Apr 21, 2013, 10:24 AM EST
No matter how much was on the line for Everton coming into the weekend, a date with Sunderland was always going to be a buzzsaw fixture.
The Toffees entered the match with long-shot hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, four points back of 4th place Chelsea, who held a game in hand. David Moyes’ notoriously thin side had been nursed back to health for the first time since the beginning of the season and after a robust mid-week performance in the 1-1 draw at Arsenal, it felt like few teams could stand in their way.
One of those teams, however, was Sunderland.
In 16th place and just three points clear of relegation-bound Wigan, the Wearsiders were battling for their Premier League lives. The Black Cats entered the match full of belief after last weekend’s stunning 3-0 victory over Newcastle. The derby win secured manager Paulo Di Canio’s cult-status at the club and made concern over his political affiliations a mere footnote.
The fiery Italian put out a side that was organized, energetic and full of belief. Factor in the match being venued under the reverberating rafters of the Stadium of Light, and Sunderland were a team not to be crossed. To their credit, Everton played decently well but it didn’t matter – the Black Cats’ determination could not be matched and they fully deserved the three points.
The win came courtesy of a Stephane Sessegnon gem just before halftime. After Leighton Baines gave the ball away at midfield, Sessegnon took four dribbles and fired a hovering shot from 18 yards out to beat Tim Howard to his far post. The Benin international’s seventh goal of the campaign was all Sunderland needed to secure the three points, easing their relegation fears and setting off celebrations throughout Wearside.
For Everton, the dropped points could have massive ramifications. For starters, the loss prompted Moyes to admit that his side has almost no chance of Champions League qualification. “We probably didn’t deserve to lose the game but we didn’t play well enough to win it. I don’t think now we can make the Champions League,” the manager said.
But even more significantly, the loss could seal the departure of both Moyes and Marouane Fellaini during the summer transfer window. This winter Moyes refused to re-sign his contract at Goodison Park – set to expire this summer – fueling speculation that the 11 year veteran on Merseyside may leave the club in search of greener pastures. Manchester City, Chelsea and Schalke have been named as possible destinations and though Everton chairman Bill Kenwright could convince Moyes to stay by providing him with the finances he needs to compete, majority opinion says the notoriously frugal owner is unlikely to do so.
Fellaini’s road out of Everton is even more clear cut. Enjoying a dominant season (11 goals, 5 assists in 27 appearances), the 25 year old has been heavily linked to Chelsea and, more recently, Russian outfits Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit St. Petersburg. The Belgian has made clear his intent to play Champions League football and although his current deal at Everton isn’t set to expire until 2016, a $35m (£23m) escape clause is viewed as a fair market trigger for big clubs to pull.
In the meantime Everton will set its sites on competing with 5th place Tottenham in a spot for the Europa League. To do so the Toffees will need to take maximum points from their four remaining fixtures against Fulham (H), Liverpool (A), West Ham (H) and Chelsea (A).
Dec 4, 2013, 11:21 AM EST
Rossi + Zidane + family = a golden World Cup ad.
Dec 4, 2013, 10:50 AM EST
What’s the best the USA can hope for Friday’s World Cup draw? Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Dec 4, 2013, 9:38 AM EST
Rodney Marsh not exactly showering praise on current Fulham stars.
Dec 4, 2013, 8:48 AM EST
Oh, mid-week League play, how you move us…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:39 AM EST
After the Belgian striker suggested he could stay at Everton permanently, his Chelsea boss reminds all who makes the decisions. Meanwhile, Spanish reports suggest Tata Martino is watching.
Dec 3, 2013, 11:58 PM EST
Hint: NBC analyst Kyle Martino doesn’t believe the case for chance is compelling enough:
Dec 3, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
Playoffs or no playoffs, the goal should be the same. And in that light, MLS has done fine in 2013.
Some interesting names to discuss as Toronto FC declines contract options on several notable veterans
Dec 3, 2013, 10:18 PM EST
Bobby Convey, Stefan Frei and Robert Earnshaw among those not being brought back to BMO Field:
Dec 3, 2013, 8:22 PM EST
For Don Garber, there is no secret to this recipe; it’s about the right ownership group with (urban area) stadium plan:
Dec 3, 2013, 7:58 PM EST
In a word, “horse trading” … which means looking for games to play in 2014:
Dec 3, 2013, 7:29 PM EST
So, now we are showing them to you:
About that radical MLS calendar shift to a “winter” league: MLS commissioner Don Garber says it’s not happening soon
Dec 3, 2013, 6:50 PM EST
Absolutely, positively not for 2014, Garber reiterated on Tuesday:
Dec 3, 2013, 6:20 PM EST
We focus on the worst scenarios, but in 2010, fortune shined on the U.S. Whether it happens again, the States may be due for a tough draw.
Dec 3, 2013, 5:35 PM EST
How MLS players, club leaders and media members voted … and some thoughts on where the voting might be a little off:
Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham United: Eagles protect first half goal, take first win under Pulis (video)
Dec 3, 2013, 4:57 PM EST
A late first half converted corner held up for Palace, who claimed their first win since Tony Pulis’s appointment.
Dec 3, 2013, 4:37 PM EST
FIFA World Rankings haters may have something to celebrate. Then again, ignoring the rankings for the nine-team problem may mean nothing.
Dec 3, 2013, 4:05 PM EST
You know who’s in. You know the pots. Here’s how it will go down:
Dec 3, 2013, 3:26 PM EST
Garber hopes to see a specific proposal soon, but it’s not there yet:
Dec 3, 2013, 2:21 PM EST
The Premier League’s mid-week match day kicks off at 3 p.m. Eastern with Crystal Palace vs. West Ham at Selhurst Park.
Dec 3, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
Fellaini is different. A late developer, he has only recently acquired a mastery of his gangly limbs and goofy gait.
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw 1
- How well did Major League Soccer’s format work in 2013? Few qualms with this year’s results 3
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Here’s how it’s going to work 1
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States 13
- World Cup Draw: United States in Pot Three 11
- Meet the Premier League’s other U.S. international goalkeeper: Cody Cropper 5
- Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Everton 1
- Debunking the myth of Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City as bitter rivals 2
- Sit down with Orlando City SC: Taking on Beckham, emulating the Timbers and Kaka in 2015 – Part I (21)
- USA drop one spot to 14th in latest FIFA World Rankings, Portugal surge to fifth (18)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (16)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (13)
- World Cup Draw: United States in Pot Three (11)