Nil-Nil to The Arsenal and Still Holding On
And after an exciting game at the Emirates today, we’re still in a good position to clinch a fourth place spot, even if we did not take full advantage of the opportunity presented to us. A 0-0 draw gets us a single point, which for the moment keeps us in third, but doesn’t give us any kind of cushion for the coming weeks.
Even without a win, there were some strong positive points to come from the match. In particular I’ll note the spirit and confidence of the team in the face of strong physical opposition. This is something our players have had trouble with for a while now, that some of them come across as pushovers on the pitch (this makes some sense due to the relatively small statures throughout the team). There was, however, enough desire in the squad and a realization of the fixture’s importance to fight back and deal with a the physicality Everton brought to the table. We looked strong and formidable, which is new and builds confidence in the team.
One can argue the lack of goals, especially by Giroud, who had a few really good chances to score, cost us the game (in fact, there’s been discussion on twitter about Giroud being unsuitable, but there also being no other adequate replacement available). I’m not sure I buy into this reasoning. True he had chances, but if this season has shown anything it’s that we are not heavily reliant on him alone in the goals department. Even though he is our centre forward, he is not our lead goal scorer. One can just as easily ask after the whereabouts of Cazorla’s shooting, Walcott’s, or Podolski’s as well. True is, however, that the service Giroud needed wasn’t the best and Everton defended excellently for the whole 90 minutes. Giroud’s best chance from close range (set up by The Ox) was expertly and narrowly blocked and in that situation, surely the Frenchman had done everything he could to get on the end of the ball. Maybe he’ll come through with some goals in the next couple of games.
Cazorla was fantastic today. More and more he’s becoming a sheer joy to watch. I’m coming to be very impressed by the way he evades defenders, twirls around, turns again and then, as if it’s the easiest thing in the game, executes a perfectly weighted long pass across the pitch to Sagna or Walcott. He didn’t have his shooting boots on today, but he proved how much of a threat he can be, especially in that central midfield role. He also adds nicely to our possession and passing stats.
Gibbs, I thought, was fantastic for most of the game. He’s got quite a bit of pace for a defender and when he comes ripping down the left flank he looks more than a little dangerous. He’s got some ball skills as well, which allowed him to push past Everton defenders all game long (one example late on was superb, as he turned back against one defender, evaded a second, and just swung around and cut inside to pass the ball as if he knew no one could touch him. I’ve been a fan of both Gibbs and Monreal this season, but the former was by far better today than the latter has been in his last couple of games.
Though I found myself yelling at my screen, saying, “Come on lads, one point isn’t going to cut it”, I have to say that in retrospect I’m happy with the performance the team put in today. True we dropped two points, but we’re still in a decent position to continue fighting for that Champions League spot. Next up is Fulham on the weekend, another game that will likely be more difficult in reality than it looks on paper.