The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

My take: Everton 1-6 Arsenal

As Brendan mentioned, the most important thing for Arsenal supporters to keep in mind here is that this is one game, and one game against (for a variety of reasons) a weakened opponent at that. However, there are plenty of encouraging signs to take away from this match, so let’s start with that.

For one thing, Arsenal didn’t stop playing once it got to 2-0. I promise I won’t harp on him ALL season, but can you imagine what Adebayor’s effort levels would be like at that point? Bluntly put, Arsenal saw that Everton were weakened and reeling from the two quick goals…and in response, they redoubled their efforts and sent a message to the rest of the league at the expense of a fairly good side. Attitude counts for a lot, for different reasons at different stages of the season. Right now, I believe that it’s important for the Gunners to seriously play the “No One Believed In Us” card. There have been times in the last few seasons where the team’s spirit has been found wanting, and much of that likely came from the side feeling that most clubs should just do the decent thing and stand aside while the Arsenal procession marched on through. Hopefully, the lessons of Stoke and Hull are still fresh in their minds.

The opening goal reflected a slight change to Arsenal’s build-up play that was quite heartening as well. Fabregas and Bendtner (who I’m still not convinced is effective enough on the wing, but we’ll see where this goes) combined to draw the Everton midfield over to the right touchline, and the ball came to Denilson just outside the penalty area. The Arsenal cliche would be for him to roll it over to someone in a less advantageous position…however, the lad opted to welly the shit out of it instead, and it nestled nicely in the top corner. Beautiful. MORE LONG SHOTS, please. Not only will they sometimes go in, but it forces the opposing midfield to close down your midfielders, and aggressive pressing is best countered by…wait for it…effective short passing and give-and-goes. Shooting from range more often actually allows us to do the sort of football so beloved of Wenger. So, hopefully this continues.

The second and third, of course, came from our two center-halves. This wasn’t as invisible from Arsenal’s game last season as we probably remember – Gallas bagged a few last time around, and whatever else you want to say about him, Adebayor scored a few with his bonce as well (oh, and don’t forget Nicky’s HEADER OF GOD against Spurs as well). It’s not that it was entirely lacking, but the threat was limited to a healthy Gallas and a motivated Ade. That speaks for itself, really. For Tommy Vermaelen (there is a song coming for him to the tune of “Free Fallin”, by the way) to imperiously power one home as well…it’s going to give the other mobs one more thing to think about on those set pieces. Not only that, but TV5 won his defensive headers and provided some dynamite step-in tackles as well. Wonderful debut for the lad.

As good a manager as David Moyes is, there is nothing he could have said at halftime to reverse the tide. Lescott’s head is a million miles away with the possible Manchester City transfer, and he was the only hope of their banged-up defensive line to compete. With Arsenal winning the midfield battle thanks to the stellar water-carrying work from Alex Song and the incisive passing of Fabregas and Denilson, Everton couldn’t help but be overwhelmed. The other three goals did have the sense of inevitability – at halftime, I predicted the final score would be 0-5. It was wonderful to see Eduardo get off the mark so quickly as well…a confident and fit Eduardo will give us the kind of threat (in conjunction with Arshavin and Fabregas) that most teams will not have an answer for.

Anyway, not to let it cloud a wonderful performance, but the defending on the Everton goal was clown shoes. Almunia didn’t have much to do, but his save on that intial shot alone deserved to clinch a clean sheet for himself. How no one was marking Saha is a mystery to me…but we’ll just hope that it was the effects of having just gone up 6-0 on the road more than anything else.

So, it’s a great win, but now the side is faced with the bulwark of Celtic Park for tomorrow night’s first leg of the CL Qualifying round. I have found myself vacillating on this game over and over in the last few days…and not just because I’m suffering greatly here with Celtic being my second team and all. On one hand, we’ve seen Juventus and Villareal and other big sides go there and lose in recent years. They’ve definitely improved from last season, and this will (in all likelihood) be their CL Final this season. On the other hand, they’re relying on a young kid in Danny Fox at LB, central defense is a mess for them with Glenn Loovens and Stephen McManus both injured, and there’s always the possibility that Artur Boruc will implode.

At the end of the day, Arsenal need to show their new-found killer instinct again to get a result up there. Here’s hoping it happens…although of course I hope Celtic look good in defeat!


August 17, 2009 - Posted by | The Arsenal

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