COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
A thrilling game which saw the Blues at their best so far this season being either unlucky or naive to lose. 4-5-1 played as it should be saw the much vaunted ‘pass masters’ neutered.
The game started with the Blues in the ascendency and for about 12mins Arsenal hardly got over the half-way line. In those first minutes we had the Arsenal defence on the back-foot with some crisp passing that had them turned and edgy. Saha fired over when well placed, should have done better was my thought, Another shot deflected for a corner on the 10min mark and the debutant Donovan showed Baines how a ball should be crossed, his pacey out-swinging cross arced in between penalty spot and six yard line and found the diminutive Osman coming in with impeccable timing and rising to power home, such delight, cold? Never! It was Blue hot.
Arsenal had to show some response to going a goal behind and did up their game but the Blues playing controlled 4-5-1 were smothering Arsenal all across the mid-field. Fellaini and Osman in command in central mid-field, Donovan and Pienaar working the flanks well and Cahill dropping in where required kept Arsenal at arm’s length as well as troubling their defence with breaks of some quality. Then on the half hour mark with Arsenal passing and going no-where across our box a speculative shot was fired that looked to be going wide or straight to Howard but it hit Osman, left Howard flat footed and the score 1-1.
The Blues didn’t let their heads drop and kept playing some good joined up stuff that was leaving Arsenal anything but comfortable and before the break a good linkup between Donovan and Neville saw the latter put in a great cross that Cahill got to first but seemed caught in to minds whether to head back across goal or head for goal, he did neither and the chance was gone. Neville in another sortie forward clipped one toward the top corner but it landed on top of the net, was it a shot or a cross? Only he will know.
H/T and all could be satisfied with our performance as we had bossed it and but for a deflection could have had a deserved lead.
The second half was nip and tuck with both teams having periods of attack and defence played out in a curtain of snow and a great atmosphere. Both teams created chances of sorts Donovan showed good skill and pace as he cut in easily turning two defenders and was just wide with a curler, at the other end Arshavin just lost out in a scramble with Howard. Saha was put clear and he raced toward goal but his shot deflected for a corner when if he had looked up Cahill had made up ground and was in position for a lay-off. On 70 mins Donovan had run his race and was replaced by Bilyaletdinov.
Arsenal were having more of the play now but with our rearguard and keeper not really troubled we continued to show how dangerous we could be on the break. Saha, who hadn’t looked quite right all afternoon, was replaced by Vaughan and entering the last ten minutes another Blues break saw the excellent Osman break up an attack and find Cahill out on the left, he spotted a Pienaar run and with great judgement released his pass as Pienaar was just in his own half, the defence was split, Pienaar ran 40yds, one on one and as the keeper went to ground he delivered the perfect chip shot to score as good a goal as we will see all season. Cue bedlam was this the day we beat a ‘big four’ team away?
Straight from the kick off an Arsenal player who had the ball just went down presenting the ball to Vaughan who set off on the long run to goal a la Pienaar, he closed on the keeper, he had seen how Pienaar had done it but he chose to shoot hard and low but the keeper was able to get a hand to it and parry away. Oh, how we needed that to go in.
Arsenal came again but we repelled them and had time to attack and gain a couple of corners, 5mins of overtime being played, breath was held, the clock ticked down I thought ‘we are to deep’ but we kept blocking and clearing but then in the third minute of the overtime we allowed Arsenal to get into the box and a shot that was going straight at Howard hit Neill and then the net. Devastation all round. Most would have seen a draw as great but here we were gutted at not winning and it would have been a deserved win.
Overall I thought the team out there gave everything a fan could want, a team that had balance, creativity, strength and desire. Being just a bit critical I thought we showed a little panic in the final minutes but that in no way took anything away from a performance against Arsenal away that had us looking the class outfit.
Donovan on his debut showed craft and pace and a great work ethic and if he keeps that up we may not want to see him go come March. Fellaini and Osman were superb in centre-mid and won that battle, not many do that at the Emirates but my M.O.tM goes to Pienaar not just for a glorious goal but his all round contribution that contained vision, creativity and damned hard work.
If we can now keep people fit and see the return of those still out and put in performances like today then the second half of the season may be more enjoyable.
Man City next under the lights, can we put on a show and win a match. It would be great to see the paupers triumph over the mega rich. See you there
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 10/01/2010 at 16:37:33
2 Posted 10/01/2010 at 18:17:56
3 Posted 10/01/2010 at 18:44:27
4 Posted 10/01/2010 at 18:55:19
5 Posted 10/01/2010 at 19:28:40
Including injuries and the Lescott ordeal, we’ve had a lot go against us this season. Let's hope we can have some luck for a change for the rest of the season and finish the season strongly, and perhaps come away with a trophy at the end of it.
6 Posted 10/01/2010 at 19:52:24
Heitinga and Fellaini continue to grow into their roles, and Pienaar is being policed much more tightly than he was. I think he was tackled from behind (fouled) six to ten times without a free kick award in that game.
We need points in January — February is a pig — but we have the players, the will and the capability of getting points anywhere now. A good run would do us the world of good.
7 Posted 10/01/2010 at 19:38:24
As alway with Moyes and Everton more questions than answers.
Has Moyes turned somewhat from dour and inflexible to inovative and ever so slightly adventurous?
If so, where was his Damascus? — did a Saul/Paul arrive, in the shape of the now unemployed and much maligned Irvine? — and say, "While I was away, I’ve been thinking, why not use Tim and the big Fella as decoys, and have someone they won’t pick up coming in behind them (tech term alert: ’Timing the run’)...
Or did he get for Christmas ’The Roy of the Rovers Book of Spectacular Goals’?
Whatever, long may it continue, no more specialist holder or even two in the MF, but MFs doing their job, getting up, getting back, tackling and not only having shots, but scoring... like it should be!
As Ken so rightly says, doing the 4-5-1 as it should be, which effectively makes a mockery of the whole number fixation thing. At any given time it is and should be a fluid and flexible permutation of anything between 1-9 and 9-1
9-1... now to the only whinge factor I could think of... Moyesie NOT 10-0! You have to have an ’out’ — someone to pass to to hold it up, however, briefly.
Too many of our giveaway goals have been through the said holder-upper being in the box and trying to defend... BADLY!!
9-1; repeat it after me, 9-1...
8 Posted 10/01/2010 at 20:12:21
I liked our positive play and our newfound confidence. We played with a spirit designed to erase the shame of our loss on the opening game of the season. You are right to single out Pienaar but I like the way Fellaini and Heitinga are becoming such powerfull forces in the team. All three have had (still have?) their critics. But those TW "experts" who can judge the worth of any player after a few minutes viewing and who instantly dismissed all three as rubbish should feel humbled.
I liked too, the way we took the game to Arsenal right to the end. Arsenal were rattled and that does not happen often in the course of the season. Let’s hope that the confidence, skill and energy stay with us.
9 Posted 10/01/2010 at 22:09:07
10 Posted 10/01/2010 at 23:15:17
It’s just another expression of this requirement some people have that there should be no critique offered. I’m sorry but critique on here is fair game; that’s what the forum is for. When I consider it is over the top, I usually take action to remove it. But I do not accept the constraint you are trying to place on fair assessment of a player’s limitations.
11 Posted 11/01/2010 at 01:03:10
Those fans who supported him coming back on now with, ’I told you so comments’, might well be deemed a little childish, but certainly not worthy of having those comments removed.
12 Posted 11/01/2010 at 09:20:12
I worry about the form of censorship that you propose. You are an Editor who has chosen to interevene vigorously in a nunber of debates.I would not want to restrict you doing so. However, I presume that you alone will decide if your contributions are "helpful", whatever that means.
13 Posted 11/01/2010 at 11:31:54
In answer to the comments on another thread, we DID manage to get on first on the higlights show, over here in Oz — even extended highlights!! Although I suppose there were only 2 games!
Michael is right. It was a sickener and we should have won but we need to take heart from the performance and the better quality of football. Incidentally, I think Michael can go over the top at times but I thought his report was fair and balanced. Certainly not worth taking issue over.
Let’s enjoy the fact that Screech is proving a good find and that our current centre backs are actually prepared to carry the ball out of defence.
14 Posted 11/01/2010 at 11:29:28
I was perhaps the strongest critic of Lucas Neill, during October and November and I stand by the comments I made at the time, his level of fitness was a disgrace and his arse was indeed one of lard. It wasn't as if he was recovering from a serious injury, he’d missed a couple of weeks pre-season, that's all... and it took him far too long to get to the required level. When I part with my hard-earned to see Everton, the very least I expect is for the players to have a basic level of fitness.
I’m much happier with Lucas today; he has shown gradual improvment in his last 5-6 games, perhaps he didn't feel he "belonged" early on, but he does now.
I’m just like you guys, an Evertonian, and I hope he spends the rest of the season proving me wrong.
I hate to say this but Michal is right, no player should be above criticism, Neill may now be looking like a decent addition to our squad but, while he was blowing out of his arse after half-an-hour and costing us points, he deserved all the stick he got.
BTW Dick, nice liscence plate.
15 Posted 11/01/2010 at 11:40:55
As mentioned by other correspondents I did not embarrass or name any of those individuals. I shone the torch of reverse criticism in their direction just to remind them that such uncalled for fatuous statements do not go unnoticed or forgotten.
I doubt very much that what I said would have had the slightest effect or indeed, would not have penetrated their consciousness. They most likely are already aiming their bile at some other unsuspecting and undeserving sod. Tom, other than being part of the Everton family we are not related.
It really is just a case of, if you dish it out be prepared for some incoming.
16 Posted 11/01/2010 at 21:24:00
It makes no sense whatsoever. Some players wer playing crap... and now they’re not.
The only thing certain is change.
17 Posted 11/01/2010 at 22:33:55
Undefeated all decade* - woohoo!
(If you’re not going to be pedantic...)
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