How fitting! 1-0 to the Arsenal on a day when the club was celebrating its 125th anniversary.
Like on most big occasions (i.e. cup finals and semi finals), those involved for Arsenal struggled to rise above the mediocre.
Even Robin van Persie proved to be fallible until the moment he lashed in Alex Song’s high ball. It was a moment of supreme skill. It meant 3 points and a smile on Arsenal fans’ faces.
It looked like it would be a day of frustration until then. The ref, Howard Webb, was as a welcome as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip according to one fan. He seemed determined to punish Arsenal for the innocuous as much as possible, judging by the early yellow card issued to Mikel Arteta. The official website called it ‘cynical’, so perhaps it was justified, although it didn’t look it from the Clock End.
As well as having to contend with the refereeing decisions of an alleged Manchester United supporter, Everton were looking like a tough nut to crack. The Toffees pulled everyone back to thwart Arsenal’s attacks. Theo Walcott and Gervinho were getting crowded out by 2 or more defenders doubling up or tripling up on them and if the Arsenal wingers could get a cross into the box, they’d be 7 Everton defenders waiting to clear. The only out and out attacker waiting for crosses was RVP. Sometimes Rambo plus either Alex Song or Arteta would also risk a nosebleed and make it into the box. In short, this Arsenal side didn’t look destined to score.
But score they did thanks to van Persie’s ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat. A bit like the tearful guy immortalised outside as a statue: Thierry Henry.
So now we’re tipping Robin to be the next immortal at Arsenal and if he stays fit and at the club, then few will bet against it.
An honourable mention goes to Arteta, who played well against his old club. I’ve always thought as Everton as a good club to do business with as, although Francis Jeffers wasn’t a success, Alan Ball certainly was! So I was casting a rueful eye around the Toffees team, hoping for more recruits from Merseyside.
Obviously we’ve been heavily linked with Phil Jagielka, and true to form he put in a more than decent shift against us. He was overshadowed, however, by his central defensive partner John Heitinga. It’s a shame Arsene Wenger is saying he won’t buy another centre back as the Holland international would be an excellent acquisition judging by this performance.
One fan joked that Arsenal should sign Everton striker Louis Saha to play in our back 4. He said Saha made us look safe in defence!
Marouane Fellaini is another Everton player I’d like us to sign. But he wouldn’t be cheap. He cost £15m when he arrived at Goodison Park, so we’d be looking at least £20m now. ‘Stop the Afro,’ I kept saying to myself when the ball came near him. At one corner, Thomas Vermaelen marked him at the near post and on the next one it was Per Mertesacke nrar the outside of the box.
Arsenal’s defence didn’t look that organised. It seemed more haphazard than anything. Like Bank tube station according to some French tourists I happened to overhear. Hopefully Wenger will get our defence running better than the UK’s railway services but there seems to be a long way to go with Johan Djourou and Vermaelen playing out of position and more prone to mistakes than usual. Still not a bad shift by the backline and a shut out as well, so handshakes all round! Pats on the back but no statues for the current first team just yet!