Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta will not face each other on the touchline today when Everton meet Arsenal at Goodison. The incoming gaffers will wait in the wings, ‘running the rule’, no doubt gaining an insight into the size of their tasks.
As acts of vindication go, Jordan Pickford’s game-saving block to deny Mohamed Salah as the prolific Liverpool forward looked poised to open the scoring in the first half of a tense Merseyside derby was up there with the best of the Premier League this season.
No-one needs to be apprised of Seamus Coleman’s pride every time he captains his country but the skipper he says he’ll be only too happy to hand over the armband on Thursday when Glenn Whelan gets to lead the team out against Northern Ireland at the Aviva for what is likely to be the Dubliner’s final appearance in the green shirt.
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow, where his Chelsea dream was effectively ended by the impossibility of competing with Jose Mourinho’s ‘untouchables’, with every right to believe that the tables have now been well and truly turned.
Chelsea have dealt Tottenham Hotspur a second painful blow in the space of four days as they followed an FA Cup semi-final victory over their rivals with a Deigo Costa-inspired 4-2 win against Southampton which extends their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.
A young Richard Dunne had just turned 20 and Steve Staunton was still playing for Liverpool the last time Everton won at Anfield almost 18 years ago, but there is a nervous anticipation ahead of today’s Merseyside derby which suggests change may well be in the air if Jurgen Klopp’s side are not careful.
With Everton’s first proper shot of the afternoon resting comfortably in the back of Claudio Bravo’s net after 34 minutes, it was hard not to think City were already well on their way to claiming a thoroughly unwanted league double on Merseyside this season, writes.
Some injury issues are still to be resolved as Martin O’Neill’s squad enjoy one last weekend pass off base before the Republic’s June 13 D-Day in France, but there was encouragement yesterday in the sight of James McCarthy training with the group for a second day in a row.
While myself and a substantial number of Gooners might well concur with the sentiments expressed in Saturday’s vague and decidedly futile protest, the somewhat embarrassing and decidedly schizophrenic scenes during our encounter with Norwich felt like a sad indictment of our modern day, social-media obsessed “supporters”.
Following such a depressing week, with the Gunners spineless FA Cup capitulation and our almost inevitable Champions League demise, the doctor couldn’t possibly have ordered a better tonic than three points, a clean sheet and a man-of-the-match display from young Alex Iwobi at Goodison.