Whoever tweeted “Away to Everton, sandwiched in CL qualifier ties, 0-2 down halftime, dodgy refereeing, 2-2 draw feels like a win. #afc #COY “, described how I felt at the final whistle.
Hold on, it was me! And I still feel quite happy about tonight’s result but even happier that we drew a type of game that Arsenal of last few years would have lost 99 times out of 100.
First 19 minutes were quite cagey as expected and then few pieces of bad defending which lead to Coleman scoring with a free header at the far post changed everything. Not only weren’t both our CBs holding the same D line, either did nothing to intercept a teasing cross by Barry. On top of that Ozil lost his man at the far post – where he actually had done very well to be in that position, but being naturally not defensive minded let himself and the team down– their goal became unavoidable.
The team became nervous, few passes started to go astray and mistakes and bad decisions creeped into our game. At that point my only thought was to get to the half-time break with only 1-0 down. We should have but for a couple of pieces of most awful refereeing decisions you’d likely to see: Match Referee ‘not so Arsenal friendly’ Mr Friend somehow failed to see a very blatant foul on Mertesacker by Lukaku, followed by his assistant missing the clear offside decision for the resulting goal.
Second half unfriendliness of Mr Friend picked up speed. He gave fouls and yellow cards against our players in every opportunity, disturbing the flow of the game which didn’t suit us at all. All credit to the lads, with everything seemed to be going against them; they dug in deep and started to get some kind of foothold on the game. Introducing Giroud for the second half for the ineffective Alexis was a big factor too. Giroud looked and played like somebody who’s got the kick up the backside by being dropped from the starting line-up. Although he missed a very good chance early in the second half and few half chances after that, he was aggressive, held the ball up well as he normally does and scored in the injury time for 2 – 2 by heading in a great cross by Monreal. I don’t think Today’s tactical formation suit’s playing Alexis upfront as alone striker. Giroud is more suitable for this 4-1-4-1 formation.
Unfortunately he got injured right at the death. Arsene Wenger: “Stretched ankle… at the moment it doesn’t look too good.” Not good news with our CL second leg tie with Besiktas just around the corner.
Earlier in the 84th minute, our other substitute Cazorla pulled a lovely low cross for our goal machine Ramsey to tap in from a close range to make it 2 -1. Arsenal managed just four successful crosses in the match and scored from two of them!
Overall it wasn’t as bad performance as many people made it out to be, considering going away to Everton is always difficult especially when it is “sandwiched in between CL qualifier ties” 😉
Ox started the game and played quite well for the most part of the 74 minutes he was on the pitch, got into good positions with his directness but decision making was his downfall. Ramsey didn’t have one of his better games but worked as hard as ever and scored our all-important first goal. Wilshere is still waiting to happen. Chambers is going to be a very good player but naturally rawness is there for all to see. Our World Cup winning Germans were back and although looking a little rusty, they did well. Ozil were at the centre of our most attacking moves and that’s why he is so important.
Team line up and ratings
Szczesny 67, Debuchy 71, Mertesacker 63, Chambers 60, Monreal 64, Flamini 66, Wilshere 58, Ramsey 65, Oxlade-Chamberlain 68, Ozil 70, Alexis 68.
Subs: Cazorla (74 min) 64, Koscielny, Rosicky, Bellerin, Campbell (74 min) 59, Giroud (46 min) 83 MOTM, Martinez