EVERTON 1 (Cahill 89) – ARSENAL 2 (Sagna 36, Fabregas 48)
Grizzling on about the referee changes nothing and just deflects from the real issue which is that on Sunday the eleven men in blue were outplayed. In recent years the only team to give Everton a couple of real spankings has been the Gunners. Because they play the style of football Everton aspire to and run their club in a way that the Goodison hierarchy would love to emulate, it seems as though the Blues stand off, admiring, agog and gormless, all passion spent. It was only when they were 2-0 down, which bar a howling two yard miss from Chamakh should have been 3-0, that Everton started to play with the sort of intensity which can sweep any opponent aside and it was only then that Goodison finally raised the decibel level and Arsenal started to wobble – unfortunately all too late.
Too many players seemed dazzled by the star dust sprinkled around the Arsenal team; Mikel Arteta was a peripheral figure, and when in possession seemed always to elect to play the ’safe’ sideways or backward pass rather than the more progressive, attacking option. One of the few players able to resist the impotence and feebleness induced by the dazzle of kryptonite from the Arsenal shirts was Seamus Coleman. This young man has spirit, fight and no little pride. The look on his face when Tim Cahill missed, what by his standards was an open goal, after Coleman had comprehensively beaten Clichy and sent over a perfectly weighted, inch-perfect cross, was one of disgust. Had that header gone in the game would have taken a different course. Indeed it still could have done had Coleman’s colleagues treated him as an integral part of the team and allowed him more than the occasional, almost grudging, sight of the ball.
While discussing ‘what might have been’ Marouane Fellaini deserves an honourable mention; his immature histrionics against Bolton, which earned him a three-match suspension, robbed Everton of their most potent midfield enforcer and left them critically low on horsepower. When Fellaini returns, presumably fully fit and rested, against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday 4 December, we expect pay-back in the form of a match winning display.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville © (Beckford 69), Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Heitinga (Rodwell 46), Arteta (Yakubu 69), Pienaar; Cahill; Saha
Unused subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Gueye
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Sagna; Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Wilshire (Denilson 46); Nasri, Fabregas ©, Arshavin (Rosicky 66); Chamakh (Eboue 90)
Unused subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Walcott, van Persie
Referee: Howard Webb
Gate: 36,279 (change from last season; down 3,030 or 7.7%)