This may have been the night Champions League football became too lofty an aspiration for Everton, although things could have been worse. They arrived with a nine-strong injury list that would be augmented before the close and were on the rack for considerable periods, dominated by a Brighton side that deserved to win. A point was no disaster given that context but Carlo Ancelotti must discover some attacking thrust from somewhere if their season is not to fizzle out.Continue reading...
Not even a new form of VAR imbroglio could prevent West Brom from swaggering to a victory that keeps alive their slim hopes of springing free of relegation. The hosts were denied an early breakthrough in circumstances that infuriated Sam Allardyce, who suggested VAR was making a “laughing stock” of the Premier League, but his side brushed off that disappointment and won thanks to goals by Matheus Pereira, Matt Phillips and Callum Robinson. Sam Johnstone saved a penalty from James Ward-Prowse in stoppage time to preserve an emphatic scoreline.
West Brom have won back-to-back matches for the first time this season but are still eight points below 17th-placed Newcastle. “Unfortunately we need to rely on other teams losing,” said Allardyce. “All we can do is keep winning and keep our fingers crossed.”Continue reading...
The Baggies registered back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they comprehensively outplayed Southampton at the Hawthorns
Paul Doyle was at the Hawthorns to witness both a fine West Brom display and “a new form of VAR imbroglio”. Here’s his verdict. Be about your business! Click! Click! Click! In the meantime, please allow me to bid you farewell ... and to remind you that Rob Smyth is on the Brighton-Everton game this very minute. Thanks for reading this MBM.
West Brom stay in 19th place, but they’re now on 24 points. That’s still eight shy of Newcastle, who have also played 31 games, and Brighton, who play their 31st match of the season in a few minutes. You can follow their game against Everton with Rob Smyth. Saints meanwhile are stuck in 14th on 36 points. Safety shouldn’t be an issue for them, despite their questionable form since the turn of the year, but they’ll be hoping for an upturn before their season-defining showdown with Leicester at the weekend.
West Brom keep their survival hopes alive with a comprehensive victory over Saints. It should have been four, but VAR did what VAR does. It could have been five or six, so dominant were the home side. Saints were dreadful, and need to pick themselves up quicksmart ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Leicester City on Sunday.
90 min +5: Ward-Prowse tries to make up for his miss, lining up a free kick from distance. It’s high and wide. What a miserable evening for Southampton, who are back to thinking about that hot bath.
90 min +4: Ward-Prowse’s spot kick is saved! He powers towards the bottom left, but Johnstone wants that clean sheet, and extends himself to palm away sensationally!
90 min +3: Armstrong nips in ahead of Ajayi. He’s clipped, but it’s not given. No matter, because Djenepo is then upended by Gallagher, and the referee points to the spot.
90 min +2: Everyone clearly dreaming of a lovely hot bath.
90 min: There will be six added minutes.
89 min: In the West Brom dugout, Big Sam’s smile is wider and shiner than the sun. He knows that Great Escape II, while still unlikely, is on. His side are about to win two games in a row for the first time this season, and while they’re still eight points from safety, there’s promise in what remains of their fixture list: Leicester, Villa, Wolves, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Leeds. If they keep playing like they’ve played tonight, and at Chelsea the other week, against several unpredictable teams, a world of possibility opens up.
87 min: Ings is replaced by Tella, while Walker-Peters makes way for Djenepo.
85 min: Bartley is replaced by Ajayi. He’s put in a fine shift. Saints haven’t got any change from the West Brom defence at all.
83 min: Some good news here, as Maitland-Niles first sits up, then stands up. It looks as though he was just severely winded, having fallen flat on his chest from a great height. He walks to the touchline unaided, and looks ready to carry on.
81 min: Maitland-Niles is down, having fallen awkwardly and dramatically. The physios are taking no chances, and on comes the stretcher.
79 min: So having said that, Southampton go as close as they’ve come all evening. Of course they have. Adams is sent skittering down the right on the break at speed. He enters the box and lashes a fine low diagonal drive inches wide of the bottom left. Johnstone didn’t have that fully covered. If it had found the corner, it would have been a consolation.
78 min: Saints are done. Thoughts now have clearly turned to damage limitation, and the big cup semi on Sunday.
76 min: Diagne, who scored a perfectly good opener that wasn’t allowed, makes way for Robson-Kanu. Walcott, who has been completely, totally and utterly invisible, makes way for Adams.
75 min: Redmond has a dig from distance. It’s always heading over. Worth a shout, though, Saints are creating nothing otherwise. “Do you reckon Mike Dean does that Fonzie thing in the mirror?” wonders Gary Naylor of our shark-jumping refereeing classes. I’d imagine so, although pound to a penny his attempt at “Aaaaaaaay” sounds less like the Fonz and more like Bernie Winters.
73 min: OK, the stay of execution didn’t last long. Gallagher comes on for Robinson after all. Big Sam clearly didn’t want to ruin the goalscorer’s moment. There’s nice!
71 min: Robinson was about to get the hook, too, in favour of Conor Gallagher, but that’s earned him a reprieve. Saints have been comprehensively rope-a-doped.
They’re comfortable now! Saints faff about in midfield. Yokuslu picks up the loose ball in the centre circle, and plays a simple first-time pass down the inside-left channel. Robinson races ahead of Vestergaard, draws Forster, and slots home. Easy as that!
68 min: Saints probe, but to little effect. West Brom are very comfortable at the minute, despite sitting off and sitting back.
66 min: Diallo tugs at the shoulder of Pereira as the West Brom man dribbles down the middle of the park. Free kick, 25 yards out. Yokuslu fancies this, but his attempt to find the top-left corner is never going close.
64 min: Saints continue to dominate the ball, and they’re enjoying plenty of time in the West Brom half ... but not too much of it in the final third. It’s been a decent containing job by the hosts since the restart.
62 min: Redmond goes over in the area as he tries to spin Bartley at speed, and makes a half-arsed appeal for a penalty. The officials aren’t interested in finding fault with that, not even the pedants operating the VAR kit.
61 min: Armstrong has a whack from distance. Easy pickings for Johnstone, though Saints are beginning to ask a few questions now. “The most heinous, clear and obvious error in the game is VAR. Football’s equivalent of Brexit. A toy for the small minded.” Preach on, Kevin Porter.
59 min: Bertrand floats it in softly. It’s easily cleared by West Brom, but Saints come back at them quickly, Armstrong and Ings combining to nearly release Redmond into the box down the left channel. Just as Redmond prepares to pull the trigger, Furlong comes sliding in to block him, and he doesn’t even get the corner. What a perfectly timed challenge that was!
58 min: Ings is tugged back by Yokuslu as he makes good down the inside-left channel. A free kick, and a chance to load the box.
56 min: Ings sends Armstrong scampering down the left, forcing O’Shea to slide in and concede a corener. Ward-Prowse’s delivery is headed powerfully clear by Bartley. “Jump the shark?” wonders Mary Waltz. “Memo to shark: Please eat VAR, we will be forever grateful.”
55 min: Diallo sends a raking diagonal ball towards Walker-Peters on the right. It nearly sends the marauding full-back away, but Townsend sticks to him and eventually draws a frustrated foul.
53 min: West Brom seem happy to sit back and see what Southampton can do. Given Saints recovered from two down to beat Burnley last time round, it might be a dangerous game to play. Saints have had 80% possession since the break.
51 min: Saints are a little bit more on the front foot now. Some space for Walker-Peters out on the right. He’s allowed to make it into the box, and fires a low one through the six-yard box. Only Ings is anywhere near it, but he can’t reach. A hell of a ball, though.
49 min: Sky flash up a stat that may worry Southampton. In the last two months, only Manchester United have conceded fewer goals (four) than West Brom’s five. Next on the list: Chelsea, who have shipped seven, although admittedly five of those came on that off day against ... West Brom. Strange old season, huh?
47 min: No obvious increase in Southampton’s tempo so far, though admittedly the data set is extremely small.
West Brom get the second half underway. No changes. “Is this the moment that VAR finally jumped the shark?” wonders Stephen Carr. “And if it did, was its fin on or off?”
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Ings gets back up, and that’s the end of a dominant first half for West Brom. Big Sam for England!
45 min +2: Saints force a corner. Nothing much happens, other than Yokuslu accidentally standing on Ings’ ankle. The striker requires some treatment.
45 min: There will be two added minutes.
44 min: But in the main, Saints can’t handle the West Brom press. The hosts are playing them at their own game, and winning. On the touchline, Ralph Hasenhuttl is fuming.
42 min: Saints try to settle themselves down with a period of sterile possession in the middle of the park. This idea might better have been employed after ten minutes.
40 min: Yokuslu hoicks a long-distance effort high and wide. A strange five-minute period before the opening goal apart, this has been all West Brom.
39 min: The Baggies are rampant. A corner leads to some pinball in the Saints box, and Yokuslu’s eventual shot is blocked, squirting away from danger. Saints desperately need to hear the half-time whistle.
38 min: Ward-Prowse takes a booking for the team, cynically clipping Pereira as he raced down the left, preparing to deliver a cross that would have surely released either Diagne or Phillips.
36 min: Saints wrapped that up in a pretty bow, but take nothing away from the skill of Diagne and Phillips. What determination. What a combination!
Ings plays an awful backpass down the West Brom left. Diagne picks up possession and storms towards the box, before playing a scientifically perfect low cross towards the far stick. Phillips races in and can’t do anything but roof home!
34 min: Thing is, Saints were finally beginning to contribute to the game. Just before the penalty, they’d enjoyed a five-minute spell in which they hogged the ball for 68 percent of the time. Still, on balance, the scoreline seems about right.
Smash! Straight down the middle, Forster opting to dive. No more than the hosts deserve.
31 min: The hosts work the ball cutely upfield yet again. Suddenly Maitland-Niles rolls into the box from the right. Pereira traps and shapes to round Forster on the spot, only for the keeper to bring him down. A no-brainer of a decision.
30 min: A neat short routine between Bertrand and Redmond leads to a game of bagatelle in the West Brom box. The ball ricochets at speed off Ings and straight into the arms of Johnstone. That would have been a goal, an inch or two either side.
29 min: Armstrong sends a rising curler towards the top left from 25 yards. Johnstone tips around the post, and from the resulting corner ...
28 min: Pereira slips a ball down the middle for Diagne, the end of a lovely series of crisp West Brom triangles. Diagne opens his body and looks for the top right ... but his effort sails wide.
26 min: Ings works the ball down the right for Redmond, who momentarily looks like bursting free. Not quite, but he rolls inside for Armstrong, who slips while attempting to spin and shoot. Ings picks up the ball near the left-hand corner of the six-yard box and whistles a low shot across the face of goal. Sadly for Saints, there’s nobody there to run it home. Is there any way of cloning Ings?
24 min: But when you’ve got Danny Ings in your side, you’re always going to carry a threat. Redmond barges down the left and loses control, but the ball breaks to Ings, just inside the box. He shifts his feet quickly and tries to steer a no-backlift effort into the top right. It sails wide, but had it been on target, I’m not sure the planted Johnstone would have reached it.
23 min: Vestergaard tries to get something going for Saints by slipping a long pass down the inside-left channel. He nearly finds the overlapping Bertrand, but Phillips shepherds the ball out for a goal kick. One parry apart, Johnstone has had nothing to do in the West Brom goal.
21 min: A West Brom throw from the right. Bartley wins it with ease, flicking on for Pereira, whose weak header sails straight at Forster. Saints haven’t got going at all. The cup semi on their mind?
19 min: According to the chancers of Stockley Park, VAR Guy “could not draw a definitive line” with Diagne partially obscured by Bartley, “so it stays with the on-field decision”. Even though another angle made it fairly clear that Diagne was on. They’re grifting us, people. It’s not too late.
17 min: The chances continue to come for West Brom. Phillips crosses, Furlong shoulders wide when attempting to head. Then Diagne nearly bustles through the middle only to see his speculative prod squirt wide right.
15 min: West Brom continue to cause plenty of bother down the left, Yokuslu nearly opening them up. Then a rarer attack down the other flank, Phillips sending in a low fizzer that Vestergaard nearly deflects into his own net. Nothing comes of the resulting corner, but this is excellent stuff by West Brom.
13 min: Can somebody please, please, please put VAR back in its box? Dear officials, it’s OK to admit you were wrong.
12 min: You know what, turns out that VAR decision actually could have been a load of old balls. Another look at the picture suggests Bednarek was indeed playing Diagne on, and the line was drawn for the wrong man, Bartley, who was standing behind the scorer.
10 min: Saints wake up. Walker-Peters glides past Townsend with a sensational backflick near the corner flag on the right, and enters the box. He shoot low and hard towards the near post, but Johnstone refuses to be caught out and parries wide. From the resulting corner, Walcott hits a shot that’s ambitious, the best that can be said for it.
9 min: An inch here, another there, and West Brom could already be two goals to the good. Saints need to wake up.
8 min: West Brom’s fast start continues apace. A corner is won down the left. Then Pereira and Phillips combine down the flank, Saints pushed back, forced into the concession of a throw. From that, Townsend curls to the near post, where Robinson arrives late, unannounced, to sidefoot inches wide. Great start by the hosts, this.
6 min: Nope, no goal. That’s not as egregious an outcome as some of the VAR nonsense this weekend, not least because Diagne looked offside to the naked eye, and that was the decision made in real time as well. Nobody seems particularly aggrieved.
5 min: However, the old VAR rulers are out, and Bednarek could have played Diagne on here, you know. It’s going to be very close.
4 min: ... West Brom get the ball in the net. Phillips twists down the inside-left channel to makes space. He shoots. Forster parries. The ball drops to Furlong, on the edge of the box. He shoots towards the top left. Diagne heads it on, into the corner, but the flag goes up for offside.
3 min: Now it’s Diagne’s turn to be clattered. Bednarek comes in from the back, and he’s fortunate not to get a booking for that. And from the resulting free kick ...
2 min: West Brom start by knocking it around the back, only for Maitland-Niles to take a whack on the ankle as Saints press hard from the off. Accidental, and happily it looks like Maitland-Niles will be fine to continue, despite that clearly having been a sore one.
Here we go, then! Saints get the game underway ... but only after the knee is taken. Solidarity and love. There’s no room for racism. Kick it out.
The teams are out! West Brom wear their famous navy blue and white stripes, while Southampton wear their first-choice St-Mary’s-in-negative red shirts with white sash. It’s a cool but clear evening at the highest league ground in England. We’ll be off in a minute, after a quick Baggies blast of the Liquidator.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s turn. “The team deserve to play again. Turning the table around against Burnley is not so easy and they showed a special performance after the first half hour. Today we need a similar performance but from the first moment. Hopefully we can show up immediately. We have never looked down, we always try to climb the table and look in front. We have to be fresh in the mind and we have eight, maybe nine games coming up.”
Sam Allardyce talks to Sky. “Let’s focus on winning but not going all out, not going gung-ho, doing it with the right stability, and the right stability has been from a good solid defensive unit playing the right way to create opportunities to attack when we win the ball back. We need to win this game, a draw is no use to us based on the four points Newcastle have picked up over the last two games. So let’s try to win and stay in touch if we can.”
Ryan Bertrand of Saints speaks to Sky as well, saying that “we’ve got work still to do in the Premier League so it’s important we’re fully focused tonight ... if we can get the win we can keep the good momentum going into the [FA Cup semi] ... it’s hard to not have half an eye on it, but we have a lot of work to do in the Premier League from now until the end of the season ... West Brom’s results show they have a solidity and have found a way to win ... we have to be on our jobs.”
Conor Townsend of West Brom tells Sky that “the mood is good ... to be honest it’s been good for the past few weeks, performances have been up there but results haven’t followed ... but last week we got both so hopefully we can do the same again tonight ... we’ve got a lot of games still to go, a lot of points to play for ... in this league, anyone can go on a run of three or four wins, and as soon as you do that, it’s game on ... we hope for back-to-back wins for the first time this season and kick on ... we’ve got to win the game.”
Sam Allardyce makes one change to the West Brom team named for the thrashing of Chelsea. Callum Robinson - who came on to score twice at Stamford Bridge - takes the place of defender Semi Ajayi. Attacking formation ahoy!
Ralph Hasenhuttl isn’t in the mood to obsessively tinker either. He names the same Saints XI that came from two goals down to beat Burnley last week.
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley, Townsend, Phillips, Yokuslu, Maitland-Niles, Matheus Pereira, Robinson, Diagne.
Subs: Gibbs, Robson-Kanu, Ajayi, Livermore, Diangana, Gallagher, Peltier, Button, Ahearne-Grant.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Walcott, Ings, Redmond.
Subs: McCarthy, Stephens, Adams, Djenepo, Minamino, Salisu, Tella, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Southampton have West Bromwich Albion’s number. And that number is 2-0 1-2 2-3 1-0 1-0. Yep, they’ve won their last five matches against the Baggies, four in the Premier League, one in the FA Cup. If they prevail at the Hawthorns this evening, they’ll equal their longest winning streak against a single opponent in their top-flight history.
Saints will be feeling good about themselves right now. They’re coming off the back of a 3-2 comeback victory against Burnley, and contest an FA Cup semi-final this coming Sunday against a Leicester City side suddenly out of sorts. Relegation may still be a possibility, but it’s not a serious concern. There shouldn’t be too much pressure on Ralph Hasenhuttl and his men tonight.Continue reading...
The home side dominated possession throughout but struggled to create clear chances in an uneventful goalless draw at the Amex
Nick Ames was our man at the Amex Stadium tonight. I’ll leave you with his match report, and say a largely sincere thanks for your company and emails. Goodnight!
I’ve seen worse 0-0s. I’d say it was uneventful rather than poor. The quality was reasonably good, but there were very few chances. An under-strength Everton defended admirably and almost stole the points in injury time. The draw lifts Brighton above Burnley into 15th. Everton stay eighth, though they have a game in hand on all the teams above them. In the context of the season it’s a better result for Brighton; in the context of the game, and especially their injury list, it’s a better result for Everton.
90+3 min Gross’s free-kick hits the wall, Trossard’s follow-up is blocked, and that’s the end of that.
90+1 min Holgate fouls Gross 25 yards from goal and is booked. The free-kick, which is to the left of centre, will probably be the last kick of the game.
90+1 min In the first of two added minutes, Iwobi shuffles across the edge of the Brighton area and drives just over the bar with his left foot. That would have been an affront to the run of play had it gone in.
89 min Gross slides the ball into Lallana, 20 yards from goal. He looks for a pass, realises the Everton defenders are all backpedalling and tries a shot instead. It’s a decent effort, just over the bar, though Olsen had it covered.
88 min A double change for Brighton: Dan Burn and Ali Jahanbakhsh replace Moder and Maupay. And Everton bring on
Nathan Broadhead for Tom Davies.
87 min Brighton continue to try to find an eye in the Everton needle. I’m not sure there is one. If there’s one thing Brighton haven’t done enough tonight, it’s get round the back.
84 min Trossard’s free-kick, hit in the David Luiz style, deflects behind for yet another corner. Gross’s inswinger ricochets around the six-yard box before being cleared.
82 min Keane gives the ball to Welbeck in a dangerous area, then ploughs straight through him in a desperate attempt to redeem the error. He got the ball but he also got the man, and he is booked. More to the point, it’s a free-kick to Brighton 25 yards from goal.
82 min “With 5/6ths of the game played, the only reference in the whole MBM to VAR isn’t even anything to do with tonight’s game,” says Colin Young. “Should we celebrate or something?”
Yes. Let’s go to Stephen Carr’s local.
81 min Everton almost pilfer a goal on the break. Sigurdsson’s well-struck volley from the edge of the area is blocked by Dunk, then Davies drives over from 20 yards.
80 min Brighton have been much the better attacking team, but Everton’s defensive performance has been close to immaculate. All their young defenders must be learning so much from working with Carlo Ancelotti. And their old ones, for that matter.
79 min Here’s Ian Copestake, who may or may be a Liverpool fan, on the subject of Adam Lallana. “Reading the words ‘it’s lovely to see him have a run of games without injury’ evoked horror images of Lallana being put through one on one with the Everton goalkeeper!”
78 min Gross’s corner is only half cleared. Lallana helps it back into the area and Dunk twists his neck to steer a looping header that is tipped over acrobatically by Olsen. That was a pretty good save.
77 min Trossard cuts inside a couple of Everton defenders in the area and hits a shot that deflects wide off Davies.
76 min A double chance for Brighton! First Welbeck’s shot is brilliantly blocked by the sliding Godfrey; then Bissouma surges into the area from the left and crosses low to Maupay, who flicks the ball up but then cracks it wide from eight yards. That was Brighton’s best chance of the match.
75 min Mason Holgate has had a fine game for Everton in two different positions - first as a holding midfielder and now at centre-back. Whenever I watch Everton he looks really accomplished.
72 min James’s corner is headed away. I’m still cooing about his first touch a moment ago, which was essentially two in one - he controlled an awkward ball and pushed it away from Dunk at the same time.
71 min Coleman clips a left-footed cross towards James in the area. He takes it down majestically on the run, away from Dunk, and screws a shot from a very tight angle that is clawed behind by Sanchez.
70 min Trossard cuts the ball back from the byline towards Lallana, whose shot is crucially blocked by Coleman. Lallana has been really sprightly tonight; it’s lovely to see him have a run of games without injury. The resulting corner is headed towards Moder on the edge of the area, and he lashes the bouncing ball towards Falmer.
68 min The paradox of this game is that Brighton are the team pushing for the win, yet Everton are the ones who really need three points. But you can understand Everton’s approach given their recent form and particularly their injury list. Gary Naylor’s turned his phone on for heaven’s sake!
67 min For the third time this half Welbeck is denied by some good defending, on this occasion a header at the far post by the stretching Holgate. Brighton work a really nice training-ground corner, with Lallana angling a sharp pass back to Moder on the edge of the area. His first-time shot whistles just over the bar.
65 min “I realize this has nothing whatsoever to do either with your MBM labour or the match at hand,” boasts Alex Moffett, “but can I just register the unalloyed delight I experienced when I discovered today that a Finnish composer wrote a symphonic tone poem about Duncan Ferguson’s career? How could I not have known about this?”
That is… I don’t know what it is, but I love it. I hope there’s a crescendo that evokes Big Dunc’s earnest attempt to throttle Steffen Freund.
64 min I’m running out of ways to say that Brighton are dominating without really creating much.
62 min “Evening Rob,” says Stephen Carr. “Events at the Amex not even coming remotely close to the drama at my local. Two police vans and a flurry of cars on the scene before teatime. This country.”
I bet VAR was involved in the discussions that led to the fisticuffs that led to the police vans.
61 min Gross’s corner leads to a game of head tennis in the Everton area, until Olsen spoils it all by grabbing the ball.
60 min After good play from Trossard and Lallana, Coleman takes the ball off Welbeck’s toes in the area. Brighton are getting closer.
59 min “I am here to state, under the threat of MBM banishment, that the ‘so called’ Mary Waltz lives in California, that the Guardian has no control of my posting output, that I am retired and thus have the time to vent so often, in such an amateur fashion, that it is given freely, and that I have no influence on the potential labor exploitation of the official MBM writers,” writes, well, Mary Waltz.
58 min Mina is replaced by Iwobi. Holgate moves to centre-back.
57 min It looks like yet another injury for Everton: Yerry Mina is down with a muscle problem, and Alex Iwobi is getting ready to replace him.
55 min Terrific defending from Godfrey, who charges back to stop Welbeck reaching Maupay’s clever reverse pass.
54 min Bissouma is given a final warning after inflicting pin on James Rodriguez.
52 min Dunk is booked for a cynical foul on Richarlison.
50 min Gross’s corner is headed away.
49 min Brighton are dominating possession at the start of the second half, as they did for much of the first. Lallana plays a sharp pass into Maupay, who turns smartly on the edge of the area and flicks a shot with the outside of the foot that deflects behind for a corner.
46 min Bissouma shoots over from long range. And why not.
46 min Peep peep! Brighton begin the second half.
“Evening Rob,” says Graham Moger. “Reading Matt Dony’s understandably sympathetic email, he obviously isn’t aware (unlike those of us that are part of the MBM cognoscenti), that you are in fact sharing the ‘minute by minute’ writing tasks with the so-called Mary Waltz. Correct? I claim my five pounds.”
I thought Mary Waltz was Gary Naylor. And what letter comes after G? Exactly.
“I can’t see it happening,” says Geoff Wignall, “but Brighton and Aguerro look like such a perfect fit.”
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but is his link play good enough? Maupay is a very neat footballer. Depends on the system I suppose.
“Nice to see MBM regulars standing up for our zero (social) hours MBMers,” says Ian Copestake. “Scott Murray was no sooner finished whispering about dimple lengths at Augusta all weekend than he was dragged in to watch West Brom.”
As I said, it doesn’t bode well to speak openly about such things. It’s important thy know I didn’t speak. That’s right, isn’t it, DI Copestake? I didn’t. Talk.
Peep peep! No goals and no clear chances, though the match was better than that bald summary suggests. It’s been a typical Brighton home performance to date - plenty of style, not enough substance.
45 min One minute of added time.
44 min “Speaking of looking at the Everton bench, who is Broadhead?” says Peter Oh. “This league ain’t big enough for two Harry Maguires!”
43 min Bissouma makes a terrific blindside tackle on Sigurdsson, who was about to shoot from the edge of the area after running onto a return pass from Coleman.
41 min Bissouma plays a good angled ball to find Lallana in a bit of space, 30 yards from goal. He tries to feed Maupay in the area, but the pass is slightly behind him and the ball runs through to Olsen.
39 min “Having seen the Everton bench, I’m going to have the phone switched on and at hand come Thursday in case Carlo needs me for Friday’s match,” says Gary Naylor. “Big Duncan is already 6/4 for anytime goalscorer.”
38 min Maupay drags a clever little pass round the corner towards Lallana, but his shot from the edge of the area is easily saved by Olsen.
37 min “Rob,” says Matt Dony. “We’re all friends here. Are you ok? Blink twice if you need rescuing. The last week or so, it feels like every time I’ve opened the Guardian app, you’ve been at the helm of the good(!) ship MBM. Are they treating you ok? Do you get enough sunlight? Do you want me to write a charity single, to raise awareness of your plight?”
It doesn’t bode well to speak openly about such things.
34 min That’s a much better effort from Bissouma, an improvised overhead kick from the left side of the area that loops onto the roof of the net. Olsen slipped, so had it been on target it would probably have gone in.
32 min The corner is cleared as far as Bissouma, who launches one into orbit from 25 yards.
31 min Trossard’s cross deflects invitingly for Maupay, whose shot on the turn hits the falling Mina and flies past the far post. At first I thought it might have hit his arm, but there were no appeals for a penalty and replays suggested it was probably off his chest.
30 min Richarlison plays a good ball to release Coleman down the right. He scurries into space and lifts a cross towards Davies, who heads well wide from 12 yards. It wasn’t a convincing header, though it was a pretty difficult chance on the run.
26 min Nothing much to report. It’s not a bad game, just an uneventful one.
21 min So far it’s been a typical Brighton performance: lots of classy, confident passing and movement, but not enough penetration.
20 min Sanchez is okay.
18 min Sanchez miscontrols a backpass from Dunk and has to make a desperate tackle on Richarlison, who was sniffing a freebie. Sanchez may have injured himself in the process.
18 min Moments later Moder runs onto a headed clearance, 20 yards out, and cracks a good volley that goes not far wide of the near post.
17 min Lallana beats two players on the edge of the box and lifts the ball across to find Welbeck in space on the far side of the area. He has time to take the ball down and ask it its family history, but instead goes for a difficult first-time shot, with the ball bouncing awkwardly, and makes a mess of it.
15 min James blooters it over the bar. By his standards that was pretty poor.
14 min Coleman is flattened by Moder 22 yards from goal. The free-kick is to the right of centre, a very good position for James Rodriguez...
13 min A good little spell for Everton ends abruptly when Godfrey shoots from 25 yards.
12 min Sigurdsson finds Digne on the left. He dummies Gross and clips a good, deep cross that is headed away at the far post.
10 min “Very much agreed on the appeal of the Brighton kit,” says Luke Jones. “I’d vote that they be given an extra three points for just having a proper shirt collar. And every team that wears the weird overlapping reverse v-neck (like Liverpool‘s home kit) gets docked a point.”
I like this idea. But does it mean England are retrospectively disqualified from Euro 96? Did football not come home after all?
9 min Moder runs onto a crisp lay-off from Maupay, moves infield and drives well wide from 25 yards. It was nice football though.
7 min Brighton have started perkily, as they usually do. I’ve just realised that their shape is slightly different, too, more of a 3-4-3 than a 3-4-1-2. I can’t take all this tactical sophistication. This was never a problem when John Beck was at Cambridge.
Brighton (3-4-3) Sanchez; White, Dunk, Veltman; Gross, Lallana, Bissouma, Moder; Trossard, Maupay, Welbeck.
4 min Gross drops the second corner right under the crossbar, and Olsen punches away a little unconvincingly. He was under a lot of pressure, in his defence, and replays show he was clattered by his team-mate Mina. There’s a break in play while he is checked by the physio. He seems okay, though he’s rubbing the side of his head every few seconds.
3 min Gross’s corner is headed behind for another by Keane. While we wait for that, this is the revised Everton set up. Yes, I know it looks pretentious, with five different sections, but
just wait until I add the keeper in a 1-3-1-4-1-1
that’s how they’re lining up. I swear, by the moon and the stars and the sky.
Everton (3-1-4-1-1) Olsen; Godfrey, Mina, Keane; Holgate; Coleman, Davies, Sigurdsson, Digne; James; Richarlison.
2 min Lallana has an early crack from just outside the area. His shot hits Keane and deflects behind for a corner.
1 min Everton have started with Mason Holgate in midfield in a 3-5-1-1 system. In fact he has just fouled Bissouma after 26 seconds.
1 min Peep peep! Everton kick off from right to left.
“The bright start by the Toffees allowed Everton fans, myself included, to drop our traditional pessimism and actually hope for something better than mid table mediocrity,” says Mary Waltz. “Well it’s time to step up and produce. We have enough talent to finish fourth or fifth. If we don’t it would be a huge failure.”
The players are ready for action. Brighton are in their lovely home kit, one of the best of the 2020-21 Premier League season. Everton are wearing their seafoam green and charcoal (sic) third kit. There will be a two-minute silence to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
It looks like Everton will play 3-4-2-1, but we’re not sure who will be the second central midfielder alongside Tom Davies. It’ll be one of Ben Godfrey, Lucas Digne and Mason Holgate.
“Hi Rob,” says Matt Burtz. “It’s difficult to figure out this Everton team. You noted their poor run at home, but away from Goodison they’ve defeated Tottenham, Leicester, Wolves, Leeds and Liverpool, and got a creditable draw at Manchester United. Their midfield is decimated by injury, they’ve overperformed their xG this entire season, and they haven’t won at Brighton since April 1983 (okay, they weren’t in the same league for most of that, but still). However, recent away trips have fallen into the ‘they’ll never win this game’ category and they rightly earned all three points (Wolves, Leeds, and Liverpool specifically). So I’m somewhat optimistic today even as they battle this season’s xG kings. Something’s gotta give, right?”
On that, subject, how much should we trust xG? I’ve already seen three different xG scores for Spurs v Man Utd yesterday, and I wasn’t looking particularly hard. The fact Liverpool didn’t win the xG Premier League last season is a pretty big red flag. But against that, it’s a good way of quantifying travesties like Brighton 1-2 Crystal Palace.
West Brom have hammered Southampton 3-0 to continue their recent improvement. There’s still a lot to do - they’re eight points off safety - but suddenly a Big Sam miracle doesn’t look impossible. If he pulls it off, we’ll all be getting the pints of wine in.
Pre-match reading, rendered largely irrelevant by the team news
Graham Potter has picked the same Brighton side that played well in defeat at Old Trafford last weekend. Everton are without a number of injured players, including Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Andre Gomes and Allan; their bench includes two 17-year-olds in Isaac Price and Reece Welch.
Brighton (3-4-1-2) Sanchez; White, Dunk, Veltman; Gross, Lallana, Bissouma, Moder; Trossard; Maupay, Welbeck.
Substitutes: Steele, Webster, Burn, Mac Allister, Alzate, Propper, Jahanbakhsh, Izquierdo, Zeqiri.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Brighton v Everton from the Amex Stadium. Although Brighton are technically in a relegation battle, this feels like a bigger game for Everton, who urgently need to stop playing silly buggers if they are to secure a European place.
They have had some really disappointing results since the turn of the year, yet they are still in contention for the Champions League, never mind the Europa: if they win their two games in hand they will be only two points off fourth place. And almost all of this poor results have been at Goodison Park. Tonight they have the away advantage against a Brighton side that have almost picked up more points on the road.Continue reading...
- Fourth-round Rangers v Celtic tie is pushed back to Sunday
- Wolves v Sheffield United moved to 8.15pm on Saturday
The Scottish Cup fourth-round tie between Rangers and Celtic has been pushed back to a Sunday 3pm kick-off, one of several football matches to be rescheduled in order to avoid clashing with the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral this Saturday.
The Old Firm fixture at Ibrox was originally set for 4pm on Saturday, an hour after the start of the ceremonial royal funeral at Windsor Castle. Saturday’s Premier League match between Wolves and Sheffield United, originally scheduled for 3pm, will kick off at 8.15pm.Continue reading...
Food fights are extremely uncommon in the serious world of professional association football. Yes, there was the time in the early 2000s when Cesc Fàbregas attempted to spice up a rather bland margherita by flinging it at the startled pepperoni-hued face of Sir Alex Ferguson. The moment on the Channel 4 documentary Club for a Fiver when Orient boss John Sitton offered most of his squad outside for a fight at half-time, telling them that they should bring their dinner because they’re going to need it. And of course there was the most notorious incident of all, when 1930s England hard man Wilf Copping came at Stanley Matthews in the FA canteen with a slice of Spam, neatly cut across the diagonal, and rammed it sideways into the young winger’s mouth with such force that it nearly left him with a permanent, albeit very tasty, Chelsea Grin [subs, please check]. But all in all, nutritious substances rarely feature in the game’s discourse.Continue reading...