Arsenal v Everton
Kick off: March 08, 2014 12.45 PM BST
A comfortable 4-1 scoreline at the end of a less than comfortable FA Cup quarter final. A fantastic start from Arsenal, but once Everton equalised it was a tense game all the way up until the final ten minutes.
Arsenal got off to a dream start, Santi Cazorla capitalizing on a slip by McCarthy. The Spaniard drove forward with the ball, the space just opening up in front of him. He played the ball in to Mesut Özil, who very calmly slotted the ball past Joel and into the far corner. 1-0 Arsenal after just seven minutes.
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Both teams were creating chances, Chamberlain looking particularly dangerous for Arsenal. He and young striker Yaya Sanogo, each saw shots kept out by Joel. While Sagna protected the Arsenal goal with a last ditch tackle on Pienaar.
Arsenal were getting forward well, but looked vulnerable on the counter attack. That vulnerability had a light shone on it with just over half an hour gone, Everton levelling things up through Romelu Lukaku. An Arteta shot was blocked, deflecting out to Ross Barkley. The young Evertonion broke forward, charging down Arsenal’s left flank. Flamini tracked back with him, but having received a yellow minutes earlier, he was relatively powerless against the pace of Barkley. He whipped a ball across goal, Mirallas charging in to meet it. The Belgian fluffed his shot, but the miskick fell straight to his countryman, Romelu Lukaku. He happily accepted the gift, tapping it in to the open net to make it 1-1.
We were seeing the good and the bad from the Ox, creating chances for himself and his team mates. On two occasions he gave the ball away in dangerous areas, initiating Everton counters and putting Arsenal under pressure. To the Englishmen’s credit however, both times he raced back, atoning for his mistakes with good challenges to win it back.
It was a fairly even game as the first half came to an end and the second began, but with almost an hour gone, the game very nearly got away from Arsenal. A horrible miskick by Arsenal Captain, Thomas Vermaelen; gifting the ball to Lukaku in a fantastic position. The front man picked out Barkley in space at the edge of the box, he really should have scored, but couldn’t keep his composure and spooned the shot high and wide.
On the hour mark Wenger made Arsenal’s first change, Olivier Giroud coming on for Yaya Sanogo. The youngster hadn’t had a bad game, but seemed to go missing, and seemed a little out of his depth at times.
A few minutes later, some great movement and passing saw Chamberlain set free down the right by Özil. The Ox forced his way past Gareth Barry, the Manchester City loanee catching the Arsenal man with a trailing leg. Arsenal penalty.
Mikel Arteta stepped up to the spot, smashing his penalty into the left, sending Joel the wrong way. Amidst the celebrations however, Mark Clattenberg had ordered the penalty to be retaken; Olivier Giroud seeing yellow for moving into the box before the penalty was taken. Arteta placed the ball back on the spot, and for the second time tucked it into the back of the net. This time slotting it high into the top right corner. 2-1 Arsenal.
It was a tense game for the next twenty minutes, both teams creating chances, Everton in particular pushing for a second equaliser. But the difference was made just before the 80th minute, when Tomas Rosicky was brought on in place of the Ox. Rosicky added a renewed energy in midfield, and really put Arsenal on the front foot again.
The Czech international played Sagna down the right flank, the Frenchman carrying the ball into the box. He showed fantastic experience, pausing to get his head up rather than just lashing it across goal blindly. He spotted Olivier Giroud in space, and picked him out perfectly. Giroud tucking it past Joel, a French Connection putting Arsenal two in front. 3-1.
Giroud was having exactly the impact Arsene Wenger would have liked, and minutes later he doubled his tally. Rosicky was again involved, Cazorla spreading the ball out wide to the substitute, who played it forward to Özil. The German playmaker squared it sublimely to Giroud, who side footed it past Joel. 4-1 Arsenal, a fantastic counter attacking goal.
A fantastic and deserved result for the Gunners, even if the final score doesn’t accurately show how close the game was for large portions. A win is a win though, and this win sees us into the FA Cup semi finals.
on the result…
We had a quality performance from the first to the last minute against a good side. The first half was all us and we were unlucky to be 1-1 at half time. The second half, Everton started well and had a good moment in the game where they had the chance with Barkley. We scored the second goal and then controlled the game well. We always looked like we could score more.
on Giroud’s introduction…
It was important because he was on the end of things and it shows that when a player comes off the bench of that quality, it can make a difference.
on why he didn’t start…
He was on the bench for what reason? He has played many games. For the rest, he has come on and showed he can score goals when he comes on. Yes [he needed a rest]. Ozil was on as well on the bench. He played at Stoke, Ozil was on the bench.
on a confidence boost ahead of Bayern…
It was important for us to win, to put us in a good mind on the psychological front. We can be inspired by our focus on the day, by our desire and go to Bayern with the same spirit. The statistics go against us when we go to Bayern, but let’s make sure that the performance goes for us. Then we have a chance.
on being close to a trophy…
We are in the semi final, mathematically I cannot deny that what you say is true but practically it is a bit more difficult than that. let’s see who we have to play in the semi final and do it again.
on taking the FA Cup seriously…
Look we took this competition seriously. Since the start of this competition it’s true that we had a good draw in the fact that we played all the games at home. It’s the first time since I played in the FA Cup [that this has happened]. But, on the other hand, we played difficult opponents, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and that shows you that we have taken this competition seriously.
on Ozil’s goal being important…
Of course it’s important for him he took his chance because sometimes you want him to take the chance because he always looks for the good pass. I hope that will encourage him. What I liked with him is that physically he looked regenerated, having more power in his runs. As well I liked that he did a lot of dirty work for a player like him, that means he tracked back in the first half – especially on the counter attack he came back with long runs. When he behaves like that of course you have a better chance to win the game.
on the penalty incident…
I think the penalty was a penalty. I was honestly very worried and very relieved after the second one because I didn’t understand the decision. You have to give credit to Arteta because if he doesn’t take the second one well the keeper has gone the right way, and he would not have scored.
on having Pat Rice back…
It’s not the first time he is back. We are of course very happy. I went to see him before the game and he looks like he’s recovering very well.
on Koscielny’s fitness…
I think he should practice again tomorrow and he has a chance to play on Tuesday.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
“Great run by Santi and a fine finish from Özil. Hopefully that will do his confidence some good.”
“Bizarre scenes as Arteta didn’t really celebrate the 1st pen. Certainly celebrated the 2nd. Arsenal lead.”
“None of that ‘no celebrating’ bullsh*t from Mikel. Love him.”
“Great play from Sagna to wait and pick out his man. Giroud’s not perfect, but he’s the best striker we’ve got by a long way.”
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Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen(c) Gibbs
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