Writer: Lord Shepherd
Date:Saturday August 23 2008
23 August 2008
So it's Everton who are first up for the Baggies at the Hawthorns.
Everton travel to West Brom looking to pick up their first points of the season. However, all is far from well for David Moyes and his team.
After finishing fifth in the league last season you would expect them to have kicked on in pre season and made some real eye catching signings. Instead they have lost Andy Johnson to Fulham and they have brought nobody in. Added to that the injuries that they have together with losing their first home game to Blackburn and it is perhaps a good time to be playing the Toffees.
As far as Albion are concerned they are still riding high after winning the Championship last season. West Brom have strengthened considerably in the transfer window having added Scott Carson, Gianni Zuiverloon, Luke Moore, Roman Bednar, Marek Cech, Do-Heon Kim, Abdoulaye Meite, Graham Dorrans and most recently record signing Borja Valero.
After suffering a narrow defeat at the Emirates last week the Baggies will be confident in taking some points off Everton.
Everton Manager David Moyes is really downbeat coming into the game and can only have worried fans with his comments:
'There is a good possibility we won't get anyone, and if that happens I don't think we could get through to January,'
'We'll keep striving to sign players but it's not open season, like it was six or eight weeks ago.
'The shutters on the shops are halfway down, and it is becoming more difficult all the time. The plain fact is we may have to change what we're looking for. When we finished fifth last May, I knew the level of players we would have to get in to challenge the teams above us, and I knew how much they would cost.
'That was the situation on May 14, but it looks now as though, if we do get players in, it won't be the quality ones I was looking at to begin with.
'We are possibly going to have to stick kids in before they are ready, and we could be in trouble if we have so much as one injury. If we have five or six, as has happened often enough before, we could be struggling to field a team.
'It has taken six years to reach the situation we were in at the end of last season, and I thought the days of being a yo-yo club had gone. We had 14 or 15 senior players I thought were good enough, and I simply wanted to add four or five to make sure we could at least think about challenging those elite few above us.
'I still hope I can put out a winning side, whatever happens. That is a measure of the belief I have in myself. But it does look like we may end up bringing in five or six players who cost nothing. That's what we might need to do now, because we simply have to get numbers in. We have to make sure our season isn't over before it has even started.
'I want to compete against the top sides and really challenge them, but the signs are we might finish up taking a backward step this season. This time last year, people were tipping Everton to be the ones to emerge from the pack and have a right go at the top four. I'm not hearing any of that this time, and you have to ask yourself why?
'There is still a week and a bit to go, and you keep hoping, but it has been frustrating.'
Tony Mowbray is not taking anything for granted and will send out his team fully prepared to take on a team who finished fifth in the Premier League last season:
'You have to judge Everton on last season, when they finished fifth,'
'We've had a tough start, playing the team who finished third followed by the ones who finished fifth.
'To finish fifth was a great success and they will be hurting after Saturday's defeat so we have to be ready for them because they will want their first points.
'We need to rise to the challenge of playing a team who, on numerous occasions last year, got victories away from home.
'So we have to be ready and as competitive as we can be for what will be a very difficult weekend.
'Every manager likes to strengthen and, okay, they've lost a striker.
'But on their day they are a pretty awesome team. They will be looking to beat all the teams outside the top six or so and will come as a hungry side on the back of a defeat.
'But they will be in for a tough game.'
New signing Borja Valero is unavailable for the game but West Brom are expected to welcome back Luke Moore and Robert Koren. New signing Gianni Zuiverloon is likely to take over at right back from Carl Hoefkins.
Ishy will trouble any defence this season and he well be bouyed by his performance against the Gunners last week.
The problems continue for the blue half of Merseyside.
Phil Neville is likely to miss out as are James Vaughan, Steven Pienaar, Andy van der Meyde and Tim Cahill. Victor Anichebe is still at the Olympics with Nigeria, although they lost earlier today 1-0 to Argentina who retain their Olympic title
Osman is the type of player that West Brom are looking to buy. He will sit in Midfield and arrive late to trouble the Baggies defence. He is a very intelligent player.
Home and away
League (inc PL): WBA 51 wins, Everton 55, Draws 32
Prem: WBA 2 wins, Everton 3, Draws 1
at the Hawthorns
League (inc PL): WBA 37 wins, Everton 15, Draws 17
Prem: WBA 2 wins, Everton 1, Draws 0
Last time out saw Bryan Robson's team thrash Everton 4-0
Rob Styles. Last week we had the best referee in the Premier League and this week (with Uriah Rennie out of the picture) we have the worst referee.
2-1 to the Baggies with Miller to get off the mark.
Away at the Reebok to Gary Megson's Bolton Wanderers.
Date:Saturday August 23 2008
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