I think most Gooners would’ve taken a point had it been offered beforehand. Goodison Park is always a tough place to go and after the poor display at Aston Villa, with the manager taking some deserved flak from the press and fans, confidence can’t have been high in the red corner.
Yet Arsenal shrugged that off and started the match in sensational style, scoring inside the first minute when Ramsey fed the sorely missed Walcott, who opened his body up à la Henry and scored with the help of a deflection which looped the ball over the helpless Tim Howard.
What a boost that was, but we didn’t take advantage. Everton rolled their sleeves up and bulldozed their way back into the match. Arsenal’s passing was prettier but it rarely translated into goalscoring chances, whereas Everton’s robust, direct style carried more threat.
On 28 minutes good pressing from Steven Pienaar forced Sagna into a panicky clearance which fell straight to the danger man Marouane Fellaini. He took a touch and curled a classy effort around Vermaelen and beyond Szczesny to level the game up.
The goal stood out because the rest of the match was quite scrappy — high on tension, but low on real quality. Ironically, the reliability of my internet stream followed suit and I can’t report with much accuracy about the rest of the game because I was frequently treated to minute long visual freezes as the commentary played along without me. I was able to follow the gist of things though and Szczesny was certainly the busier of the two keepers as he made some important saves, and we also withstood a good shout for a penalty when Arteta made a risky challenge on Fellaini.
My connection eventually improved and I was able to watch the last 15 minutes uninterrupted. For a match between two of the supposedly better sides in the league, there was a shocking amount of misplaced passes. I realise players were starting to tire but the lack of composure and technique was frustrating for both sets of supporters as the match petered out to a just result.
Pay him what he's worth Wenger, or somebody else will
Considering Everton are some people’s favourites for the coveted fourth spot this season, I was disappointed in them. Somebody made a point in the comments section a few weeks ago that we should be able to finish fourth because as poor as we’ve been this season, there’s nobody better outside the top three. That has merit, but I still think Spurs will finish above us. They are not ahead of us in quality, but in application, consistency and determination. The 5-2 result apart they’ve outperformed us this season, beating Man Utd playing exciting, counter attacking football whereas we went to Old Trafford and raised the white flag after two minutes. We opt for players like Ramsey and Podolski on the flanks whereas they have more pace and incision with the likes of Lennon and Bale. We really need to be playing Walcott on one flank and Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gervinho on the other. I like Podolski, but he is a central striker and should be vying with Giroud for the proverbial number 9 shirt.
As for Everton, if they want Champions League football next season they should be winning games like tonight and against Norwich last Saturday. Two draws in five days isn’t a good enough return for Moyes or, for that matter, Wenger.
There is no doubt tonight’s display was much improved from the Villa game, but the question must be asked why can’t we play with that level of focus every week? We started the match in the correct manner for once and I think the stinging criticism over the weekend motivated the team. It shouldn’t need a backlash from the fans and/or press to make these players do their jobs properly, it should be demanded of them week in week out by their manager. But it isn’t, and I’m fearful we will ease back into the comfort zone sooner rather than later.
We must maintain that level of concentration when the in-form Swans come to town on Saturday or tonight’s hard-earned point will have been for nothing.
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