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A few thoughts on the Arsenal v Everton League match

March 3, 2015

Arsenal entered the weekend third place in the table.  On Saturday Manchester United beat Sunderland 2-0. West Bromwich Albion beat Southampton 1-0. Sunday Liverpool beat Man City 2-1. Tottenham and Chelsea were playing in the Micky Mouse final. So Arsenal went into the match against Everton knowing a win would take them back to third above Man United and put some space between us, Southampton and Tottenham. It would also close the gap on Man City to four points.

The team : Ospina Bellerin Gabriel Koscielny Gibbs Coquelin (Chambers), Cazorla Oxlade-Chamberlain (Rosicky) Ozil Alexis (Welbeck) Giroud

I thought the team picked was a good one. Chamberlain in place of Welbeck. Gabriel started in place of Mertesacker. Giroud kept his place after failing target practice in mid-week against Monaco. Another attack minded side.

A nice Sunny day, though cold and crisp as I left Harlow at 11.15am for the drive to Blackhorse Road and then on Tube to Finsbury Park. A couple of shandy’s in the Gunners pub so the Son and I could watch most of the Liverpool v Man City match and then a nice walk around to the Emirates to walk off the rather large portion of Fish & Chips consumed in the Arsenal Fish Bar.

Arsenal started slowly against Everton, very slowly. In fact it took 25 minutes for Arsenal to show any real intent when Sanchez crossed right onto Giroud’s head and somehow the striker managed to put his header wide. This was followed by nothing more than half chances for Giroud and Sanchez (2) and Bellerin that were all blocked. The match was almost becoming a great cure for insomnia, then all of a sudden Arsenal got a corner. Ozil floated it over and there was Giroud to hit the ball into the bottom left of the net 1-0 Arsenal! One more chance fell for Arsenal as Cazorla worked himself a good shooting chance and the geezer with his head upside down tipped the ball over the bar. HT1-0.

Second half started with a barrage of corners and free kicks for Everton, which to be fair the Arsenal defence dealt with very well. Arsenal’s first real chance came from a good move with a flick by Giroud into the path of Cazorla who fired his shot over the bar. Lukaku was set up Barkley only to see his shot superbly turned over the bar by Ospina and it was a quality save. Close again for Everton as this time that funny little bloke who runs like a penguin shoots straight at Ospina.

There was a stage in the middle of the second half when Arsenal were really trying their level best to assist Everton in grabbing an equaliser. The players were passing the ball around across the back, mis-placing passing, giving Everton the ball cheaply and unable to clear their lines. You could feel the palpable tension growing in the crowd and the Everton fans were in full voice.

With ten minutes left Oxo sets up Ozil, but the ball was just not quite right and Ozil had to dig it out and could only shoot wide with the aid of a deflection of a superb tackle by Jagielka. Coquelin had to go off with a broken nose. There is one thing about Arsenal though that even when they are not playing well, the team has quality. With players like Sanchez, Cazorla, Ozil, Rosicky, Arsenal can create something out of nothing.  This was highlighted in the eighty-eight minute as Ozil laid the ball across the area into the path of Rosicky who brought himself a ticket for the raffle, took a shot, which took a deflection and the ball goes past upside down head for 2-0! Game over! Giroud could have made it 3-0 from a very good cross from Bellerin but head wide of the far post. There was just enough time for Rosicky to have a shot saved before the referee blows the final whistle.

FT 2-0 and Arsenal moved back up to third in the table.  It was then a quick dash for the boy and I to Finsbury Park tube to get to Blackhorse Road. Jumped in car, put radio on to listen to the Micky Mouse Cup Final. Up the M11 and just as we were arriving home John Terry put Chelsea 1-0 up. Once in-doors I turned the TV on and watched the second half of the MM final. Having got home I noticed that the nice sunny day out had turned grey, I also noticed that it was pouring down with rain at Wembley as Spurs went 2-0 down when Costa scored. Spurs fan up early colours on, travel to Wembley, just before kick-off find out Arsenal had won and now seven points clear of them, lose 2-0 and get soaked. Normal day for the life forms down the Seven Sisters Road.

There can be no doubt this was not the best of performances from Arsenal, but at this stage of the season points are what counts if you’re not playing well.

Ospina – Made some good saves, came out well  in first half after mistake from Gabriel, saved from Lukaku and then tackled him giving away a throw-in. His command of the box and catching was good as well as his punching clearing the area. He looks a lucky keeper to me. 8

Bellerin – still feeling his way. Is he the answer? Who knows but how do young players improve and get experience if not being played. The lad is fast, good on the ball, can tackle and read the game. Of course his is going to make a few mistakes, young kids do. Definitely one for the future. 6

Gibbs – Did not have the best of games often still getting caught out when opponents break on the right hand side. Still a threat coming forward though. Think Gibbs gets the nod when Arsene wants to attack. Nacho comes in when more need for defending. 6

Koscielny – not one of his best games. Made a few mistakes, the most notable was giving the ball away to Lukaku which in turn forced the great tackle form Gabriel on Lukaku. This brought the crowd to life, in turn the crowd brought the team to life and that’s when Arsenal scored their first. Proper planned by Kos 🙂 I’ll give Kos a poor game. 6

Gabriel – started slowly but grew into the game and ended up playing really well. Had a chance from header he that he put over. Good use of the ball, good tackler, good passer and worked well with Koscielny. 7

Coquelin – I think the lad is doing well considering where he was a few months ago. Can’t really ask much more of him, even had his nose broke. 6

Giroud – Missed another couple of good chances, yet scored as well. I think his touch has improved, so has his control and hold up play. Much better than he is given credit by amongst some Arsenal supporters. If he took a better percentage of his chances would be a top, top forward. 6

Ozil – He’s lazy, I keep hearing people say, but is he? He has two assists in this game yet some supporters are not happy with his effort. Effort? Why? Ozil’s there to create not to run around tackling players. Football’s a team sport and the team has players to do the running around. Özil covers plenty of ground yet that ground he covers is about finding space to create and open up passages for other players to exploit. A great comment I saw today “If you don’t understand Mesut Özil, go to Craven Cottage every week and you can applaud Scotty Parker for running around & trying very hard”. 7

Sanchez – going through a spell with no assists and goals, yet keeps on running around like the Duracell bunny, making opponents defences work hard and they know they cannot rest with him around. I always feel better when I see his name on the team sheet. 6

Cazorla – Playing very well since December. Never gives up, his tackling and tenacity to win the ball back for such a small guy is superb. His passing is also very good. Yes he loses the ball sometimes, but that’s because he is trying something to open up defences, which doesn’t always work but you can see what he was trying to do. Always looking to score as well. Couple of good efforts. 7

Chamberlain – The one player I’m not getting right now. Loses the ball far too easy. His passing is often well astray, always seemingly in front of behind the player the ball is intended for, ala, his pass to Ozil in the second half, had it been on the money Ozil may well have scored. Yet been injured and taking time to settle back in the side. Has obvious ability, so should come good in time. 5

Rosicky came on, played well and scored and did one great run across the pitch to win the ball back. 6 Welbeck and Chambers came on to late to make any real contribution.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

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