Thursday, 22 March 2012

Everton 0-1 Arsenal: 'One nil to The Arsenal' song returns!

Despite recently great times at Arsenal, we haven't heard the famous 'One nil to the Arsenal' song from the Arsenal fans much lately, as Arsenal have kept coming from a goal down to win their last four games.

And yet it was sung with such passion and joy last night after Thomas Vermaelen (perhaps one of the best goalscoring centre halves of all time) glanced in Arsenal's winning goal with 8 minutes gone.

I was sat next my Everton supporting Dad in the Everton crowd last night and he was berating Everton's start to the match, claiming Arsenal could have been 4-0 up after about 10 minutes. Aaron Ramsey failed to finish off a nice move early on and Arsenal had a lot of possession, looking like the Arsenal we've been used to seeing in recent years, playing fabulous football; stylish, comfortable and confident. And it was another Ramsey effort that deflected out for the corner that led to Arsenal's goal, Van Persie wipping a corner in from the right hand side of the Glawdys Street end with his wand of a left foot, right on to the head of our super Belgian defender Vermaelen who glanced it in to the far corner. Cue music to my ears as the nearby away end cheer and celebrate the goal before choruses of 'Thomas Vermaelen' and 'One nil to The Arsenal'.

Arsenal were terrific for the first 20- 30 minutes, their keep ball and defending were both very impressive, and they created the odd chance or effort on goal too. One of the big surprises of last night was that Robin Van Persie didn't score, who had great chances to make it 2-0, the first of which was shortly after we went 1-0 up, after a delicous move, and a couple of efforts in the second half, one hitting the post and another slicing over the bar with about 6 minutes of normal time remaining, where he appeared to unfortunately lose his balance a bit.

In the second half we backed off a bit and allowed Everton to build up a bit of a head of steam, but to be fair, we remained solid and resilient and Wojchiech Szczesny didn't really have many saves to make. The back four was very resolute and solid, much like a red and white brick wall.

I was enjoying the sound of our noisy away fans throughout the game, as well as our solid defending and pretty football. The main aspect of last night's game was probably the back five. Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Gibbs were all very solid, and even a threat going forward. Gibbs bombed up and down the left flank, leaving Royston Drenthe chasing shadows, much to the annoyance of my Dad. This was perhaps an intelligent tactic, making the most of Drenthe's lack of tracking back, as Arsenal looked dangerous down that side in both halves.

Vermaelen was my man of the match though, heading and clearing away every ball in sight, as well as staying positionally sound and getting the all important winning goal. Laurent Koscielny was also fantastic, bringing the ball out of defence very well and defending very well himself, making a fair amount of clearances himself and making his great reading of the game a pain the the backside for Everton's attackers. The centre back pair were everywhere whenever Everton attacked. Sagna was his usual solid self and, he too, provided a threat going forward. Alex Song in midfield was also maginificent, so good at the pass and move side of our game as well as being so good at the defensive side of the game, as usual. He was probably the best midfielder on the pitch last night; dominating, authoratative, solid, strong, with very good positional sense and maturity, and his attacking attributes were all there too; his passing was very good, he looked creative and he kept the ball very well and just showed overall what a fabulous midfielder he is nowadays.

If we can keep that back five fit and playing together, we could achieve a lot over the coming seasons. All of the them are very solid, resilient and mature, and have goals and creatvity in them (apart from Szczesny of course, in terms of the goals and creativity!) And we weren't coming up against numpties last night, Everton are a good side, with plenty of threatening players, and let's not forget that they've beaten Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham in their last three league home games without conceding a goal. Whereas we went there and won without conceding a goal ourselves, which backs up the point that our defensive unit is very strong at present.

We additonally played excellent football last night, kept the ball very well for most of the game and created chances with our nice football, which was even being admired by Everton fans. It was like the Arsenal of old and a great thing to see. Whenever Van Persie got on the ball, we looked dangerous and the likes of Rosicky, Ramsey, Song and Arteta dominated the midfield very well and kept the ball excellently. Even the centre backs looked extremely stylish and comfortable in possession, Laurent Koscielny almost dribbled his way through nearly the whole Everton team at one point.

Match Of The Day seemed to make it look like a lucky win, but we created plenty of chances for an away game and dominated the first half, while having the majority of possession, therefore we played very well and deserved the win. Maybe if we had the chief pundit's best mate as manager, we'd get more favourable punditry.

Overall, it was a very good win and a near perfect night- Arsenal winning, Chelsea and Liverpool losing and Tottenham dropping points. All that propels Arsenal up to third, above Tottenham and 6 points clear of 5th placed Chelsea. We are also 8 points clear of Newcastle and 13 points clear of Liverpool. So things are looking very good indeed.

So it was a classic case of 'One nil to The Arsenal', perhaps quite ironic after our recent record breaking run of four games of coming from being 1-0 down ourselves to win. Also, the form of this ever- improving Arsenal team was maintained with great effect last night. Let's keep it up with three points on Saturday!

Come on you Gunners!

Match Ratings:

Szczesny 7
Sagna 7+
Koscielny 8
Vermaelen 9
Gibbs 8
Song 8
Arteta 7
Rosicky 7
Ramsey 7
Walcott 6
Van Persie 7

Gervinho 6+
Djourou 6

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