Everton played us off the park with some excellent football and we were lucky to be only 1 goal behind at half time. However, the second half did show why 2 strikers helps considerably. The midfield was run ragged but that happens at times in the Premier League. With the pace the home side played at, you cannot blame the midfielders and you cannot put a fifth player in there just to dominate midfield if it will not bear fruit further up the field. With the midfield area dominated by Everton the defence opted to pump it long and showed precisely the effect of a partnership up front.
Bendtner was up top wih Eduardo and the ball was aimed towards the Dane. He did not win the ball but he drew out a centre-back. The ball ran loose and Eduardo had time and space to do what he does best. Yet another calm finish from him. Had Bendtner been alone up front, the ball would have run on to the keeper. Had Eduardo been a lone striker there would have been no pressure on the man who jumped with Bendtner. Either way, it is unlikely a goal would have come from this long punt from Clichy.
Again, the second goal came from the same type of pass towards Bendtner and the same applies as to whether we would have scored and taken the lead. Rather than being surrounded by two defenders, Edaurdo had only one man to beat and he did it brilliantly, once more with great calm and composure. He did handle the ball but from the angle the ref had it was impossible to see and Jagielka - his marker - had no idea and was bamboozled by our no.9.
I hope yesterday showed Wenger that having two strikers gives us both an outlet and a constant threat. Whether we have to go long or have the time to build up play, the chances of scoring rise considerably. Yesterday, the midfield was finding it hard to get a foothold but in the end we were able to miss them out to win this game. We ground out a result but it may have been very different had we not just gone long.
The players showed great character to come back from 1 goal down, especially at Goodison Park, which, for me, is one of the hardest places to go. Everton were clearly up for it and for the first half we had no opportunities to get on the ball. We were sloppy in possesion but after half time the players changed tactics to suit the pattern of the game. With Everton looking to play football most envisage those in red playing, Arsenal were forced to play direct, something they only look to do on rare occasions. In the end, the first three goals were long passes to the tall man up top.
When we went down to ten men, we did not panic and kept to this tactic. I have to be honest and say the game was made a whole lot easier with the mistake that gifted Ade the easiest goal he’ll score. At 2-1 I was expecting a barrage of pressure but at 3-1 it was always going to be a bit much for Everton and the fourth goal was a bit of an insult to injury, however sweet Rosicky’s strike was. Now for him to chip in with a few more goals.
What did disappoint me was the ill discipline of Bendtner. If I had been knocking on the door for a few weeks and been granted a first team chance, I would not throw it away. Bendtner lacked maturity in his first booking having been too easliy wound up. His second tackle was a disgrace and he was lucky he was shown a second yellow before the red. He did have a part to play in both Edaurdo’s goal which is what I was calling for and in this he showed the talent he has but also showed he has a lot to learn regarding maturity and behaviour.
Many have questioned Eduardo as an Arsenal player - me included I admit - but Wenger always asked us to wait for the second half of the season. Ironically, maybe deliberately ( I wouldnt put anything passed Wenger ), Eduardo started in the first game, of the second half of the season and scored twice. Wenger played him where he plays best, not on the wing but right on the last defender. He showed great assurance in front of goal as he has done on a few occasions. There is no doubt the guy will get us goals if presented with chances. Yet, he must be played up front in a pair to do this.
Toure led the defence well and once more I was impressed with how they stood firm under great pressure. The Boro game aside, they have done well, away from home especially and we will miss Toure desperately when he leaves. Clichy seems to grow in every game and Sagna really has made us more solid at the back. Gallas too, has continued to lead the back four even when we go 1 goal down.
Once more we are top of the League, top at new year and that after a really tough run of fixtures in December. Now, if we can get a good run going and put pressure on those behind us to keep up, the run in could be fantastic. It starts with a home game against West Ham, a team buoyed by a 2-1 win over Man Utd (Get in!!). I think Rosicky will come back in for Diaby, Adebayor for Bendtner and maybe Eboue for Hleb. Hleb has played quite a lot of games now and Wenger may rest him. Adebayor will partner Eduardo who will want to get more goals to cement a place.
Come on Arsenal!