Szczesny - a mixed night
I'm writing this while listening, for the very first time, to "The Tuesday Club" podcast with Alan Davies. I like Alan Davies as I know that he is a celebrity fan who is actually a real supporter. I've spoken to him on three occasions and he is always friendly, even though two of those occasions were in the toilets - at The Valley and in the Stade De France (he probably thinks I'm some kind of weirdo). As I'm listening to Alan and his mates I find myself agreeing with just about everything they are saying. There is balanced, albeit humorous, debate taking place about all things Arsenal. I had previously listened to the "Footballistically Arsenal" podcast and turned it off after five minutes as it was the biggest load of student-type, johnny-come-lately drivel I had ever heard. It makes a nice change to listen to something like The Tuesday Club. I will henceforth be listening every week.
One of the things that has been said on the podcast is that people are moaning about the draw last night more because of what happened on Saturday, than what happened at Everton itself. I think that is absolutely right. Let's be quite honest about this, a point at Goodison Park is a very decent result. Not many teams come away from Everton with a win, so to hold on to a 1-1 when the home side were well on top at times is not a bad return. However, when the sores from the lacklustre display and the behaviour of the Manager at Villa are still fresh in the memory I think some fans are using last night as further ammunition against the status quo but, for once, I feel that is misguided criticism.
We got a great start yesterday through that man Theo again. For once we had a slight deflection end up in the net rather than the stand. It was a nice combination between Walcott and the much maligned Ramsey (not sure why he was starting out wide again last night, incidentally). It was always unlikely that we would hold on to a 1-0 for 90+ minutes, but that doesn't make the equaliser any less annoying. I don't know what Sagna was doing (twice) in the build up to the goal, while Szczesny appeared to me to think the ball was going wide, so almost pulled his arm out of the way of the ball. The most annoying thing is that the goal came following a period in which Arsenal had been playing their pointless keep-ball around the halfway line. Of course we'd done nothing with it to hurt the opposition, but when they got the ball Everton took a shot and scored. Not rocket science, is it?
I didn't see the whole game as my broadband issues continue to be a problem (though only for another 8 days I hope!) but from what I have seen Sagna had a poor night. I see that Wenger now says he took a knock early on and is doubtful for Saturday. This injury would explain his indifferent display, and I was already looking for Jenkinson to replace him against Swansea even before Arsene's comments today.
Everton looked much the better side until about twenty minutes from the end. They could have had a penalty for Arteta's challenger on Pienaar, but the South African shouldn't have been on the pitch after his two-footed tackle on Mikel in the lead up to the equaliser (he also went through Sagna late as the ball flew towards Fellaini in the same move). Having been at fault a little for the Everton goal Wojciech Szczesny finally showed some form making a good few saves to keep us level. One in particular, from a Distin header (made as he was fouling Jack Wilshere), was the young Pole at his very best. I would very much welcome a return to some consistent form for Szczesny - we need a goalkeeper to perform well in this side right now.
For all that Everton had a couple of chances to score, Arsenal nearly won the game themselves. There was an occasion when the ball came close to bobbling past Tim Howard with nobody actually having a shot (that would have been a vindication for Wenger's philosophy, eh?) and then Olivier Giroud put in a fantastic header that looked for all the World as though it was going in. Santi Cazorla also stung the palms of Howard with just about his only touch of the game. His invisible man impression is becoming frustrating - and don't anybody dare tell me he is tired. NO professional footballer should be tired in November, the season has only just got going for God's sake. Cazorla is magnificent when the mood takes him, but it is not happening anywhere near often enough for my liking. Hopefully he will have a Pires-like improvement as we get towards the second half the season. At the end of the day a draw was a fair result, and a decent result for Arsenal. I could go in to one over Tomas Rosicky being pointlessly named among the subs, but I've said it all before (after the Villa game in fact).
Tomorrow I'll be writing the usual pre-match piece for the Swansea game. I will also be talking about the Black Scarf Movement walk which will be taking place before the game on Saturday.