FREEMAN MAG on preview duty, as Eddie’s Mags head to Merseyside on a school night.
When: Thursday 27 April 2023
Where: Goodison Park, and LIVE on BT SPORT
You might give out a little wooden ‘groan’: when you tell me, who is the Everton Assistant Manager?
Everton’s new £500million ground will hold 52,888. Goodison currently holds 39,414. Seems a lot of money for just 12,000 more seats. It is expected to open next year. It won’t.
Well, I went to Villa in the end, as our winning run came to its own end. The one solace I took away from that game, was that it would galvanise the team in their next match, against a side that was closer to trying to snatch a Champions League spot away from us than the Vile themselves; that side was Tottenham Hotspur, a club in total disarray. My regular Sunday night quiz team pal is a Spurs fan, and so I consider myself fairly informed about The Cockerels, and how their fans feel about X, Y and Z when we obviously chat football together. He said last week that if Spurs played well, NUFC would still win by one or two, but if Spurs were as poor as they have been, then it would be very comfortable (for me, not him). Dave Grover, take a bow, you were spot on – a thrashing, done and dusted within 21 minutes.
Everton will offer up a much different challenge. Regular readers of my nonsense over the years might recall that I admire the pragmatic, gravelly voiced, Sean Dyche, who has been plonked in the Goodison hot-seat in order to grind out enough 1-0 home wins to retain their top-flight status, after doing much the same with an ugly Burnley side for many a year.
I think he is going to do it; it is what he does.
And because of that, I think Thursday night might make pretty grim viewing; being more a war of attrition and not quite the ‘beautiful game’. Be assured though, His Eddiness has the nous to prevail, and players’ feet will be firmly back on the ground after the floaty highs of Sunday gone.
So – will the Mighty Mags be able to push Everton a step closer to the relegation trapdoor? And, less importantly, how will the Goodison faithful treat our new blond skiprat ‘Flash’, after we nabbed him off them? Will they dispatch war rocket Ajax? I think not. He’ll get dogs’ abuse though.
I had money on a 0-4 away win at Villa. I also feared Spurs would show up and HurriKane’s usual SJP goal might be the difference in a tough, tight, zealously-fought game, with a typically Italian emphasis on a THFC clean sheet, especially away from home, and when on a poor streak. How wrong I was. It appears I cannot ‘tip’ coal. So take the following with a bucketful of salt.
The only ‘value’ I see is 8/1(ish) on a 0-0 draw, the logic being that Everton will have to stay very tight, in what they hope will be a cagey game; as they are very unlikely to outscore NUFC on the night.
We all know that the Toffees don’t score many: 24 in the league all season, NUFC have scored 54, with 19 in the last 7 games. It is a no-brainer for Dyche to go compact, tight and defensive – even if they are at home.
Late last summer, the Scouse Blues ‘acquired’ the awful and niggly Neil ‘couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo’ Maupay from Brighton – 1 in 23 this season. DC-Lewin looks well past his prime. If Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil are your joint top scorers on four apiece in 30 or so games each, you KNOW you are in more trouble than Gripper Stebson outside Bullet Baxter’s office.
I predict the game will be horrible. Their fans will be more than a tad toxic. I am hopeful that NUFC are focussed and committed and can go in, get the result, and get out relatively unscathed, with or without some Tucker’s Luck (other 1980s spin-offs from school-based TV kids’ dramas are available).
It’ll be low-scoring – let’s just hope we sneak the 0-1 win.
There or armchair: ENJOY THE GAME!
(Answer: Forest fans’ favourite: Ian ‘title-denier’ Woan. Hence the Groan).