Arsenal 0 Everton 0
Man of the Match – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
It was cagey, it was tense, it was edgy and it was physical. An Everton side that were fully committed, resolved and rather unadventurous managed to escape from the Emirates Stadium with a point for their troubles.
Arsene Wenger welcomed Per Mertesacker, Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott into the side, with Thomas Vermaelen and Gervinho being dropped to the bench, while Fabianski had to pull out after suffering a kick to his ribs in last week’s encounter against Norwich. Everton on the other hand looked set up for a draw, including the tough tackling and tenacious Ross Barkley in midfield.
Everton were the first to create a real goal scoring chance, when Steven Pienaar failed to score from a right wing pass from Seamus Coleman in the 7th minute. Ross Barkley and Marouanne Fellaini were constantly thwarting Arsenal’s midfield from flourishing.
The former looked comfortable as he made several ball winning challenged, while the Belgian was at his intimidating best. Jack Wilshere, still completing his comeback from a recent injury, was at the end of a crude Barkley challenge.
Arsenal’s first real chance came, when Marrouane Fellaini made a hash of a clearance in a rather clear situation. It fell right to the feet of Kieran Gibbs, but the left-back failed to shoot on target.
Former Manchester United man Darron Gibson then flung himself into Theo Walcott, and escaped a second yellow card, though his intention was clearly to clatter into the winger. It was one of many appalling decisions from the referee on the evening.
Aaron Ramsey was clearly Arsenal’s best player in midfield, and more prominent than even the precocious Wilshere. He was making some intelligent runs, his passing seemed much improved, and he also managed to make some fine ball winning challenges.
He created Arsenal’s best opportunity in the first half, when he was released on the right, and his pass across Everton’s defence was stabbed over by Giroud, under pressure from Coleman. It was a glorious chance, as the goalkeeper Tim Howard had made a complete mess of collecting the ball.
At half-time, there was a bit of a skirmish between Wilshere and Mirallas after the Everton man squirted the Englishman’s face with water, which lead to a mini brawl down the tunnel.
The second half saw more chances as Cazorla’s left footed effort and Anichebe’s header off a Baines free-kick went begging. Arsenal had a great opportunity to counter when a Baines free-kick at the edge of the penalty box was smashed right into the wall, and Ramsey played in behind Walcott, but the England winger’s final cross for Giroud was poor.
Ross Barkley showed what a good prospect he is, when he managed to squirm past a few Arsenal defenders, and unleashed a powerful shot with little space to work from, and it narrowly missed the top corner of the net.
Arsene Wenger then decided to switch around Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski on for Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere. Arsenal however had their chances, when a Giroud header was cleared from close range by Jagielka when it seemingly looked like going in, before Howard latched on to an acrobatic Ramsey effort in the box.
Olivier Giroud had more chances to score, first when Chamberlain played in a pass from the right wing, but it was eventually cleared by Seamus Coleman, before it reached the Frenchman. Moments later, he fired over from his wrong foot, with Jagielka giving little room to operate in.
Arsenal could have won it right at the death, when Mikel Arteta found himself free and with lots of space, but instead of taking an early shot, or passing to Giroud, he was robbed off the ball, when it seemed like he was going to make the decisive shot.
So, a very tense and edgy encounter, with chances hard to come by. Arsenal certainly had more chances that the Toffees, and you could feel a bit disappointed with Giroud’s finishing. There were a host of chances which he probably should have finished off.
The defence had very little to do, and they did it well, with Everton offering very little up front. Aaron Ramsey seems to be coming to his best and proving his worth. He was Arsenal’s exceptional player on the night.
Theo Walcott was again, poor, and barely managed to beat Baines and Distin with his pace. What seems to be the problem is the lack of a genuine game changer, who can win you games, even after coming on as a sub. Chamberlain and Podolski had their impacts last weekend, but against tighter opposition like Everton, they weren’t able to conjure up a goal.
Not a bad point at all to take, but nonetheless, a few more weeks of agony ahead to secure that all important top 4 finish. Fulham on the road, next for the Gunners!
Jai Arsenal 🙂