Everton 0 – Arsenal 1 (Vermaelen 8 )
Man of the Match – Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
For the first time this season, it looks like Jack Wilshere will get to keep his £3000, which he had placed on the table in a bet with Sp*rs fans who follow him, that Arsenal will finish above Sp*rs.
Just 7 weeks back, after a dull stalemate with Bolton, Arsenal were 7th, 12 points behind their North London rivals, and in grave danger of not qualifying for next season’s Champions League
Arsenal secured their 6th consecutive win in an enthralling game, at Goodison Park, despite being second best for most part of the second half, to move up to 3rd spot, after Spu*s required a late van der Vaart header to draw Stoke at home, and Chelsea were beaten by Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad.
Arsenal were quick to come out of their traps, probably because of the 9 day layoff after last week’s win against Newcastle. Everton, in that same space, had played two games, against Liverpool in the league at Anfield and Sunderland at home in the Cup. The Gunners had started with 4 central midfielders, in Song, Arteta, Rosicky and the returning Aaron Ramsey, and one wide player in Theo Walcott.
Arsenal put together some fine moves in the opening minutes. A cross from the right, was controlled well by van Persie, and he set up Ramsey, but he blazed over. He had another shot, as he made space for himself, but his shot was saved by Tim Howard, and Ramsey’s rebound was blocked. Rosicky went clear of the Everton defence, but he handled the ball in the process.
The early pressure was soon rewarded, as Thomas Vermaelen rose above the Everton defence, to head home easily in the 8th minute off a van Persie corner. After that, the Gunners sustained the same pressure for some more time, before Everton soon drifted into the game.
Royston Drenthe found himself alone in the penalty box and put the ball in the back of the net, but his goal was wrongly adjudged offside. It was one of many borderline offside decisions made on the evening.
Everton dominated possession in the second half, but never managed to muster a clear-cut chance. Fellaini, Jelavic, Piennar, Osman, all looked dangerous. Drenthe had a shot, from outside the box after a corner, but he blazed over, with a packed penalty area.
Koscielny and Vermaelen seem to have found a great defensive partner in each other, as they managed to keep out waves of Toffees’ attacks. 3 more points, and a step closer to securing 3rd spot. For the second time, in as many weeks, Arsenal’s winner had come off their inspirational Belgian defender, Thomas Vermaelen.
Szczesny (7.5) – Hardly had any saves to make, thanks to an unflinching defence.
Sagna (7.5) – Sagna was under constant attack last night, but held his stance.
Vermaelen (8.5) – Fantastic defensive display from him last night, and scored the all important winning goal.
Koscielny (8) – He seems to have struck a great partnership at the back with Vermaelen. Even strode forward a couple of times, a la Beckenbauer!
Gibbs (7.5) – Looked sharp going forward. Hardly any attacks from Everton were fashioned from the right, so had a comfortable evening. However, should have dealt better with Drenthe, whom he left clear to shoot, in the first half.
Song (7.5) – A bullish performance from Song, in a lopsided midfield battle.
Rosicky (7.5) – Momentum is with him, as he seems to be full of confidence, with his forward surges.
Arteta (7.5) – Patient with his passing, but not really able to control the flow in midfield, like he usually does.
Ramsey (7) – His passing looked sharp, but not his shooting. Worked some decent positions with van Persie, early on.
Walcott (7.5) – Always posed a constant threat with his pace to the Everton defence.
van Persie (7.5) – Subdued, in most of the second half, but fashioned some decent chances for himself.
Gervinho (7) – Came on just for 10 minutes, and did look lively.
Djourou – Came on too late to get a rating.
Overall Team Rating – 7.54