Since Landon Donovan joined Everton in January, the Toffees have lost just once in the Premier League. They’ve tied Arsenal, blanked Manchester City, beaten both Chelsea and Manchester United (consecutively), and clipped Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.
Donovan didn’t score in the 3-1 win over Man U on Saturday, but he had a solid game, showing his versatility by playing on the left as well as in the middle (he’s mostly played on the right for Everton during this loan spell), and helping to create Dan Gosling’s winner in the 76th minute. He sprung Steven Pienaar behind Man U’s backline, and the South African cut it back for Gosling’s finish.
When 18-year-old substitute Jack Rodwell motored—surprisingly easily, it should be said—around United centerback Jonny Evans and tucked home the third goal, Everton’s impressive come-from-behind win over title-chasing United was complete.
Man U’s Dimitar Berbatov had opened the scoring in the 16th minute, banging one in off the crossbar from 12 yards out. Everton’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalized in spectacular fashion three minutes later, collecting a loose ball 25 yards out, taking one touch and launching a rocket inside Edwin van der Sar’s near post. The big Dutchman did not even move as the ball hit the back of the net.
Everton has said they don’t have the cash to buy Donovan outright—and MLS would definitely want a pretty penny for him—but, hey, if this MLS labor mess doesn’t get sorted out soon, maybe they’ll look into extending his loan stay.
When Chelsea scored the second goal in its 2-0 win over Wolverhampton at the Molineux, we imagined U.S. coach Bob Bradley touching pen to tongue and quietly adjusting his South Africa 2010 depth chart at the goalkeeper position.
Yes, American keeper Marcus Hahnemann combined with Wolves centerback Christophe Berra to make a complete hash of a long punt by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech in the 66th minute. After Berra misplayed Cech’s booming kick and got muscled off the ball by Didier Drogba about 22 yards out, Hahnemann came charging off his line, even though Berra was still in close pursuit of Drogba. Drogba simply pushed it around the Yank, who collided with Berra and tripped, leaving the empty goal at the mercy of the Chelsea striker, who rolled in his second of the game. Assist to Petr Cech.
It was too bad, because Wolves didn’t play terribly otherwise, and they had several chances. Irish international Kevin Doyle was especially impressive. And now the always entertaining postgame quote from Wolves manager Mick McCarthy:
“I’ve just had a right chew at the lads in the dressing-room because we’ve lost a game that we shouldn’t have. We’ve let Chelsea off the hook and that’s what has annoyed me. We had them in that second half, we had them. We created chances, didn’t take them, and then conceded a sloppy second goal that has killed us. Chelsea are the champions-elect and we’ve matched them in all departments except putting the ball in the back of the net.”
In East London, Jonathan Spector started and went the distance as West Ham dismantled Jozy Altidore and Hull City 3-0 in a six-point relegation battle. Altidore played the final 25 minutes of the match, but couldn’t turn the tide for 10-man Hull, whose Craig Fagan was sent to the showers after receiving a second yellow in the 52nd minute. West Ham, which got its first goal two minutes in, climbs all the way to 13th place with the win.
On Sunday, Brad Friedel backstopped Aston Villa to a wild 5-2 win over relegation-threatened Burnley, while injured Clint Dempsey saw his Fulham teammate Bobby Zamora score a 90th-minute winner to edge Birmingham City 2-1 at Craven Cottage, and Stuart Holden did not dress for Bolton’s 3-0 pasting at the hands of Blackburn.
In Saturday’s other games, Arsenal blanked Sunderland 2-0 and Stoke City snatched three points from last-place Portsmouth, winning 2-1 on a 90th-minute goal by Salif Diao.
The big Man City-Liverpool matchup on Sunday fizzled, as the teams played to a scoreless draw. That gave Tottenham a chance to vault into fourth place, which they took, shutting out Wigan 3-0 on two goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and one from Jermain Defoe. Wigan has now been outscored 12-1 in two games against Tottenham this season, with six of the goals coming from Defoe.
Spector and West Ham travel to Old Trafford tomorrow to take on Manchester United. Setanta Sports will televise it live in the U.S. at 3:00 p.m. EST.