Amid the fanfare and celebration a very important football game was being played yesterday. We were host to Everton which seemed to be forgotten after an hour an a half of legends wandering around the pitch. Having your birthday party before work probably isn’t the sharpist move!
We lined up as expected. Thomas Vermaelen slipped into left back and we lined up with 4 centre backs in our back 4 which was pretty special. It didn’t take long into the game for Vermaelen to show us he was going to be comfortable dealing with whatever position he was asked to play. He nipped and hustled whoever came into his area with the same tenacity he always does.
The first chance for us came when Aaron Ramsey was played in with a tasty cross from outwide, the Welshman missed and Gervinho showed a total lack of anticipation and bundled the ball wide.
Phil Neville was booked after 24minutes for lumping over Theo. I could swear he does things like that against us just for the pantomime effect. Odious little ferret that he is…
Aaron Ramsey, who is on a bit of a Gervinho type run in front of goal nearly broke the dead lock when he made space for himself in the box with a clever pirouette, his chipped shot only managed to graze the roof of the net. Gervinho, not one for being shown up at missing chances powered through into the box one on one and blasted his shot at the legs of Tim Howard. It was starting to feel like one of those afternoons. Chances were hard to come by and Everton were doing a good job of nullifying our threat.
The atmosphere was pretty flat as well. The same way it gets if you have a birthday party at work that you start at four o’clock. It was like the crowd were spent, waiting for their second wind.
Phil Neville reminded us that Everton could score when he smashed a shot that narrowly went over the bar. Things were getting so bad for us that Song had taken on the role of lead creative. He was making a bit of a hash of it if I’m honest, the guy in front yelled, ‘Song YOU ARE NOT CESC‘, moments later the man from Cameroon found space in midfield, looked up, floated a sublime ball into Robin who banged it across goal with a volley, the ball hit the post and went in!
WHAT. A. GOAL.
That my friends was worth the 6.5% right there. The crowd roared into party mode. Back slapping, high fiving and laddish headlocks with the old lady next to me were on the menu. What a relief!
The game still wasn’t won, Everton had a few good chances of their own, Saha breaking free of JD nearly scored when it was just him and the keeper. Lucky for us, his shooting boots were left back in Merseyside (I’m telling you Louis, they won’t be there when you get back!).
The referee took an absolute age to blow for the final whistle, when he did, it was like we’d scored a second. The goal was so good, many people in the crowd stayed on to see the goal again!
Three points on the board, up to fourth in the league, and the mighty reds March on. Happy Birthday Arsenal, I hope Robin’s gift made your day as much as it did the rest of us!
The performance was a flat scrappy one that was far from a pleasure to watch. The urgency didn’t feel like it was there today in a game that was really a bit of a midfield battle. Ramsey struggled to deal with Fellaini and I thought the front three of Arsenal had a very indifferent afternoon. Theo was far from being at the races. He was at his frustrating worst. His control was off the boil and his decision-making was shoddy. Gervinho had a bright opening twenty but he badly faded with the game. Even the mighty Robin was off colour, he was greedy at times and he didn’t play to the ridiculously high benchmark we’ve set for him as a standard for most of the game.
Credit to Everton, they are excellent battlers and they can play the game as well. I thought they gave as good as they got in midfield, the main thing lacking for them yesterday was an outlet and that bit of spark. They limited our chances well and on another day, may have come away with a point. Robin was the difference yesterday and I’m grateful for that!
Now all we have to hope for is that Spurs lose today against Stoke and that Chelsea and Manchester City draw. Actually, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’d actually quite like to see City drop some points, even if it does mean a mini Chavski resurgence!
Chesney – Didn’t have a whole heap to do, but did do well with crosses into the box. Kissed to boot of Robin at the end. Steady on the man love there! 7
JD – Had a good first 70 minutes but after that, mistakes crept in. Not understandable mistakes, I’m talking fundamental basics like losing his man or misplacing 5 yard passes. 6.5
Koscielny – Another solid game for the Frenchman. He slotted into the middle next to Mertesacker without anyone noticing he’d been right back for a few weeks. 7.5
Mertesacker – Had a very good game. He read their crosses well and his anticipation levels were at their best. 7.5
Vermaelen – Moved over to an alien position and dealt with it perfectly. A consummate professional. 7.5
Song – Had a bit of a mixed bag in midfield yesterday. He felt had to force some creativity and did in the end with a superb pass to Robin for the winner. He who dares Rodney… 7
Arteta – Must have been tough playing at his old club, but he mixed it like he always does and kept things ticking over. 7
Ramsey – Not his best game. He worked hard but his passing wasn’t as penetrative as usual and quite a few of his runs ended in conceded possession. 6
Gervinho – Good opening twenty, went missing at the end. A bit disappointing. Couldn’t help wonder if he was tired? 6
Theo – Not his best game for us. His thinking was half a second behind where it has been and he didn’t create too much for Robin. 5.5
Robin – Greedy at times, but not given world-class service. The cross from Song was great, but lets not kid ourselves, it would not have been a scoring opportunity for any other striker in the league. A great finish and his march to Thierry and Shearer’s record goes on. 7.75