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Arsenal 2 Everton 2

First things first, ouch! Forgive the lateness of the report, but after a couple of heavy nights on the tiles, trying to make some sense of some Guinness and Glenfiddich fuelled carnage (naturally with complimentary romantic embarrassments), it`s been a monumental effort to shake off the detoxification tremors long enough to type. Yesterday morning, we were still in a state of limbo as to whether the game would be played, so congratulations to Arsenal for resisting the pressure from the over officious health and safety nuts and playing the game. My work is about two and a half miles from Arsenal and if it`s been sodding well safe enough for me to go into the office every day this week, then it was safe enough for me to go to the football on my day off! Whilst the approach to the stadium did look like a carpet of brown slush, those that spent hours gritting and clearing the pavements deserve credit for their hard work too. Naturally London Underground made sure that transport was as chaotic and difficult as they could possibly make it. They insisted on still closing the Victoria Line (to the unacquainted, that`s the sole tube line that does not go over ground at any point and therefore could not possibly be affected by the weather), throw in closures on the Circle and Jubilee lines for shits and giggles and you`ve got yourself one circuitous route to the ground.

Nevertheless we made it to the Tavern for a couple more Guinness`s (like I hadn`t had enough the evening before!) before ice skating gracefully to the ground to sit and freeze our nads off in some arctic temperatures. With most of the other big scaredy shit your pants girlies calling their games off, this was effectively Arsenal`s game in hand and had an extra feeling of importance to it. But the team never could quite get it going. Everton were obviously going to be rigorous and organised, but they were also more enterprising than certainly I had expected. It was the Toffees who created the game`s first opportunity of note and exposed Arsenal`s defensive frailties, Steven Pienaar curling an astute through ball from the left for Luis Saha to run onto with Vermaelen and Gallas too far advanced, thankfully Saha contrived to blast his shot well over. The home side were struggling to establish a rhythm but did have a flicker of a chance when Traore`s throw in found Diaby, he intelligently let the ball run before blasting a half volley well wide with Arshavin alert and missing connection by inches in the area. But Everton were pressing Arsenal all over the pitch and Luis Saha dispossessed a dithering Denilson in his own half. Saha`s shot was deflected wide and from the resulting corner, Leon Osman rose unmarked to head Landon Donovan`s corner into the roof of the Arsenal net.

Arsenal needed to respond but Everton were giving nothing away, with Fellaini excellently shielding his defence. The contest between Fellaini and Diaby was possibly the most intriguing one I have seen this season. One of Diaby`s notable improvements has been his delivery this season and it was he who chipped a gorgeous through ball into the area for the lingering Gallas, Howard`s attention was enough to suffocate the finish, with Leighton Baines hacking the loose ball away. The opportunity did lift the crowd and the players from their mutual slump. Denilson redeemed his error in the build up to the first goal by intercepting Felliani`s attempted ball to Cahill, muscling the ball forwards, Arshavin showed sleight of foot on the edge of the crowded area to find Eduardo, he shifted the ball back to his compatriot Denilson and his low shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off of Osman, sending Howard the wrong way is the ball deviated and trickled low into the net. The Gunners had undeservedly restored parity, but now needed to press home an advantage, yet Everton were still resistant, ruthlessly well organised with an eye for the counter attack. They nearly restored their lead soon after, Everton had worked out that nobody seemed to be playing on the Arsenal left (seriously, even at half time, I had literally no idea whether Eduardo or Arshavin was supposed to be on the left, they spent the first half in one another`s pockets), Phil Neville and Landon Donovan doubled up on Traore at will, Neville tossing a cross towards the back post which Almunia horribly misjudged, leaving Cahill to nod down but Vermaelen hacked the ball away from the goal line. Sixty seconds later, Donovan again found space on the Arsenal left and cut the ball back for Phil Neville whose chip looped ominously onto the roof of the net. At half time, Everton had defended much better and created more opportunities than Arsenal. We were fortunate to be level.

In truth, the second half did not adopt a different pattern. The snow fell heavily from the skies, leaving a wintry dust on the surface, with the sound of gloves thudding notable in every round of applause. The weather too may explain why Gallas, Denilson and Eduardo were all treated for muscle strains at various points. Shorn of Fabregas` creativity and van Persie`s guile, Arsenal simply could not penetrate Everton`s backline. Eduardo muddled his way through a Maginot Line of Everton bodies on the lip of the penalty area, the ball broke to Ramsey with Howard advancing, Ramsey rounded Howard on the touchline but his cut back was thwarted. Ramsey had swapped with Nasri for the second half, taking up a slot on the right side with Nasri roaming centrally in an attempt to try and get some change from the visitors` midfield. But Everton again began to reassert themselves in the attacking third, Steven Pienaar finding Luis Saha on the edge of the area, despite the close attentions of three Arsenal defenders; he eked out a shot which deflected narrowly wide. The difference on the day was that similar deflections for Arsenal took the ball into the net.

The Gunners were getting no change from passing through the centre of Everton, so began to play some crosses into the box. Bacary Sagna providing a sumptuous delivery from the right and Rosicky narrowly failed to connect with a free header as he feared contact from Howard, Howard`s feeble bunch bounced just over Arshavin`s foot on the back stick. Next it was Traore`s turn from the left, delivering an excellent cross into the corridor of uncertainty betwixt defenders and keeper and Eduardo just failed to make contact. For the first time in the match, the home side had a spell of concerted pressure. Arshavin`s corner evaded everybody until Denilson picked it up on the corner of the penalty area and his left foot effort was deflected inches over the bar. A goalmouth scramble followed from another Arshavin corner, the ball dropping to Rosicky on the edge of the area, he miscued his shot badly but it fell to Vermaelen eight yards out, his effort was heroically blocked by Neville. Denilson gathered up the clearance and charged into the area, Neville`s challenge was high though he got the ball, but referee Peter Walton bottled the decision. In any other area of the pitch, I am 100% convinced that he would give a free kick fir dangerous play. Five minutes later, the referee pathetically penalised Gallas for a high boot when you`d have struggled to get a rizla between his studs and the turf. Spineless, inconsistent officiating of the highest order, which was the hallmark of Walton`s entire performance, simply being far too afraid to make any kind of a decision.

But Everton still showed ambition on the counter attack and were nearly rewarded when Cahill took on Gallas on the left touchline, he buffeted past him and made a beeline for the penalty area, but his cutback for James Vaughan was brilliantly intercepted by Abou Diaby- showing a defensive nous he`ll need to show a lot more in coming weeks with Denilson and Song unavailable. Inspired by Tim Cahill`s show of upper body strength, Andrey Arshavin mimicked him with a powerful run of his own from the left. With no Arsenal player up alongside him, Arshavin motored past Lucas Neill and powered towards goal, but with no support, his excellent run resulted only in a blocked shot. Had Eduardo been more awake and in support, the Gunners might have taken the lead. But with nine minutes remaining, it was Everton who took the lead for the second time. Arsenal massively over committed to attack, quite why Vermaelen and Gallas were in Everton`s area at the exact same time is a mystery- it`s a mistake they both made to such cost at Eastlands in September. Song usually covers his centre halves very well, but with Rosicky losing the ball to Cahill, the break was on. Cahill pushed the ball past Armand Traore to Steven Pienaar who had the entire half of the pitch to himself. He moved towards goal and nonchalantly dinked the ball over Almunia and into the net. The atmosphere in the ground was one of resignation, nobody foresaw a way back.

Everton could have well and truly put the game beyond Arsenal straight from the kick off. Denilson collapsed in agony with the ball in his possession, Cahill`s slide rule pass put James Vaughan through on goal but Almunia produced the save, it would be a save that ended up being more valuable than it felt at the time. The stadium announcer compounded the woes of the travelling fans shortly after by informing them that there would be no guarantee of trains home from London at all forte evening. The Gunners searched vainly for an equaliser, Merida found Diaby in space with Everton sat deep, he marauded to the edge of the area, with the crowd screaming "shooooot" Diaby demonstrated his growing intelligence, electing to wait for the run of Rosicky on the left, then nudging the ball into his path. Rosicky hit the shot with the outside of his right foot and Lucas Neill unwittingly ricocheted the ball past Howard for the equaliser in the 92nd minute. The team certainly deserve credit for having the desire to make the breakthrough when the game appeared to have been lost. It was quite possibly our most underwhelming performance of the season so far, though Everton deserve credit for not allowing us to play. With Song, Fabregas and van Persie missing we simply could not replace the qualities that they bring to the team sufficiently enough. The mood after the match was surprisingly positive in the Bank of Friendship, I think most people realised we had gained a point when defeat looked likely and was probably deserved. Our two goals were both deflected and Everton created more dangerous chances than we could, personally I`m looking on this as a get out of jail free card. But our luck will not always extend to serendipitous deflections.LD.

1.ALMUNIA(c), 3.SAGNA, 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 30.TRAORE, 15.DENILSON(32.Merida `83), 16.RAMSEY (7.Rosicky `65), 2.DIABY, 8.NASRI, 9.EDUARDO (12.Vela `75), 23.ARSHAVIN. Unused: 18.Silvestre, 21.Fabianski, 37.Eastmond, 38.Emmanuel Thomas.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 10 2010

Time: 5:14PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Horrible game to watch. I mean, besides Diaby's last 15 minute's ...did any of our players have a good game? Ramsey is young, yes, and is allowed a bad game here and there ...but i have to say, this was one of them ...he could get a simple pass off. Nasri was woeful compared to his standards, Eddy and Arshavin ...really did absolute minimal. Verm and Gallas were even struggling and they've been our stronghold. Sagna ...he was joining in on the 'pass the ball to Everton' fun. Traore didn't know what he was doing against Donovan, i'll be so glad to see Clichy back after that performance from him. Don't mean to sound like Mr.Negative (haha yeh, i know i am) but seriously, no suger-coating a bad performance, and that's 100% what we gave. Both teams at there best, we'd comftably beat Everton. Dismal day out and a loss of 2 valuble points. I guess i'm so angry because i feel we can win the league this season, but i feel this game was a huge step backwards to last season.
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10/01/2010 17:44:00

"he could get a simple pass off" = he couldn't get a simple pass off*
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10/01/2010 17:46:00

Bad performance collectively. But isn't it funny that we could've even won the game had the ref given a pen against Neville's foul on Den in the box and/or had Eduardo/Arshavin converted one of those good crosses and/or had the weather been slightly kinder to us for the passing game to get going lol.. Good report LD, agreed on all the points made.
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10/01/2010 18:14:00

2 stuffy deflected goals eh ??? typical ARSEnal
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10/01/2010 18:46:00

What sort of moron keeps on doing that pathetic ARSEnal thing? Its beyond childish.
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10/01/2010 18:57:00

These kind of games are bound to happen in the season. After the international break (and without RvP) we were toothless against Sudnerland. Yesterday, the midfield had to adjust to playing different roles. I thought Diaby was superb yesterday - properly controlling his attacking instincts and doing some brilliant defensive work. The important thing is that we still got a point. Hopefully, the team can adjust itself to playing without Song and pray that he comes back without any injuries.
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10/01/2010 19:20:00

I felt that the real difficulty in the game was the first pass out of defence. For a team that builds from the back, we lacked Song's ability to withstand pressure and his close control (!!!). Denny, Ramsey and Abou simply don't have an assured first touch. Although given the conditions, controlling the ball must have been tough.
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10/01/2010 20:10:00

Song often causes us problems with his Zidane on Ganja approach to football.
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10/01/2010 20:18:00

What the hell happened to Denilson? He collapses like he's been shot and today is running around saying he's ready for Bolton?? Maybe he was drinking the same tea as Gallas because our ex-captain seemed to have a momentary wobbly as well. Very strange. I'm glad Wenger has had a word.
Wyn Mills
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10/01/2010 20:50:00

What a fool getting pain. He should be shot I think.
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10/01/2010 21:32:00

Maybe we Johnny Foreigners need crash courses in the finer art of English sportmanship, but the ball should have been put out of play when Denilson went down, he was obviously in pain and the cowardly ref waved play on. If Arsenal had played on in similar circumstances, I'm sure the press would have murdered us, and it would not suprise me to have heard some of our own condemning our lack of sportmanship.
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10/01/2010 21:51:00

How many delected goals is that now lads?
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11/01/2010 01:02:00

How many deflected goals so far? - still way short of Lampardesque proportions.
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11/01/2010 01:12:00

Sajit? Diaby 'superb' ?? 'controling his attacking instincts' ...was there a blind eye turned when he was randomly passing it to Everton players, or when he went on that aimless run and just lost the ball? Probably the best player on the pitch because of his last 20 minute's ...but superb? Gimme a break.
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11/01/2010 04:25:00

The most striking thing about this game to me is how mediocre and toothless we are without a few key players - Cesc and Song specifically. Even without RVP, with those two in the team we can still pull it off. But take all 3 out and even with Arshavin, Diaby, the two first choice CDs, Nasri, Eduardo...we just have no spark, little penetration and an amazing lack of collective intelligence.
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11/01/2010 05:03:00

jaelle, correct those missing players make a difference, but there was still quality in our team, enough to beat Everton. It seemed pretty much everyone was having an off day.
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11/01/2010 06:32:00

jaelle, correct those missing players make a difference, but there was still quality in our team, enough to beat Everton. It seemed pretty much everyone was having an off day. Football i guess ...even the best have to have a bad day
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11/01/2010 06:32:00

I happen to think Diaby played very well, I thought he was probably our best player. Thing is, Fellaini played incredibly well too, which is why I mentioned what a good battle that was in the report. Both players appeared to cancel one another out until the final seconds of the game when Diaby managed to find some space in the final 3rd without Fellaini in close attention for the first time and he ended up setting the goal up. These games happen sometimes, you can't play brilliantly every week and, Chelsea apart, we've won every single home game. That's not a record that was going to continue all season, we had to drop points somewhere and it's best to do that with a last minute equaliser against a team that has played icnredibly well against you.
Little Dutch
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11/01/2010 08:46:00

I just think we had an off day, I still think we had enough quality if we had been more dynamic and mobile, we seemed rather static probably because of the weather. Kudos to Everton though.
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11/01/2010 08:59:00

Certainly an off day for several players - the team just could not get the passing game going. Traore had a poor game but a 3rd choice LB is due that kind of game. Overall, we were slightly lucky, but there were some promising moments in the 2nd half, at 1-1. Over the full 90 mins, Everton deserved to get something out of the game and played very well. For the next game, if Cesc is nt back, then someone must take the onus of the creative play, which fell heavily to Nasri who did reasonably well.
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11/01/2010 10:19:00

I agree LD - It's not a sign of any disturbance in the force or owt .... just one of those things.
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11/01/2010 10:47:00

A fair performance from Arsenal, considering absentees. Admired the team spirit. Arshavin worked hard. Eduardo did a reas job. The team rallied despite a lack of team leaders on the pitch.
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11/01/2010 13:57:00

They are calling Arsenal the new Liverpool.
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11/01/2010 19:03:00

Eduardo was already subbed when Arshavin made that run down the left which resulted in the blocked shot..
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11/01/2010 20:03:00

*points to league table* er....some people are just unbelievably hysterical. We don't have a god given right to steamroll teams, Everton have been 4th and 5th in recent years for a reason. They are a good team, motivated especially considering our trouncing of them at their gaff. This was more like the Everton that I expected, we drew a very tough game in crap conditions, all things considered a fairly good result. Get over it.
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11/01/2010 22:17:00

Gunnerman ...we played *****, simple passes were going everywhere, we needlesly gave away possesion ...don't try and deny it.
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12/01/2010 00:35:00

Everton had a game plan and stuck to it. They knew how to neutralise our slick passing, and unlike previous visitors didn't run out of steam in the 2nd half. Moyes told his team to harass and deny space and that's just what they did. Unfortunetly we just didn't have the guile or determination to outflank their defence. That's why we had a lot of possession and no end product. Against most other teams this tactic doesn't work. But we're Arsenal and we like to nutmeg opponents while stroking it into the net. Chances are normal service will be resumed next week and we'll see Everton trounced by City, Sunderland and Wigan.
Wyn Mills
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12/01/2010 00:49:00

They were on form, we were off was just one of those days. On another topic ...anyone know what's the go with Denilson? I've heard he's running around the training ground fine, now i've just read he's out with no return date? Can any Londoners confirm?
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12/01/2010 03:43:00

"Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has claimed Barclays Premier League rivals Birmingham and Stoke could not afford to buy striker Kenwyne Jones who on his day is worth £40million." ...haha ...seriously?
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12/01/2010 06:53:00

Who is denying it? Get some perspective, your comments do a disservice to Evertons desire and form. We played crap yes, they played well - end of, at the end of the day - the table hasn't changed.
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12/01/2010 08:36:00

Agree Gunnerman. Every side has bad days. To draw against an Everton side at their best is no bad thing, ever more so when missing 3 key players certainly and arguably another 3 who would make the starting XI. As to individual performances, all I saw was the second half, and I saw players working hard, chasing and closing down Everton when they had the ball and searching for an equaliser with intelligence and craft, and then a winner in the same manner.
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12/01/2010 10:06:00

Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell has resigned for the club and might play in the reserves tonight. hmmm
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12/01/2010 16:41:00

lol he is definetly playing for the reserves. i dunno wt to make of it though, we already have silvestre who i think is better than sol lol, if we want to sign an ex player, why not pires. he is still in a great physical condition, playing well like always, the brain, the class, the touch is still there. sol looked like a headless chicken in the later part of his pompey career, looked so light weight at time n extremely slow. this is going to tarnish everything he ever acheived at the club..
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12/01/2010 17:43:00

Sol for arse its just getting better
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12/01/2010 20:59:00

A disservice to Everton? I was talking directly about Arsenal. I've already made a comment saying they played good, we played *****. That was all i was trying to get across. 99% of Arsenal fans would've been expecting 3 points from that game, and with the hardest run any team has to face coming up in mind, doesn't matter if on the day we were lucky to get 1 point, in perspective in was a bad result. Fact.
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13/01/2010 00:44:00

99% of fans are more realistic than that. Everton are a good team, finishing above Villa, Citeh, Spurs and others last year and not finishing outside top 5 in last 3. We have a team capable of getting 3 points, but that relies on Arsenal playing at their best and Everton not at their best. Neither of those happened, ergo we drew. You think bad result. I think your expecting too much of our players to play out of their skins every week, and for travelling teams to cower behind the ball.
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13/01/2010 05:24:00


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