Arsenal 1-0 Everton, or van Persie Isn’t Bad, Is He?
We met the Toffees at our place yesterday, which happened to coincide with Arsenal’s 125th anniversary. For those who attended, it was no doubt a great day to take in some of the history of the team they know and love, while looking forward to a possible home win to celebrate the occasion. As it turns out, Everton would make that much more difficult than one would hope, but in the end we took 3 points, in large part thanks to Song’s assist and van Persie’s goal.
I missed the entirety of the first half while running errands (read: buying extra giftmas decorations) with Better Half. I love the holiday time of year and, to be honest, we needed to freshen up some of our holiday spirit around the house, so even though it was an historic game for Arsenal I had no problem resigning myself to viewing what happened on the pitch later in the evening courtesy of Arsenal Player (This pattern is becoming more and more common with the demands of life and my job, but having a membership makes it so much easier at the end of the day). As it turned out, we arrived home in time for the second half, but began trimming the tree immediately. The Scoremobile FC app on my Blackberry notified me of van Persie’s goal and Better Half was more than happy to switch on the television to see a replay and watch the remaining 15 minutes or so.
And what a goal it was! Alex Song has been looking to pick out key passes from further back in midfield this season and it’s paying off. He’s racking up a few assists here and there and showing that he’s a treat to the opposition. He lobbed a long ball pass over the Everton defense from just a little way inside the opposition half and found van Persie who was charging into the box on the left side. The Dutchman took the ball on the volley to make a fantastic strike with the ball going in off the far goal post. It was seamless and a smooth play from Arsenal; the kind that a supporter loves to see. The goal celebration took the players over to the bench to share in the class and quality with other members of the team.
There were fine performances in other areas of the pitch as well, the defense being notable. Vermaelen seemed everywhere and prevented a couple of dangerous chances by Cahill, helping to keep Everton scoreless. Koscielny is really shaping up to be a fine defender and, though I wasn’t sure of him last season, he’s proven he deserves to get regular playing time in whatever position he is played. Mertesacker has come into his own of late and is showing much more confidence since his early days at the club. His challenges and clearances have improved, as well as his passing (a stat I read on Twitter said his pass rate in the first half was 97%, which is quite positive since he did make a couple lovely long passes right through the midfield). Djourou, while he shows competency in defending one-on-one, hasn’t convinced me he’s well suited to playing right back. He doesn’t naturally want to move forward and when he tries it often comes off as laboured and ineffective. He is, however finding his way and I have to concede that filling Sagna’s boots is really a monumental task.
A decent game overall with a needed result to keep us on track and move us up into the top 4, at least for a few hours before Chelsea play today. Forward Arsenal.