Everton 3 Blackburn Rovers 0: match report
It's not possible to buy class, so the adage goes. In Louis Saha's case, though, it would seem it is possible to secure it on a highly-incentivised, performance-related contract. His legs may be so ravaged by injury and his body so occupied with battling time that he cannot play three games in a week and will struggle to manage 30 in a season. That matters little while he sprinkles his cameos with stardust. 'I have not worked with lots and lots of players,' said his Everton manager, David Moyes, 'but he is right up there with the best players I've ever played with or managed, and that is why a lot of teams have signed him before us. Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers previewBurnley v Everton preview'He gives us something different when he plays. We have probably worked him harder in training than he has ever worked before, and he would probably admit that, but I think there's a part of him that wants to show people that he's over the injuries which affected him for a couple of years.' His early-season form suggests that he may be. His name sits just below the likes of Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe in the Premier League's top scorers' list, and he has as many domestic goals as Emmanuel Adebayor. He is at home in multi-million pound company. The margins in the Premier League are so fine that one such player can make so great a difference. Moyes, of course, has loftier ambitions for his side than his opposite number, Sam Allardyce. Even a poor start will not have deflected the Scot from his minimum stated aim of taking Everton back into Europe, while Allardyce will be content to avoid relegation. English football's top flight, though, thrives on its fine margins. Both Moyes and Allardyce manage organised and efficient sides, teams high in commitment if not in art. The worlds they inhabit are not entirely alien. Saha is on another planet. Blackburn had matched their hosts tackle for tackle, run for run, when the Frenchman deftly stroked home Leighton Baines's left-wing free-kick midway through the first half. Allardyce bemoaned his side's poor marking, insisting he had done all he could 'to tell them how Baines delivers the ball', but at times it is simpler to acknowledge brilliance. It was a goal glorious in its effortless simplicity. The Blackburn manager was frustrated, no doubt, by El-Hadji Diouf's header just moments earlier, which had cannoned back off the bar when it may have been easier to score. 'It's not bad luck,' said Allardyce, 'just bad finishing.' Similarly, the visitors were still ruing Keith Andrews's failure to equalise after the break when Saha, unmarked, ghosted between two defenders and gracefully nodded Marouane Fellaini's cross past Paul Robinson. The Frenchman was all but done. One more contribution, flicking Baines's corner on at the near post to hand Joseph Yobo the chance to scramble a third, and decisive, goal, before being removed to a standing ovation. He may no longer play to the large audiences, and his theatres may be more art-house than multiplex, but Saha remains a headline act. Meanwhile, a bad day for Diouf got potentially worse when he was questioned by police over allegations that he racially abused a teenaged ball-boy. Merseyside police confirmed they were looking into the incident.
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