Report: Everton 1-1 Arsenal
By Randy Osae
Starring defeat right in their faces, Arsenal still managed to wrench a point at breezy Goodison Park on Wednesday. On evidence of this season; when you need one critical goal, you need Robin van Persie.
Prior to kick-off, it was best on the books Wenger’s men would have to settle for a decent result at Goodison Park but they indeed had to snatch it, courtesy of a sumptuous late strike by Van Persie. Arsenal would have been ruing one of those grumpy defeats had it not being that priceless moment.
And this does feel like victory even though it did more wreckage to the distance between Arsenal and the top four.
Wenger made six line-up changes. Almunia, Clichy, Denilson, Song, and Adebayor all returned ahead of Fabianski, Gibbs, Ramsey, Eboue and Bendtner respectively. And perhaps for aerial structure at the back, William Gallas was preferred to Kolo Toure.
Arsenal were all over Everton during the initial quarter of an hour, adducing swift attacks but barely any dispatch as usual. The Toffees would then turn tide onto their side, but were similar to the Gunners when in aggression.
Set pieces were provisionally the hosts’ nuisance, but the Gunners did well to cause less fouls and dealt with aplomb when tested in the air. Nasri then set up half a chance for Van Persie with his weaker foot but his colleague could not volley well with the same clinical touch as the ball traveled down and just wide over. That had been quite a first half, but the chances and scoreline did little justice.
Arsenal continued to impose their lust in attack and Denilson could only shoot wide with the outside of his left foot after Van Persie ended up having to set-up the Brazilian to finish off from about 18 yards out after a blistering steal on Everton.
There was minor dispute about how much intent and energy Arsenal demonstrated tonight compared to four days ago, but surprise, surprise, they were hard done by that man, Tim Cahill on the hour mark.
Baines troubled Sagna enough to send in a cross into the box, where Cahill was always expert to lash home with his head.
Arsenal would have to chase a solitary point for the remaining 30 minutes.
You could argue it had been a fair contest thus far, but the visitors looked rattled as time went by. Sagna’s suspicious injury meant Eboue replaced him at right back while Wenger went tactical with Bendtner sent on for Song. It was intentions of attack, attack, attack, but Everton were always resilient.
David Moyes’ men now took hold of the game, mastering possession and could have even produced a fatal hit, had a few nervy occasions by Arsenal’s defenders went otherwise.
Approaching the final seconds of injury time, Arsenal’s fight seemed bogus and only an opening right out of the blue could salvage matters.
And so Diaby sent in an optimistic long ball from midfield, into Van Persie’s path and the Dutchman delivered magnificent control and volley to rescue the Gunners.
It had to happen that way for Arsenal. Perhaps a point gained.