Everton Club Focus - Toffees aim for Premier League supremacy over local rival
Everton go into their final game of the season against Newcastle United on Sunday knowing that a win guarantees a finish of seventh in the Premier League table as well as a rare finish above Liverpool.
If David Moyes’ side do finish above the Reds it will be something of a pyrrhic victory, one that will be celebrated but only by those who have forgotten the FA Cup semi-final. That was the real contest between the two sides latterly in the campaign and Liverpool were clear winners. Finishing above the Reds in the league may provide a little comfort but nowhere near the pleasure that success at Wembley would have generated, even if Everton’s fate in the final had been much the same as Liverpool’s. The immediate satisfaction of knocking out Kenny Dalglish’s side would have been a high Evertonians would yet to have come down from.
As it was Liverpool faced and lost to Chelsea in the final, but then recovered in their next league game - against the same opposition, in name if not personnel - to score four goals. In that regard Liverpool were much like Everton in the semi-final and the match that followed. Everton utterly failed in their biggest match of the season, which the FA Cup final arguably was for Liverpool considering their dismal league form, only to score four goals at Old Trafford in their next fixture, when spirits were at their lowest and expectation was probably lower still. Everton’s four goals against Manchester United reignited the end of the Toffees’ season while Liverpool’s keeps them in with a chance of snatching seventh from Everton.
Far from an end-of-season stroll, then, Everton’s final game of the season now has much riding on it. The opposition could barely be tougher. Newcastle, despite some patchy recent results against Wigan Athletic and Manchester City, have excelled over the course of the season, with goals from Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse and the midfield craft of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye. Everton will also face a Newcastle with plenty to play for. The Magpies need a win to retain a chance of finishing fourth or potentially third, if results go their way. A motivated Newcastle are a fearsome prospect but Everton’s home form has been strong.
Ending the season on a high could be vital to Everton if a repeat of the trauma of last summer, when there were no additions to the side, a few departures, and weeks of unseemly disputes between the board and sections of the supporters. A win over Newcastle, one that guarantees seventh place and a finish above Liverpool, would be the perfect tonic heading into the summer break. Manchester may be the focus of most attention on the final day of the league campaign but Merseyside has its own local skirmish to consider, one that may not indicate much of the direction long-term of either team but one that still matters a great deal to all concerned, whatever their loyalty.
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