for the Spanish club during their 2-1 defeat in the Copa Del Rey semi-final with Atletico Madrid last night. It is believed Everton were unable to agree on a fee with the Andalusia side, who rated the Spain forward as worth up to 20m Euros, with the Blues hoping to capitalise on the fraught financial situation Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán by agreeing a £9m deal. Rumours of a revived move to capture Dutch international Leroy Fer at the second attempt yesterday proved unfounded, while Everton decided against pursuing their interest in Real Betis striker Ruben Castro. Meanwhile there was one deadline day exit from Goodison, as winger Magaye Gueye was allowed to join French club Brest on loan for the rest of the season. The 22-year-old Senegalese international joined Everton 2010 and has scored once in 24 appearances.

Aston Villa's plight shows folly of their youth policy compared to Everton's approach
The Liverpool Post
Feb 1 2013
IT wasn’t that long ago Paul Lambert was being tipped to follow David Moyes in becoming the latest Scottish manager to become an established force in the Premier League. Football, though, has a nasty habit of veering from the expected narrative. Lambert instead finds himself scrapping for his managerial life having accepted what is fast becoming the poisoned chalice of taking charge at Aston Villa. The Scot received the dreaded vote of confidence earlier this week from Randy Lerner following a tumultuous month for the Midlands club. Being dumped out of the FA Cup by Millwall was bad enough. But it was the League Cup semi-final exit to fourth-tier Bradford City three days earlier that intensified speculation surrounding Lambert’s future. One of the most prominent touchline images in recent weeks is of Lambert stood with his hands on his head, mouth open aghast at yet another shocking performance from his players. He was at it again on Tuesday evening as Villa’s must-win home game against fellow strugglers Newcastle United ended in defeat, the Midlanders now firmly ensconced in the relegation zone and only four points clear of bottom club Queens Park Rangers. Moyes has sympathy with Lambert’s plight but will have no qualms in ramping up the pressure when the teams meet at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.
Villa owner Lerner’s reluctance to invest in the team and an over-reliance on youth have been pinpointed as the chief reasons for their slide down the table. Indeed, it acts as a warning to other clubs of the folly of such a philosophy. It might look good on the balance sheet and be a noble approach but, ultimately, long-term idealism must be married to short-term pragmatism.
Speculating to accumulate hasn’t exactly been the method of choice at Everton during recent years in which frugality has been the key. But the ambition of splashing out £8.6million on Holland international Leroy Fer suggests the purse strings have been loosened to allow Moyes to further bolster his team’s very realistic chance of Champions League qualification and FA Cup glory.
The manager was keeping his cards close to his chest this week as regards where the money has suddenly come from, saying: “In time I will probably explain a bit better, but the chairman has done great. “He has gone out and found us some cash to use and I am certainly grateful for that.”
How Lambert no doubt wishes his own chairman could follow suit. The tone of the season was set for both Villa and Everton during their Villa Park meeting in the second game of the campaign back in August. Buoyed by that memorable Monday evening win over Manchester United, Moyes’s men romped to a 3-1 triumph that, with a little more care in front of goal, could have been a more thumping success. Villa have won only four Premier League games since. However, one of those was their stunning 3-1 success against Liverpool at Anfield in December. Indeed, the Midlanders have lost only two of their last 12 league matches on Merseyside with their most recent defeat at Goodison coming in a 4-1 drubbing in March, 2006. Lambert also guided former club Norwich City to a 1-1 draw at Goodison last season. Everton sidestepped going the way of Villa last weekend by beating npower Championship opponents Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the FA Cup thanks to substitute Johnny Heitinga’s last-gasp thunderous finish at the Reebok Stadium. The subsequent fifth round draw that has handed them a trip to npower League One giantkillers Oldham Athletic, who ousted Liverpool last weekend, means Everton could reach the last eight without facing Premier League opposition. Club captain Phil Neville, though, is taking nothing for granted. “Sunday was what the FA Cup is all about – and how ironic that we then got Oldham Athletic in round five,” says the skipper. “We will treat that game with the respect it deserves because we know only too well what can happen but I am sure most Evertonians were pleased with the draw. “But until then, all our focus is on the Premier League. “There is so much still to play for. It’s about keeping yourself in a position where you can still be challenging for a European place. “We’ve never set public targets but we want European football here next season and we are with a shout if we can keep our form going.” While Everton are closing in on a record number of draws in a 38-game Premier League season – their previous highest total is 15 in 2010-11 – their dogged resolve has kept them in the hunt for a top-four finish. “I know the manager would rather we won more of our recent games than drawing them, but making yourself difficult to beat is always a good trait to have in football,” adds Neville. “We haven’t been as dominant in games of late as we were before Christmas but not losing is the key. “That’s the best habit to have in football and we’ve got it.” With the transfer window slamming shut this week, the long final lap towards May’s finishing line begins in earnest with Leon Osman hopeful Everton can replicate their knack of a strong final few months of the campaign. “If we can have that fast finish we usually do then it looks good,” says the midfielder.
“But that in itself is not a given, we actually have to go out and make it happen. It’s up to us to do that. “We’ve been disappointed to have drawn two games 0-0 recently but that’s a measure of how far we’ve come. We managed to sustain fifth place, we’ve kept two consecutive clean sheets and yet we’re not happy!”

Howard Kendall: I don’t blame Everton FC for walking away from Leroy Fer deal
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
I CAN SEE why some supporters will be frustrated that Everton didn’t manage to sign Leroy Fer but in the end you can’t blame the club for being cautious. If you haven’t got loads of money you can’t afford to spend £8.6m on a player who represents a calculated risk, which is what Fer effectively was because of his knee problems. I took chances on players when I was Everton manager but the circumstances were different – and the players were Andy Gray and Peter Reid! The specialists looked at Andy and told me he had problems but he had played 28 games for Wolves the season before I signed him and that was good enough for me. He was a player coming towards the end of his career but he was so good that he would be valuable to us even if he couldn’t play in every game, and so it proved. The difference is that Fer is much younger and it doesn’t bode well when there are question marks over the durability of a player who is only 23. Imagine if Everton had thrown caution to the wind and sanctioned the deal, then after half a dozen games the lad broke down and couldn’t play for the rest of the season because of serious knee problems. It would have been a disaster.

Howard Kendall: Everton FC won’t suffer same FA Cup fate as rivals
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
I’VE got no worries about Everton facing Oldham in the fifth round of the FA Cup. I know the draw might have raised a few eyebrows especially after the Latics dumped Liverpool out of the cup but for me Everton won’t have any problems. That’s because David Moyes seems to be intent on playing his strongest teams in the competition which, for me, starts with fielding your first choice goalkeeper.
I don’t know why Pepe Reina didn’t play against Paul Dickov’s side but it sends out the wrong type of signal straight away. Andre Villas Boas did the same thing by fielding Brad Friedel instead of Hugo Lloris and they too kissed the cup goodbye. Luckily Everton are smarter than that.

Howard Kendall: Marouane Fellaini has rediscovered his zest for Everton FC
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
Everton's Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring his side's fifth goal with Victor Anichebe
LEIGHTON BAINES understandably took the plaudits but it was the performance of Marouane Fellaini which left me most satisfied during the important victory over West Brom. In truth I’d been concerned about his form and body language in Everton’s previous couple of games before they hosted the Midlanders. It seemed like the big man had two paces to his game; a walk or a jog – but definitely not a sprint. His apparent indifference made me concerned he was maybe playing – or not playing – for a move, but thankfully based on how he raised his game on Wednesday and put any doubts about his commitment to bed. It seemed like he was glad to be wearing the shirt again.
I’ve said in the past that I think a deeper defensive midfield role suits him best because of his ability on the ball and strength in the air, although I understand why the temptation persists to play him further forward. The only downside perhaps to his midfield play is that he tends to rely on playing safety balls most of the time, and isn’t the sort of midfielder to provide defence-splitting passes.
It’d be churlish to be too critical of him though because his general contribution this season has been exceptional and it’s important that he continues to concentrate on playing for Everton now.
He could do a lot worse than follow the example of Baines, who I backed for first goalscorer against the Baggies. You almost take his excellence for granted these days, but I know his manager and the fans don’t. Unlike say Gareth Bale, I hope Baines remains at left back – pushing him forward would detract from his ability to create chances. He is truly unstoppable at times.

Everton v Aston Villa: Yacouba Sylla could start against Everton
1 Feb 2013 Birmingham Mail
Everton v Aston Villa: Latest team news ahead of Goodison Park clash
Yacouba Sylla is on standby to be thrown straight into Villa’s survival battle with a debut at Everton tomorrow. The £1.75 million signing from French Second Division club Clermont Foot is likely to be in the squad for the trip to Goodison Park. How much of a part the defensive midfielder plays could depend on how he trains today and the fitness of Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph. Westwood picked up a knock during Tuesday’s defeat to fellow strugglers Newcastle at Villa Park, which Delph missed with a sprained ankle. Lambert will also assess Andi Weimann, who stepped off his sickbed to provide an energetic cameo as a second-half substitute against the Magpies. Weimann was hurt when he was caught by a defender during a second-half goalscoring opportunity but Villa are determined to patch up the young striker, who has been a rare silver lining this season.
Having reverted to a flat back four midway through the midweek loss, Lambert is expected to do the same against David Moyes’ Champions League chasers. He must decide wether Nathan Baker or Joe Bennett gets the nod at left-back. Richard Dunne has suffered a setback with his long-standing groin problem so will be unavailable to face his former club. AHEAD of tomorrow’s trip to Goodison Park, Greg O’Keeffe, Everton writer for the Liverpool Echo, gives Mat Kendrick the lowdown on Villa’s next opponents. Is there a genuine belief Everton can finish in the top four this season? Yes, they’re well placed at the moment. They seem to be in good form and have been consistent for most of the season so far. They were coasting against West Brom before making life a bit hard for themselves in midweek, but they got through it and are hopeful of making it two home wins in a row when Villa come to Goodison this weekend. What’s the team news? Midfielder Darron Gibson came through another substitute cameo on Wednesday night after a thigh problem, which has troubled him for a while, so he is in contention to start against Villa. Kevin Mirallas could also be dipped back in after a hamstring injury, which has plagued him ever since he signed. Seamus Coleman is out for a month with a thigh complaint and Tony Hibbert has a calf problem. How good has Leighton Baines become during his time at Everton? He’s probably the best left-back in England, and possibly Europe at the moment and David Moyes told us the other night that he is striving to get even better. Baines has added more goals to his game – not just from penalties – he’s brilliant at creating and he rarely gets caught out defensively. He’s formed such an effective partnership with Steven Pienaar that Everton probably boast the best left-side combo in the Premier League.

Flitcroft 'gutted' by Stones move but tips him to play for England
by Matthew Murray
Friday 1st February 2013
Barnsley Chronicle
Barnsley manager David Flitcroft says that John Stones leaving to join Everton is like 'losing a member of family' but says the defender is good enough to make it in the Premier League and play for England. Barnsley manager David Flitcroft says that John Stones leaving to join Everton is like 'losing a member of family' but says the defender is good enough to make it in the Premier League and play for England. Wigan were favourites to sign the England under 19 full-back but Everton swooped late last night to land Stones in a £3million deal. Flitcroft says he has asked Toffees boss David Moyes to let Barnsley take the player back on loan but views it as a 'long shot.' Flitcroft told the Chronicle: “There’s been a bidding war for John Stones. On Wednesday night I was pretty confident that we’d be keeping him but I got the call at 9.30am on Thursday morning to say that John Stones would probably be leaving the club. “I’m numb, it’s like losing a member of your own family. “I was asked if I could replace him on Thursday and the answer was no. How do you replace one of the best young defenders in England? “There’s nobody out there as good as John Stones and that’s why clubs are prepared to pay £3million for him.I’ve tried to come up with something else and have gone for Rory Delap and we’ve still got Scott Wiseman who will play a massive part for us.”

David Prentice: Everton FC’s caution is understandable when it comes to injuries
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 1 2013
EVERTON fans were understandably frustrated by their club’s transfer deadline day fortunes.
But while some pointed to Sean Davis, Demba Ba and now Leroy Fer as evidence of an overly cautious medical policy at Everton, you could just as easily have offered up the names Danny Williamson, Slaven Bilic and Norman Whiteside. All three signed for significant sums. All three saw their Everton careers quickly cut short by injuries which may have shown up under more rigorous scrutiny. Weighing up footballers’ fitness can be a precarious balancing act. Arsenal and Aston Villa were frightened off a move for Joleon Lescott after a knee injury wiped an entire season out of his Wolves career. Everton weren’t scared off, but the Blues did insist on restructuring a £5m deal so the final £1m would be paid in instalments. In three years he missed just three league games – and earned the Blues, albeit reluctantly, a massive profit when he left for Manchester City.
Then there was Sean Davis, a Fulham midfielder Everton refused to pay £5m for in 2003 because a knee problem prevented him passing a medical. A knee injury did subsequently force Davis to retire – nine years later. The flip side was never more starkly highlighted than by Bilic. Signed for a then world-record transfer fee for a defender, he spent much of his first season suspended, most of his second season injured – and at one time was playing only for his country, while living in Zagreb and earning £27,000 a week from the Blues. The club eventually agreed to give Bilic a £1m pay-off.
Leroy Fer may well turn out to be a Sean Davis – or he could become a Danny Williamson who was forced to retire at the age of 23. That premature retirement cost Everton £3m. But the Blues have got lucky, too. Everton banked nearly £1m from the sale of John Ebbrell to Sheffield United – who played 45 minutes for his new club, then was forced to retire through injury. Or Michael Ball, sold to Glasgow Rangers for £6.5m with a career-threatening knee injury which ripped 18 months from his Ibrox career. Everton have been winners, and losers in football’s medical dramas. Their prudence this week is frustrating, but understandable.

John who? The lowdown on exciting new £3m Everton signing Stones
By Simon Jones
1 February Daily Mail
Everton splashed the cash on deadline day to bring in 18-year-old Barnsley right back John Stones. He is far from a household name but don't worry, here Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know...
So John Stones, is he any good?
He only made his Championship debut in March last year. During a 4–0 defeat to Reading at Oakwell, he came on as a substitute for Scott Wiseman after 52 minutes. Yet there has been a buzz about him since. He may still be raw but there is a sense that he is an England star in the making. He’s tall, still growing, has decent pace, is good on the ball and has a goal in him. Well, just the one actually against Rochdale in a League Cup tie last August.
Wigan made a bid who else was keen?
Fulham also made a bid but initially Barnsley wanted him loaned back for the rest of the season so the offer was rejected. Sunderland pondered an offer and asked to be kept informed while Aston Villa also watched him frequently. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez made two bids before having one accepted yesterday. Talks followed but terms could not be agreed and Everton, who have watched him for a year, stepped in. Is he a true Blue then that always yearned to play in front of the Gwladys Street? Er, not quite. Stones was born on May 28, 1994 when Manchester United were No 1 in the charts with that timeless classic ‘Come on you Reds’ and fittingly he has grown up a Manchester United fan. Scouts from the Premier League leaders watched him against Millwall on Tuesday.
He’s 6ft 2ins already. Isn’t that tall for a full-back?
Stones has been playing at right-back and right wing-back, which is what particularly attracted Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, but he is still growing and it is expected he will revert to centre-back as he matures. He has good stamina and was a keen runner at school and can handle the physical side after dabbling in rugby too.
He’s young though, isn’t he going to be just another spoilt footballer spending too much time on his X-Box?
Don’t think so. Stones, or ‘Stonesy’ as he is imaginatively nicknamed by his Barnsley friends, has been brought up well by his mum Janet and dad Peter from Thurlstone near Barnsley. He attended Penistone Grammar School and has been with girlfriend Millie for six years - they met when they were 12. They like taking their dog Buster for walks.
That sounds too good to be true. He must have a flaw somewhere?
He does have an Audi A3 with black alloys which he calls ‘The Ghostbuster’ for some reason but, no, he likes the occasional game of golf and has been well schooled and mentored by former manager Keith Hill and David Flitcroft. He plays golf with his good friend, Barnsley striker Danny Rose, who takes the mickey out of him for ‘not being the sharpest’ but otherwise his only weak spot is for the odd spicy chicken at Nando’s.
So after Barnsley’s other famous sons Dickie Bird and Michael Parkinson, is he another destined to make England proud? After Saturday’s match with Aston Villa, Stones will join up with England U19s coach Noel Blake and his squad for their friendly with Denmark at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday. It will be his third cap as he played against Germany in September and Finland in November. However, his main concern is to make an impression on David Moyes and his new teammates. ‘I do feel I’ve improved a bit over the season and I’m pretty pleased with my performances,’ he said. ‘I want to take it to the next step now and improve even more at such a high level.’ Here’s looking at you kid...

Nostalgia: Villa chew up Toffees and spit them out
1 Feb 2013 Birmingham Mail
VILLA’S visit to Everton tomorrow is the latest instalment of a rivalry between clubs who first met as founder members of the Football League way back in 1888. The fortunes of both have fluctuated over the years – but how Villa would love to emulate their Class of ’98 who travelled to Goodison Park under new management and left the Toffees well and truly licked. BRIAN HALFORD remembers...
On Valentine’s Day 1998, Aston Villa lost to local rivals Coventry City, 1-0 at home, in the FA Cup and a mediocre campaign lost its last chance of a trophy. The Coca-Cola Cup trail had ended at the first hurdle with a 3-0 defeat at West Ham. Villa were muddling along in lower-mid table in the Premiership. And now they were out of the FA Cup, courtesy of the Sky Blues’ first ever win at Villa Park at the 26th attempt.
Brian Little’s managerial reign was flagging. On February 24, following a 2-1 defeat away to struggling Wimbledon, it ended. Little resigned. Within 72 hours, chairman Doug Ellis appointed John Gregory as the new boss. Formerly Little’s assistant at Villa, Gregory had left to manage Wycombe Wanderers but did not hesitate to seize the opportunity to become number one at Villa Park. He inherited a season in a state of drift but a team with interesting options, not least up front: Dwight Yorke, Stan Collymore, Savo Milosevic, Julian Joachim. And the new boss started in sensational style with victories at home to Liverpool (Collymore scoring both in a 2-1 win) and away to Chelsea (Joachim bagging the only goal). Changing the manager can provide that sort of fillip. And in late March, Villa travelled to Everton with confidence flooding back and hunting a fourth win in five under Gregory.
They secured it with real swagger.
Ellis insisted that Villa could still sneak into Europe by winning their last seven games and they made short work of the first one as Everton were swept aside. “Under Gregory, Villa have become a focused side, all playing for each other,” reported the Mail. “Collymore has been rejuvenated under Gregory and the development of Yorke and Joachim as a partnership has been incredible.”
Joachim set Villa on their away with a 12th-minute header which left goalkeeper Thomas Myhre helpless. Mickael Madar equalised against the run of play before half-time but then Villa hit top gear after the break. Their dominance was crowned by three goals in 19 minutes. First, the wing-backs combined to deadly effect as Alan Wright’s superb cross reached Gary Charles who volleyed home. Then Joachim was clattered by Craig Short in the box and Yorke netted the penalty. Then young midfielder Lee Hendrie measured a perfect pass beyond a lumbering defence for Yorke to make it 4-1. “Hendrie is a definite possibility for the future,” suggested the Mail.
The margin of victory would have been even greater had Yorke not squandered another two chances. Joachim sparkled. Wright delivered a stream of teasing crosses. Short, run ragged, was subbed while Gareth Southgate and Steve Staunton had the cigars out at the other end.
“It is not beyond the realms of possibility that we could qualify for Europe,” said a delighted Gregory, post-match. And they did so, thanks to an end-of-season charge of nine wins from 11 games under the new manager. Villa were in the UEFA cup the following season – for most of the first half of which they were also top of the Premiership. The future appeared very bright...

Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has no fear
Express & Star
February 1 2013
Only Everton have spent more time in the top-flight than Aston Villa – but Gabby Agbonlahor believes he will still be playing in the Premier League next season. The claret and blues are in their 102nd season among the elite – eight behind Everton who are in their 110th campaign – but their position ahead of the trip to Goodison Park is perilous. Villa slipped to 19th place after a midweek defeat to Newcastle and with only QPR, who were in the thick of the transfer deadline day activity, below them in the table there remains a growing tension among supporters that this could be the season they are relegated. But striker Agbonlahor revealed the panic which might have engulfed those outside of the club has not been reflected by the mood of determination and confidence on the pitches at the club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground. “We’re not more worried than previous seasons. They have been tough and this season is the same. Teams are getting better; the teams that have come up have been better than in recent years,” said Agbonlahor. “Before the teams that have come up have sometimes struggled. We’ve been unlucky and I think if that changes we will start to win more games than we lose. “Have we talked about relegation? No. It’s not in anyone’s mind. We are just looking at each game and know there will be a lot of surprises. Teams down there are going to beat the big teams and lose to teams around them. “We just have to make sure we get the results we need. “No-one wants to get relegated. We are all fighting for each other.”
Agbonlahor has been in and out of the Villa team this season as Lambert has tinkered with different systems and formations as well as with the personnel on the pitch. And while the 26-year-old Brummie would naturally prefer to start every week he will not kick up a fuss if forced to come off the bench and make an impact as he did against Newcastle during the week. “Whether I come on the pitch as a sub or start I give 100 per cent,” explained Agbonlahor, who has scored five goals in all competitions for Villa this season. “It was obviously disappointing not to have started, but when you come on you just want to make an impression and try to get the team the result we needed. Unfortunately we didn’t get it. “The manager makes the choices and rotates a lot of players.
“We have got to take what happens. If he decides you play, you play, if not there’s not a lot you can do about it so you just get on with it.” One player Villa have desperately missed this season is defender Richard Dunne who this week suffered yet another setback on his troublesome hip and groin problem having only just returned to training. And Agbonlahor admitted that given Villa’s situation they could do with the experienced Ireland centre-back being involved again sooner rather than later. Agbonlahor said: “It’s the manager’s choice when he throws him in but when he’s ready to play he should definitely play. “I think a lot of guys have done well but it would be nice for the manager to have those kind of options.”

We are still one of the contenders to be in the top half and in the top four – and we have to ensure we remain so until the end of the season.
Everton boss David Moyes
2nd February 2013
By Chris McKenna. Daily Star
EVERTON boss David Moyes has vowed to fight on for a top four spot despite missing out on transfer targets. ‘‘It wasn’t for the want of trying but now we have to knuckle down and continue with the good work,’’ said Moyes. Everton failed to land any big-name players in the transfer window, with Barnsley’s John Stones their only capture and he is one for the future. Dutch star Leroy Fer’s £8.6m move from FC Twente was scuppered by a medical, while a late bid for Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo was rejected. Moyes said: “We are short of what we want and tried to add some good players who would make a difference. ‘‘But it didn’t happen and that’s the situation we have to deal with. “We are still one of the contenders to be in the top half and in the top four – and we have to ensure we remain so until the end of the season.” Everton host struggling Aston Villa today and victory will see them leapfrog Tottenham, who play tomorrow, into the top four. But Moyes admits there is a concern that his side will not be able to keep on the tails of the big teams. He added: “The top clubs have that ability to maintain it over an entire season and perhaps we don’t have that. “But we’ve shown incredible consistency in our results, we don’t lose too many even if we are not quite there.

“We just have to get our heads down and play on – we have had a good January so it’s just a case of plugging away and doing our best.’’

Daily Express
Phil Neville is open to working in the media like his brother, Gary
Saturday February 2,2013
By Paul Joyce
Phil Neville, his stomach churning and thoughts in a whirl, was making his way down the stairs at The Riverside, back towards the England dressing room, with the request to deliver a couple of messages during a half-time team talk. Neville’s first coaching assignment came by invitation of the Football Association with the Under-21s for a game against Belgium a year ago. Yet for a player who won 59 caps with the senior squad, the prospect of imparting words of wisdom to a group of players with whom he still clashes every weekend in the Premier League appeared daunting. “I had been told to watch the first half in the stands and come up with two points to tell the players at half-time,” said the Everton defender, who was drafted into the set-up under Brian Eastick and John Peacock when Stuart Pearce took temporary charge of England in the aftermath of Fabio Capello’s resignation.
“From the first minute, I was literally jotting everything down. I had a thousand things on my sheet. I remember walking down to the dressing room and I was like Jimmy Five Minds, ‘What am I going to say? What am I going to say?’ “Then the minute I got in there, it came to me. It felt natural. I said the defence was playing too deep. When Belgium had the ball and passed it back, we weren’t coming out quick enough. The second point was we needed to create more two-on-one situations in wide areas. England won. And to be part of that, even just a small part, made me incredibly proud. I went to the Under-21s with an open mind, but came away totally inspired that coaching and management is what I want to do.” That move will not be made yet. Neville’s contract at Goodison Park expires in the summer and talks will not take place on his future until the start of next month, though whatever the outcome, the 36-year-old intends to carry on playing for another “two to three years”. The FA should not, though, let the wide-eyed enthusiasm of Neville, who will complete his
A licence coaching badges this summer and could then take a job, be deflected. The impact brother Gary has enjoyed as a Sky TV analyst, bringing a new level of insight to punditry that has broadened his appeal far beyond Manchester United fans, has had fraternal spin-offs. Phil also finds himself inundated with requests to venture into the media. He likens a Match of the Day appearance alongside Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker to a game in the Premier League, saying: “I couldn’t sleep when I got home. Adrenaline was still pumping, and I loved it.” He will continue to dip his toe in the water. “I am very proud of what Gary has done,” said Neville. “He has played with 99 per cent of the players in the Premier League, so that gives him credibility. And he is probably the first Manchester United player to give an insight into what it is like to play under Sir Alex Ferguson, for the club and to be inside the dressing room. The refreshing thing is he’s honest with every team. That was the doubt at the start. Would he be biased towards United? But I think every fan in the country has full respect for him now. “I speak to him every day still. Say he’s covering a game and Everton have played the team recently, then it is almost like giving each other scouting reports. “He watches an unbelievable amount of football so we will play Aston Villa and I will pick his brains on what he thinks. He is England’s coach as well now, but the bond is still strong. The only time it is strange is when David Moyes gets on the coach after a game at Southampton the other Monday and says, ‘I’ve just been interviewed by your Gary’. “Media work is now something I am very interested in. I did my first radio co-commentary, Blackburn against Arsenal, two seasons ago. Although the feedback was OK, I came away thinking that I needed to practice. I did a few more and I got better. “Then I did a Sky game, Manchester City-Sunderland, and felt I didn’t perform. The BBC did some coaching with me and all I am doing now is practising, trying different things and keeping options open. I have practised all my life to be a footballer, and being in the media, or a coach, is no different. You have to work really hard at it.” It is that work ethic that underpins a career that has not always received due recognition. On Boxing Day, Neville joined an elite group who have turned out in 500 Premier League games and he will make his 300th appearance for Everton today against crisis club Aston Villa.

Mention of those landmarks and a clash with Villa stirs memories of his United debut on the first day of the 1995-96 season when ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ lost 3-1, sparking Hansen’s famous ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ line. “Having played in that game I can relate to what all those young Villa lads are going through at the moment,” said Neville. “We were 3-0 down after just 36 minutes. I remember thinking. ‘My career isn’t going to take off’. “Villa have some of the best kids in the country. What those lads need to do is keep believing, retain the spirit they had in their youth teams, and they will survive this season.” Just like that evening at The Riverside, this is all good advice. So whatever his future holds, Neville is intent on making himself heard.
Phil Neville was modelling the unique Everton in the Community shirt, which they will wear today to celebrate the charity’s 25th anniversary. It aims to raise £1m for vulnerable and underprivileged people on Merseyside.

Royal Blue: Everton FC legends at dinner for Warrington bomb victims
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
A MEMORIAL dinner is being held to support the Peace Foundation, set up in the memory of Warrington bomb victims Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, which will be attended by Blues legends including Howard Kendall, Neville Southall, Dave Watson and Peter Reid. It will take place at the Park Royal Hotel, Warrington, on Friday April 12 and tickets cost £30. Organiser Colin Parry said: “Howard, Dave and Ian Snodin visited Tim in hospital, and they also attended his funeral, so you will readily understand the emotional ‘pull’ that these players have with me and my family.” To book tickets go to

Royal Blue: Everton FC players to take on darts pros
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
PHIL JAGIELKA, Leon Osman and Shane Duffy will go head-to-head with Premier League darts players at an exclusive darts exhibition at Goodison Park. The Blues trio have been practising their technique as they prepare to take on some of the top Premier League darts players for the special event. Hosted in the People’s Club on Tuesday April 2, supporters can secure their seat to watch Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton, Terry ‘The Bull’ Jenkins and Dennis ‘The Menace’ Priestley play against each other as well as members of Everton’s first team. Jagielka said: “I love watching the darts. “There’s a few of us that like to try our hand at playing at Finch Farm so I’m looking forward to taking on the professionals and picking up a few tips.” VIP tickets for the event have already sold out but standard tickets are still on sale, priced at £40, and this includes a one-course meal.
All guests will have the chance to win a signed dart board and can also enter a prize draw to win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against one of the professional darts players on stage.

Royal Blue: Everton FC's Marouane Fellaini gets helping hand from Kopite
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
KOPITE Paul Feeney put footy rivalry aside to help Marouane Fellaini when the Everton star broke down outside his house. Paul was sitting down for his tea earlier this month when he was interrupted by a knock at the door from the Belgian midfielder who was on his way to the airport when he suffered a puncture outside his house in Broad Green. Once he got over his surprise, Feeney, a “proud and outspoken” Red, cast footballing differences aside and organised transport for Fellaini while also allowing the player to keep his car on the family’s driveway while he went abroad.
Detailing the encounter in his blog, Marouane and Me, he expressed his relief that the car was untouched and when Blues midfielder Fellaini returned from his trip a few days later to pick up the car, he brought an Everton shirt for Feeney’s Bluenose brother and promised him match tickets.

Barry Horne: Everton FC’s capture of John Stones looks good business
Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
DAVID MOYES was true to his word in saying he’d back himself to bring in a new face before the transfer window shut. While John Stones wasn’t the name many of us had been expecting earlier in the week, he’s yet another player with great potential who can be developed at Goodison like Phil Jagielka, Tim Cahill or Joleon Lescott. Looking forward, it will probably between himself and Seamus Coleman fighting for the right-back spot. Jagielka is primarily a centre-back and for all his qualities, Phil Neville can’t go on forever while Tony Hibbert is also in the veteran stage of his career. Moyes never rushes into a deal and this will be a long term commitment.

Royal Blue: Transfer window failure cannot be allowed to eradicate hope
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
AS THE clock struck eleven on Thursday night, Sky’s correspondent embedded at Finch Farm was left with only the arrival of Everton’s milk-man to discuss. David Moyes had already tied-up the £3m signing of promising teenage defender John Stones, but the anticipated arrival of a showcase recruit had failed to materialise. Across Merseyside TV sets in Blue households were turned off with weary resignation. A day which had briefly promised a revival of the deal to sign Leroy Fer, and then provided the titillation of a bid to land one of Spain’s leading strikers had ended without a significant addition to Moyes’ group of first team players. Stones of course may well be a leading light of the future, but at just 18 the former Barnsley right-back cannot be expected to have an influence on Everton’s hopes for the top four this season. That was supposed to be the remit of at least two new recruits, and the fact they did not arrive makes it impossible to avoid a sense of deflation around the club’s fortunes. It remains frustrating that the Blues were unable to bid for transfer targets earlier in the month. It remains frustrating that circumstances, such as Fer’s damaged left knee, conspired against them as the clock ticked down. Question marks cannot be avoided over how the eventual inactivity will influence Moyes’ decision on whether to sign a new contract. But in the short-term, the only thing more disappointing than a fallow January would be the prospect of unrest among supporters unsettling the momentum of a club which still has plenty to play for. Everton’s failure to add another striker or commanding midfielder is a missed opportunity, especially to gain an advantage when those around them did not strengthen either. But equally it should not signal the end of optimism. Far from it. Moyes’ men remain only a point behind Tottenham, and have proved they have the quality to compete with anyone. Star names may have helped them crack on, but a squad with the best spirit in the top flight has come this far together. Let’s hope they find the drive to keep going from within.

Everton FC boss David Moyes urges players to recapture spirit of 12 months ago
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
DAVID Moyes has urged his Everton FC side to recapture the resurgent spirit of a year ago as they bid to remain in the mix for a top four finish. Twelve months ago a successful January transfer window, which concluded dramatically with the return of Steven Pienaar, helped the Toffees transform a poor first half of the campaign into a successful second one, and the Scot hopes his men can channel that same energy. Although this time around the window shut without a raft of new arrivals to galvanise a small first-team squad, Moyes still has every faith in the players who have propelled the club to within a point of fourth-place in the table. “If we can try and copy what we’ve done over the last few years in the second part of the season we’ll not be too far away I don’t think. It’s easier said than done,” he says. “We might still finish where people would have expected us to finish. “Maybe to be a real top team you need that consistency throughout, but the one thing you’d say is that we are showing consistency. “We’ve not faltered that much and hopefully we can keep it going.” Moyes is fully aware that for his side’s season to flourish again it would be helpful if Nikica Jelavic in particular could rediscover the prolific form which quickly made him a fan’s favourite after his arrival on Merseyside 12 months ago. But Moyes was pleased with the Croatian’s reaction to being taken out of the team for Wednesday night’s victory over West Brom. “He’s been good,” he says. “I think he understood and respected the decision. The job is to get him back into form because when he arrived this time last year he probably helped make the difference, probably with Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson. “If we could get Jelavic back to the level he was this time last year it’d be excellent.” Everton are currently fifth, a point adrift of Tottenham, and have lost only three league games all season. The scenario is quite different for Villa, who dropped into the bottom three with a home defeat to Newcastle this week. It has been a testing period for manager Paul Lambert, but Moyes believes if his fellow Scot can keep Villa up, the future for the club could be bright. “I think it has been a difficult job for Paul because he is having to change things around and has probably tried to alter the amount they are spending on wages as well,” Moyes said.
“He has brought in a few younger players and it is going to take time. But if he pulls through with the younger boys, he might have a good team going on into the future, and I’m sure that is the way he is looking at it. “He has to try to make sure he gets through this period and if Aston Villa survive, I’m sure they will get better.” For now though, Moyes will hope to compound Lambert’s misery and he could be helped by the return of midfielder Darron Gibson today. The Republic of Ireland international was back in action as a substitute in the 2-1 win over the Baggies after a thigh problem, which had kept him out since the end of December. It also remains to be seen whether or not Jelavic will be restored to the first XI, while it is not expected that new boy John Stones will be involved and Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (calf) remain sidelined. Asked about Stones, Moyes added: “He is a young English player and we are always keen to add as many of those as we possibly can. “He has been playing at right-back and playing quite regularly for Barnsley.
“I know there are a lot of people saying he will turn into a good centre-half in the future as well, so we will look at that, and we will try to develop him the way we have done with quite a few other young players we have brought in from the lower leagues over the years. “But he is not really for just now, he is for the future.” Transfer deadline day also saw the departure of Magaye Gueye, who joined Brest on loan until the end of the season. The midfielder will have the opportunity to play regular first-team football with the French club, who are currently placed 14th in Ligue 1.
Moyes added: “He was involved a lot here and was around the bench, but he was really keen to go back to France at this present time. “The opportunity came up at the last minute and we gave him that chance to do so.”

Everton FC are still contenders for top four despite transfer window setback insists David Moyes
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
DAVID MOYES insists Everton FC are still top four contenders despite admitting his frustration at the failure to boost their ambitions via the January transfer window. The Blues abandoned their £8.6m bid to land Dutch international Leroy Fer on Wednesday after his medical revealed knee problems, and then failed in an ambitious late pursuit of Sevilla’s Spain international striker Alvaro Negredo.
Speaking ahead of today’s clash with Aston Villa, Moyes expressed his regret that the club did not act sooner in the window instead of being left with a race against time on Thursday, but maintained he still has every faith in his current squad even if he desperately wanted to bolster it.
He said: “We are short. We said before the window that we’re short of what we want and we tried – but it didn’t happen and that’s the situation we have to deal with. “I would say we are one of the contenders for the top four, for sure. It’s a question of keeping at what we’re doing. “I don’t think we need to dwell on why the deal for Fer didn’t work – and we had a go for the boy from Spain but for different reasons it didn’t work out. It wasn’t for the want of trying. If there is any criticism then maybe we could have tried a little bit earlier.” Moyes declined to elaborate on the reasons why Everton, who landed £3m Barnsley defender John Stones on the final day of January, were not active earlier in the month – and when asked if it was because funds were only made available late, he said: “I wouldn’t say that. “But in the end we did, and we tried, we just didn’t quite get them.”
Asked whether the lack of big-name arrivals to boost Everton’s Champions League credentials would effect his decision to sign a new contract, the Scot said: “I wouldn’t discuss it, we’re only a day over it, but we’re concerned we didn’t add to what we got because I wanted to give the players something extra.” The Toffees boss added that he made sure the Blues did not panic-buy as they attempted to find new signings while the clock ticked down. “We didn’t go scatter gun at the end when we didn’t get Leroy Fer, but we tried to add some good players who would make a difference, and if that didn’t happen we looked at bringing in young players who could be ones for the future and add value which we did,” he said. “The chairman and the chief executive were both on record as saying we didn’t have much money to spend so no one could be surprised, but at least we tried to give it a go “We are disappointed obviously, Fer is a top player and it’s a shame it turned out like that, but we are still one of the contenders to be in the top half and in and around the top four.
“We just have to get our heads down and play on –we had a good January so it’s a case of keeping our heads down, keep plugging away and see if we can do that in February as well and try to cling on in there. “There is disappointment, but it doesn’t alter now this team has been playing and what this team has been doing, and we have to ensure we keep doing that until the end of the season and see where it takes us.”

Final Whistle Report. Everton FC 3 Aston Villa 3
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2013
MAROUANE Fellaini rescued a point for Everton as they twice came from behind to draw 3-3 with Aston Villa at Goodison. The Belgian headed home in the 93rd minute to save the day for David Moyes’ side on an underwhelming afternoon when the relegation-haunted visitors threatened to grab an unlikely victory. Fellaini had already given his side hope earlier in a lacklustre contest, which will be remembered largely as a desperately disappointing afternoon for John Heitinga. But thanks to the rousing finale the point could well prove significant in the Toffees' hopes of European qualification. They made hard work of it however. For the second time in consecutive games Everton were the architects of their own downfall, with another Heitinga error doing the self-inflicted damage early on. Just two minutes had passed when Villa mounted a fairly half-hearted attack which saw Charles N’Zogbia release Christian Benteke in the area. He should have been comfortably shepherded away from goal, but the Dutch international allowed the forward to glide far too easily past him and roll the ball coolly past Tim Howard. Everton nevertheless controlled the following 20 minutes without ever looking quite at their best, and in the dug-out their manager must have been ruing the decision to persist with a back four which featured his best central defender at right back to accommodate Heitinga. But while he may have regretted that selection, he will have been satisfied with the decision to keep faith with Victor Anichebe. The powerful striker had already stung Brad Guzan’s palms with a venomous effort as he attempted to lead the host’s fight back, and he exhibited his strength superbly to turn Ciaran Clark in the area and equalise with a low finish after being supplied by Kevin Mirallas. That should have ensured Everton were in a position to push for the lead, but instead more sloppy defending quickly saw them behind again. This time a mix-up saw Ashley Westwood’s cross uncleared and serial Everton tormentor Gabriel Agbonlahor rose above Heitinga to head home. The fresh setback saw the Blues facing the prospect of having to score three to win, something they hadn’t achieved since September but at least Paul Lambert’s side were defending with similar fragility as their counterparts, at least suggesting it was possible.
Mirallas’ probing was another source of optimism, with the Belgian combining smartly with Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, again flourishing in a floating role behind Anichebe. However Everton needed to rely on Villa’s wastefulness in order to keep in the game shortly after the restart. Heitinga allowed Villa to keep onside as they counterattacked, and Andreas Weiman went clear through on goal with only Howard to beat. Fortunately he blazed his shot high into the Gwladys Street.
It was only a temporary reprieve. With the visitors showing greater desire, and Everton remaining vulnerable to their quick counter attacking it was little surprise when a third goal arrived. Weiman was the supplier this time, sending in a glorious cross for Benteke to climb above Heitinga and plant a defiant header into the net. It looked a long way back for the Blues. Moyes replaced Heitinga with Oviedo, asking the young Costa Rican to deputise at right back, and Nikica Jelavic was introduced for Mirallas. The change seemed unpopular with the home support, but they quickly had something to engender some optimism. Anichebe showed his strength again to hold-up the ball in the area and set-up Fellaini who rifled home a deflected shot. The Blues started to press, asking questions of Guzan with a series of corners and Jelavic produced a good reflex save from the Villa goalkeeper. But the relegation-haunted Midlanders were defending bravely. However six minutes of injury time provided a ray of hope, and with Baines leading the charge the Blues battled back into it. Fellaini climbed highest from a corner to head home at the Park End, and salvage something from a poor afternoon.
GEVERTON: Howard, Jagielka (Capt), Heitinga (Oviedo, 65) Distin, Baines, Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar, Gibson (Naismith, 90) Mirallas (Jelavic, 65), Anichebe.
Subs not used: Mucha, Hitzlsperger, Neville, Duffy.
Bookings: Osman
Goals: Anichebe (22) Fellaini (69, 93)
ASTON VILLA: (4-4-1-1) Guzan, Vlaar (Capt), Clark, El Ahmadi (Holman, 83) Weiman, Bennett, Lowton, N’Zogbia (Debut Sylla, 79) Agbonlahor (Baker, 91), Benteke.
Subs not used: Given, Bent, Bowery, Dawkins.
Bookings: Benteke, Lowton, Agbonlahor, Sylla
Goals: Benteke (2, 63) Agbonlahor (24)
Ref: Mike Jones
Attendance: 38,121

Everton 3 Aston Villa 3 - full time report
Birmingham Mail
February 2 2013
Aston Villa threw away a two-goal lead as Marouane Fellaini's second of the match deep into added time denied the visitors a much-needed Barclays Premier League win at Goodison Park.
View gallery For a long time it appeared Paul Lambert's side would be celebrating their second surprise success on Merseyside, having beaten Liverpool in December. But Fellaini scored his second of the afternoon to add to Victor Anichebe's first-half strike and cancel out Christian Benteke's double and a goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor. Everton's remarkable powers of recovery came to the fore again and they are second only to Manchester United having taken 21 points from losing positions this season, although the draw was not enough to take them back into the top four for the first time since December 22. It was a huge blow to Villa, who since their last league success at Anfield seven weeks ago - which in itself was something of a surprise - have now picked up just three points. Lambert's side arrived in the north-west in much worse form than when they turned over Liverpool and, although they left with a point, they will be disappointed. Everton had shown in the midweek 2-1 win over West Brom - another side in a poor run of form - that their defence was not entirely watertight, but conceding in the second minute lead was disappointing even for them.
John Heitinga, whose defending could best be described as haphazard, was completely culpable as Benteke went past him as if he were standing still - which he may as well have been - to slide a shot across Tim Howard from Charles N'Zogbia's pass. Fellaini almost produced an instant response, rolling a shot just wide of Brad Guzan's right post before Anichebe had an effort patted down by the American. Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert reacts on the touchline after seeing his side concede their second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Benteke continued to look threatening, however, and his shot from Agbonlahor's cutback was deflected behind before Everton drew level thanks to their own powerhouse forward.
Anichebe was again preferred up front to Nikica Jelavic, and he repaid manager David Moyes' faith with a 21st-minute equaliser. Having held up Kevin Mirallas' pass by using his superior upper body strength, he then turned Ciaran Clark to fire a left-footed shot past Guzan for his fifth goal in eight league starts. Both sides looked weak defensively and Heitinga, who has not enjoyed the best of seasons, was again involved in Villa's second. A corner was only partially cleared and Ashley Westwood's right-wing cross saw Agbonlahor lose the Holland international and outjump Fellaini to head in at the far post. Heitinga's afternoon failed to get any better after the break as he went to head the ball and succeeded only in connecting with team-mate Phil Jagielka - the player moved out of his best position in central defence to accommodate the Dutchman. Fellaini received an even more painful blow when he collided with Guzan trying to reach Leighton Baines' inswinging free-kick and, although he returned, his movement was restricted. Villa should have put the result to bed soon after when Agbonlahor played in Andreas Weimann, but the Austrian blazed well over with only Howard to beat. He made up for it with his involvement in the third goal, which saw him exchange passes with Matthew Lowton, allowing the right-back to curl in an inviting cross to which Benteke beat Heitinga to nod in at the near post and take his Premier League tally into double figures. The Dutchman was put out of his misery when he was replaced by Bryan Oviedo soon after with Jelavic coming on for Mirallas, who has yet to find his early-season spark after a niggling hamstring injury. Some home fans booed Mirallas' departure - more did so Heitinga's for different reasons - but the change had the desired effect with 20 minutes to go. Fellaini cut in from the left and again utilised Anichebe's strength to hold up the ball before taking the return pass to shoot past Guzan with the help of a minor deflection. Jelavic had one shot batted away by Guzan but the form guide appeared to be against the Toffees, who had not scored three in a league game since late September. But Fellaini's header in the third of six added minutes changed that, and the Belgium international could have won it even later but shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Paul Lambert: "It is a really tough place to come and three points would have been great but I thought we played ever so well."
Birmingham Mail
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert pleased with side after draw with Everton at Goodison Park
The visitors were 3-1 ahead - Christian Benteke hit two either side of a Gabriel Agbonlahor header - but were initially pegged back by Victor Anichebe in the first half. Marouane Fellaini then scored twice, his second coming in the third additional minute. "I thought we deserved to win the game," said Lambert, whose side have taken just three points from the past eight games since beating Liverpool 3-1 on December 15. "You are never going to get an easy game here but it is disappointing to only get a point. "It is a really tough place to come and three points would have been great but I thought we played ever so well. "I can't fault the way the lads played and there are not many teams that come up here and beat them. "David (Moyes) has a really good side but if we continue to play like that hopefully we will start to get results." Fellaini's 93rd-minute header came from Leighton Baines' corner and Lambert admitted he was frustrated by their inability to defend set-pieces this season. "I am sick of talking about conceding goals from corners," he added.
"They defended so well but Fellaini has scored important goals for them and when the corner comes into the box, Ron (Vlaar) has got him and then he loses him."

Sunday February 3,2013
By John Richardson
Sunday Express
ASHLEY Cole will join England’s pantheon of centurions on Wednesday night with a warning that Leighton Baines is no longer the patient understudy. Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has promised Chelsea’s Cole playing time in the prestigious friendly against Brazil, enabling him to clock up his 100th cap – a feat previously achieved by Peter Shilton (125 caps), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Sir Bobby Charlton (106), Billy Wright (105) and Steven Gerrard (100). That, though, is as far as it goes, with Hodgson having only one long-term ambition on his mind – qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. A friendly with the opportunity to utilise six substitutes allows the England boss flexibility when it comes to the growing dilemma of whether to continue with veteran Cole or promote Everton’s raiding full-back Baines. Hodgson admits that when it comes down to World Cup qualifiers, sentiment quickly goes out of the window. “Cole or Baines? It’s a difficult one,” Hodgson confessed. “There will come a time when both are fit and raring to go, and we have an important game with both wanting to start. “I will have to disappoint one of them but that’s how it should be if you are the manager of a top footballing nation. A country like ours should have a couple of good choices in each position. The Brazilians certainly do. “Leighton doesn’t have to do any more to convince me. He proved himself to me during the Euros and since the Euros, when he played a couple of games in Ashley’s absence. “He doesn’t have to do anything. He knows that he’s capable of playing for England at left-back, just as Ashley knows he is capable. “They will just have to fight it out. The competition between them will be fierce and I’ll have to make a decision. If the player I’ve picked plays well and we win the game, then I’ll be held as having made the right decision. If we play badly and lose, I’ll have made the wrong decision.” Has he been faced with similar sensitive selection decisions in the past? “Oh, yes. But I’m quite good at forgetting things,” he said with a smile. “When you work with a team, you know how good they are as people, and then one day you come to a situation where you have to leave him out and give this guy a go. “It’s often when a younger player comes through. It’s always a difficult moment. You know it’s got to be done and you’re making the right decision, but on the other hand you are hurting someone who’s done a fantastic job for you. But with a national team, you have to be a little bit more sanguine and the players have to be as well. “The fact is they are all stars in their own right. Frank Lampard is to Chelsea what Steven Gerrard is to Liverpool, what Jack Wilshere could become for Arsenal, what Michael Carrick is to Man United. You are not exactly comparing small clubs there. “We’ve got to accept that and I’ll expect the players to accept that. I’ll make my decisions as honestly as I can and it certainly won’t be through lack of respect for the one I leave out. Both can’t play and they will understand that. “Michael Carrick won’t expect me to play him on the right wing; Steven Gerrard won’t expect me to push him out to left-back. “They know it’s their position. They will look around and see who else is there, and say, ‘Come on, then, is it me or is it him?’” The importance of Brazil’s visit is endorsed through Hodgson’s selection – England’s manager has left some of the youngsters who earned senior call-ups in November’s lower-key friendly against Sweden, like Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Manchester United new boy Wilfried Saha, with Stuart Pearce’s Under-21s.
Jack Wilshere, at the age of 20, has left his Under-21 days well behind. Now, with his serious injuries also hopefully in the past, the Arsenal midfielder faces a critical test in the coming months. Is England’s latest prodigy the real thing? Hodgson added: “The expectation surrounding Jack? Well, that’s just a testament to the fact he’s a very good footballer. I’m afraid if you are a very good player expectations are high. You watch him play, certainly I watch him play, and you think, ‘This is a very good footballer. If this man can produce this level of football, be it for Arsenal or England, it’s a great boon.’ “Sometimes it’s easier if you are a young player, because if you’re a young player with talent people see your talent and your potential. “They don’t expect a lot and they speak very well of you without you having to do an enormous amount. “But once people have said, ‘Hey, this guy is a top man, this is a top player’, then suddenly you can only fail as people take for granted all the good things you do on a field. “Unfortunately, some of the things you don’t do so well (and) people are on you. There will come a time when both are fit and raring to go “But Wilshere has the personality, the character and certainly the quality to accept responsibility, to accept the pressure. I foresee a fantastic England career for him.” Hodgson admits facing Brazil sets the pulse racing.
“I was trying to work out how many national team games I’ve had,” he said. “You can’t be sure, as you can’t remember every game, but it’s well into the nineties. “But I’ve never played against Brazil. I will hopefully get two games against them in a short time (England play Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on June 2). “But with the players involved in so many games now, it can’t be just what I think is our best 11 and a fight to the bitter death. It is, though, a chance to talk to the players about the importance of the year ahead and what lies in front of us.”

It was a good game for the neutral. I told them at half-time that they had to go out and win this game. That they might have to score four to win it.
Snday Star
Everton boss David Moyes
3rd February 2013
By Steve Millar
ONCE the only Belgian we knew about was Hercule Poirot. Now step into the frame, Christian Benteke and Marouane Fellaini. The two strikers left their prints all over this tremendous six-goal thriller at Goodison with a double each. They were goals of high quality and drama with the Everton hero grabbing a nerve-jangling equaliser deep into added time. Benteke got Aston Villa off to a flyer and although Victor Anichebe equalised, strikes from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Benteke again made Villa the real ¬suspects for a quick and valuable kill. But Fellaini wouldn’t let Villa get away with anything. He brought the game to 3-2 and then celebrated heading Everton level with that sensational third. Toffees boss David Moyes, who had hoped to grab an overnight fourth place with a victory, breathed a massive sigh of relief while his counterpart Paul Lambert wondered what the hell ¬happened. Moyes said: “It was a good game for the neutral. I told them at half-time that they had to go out and win this game. That they might have to score four to win it. “They didn’t half keep going. Benteke and Fellaini are both hard to play against. They have that physical -presence. “We’re happy with the way Fellaini got his goals and I’m sure they will be happy Benteke got his goals for them.” Lambert, disappointed to drop two points, said: “I thought we deserved to win it. You never get an easy game here and I couldn’t fault how the lads played. It was disappointing to only get a point. “If we continue to play like this we will start to get results.” Everton haven’t beaten Villa on home soil in the league for almost seven years – and the way the visitors started we ¬always knew that was a record which could easily stand come the final ¬whistle. All the pre-match talk was about ¬Everton securing a top-four spot and the next step in the FA Cup, a Fifth-Round tie at Oldham. But once the game started they were caught napping and fell ¬behind to Villa after exactly one minute and fifty seven seconds. Everton’s back four were asleep as Benteke got the ball outside the box. Heitinga closed in but Benteke ¬ left him in his wake before rolling the ball into the bottom corner. Fellaini drilled wide and Anichebe blasted straight at keeper Brad Guzan as Everton responded. But Anichebe then brought the home side level after 20 ¬minutes. He found himself with his back to goal with ¬centre-back Ciaran Clark sticking as close as his shirt. But Anichebe easily turned in his sixth goal of the season. Everton, and their fans, could relax – until the 23rd minute when the ¬Midlanders restored their lead. The Blues failed to clear a corner on the right and Ashley Westwood found himself with enough space to deliver an inviting cross which Agbonlahor glanced home with a delightful header. It completely knocked the stuffing out of Everton and it didn’t help their cause when Fellaini got clattered as Guzan raced from his line. Then Agbonlahor went on a ¬powerful run through midfield and slid a ¬precision through-ball to Andreas ¬Weimann. The striker clear but lifted the ball high into the stands. But his boss Lambert was dancing with delight as Villa scored their third. Defender Matthew Lowton whipped in the ball for Benteke to steer a header ¬beyond Howard. It called for desperate measures but Moyes’s substitutions after 64 minutes didn’t please a rattled Goodison as ¬Bryan Oviedo replaced Heitinga and Nikica Jelavic came on for Kevin Mirallas. But the faithful were singing the Scot’s praises four minutes later – when ¬Fellaini played a neat one-two with ¬Anichebe and drilled into the bottom corner with help from a deflection. Nikica Jelavic went close as the ¬pressure mounted and from Leighton Baines’ ¬corner, Fellaini rose highest to power a header into the back of the net and save a point for the frazzled fans.

Sunday February 3,2013
By Richard Jolly
Sunday Express
AFTER 90 minutes, it was a Villa thriller. After 93, it had become a Villa killer. Gone was the victory that might have transformed their troubled season. Gone the three points that would have given them hope of winning their relegation battle. Gone the chance to prove they weren’t too young, too naive and too poor defensively. Instead, they got a reminder of the flaws that have plagued them all year. They cannot defend corners. If they could, Paul Lambert’s team would be in the Capital One Cup final. Their set-piece problems recurred yet again. “I’m sick of talking about it,” boss Lambert said. He is sick of seeing it, too. But when Leighton Baines curled in an injury-time corner, Marouane Fellaini leapt highest and headed home his second goal. Everton had turned defeat into a draw, but their hopes of a top-four finish were dented nonetheless. The forceful, fantastic Fellaini led the fightback. But if Everton’s comeback was made in Belgium, so was Villa’s surprise surge into the lead. Whoever said there were no famous Belgians is wrong. They were on either side at Goodison Park. Christian Benteke scored twice, just as he did when Villa won at Anfield in December. If only they could play on Merseyside every week, they would be flying. Instead, they are floundering. Villa’s Belgian battering ram struck after two minutes, latching on to Charles N’Zogbia’s pass, beating Johnny Heitinga with embarrassing ease and stroking a shot past Tim Howard. But it was a game of two bruising strikers, and Victor Anichebe levelled with a goal straight out of Benteke’s handbook. He had the upper-body strength to shrug off Ron Vlaar, turn and direct a shot past Brad Guzan. But while Everton are used to conceding first, they are not exactly accustomed to trailing 3-1 at fortress Goodison. Yet they did. Ashley Westwood swung in a cross, Gabriel Agbonlahor leapt highest to meet it and direct his header in. “If anyone doesn’t think Benteke, Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia can’t cause you problems, then they are wrong,” David Moyes said. “They have got really good attacking players, with power and pace. We didn’t deal with it that well.” Andreas Weimann, sent clear by Agbonlahor and ballooning his shot over the bar, ought to have made it 3-1. Benteke did. Matthew Lowton exchanged passes with Weimann, whipped in a curling cross and the Belgian dived forward to head home. “The third was a world-class goal,” Lambert said. And then Villa, embarrassed by Bradford and Millwall of late, should have gone from ignominy to ecstasy. I’m sick of talking about it Lambert’s team had only half an hour to see out. They couldn’t do it. Moyes hauled off Heitinga, at fault for all of Villa’s goals, and the rather more popular Kevin Mirallas to boos from the Everton crowd. “They’re not happy with my decisions,” Moyes said.
They were happier with what followed. Fellaini exchanged passes with Anichebe and placed his shot past Guzan. The onslaught continued. Guzan denied Nikica Jelavic and Sylvain Distin before Fellaini towered above the Villa defence. “Ron has got him and he lost him,” rued Lambert. Villa could have lost the match, too. Fellaini might have had a hat-trick, Everton all three points. “We had a chance to win it,” said Moyes. Two points dropped? “I think so,” said the Scot. It was a result that may keep Everton out of the Champions League and could send Villa into the Championship. It was a truly great game. And yet the outcome pleased no one.

Hodgson hails Ashley Cole and backs Everton star to step up
February 3 2013
Sunday, February 3, 2013
London 24
Roy Hodgson accepts he cannot change the negative public perception of Ashley Cole - but he has no intention of paying any attention to it. Hodgson has already decided Cole will join a select band by becoming only the seventh England player to reach 100 caps in Wednesday’s Wembley friendly with Brazil. Unlike David Beckham, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, three of the notable group, or even Steven Gerrard who became the sixth member last year, there is little public affection for Cole, who has been jeered by England supporters in the past. For, whilst there is admiration for his qualities as a footballer, as a man there are too many negative headlines to forget. Hodgson though, speaks as he finds. And he finds a thoroughly decent chap. “These are things that occurred in the distant past when I wasn’t even in the country,” said Hodgson. “And if I had been I wouldn’t have been hanging on every word. “The media have a lot of power and that does have an effect on people. It’s a fact of life. “If Ashley has had that treatment neither him or I can do anything about it.
“I judge him as a football player. Is he going to be the right man to help England win football matches? That’s what really interests me. “Over the last nine months I have found him a very good professional, who prefers to do his talking on the football field; but I see nothing wrong with that.”
Strangely enough, Cole is under more pressure for his England place than he has been virtually since the day he made his debut as a 20-year-old against Albania in 2001. For Leighton Baines’ impressive form and deadly accuracy at set pieces has led some to conclude the Everton man deserves to play on merit, not just when Cole is unavailable, as he has been with increasing frequency. “Leighton doesn’t have to do anything to prove himself,” said Hodgson. “He knows he’s capable of playing for England at left-back, just as Ashley knows he’s capable, which he has proved with a hundred caps.
“Ashley will play on Wednesday. Whether he will play the whole game, half or whether he will start, I still have to decide.” What Hodgson has no intention of doing is publicly dissecting the relative merits of each individual. He has to do it in his head though. Because when the team sheet goes in, someone’s name has to be on it. “It is a difficult one but they will just have to fight it out,” he said.
“The competition will be fierce and I’ll have to make a decision - and I know that if the player plays well and we win I’ll be held as having made the right decision; and if we play badly and lose I’ll have made the wrong one. “But that’s how it should be for a top footballing nation. We should have a couple of good choices in each position. The Brazilians certainly do.”

Everton 3 Aston Villa 3 - Mat Kendrick's match report and picture gallery
3 Feb 2013 (Birmingham Mail)
Just when it looked like there was light at the end of the Mersey tunnel, Aston Villa lost control on a corner and their survival mission suffered another untimely crash.Villa’s last league win came in Liverpool way back in mid December at Anfield and they were on course for a rousing repeat against Champions League chasing Everton at Goodison.Having scored a winning double across Stanley Park, Christian Benteke hit another brilliant brace and Gabby Agbonlahor also scored during another Everton-Villa thriller.But, having pegged Villa back through Victor Anichebe in the first half, Everton’s own big Belgian, Marouane Fellaini, scored twice, including an agonising stoppage time equaliser.Villa would gladly have settled for a draw against David Moyes’ top four hopefuls before the match, but were deeply disappointed to leave the Toffees with a solitary point.It is only their third point from the last 24 and with Reading winning and QPR and Wigan both picking up a point the exciting stalemate left Lambert’s team second bottom.There were positives to take from the latest heartbreak, not least the form of Benteke who took his tally to 14 goals in league and cup with his 2nd and 61st minute strikes.The Belgian battering ram stunned Everton early on by barging past flaky John Heitinga and slotting a calm finish past Tim Howard after Charles N’Zogbia’s mazy run from the right. For Villa fans visiting Merseyside, Benteke is bigger than the Beatles and they will be desperately hoping his fab four goals in Liverpool Help them stay in the top flight.In their heart of hearts, the travelling 1,110 away army jubilantly celebrating the opener feared it was only a matter of time before their high-flying hosts equalised.Anichebe’s leveller duly arrived on 21 minutes with the burly striker showing strength to hold off Ciaran Clark from Kevin Mirallas’ pass to spin and fire past Brad Guzan.Villa, to their credit, realised attack was the best form of defence and, out of the blue, surprised the Blues again by breaking down the other end to quickly restore their lead.When Ashley Westwood’s 24th-minute corner was half cleared, he whipped in a teasing ball from the right, and Agbonlahor nipped in front of Fellaini to steer a header inside the far post. Villa battled for their lives and showed discipline and determination to hold their shape as the Merseysiders’ movement and slick play threatened to open them up repeatedly.And they looked a threat on the counter attack with N’Zogbia’s poise, Agbonlahor’s pace, Benteke’s power and Andi Weimann’s persistence causing problems for Heitinga and Co.In fact, the claret and blues could – and probably should – have put their opponents out of sight early in the first half with third and fourth goals to kill the match off. They only got the third.However, Villa did open up what should have been a comfortable two-goal cushion on 61 minutes with a sublime goal which proves just how devastating this team can be. On 61 minutes, Weimann played a one-two with Lowton whose inviting cross from the right was met with a cracking stooping header from Benteke.But Fellaini planted seeds of doubt in fragile Villa’s minds when he capped a spell of Everton pressure by making it 3-2 on 69 minutes to crank up the atmosphere inside the stadium.He came in from the left and exchanged passes with Anichebe on the edge of the penalty area before finding enough space to squeeze a low drive between Guzan and the far post.Now the claret and blue army really feared the worst as their relegation-threatened side were faced with an Everton onslaught and a quarter of the match still remaining.Trying to increase Villa’s resolve, Lambert threw on new boy Yacouba Sylla as a 79th-minute substitute in place of N’Zogbia to add a layer of steel in front of the back four. Sylla played further forward than expected and while he was keen to deny Everton space, neither he nor fellow replacements Brett Holman or Nathan Baker could prevent the inevitable equaliser.Agbonlahor had tried to bring a streetwise streak to Villa’s play by booting the ball away, and getting booked for his troubles, in an attempt to run down the clock late on. That, and injuries, led to Mike Jones finding a whopping six minutes of stoppage time.Villa managed to use up half of it before the Toffees struck, but just as galling as the timing of the blow was the fact Fellaini’s second came from yet another corner as the Everton powerhouse escaped the attentions of Villa captain Ron Vlaar to power in a bullet header past Guzan.Villa were left to rue another set-piece and another setback as they departed Goodison and they desperately need to pick up themselves and points at home to West Ham a week today.

4th February 2013
By Chris McKenna
Daily Star
KARIM EL AHMADI has warned Premier League defenders that Christian Benteke is only going to get better. Benteke, 22, fired a double as Aston Villa came agonisingly close to a vital three points at Goodison. He has now hit 14 goals since his £7m move from Genk in the summer. Villa will face a battle to hold on to the striker labelled the “Belgian Best” by their fans, but he remains their main hope of beating the drop. Morocco midfielder El Ahmadi, 28, said: “He can be unplayable. Every week I am surprised by what he does and his ability. “He is one of the best strikers in the Premier League. I think he’s getting better every day. And he’s only 22. “That’s unbelievable. I think from the beginning he has been great. If you compare him to other strikers, he has been impressive.”
Boss Paul Lambert said: “For somebody nobody ever heard of, to play the way he is playing and the goals he has scored, he has been absolutely terrific for this club. “To go into a new league and adapt to something totally different from Belgium is great. He does not seem to have had a dip in consistency – his performances have been at a really high standard. “He has done great. He is a really humble guy, which will stand him in good stead. As a footballer, he has been top class for us, really good.” Villa looked set for their first league win since December 15 – which also came on Merseyside at Liverpool – when they raced into a 3-1 lead. Benteke cracked a second-minute opener after coasting past defender Johnny Heitinga. Everton striker Victor Anichebe capitalised on poor defending to level before Gabby Agbonlahor restored Villa’s advantage with a well-taken header in the 24th minute. And when Benteke struck again with a header in the 61st minute the suffering Villa faithful must have thought they were going to celebrate a much-needed win. But Marouane Fellaini followed up his 69th-minute strike with a stoppage-time header from a Leighton Baines corner to snatch a dramatic point. That is now 25 goals conceded in eight winless league matches for Villa, but Lambert was buoyed by the display, despite falling three points adrift of safety. The Scot added: “We are there and fighting like hell to get out of it. “If we can keep that drive, then hopefully we will get out of it. “I think the way we are going at the minute, if we keep going like that, then we will win more than not. “If we can get through this period, we will kick right on.” Everton manager David Moyes admitted that it was two points dropped at home in the race for the top four. But midfielder Kevin Mirallas feels clawing back a two-goal deficit in the last half-hour proves that they have the bottle needed to maintain their challenge for Champions League qualification. And the Belgian attacker, 25, also had praise for his compatriot Fellaini, who bagged his first league goals since December 1. Mirallas said: “It will serve us well. We have worked hard to get into fifth place and we will be doing all that we can to reach fourth place. “If we are going to grab the last Champions League spot, we are going to have to keep fighting. “Marouane scored two vital goals and is very important, but it is also all about the collective here and if we do snatch the last Champions League place, it will be down to the group as a whole. “You might have the odd dip in form from time to time, but Marouane has had a fantastic season. “He rescued this point for us. Let’s hope this continues.”

Monday February 4,2013
By John Wragg
Daily Express
PAUL LAMBERT admits he would be off to the bookies to make himself an even wealthier man and Aston Villa would be a lot safer in the table if he could get his team to hold on to a lead. “How do we get to do it? If I knew that I would be in the bookies, wouldn’t I?” he said, after Villa had led Everton and been well worth it. Four wins this season. That is the statistic that says Aston Villa are going to be relegated. Only bottom club QPR have won fewer, with two. And Villa are probably 19 points from safety. That is six wins plus a draw from 13 games. How do we get to do it? If I knew that I would be in the bookies, wouldn’t I? Villa boss Paul Lambert Given they have managed only four wins and nine draws from their first 25, the prospects are about as encouraging as the country’s economy. It is wasteful, damaging and ultimately suicidal. Everton are the role model, beaten only three times. They were not at their best here – often second-best. But they fought for parity and eventually got it via the Achilles heel for the visitors, and that is corners. Given that Villa have not been able to defend corners in the League, Capital One Cup or FA Cup up and down the country, it took dead-ball artist Leighton Baines a long time – until the 93rd minute – to get it right. But when he did, Marouane Fellaini lost Ron Vlaar, got in a towering header and a victory that might have turned Villa’s season was lost. It has taken manager David Moyes 10 years to get his Everton team where they are now, just short of the Champions League. And Lambert is only eight months into the job. Villa’s last league win came at Liverpool eight games ago and, like Laurel and Hardy, this is a fine mess they’ve got themselves into. Everton had 35 chances – 13 on target – and 15 corners.
It is a blueprint that tells you Villa cannot defend properly, particularly from midfield where teams simply pour through. But if anyone is going to save them, then Christian Benteke could be the magician. He scored twice, and that is 14 for the season, and was immense. Gabriel Agbonlahor got Villa’s other goal, but it is when he and Benteke look behind them that the apprehension grows.
Victor Anichebe made it 1-1, Fellaini 2-3 and then 3-3. As soon as that electric board flashed six minutes of added time, you felt it would be a stretch for Villa to hold out. And, of course, they didn’t.

Daily Express
Monday February 4,2013
By Richard Tanner
PHIL JAGIELKA tips David Luiz to become one of football’s great central defenders – after a spell in Chelsea’s midfield to enhance his adjustment to the English game. The consensus is that Luiz is too much of a liability at the back, something with which Chelsea’s interim-manager Rafa Benitez clearly agrees. But England and Everton player Jagielka, who made a successful transition from midfield to centre-back, believes that when Luiz adds maturity and experience to his all-round talents, he will make people change their opinion of him as a defender. Luiz is a fantastic player. He is probably one of the most technically gifted centre-halves I’ve seen in a long time. Jagielka, who is hoping to come face-to-face with Luiz when England take on Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday to mark the FA’s 150th anniversary, said: “Luiz is a fantastic player. He is probably one of the most technically gifted centre-halves I’ve seen in a long time. “There are not many around who can use their right foot, left foot, dribble past opponents, score free-kicks and take penalties. “If you wrote down his strengths you certainly wouldn’t put a tick next to a centre-back role. “With the attributes he has, he will become one of the greats as a centre-half. But at the moment to stop him making the odd mistake, Chelsea have moved him up a position and are playing two centre-halves behind him, to give him a bit more freedom to go and express himself while he learns the game over here.
“I learnt my trade in the Championship with Sheffield United as a midfielder and then when I came up to the Premier League I moved back. “Luiz has come from abroad and maybe the speed of the game here has caught him out a couple of times when he has played at the back. “But it is a little bit harsh to say he hasn’t done well as a centre-half. It is just that he is still on that learning curve and the Premier League is a harsh environment to learn in.” While Luiz, along with his Chelsea team-mates Ramires and Oscar, plus QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, means the Brazilian squad will have plenty of familiar faces, their easy-on-the-eye style will not be so familiar to England’s new generation of players – the last time the countries met was in 2007. Speaking at a Vauxhall dealership in Warrington during an appearance for the England lead sponsor, Jagielka said: “It will not only be a fantastic game for the fans to watch, but also for our squad to gain some experience against a team that will do the unexpected at times and be a very tough test. “We need to sample South American opposition in the build-up to the World Cup finals. So it will be nice test to play them at Wembley, but also in the return friendly in Brazil in the summer. “That’s a real ambition of mine to pay in the Maracana in Rio de Janiero. “You want to play against the best teams in the world and when I was growing up Brazil were always up there. “I’ve been fortunate to twice play against Spain, who have taken over as the greatest international team in the world. But facing Brazil will be fantastic.” Jagielka’s 16 caps have been stretched over nearly four years since his debut. But John Terry’s retirement from international football and Roy Hodgson’s decision to overlook Rio Ferdinand means places are up for grabs. At the age of 30 Jagielka knows time is running out for him to play in a major tournament. He was not picked by Fabio Capello for the 2010 World Cup and although a late call-up for Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, he did not play. “If I’m going to play in a World Cup it’s got to be the next one,” he added. “I don’t fancy my chances in five years time! “The plan is to be on the flight to Brazil two summers running.”

Aston Villa are taught a lesson in survival by Everton’s muscle men Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini
They say the league table does not lie, but if Aston Villa are the second worst team in English football, that is the biggest fib there is.
By Chris Bacsome, Goodison Park
February 4 2013
The current standings do not just tell tales, they fabricate, distort and present untruths of the most malicious form. Any neutral with a thirst for watching football at its purist must hope Villa thrive in their quest to get out of their predicament. For large periods of this captivating fixture they played with a style worthy of admiration and applause. Those whose experience of seeing Paul Lambert’s side is limited to their recent trips to Merseyside can only observe their plight with bewilderment. Just as they have been the only side to outplay Liverpool at Anfield this season, no visiting side have played better at Goodison. Everton, still harbouring ambitions of playing in next season’s Champions League, were able to muscle their way back to a point, displaying the qualities that explain why they have lost only three league games all season. That fact serves only to underline how good Villa were for 70 minutes. When Christian Benteke headed Villa’s third after a swift exchange of passes on 62 minutes, it was the culmination of a piece of artistry that would have sat comfortably in the National Gallery. What was lacking was the ability to withstand the muscle men, Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini showing that English football is about brawn as much as guile. The Belgian’s late double culminating in an injury-time equaliser was cruel on the visitors, but also predictable as Villa’s defence showed signs of wilting during the late home surge.
Villa have a fundamental lack of physicality in defensive areas, but the punishment for this flaw will be Draconian if it means they go down. Usually, a 3-3 draw at this venue would be presented as evidence of a young team on the threshold of being the most exciting in the division, but the context of being second bottom means the normal rules of assessment cannot apply. This must not be seen as anything other than two crucial points dropped in a survival battle, a scarcely believable anomaly but inevitable until Villa starting turning their promise into points. A survival plan usually focuses on how a team can fight their way out of trouble. “If they keep playing like that then they will win more games than not – that is for sure,” said Lambert. Everton’s defence was as vulnerable as Villa’s, Dutchman Jonny Heitinga rapidly enduring scapegoat status. He was poor, but it can be an odd place, Goodison. It should be humming because the top four remains a genuine possibility. Instead, you sense the trepidation and there are those craving to apportion blame if that ambition is not realised. David Moyes had to fend off jeers for substitutions he made at 3-1 down – changes that worked. “They were not popular substitutions but sometimes that’s the job. Not to be popular, just to do the right thing,” said the Everton manager. That could be a slogan for every manager and executive in an era where every failure to win at home usually means someone, somewhere is ordered to resign, be sacked or be sold. The psychological damage of so many missed Everton chances in the past lingers, but – as this comeback demonstrated – it is unwise to start preparing for the inquest when there is still so much to play for.

Young, gifted and slack: Aston Villa's kids blunder points away at Everton
February 4 2013 The Daily Mirror
Everton came back from 3-1 down as Paul Lambert's talented young Villa side made some defensive errors that cost them win For a bunch of kids, there can be no harsher ­environment than the Premier League to grow up in publicly. Yet for Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, there is some small consolation in the wretched struggles of his talented young side, as they desperately pursue their painful fight for survival. Let’s get this straight. In this vibrant, entertaining contest with Everton, Lambert’s team again showed their huge potential, and obvious, exciting quality. This isn’t a team who have lost hope, or are rejecting their manager. This isn’t a team who are devoid of ideas or direction either. They have a clear tactical plan and it is a good one, they have real talent and they have a boss with ideas and huge ability. But they have inexperience that is exposed at crucial moments. It is costing them dearly. Is that Lambert’s fault? Not really. He is doing a good job of producing some great football with the tools he has, in the situation he has inherited and been asked to run with. Maybe he should have found an experienced centre-half in the transfer window to replace the injured Richard Dunne, but otherwise, anyone watching Villa at Goodison would say Lambert’s philosophy is at least good to watch. They outplayed the Blues for 70 minutes, and not an Everton team off their game, but one that showed precisely why they deserve to be up there fighting for a top-four place. Yet in the final analysis, they dropped too deep in defence of their impressive lead, and paid the price when the home side rallied ­magnificently to snatch a point in stoppage time. With Dunne – who has missed most of the season – or another ­experienced centre-half, they may not have done that. Can't look at you: Paul Lambert, manager of Aston Villa, walks off at the end of the match against Everton Can't look at you: Paul Lambert, manager of Aston Villa, walks off at the end of the match against Everton But still, there are so many ­positives to take from such a decent game, that it was no wonder Lambert was allowed to grasp them ­afterwards, despite Villa extending their Premier League run without a win to eight matches. “You can see from the way we played, we are learning and growing – and whether you’re winning or losing, you’re always learning in football,” he explained. “You have to take knocks along the way, it is how you can come back from them that makes you a lot better That is how young players learn, and I believe that if we can get through this period, then we will kick right on. “If we keep going like we have been we will win more than not, and yes, if we get out of this then we’ll take from the experience and I believe next year we’ll see the real Villa.” If they can get Dunne back, then Villa can still survive, because they have got goals in them, through some real quality up front in their ­movement and link play. Christian Benteke is going to be an outstanding player, and his ­combination with Gabby Agbonlahor is a joy to watch. Villa’s third was a case in point. Lambert described it as “world class”, and he has a point, as Matthew Lowton and Andreas Weimann combined to set up Benteke’s second with a brilliant headed finish. His first had come after just two minutes, when he dismantled poor Jonny Heitinga to shoot clinically into the far corner. And even after Everton had levelled through Victor Anichebe, the visitors found the spirit to rally when the impressive Ashley ­Westwood crossed for Agbonlahor to glance home. Yet at 3-1, Everton’s incredible spirit kicked in and it was too much for Villa’s young side, who retreated ever deeper, to allow Marouane Fellaini to first shoot home, before completing the job with a fine header from Leighton Baines’ corner in injury-time.
Another harsh lesson for Villa then, but if Lambert can conjure up survival, it could be the start of better days.

Everton FC chefs win national prize at Salon Culinaire contest held at Birmingham NEC
by Steve Graves, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
CHEFS at Everton FC picked up a trophy for their culinary flair. Darren Ryder and Antony Smith took gold in a national catering industry contest. The pair, chefs for the directors and boardroom at Goodison Park, won in the football stadia category of the Salon Culinaire competition, run as part of The Hospitality Show at the NEC in Birmingham. Their two-course competition entry was a long way from traditional football food, with saddle of venison, chanterelles and black truffle among the ingredients. General manager at Goodison for catering firm Sodexo Prestige Ian Simpson said: “This is a strongly contested category which attracts some of the best chefs working at stadia across the country, so it’s a huge acknowledgment of the skills and expertise of the chefs at Everton.”

Everton FC manager David Moyes defends his decision to withdraw Kevin Mirallas
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
DAVID MOYES defended his decision to withdraw Kevin Mirallas at Goodison on Saturday.
Moyes’ decision to sub the Belgian forward – starting only his second game after a lengthy lay-off with a hamstring problem – attracted some booing. He shrugged: “I think they’re not happy with my decisions, I think that’s what it is. I think they were the same at Bolton as well, disappointed with the decisions.” When it was suggested the supporters weren’t disappointed to see John Heitinga go off, Moyes smiled: “I don’t know who it was but fine, I’d rather they directed it at myself if that’s the case. “We keep going and we’ll keep trying to get those victories. “I don’t think they were popular substitutions but sometimes that’s the job not to be that popular and just try and do the right thing.
“We had to find a way of getting Jelavic on the pitch. It was a bit like last week when we had to take Jelavic off and we brought Johnny Heitinga on and he scored the goal.”

Professional Footballers Association promise to support troubled Paul Gascoigne
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
PLAYERS’ chief Gordon Taylor fears Paul Gascoigne could be heading the same way as George Best – but vowed the Professional Footballers’ Association will not give up on the troubled former England midfielder. Former Everton player Gascoigne, who has spoken about alcoholism problems in the past and was sectioned five years ago under the Mental Health Act, appeared unwell and trembling at a charity appearance in Northampton on Thursday. His agent Terry Baker said the 45-year-old had been drinking and needed immediate help, suggesting Gascoigne’s life is “always in danger”.
PFA chief executive Taylor expressed his concern that the case could be comparable with that of Best, the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger who died aged 59 in 2005 after a long struggle with alcoholism. TV pundit Gary Lineker admitted he struggles to see a positive outcome for his former England and Spurs team-mate. Match of the Day presenter Lineker, who played with Gascoigne at the 1990 World Cup, wrote on Twitter: “I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes may be forlorn.” But Taylor was adamant that his union will continue to give Gascoigne as much support as possible. Taylor said: “We have tried to support him throughout all his problems with rehabilitation at various clinics with medical help. We are in regular touch with him and have been again. We go one step forward and two back at times and this is just the situation. If we are not careful, it is going to be akin to George Best. It is unfortunate, but we try to keep going.” Having spoken to Gascoigne, who believes he can “get back on track”, Taylor emphasised how important the former Newcastle, Lazio and Rangers playmaker’s role will be in any recovery he makes.

Everton defender John Heitinga holds his hands up over his ‘worst game ever’
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
JOHNNY HEITINGA held his hand up on Saturday night and admitted he had played his ‘worst ever game’ for Everton. But boss David Moyes explained that he had no option but to put the out-of-form Dutchman in the firing line with THREE senior right-backs all either injured or unavailable.
Heitinga endured a horror show in the 3-3 draw against Aston Villa. The Dutch World Cup finalist was culpable for all three Villa goals, just days after he had gifted West Bromwich Albion a goal, too.
Heitinga admitted on his Twitter account after the match that he had let his team-mates and fans down. “Played worst game ever in the shirt of #Everton. Let teammates and fans down but they never let me down. Will work hard to come back strong,” he tweeted. With Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert injured, and Phil Neville’s recent knee injury rendering the skipper unable to start a third game in seven days, Moyes played Phil Jagielka at right-back and left Heitinga at centre-half.
And he admitted there were precious few alternatives available to him. “That was the same defence we set up against West Brom,” he said. “It’s what we’ve got available just now. We’re short because our right backs are injured so we’ve got limited alternatives at the moment. “I don’t think I’d have done it differently with hindsight, because I had no right-backs fit. “Phil Neville’s not able to do three games in a week at the moment because of his knee. “I knew when he played last week and he played on Wednesday we’d struggle to get another game out of him and I’d have been concerned about Agbonlahor’s pace.” And Moyes was keen not to publicly condemn Heitinga.
“Yeah, but this is someone with 50 or 60 Dutch caps, so he’s a really experienced defender and a really experienced player. He knows that and he knows what he needs to do,” added the Blues boss.
Asked whether Heitinga’s focus was 100 per cent, he went on: “He’s at it. Totally.
“We’ve got the third best defensive record in the league, but we’ve given some cheap ones away this week. “But we had one of the best defensive records before today, I don’t know how it’s ended up. We’ve improved defensively as it’s gone on and we’ve had a few clean sheets recently but today we didn’t. Today we were poor.”

David Moyes delighted with Everton FC's spirit after draw with Aston Villa
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
DAVID MOYES hailed Everton’s team spirit after the Blues pulled back a two-goal deficit against Aston Villa on Saturday. Villa led 3-1 at Goodison after a Christian Benteke brace and a goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor had cancelled out Victor Anichebe’s strike. But a Marouane Fellaini double – the equaliser coming in the third minute of injury time – rescued a point. And Moyes said: “We need that spirit, but we also need the quality and we need to do the job. “I thought we, apart from the first five minutes, controlled most of the game. We got back into the game deservedly but then we gave them a goal straight after it and we thought ‘here we go again’. “We found ourselves having to chase nearly the whole game and it was only really in the last few minutes that we got back level and we nearly got a goal in that period. “I thought we played well apart from the opening five minutes or so. “We didn’t defend well, but we played well throughout and when we were behind the players kept going trying to get back into the game and we did so.” Moyes also praised the threat Villa offered with their powerful front three causing problems on the counter attack all afternoon.
“If anybody’s doesn’t think that Benteke and (Charles) N’Zogbia and Agbonlahor can’t cause you problems then they’re wrong because they are really good attacking players with speed and power and pace. “You have to be ready for that. We were ready but we didn’t deal with it that well.
“I think it’s two points dropped. “Over the week we’ve had Bolton in the Cup, West Brom and Aston Villa and if you’d have given me four points and a win in the Cup at the start of the week I might have taken it off you, but after getting into the position we were in you want to try and win.
“When it went to 3-3 even in the minute or two we had left we had two chances to win it 4-3. We were a bit unlucky there.”

Everton FC 3 Aston Villa 3: Blues’ charity extends to the pitch
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
IT WAS a day for celebrating Everton’s award-winning charity, although it would have been better if that sentiment had not extended to the pitch. On its 25th birthday the club’s ‘Everton In The Community’ initiative rightly garnered all the pre-game plaudits, but unfortunately David Moyes’ defence decided to dish out a few gifts of their own to Aston Villa. Perhaps this was never going to be a routine chance to triumph, even over opponents who have been so humiliated and down-trodden lately. Maybe it's Everton's perverse opposition to doing things the easy way, or simply the evidence of previous close contests between the two clubs, but deep down the Goodison crowd should have know not to expect anything straight-forward. One thing is for certain though. The Toffees are going to have to tighten up at the back if they’re intent on remaining in the mix for a top-four finish. Their defensive dilemma isn't helped by injuries to Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman, and the degree to which age is taking its toll on Phil Neville, but relying on the club’s best central defender – in Phil Jagielka – to plug the gap at right back is not a sustainable policy even if it was understandable. Moyes decided to keep faith with John Heitinga despite the error which ensured the previous victory over West Brom was nervier than it should have been, but that faith was spectacularly unrewarded. Before kick-off the Salvation Army band had played on the pitch, but if the Dutch defender had prayed for a reprieve from his rotten form then those celestial pleadings were sadly ignored. Heitinga’s plight is perplexing. Voted the club’s player of the season last term, he seems to have lost the combative spark which so endeared him to supporters. Just two minutes had passed when further painful evidence of the World Cup finalist’s deterioration emerged. Villa mounted a fairly half-hearted attack but still profited, as Charles N’Zogbia released Christian Benteke in the area. The Belgian striker should have been comfortably shepherded away from goal, but instead glided far too easily past a slumbering Heitinga and coolly rolled the ball beyond Tim Howard. It certainly wasn’t the first time Everton have gone behind in a game this season, so they’re becoming masters in the art of staying calm and recovering from set-backs. Duly they controlled the following 20 minutes without ever looking quite at their best, but while Moyes may have regretted the selection of Heitinga he will have been satisfied with the decision to persist with Victor Anichebe. The powerful striker had already stung Brad Guzan’s palms with a venomous effort as he attempted to lead the fight back, and he exhibited his strength superbly to turn Ciaran Clark in the area and equalise with a low finish after being supplied by Kevin Mirallas. That should have ensured Everton were in a position to push for the lead, but instead more sloppy defending quickly saw them behind again. This time a mix-up saw Ashley Westwood’s cross uncleared and serial Everton tormentor Gabriel Agbonlahor rose above Heitinga to head home. At that point the Blues were facing the prospect of having to score three to win, something they hadn’t achieved since September but at least Paul Lambert’s side were defending with enough fragility to suggest it was feasible. Mirallas’ probing was a source of optimism too, as the winger combined smartly with Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, and again showed that he relishes a floating role behind Anichebe.
However Everton needed to rely on Villa’s wastefulness in order to keep in the game shortly after the restart. Heitinga switched off and played the visitors onside as they embarked on one of their many quick counter-attacks, and Andreas Weiman went clear through on goal with only Howard to beat. Fortunately he blazed his shot high into the Gwladys Street, but it was only a temporary reprieve. Weiman turned supplier next, sending in a glorious cross for Benteke to climb above Heitinga and plant a defiant header into the net. It looked a long way back for the Blues. Moyes had seen enough. Oviedo, a left back, was asked to deputise at right back as Heitinga departed, and Nikica Jelavic was introduced for Mirallas. The second change seemed unpopular with the home support, but they quickly had something to lift their mood. Anichebe used his strength again to hold-up the ball in the area and combine with Fellaini who rifled home a deflected shot. The Blues started to press, asking questions of Guzan with a series of corners and Jelavic produced a good reflex save from the Villa goalkeeper. But the relegation-haunted Midlanders were defending heroically with the clock ticking down. A defeat that would have undermined Everton’s ambitions was looming, but six minutes of injury time provided a ray of hope. Villa are pathologically unable to defend corners, and fortunately Baines saved his best for last. Fellaini climbed highest from the left-back’s succinct delivery and headed home at the Park End to salvage something from a difficult afternoon. If there’s one thing that Everton have proven this season it’s that they’re resilient in the extreme. But they’re going to need all that spirit and more to out-muscle Tottenham in the chase for the Champions League. Cutting out their tendency for self-inflicted wounds would help too.

Phil Jagielka gives his backing for under-fire Everton defender John Heitinga
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
PHIL JAGIELKA said he sympathised with John Heitinga’s frustration – after the Dutch defender endured a torrid afternoon during Everton’s draw with Aston Villa. Injury problems prompted David Moyes to deploy Jagielka at right back on Saturday, while also keeping faith with Heitinga in central defence, but the Netherlands international went on to produce his worst display for the club since signing from Atletico Madrid in summer 2009. Jagielka believes uncertainty over his place in the team could be the reason behind Heitinga’s period of poor form, and insisted he feels for his under-fire team-mate who has struggled to break into Everton’s starting central defence this season.
He said: “He’s bound to be down. "We have all had one of those games when nothing seems to go right. "In the end I think he’ll be thankful, like the rest of us, that we at least got a point.
“It’s difficult. He got player of the season last year and had a really strong second half of the season – especially with the cup run which meant he rightly got that award. “But nobody is assured of their place in this team, and coming back to pre-season the manager obviously had ideas who he was and wasn’t going to play – and some people have done really well when they’ve got an opportunity, while some people haven’t had the opportunities they would have liked. “It’s just the way football goes. “I’m sure Johnny is frustrated that he is not getting the amount of games he would have liked. “It’s hard not playing regularly. "I didn’t enjoy not playing last season after I got injured and then wasn’t getting in the cup teams, so I know partially how he feels.” Marouane Fellaini’s 93rd minute goal ensured a share of the spoils for Everton, and allowed them to remain in fifth place in the table but Jagielka admitted Moyes’ players were disappointed not to have recorded a consecutive home victory. “We conceded so early and it was frustrating,” said Jagielka. “But if you look at chances created I think they probably had three or four chances and scored three goals, while we were peppering their goal for 90 plus minutes. "It wasn’t a flat performance, but it was annoying that we let them take their chances. “A point wasn’t what we were aiming for at the out-set but historically it’s always been hard for us to beat Villa at Goodison.”

David Moyes hails Everton FC team spirit
Feb 4 2013
DAVID MOYES hailed Everton’s team spirit after the Blues pulled back a two-goal deficit against Aston Villa on Saturday. Villa led 3-1 at Goodison after a Christian Benteke brace and a goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor had cancelled out Victor Anichebe’s strike. But a Marouane Fellaini double – the equaliser coming in the third minute of injury time – rescued a point. And Moyes said: “We need that spirit, but we also need the quality and we need to do the job. “I thought we, apart from the first five minutes, controlled most of the game. We got back into the game deservedly but then we gave them a goal straight after it and we thought ‘here we go again’. “We found ourselves having to chase nearly the whole game and it was only really in the last few minutes that we got back level and we nearly got a goal in that period. “I thought we played well apart from the opening five minutes or so. “We didn’t defend well, but we played well throughout and when we were behind the players kept going trying to get back into the game and we did so.” Moyes also praised the threat Villa offered with their powerful front three causing problems on the counter attack all afternoon.
“If anybody’s doesn’t think that Benteke and (Charles) N’Zogbia and Agbonlahor can’t cause you problems then they’re wrong because they are really good attacking players with speed and power and pace. “You have to be ready for that. We were ready but we didn’t deal with it that well.
“I think it’s two points dropped. “Over the week we’ve had Bolton in the Cup, West Brom and Aston Villa and if you’d have given me four points and a win in the Cup at the start of the week I might have taken it off you, but after getting into the position we were in you want to try and win.
“When it went to 3-3 even in the minute or two we had left we had two chances to win it 4-3. We were a bit unlucky there.”

Fellaini shows Blues won’t give up top four place without fight
by Ian Doyle, DPW West
Feb 4 2013
PEOPLE had been ready to pen Everton’s Champions League obituary. The disappointment of a quiet transfer window was followed up by an hour of football at Goodison Park which left David Moyes’ men 3-1 down to the division’s second bottom side. For those angered by the lack of signings in January, the events that unfolded in front of their eyes on Saturday only added fuel to the fire. But when they were ready to wildly proclaim Everton’s hopes of a top four finish dead and buried Marouane Fellaini came to life. Without a league goal for two months, Fellaini’s return to scoring form was perfectly timed. And on his 150th appearance for the club, the towering Belgium’s ninth and 10th Premier League goals were a symbolic call to arms and proof nothing will be given up without a fight. Win, lose or draw at the weekend, this result was never going to decide the side’s position at the end of the season. That will be determined by the 38 fixtures they complete, including the 11 previous draws and the dropped points when they were playing in their pomp earlier in the season. And also the 13 games remaining in their season. Although the constraints of having a streamline squad of 19 senior players may yet prove restrictive it is the current group who have got Everton into a position where Champions League talk can be heard above a whisper.
And who is to say this tight knit group will not be able to sustain a charge into the top four?
And what about those priceless traits that cannot be bought in the transfer window?
Character, spirit and a fierce competitive edge salvaged Everton a deserved point on Saturday – missing out on Leroy Fer and Alvaro Negredo does not mean their season is to suddenly implode.
Yes, being held by a struggling Villa side is disappointing but far from the fatal blow some would have you believe today. The values which have underpinned the Moyes era got his team out of a self-inflicted hole but it is the kind of situation which is hard to legislate for. Not even in his darkest fears over the form of John Heitinga could the manager have envisaged last season’s player of the year being at fault for all three Villa goals. Seeing the partnership of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin broken up never leaves you feeling easy but who could have predicted Heitinga’s fragility being exposed so clinically as it was – especially by Villa. Villa, a side who had looked anything but a top flight team in recent times and one that had won only five of their previous 40 Premier League games. Villa, a side who had been sinking faster than a lead weight. But then this was not necessarily the Villa most assumed would turn up to Goodison. They were not the weak and flimsy side who crumbled against Bradford and Milwall but a side with fight and desire. Everton were finding them stubborn. After Gabby Agbonlahor had restored their lead following Victor Anichebe’s excellent equaliser, Villa were throwing bodies on the line for the cause. Everton poured forward, cranked up the pressure but when the fourth goal of the game appeared certain to be theirs, Heitinga was caught out by Christian Benteke for the second time. Heitinga was soon replaced as Everton launched a comeback. Fellaini’s well-crafted strike after 69 minutes took a sizeable chunk out of Villa’s armour but they remained steady enough until added on time at the end of the game.
There, Leighton Baines swung in Everton’s 14th corner of the afternoon and Fellaini out-muscled Villa’s Ron Vlaar to head home the equalising goal. A goal to stop any premature dismissal of Everton’s top four ambitions.

Everton 3 Aston Villa 3 - Mat Kendrick's big match verdict
February 4 2013 The Birmingham Mail
Aston Villa are stuck in the only vicious circle with corners... and they’ve got just 13 games to escape.
From set-piece setbacks to late concessions, from lost confidence to lost points, from moments of hope to moments of hopelessness, the claret and blues’ groundhog day is coming soon to a ground near you, preferably in the Premier League. Villa’s performance at Everton had plenty to commend it, they threatened, they battled, they got knocked down, they got back up again, but ultimately, inevitability rather than invincibility still characterises them. Unless Villa can consistently reinforce the good bits and banish the bad bits – and quickly – Paul Lambert’s latest motto “We’ll go again” will become “Here we go again” amidst an increasingly tense relegation scrap. Not until the day of reckoning arrives on Sunday May 19, or possibly sooner, will we know if Saturday’s scoreline was one point gained or two points dropped in Villa’s survival tally. Ordinarily, a draw for Championship-threatened visitors at Champions League-chasing hosts is a result to savour and Lambert was right that few gave Villa a chance before their trip to Goodison Park. Against top-four hopefuls, whose one league home defeat this season came against Chelsea, Villa impressively got themselves into a two-goal lead – only to come unstuck against the Toffees late on. It means they have taken just three points from the last 24 available – and those past three away draws at Swansea, West Brom and now Everton would have been wins yielding an extra six points were it not for late giveaways in the 94th, 83rd and 93rd minutes. We’ll get to the corners later. Overall, Lambert’s strugglers have now thrown away 18 points from winning positions. That would have put them seventh in the Premier League, but, more importantly, it is the type of haul they are now desperately seeking from just 13 games to safeguard their top-flight status. It is some ask of a team who tend to throw up more questions than answers and with just 21 points from 25 matches. The most-played fixture in top-flight football – let’s pray it is on next season’s calendar too – produces more than its fair share of thrillers and the latest episode in the long-running series was no exception. Sadly, from a Villa viewpoint, instead of the ecstasy of Ashley Young’s last-gasp winner in the classic at Goodison in 2008-09 there was the customary 2012-13 agony at the final whistle. It is just another example of the fragility of Villa who, as the 1,100 emotionally-drained away fans will tell you, were devastating in both boxes on Saturday. Not content with playing games of two halves recently, at Goodison they were a team of two halves, vibrant in attack, vulnerable in defence. Christian Benteke bullied John Heitinga to such an extent that the Everton defender was a quivering wreck and, having been hauled off to spare himself further upset, took to Twitter to apologise for his worst performance in blue.
While it was a new low for Heitinga, there’s no shame in being Benteke-d. The Dutch international was not the first and he won’t be the last to be out-muscled by Villa’s £7 million battering ram.
He’s not even the first on Merseyside as Benteke repeated his brilliant brace from the victory at Anfield – Villa’s last Premier League win in mid-December – by causing double trouble for Everton too. Let’s lift your spirits with Villa’s goals first, before bringing you crashing back down to the Goodison turf by discussing the goals against. Benteke got Villa off to a storming start when he barged past hapless Heitinga and slotted a fine finish beyond Tim Howard in the second minute after Charles N’Zogbia floated in from the right. Gabby Agbonlahor restored the lead on 24 minutes with his seventh goal against David Moyes’s men, rising to expertly glance in Ashley Westwood’s measured right cross into the bottom left corner. Villa manager Paul Lambert watches the action at Goodison Then came the third goal to put Villa 3-1 up on 61 minutes – and it is this quite breathtaking moment which the claret and blues should cling on to in those increasingly common moments of worry. Take solace in the fact your club is capable of scoring wonderful one-touch team goals like this which had the ‘Premier class’ hallmark stamped all over it. From the quick and slick interchange of passes between Andi Weimann and Matt Lowton to the right-back’s belting ball into the box, to Benteke’s sublime stooping header, it was a goal worthy of winning any game.
Or at least it should have been. Now for the bad bits. Feel free to look away. If Benteke inspires Villa to safety then he deserves the freedom of Birmingham – but it won’t happen while his defensive team-mates are allowing opponents the freedom of the penalty area. Victor Anichebe did to Ciaran Clark what Benteke did to Heitinga by using his physical power to unnerve him, rolling the battle-scarred centre-half for Everton’s initial equaliser on 21 minutes after accepting Kevin Mirallas’ pass. Then Marouane Fellaini did to Villa what his fellow Belgian did to Everton by using his boot and his bonce to bag a brace. Fellaini linked up with Anichebe to reduce the deficit to 3-2 by squeezing a low shot into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area on 69 minutes.
Villa tried to hang on and sent on debutant Yacouba Sylla, along with Brett Holman and Nathan Baker, in a determined attempt to add to the sorry statistic of just four league wins this season.
But when referee Mike Jones somehow found six minutes of stoppage time their resistance was finally broken and it was a familiar source of pain as Fellaini escaped the attentions of Ron Vlaar to head in Leighton Baines’ 93rd-minute corner. It was Villa’s 16th concession from a set-piece in the league as this campaign continues to be played on a loop. But when Villa take to the field against West Ham at Villa Park on Sunday they need to summon up memories of Benteke’s terrific team goal and their attacking strengths rather than dwell on the corner concerns and their defensive weaknesses.

Everton FC legend Peter Reid in Hillsborough charity match
by Kate Forrester, Liverpool Echo
Feb 4 2013
EVERTON FC legend Peter Reid kept it in the family as he lined up for a Hillsborough charity match.
The former England midfielder led a team made up of several of his relatives for the celebrity event at Goals Soccer Centre in Speke. Ex-Big Brother housemate Lauren Carre also took part, along with former Everton and Tranmere Rovers striker Stuart Barlow, and contestants from Saturday dating show Take Me Out Nikitta Garnett, Helen Jones and Leah Murphy. Cash raised from the match will be donated to the Hillsborough campaign for justice.

Corner calamities nothing new at Villa - but Lambert insists it should be simple to sort out
4 Feb 2013 Birmingham Mail
Boss says defending crosses is all about individuals keeping their concentration “I’m sick of talking about it.” That was Paul Lambert’s blunt response after yet another concession from a corner denied Aston Villa a desperately-needed victory over Everton at Goodison Park. Villa had successfully defended 14 flag-kicks against the Toffees with many of them coming from the left boot of Premier League set-piece specialist Leighton Baines. But Baines’ right-wing inswinger three minutes into stoppage time proved one too many for the claret and blues as Marouane Fellaini lost Ron Vlaar to head in Everton’s equaliser. It is the seventh Premier League goal Villa have conceded from a corner this season and 16th from set-pieces in the top flight, while there have also been a handful of dead ball concessions in the cups, most notably against Bradford and Millwall.
Villa have now conceded 49 goals in the league, giving them a minus-26 goal difference.
Their susceptibility to set-pieces is not a new problem. During Alex McLeish’s time in charge, Villa conceded 25 goals from set-pieces last season, the poorest record in the top flight. Under Gerard Houllier in the 2010-11 campaign, they shipped 27 goals from set-pieces. Unsurprisingly, it was a topic of conversation Lambert was keen to avoid after the 3-3 draw at Goodison, not least because he insists Villa are doing everything in their power on the training pitches to address the worrying trend. Lambert believes it is because of individual errors with players switching off and allowing opponents to attack the ball, but it is particularly disappointing that captain and defensive leader Vlaar is the latest culprit. “I’m sick of talking about it,” said Lambert. “It’s man for man, it’s simple.
“It’s a simple game made complicated by people. “It’s simple, you pick them up. It’s concentration and you know who your man is. “You knew Everton were going to come at you strongly, but you just have to try and see the game through, which we never managed to do. “The free-kicks and corners came into the box and the delivery of Everton is very good. You have to deal with them.
“The one at the end we never managed to deal with it. Ron got caught a little bit. “The amount of times Fellaini has done that throughout his time here has been incredible.” The six minutes of stoppage time referee Mike Jones added on at the end of the second half did seem excessive, but there were delays so each team could make all three of their substitutions, while Gabby Agbonlahor was booked for time-wasting and play was also halted to allow Victor Anichebe and Fellaini to receive treatment for injuries.

New Villa signing Yacouba Sylla thrown in at the deep end
4 Feb 2013 Birmingham Mail
French midfielder makes his Premier League debut as sub as Villa tried to hang on to lead at Everton
Villa debutant Yacouba Sylla challenges Everton's Marouane Fellaini. Yacouba Sylla earned praise from Paul Lambert for his brief substitute cameo against Everton after experiencing his first Premier League action in difficult circumstances. Sylla was sent on for the last 11 minutes as a replacement for Charles N’Zogbia with Villa trying, and ultimately failing, to prevent the Toffees’ late fightback at Goodison Park. The French defensive midfielder played in a slightly more advanced role than expected, but worked hard to close Everton down and kept his play simple before being booked for a foul. Lambert was encouraged by Sylla’s contribution after confirming the 22-year-old had only trained once following his £1.75 million move from French second division club Clermont Foot.
“He did all right, considering he’s only just come here,” said Lambert, who left Sylla’s fellow deadline-day signing Simon Dawkins as an unused substitute. “I think Sylla’s got loads of energy, which you need, and I thought he did really fine. “That’s the aim for him, trying to make his mark here. “We want to get him to learn the language as well, which is very important for him. He’s at a club where the expectancy level is a lot different to the one he’s just left.” Lambert sprung a surprise by throwing Karim El Ahmadi straight back into the starting line-up following his return from African Cup of Nations duty with Morocco and the midfielder picked up a slight knee injury.
After seeing Villa play in 45-minute periods in recent matches, Lambert was pleased with their performance for the entire game, even though they let a two-goal lead slip. “In the West Brom and Newcastle games I thought we played well in halves, but against Everton I thought we sustained it – and we looked a threat going forward,” he added.

Phil Jagielka relishing 'high stakes' friendly against Brazil
England play the South Americans on Wednesday
Simon Stone
Monday 04 February 2013
Phil Jagielka is calling for England to repeat their heroics against Spain when Brazil head to Wembley for Wednesday's glamour friendly. Jagielka helped shut out the world and European champions in November 2011, a result that proved to be one of the highlights of Fabio Capello's reign.
Now, the five-times World Cup winners are on their way, with Jagielka eager to claim another major scalp. Speaking at a Vauxhall dealership in Warrington during an appearance for the England lead sponsor, Jagielka said: "This is a high stakes game. "That Spain game wasn't make or break but because we won and kept a clean sheet it turned into a massive positive. "It is a similar situation now. Whether I get to play, or someone else, it is about gaining experience from a great test." The test is certainly going to be a unique one. With Ronaldinho and Neymar both named in the first squad of Luiz Felipe Scolari's second spell as Brazil coach, England will be facing forwards at either end of football's experience spectrum. Now 32 and playing back home for Atletico Mineiro, Ronaldinho needs no introduction. Neymar, who turns 21 on Tuesday, is on the other hand rather an enigma. Other than his admittedly impressive performances from Brazil in their silver-medal-winning campaign at London 2012, most observers in this country only know of him through word of mouth, or clips on You Tube, which tend to extenuate the positive. Not that there will be any escape for Jagielka and his defensive colleagues when it comes to analysing the youngster. "I don't know a lot about Neymar," Jagielka said. "We don't see a lot of footage. He plays in Brazil so it is tough for us. "But we have video analysis people when we meet up with England and they will have plenty of footage for us to review. "They will pick out his good points and bad ones. I am sure the good points will be going on for hours." England's hopes were hit yesterday as Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe pulled out of the game through injury. A statement on the FA's official website said Carrick was suffering from a hip injury and will not join Roy Hodgson's squad ahead of the match at Wembley. Tottenham announced after yesterday's 1-0 win at West Brom that striker Defoe would miss the fixture with an ankle problem sustained at the Hawthorns.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said Defoe would be sent for a scan to determine how bad the damage is. "He rolled his ankle," said the Portuguese. "He will have to have a scan to reveal the extent of the injury. "Hopefully there is not a lot of ligament damage. If there is, he could be out for two to three weeks." Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is also a doubt for England after sustaining a thigh injury in yesterday's 2-2 draw at Manchester City.

Whites youngsters beaten by Toffees
Monday 4th February 2013 in Latest By David Pye
Bolton News
WANDERERS Under-18s lost 2-1 to an in-form Everton side in their first Elite Phase Premier League match in three weeks. But coach David Lee was pleased with the performance of his youngsters – many of whom were starting for the first time this season following the promotion of some members to the under-21 development set-up. It was an even first half that saw the young Whites take the lead through Liam Gibson on 38 minutes when his quality cross from a free-kick eluded everyone to nestle in the back of the net. Wanderers led at the break and could have scored again had Dylan Wolsetnholme’s fine effort from the edge of the box not come back off the post.
Kevin Sheedy’s Everton were always in the tight game, though, and arguably deserved their equaliser on 68 minutes when Chris Long collected a George Waring pass to score. The game looked to be heading for a draw when, with two minutes to go, Long was handed a chance to net a second and he did just that. It meant the Toffees, like their senior counterparts a week earlier in the FA Cup, went home with a 2-1 victory thanks to a late winner. But Lee was satisfied overall and said: “The performances of the players were pleasing today. “Many of them were starting a game for the first time this season. “We created some good chances within the first half and the second half was an even contest. “Everton won the game through an individual mistake on our part.
“The player in question was disappointed, though his overall performance was very good.
“Overall, the players conducted themselves well against an experienced team. “In the bigger picture, the nucleus of the squad have moved up to the development squad and that’s what the production of players is all about. “Zach Clough, Chris Lester and Niall Maher all started for the development squad against Man City on Friday.”

Everton FC 3 Aston Villa 3: I'm learning from Nikica Jelavic says Victor Anichebe
February 4 2013 The Daily Post
Everton FC striker Victor Anichebe believes he has learned greatly from fellow forward Nikica Jelavic, but sees no irony in the fact he has replaced the Croatian in the team. Victor Anichebe was preferred to Nikica Jelavic for the second successive match and responded with a goal in the Toffees’ last-gasp 3-3 draw at home to struggling Aston Villa. Everton FC manager David Moyes said Anichebe has earned his place on merit - and his fifth goal in eight league starts appeared to back that up - as Jelavic has lost his way in front of goal with his last top-flight goal almost two months ago. But Anichebe believes that is only a temporary situation and it is more important everyone plays their part as Everton bid to qualify for the Champions League. "I wouldn’t look too far into him not playing," Anichebe said. "Nikica has been unbelievable since he came to us and his record speaks for itself (18 goals in 45 appearances). "I was injured for two months and he took the burden on his own and he has been playing on his own every game. "There comes a time when you have to take him out because he is pretty tired but the best of him will come. "He has been playing for a long time on his own. Now I am back it is probably good time to give him a rest. "I talk to him all the time and some of the positions I am getting into is because of him, he has helped me get into more goalscoring positions. "We can play together. If he doesn’t play, if I don’t play, it is not a big deal." Victor Anichebe produced the first-half equaliser to Christian Benteke’s strike, but Gabriel Agbonlahor’s header and then a second for Benteke put Everton FC under real pressure.
However, Marouane Fellaini popped up with two of his own, the first assisted by Anichebe and the second in the third minute of added time, to snatch a point. "With the way we are pushing for fourth spot we are disappointed with the result," Anichebe added. "But to come back to 3-3 was a great team performance. "You can see the frustration with the fans, they expect us to win all the time and it is a big burden to have but I am sure we are up for it. "I am pleased with the goal. I seem to be able to do that skill well and the players look for me in those positions but without the pass I wouldn’t have been able to score so I give credit to Kevin Mirallas as well. "People say to me ’This is your chance, take it’ but I don’t look at it like that, I look at it as us all together as a team.
"We (him and Jelavic) give each other confidence and a push to do well. "But the most important thing is the team keeps pushing and it shows how far we have come that we are so disappointed with a draw against Villa." Moyes believes Anichebe’s form is down to improved self-belief.
"I think there have been a lot of times when Victor has been questioned and maybe even our faith in him at times," he said. "But I hope he has seen we always believed there was a really good player in there if we could get it out of him. "He has been needing support from the crowd because for a long time I think he was probably believing they weren’t behind him or didn’t value him as a player and maybe some of the things he has done on the pitch you wouldn’t have (done so). "But we have tried to keep with him and work with him and he made a big contribution, scoring a goal, was a threat and was challenging high up the pitch. "He is doing really well for us at the moment. We have brought him in and given Jela a breather and I think Victor is deservedly playing up front at the moment by how he is doing." Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert praised his own two-goal striker Benteke, who took his Premier League tally into double figures. "He’s only 22, just turned 22. For someone who has just come into British football he’s been exceptional," he said. "I probably got criticised for signing him because he wasn’t a name, no-one had heard of him, people thought ’What’s Aston Villa doing signing him?’ I’m pretty sure he’s put that to bed. "The frustrating thing is we didn’t win having scored three goals but if we play like that we will win more games than not."

Everton FC defender Jake Bidwell extends loan at Brentford for another month
by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
EVERTON defender Jake Bidwell has extended his loan spell at Brentford for another month.
The 19-year-old left-back, in his second spell at Griffin Park, has been a regular in Uwe Rosler’s promotion-chasing side this season and made his 50th league appearance for the Bees against Yeovil on Saturday. Bidwell’s current deal, a youth loan, will run until March 5 with a view to extending it further.

Ireland look for Gibson return
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND assistant boss Marco Tardelli believes that Everton midfielder Darron Gibson could be ready to resume his international career. The Irish midfielder has 19 full caps for his country, but made himself unavailable for future selection after being ignored during the Euro 2012 finals. He was approached by Tardelli for this week’s friendly international against Poland after Hull City midfielder David Meyler withdrew from the squad through injury. Tardelli revealed that Gibson turned down the offer, but only because he believes he isn’t fully fit after missing six Blues matches recently with a thigh problem. Irish officials now hope he will return to the fold for next month’s World cup qualifiers.

Everton FC defender Phil Jagielka is hoping for another battle against world giants if he lines up for England against Brazil
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
PHIL JAGIELKA has already lined up in an England jersey against some of the giants of world football.
The Everton defender has faced World champions Spain, 2006 World Cup winners Italy and 1998 winners France. But now the Everton defender is hoping to enjoy a run-out against the most charismatic international team of all, when Brazil visit Wembley tomorrow. He’s taking nothing for granted, though. Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling are the central defenders vying with Jagielka for places against Brazil, and who starts is anyone’s guess. “The last 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind,” said Jagielka. “From being in a position where you could pretty much have written down the back four and guessed who was going to be on the bench, now I don’t think anyone is guaranteed to start. “We have four or five really good centre-backs who are competing for both positions. “It is not even like one is nailed down and the other is available.
“I guess that is what the manager enjoys. “He has got a bit of everything – youth, experience, people who are playing in the Champions League. It is down to us to try and put your authority down and get that place.” Jagielka helped shut out the world and European champions in November 2011 – the second time he has faced Spain. And he relished the experience. “That Spain game wasn’t make or break but because we won and kept a clean sheet it turned into a massive positive,” he added. “It is a similar situation now. Whether I get to play, or someone else, it is about gaining experience from a great test.” The test is certainly going to be a unique one. With Ronaldinho and Neymar both named in the first squad of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s second spell as Brazil coach, England will be facing forwards at either end of football’s experience spectrum. Now 32 and playing back home for Atlético Mineiro, Ronaldinho needs no introduction. Neymar, 21 today, captured the imagination during Brazil’s silver-medal-winning campaign at London 2012. “I don’t know a lot about Neymar. We don’t see a lot of footage. He plays in Brazil so it is tough for us,” added Jagielka.
“But we have video analysis people when we meet up with England and they will have plenty of footage for us to review. “They will pick out his good points and bad ones. I am sure the good points will be going on for hours.”

Everton FC left sweating on Marouane Fellaini fitness for Manchester United trip
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
MAROUANE FELLAINI has given Everton FC an injury scare ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, after he missed training with Belgium yesterday. Fellaini is already rated a doubt by his country for tomorrow’s friendly match with Slovakia. Despite heading an injury-time equaliser against Aston Villa on Saturday, Everton’s influential midfielder complained of discomfort in his hip when he reported for international duty. He sat out training yesterday along with Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen. Fellaini terrorised United on the opening weekend of this season, heading the winner against Alex Ferguson’s side. He also enjoyed an outstanding match at Old Trafford in last season’s corresponding fixture, scoring in the 4-4 draw which effectively cost United the Premier League title.

Phil Neville looks for Everton FC to spring back after tough January
Feb 5 2013
PHIL NEVILLE is hoping Everton FC can find a spring in their step again – now that the gruelling January fixture list is behind them. Between December 22 and Saturday’s visit of Aston Villa, the Blues contested 10 fixtures in 43 days – having used the fewest number of players in the Premier League this season. But now, barring Cup replays or Cup rearrangements, they don’t have another midweek fixture for the rest of the season. The return to weekend-to- weekend fixtures could, the Blues skipper hopes, see a greater intensity to the Blues’ displays once again. "The second half of the season is always when we kick on," he explained. "Against Swansea and Southampton recently, we probably dipped below our previous standards and didn’t play with the same intensity or the same speed in our play, and maybe that’s because we were coming out of the Christmas period. We had West Ham, Wigan, Chelsea and then Newcastle. Put Cheltenham in that and you have five games in a short period of time and the same players played in every game. "I think if you look at the rest of the Premier League and the other teams who played that number of games, their players probably only played in three of them. We had eight or nine players who played in all five so it’s natural that there was going to be a little bit of a dip. "But I think there have been points dropped by everybody and tired and jaded performances from every team. It’s something that we probably expected and it’s one where we had to look at January and say we just had to get through this month. "It happens every season where you come out of the Christmas period and you’re almost fighting for your lives then for the whole of January to regain your freshness. "Once you get into February and the weather changes a little and the pitches get a bit better then I think you’ll see most teams kick on again." Boss David Moyes endorsed his captain’s asessment. After Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa he said: "We’ve lost three games this season and we’re into February now. I think that’s got to be put into perspective. I’m glad we're through that busy period, but it’s been busy for other clubs too."

Everton FC's Phil Jagielka determined to shine against Brazil and claim first-choice England place
By Ian Doyle
Feb 4 2013
PHIL JAGIELKA wants to shine against Brazil tomorrow and claim a place as a first-choice England centre-back. Jagielka is vying with former Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and former Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott for a starting role against the South Americans at Wembley. The Goodison defender has featured in England’s last three competitive internationals after earning a late call-up to the Euro 2012 squad by Roy Hodgson. And Jagielka, who has enjoyed a fine run of recent form for David Moyes’s side, is eager to make the most of any opportunity tomorrow. “The last 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind,” he said. “From being in a position where you could pretty much have written down the back four and guessed who was going to be on the bench, now I don’t think anyone is guaranteed to start. “We have four or five really good centre-backs who are competing for both positions. “It is not even like one central defensive place is nailed down and the other is available. I guess that is what the manager enjoys. “He has got a bit of everything – youth, experience, people who are playing in the Champions League. It is down to us to try and put your authority down and get that place.” Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini has handed Everton an early injury scare ahead of Sunday’s trip to Manchester United by sitting out training for Belgium yesterday. Fellaini, who netted twice in the 3-3 draw against Aston Villa at Goodison on Saturday, complained of a hip problem when reporting for international duty. And the midfielder is now rated as doubtful for Belgium’s friendly against Slovakia in Bruges tomorrow. Teenage Everton left-back Jake Bidwell could face Chelsea in the FA Cup after he agreed a further one-month loan extension at npower League One side Brentford. The 19-year-old joined the Bees in August on an initial one-month deal, with several subsequent extensions meaning he will remain at Griffin Park until March 5. Bidwell was suspended for the initial 2-2 FA Cup fourth round draw with Chelsea last month but is now eligible for the Stamford Bridge replay.

Ian Snodin: In-form Victor Anichebe now needs to show consistency
Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
VICTOR ANICHEBE has enjoyed a really good few weeks in the Everton starting line-up.
He’s scored goals, created them and looked a real handful for opposing defenders to worry about.
But Vic’s at an age now where he has got to do that consistently. He’s not a kid coming through with James Vaughan any more. He’s a 24-year-old striker who has real power and strength and hopefully he will utilise those qualities now week in week out. Victor has been really unlucky with injuries throughout his Everton career, but he’s enjoying an injury-free spell at the moment and needs to really take advantage of it. Villa’s defenders simply didn’t know how to handle him on Saturday – and a stronger referee might even have given a few penalty kicks such was the physicality of the attention he was attracting. He scored one very good goal, teed up another for Marouane Fellaini and led the line with real purpose. His challenge is now to do it regularly week in and week out.

Ian Snodin: Stats show the importance of Phil Neville to Everton FC
Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
TEAM selection permitting, Phil Neville could be in line to make his 300th Everton FC appearance on Sunday at Old Trafford. He has already made almost 400 appearances for Manchester United – not to mention won 59 caps for England. And those statistics should tell you all you need to know about the Everton skipper. Quite simply you don’t play that many times for clubs like Everton and United, or win that many international caps, without being a very good footballer.` And in Neville’s case he’s also an outstanding professional as well. It always baffles me when I see the amount of criticism which has come his way throughout his career, usually from opposition fans. Just look at the managers who have picked him for their teams. Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Terry Venables and Sven Goran Eriksson can’t all be wrong. Phil Neville is still very important to Everton, both on the pitch and off it. He keeps a tight dressing room together, has a big say in what goes on at the club and is in close contact with his manager. He’s also a very good footballer. I hope he enjoys his 300 milestone at Old Trafford on Sunday – and hope he extends it by many more at Everton.

Ian Snodin: Axeing Johnny Heitinga may not be best way forward for Everton FC
Liverpool Echo
Feb 5 2013
BY his own admission, Johnny Heitinga endured an unhappy afternoon against Aston Villa on Saturday. I think he described it as his “worst ever game” for Everton FC on Twitter.
There are two ways any player can react. Some would want to get straight back out on the pitch as quickly as possible and try to put things right. Others would have a word with the manager and say ‘look boss, I’m not playing well. I think I may benefit from being left out for a week or two’.
I don’t know Johnny well enough to say which kind of player he is, but he appears to be a strong character and I would expect him to want to play again – quickly. But regardless of which way he’s thinking, I would expect him to be knocking on the manager’s door this week to have a clear the air chat. Obviously you’re not going to play well every single game. But when you’ve had a really bad one – which Johnny has held his hand up and admitted – the first thing you should do is knock on the manager’s door and talk about it. We’re not discussing a young, fresh-faced kid here. Johnny is an experienced 29-year-old international with 50 or 60 caps to his name. He needs to tell his manager that he’s focused on putting things right, while the manager needs to hear why he thought things went wrong in the first place. If it was a youngster you were talking about, I would automatically say ‘leave him out.’ When you’ve had a poor game the crowd can get on your back a little – and one more mistake can shatter your confidence. But Johnny’s experienced enough not to worry about that. If it was me I’d want to get straight back out there and put things right – and I’d expect Heitinga to be the same. The fact that it’s Manchester United away, against an international team-mate like Robin van Persie, would only harden that resolve. Johnny probably knows van Persie’s game better than anyone else at Goodison, because of their time together in the Dutch international set-up. And Old Trafford in front of nearly 70,000 fans is the kind of arena that every player relishes playing in.
Much will probably depend on how things go in training this week. Johnny will be burning to make a point and prove that he’s a better player than he showed on Saturday. After all, this is the club’s player of the season for 2011/12 we’re talking about – and he will want to show that kind of form again.

Tough task for Moyes’ successors at PNE
Tuesday 5 February 2013
Lancashire Evening Post
David Moyes is arguably Preston’s most successful manager in recent years. He is one of only five bosses to have guided North End to a promotion in the last four decades – Alan Ball Snr, Nobby Stiles, John McGrath and Gary Peters the others. Since departing to Everton almost 11 years ago, the Scotsman has proved a tough act to follow at Deepdale. Seven men have occupied the PNE manager’s office on a full-time basis since. Only Billy Davies to date has come close to matching the achievements of his fellow Scot on the pitch. Davies twice guided North End to the Championship play-offs in a little under two seasons in charge. In 2005, they were within 90 minutes of the Premier League after reaching the play-off final against West Ham at the Millennium Stadium.
But it was the Hammers who booked their place in the top flight with a 1-0 victory. The following campaign, Davies guided the Lilywhites to the semi-final stage. But after a first-leg 1-1 draw at Elland Road, a strange night ensued in the return game at Deepdale. The floodlights went out, the team selection was puzzling and North End were beaten 2-0. Davies was head-hunted the following month by Derby County. He left behind at Deepdale a 44.5% win ratio in all competitions.
It is the best record there has been since Moyes went in March 2002, the Everton boss’s win ratio in four years in charge of Preston being 48.2%. Craig Brown filled the hotseat in between Moyes and Davies, with Davies having served as the former Scotland coach’s No.2. PNE won 36 games under Brown, the genial Scot having a win ratio of 33.9% which has been bettered by only by Davies, Paul Simpson and Alan Irvine since. After Derby ram-raided Deepdale for Davies, in came Simpson to take charge in June 2006. Recruited from Carlisle, he had a strong start to his time as North End boss, guiding them to the Championship summit. But they were to fall away and ended up just outside the play-off places at the end of Simpson’s first season. Simpson lasted until part-way through November of his second term, before a 3-0 defeat at Hull City signalled the end of his tenure. He posted a 40.2% win ratio during 17 months in charge. PNE looked to Everton for Simpson’s successor, handing Moyes’ Goodison Park No.2 Irvine his first manager’s post.
The Scot guided North End to safety in the 2007/08, relegation having been very much on the cards with the club sitting bottom of the Championship at the start of 2008. The following season, PNE squeezed into the play-offs on a dramatic last day, pipping Cardiff for sixth spot on goals scored.
But the semi-final saw them lose out to Sheffield United 2-1 on aggregate. Irvine’s sacking in December 2009 was a shock, to say the least. His win ratio was 40.9% in his 110 games in charge, and it has been an unstable Deepdale hotseat ever since. Darren Ferguson took over from Irvine, Fergie Jnr out of work at the time having left Peterborough. But in a little under a year in charge, Sir Alex’s lad managed only 13 victories at the helm – a win ratio of only 26.5%. His sacking came a year to the day from Irvine being dismissed. In came Phil Brown who ultimately could not save North End from relegation to League One. Like Ferguson, he did not complete a year in charge, his 51 games in the Preston dugout producing a win ratio of 29.4%. Brown’s successor Graham Westley is approaching 13 months in the job. There has been a huge turnover of the squad in that time, starting last January and continuing ever since. Westley’s win ratio currently stands at 26.6%, with North End having had 16 outright victories under him. The victories have dried up of late, with just one league win in the last 12 – the New Year’s Day success at lowly Hartlepool. That run has seen the daggers out for the 44-year-old, with some fearsome stick dished out by PNE supporters in his direction. Financial budget plays a big part in football and can dictate the success or otherwise of managers. It is no secret that the purse strings have been tightened in recent seasons, Trevor Hemmings’ buy-out in 2010 bringing with it austerity. You can point to Moyes being well backed with the club record signing of David Healy for £1.5m. But at the same time he got Graham Alexander for a bargain £50,000, while Jon Macken, Lee Ashcroft and Michael Appleton were big-money sales during his tenure. Davies enjoyed the transfer market, so too Craig Brown, who signed Ricardo Fuller, Brian O’Neil, Claude Davis and Eddie Lewis. The purse strings were loosened for Irvine when he took over. These days it is more about wages and complying with the financial fair play rules.

Leighton Baines pushing hard for Ashley Cole's England place says boss Roy Hodgson
By Ian Doyle
Feb 5 2013
ROY HODGSON will make Ashley Cole England’s latest centurion this evening – but has warned the Chelsea man that Leighton Baines is poised to pounce on his left-back role. Cole will win his 100th cap against Brazil in tonight’s glamour friendly at Wembley as part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations. However, there have been growing calls for in-form Everton defender Baines to be handed a regular role on the left side of England’s defence. And England manager Hodgson conceded Cole is under more pressure for his place than at any time in his 11 year international career. “Ashley has come under greater scrutiny if you like and the competition for his place is greater than in the past,” said Hodgson. “I feel Leighton has matured enormously as an international player during the last year and is playing extremely well. “Cole is playing well and Leighton is also playing well. I’m pleased to have the headache. “It won’t be an easy choice when they are both fit and vying to play in the important games. “But I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it and at the moment Ashley is the player we all know and respect and admire. “Leighton is breathing down his neck and Ashley is not stupid, he has got big competition but that’s how it should be. “If we are ever going to have a top class England team, there will be that level of competition throughout the team.” Cole has not always been popular with England fans but Hodgson believes he deserves a favourable reception at Wembley. He said: “I deal with Ashley the footballer, the man I know on the football field, who I know as an England player, who is trying to help me win matches.
“I see no reason for England fans not giving him the credit and reception and the admiration he deserves playing his 100th game. “If you are an England fan and don’t respect or love someone for doing that, then that’s your problem and not his.” Hodgson confirmed Baines will be involved at some point against Brazil, although it is most likely to be as a substitute. “Ashley will start the game, then I’ll have to see what to do with Leighton, who has been doing very well,” said the England manager. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who will receive an award before the match having won his 100th cap in Sweden last November, will skipper the side, with Anfield team-mate Glen Johnson and Goodison duo Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka also expected to feature at some point.

United's Real headache as Jones hit with shingles blow
5 Feb 2013 Manchester Evening Standard
Manchester United defender Phil Jones is set to miss Sunday's clash with Everton and next week's Champions League first leg against Real Madrid with shingles. Phil Jones is likely to be ruled out of Manchester United's Champions League last-16 first-leg encounter with Real Madrid next week after being struck down by a bout of shingles. Jones missed United's Barclays Premier League win at Fulham on Saturday and 24 hours later was withdrawn from the England Under-21 squad for tomorrow night's encounter with Sweden in Walsall. No reason was given by the Old Trafford outfit for the absences. However, England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has confirmed Jones is suffering from shingles. "Jones picked up shingles and there's not a lot we can do about it," said Pearce to several national newspapers. "It's a shame because it makes us stronger when Phil's here, that's for sure. But it gives someone else a chance." A similar virus to chicken-pox, shingles is relatively common and the symptoms last for at least a fortnight. So, depending upon the severity, it is difficult to see Jones recovering in time to make the trip to Madrid for next Wednesday's game.
It would be a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson too as the youngster recently excelled in a central midfield role against Tottenham and United might have been looking for Jones to carry out the same duties again as they look to get a positive result to take back to Old Trafford for the decider on March 5.

Everton FC's Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard fighting fit thanks to Wavertree UFC star Terry Etim
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Feb 6 2013
WAVERTREE UFC star Terry Etim and Everton fight fans Tim Howard and Sylvain Distin have a shared ambition – they all want to step out at Wembley this season. But while the footballers have a tricky trip to giantkillers Oldham to negotiate en route to a possible appearance at the national stadium, fight star Terry is already guaranteed a Wembley billing when the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to London next week (February 16). It will be UFC’s first show in Britain for two-and-a-half years – and Etim can’t wait. “It’s going to be huge. I’ve always wanted to fight at Wembley and when I heard the UFC were putting on a show there I was thrilled. It’s going to be a very good night.
“I’ve fought in Brazil, Germany, Abu Dhabi...but the crowd always turns out in force in Britain and hopefully they will give me a real boost.” It won’t be just the 10,000 crowd packed into Wembley who will rooting for the Liverpool lightweight when he steps into the Octagon against Brazil’s Renee Forte. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and defender Sylvain Distin are big UFC fans, and for Howard it’s not just entertainment. Blues stopper Howard tries to pick up some tips from the fighters he can use in his own sport. “I admire fighters and how they train and their mindset. If I ever encounter a fighter I always try and pick their brains,” he explained. “You have to gain an edge with the mental aspect of fighting and I try and incorporate that into my mentality too. “Football’s a team game, but goalkeeping is an individual part of that so I always try and gain a mental edge. “I’ve met a few UFC fighters before and they’re always humble so every time I meet them I enjoy picking their brains.
“I’ve been following UFC for probably about 10 years now. It’s something I got into when my brother trained ju jitsu and I really enjoy it. “Down the years I’ve watched everyone. Obviously I was a big fan of Randy Couture and at the moment Jon Jones is currently electrifying people. I tend to ebb and flow and like to see fighters win and get on top, but if they get too big you then want to see them lose because they’re so good. “Georges St-Pierre seems to have revolutionised the game.
“He is masterful at taking away his opponents strengths so I like watching him at the present.”
Team-mate Distin is just as enthusiastic. “A good friend of mine has been fighting UFC for a long time and I appreciate the sport,” he added. “We stay up late to watch it as a team when we can and ring each other to talk about it, or we record it and watch it the next day and it’s always talked about in the dressing room. It’s great to watch. “I like the style of Jose Aldo, he’s quite attacking and when you watch it on TV that’s what you want to see.” Distin added that the Blues stars even pull on UFC gloves every now and then and try to put what they see into practice. “We try to do some pad work once a week,” he added. “Just three one minute rounds, and that helps us understand how difficult it is which is why I enjoy watching the guys.” The players stress that they only work on the pads and the punchbag, but – hypothetically of course – if Terrible Tim stepped into a UFC arena with Slugger Sylvain, who would come out on top? Tim smiled...“Sylvain has a big left hand, but if I slip it, and get inside...he could be in trouble!” Terry Etim will be fighting for real at Wembley, and he aims to ensure that Brazil’s Renne Forte is the man in trouble. “I don’t know too much about him, but he’s top level so I’m expecting a tough fight,” he said. “But I’m also 100 per cent confident and I know I’m going to come out on top. “I’ve trained three hours in the morning three hours at night – I’m super-fit and super-ready. “But I’m fed up with training now and just want to get to fight night and come away with the win. I love fighting in England. The fans have always shown me such great support. It really makes you want to dig deep because you can hear the crowd. I will be looking to put on a show for them.”

Everton FC must be wary of vengeful Man United at Old Trafford, says Phil Jagielka
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 6 2013
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PHIL JAGIELKA believes Everton must be wary of a vengeful Manchester United on Sunday – but can take inspiration from last year’s 4-4 thriller. The Blues mounted a stirring comeback at Old Trafford last April, to record a draw which was subsequently blamed for costing Alex Ferguson’s men the title. Everton then had the upper-hand at the start of this season, beating the Red Devils 1-0 at Goodison, and Jagielka knows the bitter memories of both results will provide their hosts with plenty of extra motivation ahead of this weekend’s contest. He said: “I’m sure the game will be built up a lot because of how it went last season – but it will still be a really tough game. “They’ve kicked on a gear and there’s a lot of incentives for them now to try and stay at the top and prove a point after we beat them in September, and then of course the points they dropped last season possibly costing them the championship. “It won’t be easy going to Old Trafford. We’ve not picked up too many victories there over the years so I don’t think we’ll be favourites by a long shot. “But hopefully we get everyone back fit and well from the international games, and we can go there confident and draw some inspiration from last time.” Leighton Baines is one key Everton player who is likely to be fresh for Sunday’s 4pm clash, with England boss Roy Hodgson set to give Ashley Cole the nod to start ahead of him at left-back for tonight’s friendly against Brazil. And Baines’ Old Trafford counterpart, Patrice Evra, is certainly determined to ensure United remain focused against the Toffees after last season’s costly slip-up. “I am really happy with what we are doing in the league and the other competitions,” said the France international. “Nobody forgets the big disappointment of losing the title last season. It’s really important that we just keep going because the league is not finished in February. We have a lead but nothing is done yet. “We just have to take it game by game and aim to win every match. That’s the right attitude to have. In every game this season we have had the right attitude. That’s why I think the fans and the players are very happy this year because we really want to show we are champions. We have to keep going that way.”

Chelsea star ‘won’t start moaning’ if Everton man is picked ahead of him
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
London 24
Ashley Cole insists he will not walk out on England if and when he surrenders his status as first-choice left-back to Leighton Baines. Cole, who will become England’s seventh centurion when they face Brazil at Wembley tonight, is coming under intense pressure from Everton star Baines.
But even if some had their way and Baines nabbed the starting berth Cole has become so accustomed to, the 32-year-old would not quit the international scene in search of something better. “If there comes a time - and there will - when I am not first-choice left-back, it won’t be a problem,” he said. “I don’t want to go to another World Cup just to be in the record books.
“If Leighton gets picked in front of me, it is going to benefit the team. I won’t start moaning or saying I should be playing. I am not going to quit just because someone is playing better than me or deserves to play.” Neither will Cole follow Gary Neville’s lead and write his international career off as a waste of time if that longed-for trophy fails to arrive. “I kind of understand where he is coming from,” said Cole. “But I am not saying it is a waste of time. “I would be a little bit sad not winning anything for my country but there are some great teams out there who have never been good enough to get to a final, let alone win one.”

Everton FC ace Leighton Baines putting more pressure than ever on Ashley Cole
by Ian Doyle, DPW West
Feb 6 2013
ROY HODGSON will make Ashley Cole England’s latest centurion this evening – but has warned the Chelsea man that Leighton Baines is poised to pounce on his left-back role. Cole will win his 100th cap against Brazil in tonight’s glamour friendly at Wembley as part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations. However, there have been growing calls for in-form Everton defender Baines to be handed a regular role on the left side of England’s defence. And England manager Hodgson conceded Cole is under more pressure for his place than at any time in his 11 year international career. “Ashley has come under greater scrutiny if you like and the competition for his place is greater than in the past,” said Hodgson. “I feel Leighton has matured enormously as an international player during the last year and is playing extremely well. “Cole is playing well and Leighton is also playing well. I’m pleased to have the headache. “It won’t be an easy choice when they are both fit and vying to play in the important games. “But I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it and at the moment Ashley is the player we all know and respect and admire. “Leighton is breathing down his neck and Ashley is not stupid – he has got big competition but that’s how it should be. “If we are ever going to have a top class England team, there will be that level of competition throughout the team.” Cole has not always been popular with England fans but Hodgson believes he deserves a favourable reception at Wembley. He said: “I deal with Ashley the footballer, the man I know on the football field, who I know as an England player, who is trying to help me win matches. “I see no reason for England fans not giving him the credit and reception and the admiration he deserves playing his 100th game. “If you are an England fan and don’t respect or love someone for doing that, then that’s your problem and not his.” Hodgson confirmed Baines will be involved at some point against Brazil, although it will be as a substitute. “Ashley will start the game, then I’ll have to see what to do with Leighton, who has been doing very well,” said the England manager. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who will receive an award before the match having won his 100th cap in Sweden last November, will skipper the side, with Anfield team-mate Glen Johnson and Goodison duo Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka also expected to feature at some point.

Everton flops Andy Van Der Meyde and Royston Drenthe bond over short skirts and nightlife
Daily Dispatch by Mathew Nash
Both came with great promise to Goodison Park yet both Dutch internationals struggled to deal with the temptations on offer in Liverpool. So how did Van Der Meyde play a large part in Drenthe's latest venture? When Everton signed Andy Van Der Meyde from Inter Milan in 2005 it was something of a coup. The Dutch international was highly rated and despite a difficult time in Milan he was well remembered for his time at Ajax and gained notoriety for his ‘Sniper’ celebration. His time at Everton was fraught with controversy. His relationship with David Moyes was strained to say the least. As anybody will know no matter how talented a player is crossing Moyes can be just as similar to a P45 as it would be to cross the famous Scot he is destined to succeed. If you don’t believe me track down Jesper Blomqvist and ask how far he got when he argued with Moyes. For Van Der Meyde the move to Everton spelled the end of his career, as he succinctly summed up in an interview with The Times in December: ‘’When I was at Ajax, I never even drank alcohol; it was the same at Inter. My team-mates would go out to a club, but I didn’t even know they existed. That changed at Everton.’’ After being released by The Toffees he remained in Liverpool but things spiralled further: ‘’I started doing cocaine. I looked at myself and asked what I was doing. I thought being in Liverpool would kill me. I needed to go home. So I left everything behind and went back to Holland. Within three days, I had signed with PSV Eindhoven.’’ So when Van Der Meyde caught wind of Royston Drenthe’s potential move to Everton he was quick to get his number from former team-mate Jonny Heitinga; to give him the advice he once wishes was given to him before he decided to join Everton; that Liverpool is not a city for the likes of these mercurial footballing mavericks.
A report in Dutch publication HP Detijd details some of the conversations the two had before Drenthe moved to Everton, including this plea from Van Der Meyde: "Do not do it boy, I beg you, do not do it. Liverpool has too many temptations for guys like us. Before you know it you will be dragged into the nightclubs. There Bacardi flows and you can ski on cocaine; and the women, Royston. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Those British women with their short skirts.’’ Drenthe assured Van Der Meyde that he was going to Goodison simply to play football, with a dream of playing at the European Championships in the summer. At first that seemed to add up as Drenthe showed glimpses of the talent that first brought him to the world’s attention at the 2007 under-21 European Championships. As time went on however his discipline failed him again and Everton lost patience; Moyes exiled him from the first team and in the summer showed no interest in pursuing a permanent deal. He found himself without a club and without many suitors after his behaviour in Liverpool. He had not heeded the advice of a trusty old head but he would not make the same mistake again. The two had remained in touch after that initial conversation in 2011 and when Drenthe found himself considering leaving behind footballing exile for a resurrection with Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz in December he knew there was one man he could count on for a true opinion on his future. "Do you know if there's anything to do in Vladikavkaz?’’ Read the text Drenthe sent to Van Der Meyde. Not even 24 hours later Van Der Meyde is said to have been checking into a hotel in the city and preparing to hit the town. Three days of research later and he responds to Drenthe’s plea for help: ‘’No nothing to do. Ugly women. The coast is clear.’’
On February 2nd Drenthe officially signed a deal to become an Alania player and help them fight a Russian relegation battle in the relative piece of a city lying in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and if it can be the first run of the ladder toward this 25-year-old turning his career around then he will have much to owe a fellow former Evertonian who struggled to handle the lifestyle of a Premier League footballer in a burgeoning party town like Liverpool.

Blue Boys: Jake Bidwell to stay on loan at Brentford
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 7 2013
lJAKE Bidwell will remain on loan at Brentford a further month. The left-back, 19, joined the League One side in August on an initial one-month deal, with several extensions bringing his spell into the New Year. He will now remain with the Bees until March 5.

Blue Boys: Everton FC U-18s defeat Bolton Wanderers as elite group action resumes
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 7 2013
EVERTON under-18s returned to competitive action with a 2-1 win at Bolton Wanderers.
The young Blues have seen the second half of their season disrupted by postponements due to the recent bad weather – a 3-2 home win over Reading on January 12 their only non-friendly fixture since 10 December. But continuing where they left off against the Royals, Kevin Sheedy's side defeated Bolton thanks to a brace from Chris Long. Wanderers took the lead on 38 minutes when a free-kick out wide evaded everybody and ended up in Russell Griffith's goal. The Blues responded after the break and as George Waring put Long through on goal and the forward made no mistake.
Everton continued to tighten their grip on the contest and got their reward two minutes from time.
Harry Charsley was this time the provider as he found Long, who drove the ball low and across the goalkeeper. The Toffees now sit top of the table after the opening two fixtures of the Elite group.
Sheedy said: “Duncan Ferguson has been doing a lot of training with Chris Long to work on his finishing. “He was very clinical today so that appears to have paid dividends. “We've made a good start to this new league. “We didn't play as well as we could, but that might have been expected as we are probably a bit rusty from not playing much recently.”

England 2 Brazil 1 - James Pearce’s verdict as Merseyside stars help see off South American rivals
Liverpool Echo
Feb 7 2013
THIS was the perfect way to get the party started. The opening showpiece occasion of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations provided a night for England to savour at Wembley.
For the first time in nine attempts dating back 23 years they claimed the scalp of five-times World Cup winners Brazil. Of course friendly results mean little but this was the perfect fillip for Roy Hodgson’s side after such a dismal end to 2012 when they scraped a point in Poland and were then embarrassed by a Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired Sweden Wayne Rooney’s 33rd goal for his country and a fine finish from substitute Frank Lampard ensured England will go into next month’s 2014 World Cup qualifying double-header on a high. A trip to San Marino will be routine but it’s the showdown with Group H leaders Montenegro that will go a long way to deciding England’s fate.
Whether last night will help them prepare for a cauldron in Podgorica is debatable. That will be a very different challenge when character will be as important as quality. Hodgson may have a job on his hands getting England to Rio but it’s nothing compared to that facing Felipe Scolari, who is entrusted with the task of lifting the World Cup on home soil. Brazil look a pale shadow of the great teams of the past. For all their trick and flicks, they created little and defensively they were woeful.
Prior to kick-off there was a special presentation to Steven Gerrard, who received a commemorative golden cap from Peter Shilton to mark his century of England appearances. The Liverpool skipper maintained his excellent recent club form as he led by example. The quality of Gerrard’s deliveries into the box provided some anxious moments early on for a backline marshalled by Chelsea’s erratic David Luiz. However, too often possession was carelessly spurned and with the pace and invention of Ronaldinho, Luiz Fabiano and Neymar the Brazilians settled and counter-attacked with menace.
Gary Cahill did just enough to prevent Santos superstar Neymar from latching on to Oscar’s through ball. Oscar then fired narrowly over after a surging run from Neymar before Glen Johnson blocked Fabiano’s strike. Brazil were handed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the 18th minute when Ronaldinho’s cross was handled by Jack Wilshere in the area. Ronaldinho took responsibility but his spot-kick was expertly saved by Joe Hart, who then reacted quickly to deny him from the follow-up. That let-off appeared to energise England with widemen Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott finally coming to life. Wilshere also began to show why there is genuine excitement about what his central midfield partnership with Gerrard could yield. This was the first time the master and the apprentice have started an international together and the signs were promising. They combined expertly to tee up Welbeck, who couldn’t provide the finishing touch as he blazed high and wide. England’s resurgence was rewarded with the opening goal in the 27th minute. Wilshere slotted the perfect pass in behind Adriano for Walcott to run on to. The Arsenal forward’s shot was saved by the legs of Julio Cesar but Rooney clinically swept home the rebound. Supporters adhered to the pre-match pleas to show respect for Ashley Cole on his 100th cap. The Chelsea full-back became the seventh player to reach a century for England after Bobby Charlton, David Beckham, Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and Gerrard. But Cole’s days at this level are surely numbered. The 32-year-old endured a wretched 45 minutes before Hodgson dragged him off.
The efforts of Everton’s Leighton Baines at left-back in the second half only rammed home the fact that Cole remains ahead of him in the pecking order only on reputation rather than performances.
Cole was a weak link on his special night and almost allowed Brazil to swiftly restore parity.
Oscar raced away from him far too easily down the right flank. His cross picked out Neymar at the back post but he sliced over the bar with the net gaping. England survived and finished the first half on top with Rooney’s 25-yard piledriver whistling just wide before Walcott forced another decent save from Cesar. Hodgson made two changes at the break as Baines replaced Cole and Lampard was introduced at the expense of the ineffective Tom Cleverley. Once again Gerrard led the charge in the second half and after his dipping 20-yarder was spilt by Cesar, Wilshere stabbed the rebound wide. England were still rueing that miss when in the 48th minute Brazil were gifted an equaliser.
Cahill tried to bring the ball out from the back but sloppily over-ran it. Fabiano pounced and found Fred, who hammered an unstoppable left-footer past Hart. As the Brazilians celebrated, the Chelsea defender buried his head in his hands in a bid to hide his embarrassment. Seconds later England were fortunate not to fall behind. Hart’s poor clearance struck Cahill and dropped to Fred. Hart could only stand and watch as his curler clipped the bar. The hosts rallied and benefited from the fact that the Brazilians were equally suspect defensively. Cahill powered a header goalwards from Gerrard’s corner but Cesar thwarted him by tipping it over. Walcott had plenty of joy against Adriano down the right and on the hour mark England regained the lead. Substitute Arouca gave it away cheaply on the edge of his own box and Lampard met Rooney’s pass with a sweetly struck side-footed finish which went in off the post. It was the first time England had scored twice past Brazil since John Barnes lit up the Maracana in 1984. Hodgson’s side could have added to their tally with Baines whipping in one inviting cross but no-one could get the touch required to turn it beyond Cesar. Brazil pressed in search of an equaliser late on but Fred and Oscar both fired wide as the hosts comfortably held on for a morale-boosting victory. ENGLAND: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Smalling, Cole (Baines 46), Gerrard, Walcott (Lennon 75), Wilshere, Cleverley (Lampard 46), Rooney, Welbeck (Milner 61). Not used: Walker, Butland, Jagielka, Lescott, Osman, Oxlade-Chamberlain. BRAZIL: Cesar, Daniel Alves, Luiz (Miranda 78), Dante, Adriano (Luis 70), Paulinho (Jean 62), Ramires (Arouca 46), Neymar, Oscar, Ronaldinho (Lucas 46), Fabiano (Fred 46). Not used: Diego Alves, Castan, Hulk.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal).
Attendance: 87,453.

Closure of iconic Everton FC pub The Winslow leaves fans’ group homeless
by Neil Jones, Liverpool Echo
Feb 7 2013
ONE of Everton FC’s longest-running supporters clubs was today looking for a new home after the closure of an iconic pub in the shadow of Goodison Park. The Winslow Hotel, opposite the main stand in Goodison Road, shut its doors shortly before Christmas due to what were described as “logistical and financial difficulties”. It deprived the Everton Supporters (Goodison) Club of the meeting place it has used since 1995. James Leyden, the club’s membership secretary, said: “It was a shame to see the Winslow closing down, even if it was not really a huge surprise. It had changed hands a few times over the last few years. “Numbers have been dwindling over the last few years and there are a number of other supporters’ groups forming all over the city – and beyond.
“It makes it a little difficult to keep big groups together but that is just how it is. “We had some real valuable memorabilia in there, which we have managed to rescue. “We had framed shirts from Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert and people like that, and some great pictures from over the years, including hand-painted portraits of Colin Harvey and Alan Ball. “It means we need to find a new place to meet. We have been using Orry’s in County Road for the past few games, but our members have been a little scattered since the Winslow shut. “It is probably the pub most closely associated with the club, due to its location. “We will be contacting our members to arrange a meeting in due course and hopefully we can find a suitable solution as to where we can be based.” The Winslow has welcomed some of Everton’s most famous figures past and present. Belgian star Marouane Fellaini met supporters at a specially-arranged Q&A, posing for pictures and signing autographs, in 2010. Meanwhile former Goodison favourite Kevin Campbell called into the establishment after a poor home performance in the early-2000s. The striker apologised for his side’s display and bought drinks for supporters. Liverpool council told the ECHO that there were no licensing issues with the Winslow and a sign outside the venue urges anyone interested in buying the pub to contact the owners.

Kevin Mirallas is crucial to Everton FC's top four hopes – Marouane Fellaini
Greg O'Keeffe
Feb 7 2013
MAROUANE FELLAINI insists the fitness of Kevin Mirallas will be crucial to Everton’s Champions League dream. The pair were both involved for Belgium during their 2-1 victory over Slovakia last night, and Fellaini is desperately hoping his team-mate has now fully recovered from the hamstring problems which have plagued his otherwise promising start to his Premier League career this season. Fellaini remained on the bench at the Jan Breydel stadium in Bruges for the duration of yesterday evening’s game as he nursed a slight injury concern of his own, while Mirallas played the first half for Marc Wilmots’ men. But the towering midfielder knows Mirallas is the perfect player to open up stubborn opposition defences as Everton look to stay in the mix for the top four and keep their never-say-die spirit going. He said: “Kevin is an important player for Everton and I hope now he can play every game until the end of the season. “Games only finish after 90 minutes so it's important to keep going and try to win games.” Fellaini maintains Everton must try to take something from their Sunday clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford if they are to keep up with Tottenham. The 25-year-old has taken centre stage in the Blues’ last two encounters against the Red Devils, and capped a hugely influential performance against Alex Ferguson’s side with the only goal of the game at Goodison in September. And in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford last season – a stunning 4-4 draw – Fellaini was among the scorers as Everton struck twice late on to dent United’s title hopes. The midfielder, who is expected to recover from a hip injury which prevented him training in Belgium on Monday, added: “Every game against Manchester United is a good game. It’s a big challenge but everyone wants to play Champions League so it is important to keep going and win every game.” “It’s difficult to win when you make a mistake like last weekend (against Aston Villa) but Everton have good spirit and try to win every game at home. It was a good point. “Every game I try to give my maximum and to score goals. It’s not just me – the players and supporters help, everything is important.” Meanwhile, Nikica Jelavic suggested he is ready to recapture his scoring form by notching an impressive finish for Croatia in their 4-0 victory over South Korea yesterday. The striker came off the bench to score his side's third goal as they ran out comfortable victors during a friendly at Fulham's Craven Cottage. Jelavic's goal came courtesy of a typically clinical first-time finish, adding to efforts from Mario Mandzukic, Dario Srna and Cottagers frontman Mladen Petric, who netted on his home ground. * BLUES defender Shane Duffy captained Ireland Under-21s to a commendable 3-0 win over Holland in Dublin, while Apostolos Vellios' Greek U-21 side drew 1-1 with Scotland with the Everton striker providing the assist for his country's goal.

Duncan Ferguson exclusive: My first goal for Everton FC was a life-changing moment
by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 7 2013
Everton Under 18's assistant coach Duncan Ferguson
HE WAS the enigmatic Goodison hero who shunned the media limelight, but became an icon to a generation of adoring Evertonians. Now, for the first time in almost 20 years, Duncan Ferguson has given an exclusive interview to the ECHO; and reiterated why his bond with the Toffees remains as strong as ever. DUNCAN FERGUSON walks purposefully into the room, settles his imposing frame into a chair and folds his arms. Peeking just under the sleeves of his training top is the blue etching of that famous tattoo - a number nine inside the Everton crest - which was but one element that contributed to the near semi-mythical aura generated by a footballer who remains sacrosanct to many on the blue half of Merseyside. There's no doubting it. At 41, the big man is still lean, still mean and still has more brooding presence than an old-school Hollywood action hero.
But then he smiles. He sits back, unfolds his arms and smiles, and it's clear that Ferguson, now a highly-rated coach at Finch Farm, is ready to reveal the other side to his character. It's the nurturing, considered, articulate side which has quickly marked him out as a coach with the ability to go far.
As an assistant to another Blues legend, under-18s coach Kevin Sheedy, the former Scotland international is thriving, and clearly revels in the role of tutor to a generation of future Everton standard-bearers. But before we talk about those yet to grace the Goodison turf, there is the matter of a two-part, decade-long Everton career which saw Ferguson write his name into the history books alongside the prestigious band of revered former number nines. It all began in 1994 with a loan spell, which Ferguson believed was simply a chance to enjoy a temporary reprieve from the difficulties which had dogged some of his time at Glasgow Rangers. “When I left Rangers they said to me ‘Go on loan for a few months and then come back’ and that was what was in my mind,” says Ferguson, recalling the switch to Merseyside arranged by Mike Walker. “I’d never been to the city and hadn’t been to Everton before. But it wasn’t long, maybe a couple of weeks, before I was thinking ‘You know what? I don’t want to be going back up the road – I’m happy where I’m at’. It didn’t take me long at all to get that feeling.” If Ferguson was quickly at ease, it was nothing to the feelings he experienced on that fateful night when his career South of the border really took off. Monday, November 21, 1994 was a transformative evening for the Scot. The Sky sports cameras were in L4 and Liverpool were the opponents at Goodison Park. For Ferguson, who set the ball rolling with the first of a two-goal victory over the reds, it was the start of something special.
“You could definitely say it was life-changing,” he recalls. “It was a fantastic moment. I’d played a few games already and hadn’t scored but that was the turning point. "It was when I knew I was at a massive club and to score my first goal in such a massive derby was special. It made me even more part of the club. “I just remember the roar when it hit the net. It’s not until you look back at the tapes that you realise what you did afterwards. "The split second after you score you’re not really in control. It was very emotional and that wall of noise is great.” That result began a surge which led all the way to Wembley the following May, and served to stoke Ferguson's reputation as a crowd favourite who played his part in restoring a sense of pride around the club. But it also gave the combative striker a taste for what would become his favourite fixture - the no-holds-barred contest of a Merseyside derby. “I enjoyed the competition of them - right from my Dundee United days, or at Rangers, or Newcastle,” he says. “They were great games to be in but the Merseyside one was something else. I felt I competed well. I always tried to put myself around and felt I gave everything I had. It’s about giving that extra bit.” Ferguson went on to score 72 goals for the Toffees over the course of his two spells, but his career was hampered by a succession of injuries. Undoubtedly the repeated frustration of missing out hit the forward hard, but he does not regret putting his body on the line. “When I put my shirt on I gave everything," he says. "I’ve got the scars to prove it – too many really. I had about a dozen operations. “I didn’t play as many games as I wanted to play and should have played. If I’d played twice as many games there would have been more goals. I think part of it was the way I was built, I just picked up injuries. It is what it is though; I can’t get away from it.” Ferguson was so immersed in life at Everton that he never considered playing on at another club after his contract was not renewed in 2006, although he nevertheless found hanging up his boots difficult. Such was the transition into retirement, Ferguson decided on a fresh start by moving his family to Spain, although even in the Mallorca sunshine, he admits the Blues were never far from his thoughts. Those thoughts, for a man who has long preferred to avoid interviews, stayed private - so did he experience much surprise from others when he returned to the UK with the intention of becoming a coach, and in the future a manager? “I’m not sure what people thought,” he says. “Obviously with me leaving the game and going abroad for a number of years maybe (there was surprise). “I went away and spent some time with my family but it was always something that was in the back of my mind, ‘How am I going to get back in the game? I want to get back into the game with Everton’. It was just that process then and how would I do it? “I don’t want to keep on harping on about it but everyone knows this is the club I love and always want to be at. “I’m made up to be working with the academy. When I first came in I was working with all the different age groups and I still do sometimes. But at the moment I seem to have settled with assisting Kevin Sheedy and the U-18s.” Ferguson is settled and happy back at Everton, but having recently passed the Uefa A coaching licence he is also dreaming of a management role at some point in his future. “I’m taking my pro licence now which will qualify me to become a manager,” he says. “I’ve passed my Uefa badges and I started the big one last month. At the moment I’m taking it step by step and enjoying what I’m doing. Where I’ll go in the future time will tell.” So with his eyes firmly on the future, Big Dunc is ready for whatever challenges it brings. But being back on his old stomping ground means his memories of a special playing career are rarely far away. “I have looked back,” he says. “When you finish and the kids say, ‘Dad did you play a wee bit?’ and you put on the DVDs. “It was a fantastic thing to be playing for Everton and for people to want to speak to you or a kid to look up to you. People shouting your name on the terraces. Incredible.”
“I always say to people that it was big Sami Hyypia.
I wouldn’t say he was an aggressive centre back but he was strong and good in the air. “He was a good player; he read the game well and competed well with me in the air.
“I enjoyed my battles with him, he was tough.
“Then you go back to the boys in the earlier days like Ruddock. They’re all tough though – there are no easy derby games.”
“The first one against Liverpool obviously stands out. But I liked when I turned in the box once at Goodison against Liverpool and the ball hit the net before the fans realised it was past David James. I knew right away it was in. The noise came a split second later. “Also the one at Old Trafford because I hit it sweetly and Peter Schmeichel didn’t see it. Players will tell you – the moment you hit one properly you just know. It stays hit.”
“I didn’t really read the press. It just wasn’t something I was into. This is probably only the third one (interview) I’ve ever done. I think it followed on from my Scottish days because I had a hard time up there. But it wasn’t because I was bitter or I didn’t want to speak to people, it just wasn’t me. I’m sure there has been a lot written about me but luckily enough I never read it!”
“I was lucky because he was on the ground and I was on top of him. I had an advantage there to be fair!”

Everton FC captain Phil Neville to hold talks over extending Goodison career
by Ian Doyle, The Liverpool Post
Feb 7 2013
PHIL NEVILLE will hold talks over his Everton FC future next month as he ponders extending his Goodison commitment. Neville reaches the end of his present contract at the end of the season with David Moyes having previously intimidated he would gladly offer the club skipper another 12-month deal. However, the 36-year-old has deferred talks with Goodison officials until March.
And while Neville strongly believes he can play on “two to three years”, it is thought the utility man will only do so at Goodison provided he can remain effective at a high level. Neville – who could make his 300th Everton appearance against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday – has made no secret of his desire to move into coaching and management. Last year he helped coach England Under-21s for a game against Belgium and intends to complete his A licence coaching badges this summer. Moyes has already tied up a 12-month extension for 35-year-old Sylvain Distin while Everton remain hopeful of completing a new deal for England international Leon Osman.
Everton make the short journey down the East Lancs Road on Sunday aiming to strengthen their claims for Champions League qualification by recording a first win at Old Trafford in more than 20 years. The Goodison outfit stand just three points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, but so tightly bunched is the top half that only 12 points separates Chelsea in third from West Bromwich Albion in ninth.
And Moyes believes every point will count in the final 13 games.
“The Premier League at present is a really closely contested division with not a lot between many sides in the table, and that’s been noticeable in many of the games in recent months,” he said.
“I’ve always felt that 40 points should be the first target of the season. We now have to try and push on and keep picking up more points as we go along. “To stay in the top part of the table is going to be a big task for us, but I am confident in the way the players are performing and our history suggests we do pick up good results in the second part of the season.” Moyes added: “It’s been good to get Kevin Mirallas and Darron Gibson back playing some football and it will be really important that we get Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman back as quickly as we possibly can.
“There is no doubting that we have a challenging end to the season and that’s why we will be taking it one game at a time. And we’ll need all our players to be available.” Marouane Fellaini took his tally to the season for 11 goals with the brace that earned a dramatic 3-3 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday. Fellaini netted in the 4-4 draw at Manchester United last season and also scored the only goal in the opening weekend win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side back in August.
And the Belgian said: “Every game against Manchester United is a good game. It’s a big challenge but everyone wants to play Champions League so it is important to keep going and win every game.”

Mark Lawrenson: Fit squad is key to make sure frustration of the past week doesn’t continue for Everton FC
The Liverpool Post
Feb 7 2013
DAVID MOYES will have been one very frustrated man on Saturday evening. Having failed to substantially strengthen his squad before the transfer deadline, he then saw Everton come within minutes of losing at home to relegation-threatened Aston Villa. Teams are almost falling over themselves in the race for fourth. Tottenham Hotspur are not without their problems – not least a lack of strikers – and they, Chelsea and Arsenal all have European commitments now on the horizon.
It’s a chance for Everton to keep chipping away and hanging on in there. It’s unfortunate they were unable to complete a couple more deals in the transfer window. During a transfer window, a team will have Target A, and if they can’t get him then it’s on to Target B or C and so on. It’s interesting that Everton left their transfer move for Leroy Fer so late. Transfers can be a tricky and time-consuming business, so I’m not entirely surprised Moyes didn’t have anybody else up his sleeve.It takes a long time for a transfer to come to fruition, especially in January when teams are reticent to sell and would be happy to encourage an auction for their players. Everton aren’t the only ones to be caught out. Tottenham were keen to find a centre forward, but if you leave things until the last minute then if the deal falls down, you are in a mess. I said last week that this was Everton’s best chance in years to finish inside the top four. And while I don’t think they increased their chances in January, I wouldn’t say they have been overly harmed. If everybody stays fit, I’d say they would finish fourth. But that’s not how football works. It might be regrettable they haven’t given themselves the best chance when they have such a good opportunity of finishing fourth. John Heitinga looked like he was running in treacle against Villa last weekend. He had a beast of a day.
There lies the problem for Everton. Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert are injured and Phil Neville can’t play two games in a week now. So it meant having to shuffle players around, and either have Heitinga at right-back up against Gabriel Agbonlahor or at centre-back against Christian Benteke.
I’m sure Moyes was going mad after about 15 minutes. He’d made a mistake. Heitinga wanted his first-team chance and it hasn’t worked out. The manager has probably already made his mind up before the last week, and I’d expect the Dutchman to be on his way in the summer. Everton will be happy with the manner they dug themselves out of the problem but the worry is that every time Villa came forward, they looked as though they could score. There was no Nikica Jelavic again. All top strikers have periods when they don’t score, but they are normally for three or fours games. Jelavic has gone longer. Top strikers, even when they are struggling, still play like a number nine. Sometimes you see strikers run the channels, get behind the ball, defend well but then forget to get into box. Jelavic has come into that category. When he next plays, he just has to get back to what he was doing last season. He needs to stop thinking about it and not be frightened to miss.

Blue Watch: Cut out silly defensive mistakes and we have what it takes to get a long-overdue win at Old Trafford
by Our Correspondent, The Liverpool Post
Feb 7 2013
DAVID MOYES will have had sleepless nights this week wondering how he can quickly eradicate the defensive frailties that surfaced against Aston Villa in time for what is always a testing fixture at Old Trafford this weekend. The Villa game was our most dominant display of the campaign on the ball with 68.3% of possession and 78.5% of final third possession. While we created more scoring opportunities than our visitors (21 v 8), Villa were more efficient in creating chances, requiring just five final third passes to create a chance compared to our seven. Villa were particularly ruthless on the counter and regularly found pockets of space in behind Baines. This gave Distin a problem in that he was drawn away from his central role to cover on the left flank leaving Heitinga isolated with Benteke. The Dutchman’s physical shortcomings were alarmingly exposed as the Belgian brushed him aside effortlessly for the first and third goals. In between, Villa’s second goal was again sourced down our left side with Heitinga guilty of slack marking to allow Agbonlahor to head home.
Defending balls into the box has been our Achilles heel all season and tellingly we have conceded more headed goals than any side in the top flight. Next up is Manchester United in a fixture we haven’t won since a Warzycha-inspired Everton triumphed 3-0 in 1992. As a caveat, some of the gamesŠserved up between the two sides in recent times have been deserving of the ‘hum-dinger’ classication, with six- and seven-goal thrillers at Goodison, and of course the 4-4 draw in last season’s fixture. If fit, Fellaini will be pivotal to our game-plan as he has been in the last two tussles between the clubs that have yielded three goals for the Belgian. Early on this season Fellaini was the match-winner and stand-out performer in our 1-0 win as we played the ball into him early and in quite a direct fashion. We have a good recent record against the top sides who will invariably come and take the game to us as opposed to sides that sit deep and counter. If we can eradicate the comedy defensive gaffes which cost us dear against Villa there is no reason why we can’t replicate our early season win.

Manchester United v Everton FC preview: Victor Anichebe starting to find his feet in the EFC first team
by Ian Doyle, The Liverpool Post
Feb 7 2013
ANYBODY searching for the true point of origin for Everton’s continued top-four challenge should look no further than their most recent visit to Old Trafford. Wounds still gaping from their FA Cup semi-final collapse against neighbours Liverpool at Wembley the previous weekend, it appeared to be the same old story for David Moyes’s side last April. In what has infamously become regarded as the most one-sided fixture in Premier League history, the visitors surrendered an early lead and slipped first 3-1 and then 4-2 down with seven minutes remaining. But their late fightback to secure a remarkable 4-4 draw didn’t just breathe new fire into an ailing campaign. Nor did it just provide a much-needed response to their Cup calamity. It gave Everton further self-belief their impressive showing since the start of 2012 was no brief revival. In the 29 Premier League games since, the Goodison outfit have lost only three times to stand just three points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and only a further point behind Chelsea in third. The memorable opening weekend victory over United, on a bawdy summer night at Goodison, was further evidence of the progress under Moyes – and why the Old Trafford side no longer possess the same psychological hold over their North West rivals. True, Marouane Fellaini’s header in August secured Everton only their fifth win in 41 Premier League games between the teams, with the Goodison outfit having not won at United since August 1992. But with Moyes’s men having lost only two of their last six encounters against United, Sunday’s meeting should hold no fears, particularly against a defence that has shipped goals with alarming regularity this season. That, though, is a criticism that could be similarly thrown at Everton, especially in the wake of their faintly ridiculous 3-3 home draw with relegation-threatened Aston Villa last weekend. The weekend will underline how times have changed for Nikica Jelavic. Ten months ago, the Croatian was in the midst of the goal-laden start to his Goodison career as he netted twice at Old Trafford. The striker, though, has started the last two games on the bench with Moyes having grown impatient at a return that now reads just three goals in 20 games. By contrast, Victor Anichebe has made the most of his opportunity. Anichebe has scored three times since returning from injury shortly before Christmas and has also started weighing in with important assists. “I think it’s gone well,” says Anichebe. “I’ve played a lot of games since I’ve come back. I was out for about eight weeks just before Christmas and I came back and played a lot of football. “I didn’t really expect to play so much. Now I’m just trying to find my feet; normally when you come back from injury you get eased in but I came straight in to help the team, in whatever way I could. I think it’s the best way as well.” The Nigerian, who has made more substitute appearances than any other player in Everton’s history, has started the last three games, his shot turned in by Steven Pienaar against Bolton Wanderers and earning a penalty against West Bromwich Albion before netting against Villa. “I love starting instead of coming on, but sometimes depending on the game or situation I know I might not start,” says Anichebe. “We’ve got great players here; Jela’s here, Felli’s here and with the system we play, sometimes it’s not easy to always start. “I like to think I’ve shown what I can do from the start of the match. The great thing for me is that I’m finishing games as well. I’m playing for most of the game, if not all the game, so that’s another positive. “I can only keep improving. I feel I’m getting stronger and fitter. Some games I feel not as fit as other games but that’s only going to come with more time on the pitch. “I’ve come up with a few goals recently for the team. “I should be looking to get more goals as well as looking to help the team in whatever way I can. “Against Cheltenham, for example, even though I didn’t score, I felt like I contributed. I set up a few goals, and I think you get the same good feeling.” Anichebe’s versatility has ensured a place in Moyes’s squad since his senior breakthrough seven years ago, but he is now ready to prove his growing maturity as an out-and-out forward. “I’ve played out on the right, out on the left, but obviously I see myself as a striker as time goes on,” he says. “I’d like to say I’m maturing with age. Down the years I don’t think I was as mature as I am now. “I’ve still got more learning to do but I think I’m just growing into myself. “I’m not really a young player anymore, I’m 24 nearly 25. I’ve been here for a long time and hopefully I can cement a place. I just hope I can keep doing well.” Sunday could prove a milestone afternoon for two former United players. Tim Howard is in line to make 250th Premier League appearance for Everton while Phil Neville, who sat out Saturday’s draw with Villa, could make his 300th outing in all competitions for the club. And the skipper says: “We’re not quite at the run-in stage yet but we are in a phrase where every single point counts. “We want to stay among the leading pack and we are confident we can do so. “I sense there’s a bit of nervousness among our fans at the moment. That’s understandable because every game is so important with there being so much to play for on two fronts for us. “But I would urge the fans to just enjoy the ride. “We’re in a great position in the Premier League table and we have a decent draw in the fifth round of the FA Cup, so why not enjoy yourselves? “We’ve all got to rise to the challenges that lie ahead but we make no bones about that. “We all feel that we are on the cusp of something really good.”
Everton FC’s last five Premier League visits to Old Trafford
Apr 2012 Man Utd 4 Everton 4
David Moyes’s men earned a remarkable point. After Nikica Jelavic’s opener, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Nani put United in control before Marouane Fellaini pulled one back and Rooney scored again. But Jelavic made it 4-3 before Steven Pienaar’s late leveller.
Apr 2011 Man Utd 1 Everton 0
Everton’s dogged resistance was finally broken seven minutes from time as United edged nearer a record 19th championship. Javier Hernandez headed home Antonio Valencia’s cross at the far post after Sylvain Distin had gifted the Old Trafford side possession.
Nov 2009 Man Utd 3 Everton 0
Moyes’s side had no answer to a trademark United steamrollering. Darren Fletcher sent United on their way with a cracking finish before Michael Carrick and a deflected Valencia strike gave Sir Alex Ferguson’s side yet another victory in this fixture.
Jan 2009 Man Utd 1 Everton 0
A rare moment of madness from Mikel Arteta saw the Spaniard foul Carrick and allow Cristiano Ronaldo to score from the spot. During the match, United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar eclipsed the previous league record of 1,104 minutes without conceding a goal.
Dec 2007 Man Utd 2 Everton 1
Pienaar was the fall guy this time, felling Ryan Giggs in the area two minutes from time for Ronaldo to again net and end Everton’s 13-match unbeaten run. Earlier, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 20-yard strike had been equalised by a trademark Tim Cahill header.

Scotland 1-0 Estonia: Strachan’s winning debut
Gordon Strachan salutes his side's efforts as they earn him a winning debut as manager. Picture: SNS
February 7 2013 Scotsman
HE was once deemed surplus to requirements by Gordon Strachan but last night Charlie Mulgrew was the crucial ingredient in a winning start for the new Scotland manager. Mulgrew’s first goal for his country, a smartly taken effort six minutes before half-time, proved enough to see off an obdurate but limited Estonian side as the Scots delivered a solid but less than spectacular display to herald Strachan’s tenure. Goalscorer Mulgrew, who was offloaded to Wolves by Strachan when he was in charge of Celtic, was one of the most effective performers for the home side on a heavy Pittodrie pitch which mitigated against fluent football. Strachan would also have taken encouragement from the first-half display of recalled winger Chris Burke who added some dynamism to the side. Effecting a dramatic improvement in Scotland’s fortunes remains a daunting assignment for Strachan but this was at least a positive first step in the right direction ahead of next month’s 2014 World Cup qualifying ties against Wales and Serbia. The twin-pronged strike force of Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes which many of the Tartan Army had hoped to see start the match was rejected by Strachan. Instead, Fletcher was deployed as the sole out-and-out striker while Rhodes began the evening on a heavily populated substitutes’ bench. But Strachan’s selection and system could hardly be described as negative, with Chris Burke, Shaun Maloney and
Steven Naismith forming a trio of advanced midfielders who pushed forward at every opportunity in support of Fletcher.Burke’s inclusion in the starting line-up, ahead of both Kris Commons and Robert Snodgrass who were among the replacements, was a clear indication of how highly Strachan regards the Birmingham City winger who was making his first appearance for his country since making his breakthrough almost seven years ago. He was prominent in a reasonably bright and energetic start to the match by the Scots, using his pace and directness to good effect down the right flank.Burke earned the corner kick which gave the home side their first sight of goal after just three minutes. Estonian goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko could only punch Mulgrew’s set piece to Naismith at the edge of the penalty area, the Everton forward nodding the ball back to Maloney on the corner of the six-yard box. Maloney turned smartly to fire in a left-foot shot which Pareiko managed to divert wide of his right-hand post. Burke, who was earning the approval of the Scotland support, then surged into the penalty area and when his shot was blocked, he fed the ball back into the path of Charlie Adam, whose low effort was deflected wide. Scotland, with Adam and captain Scott Brown in the holding midfield roles, were dominating possession but Estonia carried a threat on the counter-attack to ensure Allan McGregor was far from under-employed in the home goal. The goalkeeper reacted well when he stretched to make a fine one-handed save to keep out a dipping long-range shot from Estonian left-back Taijo Teniste who had led a rapid raid by the visitors. Scotland quickly got back on to the front foot with most of the action taking place in the Estonian half. Alan Hutton linked up well with his former Rangers team-mate Burke in the 20th minute, clipping a clever pass over the Estonian defence to set the winger free. Burke showed good control before sending over a cross which Fletcher rose to head narrowly over. Maloney, given licence to roam in the space behind
Fletcher, then forced Pareiko into action again when he worked his way into space on the edge of the penalty area and saw his shot saved low to the goalkeeper’s left. There was a hint of frustration creeping into Scotland’s play as the breakthrough continued to elude them and McGregor was required to be at his alert best to prevent Estonia plundering the lead in the 31st minute.
Konstantin Vassilijev, the most eye-catching of the Estonian team in terms of technical ability, caught out the Scottish defence with a clever lofted pass which sent Tarmo Kink free on goal. The forward, who played for Strachan at Middlesbrough, looked a good bet to score, but he was denied by McGregor’s sharp advance from his line and excellent blocking save. Scotland responded well to that scare and went in front six minutes before the interval with a well executed set piece which had evidently been worked out on the training ground. Maloney earned the set piece when he was crudely fouled by Igor Morozov just outside the left edge of the Estonian penalty area. Adam shaped up as if to cross the ball into the six-yard box but instead slid it low into the path of Mulgrew, who beat Pareiko with a firm first-time shot from around ten yards. Strachan made two half-time substitutions, Burke and Maloney replaced by Snodgrass and Rhodes in the first of a
series of changes by the manager as he took the opportunity to assess as many of his squad as possible. Snodgrass almost made an immediate impact, the Norwich City man bursting into the
penalty area to get on the end of a Naismith pass but he was unable to collect cleanly with a shot which was comfortably saved by Pareiko. The introduction of Rhodes was warmly welcomed by the home fans, the prolific striker taking up the most advanced forward position as Fletcher dropped a little deeper. It did not take Rhodes long to display his shoot-on-sight policy, turning on the 18-yard line and threatening with a sweetly struck effort which flew narrowly over the crossbar.
James McArthur, James Morrison, Kenny Miller and Commons all entered the fray as the customary procession of second-half substitutions in these friendly international fixtures continued, inevitably disrupting the rhythm of what had become an increasingly stodgy affair as the underfoot conditions deteriorated. Scotland, while struggling to find as much cohesion as Strachan would have sought, continued to carry the greater threat with both Naismith and Mulgrew coming close to adding to the slender lead with good efforts from distance.
Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Webster, Berra, Mulgrew, Maloney, Brown, Adam, Burke, Naismith, Fletcher. Subs: Gilks, Morrison, Commons, Miller, Bardsley, Rhodes, McArthur, Mackie, Martin, Wallace, Snodgrass, Phillips.
Estonia: Pareiko, Jaager, Morozov, Klavan, Teniste, Puri, Mosnikov, Vassiljev, Oper, Kink, Ojamaa. Subs: Meerits, Sisov, Rahn, Kruglov, Kams, Luts, Purje, Voskoboinikov, Ahjupera.
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)




























February 2013 - Week 1 (1st - 7th)

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