Today marked a historical date on the calendar with the Gunners celebrating 125 years of existence with statues of club legends Henry, Adams and Clapman unveiled on Friday and festivities preceded a big match between Arsenal and Everton. The match looked destined to frustrate and take the sting out of the party with a 0-0 draw looking likely until a tidy bit of brillance from Alex Song unleashed a dangerous ball into the box for Robin Van Persie to lash home a sensational winner.
The win finally pushes the Gunners into the top four for the first time this season, but it took patience from Arsenal to finally break the deadlock after the vistors battle valiantly and defended strongly. Questions remained prior to kick off over who Wenger would start in the backline after all four of their first choice left/right backs have been sidelined, so the French manager had no choice but to start all four of his best centrebacks across the back. With Kosicelny partnering Mertesacker in the centre, Vermaelen and Djourou occupied the wide positions. Apart from the makeshift backline, the midfield and forwards looked much the same with Walcott and Gervinho returning to the fold, adding electric pace and quick skillful feet to the frontline and were a constant threat to the physical Everton defence.
The Gunners dominated the match from start to finish and should have scored on multiple occasions, with Gervinho, Walcott and Ramsey guilty of spurning decent chances. Robin Van Persie was slightly off the pace today, and lacked his usual sharpness in front of goal but was naturally a threat on a few occasions. Alex Song had another fine perfomance in the middle of the park, and turned provider for a sensational match winner that set the Emirates alight. After receiving a pass from Koscielny out of the back, Song took a few touches and delivered a perfect lobbed through ball for Van Persie to knock home a well executed volley. It was Van Persie’s 33rd goal in 32 Premier League games in 2011 – one short of the watching Thierry Henry’s club record for a calendar year.
The North London side managed to see out some late attacks from the visitors, however they never really seemed to trouble the relaxed Szczesny. Now the Gunners turn their attention to next weekends massive clash against Premier League leaders Manchester City which will be a true test of their revival.
on a fitting matchwinner…
You [the media] will say we are van Persie dependent! Today he got us a goal which was at the moment of the game where we struggled a little bit to create chances. He delivered something special and three important points.
on the performance…
Overall we created many chances in the first half, and the players were a bit disappointed at half-time that we did not score. In the second half, Everton played deeper and gave us less room, we lacked a bit of team pressure to get them out of position. We needed something special. I was always confident we would score, but I am very pleased we kept composure and did not give a goal chance away.
on Van Persie’s ability…
I have elaborated on that a lot, so there is not much more to say. I feel Robin has scored an exceptional goal, he said himself he was not in his best of days, but what is important is that you are efficent. that is what it is to be professional, when you do not feel the greatest. I must give credit to Song as well, who gave a fantastic ball.
on whether Van Persie acclaim overshadows team effort…
It is a tradition in football that the goalscorers always get the plaudits, but I must say Robin deserves that because he has always been remarkably consistent. But I am very pleased as well that the team has improved defensively. When you look at the goals we conceded at the start of the season, we look much more solid now. We didn’t give a chance away against Everton, basically, so on that front we are better.
on building a title challenge…
We have to continue. The spirit is there, the consistency is there now, our focus is there, so we will see how far we can go. Today was an historic day for us so it’s not easy to keep the focus right with so many people here and the celebration before the game with everybody coming back. But we were a bit historical today as well because we won 1-0. George Graham was here today, he deserves a statue!
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: A relatively quiet night for the Gunners defence let alone the stopper who had little to do, another clean sheet under his belt
Johan Djourou | 6.5: Defensively the Swiss international performed well, however offered little going forward with Walcott dominating the right wing.
Per Mertesacker | 7.0: Like most of Arsenal’s defenders had an easy afternoon against an Everton side that posed little threat for majority of the match, however when required he stood up to the test and also distributed well.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: The Frenchman worked well with Mertesacker at the heart of the defence and was a threat in the air on set pieces. Had little to do but was solid nevertheless.
Thomas Vermaelen | 8.0: The Verminator was solid at left back, tackling excellently against the threatening Coleman and was his usual combative self dominating in 50-50’s and offered some venom going forward.
Alexandre Song| 8.5: Excellent performance from the Cameroonian, was solid in the midfield producing his usual solid tackles but also contributed greatly going forwards with a sensational lobbed throughball for Van Persie to hammer home the match winner, and also put through Walcott excellently earlier.
Mikel Arteta | 8.0: The Spaniard brought his usual accuracy in distribution along with exceptional work-rate against his former club. He has been an integral part of the Gunners engine room this season and showed why once again today.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: Today wasn’t the Welshman’s greatest of days, often his final ball was too heavy and spurned a great chance to score when he lobbed over after a superb interplay with Song. Still warrants a starting birth, but needs to find more consistency and his shooting boot.
Theo Walcott | 7.0: The Englishman was effective at times, however was guilty of wasting some glorious chances. Not his finest of nights.
Robin van Persie | 7.5: Surprisingly the Dutchman was not his usual best and rarely looked as threatening as he has in recent weeks, but the Gunners talisman produced a sensational finish worthy of a 125th Anniversary celebration with a beautifully executed volley after a fine chipped pass from Song.
Gervinho| 7.0: The Ivorian was threatening at times but again was guilty of not making the right decision in front of goal and should have had at least one goal to his name today.
- Notable Substitutions