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Football: The JURY.

What's your verdict on last night's Carling Cup clash?

MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester

A COUPLE of weeks ago I said that David Moyes had the best squad at his disposal since the glory days of the 1980s.

We have all now seen that Everton can produce flowing football when required but last niqht they proved they are capable of grafting out results in the most difficult of places.

This kind of tenacity will be crucial as the season goes on, as it is still early days and it will now be interesting to see what happens to the team if results suddenly turn against us.

Even the most sceptical of Blues fans (and sceptical is what we have to be after recent years) must now be thinking of happier days in the years ahead than we have seen in many a year.

Caution must still be the key word but with the strenqth in depth throughout the squad and the possible acquisition of one or two in the January transfer wondow, Ever-tonians seem set to finally enjoy the rosy future we thought only existed in DVDs.

LEE MOLTON, St Helens

ANOTHER great away trip for Evertonians in the Carling Cup with West Ham making it difficult for us, but we got through in the end.

After a slow start, we dominated the majority of the game and were deservedly level.

West Ham were the stronger team towards the end as the Blues tired, but our defence held firm with magnificent performances from Jaglieka and Yobo. It took a bit of luck for the Yak to score the winner, but his anticipation of an error from Green was terrific. He really is beginning to look a steal with 10 goals already this season.

Evertonians can now start to dream about Wembley with just a semi-final left. At this stage every team is difficult to beat, but we should be confident of beating any team over two legs on our current form.

Since Cahill and Carsley returned we have not lost and we look really solid, too. Steven Pienaar has also been outstanding, Moyes should definitely sign him permanently. It's great being an Evertonian, let's enjoy it!

DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton

I MISSED the openinq action at Upton Park last niqht due to a flat tyre, but Everton had no such problems disposing of West Ham.

We can almost smell Wembley after bookinq a place in the Carlinq Cup semi finals, and this season just qets better and better for Everton. I hope this run doesn't end for some time.

I was impressed with Yakubu yet aqain and all his hard work was rewarded with a last qasp winner. Pienaar, Carsley and Os-man also deserve special credit for their work rate and determination in midfield.

I would, however, question the ability of Phil Jaqielka, who I fear isn't qood enouqh for Everton. With Yobo likely to be missinq on international duty shortly I only hope the return of Alan Stubbs is sooner rather than later.

Everton and West Ham do it all over aqain this weekend, and I see no reason why we can't take the three points.

Maybe Jaqielka will score the winner and shut me up for a while?

RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby

IT was a great victory on Wednesday night, but apart from having the worst supporters song - I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles - I've got a bit of a soft spot for West Ham.

They're what Roy Keane would call a 'proper club'. Apart from Alf Garnett and Russell Brand they don't have hordes of celebrity supporters and if you ordered a prawn sandwich at half time you'd probably be escorted out.

Upton Park is a tight ground surrounded by terraced housing not some soulless bowl at the end of a motorway The crowd get behind the team and are within spitting distance of the players (literally sometimes).

Locals will cheerfully show you where the Kray twins used to dispense 'justice'.

West Ham away on a cold night in December has been the kind of game where we've come away with nothing.

The result is a measure of the progress we're making. Put the champagne on ice.

What's your verdict on the 4-0 win over Marseille?

PAUL O'LEARY, Allerton

TUESDAY'S game encompasses all the great thins about Liverpool under Rafa.

It was another masterful away performance underpinned by quality, organisation and a determination that we are goinq to need on numerous other occasions if we are to challenge on all fronts this season.

It's quite a simple concept really, when we play our best players in their best positions we win and win well. Rafa's tactical brilliance is sometimes workinq aqainst us - when playinq lesser teams, like Reading, there isn't really a need to 'out think' them.

The quality of our players alone will win us qames like this; there shouldn't be a need to chanqe formation where people are playing out of their comfort zones. However, as with any marriage, you take the qood and the bad, and in this marriage the good greatly outweiqhs the bad!

I am lookinq forward to Sunday. Reading apart, we are in excellent form and the Manes will not be lookinq forward to facinq a Liverpool team with Torres and Gerrard.

CHRIS LALLEY, Huyton

WHEN it matters most; Liverpool and Rafa almost always deliver. In these 'Cup Finals', the character and spirit of our club can be infinitely defined.

As usual, the red men produced an outstanding performance when in the shadow of criticism.

A combination of phenomenal commitment, clinical finishing and a faultless passion has ensured our place in the next round of Europe's prestige competition. The belief from within was never in doubt, while Rafa provided the evidence that he is a tactical genius.

Arbeloa deserves overdue credit, whereas Torres continues to be the class act we hoped alongside Ger-rard's formidable return to form. Reading aside, Liverpool have recently produced their best quality football for well over a decade. If we win on Sunday, we will once again be classed as a force to be reckoned with!

ANTHONY DUNN, Wavertree

LIVERPOOL qave a European performance that we've come to expect over the ' past few years.

We kept our shape, worked our socks off and never looked for one minute like concedinq. Torres is makinq all the difference; his work rate is as friqhteninq as his pace.

He leaves defences qaspinq, allowing the ever improvinq Babel to come on and exploit the space to qet his routine last qoal.

I thouqht the decision on Saturday to make the substitutions was riqht.

We were 3-1 down and had biq qames cominq up. It's the same old problem of not havinq that do or die attitude for every qame we play in.

Some of our players can't do it every week, Sissoko for example. He has qot some bottle criticisinq the manaqer after the way he's been playinq.

I wouldn't chanqe much for Sunday. We looked balanced with the players doinq their job well in their proper positions.

JOHN CRUCES, Kirkby

THE WIN over Marseille was the best way to bounce back after the weekend's setback.

The team selection was perfect in terms of balance, thanks to the natural wide play of Kewell and Benayoun, who both had good games.

I also noted that we came straight out of the blocks with a sense of urgency and directness, which would be nice to see on Sunday.

As well as the stature of reaching the last 16, the financial benefit will be important in terms of hoping to secure a permanent deal for Javier Mascherano.

With qualification out of the way, we can concentrate on the League where our rivals from up the East Lanes come to town Sunday.

A natural balanced line-up similar to Tuesday with home advantage will put things in our favour against a United side that will be happy with a draw. It is up to us to get at their backline and go for the win to make a statement of our intentions.

CAPTION(S):

SO HAPPY: Leon Osman, Yakubu and Tim Cahill celebrate Yakubu's late winner; LEADER OF THE PACK: Reds juror Chris Lalley says Rafa Benitez is a tactical genius
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2007
Words:1370
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