Arsenal 3 (Nasri 48, Van Persie 70, Walcott 90) Everton 1 (Osman 9)
For a long time, it wasn’t pretty, but a much improved second half performance saw the three points gained against an Everton side even lower on confidence than ours. An early strike from Leon Osman after some fairly lacklustre defending was followed by a half in which we created very little, and Everton could easily have scored a second. Some of the ‘challenges’ our players were putting in were incredibly token efforts, the sort that simply isn’t good enough at this level.
Much has been said about the selection, with Song bizarrely asked to play right back, but in truth no-one played up to their usual standard in that first half and the only consolation was the fact that Everton didn’t really taken advantage.
It could only get better, and it did. The second half began at a much quicker pace, and Nasri fired in the equaliser from outside the box after only a few minutes. It was the sort of goal we needed, coming from nowhere, and it was exactly the kind of goal Hleb would never score. That particular piece of business is proving excellent.
The goal flattened Everton who, remember, are on a terrible run, and the result wasn’t really a surprise from there on in. But before the goals were scored, there were some pretty appalling decisions by the referee.
Now, I’ve begun to notice something recently. I’m not usually one for conspiracy theories, but it does seem that sometimes the BBC decides that it wants to put a particular slant on a match. And I’ve noticed of late that dubious decision that don’t go our way aren’t usually shown on Match of the Day, almost as if they don’t want to give the impression we’re being unlucky, preferring their current ‘crisis’ angle.
And Saturday was the perfect example. Hibbert lunged in with a dangerous tackle, and then squared up to Clichy. Both were booked, but given that Hibbert’s reaction was worse than Clichy, and he made the terrible tackle, he should’ve seen red. The incident wasn’t shown.
Then, van Persie was blatantly hauled down in the area for one of the clearest penalties you’ll ever see. Again, the highlight was deemed not worthy of being shown on the BBC. Most odd.
It wasn’t to matter, Van Persie scoring with a rare header after Cesc’s shot had been blocked before Walcott put the icing on the cake in injury time after good combination work with Diaby.
The bad news was that Toure’s shoulder potentially has ligament damage, although the extent of the injury hasn’t been forthcoming. But overall, the second half display was very encouraging, especially given the patched together nature of the side.
Europe returns tonight, more on that shortly. Meanwhile, let’s all chuckle once again at Spurs. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any worse, they lose to the closest rivals and finish the game with nine men. Heh.