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Wembley warm-up is a stroll in the Park
Goodison Park witnessed its biggest win of the season so far when Sunderland were put to the sword with a second half display that had the faithful drooling at the quality of Everton’s football. It wasn’t quite School of Science standard but it wasn’t that far away; and this from a side showing five changes from the team who gained a point at Carrow Road! What might the outcome have been if the attacking flair of Leighton Baines, Nikica Jelavic and Tim Cahill been included?
David Moyes is of course keeping their powder dry for the impending derby at Wembley on Saturday. Without doubt this is Everton’s biggest game since the 2009 FA Cup Final and there is a sense amongst Evertonians that this is the year when a trophy will finally be delivered after a decade of trials and tribulations under Moyes. There is no doubt that the team is ticking over quite nicely.
Twelve months ago Everton would not have been in a position to rest five key players ahead of a major game. Indeed, a characteristic of Moyes’ teams was that often it would be the bare 11 who took the field bolstered by some talent from the Academy. Significantly, the current gem of the Academy, Ross Barkley, isn’t even figuring on the fringes. He’s been with the Everton Under 19s in an international tournament in Dallas.
Lying ahead of us on Saturday are our arch rivals from across the Park. For as long as I can remember they have thwarted us on key occasions. My first semi-final experience at Old Trafford in 1971 saw us dominate the first half but only have an Alan Ball goal to show for it. The untimely departure of captain Brian Labone through injury saw the game change completely and Liverpool eventually triumphed 2-1.
Don’t even begin to talk to Evertonians about the injustice ref Clive Thomas foisted on the blue half in 1977, when he disallowed Bryan Hamilton’s winner for a reason known only to him. The replay was a non-event. Then in the 1984 Milk Cup Final, Alan Hansen’s blatant handball in the area went unpunished by another referee, Alan Robinson, and we lost out in the replay. The 1986 FA Cup Final saw us dominate the Reds for nearly an hour but only have Gary Lineker’s goal to show for our supremacy. Somehow the game turned on its head and arch nemesis Ian Rush struck. The 3-1 defeat did not reflect the play. The 1989 FA Cup Final was the year of Hillsborough and a very poignant one, so it seemed fitting that both sides contested the final – and right that Liverpool lifted the trophy.
Everton vs Liverpool at Wembley usually only has one outcome. Despite Everton’s comfortable victory against a dogged Sunderland and Liverpool’s appalling current form, the feeling is that it’s going far too well for the Blues at the moment and once again we will leave the national stadium licking our wounds. I only hope and pray I’m wrong – just for once!
Posted by Everton fan Steve Mahon
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