GUNNERS STUMBLE AT GOODISON PARK AS STRUGGLING EVERTON WIN 2-1
Okay that didnt go according to plan, did it? Everton were supposed to be struggling with form and Arsenal were supposed to be the form team..
Arsenal were nicely positioned in second, players in good confident mood to make a mark as this title race begins to take shape. All that was needed was to Beat hapless Everton and things would have ticked along smoothly.
By the time Wenger left Goodison, he was back to his old ways. Highlighting the referee’s decision but really he should be asking questions of his own team. This was a defeat that was as Bad as it was telling of Arsenal’s softness.
Arsenal crumbled in the heat of a relentless blue onslaught. Gunners had not lost away from home in the Premier League since February 28 but that run came to a juddering halt as headers from Seamus Coleman and Ashley Williams gave Everton the right reward for 60 high-intensity minutes.
Yet it is the opening half-hour that will drive Wenger to distraction. Arsenal looked so dominant that it seemed likely they would inflict a defeat on Everton that was as heavy as the one they administered to West Ham on their last away day.
‘Maybe we were a bit too comfortable,’ Wenger mused.
Wenger ought to realize that making that statement of being too comfortable is an indictment on him. it is his job to ensure the team respects the opposition no matter their current form.
Full credit must go to Everton,they were well worth thier VICTORY. The home side’s performance made this atmospheric old stadium come alive. It was jumping at the final whistle on a significant night for Ronald Koeman.
An early burst, when Everton won four of their first five assignments, had long been forgotten following an autumn of toil and Koeman had become irritated by the fact that Everton have become ‘reactive’ and only begin to play after something has happened to them.
They had conceded the first goal six times in their last nine matches and they needed to buck that trend. Imagine Koeman’s dismay, then, when six in 9 became7 in 10.
Everton had only themselves to blame. It was two minutes of mistakes, Williams clattering into his own man, Idrissa Gana Gueye, which led Phil Jagielka to chop down Francis Coquelin on the edge of the area to get the first of his two yellow cards.
Sanchez took responsibility from Ozil for taking the free-kick and he compounded the errors, his shot deflecting in between Williams’s legs and squirming past Maarten Stekelenburg, who had been wrong-footed.
‘You don’t win any game starting that way,’ Koeman pointed out.
It was hard to foresee anything other than Arsenal moving serenely through the gears, but just past the half-hour the mood began to change. A successful tackle here, a good pass there and the noise began to crank up. This was more like it. This was Goodison park.
Soon enough, Arsenal were on the back foot, having to repel attacks. They were able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 38th minute when, after Nacho Monreal made a hash of clearing Coleman’s free-kick, Aaron Lennon stabbed an acceptable chance well wide.
No matter. Just before half-time, Everton got their reward. Leighton Baines raced forward to take possession of a sweeping pass, cut inside Walcott who could have done better to prevent the cross and, with his right foot, he whipped a perfect ball into the six-yard area where Coleman applied an emphatic headed finish.
How the dynamic changed. There was Koeman, punching the air in delight and there was Wenger in that familiar frustrated pose, arms folded and gaze fixed on his defenders, who had failed to react. Arsenal not winning when they should be coasting? It is a familiar story.
They needed to match Everton’s fight to reclaim the ascendancy and tempers certainly frayed at the interval when there was a pushing and shoving competition in the mouth of the tunnel. It was a sign of what was at stake.
Arsenal emerged first for the restart and the tempo at which they set off was as brisk as it had been an hour earlier. As had been the case in the first 45 minutes, they should really have taken an early advantage. Ozil, however, an increasingly peripheral figure, blazed over from Sanchez’s cross.
He looked to the sky, his manager looked at the floor. His profligacy was almost compounded five minutes later when Ross Barkley cracked a 20-yard drive that skidded past Petr Cech’s left-hand post. Everton’s ambition had not been cowed.
That point was emphatically proved in the dying moments. Koeman was not afraid to introduce his young striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, his presence lit a fuse in the crowd and when Barkley hurled in one final ball, Williams connected emphatically with a downward header to spark pandemonium.
Everton had to withstand one final onslaught, Baines clearing off the line from Alex Iwobi following an almighty goalmouth scramble, which even included Cech, but they had done enough. Not even the loss of Jagielka for his second yellow could halt them. They had broken Arsenal’s spirit.
And Wenger’s misery, as Goodison erupted, was there for all to see.