Monday, 9 December 2013

Koscielny stopped by police -Ozil's big match performance -Giroud oh so unlucky

Morning Gooners.

I think when we look back to this result at the end of the season, it will be seen as a pointed gained on our rivals. With the chance to extend our lead at the top of the table to seven points, I think the majority of Gooners expected us to take full advantage of our rivals slipping up. But for the woodwork getting in the way of Olivier Giroud's 94th minute strike, we would have done it.

But I think that result would have been unfair on Everton. I thought they deserved a point from the game. We faced them at the worst probable time. They had their tails up following their midweek win over Manchester United and were full of confidence and that oozed out in their performance, especially in the first half, at the Grove yesterday afternoon.

I thought for the majority of the first half Everton controlled the game. They retained possession well and we uncharacteristically gave the ball away more than usual with Aaron Ramsey sloppy in his passing on a few occasions.

We had the better of the chances. I'd certainly call Giroud's and Ramsey's opportunities to put us in the lead at least half chances but Tim Howard was in fine form and quick off his line to smother both attempts. As for Everton, they couldn't muster a single shot on goal. That was mainly down to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny who were at the top of their game and stopped everything that came their way.

Koscielny in particular was outstanding. He didn't let Romelu Lukaku have a sniff. I wouldn't have been surprised if the police had stopped Koscielny after the game to find out whether Lukaku was still in his pocket. It was the Frenchman's crunching tackle towards the end of the first half on the Belgium striker which sparked us into life after being pegged back heavily. That seemed to inspire his team mates and we seemed to finally kick into gear. The Giroud and Ramsey chances came after that.

We started the second half on the front foot and seemed to be a different team. We held possession better, created opportunities and were still solid at the back. We were certainly in the ascendancy and then Arsene Wenger put all his eggs in one basket and went for a triple substitution. It's fairly rare for the manager to do it but it was the right call. We seemed to be getting most things right, just not the final ball.

Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini replaced Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey. It was the perfect tonic to put Arsenal on the front foot and within 12 minutes we'd found the back of the net through Mesut Ozil.

I'd been hoping for a while that the German would have a big game and I think yesterday was it. On one occasion he was surrounded by three players when he had the ball and managed to trick his way through them and find a team mate with a pass. He was heavily targeted by the Everton players but still continued to play his football. And the goal was the icing on the cake.

Rosicky found Walcott with a cross field pass just inside the Everton box on the right. The England international directed his header across goal towards Giroud and Ozil who were charging in on goal. The Frenchman took an air shot but the ball found it's way to the German who shot into the top of the net.

Our lead didn't last long sadly. A fantastic shot by the on loan Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu evening things up. I don't think there was much either Kieran Gibbs or Wojcicech Szczesny could do to prevent it. Sometimes you've just got to hold up your hands and say something was fantastic and the Spaniard's shot was hit like a rocket and unstoppable.

And that's what we'd have said had Giroud's last minute effort had gone in. It was an outstanding piece of skill.

We're still top of the league and have extended our lead on our rivals. Who would have thought we'd be five points clear at this stage of the season given our start? It's fantastic progress and one we need to build on.

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