Everton v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: April 06, 2014 1.30 PM BST
A few weeks ago, Arsenal were competing for top spot in the Premier League. Now it looks possible that we may lose 4th place. It would be ironic that after securing Champions League football for so many years, we may end up missing out on it the season that we looked closest to winning the Premiership in years. If today’s performance is anything to go buy, then that is not just a possibility, but practically a certainty.
There were warning signs early on, Osman shooting narrowly wide from distance. And Naismith left unmarked in the box, almost picking out Lukaku for a tap in. Our defence was looking shaky, Everton overlapping against our full backs, the pair getting little support from Cazorla or Podolski. Our playing style was one that utilises pace, which is something that we are completely lacking at the moment; even more so with Arteta and Flamini in midfield.
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After just 15 minutes Everton took the lead, Leighton Baines picking out Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian forward looked offside, but Mertesacker may have been narrowly keeping him on. Monreal allowed Lukaku to get a shot off, but it was saved by the foot of Szczesny. The ball only falling to Naismith, who slid in the rebound. 1-0 Everton, poor defending by Arsenal, Vermaelen a bystander as it all happened.
Arsenal’s best and only chances of the half came from a Podolski dipping shot, straight at Tim Howard. And a Giroud near post flick, directing a Sagna cross just wide of the goal. Other than that it was all Everton, the Gunners making it far too easy for the home side.
There was another dreadful defensive display by Arsenal with half an hour gone, Lukaku allowed to cut inside completely unchallenged by Monreal and Vermaelen. The Chelsea loanee got inbetween Mertesacker and Vermalen, shooting low into the goal, 2-0 Everton. The goal should have been disallowed, Naismith standing in an offside position, obstructing the Arsenal keeper’s view. The goal stood though, and Everton looked good for their lead.
Arsenal were slightly better at the start of the second half, but still seemed to lack any kind of goal threat, and looking vulnerable to the counter attack.
Everton sealed the game after an hour, Sagna losing the ball on the right after being given no options ahead of him. Mirallas carried the ball through midfield, a defensive pivot (of which Arsenal had two) was nowhere to be seen. He played the ball through to Naismith, but Szczesny was out quickly to block the shot. The ball spilled into the middle of the box, and yet again it was an Everton man that reacted first, Mirallas latching onto the ball. Arteta slid in on the Belgian, but could only knock the ball into his own net. 3-0 Everton, and with the way Arsenal were playing, no way back.
Chamberlain, Ramsey and Sanogo were thrown on in the final third of the game, and Arsenal looked an instantly better side. Chamberlain added some much needed pace, and saw a fantastic strike pushed onto the bar by Howard. Aaron Ramsey looked like he’d never been away, linking up well with his team mates, and making some fantastic runs with and without the ball.
Yaya Sanogo scored for Arsenal with almost the last kick of the game, but was incorrectly flagged offside by the linesman. It was the second time the linesman had made the same mistake, if Yaya had have scored both chances, they would have been very very controversial decisions.
Arsenal need to forget this game and start thinking about Wigan in the FA Cup, hopefully a win in the Cup will buoy their spirits and give us the lift we need to grab 4th spot in the league.
on the performance…
Our performance was not convincing, defensively not offensively. Everton were better than us and deserved to win. It’s a very disappointing result and a very disappointing performance, the two go together and we have to regroup, come back to basics and prepare well for our next game. I congratulate Everton on a convincing performance.
on the fight for fourth…
The fight is very open and is not even depending only on us. It’s depending on Everton who are in a strong position. But the advantage we have is we have been confronted with that before and it’s down to how we respond to such a disappointing performance.
on struggling away from home…
You’re right yes but until then we were very strong away from home, we had the best record in the Premier League. Certainly psychologically we have lost a bit of confidence. Today as well we were behind early, Everton were very good on the counter-attacks but I still feel we had a lot of the ball but were not really dangerous.
on why they were not dangerous…
Because Everton defended well and because at the moment we lack a bit of confidence to be really dangerous and we lack penetration as well. You feel from outside that the penetration and incisiveness of our game is missing through the runs and through the passes. Both of them together make it difficult.
on being confident of making the top four…
I’m absolutely 100 per cent determined to fight to make the top four. But it will be difficult. We still have a programme that is feasible but we have first I think to focus on the quality of our performances before we dream of places. Let’s get back to playing better than that.
on not responding after big defeats…
I wouldn’t question the spirit of this team. They are focused, they want to do well. I just feel they have lost something on the confidence front and that you could see. We looked a little bit disjointed when we had to run after the score.
on fear of not qualifying for the Champions League…
I don’t know. It’s very difficult to identify that it’s fear. I would just say that maybe our big defeats away from home have taken some of the charisma away from the team. Is that fear, is that belief, is that confidence? Maybe a bit all together.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
“Monreal and Vermaelen will not be bullied. They will not be made to conform to your expectations that they should ‘defend’.”
“I was always going to be content with a draw in this game, I would be downright ecstatic now.”
“2 minutes of Ramsey and we already look 10x better.”
“This is so easy for Everton. We haven’t even made it a contest.”
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Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen(c) Monreal
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