Tag Archives: Everton

Iconic Moments: Everton survive by the skin of their teeth (May 1998)

After 44 years of unbroken top-flight existence, Everton’s status was in severe jeopardy going into the final day of the 1997-1998 Premier League season. For the second time in five years, they went into a final round of fixtures in the bottom three and needing a better result than their relegation rivals to avoid the drop to the First Division. They had achieved it in 1994 against Wimbledon with Sheffield United the unfortunate side to experience the heartache of relegation.

In 1998, they were in a head-to-head battle with Bolton Wanderers. Everton were a point behind and had a more favourable fixture at home to Coventry City, whilst Bolton were travelling to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. Things went Everton’s way in their match when Gareth Farrelly’s terrific early strike put them 1-0 ahead. Bolton fell behind to a goal from Gianluca Vialli in west London but there were to be exciting final twists.

Everton’s Nick Barmby saw a penalty saved by Magnus Hedman and when Dion Dublin equalised for Coventry with an arching header three minutes from time, Bolton knew the situation. A leveller at Chelsea would keep them up and even the Chelsea supporters were urging the Trotters to equalise. This was after Everton had suggested earlier in the week that Chelsea wouldn’t be motivated to win as they had a Cup Winners’ Cup final on the horizon days later against VfB Stuttgart.

In stoppage-time, the home supporters began booing their own players but in a counter-attack, Jody Morris finished off the contest and Bolton’s chances. Fans cheered Morris’ goal but less enthusiastically as any other Chelsea goal scored at Stamford Bridge all season. Chelsea’s 2-0 win meant a point would be enough for Everton and they held on for their draw by the skin of their teeth to achieve another manic final day escape from relegation, this time courtesy of only goal difference.


Memorable Matches: Everton 2-3 Aston Villa (December 2008)

Goalscorers: Steve Sidwell 1, Joleon Lescott 30, 90 + 3, Ashley Young 54, 90 +4


Everton: Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yobo, Phil Neville (Andy van der Meyde 85), Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe (Leighton Baines 87)

Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, Curtis Davies, Martin Laursen, Luke Young, Gary Barry, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov, Steve Sidwell, Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 31,922

In the 2008-2009 season, Everton and Aston Villa were considered as the most likely challengers to the traditional top four teams at the time of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool FC. The pair met each other in December 2008 at Goodison Park and produced an afternoon of terrific entertainment and a gripping conclusion.

With only one home win all season upto this point, Everton were desperate to improve that statistic but they made the worst possible start, falling behind with the first shot on goal. James Milner teed up Steve Sidwell who crashed his shot past Tim Howard inside 34 seconds. It was the fastest goal of the 2008-2009 Premier League season so far and Sidwell’s third for the club.

David Moyes’ side responded well to the early setback despite missing star strikers Louis Saha and Yakubu because of injury. Tim Cahill got in behind Carlos Cuellar but his shot was palmed away by Brad Friedel before the American goalkeeper made a more straightforward stop to deny Marouane Fellaini.

Everton were doing all the pressing and equalised deservedly on 30 minutes. After Cuellar had impeded Cahill, Mikel Arteta’s cute free-kick was flicked on by Leon Osman and lifelong Villa fan Joleon Lescott escaped the attentions of Martin Laursen to poke the ball beyond Friedel. It was a nice way for Lescott to celebrate his 350th career appearance.

Into the second half and Everton were still bossing proceedings. Fellaini’s height was causing Villa major problems, especially at set-pieces. From numerous corners, he was winning headers all afternoon. One of them hit the crossbar when unmarked. It looked like a bad miss but replays showed Friedel had produced a late intervention, sticking his hand up to tip his effort onto the bar. It was unconventional but effective and moments later, the visitors had regained their lead. Phil Jagielka had a nightmare moment with a dreadful backpass that allowed Ashley Young in for a simple finish.

Three minutes of stoppage-time were signalled and it looked like the Toffees had rescued a point when Jagielka and Cahill won headers and Lescott had gone forward again to produce an acrobatic effort that beat Friedel to level the scores. Martin O’Neill’s side were crestfallen but had one final chance. Gabriel Agbonlahor played Young through who seared past Lescott and coolly slotted his shot into the bottom corner to win the match for Aston Villa with the last kick of the game.

It had been a great game and the Villans had shown great determination to snatch all three points despite being dominated all day in the aerial battle. Ultimately, Everton finished above them in the table but neither was quite able to break the stranglehold on the top four by the end of the season.

Memorable Matches: Everton 3-2 Wimbledon (May 1994)

Goalscorers: Dean Holdsworth 4 PEN, Gary Ablett 20 OG, Graham Stuart 24 PEN, 81, Barry Horne 67


Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Ian Snodin, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell (Stuart Barlow 80), Anders Limpar, Graham Stuart, Tony Cottee, Paul Rideout

Wimbledon: Hans Segers, Warren Barton, Dean Blackwell, Gary Elkins, John Scales, Peter Fear (Gary Blissett 84), Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Marcus Gayle, Andy Clarke, Dean Holdsworth

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 31,233

Everton began the final day of the 1993-1994 season inside the relegation zone, a point behind Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. The Toffees needed a victory or face up to the realistic possibility that their 40-year top-flight stay would end at the conclusion of this match against an in-form Wimbledon. Joe Kinnear’s side went into this match in an impressive sixth position, having recently defeated both league runners-up Blackburn Rovers and champions Manchester United.

The pressure was on Mike Walker’s side and they made a nightmare start. Anders Limpar stupidly handled the ball from a corner in just the third minute. The anguish on the face of the Swedish international was clear to see and he was punished by Dean Holdsworth, whose weak penalty just evaded the grasp of Neville Southall to put the visitors infront.

After 20 minutes, it was 2-0. Two Everton defenders, Dave Watson and David Unsworth went for the same ball. Andy Clarke’s mishit shot looked like it was going wide before it took a deflection off the unfortunate Gary Ablett and ended up in the back of the net. Relegation was looking likely for the Toffees after this horrendous beginning.

Hope was restored four minutes later. Limpar resorted to desperate measures in an attempt to redeem himself for his earlier error. He threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from Peter Fear. Referee Robbie Hart gave the spot-kick and replays clearly showed Limpar had made a meal of any contact. Graham Stuart showed plenty of composure in such a high-pressure situation to stick his penalty beyond Hans Segers.

Everton were still living dangerously though. Holdsworth missed two glorious opportunities to extend the advantage again before half-time. At the interval, Everton were still looking like favourites for relegation, especially as none of their relegation rivals were losing at the break. Into the second half and Holdsworth had another chance with a header that was cleared off the goal-line by Stuart. Moments later, it was 2-2. Welshman Barry Horne tried his luck from distance and his shot flew into the back of the net. Segers had absolutely no chance.

The comeback was complete with nine minutes left. Stuart played a nice combination of passes with Tony Cottee and then, his first-time shot crept past Segers and into the back of the net. There’s no doubt the Wimbledon goalkeeper was surprised by the effort and probably should have done better. However, Everton’s comeback was complete.

At the full-time whistle, the fans ran onto the pitch in a combination of relief and delight. Everton had produced one of the most unlikely turnarounds to preserve their Premier League status at the expense of Sheffield United, whose own last-gasp defeat at Chelsea meant they were relegated instead.

Premier League Rewind: 19th-21st October 2002

Results: Leeds United 0-1 Liverpool FC, Blackburn Rovers 5-2 Newcastle United, Everton 2-1 Arsenal, Fulham 1-1 Manchester United, Manchester City 0-3 Chelsea, Sunderland 0-1 West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Birmingham City, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic 1-0 Middlesbrough, Aston Villa 0-1 Southampton

Reigning Premier League champions Arsenal were in sensational form ahead of this round of fixtures in the 2002-2003 season. Undefeated in league matches since December 2001, the Gunners travelled to Goodison Park full of confidence and looking to extend their 30-match unbeaten run.

It seemed like it was going to the formbook when Freddie Ljungberg put the Gunners infront meaning they had now scored in 49 consecutive matches. However, this was an Everton side that was beginning to show some real promise under David Moyes. After Lee Carsley had an effort that hit the post, Tomasz Radzinski drove in an equaliser past David Seaman midway through the first half. The game looked like it was going to end in a draw when 16-year-old Wayne Rooney tried his luck from distance and his shot beat Seaman comprehensively. It was his first Premier League goal and ended Arsenal’s 10-month unbeaten sequence in the Premier League. After the game, a gracious Arsene Wenger said: “Rooney is the biggest England talent I’ve seen since I arrived in England.” He wasn’t wrong either judging by how his career worked out.

Arsenal’s slip up on Merseyside meant Liverpool FC finished the weekend top of the table. The Reds had already hit top spot before Arsenal kicked off because their match concluded on Saturday lunchtime and they grabbed a narrow 1-0 victory away at Elland Road over Leeds United. It was a goal scored in Yorkshire but made by two Senegalese players. El-Hadji Diouf’s fine cross was prodded into the back of the net by Salif Diao. It was his first and only Premier League goal as a Liverpool FC player.

Middlesbrough began the weekend in third place but dropped two places after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at The Valley against Charlton Athletic. Jason Euell’s fourth-minute header saw the Addicks climb out of the drop zone with only their third victory from 10 games this season. The team to benefit from Boro’s defeat were Tottenham Hotspur. Glenn Hoddle’s side recorded their sixth victory from 10 outings as they beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Robbie Keane was quickly becoming a favourite with the Spurs faithful. He added another two goals to his tally since his late August move from Leeds United.

Manchester United remained in fourth place but required a second half equaliser from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to earn a hard-fought point in a 1-1 draw at Fulham, who consolidated their position in the top half of the table. However, the Cottagers did slip below west London rivals Chelsea in the table after Claudio Ranieri’s side achieved a convincing 3-0 away victory on their last-ever trip to Maine Road against Manchester City. There were two more goals for Gianfranco Zola who was enjoying the limelight in his final season as a Chelsea player.

Sunderland unveiled a new management team after parting company with Peter Reid just before the last international break. Howard Wilkinson returned to Premier League management for the first time in six years, supported by Steve Cotterill. They got off to a shocking start though, losing 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers West Ham United. The Hammers moved into 14th place after achieving their third win in four matches but with just six points covering the entire bottom half of the table, there was still little to separate the struggling teams in this intriguing Premier League season.

What else happened in October 2002?

  • Over 200 people are killed when multiple bombs are planted in two nightclubs on the Indonesian island of Bali. Over 20 UK nationals are among the dead.
  • Chechen rebels take control of the Nord-Ost theatre in Moscow, holding the audience hostage. Following a Russian attempt to subdue the militants, at least 170 people are killed.
  • Estelle Morris steps down as Secretary of State for Education.
  • Hearsay confirms they are going to go their separate ways. Created by the ITV series Popstars, they cite pressure and public abuse for their reasons.
  • Following allegations about his personal life in the press and from Matthew Wright on his Channel Five programme, This Morning presenter John Leslie is sacked.
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended following allegations of spying.
  • The BBC Asian Network is broadcast nationally for the first time.


Premier League Files: Duncan Ferguson

Premier League Career: Everton (1994-1998, 2000-2006), Newcastle United (1998-2000)

Off-the-pitch, Duncan Ferguson has shown compassion, kindness and consideration for the city of Liverpool and especially, the club he fell in love with – Everton. Ferguson is a true blue and is back at the club now as a first-team coach – a role he has held since 2014. His passion could make him a manager of the future if he wants it.

On-the-pitch, “Big Dunc” was a fearsome, savage, no-nonsense character. In his career, he collected nine red cards and eight of those were in the Premier League. This means he holds the joint-record for dismissals in the Premier League Years along with former teammate Richard Dunne and Patrick Vieira.

Ferguson began his professional career in Scottish football with Dundee United in 1990. As a 22-year-old, Rangers showed great interest in his services after scoring 28 goals in 77 league appearances for the men from Tannadice. In 1993, Ferguson moved to Rangers for a British transfer record fee of £4 million. The move to Glasgow didn’t go well and in 1994, he was booked in a 4-0 victory over Raith Rovers for a head-butt on visiting player, John McStay. He was subsequently charged with assault and as it was his fourth conviction after other altercations off-the-pitch, he would end up in court for these actions.

With a lack of playing time at Rangers, Ferguson moved to Everton in October 1994 on a three-month loan deal, along with teammate Ian Durrant. Under-pressure manager Mike Walker was desperate to turn his fortunes around and hoped the pair could produce for him. He was sacked three weeks after their arrivals but his successor, Joe Royle, was immediately impressed by Ferguson. He quickly turned the loan switch into a permanent move and Duncan responded by scoring the first goal in Royle’s Everton’s management – a 2-0 victory over Liverpool FC in November 1994. Ferguson would later score a winning goal that season against Manchester United and ended the campaign as an FA Cup winner – his only club honour.

The 1995-1996 season was less successful. A hernia problem restricted him to just 18 appearances, scoring five goals in the league. Also, his Ibrox head-butt saw him convicted in the autumn of 1995 and jailed for three months – sweeping the prison floors for £6.50 a week. He came back into the first-team on his release and in December 1997, became the first-ever player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick of headers when he achieved the feat in a 3-2 victory against Bolton Wanderers. They were crucial goals as the Toffees avoided relegation on goal difference, at Bolton’s expense.

In November 1998, Everton beat Newcastle United 1-0 at Goodison Park. During the game, the respective owners of the two clubs reached an agreement for Ferguson to be sold to Newcastle for £8 million. Toffees manager Walter Smith wasn’t consulted about the transfer and furious that his club captain could be sold behind his back. Ferguson wrote a two-page goodbye letter in the club magazine to fans. He admitted he would never forget the fans or the club but was looking forward to pairing up with Alan Shearer, saying at his press conference unveiling: “Everybody knows that Alan Shearer is one of the best players in Europe and I’m looking forward to teaming up with him. I think it will be a good partnership.”

He made a brilliant start to his Newcastle career, scoring twice on his debut in a 3-1 victory over Wimbledon. However, injuries ruined his 18-month spell on Tyneside. He did experience a second FA Cup final in 1999, appearing as a second half substitute in the 2-0 loss to Manchester United. After just 30 league appearances, scoring eight goals, Sir Bobby Robson sold him back to Everton in August 2000 for £3.75 million. That was for less than half the price the Magpies had paid for him.

Ferguson again enjoyed a successful debut, scoring on his return to the club against Charlton Athletic. He made 123 further league appearances but injuries and the form of the likes of Tomasz Radzinski, Kevin Campbell and an upcoming Wayne Rooney meant Duncan became more of a back-up player in his second spell with the club. In September 2005, he received the final red card of his Premier League career for violent conduct against Wigan Athletic and received a seven-match ban for his confrontations with Paul Scharner and Pascal Chimbonda.

His final game was against West Bromwich Albion in May 2006, scoring in his final match. He retired after his contract wasn’t renewed and moved his family to Mallorca. After five years in Spain, Ferguson returned to Everton in a coaching capacity, working first in the academy before taking a first-team coaching role when Roberto Martinez succeeded David Moyes, joining the backroom team in March 2014 when he successfully completed his UEFA coaching badges. Ferguson has since remained part of the coaching team under the management of Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva.

Premier League Files: Nikica Jelavic

Premier League Career: Everton (2012-2014), Hull City (2014-2015), West Ham United (2015-2016)

Still playing in the Chinese Super League for Guizhou Zhicheng, Nikica Jelavic’s career has taken him to many different countries. The Croatian may not be the fastest forward or strongest attacker in any squad but he has a proven goalscoring record which he demonstrated with great efficiency at Everton and Hull City in the Premier League.

A former Croatian international who represented his country at the 2012 European Championships, scoring against the Republic of Ireland in the group stages, Jelavic played in Croatia, Belgium, Austria and Scotland before his time in English football began with Everton in January 2012.

He was just 17 when called into the senior side of his first club, Hajduk Split but injuries restricted his league appearance record for them to just 34. In July 2007, he was sold to Belgian top-flight club Zulte Waregem but his spell with them was unproductive, managing just three goals in 23 appearances.

Jelavic’s goalscoring instincts started to bear fruition at Rapid Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga. He scored 27 goals in 71 league appearances for them before completing a £4 million move to Rangers in August 2010. Having featured in Rapid’s early qualifying matches in the UEFA Europa League, Jelavic was cup-tied from UEFA Champions League action but he was one of the leading stars in what currently stands as Rangers’ last title triumph before their financial meltdown.

He scored 19 goals in just 27 starts, ending with a better goal to game ratio than any other striker in the league, scoring the winning goal in the League Cup final against Old Firm rivals, Celtic. Jelavic’s strike to defeat Aberdeen in April 2011 was also voted the SFA Goal of the Season.

After scoring another 14 goals in the first 22 games of the 2011-2012 season, Jelavic moved to Everton for a fee of £5 million in January 2012. That was despite the Glasgow giants rejecting a bid from Championship side Leicester City that was higher than what they actually sold him for six months earlier.

David Moyes introduced him slowly into the starting XI but he became a regular starter when he scored in his first start for the club in March 2012. It also turned out to be the only goal of the game against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. In April, he struck in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool FC and also scored twice in the epic 4-4 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. That meant, he became the first Toffees player to score in five successive away games since Duncan McKenzie in the 1977-1978 season.

His exploits meant Jelavic became the first-ever Croatian to win the Premier League Player of the Month award, picking up the prize in April 2012. Despite being an Evertonian for less than six months, he finished as the club’s top scorer for the season with 11 goals. He started the 2012-2013 season in impeccable form, scoring goals in victories over Aston Villa, Southampton and a late winner against Tottenham Hotspur. However, his form took an alarming dip in 2013 and as the season reached its conclusion, Moyes often used the Nigerian forward Victor Anichebe as his first-choice striker.

Moyes left Everton in the summer of 2013 for Manchester United and although Jelavic initially won the main striking position back when Roberto Martinez took over as manager, the loan signing of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea changed that statistic. Jelavic failed to score in the Premier League again for Everton and although he did score twice in an FA Cup third round win over Queens Park Rangers, he submitted a transfer request shortly afterwards, desperate to go and play some first-team football with a World Cup finals around the corner in Brazil.

In mid-January 2014, he signed for Hull City for an undisclosed fee and made an immediate impression. Jelavic formed an excellent understanding with fellow January striking recruit Shane Long and the pair scored enough goals to keep the Tigers away from relegation danger. Four goals came from Jelavic, including a double in a 4-0 away victory at Cardiff City. He made 16 appearances for Hull and on a personal perspective, it was mission accomplished. He was selected for the Croatian squad for the 2014 World Cup finals, starting the first match of the tournament against Brazil.

He finished as Hull’s top scorer in 2014-2015, scoring eight goals in 26 appearances but despite his best efforts, Hull were relegated on the final day of the season. On transfer deadline day in the summer of 2015, he switched to West Ham United and figured 13 times for the Hammers, scoring once in the Premier League in a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United. However, he was behind the likes of Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia in the pecking order and when the money arrived from the Chinese Super League, Jelavic moved to Beijing Renhe in February 2016.

After a year with them, he transferred again, this time to current club Guizhou Zhicheng and with 30 goals already under his belt in 55 appearances in China; he continues to produce the goods, even into the latter period of his pretty productive career.

Memorable Matches: Everton 6-2 Sunderland (November 2015)

Goalscorers: Gerard Deulofeu 19, Arouna Kone 31, 62, 76, Jermain Defoe 45, Steven Fletcher 50, Sebastian Coates 55 OG, Romelu Lukaku 60


Everton: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Bryan Oviedo (Brendan Galloway 25), John Stones, Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu (Kevin Mirallas 65), Arouna Kone, Romelu Lukaku (Leon Osman 78)

Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon, Wes Brown, Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt, DeAndre Yedlin (Sebastian Larsson 64), Lee Cattermole (Jack Rodwell 38), Yann M’Vila, Adam Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher (Duncan Watmore 75)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 36,617

Everton came into this match against Sunderland needing to find some consistency in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez’s side were one of the best counter-attacking teams in the division but were struggling to put teams away. Sunderland were coming off the back of a morale-boosting Tyne & Wear Derby victory seven days earlier. This was Everton’s first home match since the funeral of their most successful manager, Howard Kendall and in his memory, both teams put in a magical match.

It was Sunderland who made the brighter start and on his recall to the side, Patrick van Aanholt was desperately unlucky after just three minutes, striking the post. The visitors continued to do the early pressing with Tim Howard making quick saves to deny Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher, whilst the woodwork saved the home side from going behind for a second time. On 19 minutes, the Toffees were infront. Gerard Deulofeu scored his first goal since returning to the club from Barcelona. Arouna Kone’s excellent pass found him in space and he calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Kone doubled the lead with his third goal of the season just past the half-hour. Exchanging passes with strike partner Romelu Lukaku, Kone’s left-footed drive found the roof of the net. Right on the stroke of half-time though, Sunderland got back into the game. Sebastian Coates’ long-ball found Defoe who was braver to win the challenge against John Stones. He showed great composure to avoid Ramiro Funes Mori’s sliding tackle and via a deflection off Stones, his shot beat Howard.

Sunderland deservedly levelled the scores five minutes into the second half. Van Aanholt’s right-footed cross was inch-perfect and Fletcher wanted it more than Funes Mori, planting his header into the bottom corner of the net. There always looked like more goals would come and Everton regained their lead on 55 minutes. Deulofeu’s teasing ball into the box was diverted into his own net by Uruguayan defender Coates, who was attempting to stop Lukaku from reaching the cross.

Deulofeu was having a brilliant game, despite being booked for a daft dive. His superb pass on the hour mark found Lukaku who sped past Wes Brown and the Belgian rounded Costel Pantilimon to register his fourth goal in his last five matches.

Sunderland’s ambition had now caught up with them. James McCarthy’s devastating reverse pass found Kone and the striker found the net for his second of the afternoon. Everton had now scored three goals in the space of seven second half minutes. There was still time for Kone to complete his hat-trick. Lukaku’s brilliant ball into the six-yard box found the head of Kone who scored his first treble for Everton and became one of the more unlikely hat-trick heroes in Premier League history. He deserved it for an all-round action performance.

Sunderland did gain revenge later in the season with a 3-0 victory over the Toffees in May which ensured their Premier League safety and condemned Roberto Martinez to the sack. This though was Everton and Arouna Kone’s day on a goal-filled afternoon.

Great Goals: Antonio Valencia – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Everton (September 2017)

In his heyday, Antonio Valencia was a flying right winger but he has been successfully converted into a fine right-back by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. In September 2017, he unleashed a reminder of his previous qualities with a stunning volley at home to Everton.

Just less than four minutes had been played when Valencia smashed a shot into the top corner of Jordan Pickford’s net from the edge of the area after being picked out delightfully by Nemanja Matic. His shot was measured at 104km/h. No goalkeeper was getting anywhere near this effort.

Manchester United won the match 4-0. Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford since his summer departure had been completely put in the shade by Valencia’s first-class goal.


Premier League Rewind: 24th-26th November 2017

Results: West Ham United 1-1 Leicester City, Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke City, Manchester United 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United 0-3 Watford, Swansea City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool FC 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 4-1 Everton, Burnley 0-1 Arsenal, Huddersfield Town 1-2 Manchester City

By the end of November 2017, Manchester City were looking absolutely unstoppable. Eight points clear at the start of the weekend, that figure remained intact for Pep Guardiola’s men but only after they survived a major scare away at Huddersfield Town.

A month earlier, Huddersfield had defeated Manchester United at The John Smith’s Stadium and for a few moments, it looked like a shock double was on the cards when Nicolas Otamendi headed the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time. Sergio Aguero did quickly equalise in the second half via the penalty spot but it looked like the points would be shared until six minutes from full-time. Through a bit of fortune and persistence, Raheem Sterling scored the winning goal to extend City’s winning run in the Premier League to 11 games.

24 hours earlier, Manchester United also required a big slice of fortune to defeat plucky Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford. Ashley Young’s shot deflected off Lewis Dunk and looped over a stranded Mat Ryan in the 66th minute to give the Red Devils three points. It was a weekend where the established elite all generally struggled.

For the second season running, Arsenal needed a stoppage-time goal to claim all three points at Turf Moor against Burnley. In the second minute of stoppage-time, James Tarkowski was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Ramsey in the penalty area. Alexis Sanchez made no mistake from 12-yards out to score the only goal of the game and took Arsenal into the top four, having won four of their last five games.

They replaced north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the top four after Tottenham stumbled to a 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion at Wembley Stadium. West Brom had sacked Tony Pulis earlier in the week and caretaker manager Gary Megson’s side put in a stoic defensive display to earn a hard-fought point. Since beating Liverpool FC 4-1 a month earlier, Tottenham had picked up just four points from four games.

At the wrong end of the table and Everton’s horrific season continued. Despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first Premier League goal for the club, the Toffees succumbed to a heavy 4-1 defeat away at Southampton. Charlie Austin scored twice for the home side, as the Saints climbed into 10th spot off the back of this handsome victory. Wayne Rooney was an unused substitute for Everton who sat just two points above the relegation zone and were still without a permanent manager since sacking Ronald Koeman a month earlier.

Crystal Palace recorded a second victory of the season, coming from behind to defeat Stoke City 2-1. Mamadou Sakho scored the winning goal deep into stoppage-time to extend the Eagles’ unbeaten run on home soil to four games and took them to within three points of safety. David Moyes achieved his first point as West Ham United boss as the Hammers drew 1-1 in the Friday Night Football encounter against Leicester City but it wasn’t enough for the home side to escape the bottom three.

What else happened in November 2017?

  • After 37 years of ruling Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe resigns after being placed under house arrest. The military take control of the country.
  • Prince Harry announces his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle.
  • Ratko Mladic is found guilty of genocide committed in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian War. He is sentenced to life in prison.
  • Sir Michael Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary following allegations of inappropriate previous behaviour. He is replaced by Gavin Williamson.
  • One of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest works, Salvator Mundi, sells for $450 million at Christie’s in New York. It becomes the new record price for any work of art produced.
  • Ex-Czech tennis player and winner of the women’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, Jana Novotna dies after a battle with cancer, aged 49.
  • A huge new leak of documents known as the Paradise Papers is reported, revealing how wealthy and powerful the rich really are with offshore investments. The Queen’s private estate is included with tech giants Apple and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton also facing tough questions following the leak.

Great Goals: Wayne Rooney – EVERTON vs. West Ham United (November 2017)

Wayne Rooney finished the 2017-2018 Premier League season as Everton’s top goalscorer. It would turn out to be his only season back with his boyhood club. Unloved by Sam Allardyce, Rooney elected to move on in the summer of 2018 after not receiving assurances over his first-team future by new boss, Marco Silva.

However, he did leave a lasting legacy on the campaign with this astonishing goal at home to West Ham United. It was the final match of David Unsworth’s difficult reign in interim charge but he finished in style, as Everton won 4-0. Rooney scored three of the goals. The strike to complete his hat-trick was a reminder of his world-class abilities at the peak of his powers.

West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart came rushing out of his goal to clear a long ball from the Everton defence. His clearance wasn’t the greatest but Rooney still had so much to do. From well inside his own half, Rooney’s first-time shot flew straight into the back of the empty net, capping a brilliant display with his first-ever hat-trick for Everton.

Hart was dropped by David Moyes after this display. Rooney would score just once more infront of his home supporters before moving to the MLS for a fresh start with DC United.

Iconic Moments: Koeman axed by Everton (October 2017)

After a seventh-place finish in his first season in the hotseat at Goodison Park, expectations were high at Everton for Ronald Koeman to mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish in pre-season. By the end of October, his managerial reputation looked destroyed and his club management career was over – for the time being at least.

Everton were forced to sell star striker Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2017 after the Belgian marksman turned down a new contract. They cashed in on Lukaku and earned £75 million from Manchester United with Wayne Rooney making an emotional return to his boyhood club as part of the deal. However, it became clear that Rooney was a signing for the fans and not really a player Koeman wanted.

There were other big arrivals for hefty sums of money, including Icelandic international Glyfi Sigurdsson, future England no.1 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and centre-back Michael Keane from Burnley. However, Lukaku wasn’t replaced and that was a costly decision. Koeman even had to swallow his pride and bring back Oumar Niasse from the doldrums. He did give the Dutchman a priceless victory with two goals off the bench against AFC Bournemouth in September but by then, Koeman was already in big trouble.

Heavy back-to-back defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, coupled with a humiliating display in a UEFA Europa League group stage game in Atalanta put Koeman on the backfoot. Another European defeat at home to Lyon which saw an ugly brawl started by Ashley Williams put him on the verge of the sack when Arsenal visited Merseyside on Sunday 22nd October.

Rooney did give Everton the lead but Arsenal’s dominance in the game was so one-sided. Idrissa Gueye was sent off and only a brilliant display from Pickford stopped the scoreline creeping towards double figures. When Alexis Sanchez scored his first Premier League goal of the season to make the scoreline 5-2, the look on Everton chairman Bill Kenwright’s face said it all. Everton finished the evening in the bottom three. Koeman was sacked a day later. He has since become the manager of the Netherlands international team.

The hunt for his successor became messy and eventually, they sacrificed all principles and turned to Sam Allardyce just to steer them away from relegation danger after David Unsworth’s character-building month as interim boss. Allardyce did what was required and guided Everton to comfortable safety with an eighth-place finish but the fans never took to his style of football and he was sacked at the end of the season, replaced by the manager the Everton board always wanted as Koeman’s ultimate successor, Marco Silva.

The 2017-2018 season was a scrappy one for everyone connected with Everton Football Club.

Iconic Moments: Rooney reaches 200 (August 2017)

In the summer of 2017, Wayne Rooney ended his 13-year association with Manchester United, where he’d won five Premier League titles and become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. He returned to his boyhood home, Everton. It was a signing that got fans excited at Goodison Park.

After making the dream return by scoring on his second home debut with a flying header to beat Stoke City on the opening weekend, Rooney had another milestone he was closing in on when he made his first visit back to Manchester.

Everton’s first away match of the season was at The Etihad Stadium and Rooney achieved a Premier League landmark in the 35th minute. From a sweeping counter-attack, Rooney made a late surging run into the box to meet Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s pass and sweep the ball into the back of the net. It was his 200th Premier League goal, becoming only the second player to achieve the feat after Alan Shearer.

Rooney’s goalscoring tally ended at 208 before waving goodbye to the Premier League in the summer of 2018. He will finish his playing career in the MLS, playing for DC United. He will go down as one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever players.