ARSENAL VS EVERTON: MATCH REPORT
By Jake Wilson
Our biggest game for god knows how many years at Arsenal had arrived, I said before the game that the way Moyes approaches this game could define his reign as manager. If he sets out for a draw and takes what he can get, his reign has lost meaning. This is his and our biggest chance since 2005 to clinch 4th, a win here and the big away game hoodoo could be shaken off, giving us plenty of confidence for the upcoming Anfield derby. As news of the team filtered through and it looked like Moyes was going to play Barkley behind Anichebe, Ross was getting a chance in his natural position; this was looking to be a promising start to what could be a huge evening for Everton.
The opening 15 minutes could have only been better with the addition of Pienaar showing more composure like that of his wonderful chip in 2010 and Everton would have had the lead that their opening play deserved. Everton had 55% possession in the opening 15 minutes and had created a golden opportunity; Everton really seemed to have the confidence and motivation to really take the game to Arsenal. The opening 45 was a really good half for Everton as we were controlling Arsenal’s attack apart from Giroud’s sitter; we had good possession and were dominating the midfield although our passing in the final third was really letting us down. With Arsenal rolling round looking for anything and everything, maybe that’s the type of team they are and maybe their fans, accept that, I for one wouldn’t expect any Everton player to ask the referee to produce a card against an opponent. Victor had hustled and bustled well but when the ball was played into him he needed to stand up and be strong instead of looking for a foul and complaining about every challenge, his recent performances have shown he is far better than that and he needed to step it up in the second half.
Ross Barkley’s performance in the second half was one of real excitement, he had the confidence to go looking for the ball and try and create something but he also showed the maturity of chasing back and closing down well. Barkley must have thought he had won it coming up to the final third of the game with a clever turn on the ball before releasing a thunderbolt towards the top right hand corner that was only inches wide. With Everton beginning to look tired and Arsenal able to bring quality like Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski, Everton began to get deeper and deeper and Arsenal beginning to dominate the centre of the park, they went close a couple of times but with absolutely outstanding defending from Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka, Everton were able to keep them out.
Overall I would say a draw was probably a fair result, as neither team really created many clear-cut chances. Everton will probably be disappointed in Victor’s performance, his performance lacked heart and energy, which is something you haven’t been able to say recently. I think the referee bought into the Arsenal rolling round and seemed to penalise us harsher than the home team. I am not for one minute suggesting his performance affected ours because it didn’t. It was a spirited performance and a bit more luck and Anichebe playing better we could have nicked it, I am not blaming Victor for the result as every player has off days and it’s a shame his came last night. Phil Jagielka has seemed to relish the responsibility of the captain’s armbands, and he stepped up for us tonight big time, and I think he was Man of the Match closely followed by Seamus Coleman.
Where does this result leave us? I think 4th was difficult enough before the Arsenal game, I think it’s just out of reach for us now, the best we can achieve now is 5th. We have to win every game and try to boost our goal difference when we can. This is Moyes’s chance to show us he can get us to the top by winning the big games, and although we didn’t win last night we certainly shown that we can go the big teams and go at them and play some great football mixed with the grit of good defending.
I would just like to add my disappointment in Mikel Arteta’s conduct last night, I appreciate he plays for another club and he does what he has to do to win. But you do it with respect and not to try and cheat a team you have gone on record to say you love out of the game. He is a better player than that and he let himself down last night. I think he will appreciate he was in the wrong and we can move on, anyway let’s focus on a great performance it was last night, onwards and upwards.
Follow Jake Wilson on Twitter: @JakeWilson95