Everton produce a fantastic performance to beat Sunderland

Everton are through to the semi final of the FA cup after a fantastic victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Moyes will be desperate to win a trophy as manager of Everton

It looked as though Everton may have missed their chance after only drawing at Goodison Park but their performance against Sunderland was one of the best I have ever seen from an away side especially in the second half. Sunderland must have been very optimistic that they could get through and maybe froze under the pressure of being the favourites and this will infuriate Martin O’Neill. Although, in my opinion they shouldn’t have been favourites as Everton have some fantastic players and give every team they come up against a very good game which Manchester City learned earlier in the season.

But onto the game itself and they deserved the win and I don’t think anyone in the stadium could have denied them of that. Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring and his movement and hold up play was a joy to watch at times as the Sunderland players could not cope with him and even though he did miss a few chances, he is exactly what Everton have been missing for a number of years, and that is a proven goal scorer. Maybe this is a slightly harsh assessment as they have had Yakubu, Louis Saha and Andy Johnson but I believe that Jelavic will do better than all of these and may even push the club onto the next level.

What makes it even more surprising that they could perform to such a high standard is that the team were late arriving at the stadium because of heavy traffic and this must have left them feeling slightly unprepared. When the game started though you could see that David Moyes had got his tactics spot on yet again. Their midfield was particularly impressive, and all five of them deserve a lot of praise because they worked very hard for each other and had that little bit of quality which Sunderland lacked. I am going to say that Magaye Gueye impressed me the most, this could be because I haven’t seen a lot of him and wasn’t expecting too much, but every time he had the ball he caused the defence problems and he looked very direct and quick which makes me wonder why he hasn’t had more of a chance since he signed for the club. Leon Osman on the right wing did his usual consistent job and I think it is remarkable how he hasn’t even got an England cap. Is he the best player to have never been capped in recent times? He has a lot more ability than he is given credit for and can play anywhere across the midfield which is a bonus for Moyes.

Tim Cahill’s performance was also pleasing as he is now getting back to the form we all know he is capable of. It looks as though he has got a spring in his step now and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a few more times before the season is out.

Liverpool in the semi final now and that could be the biggest game in Moyes’ 10 years in charge as it is not only local pride at stake but it is also beating your local rivals at Wembley for a place in the final.

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Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

The battle at the bottom is going to be one of the best ever with five teams all struggling to string together a set of results that will pull them away from the danger zone.

Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, QPR and Wolves are the five teams and it will probably go to the last day to decide who is going to play Championship football next season. With only four points separating them, it could even be decided by goal difference. So who is the most likely to stay up.

Let’s start with bottom of the table Wigan. Out of the five teams they are the favourites to go down because they are the smallest club and have always struggled in the Premier League. However, this could work to their advantage as some teams may not take them as seriously as they should. They also have some good players and have been in this situation before and survived, it was only a few seasons ago they stayed up on the last day which shows when it comes down to it they can hold their nerve. They have a good goalkeeper in Ali Al-Habsi and he should be playing for a better team as he has performed brilliantly for the club and it wouldn’t surprise me if he left in the summer even if they did stay up. Wigan play some good football and probably only need a proven goal scorer but these are difficult to find. Hugo Rodallega is a decent player but he will not score enough goals, Victor Moses, another very good player but he will not be a consistent goal scorer.

Blackburn have just beaten Wolves and this shows that when it comes down to it, they are up for the fight. Their manager Steve Kean has been written off multiple times this season but the players seem to be playing for him and are very much behind him. They also have some very good players and what maybe the other teams don’t have is a proven goal scorer. Yakubu has arguably been the signing of the season and if they stay up he should receive a lot of praise. They also have Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett in their midfield and these two can change a game in the blink of an eye, they both have fantastic technique and have also got a few goals in them.

Bolton also secured a massive three points when they beat QPR with a very late goal from Ivan Klasnic. They shouldn’t really be in this position but most teams in the league will struggle when they have their two best players out injured for most of the season. Lee Chung Yong and Stuart Holden give the team so much quality and it would be difficult to replace them especially when they don’t have the biggest budgets. However, they do have Nigel Reo Coker and Mark Davies in their midfield and if Bolton go down then surely these two will still be Premier League players after the summer because they can control a game from the middle of the park.

Wolves are in real danger in my opinion because they have given Terry Connor the responsibility of guiding the club away from the danger zone. I am not slating him but in a situation like this you want a manger with experience. Also, putting in the assistant to me is a bad choice because it is like the old regime is still in the club and maybe something new would have given everyone a lift. Steven Fletcher has had a good season for the club but he has lacked the support, Kevin Doyle works hard but has not scored enough goals, and Sylvain Ebanks Blake is not a Premier League striker at all. The problem with Wolves is that they cannot defend and concede some very sloppy goals, Wayne Hennessey deserves praise this season because he has gained the team points and also kept the score lines down which could prove vital at the end of the season.

QPR have a good team, a good manger and the backing of the board so it seems that everything should be going well at the club but for some reason it hasn’t actually worked out. If QPR do go down there will be a lot of what ifs asked, for example what if Warnock stayed in charge would we have stayed up? The signings they made in January should have kept them up safely with Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora coming in to provide some much needed firepower. The defence is still a worry though as Clint Hill is still first choice, and he is not a Premier League defender. In the Bolton game they didn’t have much luck but you don’t get much at the bottom anyway.

I am not sure on who will go down and my opinion will change now on a weekly basis, but looking at QPR’s fixture list they seem to be in a lot of trouble but football is a strange game and anything can happen so it will be enjoyable for all the neutrals but for the fans involved it will be agony.

The fight for survival

Blackburn showed they have enough team spirit and determination about them to successfully battle against relegation this season.

They have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford and now without their best centre back Chris Samba who looks like he could be leaving in the transfer window they beat Fulham at home 3-1. Adding to this, their top scorer Yakubu got sent off which must have left the Blackburn fans with the sinking feeling of here we go again. But the team pulled through and beat a Fulham side who had been on a decent run themselves and in their last league game came from behind to beat Arsenal.

It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom at Blackburn, yes the board made a terrible decision in sacking Sam Allardyce and maybe Steve Kean should have been sacked but there is definitely quality in this Rovers side and this includes some good young promising players.

Martin Olsson at left back is only 23 and is a very capable player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played for a top team in the league because he adds a lot going forward with his pace and also his defending is improving as he is getting more experienced. Grant Hanley, the player that scored the winning goal at Old Trafford reminds me of Phil Jones and he could be set to follow in his footsteps and leave the club for a very good price. Although this isn’t what the fans want, if the club sell some of their young assets they can add experience to the squad which would help the team in their scrap at the bottom.

Players that are experienced players in the squad such as Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn are very good players and could fit into most sides that are in the bottom half of the Premier League. They both scored in the win over Fulham and they could have a big say in whether Blackburn are playing in the Premier League or Championship next season.

Up front they do look lightweight with only Yakubu scoring the goals for them but Ruben Rochina who is only 20 has provided real moments of quality at times this season but probably because he is only young he has been inconsistent however I see a bright future in the game for him. He possesses a rocket of a left foot and looks very good on the ball therefore he will surprise a few defenders this season. They also have David Goodwillie who has not acclimitised to the Premier League yet but if he can reproduce some of his form from his days in the SPL then he may be a good addition to the squad. His goal against Newcastle in the FA cup would have done him the world of good.

The most promising player at the club is Junior Hoilett and the proof of this is that he is linked to some of the best clubs in the Premier League, most noticeably Tottenham. His pace and trickery are his main assets but the reason why Blackburn have to keep him is that he is very unpredictable and is the only player in the squad that can really make the Ewood Park faithful get up of their seats. If Blackburn are to stay up this year, they need to keep hold of their 21 year old winger.

They think it’s all over…. Not yet for Kean

Well I was going to write about a comfortable victory for Manchester United and talk about how impressive it is that they have scored 1500 goals in the Premier League which they did through Dimitar Berbatov but there is an even better story coming out of Old Trafford today.

Blackburn beating United 3-2 and in all honesty probably deserved a result because of their commitment to their manager. Steve Kean deserves a huge round of applause because he has kept his team focused and they all seem to be playing for him which hasn’t been the case at other clubs over the years. One of the most memorable is Craig Bellamy’s public falling out with Graeme Souness while at Newcastle United. But the Blackburn players have stood by their manager when it seems every fan is slamming him.

With a point at Anfield and a win at Old Trafford surely the fans will lay off Kean now because he deserves a break and if he keeps Blackburn in the Premier League it will be a great achievement. The fans are supposed to be the 12th man at every club, but at Ewood Park it seemed like the players lost confidence because of their fans, therefore it’s not surprising that the team are finding solace away from home.

Yakubu looks like a fantastic signing and guess who signed him from Everton? Yes that’s right it was Steve Kean and he has arguably been the signing of the season alongside Demba Ba of Newcastle. It is hard to pick a man of the match for any away team that wins at Old Trafford but for me it is a straight up battle between the striker and the powerful centre back Chris Samba.

How he hasn’t been signed for one of the big clubs I will never know because he is a fantastic defender and also offers a lot in the opposition box, winning the penalty today. If Arsene Wenger has seen this performance he must be tempted to put a bid in for him in the January transfer window.

Steve Kean deserves a medal for what he has had to put up with this season from the Blackburn fans so hopefully this result will get them off his back even if it is only for a short while.

Finally, I would just like to praise the performance of the referee, even though on the whole Mike Dean was pretty poor and gave some interesting decisions, he was a lot stronger than most at Old Trafford. He gave the penalty which was quite blatant but time and time again we have seen those waved away and he could have also called for a foul on the hapless David De Gea for the winner as he came for a corner and got nowhere near it.

So a big well done to Mike Dean but even more so to Steve Kean.