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Arsenal 4 Everton 1

The sight of a clearly distressed and poorly looking young man lying on the ground in the middle of a long queue for Arsenal Tube, with a police officer kneeling down by him summoning an ambulance on his radio, was at odds with the sunny atmosphere around the stadium before and after the Cup game against Everton. The line was moving very slowly and it seemed to take an age for the paramedics to arrive but I hope things turned out as well for that man as it did for the team.

Further back in the line the guy canvassing for the food donation charity was working very hard for every contribution he could encourage with his usual repertoire of Spurs jokes which though more than a little familiar still entertained a crowd enjoying the spring sunshine and contented with a 4-1 win.

'We feed 1500 people a day' he announced 'We'll provide a hot meal for anyone who wants it - except Charlie Adams!' I felt he'd earned the handful of coins I had in my pocket.

Earlier the crowd were in good voice as the game kicked off and though Everton started brightly a quick counter with Chamberlain's lay-off finding Cazorla allowed him to adroitly round McCarthy to drive towards the box and find a perfect pass to the one player I reckon most of the crowd would have wanted to score. Ozil didn't disappoint and was warmly congratulated by team mates and crowd alike.

After that we seemed to boss the game and though Everton are a good enough team to counter effectively they didn't really create very much until the rebound from Arteta's blocked shot wrong footed an already booked Flamini and Barkley broke into the box with both Flamini and Arteta chasing him. Perhaps with his card in mind Flamini couldn't tackle but he stood too far off Barkley allowing his cross to the far post to find the net with a couple of bounces off Mirallas and Lukaku. It was a strange goal to concede and even the Everton fans couldn't quite believe it at first. I'm not sure they really felt it warranted the blue flares that were set off in the away section but like their team they took the chance they were presented with.

The equaliser put more of an edge to the game than the generally positive atmosphere, warm early spring sunshine and some confident if not inspired play justified. Watching Arsenal play I sometimes get the feeling that we play only in the defensive third and in the attacking third nowadays which gives the opposition far too much time and space in the middle third. We're either defending or attacking and I not really sure how we get from one to the other at times. Certainly our defending as a team is better than it has been with everyone pressing and closing down. Ozil was playing as the league's most expensive left back at one stage! When we're in the attacking third we can eventually get everyone swarming and buzzing around the opposition defence like flies around a cow's arse.......looking for a banjo with which to hit it! But at times there's something lacking in getting us from one to the other. Perhaps it's a consequence of two defensively aware midfielders who are good at positional play but sometimes I feel too static. That's not to say they don't both cover plenty of ground but they aren't players to carry the ball from one box to the other, preferring to back off and follow play forward only when it's safe to do so. Is that why more mobile players with the ball like Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere and Diaby are needed to make things happen? We certainly look pedestrian in the middle third without at least one of them at times.

Chamberlain seems to be able to make things happen and you can see in his play why Wenger might fancy him in just that sort of central midfield role. In this game he alternated between some positive direct running with the ball showing a willingness to shoot with either foot and some poor passing decisions which risked losing possession were he also not determined to go and get the ball back if he gave it away. He redeemed himself on a couple of such occasions in this game. It was a determined run and good control that earned the penalty that eventually restored our lead.

I'm sure that Clattenburg could have ordered at least 90% of the penalties he has awarded in his career to be retaken and booked any number of players for encroachment. Quite why he chose to do so in this game only he will know. Fortunately Arteta was cool enough to put it away again and forego the convention, if that's what it is now, of not celebrating goals against former teams.

Chamberlain may well have been nominated as man of the match which made it a bit of a surprise when he was taken off but it may also have proved a wiser decision than it looked at the time as Rosicky was very effective in exploiting the space left by Evertons full backs chasing the game. As a result an invigorated Giroud, on as a sub for the willing yet very raw Sanogo, helped himself to a couple of goals leaving him 2 short of the '20 goal a season man' some are insisting he isn't.

A good day out for gooners with a positive reward from a good competitive match. Hopefully it ended well for the guy in the queue too.




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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 8 2014

Time: 11:58PM

Your Comments

Cracking stuff and a really great result. Everton are stern opposition but we really hurt them today. Ozil, Cazorla and Ox were all world class. It was beautiful to see!
Rocky7
Very good game; the score line may have flattered but still deserved since we took the chances we created. I am not sure how Roberto Martinez could have thought the penalty was soft when even Barry had no complaints. Arteta must have been the coolest man in the stadium as he was able to score the re-take (word of advice, though. Usually better to go the same way as the keeper always expects you to go the opposite), much to Clattenburg's dismay(?). We can't take the significance of that result for granted.
Naijagunner
As a preparation for our CL game on Tuesday, we can learn from how confidently Everton moved the ball around at times in the game. Once we pressed them, that composure was lost. In addition, we would need to press from the front, hassling their defenders a bit more than we did at home. I am, honestly, not looking to us qualifying from the tie, but I would want us to make things more respectable, at the least. Sorry, I went OT.
Naijagunner
Thought Ox was excellent even though he made some poor choices and exposed us with a few bad passes, great to see him battling to make good on his mistakes. I'm loving this new breed of Arsenal MF prepared to shoot with either foot. Santi is fantastic but Ox & Gnabry are looking to build on that.
No 10
A wonderful account of the pre-game to post-game incidents that are beyond the reach of some of us even after reading countless other match reports from traditional media outlets. The vast space in the 'middle third' makes watching a game we controlled very uncomfortable to say the least. I never really grasped the 'balance of the team' concept until this huge 'holes' started to pop up in our set up. It didn't occur to me though that Ramsey may be the missing link. Can't wait to see him in the lineup again.
NYArse
The penalty re-take was an odd decision, even odder was the booking for Giroud. Much needed result & performance. For the 3rd goal, Giroud didn't even need to move his foot, so precise was the pass from Sagna. It looks more & more that he will not sign an extension, which is a pity.
prits
Nice one Amos.
Sir Henry
 

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