What could prove to be one of the biggest weeks of David Moyes’ long Everton career got off to the best possible start on Saturday as the Blues battled to victory over Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur. With a Merseyside derby to come on Tuesday, the 10th anniversary of Moyes’ appointment as Everton manager on Wednesday and an FA Cup quarter-final against Sunderland at Goodison Park next Saturday, the next seven days or so could be among the most momentous in Moyes’ entire Everton tenure.
There may have been the temptation to persist with Phil Neville in the centre of midfield with Marouane Fellaini in an effort to stifle Spurs’ creativity, but Moyes resisted and instead chose Leon Osman to partner to the Belgian. Osman offers the requisite hard work but also a dash of class to unlock an opposition defence, as seen when the midfielder scampered through the Tottenham back line before teeing up Nikica Jelavic for the winning goal. By refusing to retreat into a defensive shell from the outset and taking the match to Spurs Moyes gave his team the greatest chance of winning the game.
With a trip to Anfield coming in such quick time after the Spurs match a good performance was vital and a win ideal. Everton managed both. But crossing Stanley Park has never produced the latter for Moyes. In nine Premier League meetings at Anfield under Moyes Everton have drawn five and lost four, conceding 10 goals and scoring five in the process. The games have always been close – only once, in 2005-06 when Liverpool won 3-1, has there been more than a single goal between the sides – but the fact remains that in a decade Moyes has not led Everton to victory at the home of their local rivals. Changing that would be the ultimate way to mark his 10th anniversary in charge.
Liverpool’s indifferent form – without a league win since the end of January – may raise expectations when considered with Everton’s excellent run of nine unbeaten since the middle of the same month, but while there is much predictable about a Merseyside derby – the atmosphere will be the unpleasant side of raucous, there will be a spate of bookings and probably a red card – the result is the last conclusion to ever be foregone. Extending Everton’s spell without defeat to 10 games on the eve of the exact date Moyes was appointed would be a fitting tribute to the manager, but while much has changed in the years Moyes has been in the Everton dugout, trips to Anfield have not gotten any more straightforward.
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