Everton 1 (Fellaini 28) – Arsenal 1 (Walcott 1)
Man of the Match – Leighton Baines (plus moustache) (Everton)
Pressure piled up on Arsene Wenger and his men, after Arsenal had to battle it out, and eventually settle for a point at Goodison Park. It was a very physically intense game, with chances for either side, but also a game riddled with poor passing as both sides were guilty of giving the ball away far too easily.
Arsenal made four changes from the squad that drew 0-0 at Aston Villa, with Bacary Sagna coming in for Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen occupied the left-back spot, instead of Kieran Gibbs; Theo Walcott (plus moustache) and Jack Wilshere started instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Lukas Podolski, who was left out due to an illness.
Everton, on the other hand, named an offensive lineup, with Nikica Jelavic, Steven Naismith and Darron Gibson all starting along with Steven Pienaar, Marrouane Fellaini and Leon Osman. At the back, Sylvain Distin was chosen ahead of John Heitinga.
It looked like Arsenal would be playing 4-4-2 after ages, but instead the midfield was crowded, with Ramsey having to play on the left, just like he had last season, in the same fixture, when the Gunners escaped with a 1-0 win.
Arsenal got to the best of starts. Theo Walcott (plus moustache) darted from the halfway line, bundled the ball past Phil Jagielka, and played a neat 1-2 with Aaron Ramsey, before finishing above Tim Howard. It was the winger, er striker’s 10th goal in all competitions this season.
Moments later, there were injury concerns for the Gunners, when Laurent Koscielny suffered a groin strain, and was immediately replaced by Kieran Gibbs. This change forced Thomas Vermaelen to move to the centre of defence.
Belgian international Marrouane Fellaini was at the centre of everything creative about Everton’s play, as the Merseyside club took over midfield. He had a downward header saved by Szczesny. But, Everton got their reward, thanks to Arsenal’s sloppiness.
Aaron Ramsey and Bacary Sagna were the main culprits, as the latter’s poor clearance was calmly finished by Fellaini. Jelavic was giving Arsenal’s defence a hard time, and almost scored the 2nd, when he beat Mertesacker, but his effort beat the post.
More sloppy moments from Arsenal almost resulted in an Everton goal, when Jelavic interfered with play, for a ball, which Leighton Baines (plus moustache) should have gone for. Arsenal were looking alarmingly lightweight in midfield. Cazorla, already looking tired, barely troubled Everton, with Jack Wilshere, the only midfielder looking lively.
Walcott and Ramsey did well to switch flanks through the game. But, there was little in terms of offense on the night. Everton looked most likely to score again, as Gibbs made a last-ditch challenge. Szczesny looked assured at the back, as he saved off a Pienaar shot.
Distin got a free header in the box, and his effort struck the post. Szczesny came to Arsenal’s rescue again making another instinctive save. Everton could have gotten a penalty, when Mikel Arteta bought down Steven Pienaar in the box, having not made any contact with the ball. But, Arsenal escaped.
Arsenal gathered up a bit though, when Giroud’s header almost crept in, and a weak Ramsey pass was almost directed towards goal by Cazorla. Aaron Ramsey made way for the woeful Gervinho, who almost connected to a Giroud cross, seconds after coming on.German Thomas Hitzlspberger (plus moustache), on as a sub, then sent a probe to Mars, after some fine work from Fellaini.
The Ivorian, had 3 touches of the ball, and lost it all the time. He even had a chance to make a darting run into Everton’s penalty box, but couldn’t beat Jagielka, who made a fine block.
The draw means Arsenal fall one place to 7th, after Sp*rs win over Liverpool helps them climb upto 5th place. There were a few positives about yesterday’s game. We seem to be able to get away with atleast a point, despite being average. Nonetheless, Everton is always a hard place to go. Remember, van Cunty’s brigade lost there on opening day.
Now, we have completed some of our toughest away assignments, including Stoke, Liverpool, Man.City, Man.Utd, West Ham and now Everton, winning 2, drawing 3, and losing 1, which isn’t really bad at all. Of course, frustration is bound to occur, considering, we gave away stupid goals, but it is time to pick up all 3 points, in some of the easier fixtures coming up.
I thought the defence coped well with Fellaini. However, we still struggle to deal with physicality and height, which is a concern. Koscielny is expected to be out for 3 weeks, which is a major blow, in a tight schedule.
Our midfield looks lightweight, and tired. The introduction of Tomas Rosicky should breathe some life into it, but, mind you, he hasn’t played for nearly 6 months, and expecting him to deliver right away would be far fetched.
Offensively, Olivier Giroud looked jaded, and it goes to show our lack of depth in that department, in case we suffer an injury. On the other hand, Walcott (plus moustache) showed why he deserves the central berth and a shiny new contract after all. Also, we wouldn’t have to see his hideous moustache as it brings and end to Movember! Gervinho was again, poor. No, very very poor. He looks devoid of form and confidence. I would have liked to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come on instead of him.
Next up is Swansea, at home, who beat West Brom in Wales, by a scoreline of 3-1. It is the start of a relatively easy looking run of games. After Swansea, we play West Brom at home, before travelling to Wigan and Reading, rounding off the year with home games against West Ham and Newcastle. The new year brings an away game at Southampton, and these 7 fixtures should atleast yield us wins, if we are to keep in touch with the leading pack.
Keep the faith!
Jai Arsenal 🙂