On Sunday 26th February, at approx 2.09pm, Tottenham Hotspur leading by 2 goals to nil at Ashburton Grove and the prospect of taking a 13 point lead over the Gunners, thoughts of Arsenal finishing in 3rd spot in the EPL, might have had you scanning the Yellow Pages looking under the heading for a psychiatrist…
Well we all know what happened in the remaining 51 minutes that day!
Just 24 days later, the come-back has been completed, but the overall job is far from finished yet.
Last night was a tough fixture on paper, one that we needed to win to keep our momentum going.
Arsene stood by ten of the team that had taken care of Newcastle, replacing only Chamberlain with the industrious Aaron Ramsey to sure up the midfield. Everton have a hard-working group of artisans in their midfield, plus the dangerous Maroune Fellani, so Wenger knew we were in for a competitive evening.
Oxlade-Chamberlain joined an increasingly strong-looking Arsenal bench, with Gervinho, Santos and Djourou as company.
The game kicked-off and one of Aaron Ramsey’s lung-bursting runs saw him with the first real chance of the game. Tomas Rosicky skillfully set Aaron up but he wastefully sliced his shot high and wide. Aaron’s head didn’t drop though and minute’s later he was a key part of the opening goal.
Theo Walcott’s incisive run opened up the Everton defence, but Theo’s pass somehow missed out Van Persie, running across the face of the penalty area to where Ramsey was lurking. Aaron’s low shot was goal-bound but Tim Howard made a low agile save to push it around the post. From Van Persie’s accurately driven corner, Thomas Vermaelen got up and deflected it home whilst surrounded by four static Everton defenders.
Shortly afterwards and a bit of slick approach play, in which Arteta was involved, resulted in Van Persie almost extending Arsenal’s lead but Howard again saved.
By then, Everton had begun to respond to an infuriated and animated David Moyes, who was ranting and raving on the touch-line.
Moyes’ mood didn’t improve when Everton had a good goal chalked off for off-side.
Arsenal were beginning to do what Arsenal do better than anyone else, that is get complacent and sloppy.
Alex Song gave away a sloppy pass, like only he can, and it led to a combination of quick passing that set up Drenthe who fired home.
Fortunately, we had a wonderful linesman on that side of the pitch and he raised his flag. Cue a David Moyes ‘war-dance’ in his technical area.
The game was growing in intensity, with a few tasty tackles flying in, but Robin Van Persie’s Arsenal are developing a welcome resilience and met Everton’s aggression with a stoic resolve not to buckle in the face of ‘In Your Face’ tactics.
Tomas Rosicky had the last good chance of the first half, with a great goal-bound shot that Howard parried to safety…
Two things struck me from the 1st 45 - Fellani is a great player and a constant threat and Jelavic is a diver….
The Arsenal back-five were playing their 5th game in succession, unchanged, they are building an understanding and solidity that has the look of a Title challenging team. That solidness was sorely tested in the 2nd 45 as Everton fought for an equaliser.
Even so, the clear-cut chances were carved out by Arsenal, the best coming via a tantalizing chip from Song, which floated over the heads of the massed ‘Blue ranks’ and onto the head of Gibbs who had slipped un-noticed to the edge of the Everton box. Gibbs’ header was cushioned perfectly back into the box and into the path of Van Persie, but his shot, whilst beating Howard, cannoned off the post to safety.
Ramsey had not stopped running, working and supporting his team mates for the entire game, he had another low sharp shot saved by Howard. On another day and with some luck, composure and confidence, he could have had a hat-trick.
It will come for him, I’m sure!
Fellani and Drenthe had Everton’s best chances of the 2nd half, one wide the other too high.
In the closing minutes Gervinho broke clear and set up Van Persie for the ‘coup de grace’ but as Robin twisted to fire in his shot from Gervinho’s low cross, his standing foot slipped and the shot flew over the bar.
The final whistle went and job done.
We leapfrogged Tottenham into 3rd place and now we need to stay there.
One game at a time and our next is Aston Villa at The Emirates this coming Saturday…
This team can do it you know…….
Written by Allezkev