Brunch in L4 then on to the Temple of Learning to join the throng in the Room of Nonsense, where almost every possible outcome was debated, yet the nervous conclusion was "It’s on the day." We drank, laughed and hoped that we could take the Arsenal scalp which would be no mean feat considering the history of this game over the years. My take was that, if we could do it at Fulham against the history, well then... why not today?
The tension grew and was almost etched on the faces of match going fans. The walk up was a crowded affair but without any bravado singing or chanting yet as I made my way down Goodison road in the midst of a throng, a steely eyed resolve seemed to be in the eyes of those approaching their turnstile. We had come to win and all that remained was would the players respond. Hell yes would be the answer and an afternoon of some scintillating football from the Blues backed by raucous support throughout backed up with some vintage baiting of the Gooners assembled fans would on final whistle leave to return to our chosen haven with more than a spring in the step.
From the very first bars of Z-Cars the Goodison roar was heard and the welcome we gave would not be lost on the players as the fans wishes were obvious. From the kick off we were at it but did in fact have to see off a couple of Arsenal raids and then Osman worked an opening on our right and sent a fast shot that beat the keeper but also the far post by a whisker. That effort was received with added enthusiasm from the terraces yet just moments later the skipper in his will to win the ball went in late got a cut eye and had to be subbed whilst gaining a yellow card. What a gutting couple of minutes for our Ossie. Barkley was introduced in his stead and with no sign of the injured calf started as he meant to go on by putting himself about aided by some deft footwork as well as the ever present trait of trying that bit too much and giving the ball away, still his rawness and youthful lack of fear would help the team effort throughout the game.
The quarter hour mark was upon us when Baines split the Arsenal defence and put in Big Rom on goal, he proceeded forward, shot with power but the keeper blocked the ball out and the ever alert Naismith calmly caressed the ball with right hand side applied and the ground erupted as the ball nestled in the corner of the net. You would have needed to be in the ground to fully appreciate the out pouring as players frolicked in an unseemly scrum and fans celebrated in magnificent fashion. Just what we needed I thought, one up and heads up.
Arsenal attacked us when they could and did create some promising looking moves but our resolve at the back and our central defensive two thwarted anything that came at us sometimes surrounding an Arsenal player on the ball with four Blue shirts. Mirallas scurried forward and hit a daisy cutter that the keeper did well to get down to.
In many an Arsenal game I have attended over the years at Goodison Park, they have always looked more like the home team but, today, we were the home team and playing like the home team – much to the Gunners' chagrin; frayed nerves were showing from them with in the first half-hour.
It came to pass on the 35 min mark that Belgians showed they not only do they have wonderful chocolate-making abilities but also goal-making abilities when Mirallas won the ball near half way on our left, set off across field and, spotting his countryman wide right, played him an accurate ball. Big Rom controlled and set off across the box, as well as across at least three defenders, and unleashed one that proved unstoppable as it hit the net leaving the faithful to hit the high notes. Those 35 mins and two goals left us feeling either Arsenal would improve some 70 or 80% or we would implode and I just knew that with 36.000 behind them it would not be the latter.
We had 10 minutes plus two added to the break and we saw them out with some ease even though each time Arsenal had a foray forward we were warning players of all impending dangers vociferously, it must be an inbuilt fear for all match goers. Howard did punch one away but then made a great one handed save to tip the ball over but after all it is his job and he did it damned well.
Half-time and two-up ensured positive conversations and, for the first time in a long time, not one player was criticised within my earshot.
Arsenal were sent out early for the second half probably with a Wenger whisper in their shell likes! The Blues entered with a roar that heralded the ‘Entry of the Gladiators’. The half started with us attacking the Gwladys Street end but, in the first period of 15 mins, the play was nearer the Park End as we allowed them possession between centre circle and 18-yard line, took it off them, then did the keep possession thing.
It was in this period that the remarkable 18-year-old centre-back, Stones, made his only major mistake of the game when he refused to lump it and play keep ball which almost had dire consequences. Although Arsenal had more attacking ideas, they could not switch off for a moment as we were quick to break and with some menace that ensured the visitors were not too adventurous.
The songs were coming tumbling down now and our old boy Arteta was getting loads for his apparent lack off class toward us at the Emirates. As the hour mark approached we were looking strong and in good shape in every position as we carried out Roberto’s game plan in a fashion that suggested the players believed in it.
Who would have thought Big Rom right midfield, Naismith up front and Mirallas left midfield would work and gel as it did, not just in patches but throughout. But for that to work then Barry and McCarthy, the back four and keeper had to work in tandem with them and to a man they did and admirably. This paid off just after the hour when Mirallas robbed Arsenals best player Sagna in our half and set off at pace fed the excellent Naismith who shot and forced a good parry from the keeper but Mirallas had followed up his pass in textbook fashion and trundled it passed the keeper.
3-0 Pandemonium, thousands cheering, waving arms, hugging kissing and any attempt at words were at best incoherent and it transpired later that it was an own goal from Arteta which although a blow to Mirallas was a hell of a bonus for many assembled.
Party time as we saw the game out. Our ‘keep ball’ passing brought many loud ‘Ole’s’ as we seemed to keep the ball for minutes on end. We were dosing Arsenal with the very same medicine that they have dished out to many another team and in true Corporal Jones fashion ‘They did not like it up em’
By the 80-min mark you could just see Arsenal had given in to a superior team on the day and this good feeling I had was helped by the fact that Wenger had used all his subs between 60 and 70 mins and had taken off both his strikers, Podolski and Giroud off on the 65min mark.
The clock ticked on. Barkley forced a save from the keeper he also made a couple of powerful runs unto their box but they had funnelled back well. Arsenal hit the top of our bar from a shot from the sub they call the Ox but we saw it out in real party fashion. Who will forget Coleman racing down the right whilst playing ‘keepy uppy’ with the ball and the raucous chorus of ‘Mikel, Mikel – what’s the score?’
Allez Allez Oooh is some sound when all four sides of the ground take it up and as three minutes of added time came to an end. The dream lives on and was well discussed by the multitudes leaving the ground. Six wins on the bounce, five games to go — can we? Tickets for the rollercoaster will be at a premium...
MotM – Today there will be many choices but for me Barry who I thought was leader, orchestrator, director, hole filler and captain with no armband. In short, the man other players really appreciate.
I must also mention John Stones who had another very impressive game. There is something about that lad that suggests star quality to me. At the other end of the age scale Distin just gets better and better and Stones can only learn from him on his dedication and fitness regime .
A good day out that started with optimism and ended in ‘Brown Over Bitter' Bliss. Sunderland next and a different set of circumstances, they are desperate for points so in the words of Roberto "The margins are small. But we have to find a way." You did it today, Lar... same again, please!
Here we go, Here we go, Here we go...
See you there!
UP THE BLUES.
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580 Posted 06/04/2014 at 23:20:44
"...Belgians showed they not only do they have wonderful chocolate-making abilities but also goal-making abilities..."
"...leader, orchestrator, director, hole filler and captain with no armband."
Ken, you are always the Grantland Rice of TW... but today, when our boys in blue created pure art for you to describe, you hit the heights.
What a wondrous day it must have been at Goodison. Thanks for sharing it with the faraway TV supporters.
589 Posted 06/04/2014 at 23:50:45
595 Posted 07/04/2014 at 00:31:16
At the end of the game the only word that came to mind was 'comprehensive'! The largest win in 25 years and the pressure is now on the gooners and our boys are flying high. The game plan was executed to perfection and Arsenal had nothing to offer in response.
Ken's MOTM was Barry and I couldn't argue with that selection, however, the team was truly together and there was no player who did not play their part. For me, it was the constant pressure and incisive attack that was so pleasing to see. The game plan to attack the channels between the full backs and the centre backs on both sides was brilliant. Lukaku and Naismith were incredibly active and clinical in their runs. The support from Mirallas and Barkley provided vision and energy and Barry and McCarthy covered with aplomb. Stones had some early moments of jitters but he grew in the game with Distin the solid rock. That only leaves Baines and Coleman and the ever present Tim Howard. These three frequently take the accolades but today did what they do best; get the ball forward quickly and provide the necessary cover when it was required.
There is still lots of work ahead but the boys did it today......and it was good! I am so far away, however, I have never been closer.
611 Posted 07/04/2014 at 03:56:22
I have a rather hugely important budget hearing tomorrow and yet I find myself still up watching this masterclass again past 11pm as it was/is that awesome. Its probably my own fault that im still drinking as well but there is always Advil and coffee!!
On sixth replay - I say that should give that goal to Mirallas. Damnit.
621 Posted 07/04/2014 at 06:57:03
627 Posted 07/04/2014 at 07:44:13
I'm getting addicted to this; the wife is going mad, my two boys are loving it and even granny is being informed by a 5-year-old about who scored the own goal... :)
Breathing for first time in a long long time. Freedom & Joy. Wonderful.
645 Posted 07/04/2014 at 10:20:17
As an expat scouser living in Finsbury Park (deep in Arsenal territory), yesterday was always gonna be an interesting day for me. Seeing the sad faces flow out of the boozer down the road was poetry.
Seeing the Irish Cafu juggling the ball for 30 yards, and then later skinning their left back like Cruyff was the icing for me, that lad is just getting better and better.
Chase-Smith now turning into more than his name (admittedly a name only I call him!) and putting in some brilliantly intelligent performances whether from the start or as an impact sub.
And Rom running straight to RM was a show of togetherness that was touching and promising given the gossip about the big lad recently.
Great day for the club, with two winnable games coming up, we could have a good grip on 4th before the return of 'The dozing one' on Easter Sunday, which I can see as a bigger statement game than this one.
Great times, great team and a spirit that has always been there, but now it has shifted to a 'We KNOW we can win this' from the previous 'We Might be able to not lose this'.
Times like this are very distant and young memories for me as I was 6 in 87, so to have a team playing like this near the top of the league is awesome, long may it continue.
650 Posted 07/04/2014 at 11:07:11
662 Posted 07/04/2014 at 12:20:03
Seriously this is surely the best team since 1985 ?
674 Posted 07/04/2014 at 13:30:14
My MotM would have to be Distin, all were great but he continually laid down a marker by letting the Arse front men know he was around.
727 Posted 07/04/2014 at 18:36:51
This one was a bit special, maybe a watershed moment for us. I certainly shouted louder and more aggressively than ever as our goals went in. Yes, this one WAS special.
Onwards and upwards!
728 Posted 07/04/2014 at 19:39:48
734 Posted 07/04/2014 at 19:58:57
I head a little snippet from the TalkSport commentary driving home tonight and the summariser said 'we've just witnessed an Everton side who have played Arsenal off the park" - hope nobody noticed me grinning like a big eejit whilst stuck in traffic!
735 Posted 07/04/2014 at 19:52:45
765 Posted 07/04/2014 at 22:10:44
769 Posted 07/04/2014 at 22:24:04
839 Posted 08/04/2014 at 12:28:28
It's great to hear the buzz from the crowd when he makes a forward run, not those predictable groans we heard not that long ago. His whole body language has changed – now he looks confident, hungry and eager... and he's beginning to thrive on the new-found adulation. Long may it continue!
857 Posted 08/04/2014 at 13:56:55
895 Posted 08/04/2014 at 17:44:43
932 Posted 08/04/2014 at 19:26:45
Hopefully we can take that fight and attitude on the road to Sunderland this weekend... two massive matches this week! COYB!
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