Report: Everton 2 Arsenal 2 – Another Opportunity Missed?

With ten minutes to go I tweeted that this was to be a huge moment in our season, even at this early stage.

What I meant by this was that we would soon know if we had the ability to pass the test of putting one of the title favourites to the sword in a similar way to how we did last season at times. Unfortunately we failed the test.

It all looked pretty good at half-time. A first half of few chances, but where Arsenal were seeing more of the ball, burst into life when Baines, who was excellent on the left (even without Pienaar who limped off after 8 minutes), went down the left hand side, passed inside for Barry and a perfectly-flighted chipped pass reached Coleman at the far post who headed firmly past the keeper at the near post.

When a second goal arrived just before half-time it looked like we were going to smash them by 3 or 4 again. A foul (if you listen to Sky) by Lukaku led to a run down the right as he nipped past Chambers before he slid in an offside Naismith who slotted through the keepers legs. A goal that shouldn’t have been allowed twice? Lovely.

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Unfortunately the second half had all the signs of the previous week’s performance against Leicester as Everton spent large periods of the match sitting back and encouraging wave of attacks by Arsenal whilst hoping to pick them off on the counter attack.

Giroud replaced the anonymous Alexis Sanchez at the break and he almost instantly got a goal back with a volley just over the bar. There then weren’t a huge amount of chances apart from a Howard save from the same man, and with ten minutes to go it looked like the storm had been weathered.

However, a dangerous cross from Cazorla was tapped in by Ramsey (poor defending of the cross and of the run by the Welshman) and as we went towards the 90th minute a useless over-hit cross brought jeers from the Goodison end. Unfortunately the ‘useless cross’ was collected by the terrible Monreal, who did his first good thing of the game by crossing it perfectly over Jagielka’s head and onto the head of Giroud, who headed firmly past Howard to make it 2-2.

Ignoring the fact that Giroud was holding Distin’s shirt to stop him jumping, it was awful defending from both Jagielka to miss the cross and Distin, who allowed a man who didn’t even have to jump to get in front of him and make the header.

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Overall it seems that we’ve wasted four points in these first two games. I understand that some people will say that it’s early days, but later in the season we might just miss those points, and we really could have built up some momentum by now with 6 points and a place at the top of the league. Instead we go into the game against an impressive Chelsea side with just 2 draws to our name.

In order to improve Everton seem to need to work on their fitness – they looked knackered by the last quarter of the match. We could also do with perhaps a new centre-back to replace Distin at least. Nastasic is available? Oh, and someone needs to tell Miralles that he’s not as good as he thinks he is and needs to try a bit harder. Also, Martinez – he’s not immune to criticism – needs to start thinking about making better substitutions at better times. That’s twice in a row he’s made the wrong choices, and Pienaar going off early shouldn’t be an excuse. Besic to replace Miralles after about 60 minutes would have made perfect sense to me.

On a positive note Naismith, Baines, Coleman and McCarthy were excellent, and Lukaku was much-improved from last week. He really does love the big games. Hope he’s up for the game against his old club next week then…

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