Arsenal (1) – (1) Everton
The Emirates Stadium, London
Barclays Premier League
Arsenal and Everton went toe-to-toe and in the end the game finished 1-1.
Everton have proved to be a really excellent side this season, and they completely deserved their win at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. With Roberto Martinez, they play an attacking style of football – not unlike Arsenal do. Their philosophy is now to control the ball, pass it well and have positive intentions when on the ball. They are well-organised and gave us a real game today.
There will be obvious frustration at not extending our lead at the top of the Premier League table to 7 points, but in a weekend where Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City all dropped points, a 5 point lead is hardly something to be ashamed about.
This Premier League season more than most has shown that any team is capable of beating another, so after beating Hull City Tigers, Cardiff City, Southampton, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille and Liverpool in the last few weeks, a draw against a confident and excellent Everton side isn’t the end of the world. Obviously, all 3 points would have been the perfect way to finish the weekend, but I see this as a point gained.
I know some of you will be frustrated with only a point but in a season where Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have all dropped points against “lesser” sides, Arsenal have been remarkably consistent and complete deserve to be 5 points clear at the top of the table.
And it means that when we do face Chelsea and Manchester City later this month, we can play for a draw. There is no pressure whatsoever to win those games.
Arsenal played well in patches but this new Everton side were confident on the ball and we found it hard to find our rhythm. From an attacking viewpoint, Everton were probably the best side we’ve played this season, and at times the game was open and both sides threatened to score. Both teams struggled to find that clinical final ball, and even the opening goal from Özil when it did come was a bit scrappy.
Tomas Rosicky clipped in a ball to the far post, and Theo headed the ball across the 6 yard area. Giroud tried to tap in but missed under pressure from Distin, and Ozil was hand to score into the roof of the net.
The disappointing thing will be the fact that we scored the opening goal and couldn’t hold on to the lead. We scored in the 81st minute but conceded the equaliser only 4 minutes later.
Barcelona-boy Gerard Deulofeu scored a well-taken goal, but some will be disappointed with the defending. Gibbs closed him down but wasn’t close enough, and he lashed a stunning strike passed the seemingly invincible Szczesny.
For me, it is unreasonable to expect Arsenal to defend perfectly all of the time, and for the last 7 or 8 months we’ve been impeccable at the back. Sure, Gibbs probably should have been closer to the Everton striker but in the end it was a rasping shot.
The positives were that with just over 20 minutes to go and with the game at 0-0, Arsene Wenger wasn’t happy with the draw and went all out for all 3 points by making a triple substitution. He brought on Theo, Tomas and Flamini in a hugely positive move. It was also good (in a way) to see Wilshere, Cazorla and Ramsey taken off – it shows that no-one is undroppable and we have the strength and depth to try and chance a game if needed.
We have a massive December coming up and we need to make sure we’re still top of the table when New Year comes around. Maybe this draw will give us that extra kick up the backside we need and let is kick on going into 2014.