Arsenal (0) 2 Everton (0) 0
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 23rd September 2018. Kick-off time: 4.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerín, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Ramsey, Özil; Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Substitutes: Elneny, Guendouzi, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Iwobi, Welbeck, Leno.
Scorers: Lacazette, Aubameyang
Yellow Cards: Sokratis, Torreira
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Always good to get an annual visit from the Toffeemen, a club from which we have bought some of our most famous players; namely Joe Mercer and (indirectly) Tommy Lawton, both in the twilight of their careers of course at the time, but still good enough to cut more than just a bit of a dash in our successful post-war Tom Whittaker teams. We also welcome the return of Theo Walcott, a popular player who left us for Goodison Park in the January transfer window and has proved to be a favourite with the blue half of Merseyside.
Back to today’s match. From our point of view, the first half, was quite frankly, disappointing to say the least. The star turn was Peter Cech, who undoubtedly saved us from going into the break possibly two or even three goals down. No doubt about it, the Toffeemen were the superior side for the first half, and most Arsenal fans in the stadium felt that we were indeed fortunate not to be in defecit. The only memorable moments in the first 45 minutes was Nacho Monreal’s shot quite early on, which the Everton goalkeeper stopped easily, and the yellow card that Lucas Torreira collected for a clumsy tackle; other than these incidents, nothing of any note was created by us, and a heavy sight of relief went around The Emirates when the referee called the proceedings to a halt. Phew.
This three-ring circus started up again and after some ridiculous passing, tackling and positioning by our chaps, a goal appeared to liven up the proceedings, literally out of nowhere, and we can truly thank God that it did as well. Lo and behold! Eleven minutes after the restart, Aaron Ramsey moved deep into the Everton defensive area, passed the ball to Alexandre Lacazette, who scored an absolute cracker of a goal. He composed himself, steadied the ball and simply directed it with his sweet right foot into the top far right corner of the Everton net. Just simply sublime. Now the Gunners started to wake up and do the two things that all top teams do best; 1) control the match and 2) not allow the opposition to play. Sho’ nuff, three minutes later, our other top bandit, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the match out of teach of the Toffeemen when he scored our second, (and somewhat controversial it would seem) goal. Mesut Özil broke away from his markers, got into space and passed the ball to Aaron Ramsey who quickly offloaded it to the Gabon international who wasted no time in introducing the ball to the back of the net. And now the controversy; television replay suggested that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was offside; but hey, the officials didn’t call it, the Toffees didn’t appear to rant and rave, so the goal stood. Our second goal utterly subdued the bluenoses on the away terrace, and from this moment onwards, the match started to look akin to a training game at London Colney. The referee blew the whistle (after a more than generous period of injury time, it should be said) and three points along with sixth position in the Premier League was ours to savour.
Anyway, anyhow, anywhere, some things out to be brought up. Despite the fact that we kept a clean sheet for the first time in the Premiership this season, our first half performance was shocking (again) and Peter Cech, everyone’s vote for man-of-the-match literally kept us in the game at times when it looked like we didn’t deserve it – on performances such as this, how on earth can he be dropped for a younger ‘keeper? Lucas Torreira is growing in confidence and has a skill that utterly belies his tender years, and surely must be considered for a regular start by Mr. Emery soon. Our industrious full-backs, Nacho Monreal and Héctor Bellerín are providing width in a formation that is surely crying out for wider midfielders, and alarmingly, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil appear to be getting in each other’s way, which is lamentable. Despite all this, it was great to see our star strikers work well together, and also Granit Xhaka is enjoying his newly found liberation in midfield too. Still, three points is three points, and we shall rejoice at this fact. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners.
Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.