Wednesday Kickoff: Donovan faces next big challenge

Landon Donovan 5 (ISIphotos.com)

In the unrelenting world of the English Premier League it is rare when teams have much time to dwell on tough losses before another rough challenge awaits. In the case of Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Everton, the sting of Saturday's loss to Liverpool is still fresh as they prepare to battle first-place Chelsea.

The Toffees will be without Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar for today's crucial test, but they will have Donovan, who should take on a bigger role in the Everton attack. He could face a World Cup preview challenge on the right flank against Chelsea left back and England national team defender Ashley Cole, assuming David Moyes doesn't choose to start Donovan on the left flank to try and test Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

If we are treated to a Donovan-Cole clash, it could be a World Cup preview, but chances are it won't be.

Donovan is much more likely to be playing on the left flank for the United States come June, and I would be more inclined to see him make a move to forward before he goes to the right wing, where Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey could start. Left flank would make the most sense against England for Donovan because he would be matched up against the likes of Wes Brown or Glen Johnson, who aren't as strong defensively as Cole.

Today's clash comes just four days after Everton's thoroughly disappointing loss to Liverpool, a match that saw Donovan play well in the first half but disappear in the second half. Donovan showed a willingness to go at defenders and get involved in the attack in the first 45 minutes of the Merseyside Derby, but as Everton's attack began to fade collectively, Donovan struggled to find his own way to impact the proceedings. He finished the match as arguably the most effective of Everton's attacking players, but that wasn't exactly a major accomplishment on Saturday.

Today won't be any easier without Fellaini and Pienaar in the lineup for Everton, but it should be noted that Chelsea has won just one of of its past five on the road (1-3-1). It will be very interesting to see how much more of a role Donovan will have in the attack today considering Pienaar is out and considering the midfield could struggle for possession without Fellaini as an anchor in central midfield. His absence in the second half against Liverpool was a glaring one, especially given Mikel Arteta's relative ineffectiveness as a replacement.

Unfortunately for American fans, the Everton-Chelsea match isn't on American TV, so we will all be hunting for internet feeds come 3pm today. It will be worth the hunt to see how Donovan handles his next tough EPL challenge, and to see him face John Terry and Ashley Cole some four months before they meet with even more on the line.

This entry was posted in Americans Abroad, European Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Donovan faces next big challenge

  1. Nicky Butt says:

    when the “superclubs” like chelsea play every site has multiple links to the game using various programs. So if one stinks go to the other

    its the hulls vs. burnleys that are rough

  2. Matt Mathai says:

    Everton-Chelsea is on Setanta

  3. Mark B says:

    The match is on Setanta in the US at 5pm (delayed) – at least that’s what my DirecTV guide says.

  4. Sam says:

    The second half of that game saw the ball going to Neville a lot and he was clueless as to creative distribution. Why did Everton keep going arial when they were effective with Donovan, Saha and Cahill making runs into to the box that were giving Liverpool problems?

  5. Gerard says:

    Can you guys post some good links to online feeds for this game? Thanks!

  6. Dakota says:

    Because Neville is a complete idiot who hates Donovan. I’ve watched all the Everton games since Donovan got there and only seen Neville give him the ball 3 times, but scream at him about 5.

  7. Mig22 says:

    Nice writeup, Ives. It covers all the important aspects of Donovan’s game today.

    I would add that more chances for Howard to watch how Lampard dominates areas of the midfield will help him in his distributions. Lamps plays a very similar role under Capello as he does for Ancelotti.

  8. AngelUSAfan says:

    I hope Donovan has a better game that he did against Liverpool. He need to be more aggrassive and take charge since Big Hair Fellaini and Steven Pienaar aren’t in the line up. He neep to put his feet and challenge with more guts the ball. Even tho he had a fair game against Liverpool I see Donovan playing the game a bit scare and on a safety mode. He need to bring it up cause this a big game against top team in the world. He need a game like the one he had against Arsenal & Man City.

  9. Mig22 says:

    Actually, Sam, while I hate to admit this, the ‘pool did a very good job of closing down the midfield in the second half and that led to a lot of square passes to Neville and/or long balls. They also were not afraid to take a midfielder or defender all the way to the sideline to deny LD any space. This was the most telling sign that LD is considered dangerous by opposing coaches because Benitez often collapses his defense inside a bit.

    Cheers!

  10. AngelUSAfan says:

    here is a link for you but you must to download some application to watch the game.
    http://www.p2p4u.net
    you will be able to see all the game from Aston Villa vs. Man U. or Arsenal vs. Liverpool

  11. jig says:

    ahahahah i love comments like this. they amuse me.

  12. Charles says:

    I wasn’t in favor of his playing this extra time in a World Cup year. I would have rather seen him rest.

    But for a league that is so rediculously uneven, he is getting his moneys worth ( playing the top teams ).

    They don’ even play a Hull City type game for another month.

  13. Dakota says:

    Why? I mean it’s true. I’m not saying Phil Neville is bad or Donovan is the best. It just seems to me like Neville has a dislike of Donovan. Especially how often he plays the long ball instead of passing to an open Donovan.

  14. Mario in QT says:

    Great article Ives!

    Please tell the folks at FOX that we want to see more games with Yanks Abroad.

  15. Erik says:

    Seriously, the first few games this was the case. Against Liverpool Neville passed the ball to Donovan most of the game, but donovon was always hugging the touchline with his back towards goal and would pass it back to the middle.

    What Donovan should have been doing is running down the line to open up space.

  16. RAW says:

    link to atdhe.net will have a live feed at the time of the game. This site is great for most games and usually there is no download required

  17. Dan says:

    Thank you Erik for bringing your obvious great knowledge of soccer to this little website. I’m sure you know more about what to do than LD who was getting his instructions straight from Moyes.

  18. Nicole says:

    don’t know how you can say he “disappeared” in the second half (I’ve really grown to hate that word). In the second half is when he torched those two (3?) defenders and got in the box and sent a great cross.

    And I didn’t see any disappearing: I saw him making runs and being unrewarded. Two or three times he tried to work with Arteta, feeding him the ball and then running for the pass-back that never came; Arteta held onto the ball wayyy too long and slowed the team down.

    Playing football is what “disappeared.” Most of the time everyone was more interested in kicking each other than actually playing.

  19. Erik says:

    Excuse me? Liverpool were down to 10 men, how do you break down 10 men who are parked behind the ball?

    Wait for it… You open up as much space as possible on the flanks to penetrate the middle.
    Donovan was standing with his back to goal in the middle of the park when he was getting the ball passed to him.

    In order to prove my point further to someone like you – when Donovan got forward and beat Insua and Carragher he came forward from the right touchline putting in a cross that almost led to a goal.

    Go punt yourself now and take your stupid sarcasm somewhere else.

  20. Yakubu! says:

    Donavan….feed the Yak, and he will score!

  21. Erik says:

    Totally agree with you – this is what I saw as well.

  22. Lil' Zeke says:

    Interpersonally, they speak highly of each other. So I doubt any actual dislike between them. But Toffeweb has Neville at fault for Landon’s struggles with poor attacking support up the right. link to toffeeweb.com.asp

  23. Landon Donavan says:

    His assesment is pretty close

  24. jig says:

    I would just love to hear you explain why exactly Neville “dislikes” Donovan. Then if you could explain what exactly Neville has to gain by not passing to an “open” Donovan. Please, enlighten me.

  25. Mig22 says:

    Must feed the Yak….must feed the Yak.

  26. Eric_the_King says:

    hahaha, love it

  27. I don’t know Ives, I didn’t see the Everton v. Liverpool game but you keep saying Donovan disappeard in the second half and all the English reports and player ratings say he was Everton’s player of the game and rate him 7.5-8.5. So which is it?

    (SBI-I thought he played very well in the first half, but in the second half NOBODY for Everton played well, so when I said he disappeared it wasn’t to suggest that he alone disappeared. Everton’s attack went completely nowhere and Donovan didn’t do much to change that. I do think he was Everton’s best player, so by no means was it a bad performance, but his first half was MUCH better than his second. An 8.5 rating? Wow, that’s way too high, absurdly high. I suppose a seven is do-able, but in a 1-0 loss where you can’t score despite being a man up for more than a half, how does anybody merit a 7?)

  28. Eric_the_King says:

    I also agree to some extent. Donovan was definitely looking for some angled cross-field balls to stretch the defense. You even saw them talking about it right at the start of the second half before the whistle blew. But to be honest, except for a couple occasions, that ball really wasn’t that open. Migg22 made the point above that Liverpool did well closing down space and a lot of credit has to go to them for putting in the effort. Which I feel is the main reason why Arteta took long periods to distribute. He didn’t have many options.

    In those instances, when the width gets taken away you need to forwards to drop their runs back and help connect the flanks. Well, the forwards sure didn’t help out. Saha seemed a bit slow for much of the game and when the subs came on (Yak and Anichebe I believe), they mostly sat up top trying to latch onto the long ball down the middle. Their movement and willingness to track back and help open the field was poor for the most part. It’s safe to say it wasn’t a good display by much of the Everton squad.

  29. Nicole says:

    Good analysis there, Eric.

    and it reinforces my belief that saying Donovan “disappeared” is incorrect; it gives the wrong impression, implying that Donovan just half-assed it out there….and nothing could be further from the truth.

  30. Dakota says:

    One example; If you watched the Liverpool game Donovan had a pretty terrible shot on goal a, terrible one yes, but at least he was trying. Neville comes jogging over to him, angry would be understandable it was a poor shot, but he was absolutely irate. Yelling at him until the ball was put back into play. He refuses to pass to Donovan and instead decides to hit it randomly up the other side of the field to absolutely no avail. A wide back will normally play the ball to who is in front of him quite a few times a game, Neville however does not. Watch how Baines and Pinearr work together, then look at the other side of the field, where they seem to work against each other. The best chance of the Liverpool game a cross from Donovan to Cahill that is what “Neville has to gain.” Why are my opinions soooo hilarious? …Please, enlighten me. Is it because you think your sarcasm makes you “intelligent?”

  31. Eric_the_King says:

    Wurd. I can definitely agree to that. I think Moyes’ tactics may have had a hand in it as well. One thing I noticed that I didn’t like is… on several occasions, when Neville received the ball you would see LD track towards the middle and eliminate the width. Same thing happened on the left side as well. That interior pocket of space is better served by Cahill or a deeper pass into the forwards. Definitely a team tactic and one I couldn’t understand.

  32. brian says:

    nothing beats an adult snow day

    soccer for me

  33. Aaron in StL says:

    Who does Everton have that can take Fellaini’s place? I think they went downhill when he was out. Not because he’s some magical, creative force, but a strong kid who holds it down in the middle. He lets the guys like Pienaar and LD play those roles.

    Luckily Essien is out, so that softens that blow. I see Landon scoring on a counter similar to the Brazil goal. He’s great at springing those chances, and I can imagine Chelsea will spend a great amount of time in Timmy’s end. Hopefully LD can play solid again today.

  34. Josh D says:

    Why won’t the two play?

    And I would rather have Dempsey as a striker than have him on the wing and Donovan up top – Dempsey has shown time and again, he won’t come back when needed and for the Nats he just doesn’t have the same bite.

    No mention of Grella getting the series tying goal to put Leeds in extra time (where they lost)?

  35. Freddie Footballer says:

    It’d be a big boon for you and the site to get a post-Everton/returning to MLS interview with Donovan. I’d love to hear his thoughts on playing over there and how it has made him a better player ahead of June.

  36. BrianK says:

    Folks,…Chelsea is a very tall order for Everton, especially when missing Fellaini and Pienar. LD has to be agresssive,take people on and be confident. I think we are going to see 3-1 maybe 4-1 Chelsea.

  37. This is why you are the best Ives. You take the time to reply with well thought out reasoning. Thanks, man. It makes me not feel like an SBI addict even though I’m on the site all day long! Congrats on the FoxSoccer gig.

  38. wyofan says:

    Spot-on, Ives.

  39. Nicole says:

    Sadly Brian, I think you might be right.

    Doesn’t matter if Essien isn’t playing; Drogba is. And he is a beast. No one can stop him.

  40. Hush says:

    Here is a special link for us American soccer enthusiasts.

    Here is Clint’s wife and 3 other soccer girlfriends.

    USA,Germany,Italy,England, are reprenting here with full body paint. ;) God bless the USA!lol

    link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

  41. kenny_b says:

    I thought he and the rest of Everton were virtually invisible in the second half also. A 7 would be a good (possibly generous) rating for LD. Had he played the whole game like he did in the second half….well he wouldn’t have played the whole game.

  42. Waterlewd says:

    I noticed this as well. Moyes seemed to think that the fullbacks and forwards could use that vacated space on the outer wing to play some triangles with Donovan as the pivot, but it never really worked out. If Donovan showed on the inside channel, the play is for Neville to pass to Donovan and make a run into the space to give Donovan some options. I could see Baines doing this, but Neville really never leaves the back. IMO, Neville is not taking any risks at all, and nulified the man advantage. Coleman would have been the best substitution for that match to open up space down the right flank, but Moyes put in Yak and Anichibe who basically did nothing.

  43. Waterlewd says:

    They have Jack Rodwell. I don’t think he was available against Liverpool, but seems to be for Chelsea.

  44. Hush says:

    Galatasaray vs Antalyaspor feed is incredible. Good game. Dos santos a starter in todays game. Elano just scored from a penalty kick. Never had such a good feed watching Gala. I hope my Everton feed is just as good.

    Dos santos looks like a girl I went to school with back in the 90′s.

  45. wildchild says:

    the Italian is wow. and well done Dempsey!

  46. jig says:

    it’s just absolutely ridiculous to assert that Neville has been trying to in any way sabotage Donovan’s performances. that’s all that needs to be said. this should be a non-issue and I can’t believe people are so pinheaded as to believe such a thing. I’m sure Ives or any other reasonably-minded person would tell you the same.

    What do you think, Ives? Does Neville intentionally try to make Donovan look bad on the field by not passing to him?

  47. wally says:

    Agreed ives. solid game by donovan, but you need to have way more of an impact to merit an 8.5

  48. Dakota says:

    I would actually like to hear your side of the argument instead of snarky anyone who thinks that is a “pinhead” comments. I think Neville may dislike Donovan for reasons I’ve already givenbut, hey, maybe he just doesn’t trust Donovan enough to pass him the ball. But the fact is he doesn’t pass to him as often as he should. Maybe someone who disagrees is willing to calmly explain their opinion without attacking me or just plain being stuck up about it.

  49. DC Josh says:

    cheers. drinking a wheat beer right now. hunting for innernette feeds for the Everton game.

  50. Paul says:

    Spector is on the bench? Anyone know why? Midweek game or someone back healthy? I don’t follow West Ham much.

  51. Isaac says:

    I’d like to see Donovan play on the left for Everton like this:

    ———————Saha—————–

    —————-Cahill——————–

    Donovan———————-Bilyaletdinov

    ———–Pienaar—-Fellaini————

    Baines—————————–Neville

    ————Distin—-Heitinga————

    —————–Howard——————-

    I said this last weekend; Moyes doesn’t seem to truly understand how Landon works. He doesn’t fit one position, and the best thing you can do is put him somewhere he can be a striker, attacking midfielder, and winger all at once. That’s left midfield. He can move down the flank to cross and take players on like a winger, play more into the center to allow Baines to get forward and create and combine with other players like an attacking midfielder, and get around the goal like a striker. I think Neville and Donovan have some issues being on the same flank. Whether that’s as simple as on field chemistry or off field conflict I don’t know and am not going to get into, but I do think that Baines has a better tactical aptitude and technical ability so he and Landon should suit eachother well. Arteta could start at right midfield seeing as how he’ll find more space on that flank than he does/did in the center, but it’ll be interesting to see how Moyes sets Everton up for this match.

  52. madmax says:

    Everton will miss Fellaini more than Pienaar. Fellaini was in great form and his removal probably caused Everton to drop the points (it was a greater loss than losing that defender). Liverpool was not that sharp, and a 0-0 score would have been a fair result since Howard and Neville gifted the goal. Donovan switching to the left makes sense if Moyes wants more attack. However if he wants to keep Cole occupied on defense than he’ll leave him on the right.

  53. dan says:

    anyone have the address of a video feed?

  54. Ryland says:

    Try the links here – they come in and out but generally work better than nothing:
    link to livefootballstream.net

  55. Seriously? says:

    uh, Dakota, you think that Neville hates Donovan because you saw Neville yell at him? How many EPL games to you watch? Do you think it’s strange to see players yell at each other, even in matches that are less emotionally charged than such a big derby match? If your strongest argument is that Neville sometimes doesn’t pass to Donovan when he could have, and he sometimes angrily yells at Donovan for making a mistake, it’s not an exaggeration or a cheap shot to say that it’s a pretty weak argument.

  56. Seriously? says:

    Ives, I know the channel is going away soon, and I don’t know if you meant showing the match live, but Everton-Chelsea is on Setanta at 5. I’ll be switching between the 2 live matches, hoping they don’t give away a score, and then watching the Ev-Che match later.

  57. Seriously? says:

    um, Erik, sometimes wide midfielders are actually instructed to come inside, to do things such as, trying to open up space for fullbacks to get forward out wide, or maybe overload an area… How do you know that what Donovan was doing wasn’t part of what he’d been instructed to do as part of the team? I have no idea what his instructions were, but I’m sure if he was supposed to be out wide, people like the manager, coaches, Neville, would have been screaming at him. And while I know ratings are the end all be all, but don’t you find it odd that you think Donovan was an idiot, while many others say he was the best attacker on the team?

  58. Dakota says:

    I wouldn’t say so. When you have the option of playing the ball to someone sprinting down your side of the wing or kicking the ball aimlessly up field. You chose the first every once in a while. But this Chelsea game is much better Neville and Donovan are starting to connect.

  59. Seriously? says:

    So are you saying that now Neville DOESN’T hate Donovan? I’m confused.

    (that I’ll admit, was a minor cheap shot, but I couldn’t resist)

  60. Dakota says:

    He still might dislike Donovan, maybe he didn’t dislike him to begin with, but I still stand by the fact that he wasn’t passing to Donovan in the previous games. This game he played the ball to Donovan and I think Everton were a better team because of it.

  61. tnnelson says:

    i like that as a WC preview. Cole couldn’t handle Donovan today,no one really could. that was sick