Everton 2 Sheffield Utd 0: Arteta's launchpad for Planet Everton

Blues cruise to stay on course for Europe as Warnock's 10-man Blades lack any cutting edge

Before this game the Sheffield United chairman Terry Robinson was stressing the need for United to stay in the Premiership. After it, his words seemed so much wishful thinking.

Little went right for Neil Warnock's team yesterday but bad luck tends to gang up on the doomed and United look like condemned men. Their spirit is admirable - they battle and tackle with the best - but they fall down when it comes to invention to harm the opposition. In short, the Blades have an edge so blunt they would struggle to cut through butter.

As a consequence, Everton could afford to be below their best and still win with comfort. Partly this was due to United going down to 10 men when Claude Davis was sent off for bringing down Andy Johnson for a penalty that James Beattie converted. But by then Everton were already ahead through Mikel Arteta, and that goal always looked as though it would be enough.

"We had six or seven chances," Neil Warnock, the Sheffield United manager said. "In fact I think we were shocked we got so many." He was putting a gloss on it, but even he admitted: "If we don't start scoring, we'll be in trouble."

Given that Tim Howard, Tim Cahill and Beattie were suffering from a virus, it was a performance that delighted the Everton manager David Moyes. "For me that's our best result of the season," he said. "Recently we have played well and not picked up the points so today I asked two things of my players: to keep a clean sheet and to win. They delivered both of them."

Everton began the day by announcing that Robert Earl, a founder of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, had acquired a 23 per cent stake in Everton after buying out Paul Gregg. This evoked images of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Earl's associates, beating a path to Goodison, and, in keeping with much of their work, there was more blood and thunder about the football than finesse.

Purists were beginning to weary of the high ball and low skill when Everton took the lead after 13 minutes. Surprisingly, it was the most elegant player on the pitch who was the scorer and he did so with a header. Arteta slipped a pass to Phil Neville and then raced into the area to thump the ball past Paddy Kenny.

The afternoon turned even worse for the visitors after 33 minutes. Arteta flicked on, Johnson used his scorching pace to leave Davis in his wake and, as the Everton striker was about to shoot, the Blades defender brought him down. Davis was sent off and Beattie drove the penalty to the right of Kenny.

United needed an early second-half goal if they were going to salvage anything from this match and they almost got one. Cahill gave the ball away, Keith Gillespie passed precisely beyond the Everton back four and Mikele Leigertwood pulled his shot wide. They also rallied towards the end and Danny Webber was unfortunate to find Howard's legs in the 82nd minute. Everton would have got a third but for a flying save from Kenny that kept out James McFadden's header.

Everton have a place in Europe in their sights; United must pray there are three more impotent attacks in the Premiership. Yesterday that seemed unlikely.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture