Date:Sunday December 8 2013
Sunday, December 8, 16:00
Everton showed their credentials for a top 4 spot this season as they played out an enthralling 1-1 draw with league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates. A confident Everton side controlled the tempo of the game for large parts in what was a tense and tight affair. With the two tightest defences in the league coming up against each other, it was no surprise that chances were at a premium, and with the game destined for a 0-0 draw, the game sprung into life inside the last 10mins. Arsenal had thought they grabbed the winner courtesy of star man Mesut Ozil with 10mins remaining, however, a gallant Everton side fought back and equalised 3mins later courtesy of on loan Barcelona star Gerard Deulofeu to give Everton a well deserved point. The result extended Arsenal's lead at the top of the table to 5pts and for Everton they remained in 5th, 2pts shy of 2nd placed Liverpool.
Everton made no changes to the side that beat Manchester United midweek, whereas Arsenal made 4 changes to the side that beat Hull midweek, with the likes of Giroud, Wilshere, Arteta and Gibbs coming back into the starting XI.
Everton picked up from where they left off on Wednesday night as they came out of the blocks superbly. The first half was a tight contest with both keepers not really tested. For the first 40mins Everton acted like they were the home side controlling the possession and pressing high trying to limit the danger Arsenal possessed, with Arsenal only looking threatening on the counter. However, Everton could not convert this dominance as they really struggled to create chances in the final third despite finding themselves in promising positions. However, with Everton beginning to tire heading into half time, Arsenal began to flex their muscles and in the last 5mins showed off their typical one touch football and forced Howard into two fine saves after some nice play from Arsenal.
Everton would've been the happier of the two sides heading into half time having stifled Arsenal's attack and controlling the game, however, Arsenal would have gained some momentum after the last 5mins of the half, where they look their most dangerous.
The 2nd half kicked off in similar fashion, however, Arsenal began to get more and more into the game, however, much like the 1st half neither side could really muster any chances. Arsenal didn't really test out Tim Howard, with the American really being called into action to force a good save from a Ramsey volley and a couple of blocks first from Cazorla and then Ozil. For Everton, there best chance came from a miscommunication between 2 Arsenal players allowed impressive youngster Ross Barkley to nip in a fire a shot at Szczesny, however, the Pole managed to claw it away to safety. Then Everton continued to press and after some neat play, Mirallas managed to fire a shot on goal, however Szczesny managed to palm it away for a corner.
Moments later Arsenal found themselves ahead thanks to Ozil. Rosicky played a diagonal ball up to Walcott who then put it across the box, Giroud could not make contact with the ball, however it fell into the path of the German who slotted it into the net to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead with 10mins to go.
Everton however did not drop their heads and searched for an equaliser and found one 3mins later courtesy of Gerard Deulofeu. After some neat work from Barkley, who was very impressive in midfield, the young man got it outwide to Oviedo, the Costa Rican put in a cross which Lukaku could not make contact with and it fell to Deulofeu at the back post, with his quick feet he found a bit of space and fired home a deserved equaliser.
Credit to both sides as both pushed to grab a winner, the first chance going to Everton, after Lukaku managed to bully Arteta off the ball, the Belgian could not direct his shot from 25yds onto the goal as his effort sailed harmlessly over the bar. Then Giroud had a chance to grab all 3pts after some brilliant play from the Frenchman. Giroud showed a brilliant touch controlling a high ball brilliantly, he then spun and fired a thunderbolt from about 25yds which left Howard rooted to the spot, fortunately for Everton, the bullet struck the bar and out to safety. With that final chance the game came to an end and the draw was probably a fair result as it was a really even game between two good footballing sides.
It was a truly brilliant performance from Everton, and I am extremely proud of the players and staff. Everton put in a terrific shift midweek to defeat Man U, and to back that up 4 days later with a brilliant performance away to the standout side in the league this season was outstanding to see. It is not often you see an away side control the game like Everton did, unfortunately the quality in the final third was missing, for both sides really, but still, it was a terrific football match and both fans will be pleased with the way their sides are performing. Despite not picking up the 3pts, this result leaves Everton in a very strong position now, heading into the festive period, Everton now face several sides in the lower half of the table, first starting with Fulham at Goodison next week, and the sides around Everton now have to face each other, so if Everton can do the job over this period, it will leave Everton in a very strong position heading into the new year. COYB!!!!!
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Date:Sunday December 8 2013
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