Walking away from the Emirates Stadium last night, the talk was whether the draw against Everton was 2 points dropped or a point gained. For me, it was 2 points dropped. To win the league, you need to be winning your home games from winning positions. This was the 2nd time we have let slip a lead at home. Whilst we might currently be 5 points clear, this gap could have been doubled had we held onto leads against Aston Villa and Everton.
At 1-0 up with 6 minutes to go, you would expect Arsenal to be able to hold on. However, the Everton goal, we could do little about. Critics might say Gibbs should have got closer, or that Szczesny should have saved it, but these are harsh. Gibbs’ positioning was correct and it was a rocket of a shot which went past Szczesny before he could react. Criticism of the pair, taking into account their form this season, is harsh. Especially Szczesny, who has won us more games with sensational saves than anyone. He surely has plenty of good faith in the bank.
Anyway, whilst it was 2 points dropped, the Everton side were comfortably the best I have seen us play. Despite us losing to both Aston Villa and Manchester United, Everton were comfortably better than both. Currently 5th in the league, they are just 2 points behind Liverpool, and on yesterday’s showing, they have to be taking into consideration for the race for the Champions League.
If I were a Manchester United or Tottenham fan, I would be very worried. With Everton playing so well, both sides might not even get into the top 5 this season, meaning no European football.
It is no European football that is benefiting Everton this season. There game is about high pressing and plenty of energy in the midfield, with a solid 3 of the impressive Ross Barkley (Surely he and Wilshere should be England’s midfield in Rio?), James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. Everton have played just 17 games this season. This was Arsenal’s 24th. Not playing Thursday and Sunday every week (yes, I know they played midweek this week) is certainly helping Everton. You only have to look at how Swansea have struggled this season to see the effect.
Lack of International football is also a factor, with the likes of Distan, Barry, and Pinner not playing it, and many others being fringe squad players. Olivier Giroud & Aaron Ramsey, for example, have played 27 games for club and country this season, whilst Romelu Lukaku & Gareth Barry have played 17 and 12 respectively. Lack of games is certainly keeping the Everton side fresh.
They are also receiving the massive benefit of 3 on loan players, in Lukaku, Barry and goal scorer Gerard Deulofeu, they have essentially managed to nab themselves £30m+ worth of talent without needing to spend a penny. My views on the loan system are for another blog, however would Everton be where they are were it not for their loan players? Probably not.
What is for certain is that Everton have moved forward under Roberto Martinez. Playing good football and looking very solid. They have lost just 1 game this season, remember. With his style of play, tactics and ability to run a football club, not just the team, a couple of good years at Everton and I could certainly see Martinez being in the frame for the Arsenal job.
We should not be too down hearted on a draw at home to Everton. They are the best side we have played and are very hard to beat. Whilst it is 2 points dropped, they have, and will continue to, take points off other sides at the top of the league.
With Napoli, Manchester City and Chelsea coming up next, we have an important few weeks coming up. It is important that we continue to back the side. The next 3 games will determine our season.